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Hawaii Organic Act: Congressional debates on Hawaii Organic Act

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April 5, 1900
v. 33  (4)
p. 3814-3822
The committee resumed its session.
Mr. RIDGELY. Mr. Chairman, I wish to add a word to the able 
argument of the gentleman from Nevada in favor of this 
amendment. He does not claim that the specific provisions of the 
amendment are the best that can be devised to prevent land 
monopoly in these islands; but he does insist that the principle of 
limiting the holdings of land shall be incorporated into this law, 
and by the time it shall get through conference we will have de-
termined what will be the wisest specific provisions.
But I wish to call the attention of members here to the fact that 
this question of limiting land holdings is not entirely new to this 
country. Away back in the forties and early fifties we discovered 
that our lands were being centralized to such an extent as to 
threaten landlordism and tenants to the extent that we put into the 
national land laws provisions limiting the number of acres of the 
public lands that might thereafter go to any one purchaser. What 
was the purpose of this? Clearly the intent was to hold the lands 
in small holdings. 
Now, we are legislating for the Hawaiian Islands and for a 
country that has many more people to the acre than we have in 
this country; and in our land policy, as we assume the responsi-
bility of legislating for these people, it certainly is of vital impor-
tance that we take the proper steps or at least commit ourselves to 
the policy of limiting the centralization of land titles, which must 
of necessity, if permitted to go unrestrained, result in a population 
of serfs attached to the land owned by and necessarily con-
tributing to the landlord's wealth, and thereby to his power to 
accumulate more acres and more serfs. So I insist that we should 
support this amendment and commit ourselves to this policy of 
limiting the possibility of monopolizing the titles to land. This is a 
grave question, and one we will soon have to act upon at home; 
in fact, we ought to at once take positive action to break up and 
forever prevent landlordism wherever our flag shall float.
I hope, Mr. Chairman, the pending amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Nevada [Mr. NEWLANDS], to limit land holdings, may 
Mr. SPALDING. Mr. Chairman, in the desperate straits in 
which gentlemen on the other side found themselves on the day 
when Congress assembled, for an issue on which to stand before the 
people in the coming Presidential election, they improved every 
opportunity in this Chamber to introduce resolutions of inquiry 
directed against the different departments of the Government. 
They have investigated the Secretary of the Treasury and consuls in 
South Africa, and other matters.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman is not 
speaking to the bill. We have only fifty minutes more, and there are 
important amendments to be offered. I make the point of order 
that it is out of order for the gentleman to address his remarks to 
other matters than the amendment under discussion.
Mr. SPALDING. The gentleman has already taken as much 
time as I intended to take.
Mr. UNDERWOOD. It will take all the time we have to consider 
the amendments to the bill, and we ought to confine our discussion 
to the bill.
Mr. KNOX. I will say, Mr. Chairman, that it was the distinct 
understanding on both sides that the discussion was to be con-
fined to the amendments that were being considered, and that we 
have no time to consider general matters.
The CHAIRMAN.   If the rule is appealed to --
Mr. UNDERWOOD.   I do appeal to the rule.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from North Dakota will be 
obliged to confine his remarks to the pending amendment.
Mr. SPALDING. I was about to say, Mr. Chairman, that, 
among other things, they had raised their hands in holy horror 
because, as they claim, the use of intoxicating liquor has increased in 
our new insular possessions, and. as I understand, are seeking to 
investigate that subject also. Yet, Mr. Chairman, they come before 
this body at the first opportunity that is offered to vote on any 
proposition to limit its use there, and to my utter surprise there are 
found many men on that side who have the temerity to rise in their 
places and object to and vote against the very thing that they are 
seeking to denounce in connection with their charges against the 
Republican party and the effect of its government of our new 
The CHAIRMAN. The question is on agreeing to the amendment 
offered by the gentleman from Nevada [Mr. NEWLANDS].

The question being taken, the Chairman announced that the 
noes appeared to have it.
Mr. NEWLANDS.   Division.
The committee divided; and there were - ayes 50, noes 68.
Mr. NEWLANDS   Tellers, Mr. Chairman.
Tellers were ordered.
Mr. GILBERT.   Have the amendment reported, please.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, the amendment will be 
again reported to the committee.
The amendment was again reported.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. 
KNOX and the gentleman from Nevada [Mr. NEWLANDS] will act as 
The committee again divided; and the tellers reported - ayes 70, 
noes 67.
So the amendment was agreed to.
[Applause on the Democratic side].
The Clerk read as follows:
SEC. 56. That the legislature may create counties and towns and city mu-
nicipalities within the Territory of Hawaii and provide for the government 
Mr. McDOWELL. Mr. Chairman, in section 58, line 17, I move to 
strike out the word "may" and insert the word "shall." This would 
then read as the section reads in the Senate bill.
The CHAIRMAN.   The Clerk will report the amendment.
The Clerk read as follows:
On page 72. line 17, strike out the word "may" and insert the word "shall;" so 
that it will road: "That the legislature shall create counties," etc.
The question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the 
noes appeared to have it.
Mr. McDOWELL.   Division.
The committee divided; and there were - ayes 50; noes 59.
So the amendment was rejected.
The Clerk read as follows:
Fifth. Prior to such registration have paid a poll tar of $1 for the current 
year, due by him to the Government.
Mr. WHITE.   Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The Clerk read as follows:
Strike out the first three lines on page 74.
Mr. WHITE. Mr. Chairman, there is absolutely no qualification 
as to that section, and it is a special section having reference to 
voters. The custom, as I understand, in most of the States, requires a 
poll tax on each male inhabitant from the time that he is 21 years of 
age until he reaches the age of 50, and then from that time on no 
more. There is no limitation provided in this section.
It matters not how old the man may be. how decrepit, how hon-
orable, how well educated, this would deprive him of the right of 
the franchise in his old age, even after serving his country well, of 
the right to vote unless he paid this poll tax of a dollar a year. This 
is a matter that can be very easily acted upon by the local 
legislature, and I do not think, unless there was some qualification or 
restriction, that this sweeping statement should be made, that no 
man would be permitted to register and vote unless he has previously 
paid a poll tax from the time he is 21 years until he dies. I do not 
think there is a necessity, therefore, that such legislation should be 
enacted by the United States Congress, and I hope that this section 
will be stricken out and leave that part to be managed by the local 
legislation. However, if this Republican Congress, through its 
committee, desires to incorporate this and other sections of the 
Mississippi election law in this statute for the government of the 
Hawaiians, I wish to say that I shall feel it my duty to vote against 
the bill.
Mr. KNOX. Mr. Chairman, I will say in reply that while there 
were a number of Hawaiians before the committee, no objection 
whatever was made to this provision. 'Under the law of Hawaii 
there are other things included in what is considered as a personal 
tax than what we call a poll tax - for the support of education - 
making in all personal tax of about $5. We struck out every pro-
vision except the mere head tax of a dollar, and inserted it here. I 
will call the attention of the House also to the fact that it does not 
provide for back taxes that may be due, but that it simply provides 
for the payment of the tax for the current year.
It was thought it would be a very wholesome provision in ref-
erence to the suffrage of Hawaii; and I am sure it will not be taken 
as a precedent against the large class of citizens whom our friend so 
well represents.
The question was taken; and the amendment was rejected. 
Mr. WILLIAMS of Mississippi. Mr. Chairman, I wish to offer an 
The Clerk read as follows:
In line l, page 74, after the word "registration" and before the word 
"have," insert "and at least nine months prior to the election."
Mr. WILLIAMS of Mississippi. Mr. Chairman, in explanation of 
that amendment, I merely wish to say that it is the uniform 
experience of all States that have had poll-tax provisions that if the 
poll tax can be paid upon the day of election or the day before

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