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Hawaii Organic Act: Congressional debates on Hawaii Organic Act

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April 7, 1900 Senate v. 33 (4) p. 
3872

Mr. Heitfeld Introduced a bill (S. 4075) to amend 
an act to prohibit the passage of special or 
local laws in the Territories, to limit the 
Territorial indebtedness, and so forth; which was 
read twice by its title, and referred to the 
Committee on Territories.

April 7, 1900 Senate v. 33  (5) p. 
3907

GOVERNMENT FOE HAWAII.
The PRESIDENT pro tempore.   The Chair lays before the Senate the 
amendments of the House of Representatives to the bill (S. 223) to provide a 
government for the Territory of Hawaii. Mr. CULLOM.   I will simply ask 
that the bill lie on the table and be printed, before I request a conference. 
The PRESIDENT pro tempore.   Without objection, the bill will lie on 
the table and be printed.  

April 10, 1900 Senate T.  33   (5) p.  
3964-3965

GOVERNMENT FOR HAWAII.
Mr. CULLOM.   I ask the Chair to lay before the Senate the amendment 
of the House of Representatives to the bill (S. 222) to provide a government 
for the Territory of Hawaii. The PRESIDENT pro tempore.   The Chair lays 
before the Senate the amendment of the House of Representatives to the 
bill. Mr. CULLOM.   I move that the Senate nonconcur in the 
amendment of the House and request a conference on the disagreeing 
votes of the two Houses. Mr. PETTIGREW.   Mr. President, I see that the 
House have passed a substitute for the Senate Hawaiian bill and that on 
page 8 of the House bill, section 10, they provide "that all obligations, 
contracts, rights of action, suits at law and in equity," etc., "shall continue 
to be as effectual as if this act had not been passed."  This would allow the 
enforcement of all existing civil contracts.   Contract or slave labor is held by 
the courts of Hawaii to be a civil contract, and under the Hawaiian law 
they enforce all contracts by imprisonment and can go to the extent of 
imprisonment for life.   I trust the conferees will see that this provision is so 
amended as to prevent the enforcement of the existing slave-labor contracts 
of that island. The House have adopted the provision that all contracts 
made since August 12, 1898, are declared null and void and shall ter-
minate, but section 10 also provides:
That no suit or proceedings shall be maintained for the specific performance of any 
contract heretofore or hereafter entered into for personal labor or service, nor shall any 
remedy exist or be enforced for breach of any such contract, except in a civil suit or 
proceeding instituted solely to recover damages for such breach.
Inasmuch as the courts have held that these contracts are civil contracts. I 
do not know but that there are laws existing in Hawaii that we perpetuate 
(for we perpetuate a large body of their laws) which provide that 
damages for a breach of one of these contracts may be collected, and that 
prior to their collection the person against whom the recovery was secured 
could be imprisoned.   Perhaps their laws so provide.   If they do, then 
until we repeal those contract-labor laws and provide that a suit for 
damages for the breach of these contracts may be had, these men, might 
still be held for service and compelled to work out the damages upon the 
plantations under the whip and lash of the slave master.   I hope the 
conferees will carefully guard that provision and see that there is no 
question about it. The House bill also provides that the provisions of this 
section 10 shall not apply to merchant seamen.   In other words, it indi-
rectly provides that the existing laws with regard to merchant seamen 
may be enforced.   The existing law of Hawaii makes a seaman a slave 
during the term of his contract.   It he is engaged in foreign service, that is 
the law of the United States.   But in 1898 we passed a law by which a 
seaman engaged in the domestic trade of the United States could not be 
compelled to carry out the provisions of his contract or be imprisoned if he 
failed to do so. I hope the conferees will see that this provision is modified 
so that at least the laws of the United States with regard to seamen, so far 
as they apply to our domestic trade, shall apply to seamen engaged in the 
trade with Hawaii. I am particularly anxious about this for the reason that 
on page 50 of the bill the House have provided-
At the expiration of one year after the passage and approval of this act the coasting 
trade between the islands aforesaid and any other portion of the United States shall be 
regulated in accordance with the provisions of law applicable to such trade between any 
two great coasting districts.
We put off the time when the coasting laws of the United States shall 
apply for one year, and I hope this provision will be stricken out entirely.   
It seems to me that the provision in relation to our coasting trade should 
apply at once, and I can see no good reason why this provision should be 
continued.

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