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1892 Legislative Session of the Kingdom of Hawaii

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The Legislative Assembly of 1892 met at the seat of government at Aliʻiōlani Hale (pictured) which was situated across the street from ʻIolani Palace

The 1892 Session of the Legislature of the Kingdom of Hawaii, also known as the Longest Legislature, was a period from May 1892 to January 1893 in which the legislative assembly of the then-independent Kingdom of Hawaii met for their traditional bi-annual session. This unicameral body was composed of the upper House of Nobles and the lower House of Representatives. This would be the first session during the reign of Queen Liliʻuokalani and the last meeting of the legislative assembly during the Hawaiian monarchy. Three days after the prorogation of the assembly, many of the political tension developed during the legislative debates and the queen's attempt to promulgate a new constitution while her legislators were not in session led to the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893.

Members of this legislative session included citizens and subjects of the kingdom of either full or mixed Native Hawaiian, Euro-American and Asian descent, who were divided across different party lines. They included the insurgents who would play an eventual role in the deposition of the queen, and also the political resistance leaders who would lead the opposition to the overthrow and attempts to annex the Hawaiian Islands to the United States.

Background[edit]

Political cartoon depicting the coup d'état which resulted in the signing of the Bayonet Constitution, 1887

In 1887, King Kalākaua was forced to sign the Bayonet Constitution under duress by the Hawaiian League, a group of foreign businessman and Hawaiian subjects of American missionary descent including Lorrin A. Thurston. This constitution limited the absolute power of the monarch and strengthened the power of the executive cabinet. It also raised property requirements for suffrage, disenfranchised many poor Native Hawaiians and naturalized Asian citizens, and gave the vote to unnaturalized foreign residents of European or American descent. It also changed membership in the House of Nobles, the upper house of the legislature, from life appointments by the king to elected offices for the first time. A new cabinet headed by Thurston was imposed on the king and the king's previous administration headed by Walter Murray Gibson was ousted.[1]

The instigators of this coup d'état formed the Reform Party, drawing its memberships from Hawaiian conservatives and citizens of foreign descent, and won the majority of the seats in the legislature in the election of 1887, which was mandated by the new constitution.[2][3] In the election of 1890, the Hui Kālaiʻāina (Hawaiian Political Association) and the Mechanics' and Workingmen's Political Protective Union joined together to form the National Reform Party in opposition to the Reform Party in this session. The Reform Party lost their majority control in the legislature and the Thurston cabinet was removed by a legislative vote of want of confidence.[4]

Following the prorogation of the legislature of 1890, King Kalakaua died while in San Francisco and was succeeded by his sister Queen Liliʻuokalani on January 29, 1891.[5]

Election of 1892[edit]

The general election of 1892 proved the most contentious. The four major parties were the Reform, National Reform, National Liberal, and the Native Sons of Hawaii which ran the same candidates as the National Reformers. The National Reform Party became the administration or governmental party and gained the personal support of the new queen. They joined with the Reformers and Native Sons in opposing the more radical elements of the National Liberal. The National Liberal Party, which became the party of the opposition, advocated for increased Native Hawaiian participation in the government and a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution to replace the unpopular Bayonet Constitution. However, the Liberals soon became divided between radicals and more conciliatory groups. Joseph Nāwahī and William Pūnohu White became the leaders of the factions of the Liberals loyal to the queen against the more radical members led by John E. Bush and Robert William Wilcox, who were advocating for drastic changes such as increased power for the people and a republican form of government.[6]

The election resulted in a divided legislature, although the conservatives painted it as a victory for the their coalition. It was hard to tell where the exact loyalty of many of the elected nobles and representatives lay because of internal disagreement. According to historian Ralph S. Kuykendall, "the party composition of the 1892 legislature (the forty-eight elected members) appeared to be: Reform Party, twenty-three; Liberal Party, thirteen; National Reform Party, nine; Independent, three".[7]

Legislative Session[edit]

From May 28, 1892, to January 14, 1893, the legislature of the Kingdom convened for an unprecedented 171 days, which later historians such as Albertine Loomis and Helena G. Allen dubbed the "Longest Legislature".[8] This would be the first session during the reign of Queen Liliʻuokalani and the last meeting of the legislative assembly during the Hawaiian monarchy.[8]

At the opening of the legislature, forty-eight elected politicians, consisting of twenty-four nobles (including thirteen holdovers continued their terms from the 1890 legislature) and twenty-four representatives from the four main Hawaiian Islands met at the legislative halls of Aliʻiōlani Hale in Honolulu. The legislature met as a unicameral body composed of the upper House of Nobles and the lower House of Representatives with Noble John Smith Walker presiding as President of the Legislative Assembly and Noble John Kauhane as Vice-President. The body included politicians of Native Hawaiian descent, Euro-American descent, mixed Hawaiian and Euro-American descent, and even two members of Asian-Hawaiian descent. The appointed cabinet ministers also had the right to participate as ex-officio members of the legislature with the right to vote on all matters except on votes for their removal. In the course of the session, five members would resign and three new members chosen in special elections to replace with two of the five members reclaiming their vacated seats.[9]

This session was dominated by political infighting within and between and the different parties. Debates heard on the floor of the houses concerned the popular demand for a new constitution, the passage of a lottery bill and an opium licensing bill, aimed at alleviating the economic crisis caused by the McKinley Tariff.[10] By the end of the session, the queen had also signed into law the lottery bill and opium licensing bill, which were extremely controversial in the foreign community and especially with the leaders of the Reform Party.[11]

Petitions asking for a new constitution were submitted by seven legislators: Noble David William Pua and Representatives Joseph Nāwahī, William Pūnohu White, Jose Kekahuna Iosepa, Anakalea Kauhi, T. S. Nahinu, Luther W. P. Kanealii and George Panila Kamauoha.[12][13] Attempts were made to call a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution in both the 1890 session and the 1892 sessions. Both National Liberals and National Reformers campaigned on the promise of a new constitution, however many National Reformers supported a middle path and advocated for changes via amendments. The conservative Reformers would not tolerate any changes to the existing constitution. There was also disagreement on the legality of how to execute the change. No clear comparable precedents existed, since previous constitutions had been promulgated by the sovereign.[14]

However, the main issue of contention between the new monarch and the legislators was the retention of her cabinet ministers; political division prevented Liliʻuokalani from appointing a balanced council. The 1887 constitution retained the monarch's right to appoint her own cabinet minister but gave the legislature the power to vote for the dismissal of her cabinet.[15] Seven resolutions of want of confidence were introduced during this session, and four of her self-appointed cabinets (the Widemann, Macfarlane, Cornwell. and Wilcox cabinets) were ousted by votes of the legislature.[16]

On January 13, 1893, after the legislature dismissed the Wilcox cabinet (which had political sympathies to the Reform Party), Liliʻuokalani appointed the new Parker cabinet, which had ties to the National Reform Party and consisted of Samuel Parker, as minister of foreign affairs; John F. Colburn, as minister of the interior; William H. Cornwell, as minister of finance; and Arthur P. Peterson, as attorney general.[17][18]

Queen Liliʻuokalani leaving Aliiolani Hale following the prorogation ceremony, 1893

The legislative assembly was prorogued January 14, at a noon ceremony officiated by the queen at Aliʻiōlani Hale, which was situated across the street from ʻIolani Palace.[19]

Aftermath[edit]

Following the prorogation of the legislative session, Liliʻuokalani attempted to promulgate a new constitution while the legislature was not in session. In reaction to the legislative stand still on the constitution convention bill, the queen met in secret with the two leaders of the Liberal Party: Representatives Nāwahī and White and Samuel Nowlein, the captain of her Royal Guards, to draft a new constitution.[20]

In the afternoon of January 14, she met with her cabinet ministers while members of Hui Kālaiʻāina and a delegation of native legislators marched to ʻIolani Palace with a sealed package containing the constitution for her to promulgate. According to historian William DeWitt Alexander, this was pre-planned by the queen.[21] However, she discovered the ministers were either opposed to or reluctant to sign the new constitution and the queen had to postpone her plans and dismiss the delegations of political leaders and the assembled crowds from the palace.[21] She later write, "I told them I would not have taken such a step if they had not encouraged me. They had led me out to the edge of a precipice, and now were leaving me to take the step alone."[22]

The political fallout of the queen's actions led to citywide political rallies and meetings in Honolulu. Anti-monarchists, annexationists, and leading Reformist politicians, including legislators Lorrin A. Thurston, William Owen Smith, and William Chauncey Wilder, formed the Committee of Safety in protest of the "revolutionary" action of the queen and conspired to depose her. In response, royalists and loyalists formed the Committee of Law and Order and met at the palace square on January 16. White, Nāwahī, Bush, Wilcox, and Antone Rosa and other pro-monarchist leaders gave speeches in support for the queen and the government.[23] These actions and the radicalized political climate eventually led to the overthrow of the monarchy, on January 17, 1893, by the Committee of Safety, with the covert support of United States Minister John L. Stevens and the landing of American forces from the USS Boston. After a brief transition under the Provisional Government, the oligarchical Republic of Hawaii was established on July 4, 1894, with Sanford B. Dole as president.[24][25] During this period, the de facto government was composed largely of residents of American and European ancestry, although a few Native Hawaiians from the 1892 legislature: John Ena, John Kauhane, and Jose Kekahuna Iosepa signed the constitutional convention for the Republic while Kauhane and George Panila Kamauoha would serve multiple terms in the legislature of the Republic.[26]

Many of the former legislators of the 1892 session, including Robert William Wilcox and Joseph Nāwahī, would lead the opposition to the overthrow and resistance to annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States. In 1893, Nawahi and many former 1892 legislators founded the Hui Aloha ʻĀina (Hawaiian Patriotic League), a patriotic group founded to protest annexation, while Wilcox led an unsuccessful counter-revolution in 1895 to restore the monarchy.[27]

Members of the Legislative Assembly[edit]

House of Nobles[edit]

This incomplete breakdown of party allegiance are based on The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, a contemporary newspaper, reporting at the beginning of the legislative session and the report of Noble Edward C. MacFarlane in the Blount Report.

Name District Party at Election Party (Blount Report) Notes Sources
Robert Renton Hind Hawaii Reform Independent [28][29][30][31]
John Meirs Horner Hawaii Reform Reform [28][29][30][32]
John Green Hoapili Hawaii National Liberal National Reform [28][29][30][33]
John Kauhane Hawaii Reform Reform Served as Vice-President of the Legislative Assembly [28][29][30][34]
Joseph Marsden Hawaii Reform Reform [28][29][30][35]
Alexander Young Hawaii Reform Reform [28][29][30][36]
James Anderson Maui, Molokai, Lanai Reform Reform [28][29][30][37]
Henry Perrine Baldwin Maui, Molokai, Lanai Reform Reform [28][29][30][38]
William H. Cornwell Maui, Molokai, Lanai Reform National Reform Resigned on November 1 and appointed Minister of Finance. Re-elected on December 5. [28][29][30][39]
William Yates Horner Maui, Molokai, Lanai Reform Reform [28][29][30][40]
Lorrin A. Thurston Maui, Molokai, Lanai Reform Reform [28][29][30]
Russell D. Walbridge Maui, Molokai, Lanai Reform Reform [28][29][30][41]
Charles Otto Berger Oahu National Reform National Reform [28][29][30][42]
John Adams Cummins Oahu National Reform National Reform [28][29][30][43]
John Ena Oahu National Reform National Reform [28][29][30][44]
Charles Lewis Hopkins Oahu National Reform N/A Served from October 7 after the resignation of Macfarlane [28][45][46]
Edward C. Macfarlane Oahu National Reform National Reform Resigned on September 12 and appointed Minister of Finance [28][29][30][47]
C. B. Maile Oahu National Reform N/A Served from October 7 after the resignation of Neumann. [28][45][48]
Paul Neumann Oahu National Reform National Reform Resigned on August 29 and appointed Attorney General [28][29][30][49]
Arthur P. Peterson Oahu National Reform National Reform [28][29][30][50]
David William Pua Oahu National Liberal National Reform [28][29][30][51]
John Smith Walker Oahu National Reform National Reform Served as President of the Legislative Assembly [28][29][30][52]
John Norman Spencer Williams Oahu National Reform National Reform [28][29][30][53]
August Dreier Kauai and Niihau Reform Independent [28][29][30][54]
Paul P. Kanoa Kauai and Niihau Reform Reform [28][29][30][55]
Alexander M. McBryde Kauai and Niihau N/A N/A Served from December 19 when he replaced Wilcox after he was appointed Minister of the Interiors [28][29][30][56]
George Norton Wilcox Kauai and Niihau Reform Reform Resigned on November 18 and appointed Minister of the Interiors [28][29][30][57]

House of Representatives[edit]

Name District Islands Party at Election Party (Blount Report) Notes Sources
Albert Horner, Jr. North Hilo Hawaii Reform Reform [28][29][30][58]
George Panila Kamauoha Kohala Hawaii National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][59]
John N. Kapahu Kau Hawaii National Liberal N/A [28][29][30][60]
John K. Kaunamano Hamakua Hawaii Independent National Reform [28][29][30][61]
K. M. Koahou Central Hilo Hawaii National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][62]
Joseph Nāwahī South Hilo Hawaii National Liberal National Liberal Resigned on November 1 and appointed Minister of Finance. Re-elected on December 24. [28][29][30][63]
James H. Waipuilani Kona Hawaii Reform National Reform [28][29][30][64]
William Edmonds South Wailuku Maui, Molokai, Lanai Reform N/A [28][29][30][65]
Jose Kekahuna Iosepa Hana Maui, Molokai, Lanai Reform Reform [28][29][30][66]
John Kaluna Makawao Maui, Molokai, Lanai Reform Reform [28][29][30][67]
Luther W. P. Kanealii North Wailuku Maui, Molokai, Lanai National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][68]
T. S. Nahinu[note 1] Molokai Maui, Molokai, Lanai Independent National Liberal [28][29][30][71]
William Pūnohu White Lahaina Maui, Molokai, Lanai National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][72]
Samuel K. Aki Ward 4, Honolulu Oahu National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][73]
Clarence W. Ashford Ward 3, Honolulu Oahu National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][74]
John W. Bipikane Ward 2, Honolulu Oahu National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][75]
John E. Bush Ward 6, Koolau Oahu National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][76]
Anakalea Kauhi Ward 8, Ewa Oahu Independent Independent [28][29][30][77]
Samuel K. Pua Ward 5, Honolulu Oahu National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][78]
Robert William Wilcox Ward 7, Waialua Oahu National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][79]
William Chauncey Wilder Ward 1, Honolulu Oahu Reform Reform [28][29][30][80]
Joseph Apukai Akina Waimea Kauai and Niihau National Liberal National Liberal [28][29][30][81]
William Owen Smith Lihue Kauai and Niihau Reform Reform [28][29][30][82]
Albert Spencer Wilcox Hanalei Kauai and Niihau Reform Reform [28][29][30][83]

Cabinet Ministers[edit]

According to Article 42 of the 1887 Constitution, "The Cabinet holds seats ex officio, in the Legislature, with the right to vote, except on a question of want of confidence in them."[84] Each cabinet were named after the leading cabinet ministers.[85]

Name Position Assumed Office Left Office Party Notes Sources
The Widemann Cabinet
William Austin Whiting Attorney General February 25, 1891 July 27, 1892 National Reform [28][30][18][86]
Charles Nichols Spencer Minister of the Interior February 25, 1891 September 12, 1892 National Reform [28][30][18][87]
Hermann A. Widemann Minister of Finance January 28, 1892 September 12, 1892 National Reform [28][30][18][88]
Samuel Parker Minister of Foreign Affairs February 25, 1891 September 12, 1892 National Reform First term [28][30][18][89]
The Macfarlane Cabinet
Paul Neumann Attorney General September 12, 1892 November 1, 1892 National Reform Former member of the House of Nobles [28][30][18][49]
Charles T. Gulick Minister of the Interior September 12, 1892 November 1, 1892 National Reform First term [28][30][18][90]
Edward C. Macfarlane Minister of Finance September 12, 1892 November 1, 1892 National Reform Former member of the House of Nobles [28][30][18][47]
Samuel Parker Minister of Foreign Affairs September 12, 1892 November 1, 1892 National Reform Second term [28][30][18][89]
The Cornwell Cabinet
Charles F. Creighton Attorney General November 1, 1892 November 1, 1892 N/A [28][30][18][91]
Charles T. Gulick Minister of the Interior November 1, 1892 November 1, 1892 National Reform Second term [28][30][18][90]
William H. Cornwell Minister of Finance November 1, 1892 November 1, 1892 National Reform First term. Former member of the House of Nobles. [28][30][18][39]
Joseph Nāwahī Minister of Foreign Affairs November 1, 1892 November 1, 1892 National Liberal Former member of the House of Representatives. [28][30][18][63]
The Wilcox Cabinet
Cecil Brown Attorney General November 8, 1892 January 12, 1893 Reform [28][30][18][92]
George Norton Wilcox Minister of the Interior November 8, 1892 January 12, 1893 Reform [28][30][18][57]
Peter Cushman Jones Minister of Finance November 8, 1892 January 12, 1893 Reform [28][30][18][93]
Mark Prever Robinson Minister of Foreign Affairs November 8, 1892 January 12, 1893 Reform [28][30][18][94]
The Parker Cabinet
Arthur P. Peterson Attorney General January 12, 1893 January 17, 1893 National Reform [28][30][18][50]
John F. Colburn Minister of the Interior January 12, 1893 January 17, 1893 National Reform [28][30][18][95]
William H. Cornwell Minister of Finance January 12, 1893 January 17, 1893 National Reform Second term. Former member of the House of Nobles. [28][30][18][39]
Samuel Parker Minister of Foreign Affairs January 12, 1893 January 17, 1893 National Reform Third term [28][30][18][89]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sometime given as G. S. Nahinu.[69][70]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 344–372.
  2. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 406–410.
  3. ^ Osorio 2002, pp. 238, 245–248.
  4. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 448–455, 460–460.
  5. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 474–475
  6. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 514–522, 547, 554–555
  7. ^ Kuykendall 1967, p. 521.
  8. ^ a b Loomis 1963, pp. 7–27; Allen 1982, pp. 269–270
  9. ^ Kuykendall 1967, p. 521; Hawaii & Lydecker 1918, p. 182
  10. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 523–581; Loomis 1963, pp. 7–27
  11. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 543–545, 574–581.
  12. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 528–529, 548.
  13. ^ Liliuokalani 1898, p. 384.
  14. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 461–465, 547–548, 575–576.
  15. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 549–559
  16. ^ Moblo 1998, pp. 229–232
  17. ^ Kuykendall 1967, pp. 562–563, 573–581; Allen 1982, p. 174–175; Moblo 1998, pp. 229–232
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "A New Cabinet – Some New Ministers for the Public to Swallow". The Pacific Commercial Advertiser. XVII (3277). Honolulu. January 14, 1893. p. 4. Archived from the original on January 9, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
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  21. ^ a b Kuykendall 1967, pp. 582–586; Allen 1982, pp. 281–282; Twigg-Smith 1998, pp. 64–67; Alexander 1896, pp. 29–36
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Further reading[edit]