The people of the Kingdom of Hawaii have made known their desire to come into our Union, to form a part of our Confederacy and enjoy with us the blessings of liberty secured and guaranteed by our Constitution. Hawaii has long been tied to our country—and was visited upon by the same captains who helped found our land—and possesses an undoubted right to dispose of a part or the whole of her territory and to merge her sovereignty as a separate and independent state in ours. While the Monarch King Kamehameha the fifth may have a different opinion on this question, I am certain that we can work this issue out.
I regard the question of annexation as belonging exclusively to Columbia and Hawaii. They are independent powers competent to contract, and foreign nations have no right to interfere with them or to take exceptions to their union. Foreign powers do not seem to appreciate the true character of our Government. Our Union is a confederation born out of love of liberty, whose policy is peace with each other and all the world. To enlarge its limits is to extend the dominions of peace over additional territories and increasing millions. The world has nothing to fear from military ambition in our Government. While the Chief Executive and the Parliament are elected for short terms by the suffrages of those millions who must in their own persons bear all the burdens and miseries of war, our Government can not be otherwise. Foreign powers should therefore look on the potential annexation of Hawaii to the Republic of Columbia not as the conquest of a nation seeking to extend her dominions by arms and violence, but as the peaceful acquisition of a territory in spirit her own, by adding another member to our confederation, with the consent of that member, thereby diminishing the chances of war and opening to them new and ever-increasing markets for their products.
To Hawaii the union is important, because the strong protecting arm of our Government would be extended over her, and the vast resources of her fertile soil and genial climate would be speedily developed, while the safety of the Pacific and of our whole southwestern frontier against hostile aggression, as well as the interests of the whole Nation, would be promoted by it.
In the earlier stages of our national existence the opinion prevailed with some that our Government could not operate successfully over an extended territory, that we would be absorbed into larger neighbors, and serious objections have at different times been made to the enlargement of our boundaries. Experience has shown that they were not well founded. The title of numerous Indian tribes to vast tracts of country has been extinguished; new States have been admitted into the Republic; new Territories have been created and our jurisdiction and laws extended over them. As our population has expanded, the Republic has been cemented and strengthened. As our boundaries have been enlarged and our agricultural population has been spread over a large surface, our system has acquired additional strength and security. It is confidently believed that our system may be safely extended to the utmost bounds of our territorial limits, and that as it shall be extended the bonds of our Union, so far from being weakened, will become stronger.
None can fail to see the danger to our safety and future peace if Hawaii remains an independent state or becomes an ally or dependency of some foreign nation more powerful than herself. Is there one among our citizens who would not prefer perpetual peace with Hawaii to occasional wars, which so often occur between bordering independent nations? Is there one who would not prefer free intercourse with her to high duties on all our products and manufactures which enter her ports? Is there one who would not prefer an unrestricted communication with her citizens to the obstructions which must occur if she remains out of the Republic? Whatever is good or evil in the local institutions of Hawaii will remain her own whether annexed to Columbia or not. None of the present States will be responsible for them any more than they are for the local institutions of each other. Perceiving no valid objection to the measure and many reasons for its adoption vitally affecting the peace, the safety, and the prosperity of both countries, I shall on the broad principle which formed the basis and produced the adoption of our Constitution, and not in any narrow spirit of sectional policy, endeavor by all constitutional, honorable, and appropriate means to consummate the expressed will of the people and Government of the Democratic Republic of Columbia to the annexation of Hawaii to our Nation at the earliest practicable period.
In the management of our foreign relations it will be my aim to observe a careful respect for the rights of other nations, while our own will be the subject of constant watchfulness. Equal and exact justice should characterize all our intercourse with foreign countries. All alliances having a tendency to jeopard the welfare and honor of our country or sacrifice any one of the national interests will be studiously avoided, and yet no opportunity will be lost to cultivate a favorable understanding with foreign governments by which our navigation and commerce may be extended and the ample products of our fertile soil, as well as the manufactures of our skillful artisans, find a ready market and remunerating prices in foreign countries. However, at no point will I let the whims and opinions of tyrants and despots dictate the actions of our Republic, as it is my duty to act in the best interests of Columbia and her allies, first and foremost.
I now humbly beseech that Divine Being who has watched over and protected our beloved country from its infancy to the present hour to continue His gracious benedictions upon us, that we may continue to be a prosperous and happy people.