Hawaii as a United States territory

The President appointed a commission in July, 1898, consisting of Senators Cullom and Morgan, Representative Hitt, with President Dole and Justice Frear, of Hawaii, to investigate and report on the form of local government most desirable. Their recommendations were not acted upon by Congress for over a year, chiefly because they contained provisions for granting to Hawaii a delegate in Congress, as allowed to our Territories. It was objected that this would lead to the admission of Hawaii as a State. The labor problem was the source of other objections. The Supreme Court of Hawaii had stopped the immigration of Chinese into the island. After prolonged discussion an act providing a government "for the Territory of Hawaii" was signed by the President on April 30, 1900.

Section 3 of the Act declares that "A Territorial Government is hereby established over said Territory, with its capital at Honolulu, on the Island of Oahu." All persons who were citizens of Hawaii August 12, 1898, are declared to be citizens of the United States. The Constitution, except as in the act otherwise provided, and the laws of the United States not locally applicable, shall have force and effect in the Territory. The Constitution of the Republic of Hawaii and its laws which are not in conflict with the Constitution and laws of the United States shall continue in force, except a large number which are repealed, and those remaining are subject to repeal by the Legislature of Hawaii or the Congress.

General elections, beginning in 1900, were provided for, also the election, qualifications, powers, and duties of members of the Legislature.

The Legislature shall be composed of two houses - the Senate of fifteen members, to hold office four years, and the House of Representatives of thirty members, to hold office two years. The Legislature will meet biennially, and sessions are limited to sixty days.

The executive power is lodged in a Governor, a Secretary, both to be appointed by the President and hold office four years, and the following officials to be appointed by the Governor, by and with the consent of the Senate of Hawaii: An Attorney-General, Treasurer, Commissioner of Public Lands, Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, Superintendent of Public Works, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Auditor and Deputy, Surveyor, High Sheriff, and members of the Boards of Health, Public Instruction, Prison Inspectors, etc. The duties of these officials are defined in the act. They hold office for four years, and must be citizens of Hawaii.

The judiciary of the Territory is composed of the Supreme Court, with three judges, the Circuit Court, and such inferior courts as the Legislature shall establish. The judges are appointed by the President. The Territory is made a federal judicial district, with a District Judge, District Attorney, and Marshal, all appointed by the President. The District Judge shall have all the powers of a Circuit Judge.

The election of a Delegate in Congress is provided for, and the Territory is made an internal revenue and customs district.

Provision is made for the residence of Chinese in the Territory, and prohibition as laborers to enter the United States as follows:

Sec. 101. That Chinese in the Hawaiian Islands when this act takes effect may within one year thereafter obtain certificates of residence as required by "An act to prohibit the coming of Chinese persons into the United States," approved May 5, 1892, as amended by an act approved November 3, 1893, entitled "An act to amend an act entitled 'An act to prohibit the coming of Chinese persons into the United States,' approved May 5, 1892," and until the expiration of said year shall not be deemed to be unlawfully in the United States if found therein without such certificates: Provided, however, That no Chinese laborer, whether he shall hold such certificate or not, shall be allowed to enter any State, Territory, or district of the United States from the Hawaiian Islands.

It was provided that the act should take effect June 14, 1900.

The regulation of the traffic in alcoholic liquors is left to local option.

The qualified voter must be able to speak, read, and write the English or Hawaiian language, and must have lived one year in the Territory.

The peculiar conditions of the labor question, which, in view of the liberal provisions in the matter of the suffrage, is likely to continue a trouble for a long time to come, are set forth in the following extract from a report by W.W. Taylor, Secretary of the Bureau of Immigration in Hawaii.]

"THE ordinary manual work on a plantation is performed by unskilled labor, which may be divided into two classes - contract and free.

"Contract labor, consisting of Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Hungarian, Hawaiian and others, is held under contract for three years when coming direct from foreign countries under agreement, and for the same or a shorter period when contracting after a previous sojourn in this country.

"Free labor, consisting of the same nationalities mentioned above, is employed by the day or month, without contract, and has come into the country as free labor or has fulfilled a previous three-years' contract and is then free to work where employment may be obtained.

"This free-labor contingent is a fluctuating and uncertain quantity - here to-day and there to-morrow - working at will, and seeking the places where most favorable conditions and highest wages are in vogue. The laborers receive higher pay than contract men, but may be discharged at a moment's notice, and the plantation owes them nothing but shelter and wages for work done.

"The contract man occupies quite a different position with reference to his employer. He is assured of steady work at a fixed sum per month. He can claim and receive not only unfurnished lodging for himself and family, but fuel, water, taxes paid, medical attendance and certain other privileges; and for this he must work, when able, a certain number of days per month, wherever it pleases the employer, and fulfil in other respects the terms of his contract.

"When contract laborers are needed from abroad, application is made to the government for permission to import laborers of the desired nationality. If permission is granted, the order to recruit them is given to immigration companies authorized by law, who employ recruiting agents in the localities whence the men are to be drawn. These companies are then responsible for the delivery of the required number of men to the final employer.

"In obtaining European labor the planters have the benefit of the authority, forms and official connection of the board of immigration; and, while all expenses are met by the planters in the first instance, afterwards a sum, not to exceed $130 for each family, is paid by the government to cover recruiting expenses and passage of women and children accompanying the immigrants. In this case the immigrant contracts with the board of immigration and signs his agreement before the Hawaiian consul at the port of departure in his own country. In this case, also, steerage passage, food and medical attendance are furnished free to his destination, and oftentimes a money advance is given - this to be repaid in small monthly installments. The board of immigration assigns these laborers to their several employers, and they are at no expense until they reach their field of labor.

"The quarters furnished by the plantation are grouped together in camps, located with reference to convenience to work, and for the most part with regard to drainage and sanitary conditions.

"The kind of building varies with the class of labor. European labor has for a family, or for two single men, two rooms in a four-room cottage. Chinese, being single men, are housed in barracks with from six to forty men in a room. Single Japanese are often provided for in the same way - sometimes, however, only two occupying the same room. Married Japanese are furnished with a small room for each family.

"These houses are rough frame buildings, shingle or iron roofed, with covered porches six feet wide, extending their whole length. All lately erected buildings are well raised from the ground. Most have walls eight to ten feet high from floor to roof-plate. The height of ridge-pole above this is from four to six feet. Beneath the roof there is no ceiling, and when divided into rooms these are all open at the top, with a clear space above from end to end of the building. Cottages have partitions reaching to the roof. All walls are whitewashed. Often the space between the rafters above the roof-plate is left open for ventilation.

"These quarters furnish only a shelter and a place of rest. Nothing more is attempted. In barracks where many single men are collected a platform six to eight feet wide and raised two feet above the floor runs the length of the building, and each man has about three feet in width of space for himself to sleep on. The floor space is common property. Again, tiers of shelves three feet wide along the sides of the room, sometimes three or four tiers high, with some slight, low partitions, give about three by six feet for a man.

"In the family rooms is a platform two feet above the floor taking up about two-thirds of the floor space. On this the family sleep and live when at home. The above is for the Japanese. The European cottages are often supplied with rude box bedsteads and perhaps a table and bench. All else must be furnished by the laborer. Generally a piece of straw matting serves for a mattress, a blanket or quilt for covering and a hard neck rest, common to Japan and China, answers for a pillow. Mosquito nettings are a necessity and are found everywhere. The European fills a tick with hay, and a pillow of the same with a blanket convinces him that this is all that a healthy man needs for a bed. Comforts and conveniences very with the ambition and tastes of the laborer, and are of course measured generally by the length of the purse.

"Contract laborers are expected to do agricultural and mill work. The former comprises clearing land, cutting wood and brush, grubbing out roots, moving rocks and brush, teaming and plowing, care of horses, ditching, hoeing, irrigating, fertilizing, planting, stripping and cutting cane, loading and unloading cane cars and any other necessary farming operations. In and about the mill they are occupied in feeding the cane carriers and furnaces, tending any of the mill machinery, handling sugar, loading cars, etc.

"From the contract-labor class the carpenter, blacksmith, engineers and sugar boilers select their assistants, and these, as they learn and become competent, obtain higher wages and often command from $30 to $60 per month.

"When the profit-sharing system is in practice contract men, if deserving, are allowed to take these special contracts and have made from $25 to $35 per month. In a few places men have been allowed to take small pieces of land and cultivate them at their leisure. In order to do this, they are compelled to work early and late, Sundays and holidays, and the mill buys the cane at a fixed rate per pound.

"Between one-third and one-half of the women work in the field and about the mill at the lighter kinds of labor. There is no compulsion. They have many ways of earning money in the camp.

"The number of hours is settled in the contract, being usually ten hours in the field and twelve in the factory.

"The day begins at an hour varying with the season, taking advantage of the light in the early morning. A rising bell or whistle wakes the men at, say, 4:30 a.m. At 5:30 they are ready to proceed to the field, and at 6 o'clock the work-day commences. From 11:30 to 12 noon there is an intermission for lunch in the field; then they work till 4:30 p.m.

"The mill man begins at 5:30 a.m. and is relieved by the night shift at 6 p.m. Overtime is paid for at a contract rate. In some cases time is counted from the time of departure for the field.

"Wages vary according to the supply of labor, and in many instances are governed by the price of sugar. The contract price is now $15 per month for oriental and $18 for European laborers. Old contracts call for only $12.50 for oriental; but in most cases a $2.50 bonus is given to these latter, conditioned on good behavior. Women receive $7.50 to $10 per month. Only actual time spent in labor is paid for. A man receives no pay for enforced idleness, whether caused by sickness or anything else. A plantation official, called a timekeeper, keeps strict account of working time and the pay-roll is made out from his report.

"Generally the wages are paid on a fixed and convenient day between the 3d and 15th of every month, for the previous calendar month. The individual presents his identifying tag and receives the amount that is to the credit of that number.

"Whether in the field or in the mill the men work in gangs varying in number and supervised by an overseer, who directs their work, corrects mistakes, instructs the ignorant and stimulates the lazy. He leads them out in the morning and gives them the signal for cessation at the proper times. The overseers are generally white men, and a successful one must be patient, firm, fair, energetic and judicious. Often he is timekeeper and always a monitor. The character of the overseer frequently determines whether there is contentment or trouble among the laborers.

"Force, in constraints, is not allowed and is fast giving place to other methods. Tact, a withdrawal of privileges and recourse to legal fines and imprisonment are the means used. Rewards for good behavior are not uncommon."

The total number of laborers is reported at 35,987, of whom 20,641 were contract and 15,346 day laborers. According to nationality they are divided as follows: Japanese, 25,654; Chinese, 5,969; Portuguese, 2,153; Hawaiians, 1,326. They are divided according to sex thus: Men, 33,201; women, 2,534; minors, 252.

The skilled laborers number 2,019, divided according to race: Americans, 405; Hawaiians, 219; British, 252; Germans, 218; Portuguese, 305; Scandinavians, 71; Austrians, 16; Japanese, 416; Chinese, 94; other nationalities, 23.

The President appointed Sanford B. Dole, ex-President of the Hawaiian Republic, to be Governor of the Territory of Hawaii.

A highly important discussion arose over the legal interpretation of the status of Hawaii under its new government with respect to this country. The difficulty arose on similar grounds to those stated in the section on Puerto Rico, and the cases went up to the Supreme Court in January, 1901. The particular point in that case was on the right to exact customs dues. The New York and Puerto Rico Steamship Company also raised the question of pilotage, claiming exemption from pilot-boat charge in New York harbor on the ground that Puerto Rican ports had ceased to be foreign. Another case was one covering the entry of goods from Hawaii, consisting of whiskey, brandy and jam, at the customhouse at New York on April 26, 1900, and was the only Hawaiian case in the list. Duty was assessed under the provisions of the Dingley law. The importers protested against collection of duty on the ground that the Hawaiian Islands were a part of the United States; that the provision of the annexation resolution, which continued the customs laws of the Republic of Hawaii in force until Congress should legislate, was unconstitutional.

In his argument for the government, the Solicitor-General asserted that it was obviously the intention of Congress as soon as practicable to treat the territory as part of the United States for legislative purposes, so that the revenue and commercial laws which apply in the United States should operate there. But before these laws could be put in operation in the Hawaiian Islands it is necessary that a period of preparation should intervene after the passage of the resolution of annexation. It is obvious that if the resolution of annexation immediately abrogated the customs laws of the islands the territory would have been left without any customs law, open to the ships of the world. If, then, the resolution of annexation threw open the ports of Hawaii to the world, at the same time, according to the contention of opposing counsel, it threw open the ports of the United States to ships coming from Hawaii.

The Solicitor-General argued that this sort of the should not be permitted, and he expressed the opinion that if Congress had believed that such a consequence would ensue, the resolution of annexation would not have passed when it did, not until arrangements could have been made to put in operation customs and commerce regulations immediately. He called attention to the act of annexation, saying that it did not make the Hawaiian Islands a part of the United States, but a part of the territory of the United States. "It is," he said, "obvious that territory annexed or ceded to the United States becomes a part of the territory of the United States, but does not become 'part of the United States' either in a constitutional or legislative sense until Congress shall so determine."

It was not until the passage of the act of April 30, 1900, that the islands became a part of the United States for customs purposes by the extension of our laws to them.

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