The Morgan Report was an 1894 report concluding an official U.S. Congressional investigation into the events surrounding the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, including the alleged role of U.S. military troops (both bluejackets and marines) in the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani. Along with the Blount Report submitted in 1893, it is one of the main source documents compiling the testimony of witnesses and participants in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in January 1893. The Morgan Report was the final result of an official U.S. Congressional investigation into the overthrow, conducted by the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, whose chairman was Senator John Tyler Morgan, Democrat of Alabama.
The Report is formally named the Senate Report 227 of the 53rd Congress, second session, and dated February 26, 1894. It was printed as part of a large volume containing other government documents: "Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789–1901 Volume 6."
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The Blount Report had concluded that the U.S. Minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens carried out unauthorized partisan activities, including the landing of U.S. Marines under a false or exaggerated pretext, to support the anti-royalist conspirators and that these actions were instrumental to the success of the overthrow of the queen. The Morgan Report contradicted the Blount Report, finding all individuals involved in the overthrow – with the notable exception of Queen Liliʻuokalani – "not guilty". The Native Hawaiians Study Commission Report of 1993, commenting on the two competing reports, states: "The truth lies somewhere between the two reports."
The Morgan Report's submission in 1894 roughly coincided with the Turpie Resolution, which terminated Cleveland's efforts to restore the Queen. Cleveland (under intense pressure due to domestic unrest in the U.S. and arguably through coercion) accepted the conclusions of the Morgan Report, continued to engage in diplomatic relations with the Provisional Government, recognized the Republic of Hawaii upon its declaration on July 4, 1894, and even negotiated treaties originally ratified under the Kingdom government with the Republic.
The nine member Senate Foreign Relations Committee that submitted the report could not agree on a final conclusion, and the oft-cited executive summary was signed only by Morgan himself. Other Republican members of the Committee, including Senators Sherman, Frye, Dolph, and Davis, generally agreed with the report, but refused to endorse the actions of Blount (who was appointed by President Cleveland, a Democrat). Democratic Senators Turpie, Butler, Daniel, and Gray did not endorse the approval of Minister Stevens' actions; while Butler and Turpie generally approved annexation, they refused to endorse the Morgan Report's conclusions because of the implications for internal disorder in Hawaii. Gray and Daniel were apparently outright opposed to annexation.
The Morgan Report was the final result of Cleveland's referral of the matter of the overthrow to Congress.
Cleveland from the Blount Report:
At the time the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown, President Benjamin Harrison, a Republican expansionist, was only a few weeks from the end of his term. The new Provisional Government of Hawai'i immediately delivered a treaty of annexation to President Harrison, who referred it favorably to the Senate for ratification on February 15, 1893.
James Blount, a Democrat, had been chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs during Harrison's term. On March 11, without seeking confirmation from the Senate (though it was in session at the time), President Cleveland appointed Blount to be a special envoy to Hawaiʻi with "paramount" powers and secret instructions to investigate the circumstances of the revolution and the stability of the Provisional Government.
Blount held secret, informal conversations with royalists and annexationists in Honolulu. He invited certain witnesses to sit with him to give formal statements in the presence of a stenographer, to be published later in the Blount Report. These statements were not under oath, and several of them were recanted when made public. Historian Ernest Andrade wrote, "He interviewed only a few people involved in the instigation and carrying out of the revolution. He took no testimony from the officers and enlisted men of USS Boston." He delivered a report to President Cleveland on July 17, 1893 claiming improper U.S. backing for the revolution had been responsible for its success, and that the Provisional Government lacked popular support.
On the basis of Blount's report, President Cleveland began working towards the restoration of the Queen, conditional upon amnesty towards those responsible for the overthrow. Minister Willis was unable to convince the Queen to grant the Committee of Safety amnesty in return for the throne until December 18, 1893, at which point Willis, on behalf of Cleveland, then ordered Hawai'i President Sanford Dole to dissolve the Provisional Government and restore the Queen. Dole flatly refused in a blistering letter decrying Cleveland's interference. Unbeknownst to Willis, on the same day he demanded President Dole to step down, December 18, Cleveland had already given up convincing the Queen to grant amnesty, and sent a message to Congress declaring the revolution improper and decrying the U.S. involvement in it, referring the matter to their authority.
In response the Senate passed a resolution empowering its Foreign Relations Committee to hold public hearings under oath, and cross-examine witnesses, to investigate U.S. involvement in the revolution and also to investigate whether it had been proper for President Cleveland to appoint Blount and give him extraordinary powers to represent the U.S. and intervene in Hawaiʻi without Senate confirmation.
The final result of this investigation is the Morgan Report, submitted on February 26, 1894.
The Turpie Resolution of May 31, 1894, which was protested by Queen Liliʻuokalani,  was a direct result of the Morgan Report. The Turpie Resolution ended all hope of the Queen for further intervention on her behalf.
Cleveland accepted the verdict of the Congressional committee, abandoned efforts to reinstate the Queen, and treated the Provisional Government and Republic of Hawaiʻi as the internationally recognized lawful successors of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Despite his strong words of December 18, 1893, after the investigation conducted by the Morgan Committee, and the Senate's Turpie Resolution of May 31, 1894, he never again questioned the legitimacy of the overthrow.
In his last bit of resistance to accepting the overthrow, Cleveland managed to get the wording for the Turpie Resolution changed to refer to the "people" rather than the "Provisional Government", although the net effect was still a complete renunciation of his hopes to restore Queen Liliʻuokalani to power.
The majority report submitted contained the following conclusions:
A minority report by the 4 Republicans criticized Blount's appointment and activities.
A minority report by 4 of the Democrats criticized Minister Stevens for his actions.
All the Senators exonerated the actions of the U.S. military.
Broken down by topic, the votes were as follows:
The Morgan Report has been treated with a significant amount of skepticism by pro-sovereignty academics, and has largely been glossed over for the past 30 years. Although the Morgan Report was planned to be digitized by the University of Hawaii as part of a collection of annexation documents in 2001, only the pro-sovereignty Blount Report was completed. The library's project ended in 2002 and no further grants were applied for; it is also understood that a devastating flood caused significant setbacks for their program. The project narrative for the 2002 grant application to digitize documents, including the Morgan Report said, "The materials selected however are not one-sided. The Morgan Report challenges the Blount Report, which implicated the United States in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy."
It was not until volunteers outside of the University of Hawaii took on the task of digitizing the Morgan Report that it was made available online in 2006. Since its online publication, the University of Hawaii has maintained a link to the http://morganreport.org website alongside their other annexation documents.
The Morgan Committee was chaired by Senator John Tyler Morgan of Jim Crow political fame. An Alabama Review article written by Thomas Upchurch states that Morgan wanted to find Black southerners a new homeland.
Throughout the report, Morgan used the term kanaka, derived from the Hawaiian kānaka ʻōiwi for a person of Hawaiian descent. Many native Hawaiians consider this white appropriation of the term to be a racial slur. The use of the word kanaka in the report allowed Morgan to redefine the term Hawaiian to refer to the geographical, rather than the historical, inhabitants, thus creating a literary deceit that disassociated native Hawaiians from Hawaii.
Others note that racist bigotry of Chairman Morgan, although unfortunately common at the time, does not necessarily invalidate the evidence gathered during the hearings, especially considering that Morgan was just one of nine senators conducting the investigation.Yet his vote was the deciding factor in the 5–4 decision of whether Stevens acted lawfully.
Morgan Report critics note that Morgan did not visit Hawai`i before issuing his Morgan Report and instead held hearings in Washington, D.C., which, in effect, eliminated any Hawaiian representation of the royalist position. James Henderson Blount represented the royalist position well in his Blount Report, which was nearly exclusively royalist, and by his own testimony in front of the committee. Senator George Gray was particularly anti-annexationist, and brought forward witnesses with testimony critical of the Provisional Government.:647 Of the total of nine senators, four Republicans and three Democrats indicated their support for annexation.
According to Hawaii historian Ralph Kuykendall, witnesses in the Morgan Investigation were picked to make out the best possible case for annexation.:647 Under the guidance of Lorrin Thurston and W.D. Alexander, Morgan made the case against the queen and for annexation.:648 The earlier Blount report did not interview members of the Committee of Safety, and their testimony as well as other evidence put forth during the Morgan Committee hearings contradicted the assertions Blount had made in hist report. Kuykendall described Blount's report as a "lawyer's brief, making the best possible case for the queen and against Stevens", while the Morgan Report "presented an equally effective case for the Provisional Government and Stevens, and against the Queen."
A common critique of the Morgan Report is that there was no majority opinion, and that three separate minority opinions existed - Morgan's, the Republicans' and the Democrats'. It is often argued that only Morgan signed the report in its entirety. Hawaiian historian Ralph Kuykendall characterized it this way:
In the end, the majority of the Senate committee on foreign relations found everyone 'not guilty' save the queen, although only Morgan, who wrote the final report, agreed with all parts of it. The Democrats on the committee supported Blount and Willis, imputed the blame to Stevens for his 'inopportune zeal,' and found him deserving of public censure. The Republicans on the committee also filed a report. They refused to censure Blount and Willis; they placed the blame higher up. And at the end, not a single item for future action was recommended in the report.:648
Towards the end of the main findings section, there is a break after the primary report, followed by a minor disagreement over the constitutionality of Blount's appointment and actions, and then the signatures of the Republicans who joined Morgan, a Democrat, in the rest of the majority opinion. The four Republicans stated their assent to the initial section of the report with the following statement:
We are in entire accord with the essential findings in the exceedingly able report submitted by the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations.
The four Democrats who disagreed with the four Republicans, and with Morgan (again, a Democrat), clearly indicate their minority dissent, signing their four names as "Members of Minority". Even though they dissented in regards to whether Minister Stevens should have been censured, they still held the U.S. troops blameless, noting that they remained scrupulously neutral throughout their time ashore:
On the other hand, we are not inclined to censure Capt. Wiltse, commanding the United States war-ship Boston, or the officers of that vessel. Their position was one of extreme delicacy and difficulty, and we appreciate their anxiety to afford protection to the lives and property of American citizens. The force of United States marines of the Boston with their ordinary arms stationed at the American legation, and at the consulate in Honolulu, would have effectually represented the authority and power of the United States Government, and would have afforded whatever protection American interests might have required; and at the same time would have avoided the appearance of coercion or duress, either upon the people of Honolulu or the Queen in the controversy between them.
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