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Treaty of Reciprocity

 

 

The planters had a plan: a Treaty of Reciprocity between the United States of America and the Hawaiian Kingdom was drafted under which Hawaiian sugar and other goods would enter the US duty free. In return US goods would enter Hawaii free and, as a sweetener, the US Navy could build a naval base in the mouth of the Pearl River.

This would be a win-win for the planters, who saw a political advantage in a physical US presence, but not so good for the Hawaiians who were outraged at a proposed alienation of sacred Hawaiian river lands.  The Hawaiians still held the overwhelming balance of power in the democratically elected House of Representatives.  With the growing racial tensions fist-fighting broke out on the floor of the Legislature.

Kamehameha V acceded to the proposed Treaty of Reciprocity but it would not pass the lower house.  Shortly afterwards in, 1872, the he died without leaving an heir.

A new King, Lunalillo, was chosen by popular vote of the Hawaiian Legislature. He was a sophisticate and lover of the arts who also 'liked a drink'.  He was also dying of Tuberculosis and would last little over a year. His reign was chaotic.  Helped along by the Missionary Party lawlessness had broken out across the country and the royal household troops, who were commanded by Europeans, mutinied and were disbanded.

An attempt by Queen Emma to rule and restore order was thwarted by the Legislature and the House of Nobles elected another high-cast Hawaiian: King Kalakaua.

Kalakaua became known as the 'Merry Monarch'.  He demanded an elaborate coronation, reflecting that of Napoleon, and built the large 'loani Palace for balls and State banquets.  Yet he entertained friends and visitors, like Robert Louis Stevenson, in his more casual wooden boat house in the traditional style preferred by his Queen.

 

 


King Kalakaua entertaining Robert Louis Stevenson in his Boat House
They're sitting on the floor but women alternate with men and the dress style is European
Edwin J. Beinecke Collection of Robert Louis Stevenson - public domain  

 

The glittering 'loani Palace is now a tourist attraction.

During his reign Kalakaua negotiated a more limited Reciprocity Treaty under which only Ford Island (moku'ume'ume) in the middle of the river would be leased to the US for 'a coaling and repair station for the use of vessels of the United States, and to that end the United States may improve the entrance to said harbor and do all other things needful to the purpose aforesaid.' - ratified in 1884.  Read more...

This together with his taste for power and a plan to create a Federation of Polynesia so alarmed the Missionary Party that they forced the 'Bayonet Constitution' of 1887 on him by threatening him with the militia, now commanded by their supporters.  This robbed Kalakaua of most of his powers. For good measure the new constitution abolished the democratically elected House of Representatives and restructured the House of Nobles so that only wealthy land owners and US citizens, now made honorary Hawaiians, could stand as members.  Once in effective control of the government they worked to replace Kalakaua with his sister, princess Lili'uokalani, as Regent.

 

 


Dredging at Pearl Harbour after 1884 - resulting from the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875
Note that the attached commentary at the US Army Museum is misleading as to dates and extent

 

 

Kalakaua died of a stroke in San Francisco in 1891 and Lili'uokalani returned from London, where she was attending Queen Victoria's Jubilee, to be crowned.  As Queen her first goal was to restore democracy but this was not to be tolerated by the white businessmen who had sized power and were now actively lobbying Washington for the annexation of Hawaii by the United States.  The Hawaiian public were close to rebellion so the white minority formed a 'Committee of Public Safety' and strengthened the militia to assure the 'safety' of families and property. 

 

 

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Travel

Burma (Myanmar)

 

This is a fascinating country in all sorts of ways and seems to be most popular with European and Japanese tourists, some Australians of course, but they are everywhere.

Since childhood Burma has been a romantic and exotic place for me.  It was impossible to grow up in the Australia of the 1950’s and not be familiar with that great Australian bass-baritone Peter Dawson’s rendition of Rudyard Kipling’s 'On the Road to Mandalay' recorded two decades or so earlier:  

Come you back to Mandalay
Where the old flotilla lay
Can't you hear their paddles chunking
From Rangoon to Mandalay

On the road to Mandalay
Where the flying fishes play
And the Dawn comes up like thunder
out of China 'cross the bay

The song went Worldwide in 1958 when Frank Sinatra covered it with a jazz orchestration, and ‘a Burma girl’ got changed to ‘a Burma broad’; ‘a man’ to ‘a cat’; and ‘temple bells’ to ‘crazy bells’.  

Read more: Burma (Myanmar)

Fiction, Recollections & News

Memory

 

 

 

Our memories are fundamental to who we are. All our knowledge and all our skills and other abilities reside in memory. As a consequence so do all our: beliefs; tastes; loves; hates; hopes; and fears.

Yet our memories are neither permanent nor unchangeable and this has many consequences.  Not the least of these is the bearing memory has on our truthfulness.

According to the Macquarie Dictionary a lie is: "a false statement made with intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood - something intended or serving to convey a false impression".  So when we remember something that didn't happen, perhaps from a dream or a suggestion made by someone else, or we forget something that did happen, we are not lying when we falsely assert that it happened or truthfully deny it.

The alarming thing is that this may happen quite frequently without our noticing. Mostly this is trivial but when it contradicts someone else's recollections, in a way that has serious legal or social implications, it can change lives or become front page news.

Read more: Memory

Opinions and Philosophy

World Population – again and again

 

 

David Attenborough hit the headlines yet again in 15 May 2009 with an opinion piece in New Scientist. This is a quotation:

 

‘He has become a patron of the Optimum Population Trust, a think tank on population growth and environment with a scary website showing the global population as it grows. "For the past 20 years I've never had any doubt that the source of the Earth's ills is overpopulation. I can't go on saying this sort of thing and then fail to put my head above the parapet."

 

There are nearly three times as many people on the planet as when Attenborough started making television programmes in the 1950s - a fact that has convinced him that if we don't find a solution to our population problems, nature will:
"Other horrible factors will come along and fix it, like mass starvation."

 

Bob Hawke said something similar on the program Elders with Andrew Denton:

 

Read more: World Population – again and again

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