Fourth of July: 1880
Source: Pacific Commercial Advertiser: Honolulu. July 10, 1880
On Saturday last, Independence Day was duly honored in Honolulu. The first indication of this happy event was a peal of guns at early morn. The next attraction was at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The Band occupied the orchestra, and precisely at 10 o’clock they struck up the American anthem, followed by several appropriate selections. The “Declaration of Independence” was admirably read by Mr. Jas. B. Castle. The Hon. W.M. Gibson made an eloquent and impressive speech, in the course of which he said:
In his patriotic oration he presented a glowing panorama of youthful reminiscences in America, from the maple woodlands of Vermont to the Cypress glades of Louisiana; and then dwelt with fervor upon the scenes of the matured man’s enterprise and ambition in the great cities; in Imperial New York, in intellectual Boston, in tasteful Philadelphia, in the Baltimore of beauties, in cosmopolitan Washington, in the great prairie storehouses, Chicago and Cincinnati, and in the entrepots of the great river, New Orleans and St. Louis. “How shall I speak,” he said, “of the wealth, and power, and achievement of the country that we celebrate, on its political natal day! Our America is now gathering in the nations –over 300,000 souls go to seek voluntarily new homes within her borders in one year. Or say, that about six little nations like ours are added by immigration alone, to the great Republic within twelve months-surely such an empire that gathers in a little state at every course of the moon cannot be supposed to allow a moment’s thought of covetousness towards our petty realm.
No, America, the great land of freedom seekers will only care that little Hawaii shall be allowed to work out her own destiny in peace. America first recognized the independence of this Kingdom in 1842, which fact is set forth in the dispatches of those two distinguished Americans, Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun, addressed to our Hawaiian commissioners, Richards and Haalilio.
And America will not at any time go back on her proven course of favor towards us, even if it may be proven that little Hawaii is a gainer by great America’s munificence. I have confidence in the continued good will of American statesman, and American people. We are to them the constant object of special kindly traditions. The strides that the great Republic has made in progress will only serve to inspire her with more generous ideas. The nation of three millions which won the independence that we now celebrate, could only practice generosity, now that she is a state of about fifty million of souls, in her dealings with a state of about fifty thousand.
What successes for America in a hundred years! What glory she adds to the English speaking races. How nobly she has sustained her great charter of Liberty! I will not speak here of American politics, nor touch upon the great contest for government which agitates our great home land; but this I will say, that despite the mutual incriminations of presidential canvasses, the republic has never once failed to elect a statesman and a gentleman.
Then spread out. O, English speaking America! Be one in mutual interests with the great Dominion that stretches from the pole to the great lakes! Go anglicize in peace and good will the Halls of the Montezumas! Carry not only railroads but common schools to the lands of the Incas; and stretch forth, O, American spirit of enlightenment and freedom over the Pacific Ocean, and invade Asia with conquests of commerce and manufactures.
And whilst we celebrate Independence day let us associate it with another day that has become dear to the American heart. Passion divided American people for a while, and strove to sunder the ancient bonds; but Decoration Day has brought them together again closer than ever. I witnessed a little while ago, at the National cemetery at Arlington, brave survivors of both sides of a sad conflict, alternately place the commemorative wreaths of affection upon the last resting places of the “blue and the grey.”
And shall not we Americans of the islands emulate the spirit that animates our great country? Shall we not banish all bitterness? Shall we cherish antagonism, and hug hate to our hearts? Shall we not rather present an illustration of America’s noble union? And unite in good will to maintain in these Islands the honor and good name of our great country,
“There’s freedom at thy gates, and rest
For earth’s down trodden, and opprest,
A shelter for the hunted head!
For the starved labor, toil and bread,
Power at thy bounds,
Stops, and calls back his baffled hounds.
O! fair young mother on thy brow
Shall sit a nobler grace than now
Deep in the brightness of thy skies,
The thronging years in glory rise,
And, as they fleet,
Drop strength and riches at thy feet.”
Mr. Harnden followed with the national song of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Ex. Governor Wells, of Virginia, then spoke as follows:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN-Coming to these hospitable shores only a few weeks since, a perfect stranger, he never anticipated being the recipient of such hospitality as began at his arrival and followed him to this moment. He thought it particularly gratifying to be called upon this Anniversary of his country’s birth in this foreign but friendly land to salute the flag to which he owed allegiance. A hundred years ago we had not 5,000,000 of people, and we are now at least 50,000,000 and living in peace. It was impossible that 5,000,000 of people could long remain under the dominion of England, and Great Britain long ago learned that the revolution was necessary, and also that she had the glory of founding an English speaking people, great, honored and useful as our great Country now is. The great truth of immortal independence were not invented in America, but were proclaimed, fought for, and triumphed first in Great Britain, and it was in English history and literature that our forefathers learned them, and if they triumphed and spread from shore to shore and from people to people it is England’s glory and our glory in common and alike. Between America and England, the two great English speaking nations, there can, thank God, be no bitterings, no strife, no war, but only noble ambition, and heroic rivalry in spreading our arts, our civilization and our longer and better liberties to all the world. Thank Heaven that the chasm that existed in our country has been finally settled, and if its settlement cost the lives of half a millions, it was too much.
Speaking of the relations between this country and America, he said, it is only about sixty years since American piety and Christian humanity gave this people its first missionaries and teachers in morals, religion and education. A noble band of heroes who did their glorious work so well, that t-day there is no State in the United States where education is more general, or where the proportion of persons who cannot read is so small as in this Kingdom of Hawaii. Thank you for the honor you have conferred upon me, let us pray and hope that in the time to come the bonds of unity and friendship now existing will now become for firm, and that both nations, America and Hawaii, we be as brothers in peace, unity and harmony.
At the close of Governor Wells speech, Mr. Rodgers addressed the assembly and stated that the American Minister would be unable to do the usual honors of receiving his fellow citizens on that day. The assemblage wended their way about noon from the Hotel grounds, and after lunch, many found their way to Kapiolani Park. It was universally admitted to be a “Glorious Fourth” and the arrangements for amusement and diversion were good.