This article is part of The Nation’s 150th Anniversary Special Issue. Download a free PDF of the issue, with articles by James Baldwin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Toni Morrison, Howard Zinn and many more, here.
Editorial (Horace White)
Excerpted from the November 25, 1897 Issue
The feature of the proposed annexation of Hawaii which ought to excite the most comment and the greatest repugnance has received scarcely any attention, and among the advocates of annexation none at all. This is the fact that the American republic, based upon the doctrine that all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, proposes to change the government of a distant country without asking the consent of the governed in any way whatever. Does this betoken a change in ourselves? So it would seem.
That Senator Morgan of Alabama should argue this question as though the people of Hawaii have no rights which white men are bound to respect, is not to be wondered at. He is an ex-slave-holder. He belongs to a class who are in office by virtue of suppressing the votes of the black men and also of such whites as do not vote their ticket. Free suffrage has been abolished in Alabama and in several other Southern States, and one of the most solemn questions that confront the American public today is how to purify the ballot and secure a fair count in those States.
They began with cheating the negro. They have ended by cheating each other. It is easy to understand how men who believe in this system should ride rough-shod over the rights of the Hawaiians, how they should treat the question of annexation as though those rights were non-existent, and talk about England and Japan, and naval power in the Pacific, and every other conceivable thing except the foundation principle of free government. Being accustomed to trample upon it at home, they cannot be expected to see its virtues in the distant Pacific. But that the liberty-loving North, and especially the Republican party, which fought a war to establish this principle, and contended for thirty years after the war to maintain it, should now join in trampling upon it, is something that would not have been believed by any former generation of Americans.
Horace White (1834–1916) was editor of the New-York Evening Post from 1899 to 1903.
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