Hawaiian independence - restoration, not secession

Patri Friedman with the Let a Thousand Nations Bloom blog contacted me about a "Secession Week Blogging" series for the July 4th week.

It is understandable that folks tend to think of Hawaiian independence as "secession" because for those unfamiliar with Hawaii's unique history, it appears to be a state of the United States seeking to be removed from the union, like secession movements in "other" states.

But it is very important to understand that Hawaii cannot secede, because it was never ceded. There was never any lawful cession of Hawaii's sovereignty or territory to the United States, therefore there cannot be secession.

Those seeking to restore Hawaii's effective independence are very explicit in avoiding the term "secession." This is more than just semantics. It goes to the heart of Hawaii's true history and legal status.

As Dr. Keanu Sai puts it:
Confusing "cession" for "occupation" is tantamount to confusing "adoption" for "kidnapping." This is not a case of semantics, but ignorance of the legal and political history of Hawai'i.

Legally, the Hawaiian Kingdom, fully recognized in the 19th century as a member of the world family of nations, has continued to exist as an independent state (in the international sense of the word, state = country), but under prolonged occupation. So it isn't a matter of seceding from a mutual and legal union, but of ending the illegal occupation of Hawaii and restoring the effectiveness of the government of the occupied state. It is more similar to the Baltic states under the former Soviet Union, which are referred to as "restored states," than it is to states in the U.S.A.

Dr. Sai's recent article in Ka Wai Ola O OHA (Office of Hawaiian Affairs newsletter), while not directly about "secession," addresses the myth of what are erroneously called "ceded lands" here that were recently the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court case. The historical/legal perspective showing that these lands were not "ceded" also explains that there was no "cession" of sovereignty or territory and therefore there can be no "secession."

For a good presentation of Hawaii's history put in simple terms in a context of imperialism, check out The Pinky Show: Hawaii vs. U.S. Imperialism.

One primary source document that I really encourage folks to read is President Cleveland's address to Congress in December 1893 concerning the situation in Hawaii, based on "an accurate, full, and impartial investigation to [....] of the facts attending the subversion of the constitutional Government of Hawaii" commissioned by the president and conducted by Hon. James H. Blount. It is a profound and eloquent statement not just on Hawaii's situation, but on the principles and obligations of the conduct of the U.S. in the world family of nations, which could easily be applied to some current and recent events elsewhere in the world.

Also worth reading is the 1993 U.S. Apology Resolution. While it contains some factual errors (e.g. referring only to Native Hawaiian population when the citizenry of Hawaii was multi-racial with many naturalized and native-born citizens who were not Native Hawaiian), it is the official admission against interest of the United States, admitting that the intervention of 1893 was "illegal" and that the so-called annexation of 1898 was done "without the consent of or compensation to" the national population or lawful sovereign government of Hawaii. In the senate debate over this resolution, Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) stated that "...the logical consequences of this resolution would be independence."

Another noteworthy document is a 1988 Office of Legal Counsel opinion put out by the Reagan Department of Justice regarding "Congress’ Power to Assert Sovereignty over the Territorial Sea." After reviewing Hawaii's situation, the opinion states that, "It is therefore unclear which constitutional power Congress exercised when it acquired Hawaii by joint resolution." When the DoJ seeks to determine which constitutional power was exercised to acquire Hawaii, and concludes that it is "unclear," the clear implication of that is that there was actually no constitutional power exercised. The acquisition of Hawaii was not only not legal and valid under international law, it was not constitutional either, and the DoJ is essentially admitting as much.

For those who may be interested in digging deeper in the details of Hawaii's history and legal status from a scholarly perspective, I recommend checking out the various articles at the Hawaii Journal of Law and Politics put out by the Hawaiian Society of Law and Politics (HSLP) at Univ. of Hawaii, and reading Dr. Sai's doctoral dissertation, "The American Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom: Beginning the Transition from Occupied to Restored State," which provides a thorough review of Hawaii's political and legal history and a strategy to restore the administration of Hawaiian Kingdom law.

Finally, for some observations on the social/political difference between Hawaii's independence and the secessionist movements in Alaska and the United States in general, check out a blog post I made last year during the U.S. elections when Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin's husband was associated with the Alaskan Independence Party.

Update: Here's Friedman's post which quotes and refers back to this post.

Posted: Tue - June 30, 2009 at 11:22 AM    
Featured Video

What are "Ceded Lands" by Dr. Keanu Sai

World Court Case DVD
Larsen Case on DVD
Larsen DVD
Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom at the
Permanent Court of Arbitration
The Hague, 2001
DVD Mini-Documentary & Booklet
Order your copy
Free Hawaii
Over at the Free Hawaii blog, Koani Foundation is giving away "Free Hawaii" stickers and pins, and will post photos of them displayed in interesting places. Spread them far and wide!
TV Worth Watching
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
The Colbert Report
NOW with David Brancaccio
Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria
Countdown with Keith Olbermann
Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry
Real Time with Bill Maher
Washington Journal on C-Span
PBN Friday with Howard Dicus
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Browse archives by date
Support Organ Donation
Comments powered by
Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com
Add to Technorati Favorites
If you find this weblog valuable, please consider making a secure donation via PayPal to support its ongoing maintenance:

Or contact me about sponsoring this blog in exchange for space in the Sponsored Links area above.
Total entries in this blog:
Total entries in this category:
Published On: Jul 02, 2009 12:52 PM
Powered by