by Andrew Walden (Originally published June 14, 2011)
The Organic Act, bringing US law to bear in the newly-annexed Territory of Hawaii took effect 111 years ago--June 14, 1900. As a result, US laws prohibiting contracts of indentured servitude replaced the 1850 Masters and Servants Act which had been in effect under the Hawaiian Kingdom and Hawaii Republic. Tens of thousands of plantation laborers were freed from contract slavery by the Organic Act.
The rest of this story is about historical revisionism—and a walk through several decades of irony.
The article below is from the ILWU-controlled Honolulu Record August 19, 1948. Six years after this article appeared, the ILWU-controlled Hawaii Democratic Party would win the majority in the Hawaii State legislature—a majority which they have maintained almost uninterrupted to this day.
Ironically, the Record was edited by Honolulu Seven defendant Koji Ariyoshi. Ariyoshi would in the early 1970s be instrumental in establishing the Ethnic Studies Department at UH Manoa. The UH Ethnic Studies Department created the anti-American pseudo-history under which the Organic Act is now regarded as a crime instead of a victory for freedom. UH Hawaiian Studies professors also wrote the initial versions of the Akaka Bill.
One of Koji Ariyoshi's columnists, Frank Marshall Davis--like Ariyoshi, also a Communist Party member, was a mentor to Barack Obama from age 10-18 (described as "Frank" in "Dreams from My Father"). Now President, thanks in part to early-money support from Hawaii Democrats, Obama is pledged to sign the Akaka Bill if it somehow reaches his desk.
In his memoir, "Livin' the Blues" (p320), Davis describes Booker T Washington touring Hawaii plantations at the turn of the 20th century and concluding that the conditions were even worse than those in the South. A shipload of black laborers left after one year of labor in Hawaii to return to the South.
The Ethnic Studies version of history falsely claims "America was founded on slavery." All Americans are supposed to suffer from this secular version of “original sin” and forever seek the absolutions dispensed by the self-appointed high-priests of political correctness. The weak-minded actually fall for this con.
Hawaii was the last place in the US to abolish indentured servitude. But Abolition—once a key part of the story of labor in Hawaii--gets swept under the rug in the Akaka Tribe’s rush for land and power.
Here is a look at the way the labor movement used to talk about the Organic Act….
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Honolulu Record, August 19, 1948, vol. 1 no. 2, p. 8
Contract Laborers Emancipated
Fifty years ago today, when the Republic of Hawaii was annexed to the United States as a territory, the Hawaiian sugar planters never imagined that the "docile" and “obedient” Japanese laborers would revolt against them to secure their freedom.
In 1899, one year after annexation, the sugar planters imported 26,103 Japanese contract laborers — the largest number of Japanese brought to the islands in any single year.
This was the planters' last minute effort to beat the United States contract labor law of 1885 which prohibited importation of contract laborers into the states and territories.
Organic Act Ends Servitude
Then came the Organic Act which put an end to penal contract labor in June 1900, two years before the contracts of the 26,103 Japanese expired. The Organic Act stated in part: "That all contracts made since August twelfth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, by which persons are held for service for a definite time, are hereby declared null and void and terminated, and no law shall be passed to enforce said contract any way; and it shall be the duty of the United States marshal to at once notify such persons so held of the termination of their contracts."
Black Snake Rule
To the surprise of plantation owners, the Japanese laborers everywhere demanded that their contracts be canceled and returned to them.
They wanted freedom, and dignity which came with it. As contract laborers their bodies were practically the property of the sugar planters, to be abused and even whipped with black snake whips. In several places the Japanese went on strike to enforce their demand on the planters who were daily violating a US law in keeping them under servitude.
One of these places was Spreckelsville.
The Hawaiian Star reported the Spreckelsville strike of June 20, 1900, in the following manner: " . . .
On Tuesday evening, a United States census agent, Moses Kauhimahu, with a Japanese interpreter entered a camp of strikers, who had not worked for several days, for the purpose of enumerating them. Immediately upon asking the first Japanese his name, the Special Agent and his interpreter were accused of being agents of Manager Lowrie sent into the Camp to secure the names of the ringleaders of the strike, and were set upon by a number of Japanese.
"The Special Agent took to his heels . . . but the interpreter was beaten and very roughly handled for a time, finally getting away with many bruises and injuries.
On Wednesday morning Sheriff Baldwin with a small posse of police went to this Spreckelsville camp to arrest the assaulters [sic].... Upon their arrival there, the Japanese at a signal gathered together, about two hundred of them and attacked the police."
Sheriff Baldwin then called upon Mr. Lowrie and his lunas, as citizens to assist the Government, which they did, making all together a force of about sixty men armed with black snakes. The assaulting force of Japanese armed with clubs and stones, which they freely used and threw, were met and most thoroughly black snaked back to their camp and to a show of submission.
"On a road not far from this camp along which the white men and police were expected to pass, several hundred Japanese from other camps had gathered, armed with clubs and stones, with the apparent intention of attacking them as they came along.
The Government force however decided as they had no quarrel with this gang to leave them unmolested, and so did not pass near them; consequently the Japanese have the idea that the white force were afraid of them.
It perhaps would have been better had the Government force gone in and dispersed this gang, with a good thrashing thrown in, as the sixty men well mounted, were able to have done, merely for the moral effect of the same."
The Maui Planters' Association subsequently canceled all contracts, thus ending the strikes at most places.
Flash forward to today, Aloun Farms: Neil Abercrombie's slavery problem (more irony from another product of UH historical revisionism)