I have already told of my first visit to Hawaii, when those beautiful gems of the Pacific were ruled over by a dusky Hawaiian Queen, and when the proud Hawaiian race constituted the most important subjects of that small monarchy.
In the course of my years of sea duty, I returned to Hawaii a number of times, after having sailed away in the cruiser San Francisco in 1892, just a few months before Queen Liliuokalani was deposed by a bloodless revolution, composed principally of white Americans. I returned the first time in 1897, at which time the Islands were a Republic under President Dole; then in 1899, after the United States had annexed the Islands and established a territorial government. Then again in 1903, 1905, 1908, and in 1927. All these visits were short, some only for a few days duration.
Now I had arrived back in the Islands for an indefinite stay; two or possibly three years. During my former visits I gave little thought to the complexity of the races in the Islands, except to regret that the delightful Hawaiian coloring of the picture had been gradually disappearing, leaving in its place a distinctive tinge of the Orient.
The naval command to which I had come was called the 14th Naval District and consisted of the naval base at Pearl Harbor and all naval activities permanently based on the Islands for their protection. After getting my bearings and flying in Navy planes to p230 all the islands of the group to look over the situation on each, I began gradually to see the evident dangers confronting us in the event of war, especially if our antagonists were of an oriental race.
The Islands, as everyone should know, are overrun with a mixed population of 363,000, a great part being orientals, coming from the coolie class, practically the lowest caste in the Orient. But all now have an equal vote in the government of our Island outposts. There are scarcely 22,000 of the lithe, athletic people of pure Hawaiian blood left. The picturesque simple Hawaiian civilization, which everyone loved and made much over, I found had wellnigh passed away, never to return. The Caucasian race in the Islands in 1930 numbered 26,000, excluding the 20,000 soldiers and sailors of the Army garrison and the Navy.
Economically the Islands are important because of the raising of sugar and pineapples, both of which find a market on our mainland; and the income from these exports in higher taxes to our government than those of fourteen of our poorest states.
I discovered soon after my arrival that the population angle was one of the greatest concern to the Army and Navy in the Islands, and that this subject had caused a clash of viewpoints between those two national services on the one hand, and those administering the Islands under a territorial form of government on the other. These viewpoints seemed as opposite as the poles and in my opinion never could be reconciled.
The Navy has been more articulate than the Army because probably it feels itself more intimately concerned. The Navy looks upon Hawaii as its own discovery, and as a vital part of our sea power in the Pacific. The Navy knows that Hawaii, if made invulnerable from attack, will give full security to our nation in the eastern Pacific, and if captured by an enemy could be held as a sword at the throat of our Pacific coast.
In addition to the dangers of having such a polyglot population in the Islands, the Navy people were loath to forgive the substantial citizens for their neglect in permitting many conditions to exist that have caused our naval base at Pearl Harbor to suffer severely from the lack of available land for the scientific expansion of that important naval possession. Due to sugar cultivation primarily, land values contiguous to the naval base had risen in value to such an extent that extra land had not been bought by the national government to protect and make secure the millions of dollars of p231 valuable property and naval material and fixtures needed for the Fleet's use. This, in my eyes, was a serious consideration and I often gave my opinion of it in talks before important gatherings, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Hawaiian branch of the American Legion. I felt strongly that the Territorial Government should take steps to see that this fault was corrected and that the naval base at Pearl Harbor be given patriotic consideration and support. I told these people that the policy of the well-to‑do island residents was most shortsighted, for the security of Hawaii was to their interests as well as to the interest of the national government.
One most serious aspect of this shortage of available naval land was the necessity of having the fuel oil tanks for the Fleet so near the industrial sections of the base that a conflagration would certainly do great damage to other property. These oil tanks should have been located far away from the base and guarded from bombing. I selected an extinct crater for the construction of underground storage, but met the most outlandish prices for the land because of its availability for the raising of sugar.
I maintained that the Pearl lochs should be absolutely in the possession and under the control of the Navy so that undesirables could be eliminated from the neighborhood. But, being residential property, this land bordering on the lochs was held at very high prices, and that has always discouraged the Government from buying it for naval use. I felt the entire water front of the lochs should belong to the United States Government.
Again going back to the population angle, which, although most unfortunate, cannot be changed except by wholesale deportation, naturally what concerned me most was the large proportion of people with Japanese blood. The human background tells the story of why the United States cannot afford to treat these Islands in the same manner as it does territory on the mainland. Here is the population picture:
Great Britain at Singapore is faced with a similar problem, but the curse is taken off because there the large majority are not Japanese but the docile Malay and Chinaman. Britain maintains there a military government, because it knows from long experience that under such a government military and naval interests will receive, as they should, paramount attention.
Our government in Hawaii, as everyone knows, is of territorial form. The Governor is appointed by the President of the United States. His power is curtailed by an elected Hawaiian Senate and Lower House. I found that the authorities of Hawaii were more interested in ways and means to bring in more revenue than in defense measures. Money was spent on sightseeing roads around the Island that, in my opinion, should first have been spent on roads needed by the military for the movement of troops. When I arrived, the only road to the naval bases was in deplorable condition. It was narrow and lined with old trees that were liable to blow down in any wind, and frequently did. I insisted that this road should be a boulevard. It was a stretch from Honolulu of •less than seven miles. I finally succeeded in having the road put in shape, but only after agreeing to furnish all the material and trucks from the base to cart the material.
From personal observation and from talking with many officers of both services, I learned of the inadequacy of the defenses against outside attack and the stupid exposure of many defense functions to attack from within our lines. This was particularly true at the time of our radio systems. The extensive cultivation of the rich volcanic soil had so increased land values that the planting of food products had become uneconomical and would entail a loss of revenue to the landowners, who owned the great estates, inherited from the Hawaiian chiefs through marriage by the early settlers to their daughters.
In time of war, if the Islands were under siege, the people would have to live on sugar and pineapples, or else starve. When I dwelt upon the importance of the Islands to our country, I could p233 not feel very enthusiastic toward those who were profiting by the sad mistakes of their forefathers who had brought into the Islands this polyglot population. In our Pacific stronghold we had a right to expect the cities of Hawaii, especially Honolulu, to be western in outlook, yet all, I saw, were strongly tinged with orientalism.
I could not help thinking how dangerous, out there, was our constitutional law which gives the right to become citizens to all who by accident of birth in the Islands can call themselves Americans. The law is silent upon any test to prove the loyalty of those eligible. The right was granted purely on faith to thousands of orientals, and their loyalty must be taken for granted until proved otherwise. A dangerous situation in such a locality.
When Seth W. Richardson, Assistant Attorney General of the United States, came from Washington to investigate conditions in Hawaii, growing out of the unfortunate Massie case,a he asked me to express my opinion of the situation. I wrote a confidential letter to him telling my personal views. At the same time I told him that if the authorities in Washington wished to release it for publication I had no objection. After all, it was my opinion and I was not ashamed of it. The letter was printed in the Congressional Record and then in all the newspapers of the mainland and Hawaii.
After dwelling upon the military importance of the Islands as an important naval rendezvous and base for our Fleet, the letter went on to say:
The large number of people of alien blood in the Hawaiian Islands is a matter of the gravest concern to our national government, and years of studies by civilian, military, and naval authorities on the probable attitude of certain Island-born orientals has led to the conclusion that only doubtful reliance can be placed on their loyalty to the United States in the event of war with an oriental power.
Racial feelings are strong among all orientals and there can be little doubt that the so‑called dominant white race is cordially disliked by all oriental races. No very great provocation would be required to cause these sparks of dislike to be fanned into active race hatred in time of war.
The situation here is unique and requires remedies that, although foreign to our ideas of self-government for civil populations, will probably be the only ones practical under present conditions.
Present government control should be by men primarily of the Caucasian race; by men who are not imbued too deeply p234 with the peculiar atmosphere of the Islands or with predominance of interfamily connections; by men without preconceived ideas of the value and success of the melting pot experiment.
Although there may be no real objection to a considerable measure of self-government in purely civil and local affairs, actual control of the laws — their inception, promulgation, and enforcement — should be by the national government.
Should the logic of the situation decide for a government of limited suffrage with a considerable measure of control by the National Government, the constitution of such controlling government, though predominantly civil, should include an officer of the United States Army and an officer of the United States Navy, specially selected; for the fact must not be lost sight of that the Hawaiian Islands are primarily of national concern, a fortress of vital importance to the United States as a whole.
The present moment seems opportune to bring about such changes as logic and necessity seem to indicate; for any considerable delay in providing for the Hawaiian Islands a form of government best suited to their vital military importance and val to the United States may tend to increase the difficulties to be encountered in such a change and may, in fact, make such changes impossible, because of the danger of foreign complications.
It was a strong letter and well timed. It stirred up much discussion on all sides. Naturally, my point of view did not please the enthusiastic priests of the melting pot cult nor our citizens of Japanese ancestry. The Chinese and other orientals were silent. They realized they were not really the targets aimed at in my letter.
My principal critics, outside the Japanese Hawaiian press, were two prominent Japanese Americans. One was a member of the Hawaiian Legislature, who amused me by saying for publication, after reading my letter to Richardson, that I gave him a pain in the neck. His name was Andy Yamashiro. The Honolulu Times commented on Andy's remarks about me and reminded Mr. Yamashiro that if he were in his beloved Japan and had unguardedly spoken similarly of a Japanese admiral, it would probably have cost him his head.
The other critic was Wilfred C. Tsukiyama, a deputy city and county attorney and president of the Hawaiian Japanese Civic Association. The latter said:
p235 Admiral Stirling is a naval man, and his statements are naturally prejudiced. He wants the Navy to control the Islands. It is only natural for him to favor the Navy in any controversy.
Reasons are plentiful for me to say that Admiral Stirling's recommendations for military control of the Islands are the "bunk."
In the first place, the Admiral has no right to doubt the loyalty of the citizens of Japanese ancestry, because he has never associated with them. His contact with the Japanese has been limited to the few official exchanges of calls with the Japanese consulate. If statements doubting the loyalty of the Island-born orientals were made by Governor Lawrence Judd, who was born and reared here, and by such men as former Governor Wallace Farrington, who knows conditions here as they really are, they might carry some weight. But not by a man like the Admiral, who has been stationed at the naval base only a few years.
Thousands of citizens of Japanese ancestry gave up their families and business connections during the World War to serve under the American flag. It is a foregone conclusion that citizens of Japanese ancestry are proud of their American citizenship.
Mr. Tsukiyama may be entirely loyal at heart himself and may think himself quite honest in what he says about the loyalty of others of his race, but the military services cannot afford to take anything for granted. They require to have facts on which to base their plans for an emergency.
After all this boasting by Mr. Tsukiyama, it developed that both he and Andy Yamashiro had been holding dual citizenship. They were citizens of the United States and also subjects of his august majesty the Mikado, both at the same time; and no one had suspected it. The Japanese Consul General in Honolulu disclosed this information when he called them before him, I was told, and compelled them to renounce their Japanese citizenship. The Consul General was severely criticized for this by the Japanese Hawaiian newspapers. It was my turn to laugh. I met Mr. Yamashiro later on the floor of the Lower House where, with the commanding general, I was being honored. When I was introduced to him, I said with a smile and a twinkle of the eye:
"Oh, so this is 'pain in the neck' Yamashiro."
p236 He turned a deep red under his yellow pigment but took my remark in perfect good humor.
After several days, or maybe weeks, of discussion in the press, the Japanese papers giving the subject the greatest prominence, I was invited by the conference of "New Americans" to speak at a luncheon on the subject of the loyalty of citizens of Japanese ancestry. It was a large gathering. Governor Judd and General Wells, the Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department, also spoke. My talk, naturally, was of great interest because of my publicized attitude. I prepared my speech most carefully and shall give it just as it was delivered before several hundred Japanese. It created general comment in Honolulu, where it was published in full in all newspapers and freely discussed editorially by all. Ex‑Governor Farrington's newspaper seemed to think it was a backdown on my part, but actually it was written to save the faces of our Japanese citizens, who cannot be blamed for being born Japanese.
I am indeed honored to be invited to speak before you young American citizens of Japanese ancestry. I sense the thought in your minds that I may not be sympathetic with your aspirations and feel that you may be preparing yourselves to hear words not at all encouraging to your hopes.
As you know, I am on record in an official report, published by Congress, in which I questioned the pronouncement that you have adopted without reserve citizenship in a nation different in many fundamental respects from the nation of your forefathers. In reaching this conclusion, my thoughts have reviewed the virility, pride, efficiency, and the determination of the Japanese nation from which you have sprung. I had in mind the ancient civilization of the Japanese people, their art and literature, their achievements in peace and war, their code of "Bushido," their veneration for their emperor, and their obsession of filial duty to their parents, and those from whom they have received the sacred blood of kinship. In my judgment, this heritage of proud achievement of their race made it very difficult for those in Hawaii of Japanese ancestry truly to efface their allegiance to Japan and adopt full loyalty to a nation so different in historical background.
What other nation in modern times can point to the distinction of having risen from a small feudal island kingdom to one of the greatest commercial, military, and naval empires of the world in less than three quarters of a century?
p237 When I question your loyalty to your new country, America, I did so because of this marvelous heritage of accomplishments, for if I were of your race, I would be most proud of the meteoric rise of the Empire of the Rising Sun, and be very loth to forget that my ancestors were a part in it.
I am a naval man. Perhaps I have not the same outlook on world affairs as he who has not had to bend his mind to questions of conflict. It may not surprise you to hear that the military and naval general staffs of all progressive nations have been continuously planning for war. It is their bounden duty to do this. You would not expect the country of your forefathers, with its marvelous background of victory, to fail to plan for the contingency of war, even with the country to whom you are giving your allegiance. Nor can I say to you truthfully that your new country, America, has neglected such planning. I give you this merely to show that the military mind accepts nothing as a basis of war planning that cannot be proven to be a fact.
Your task of convincing all America of your unquestioned loyalty is not an easy one. Here are a few of the reasons for that belief:
There are, I believe, about 90,000 young Americans of Japanese ancestry in the Hawaiian Islands. You have kept your blood pure. You seldom go outside your race when choosing a mate. This you have decided upon because of your pride of race. In addition to you Americans of Japan ancestry there are in the Islands some 70,000 of your kinsmen who are not eligible to American citizenship. The home of these 160,000 men, women, and children is upon a group of islands most vital as an outpost, a spearhead of defense for the mainland of the United States and Alaska. The people of the Hawaiian Islands are holding as it were the fortified Pacific naval base of America's Fleet. The importance of the security of these Islands, this great naval base, as a place of refit and refreshment for the ships of the American Navy, is beyond material calculations. If we were choosing the population of these Islands, would we not desire to be certain that only the most loyal and patriotic Americans were living here? Men and women willing to die in its defense? It is a bridgehead worthy of an Horatius to defend. Let your thoughts dwell for a moment upon the reaction of military and naval men in Japan, should the Bonin Islands, a strongly fortified Japanese naval position near Japan's coast, be populated by several hundred thousand people of the Anglo-Saxon race.
p238 I do not intend to discourage the determination you all must have of proving your loyalty to your new country, but only to point out how much more difficult is your task than if you were not the descendants of a powerful militaristic people, whose ambitions have carried them so far in empire building in such an incredibly short span of time.
Citizenship is membership in a nation. It confers upon each individual full civil and political rights, subject to limitations of law. The right to life, liberty, and happiness. This right of citizenship, as we understand it in America today, did not leap fully grown from the head of Jupiter. It is the result of generations of experiment: social, economic, and political. Improvement in human relations gradually developed into the ideas of government for the protection of the rights of individual persons and property.
In comparison to the country of your ancestry, America is a new country. Three hundred years ago our mainland was virgin soil and forest, inhabited by roving, warlike bands of hostile Indians. The early settlers came to America to free themselves from the oppression of governments. They were forced on their arrival to wage incessant warfare against nature and the hostile red men, who resented the penetration of their country by these white settlers. The hardships endured gave these early colonists a ruggedness and directness, a courage bolstered by their faith in being able to conquer any obstacle. These qualities became a part of the future generations and are the foundation of our institutions, principles, ideals, and traditions. It brought forth the American spirit of self-confidence and love of freedom.
Although America is classed as a peace-loving nation, she too has waged wars. Each war has been fought for some principle which the American people believed could be maintained by no other means.
One in whose blood flows that of these hardy pioneers might well be proud. He has the right to feel that he has inherited traits of self-sacrifice, loyalty, courageous achievements, charity to the downtrodden, and the urge to protect the weak and lowly. The pledge of America should permit of no divided allegiance: "My country, may she ever be right, but right or wrong, my country."
In the last forty years, unhappily, many foreign persons, also securing relief from the oppressions of government, poverty, and ignorance, came to America. Many of these were willing to share in the blessings of our social security, without giving p239 themselves over in understanding to the ideals of our social and political background, ideals toward which the original settlers had paid in blood and hardships, the price of American liberty.
In the last forty years, through immigration for purposes of supplying labor, the leaven of Anglo-Saxon blood in America has dropped to no more than 50% of the whole. These immigrants in large measure were without knowledge of self-government and had not been given the opportunity of self-development. Yet, according to our loosely framed laws, they were soon permitted full participation in the rights of American citizenship without a proper understanding of liberty, nor of the nature of our free institutions, which is essential if our constitutional form of government is to be preserved.
What seems almost a herculean problem is the education, assimilation, and amalgamation of our various foreign groups into harmonious and loyal citizens.
What will be the American of the future? Will he comprise the bloods of practically all the races of the world? Will this amalgam make him a virile, distinctive, outstanding individual, and will he spiritually express the highest principles and ideals of humanity?
To accomplish an amalgamation and the evolution of a type there must come a settlement of those differences which tend to create racial and class consciousness and dislikes. A tolerance born of understanding and respect. A common cause and purpose are essential. We need not hide our pride of racial ancestry for fear of arousing racial antipathy, provided we are all tolerant and Christian-like in our outlook upon God's creatures. I do not advise you to forget your pride of Japan's great civil and military leaders. They are your heritage.
You are American citizens, and you know you may reach any goal in life to which individual intelligence, courage, and ability will lead. The future of every American citizen depends upon himself. No sovereign, I trust, will ever hinder that advancement, nor succession to power, place, or property be vested in titles of nobility.
Whatever his ancestry, every American should gain a thorough knowledge of American traditions, ideals, and philosophy of government, of the Constitution and what it stands for, and a firm conviction of the meaning of freedom its personal restrictions.
I need not advise you as to the responsibility of keeping yourselves in the forefront of scientific knowledge. Your race need not relinquish the palm to any other in the successful solution p240 of efficient methods of communication, transportation, and technical achievements, nor are your kinsmen in Japan lacking in the correct accomplishment of social and economic problems and the art of leadership.
You have acquired by the incident of birth in America full freedom of action within the law. But this is not a divine gift. This freedom has been bought for you in sacrifices of peace and war. It has traveled a long, hard road. Only the strong and courageous in the world have acquired it, and only such can retain it.
In the lives of our great Americans, and also in the lives of your great Japanese, there will be found those sacred qualities of self-reliance, courage, initiative, determination, justice, and devotion to duty, ingredients forming the virus out of which will emerge the aggressive but generous spirit of a nation capable of becoming a world leader.
Let us follow their example. Let us not forget our past glories of racial achievements. Yet be mindful of the glorious background of your America and be proud of it, and weave it into the cloth of your own inheritance.
The world is rapidly changing. The leadership of men of independence, initiative, and intelligence is needed today more than ever before as our social, political, and economic conditions become more intricate and complicated.
The future of America lies with millions of young men such as you throughout our great country today. Prove your worth. Comport yourselves so that it will be impossible for anyone to doubt your loyalty to America. Do not sit back and wait to have others prove your loyalty for you. In the words of the athlete: "Beat the gun."
Most of the Hawaiian newspapers very frankly expressed their satisfaction that the subject of American-Japanese loyalty had been dragged out into the open. Here is an editorial that I find in my scrapbook from the Honolulu Times:
Admiral Stirling placed his point of view on the citizens of Japanese ancestry right where it should be in his talk Thursday before the conference of New Americans. That is, out in the open. The Admiral apparently never intended that his original report to the Richardson Commission be made public, although the latter saw fit to incorporate it in a public document. And at this writing this appears for the best, not only for the community p241 as a whole, but for Admiral Stirling himself and the Americans of Japanese ancestry.
The community has been brought to a frank and sane discussion of an issue which is too much talked of in whispers. It is an issue which needs to be settled now, in the open, and settled right before a crisis may force its settlement in the wrong way. The Admiral has been given the opportunity of clarifying his point of view, possibly viewing the situation with more breadth than at first, and certainly of regaining some of the confidence in him that had been lost.
The Americans of Japanese ancestry have heard at first hand and have been given the opportunity to understand the point of view of one who has frankly questioned their assimilability. It constitutes a clear cut challenge, courteously and effectively put, and one which should provoke a response in the same spirit.
Of course it was natural that my recommendation for a more restrictive form of government for Hawaii would not obtain the approval of the citizens nor of the press. At the same time, I felt that the effort was not a loss, if it made Hawaii understand that its position was dissimilar to that of political entities on the mainland. The Islands have a national significance that must not be overlooked. The government of Hawaii must recognize that fact and lend their efforts to make the Islands secure from successful attack by an enemy.
While I was Commandant in Hawaii, the Fleet held winter maneuvers there twice in order to test the completeness and readiness of the defense measures already taken. The maneuvers also gave the warships and airplanes experience under conditions simulating war in that geographical area. My naval command, of course, co‑operated with the Army. Then the Commanding General, although my junior in rank, became my senior because of what was known as paramount interest. This is the way paramount interest was interpreted: In the defense plan, the Army, in the absence of the Fleet, was held responsible for the co‑ordination of both the Army and the Navy in the Islands for defense against an enemy attempting to capture them. On the other hand, when the Fleet was present in the Islands, it became the important defense factor, and paramount interest then passed to the Fleet. The Commander in Chief then was supreme and responsible for the defense, relieving the Army commander of that responsibility.
One important lesson learned through these maneuvers, in p242 which the Fleet represented an enemy force attempting to capture and destroy the defense and the naval base on Oahu, was that the shore defenses did not have sufficient air forces. The attacking aircraft from the two great carriers, Lexington and Saratoga, made several surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor and constructively destroyed it.
These maneuvers seemed to show that an enemy force consisting of aircraft carriers and fast cruisers might surprise the air defenses while the Fleet was absent and do great damage to the base by air attack. In consequence, the air defenses, together with ground facilities, were largely increased, both for the Army and the Navy. More submarines are also to be provided and their base facilities enlarged. It is hoped that the additions will be of the more modern types of submarines, for these vessels are most useful in the defense of the Islands.
There seems slight risk that an enemy might attempt to land troops to capture the Island of Oahu unless our Fleet happened to be in the Atlantic with the Panama Canal blocked or our Fleet decisively defeated by the enemy fleet. To be on the safe side, however, the Army defenses should be considerably enlarged and more modern artillery, especially anti-aircraft batteries, provided.
We must never lose sight of the possibility of sabotage from the inside. There are many thousands of orientals in the Islands who might be loyal to their race and given such a task by their government, even before a declaration of war. I was told by a high American diplomat, who had stopped off en route from the Orient, that it was at one time seriously contemplated to attack our fleet in Hawaiian waters, because it seemed that war between America and Japan was certain. The Japanese at the same time were said to have been considering attacking the British fleet. In other words committing national hara-kiri. The Army and Navy in Hawaii are quite alive to the danger, with so much material exposed and not too effectively guarded. How much reliance can be placed upon the militia of Hawaii, with quantities of Japanese Americans in the organization, is also unknown. The two services realize that in time of war they must be prepared to fight on two fronts: against an enemy fleet, air force, and army, and also against secret attacks from the inside by enemy sympathizers upon vital defense functions.
We dare not lull ourselves into a false sense of security, when we know the intense loyalty of the Japanese to their own culture p243 and design for living, which ever eggs them on feverishly to become the leading naval factor in the whole of the Pacific. In Hawaii, the Japanese keep almost entirely to themselves and most religiously attend Japanese language schools after the Territorial school day is over.
The oriental color of Hawaii and the gradual suppression of white prestige was brought home to America most forcibly at this time. The Navy and Washington then felt grave concern for the security of our Gibraltar of the eastern Pacific.
Admiral Stirling and Staff at Pearl Harbor
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