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It has been the boast of our government that it seeks to do justice in all things without regard to the strength or weakness of those with whom it deals. I mistake the American people if they favor the odious doctrine that there is no such thing as international morality; that there is one law for a strong nation and another for a weak one, and that even by indirection a strong power may with impunity despoil a weak one of its territory. By an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress, the government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown. A substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair. The Provisional Government has not assumed a republican or other constitutional form, but has remained a mere executive council or oligarchy, set up without the assent of the people. It has not sought to find a permanent basis of popular support and has given no evidence of an intention to do so. Indeed, the representatives of that government assert that the people of Hawaii are unfit for popular government and frankly avow that they can be best ruled by arbitrary or despotic power. The law of nations is founded upon reason and justice, and the rules of conduct governing individual relations between citizens or subjects of a civilized state are equally applicable as between enlightened nations. The considerations that international law is without a court for its enforcement and that obedience to its commands practically depends upon good faith instead of upon the mandate of a superior tribunal only give additional sanction to the law itself and brand any deliberate infraction of it not merely as a wrong but as a disgrace. A man of true honor protects the unwritten word which binds his conscience more scrupulously, if possible, than he does the bond a breach of which subjects him to legal liabilities, and the United States, in aiming to maintain itself as one of the most enlightened nations, would do its citizens gross injustice if it applied to its international relations any other than a high standard of honor and morality. On that ground the United States cannot properly be put in the position of countenancing a wrong after its commission any more than in that of consenting to it in advance. On that ground it cannot allow itself to refuse to redress an injury inflicted through an abuse of power by officers clothed with its authority and wearing its uniform; and on the same ground, if a feeble but friendly state is in danger of being robbed of its independence and its sovereignty by a misuse of the name and power of the United States, the United States cannot fail to vindicate its honor and its sense of justice by an earnest effort to make all possible reparation. Grover Cleveland

Tags:

It

has

been

the

boast

of

our

government

that

it

seeks

to

do

justice

in

all

things

without

regard

to

the

strength

or

weakness

of

those

with

whom

it

deals



I

mistake

the

American

people

if

they

favor

the

odious

doctrine

that

there

is

no

such

thing

as

international

morality



that

there

is

one

law

for

a

strong

nation

and

another

for

a

weak

one



and

that

even

by

indirection

a

strong

power

may

with

impunity

despoil

a

weak

one

of

its

territory

By

an

act

of

war



committed

with

the

participation

of

a

diplomatic

representative

of

the

United

States

and

without

authority

of

Congress



the

government

of

a

feeble

but

friendly

and

confiding

people

has

been

overthrown



A

substantial

wrong

has

thus

been

done

which

a

due

regard

for

our

national

character

as

well

as

the

rights

of

the

injured

people

requires

we

should

endeavor

to

repair



The

Provisional

Government

has

not

assumed

a

republican

or

other

constitutional

form



but

has

remained

a

mere

executive

council

or

oligarchy



set

up

without

the

assent

of

the

people



It

has

not

sought

to

find

a

permanent

basis

of

popular

support

and

has

given

no

evidence

of

an

intention

to

do

so



Indeed



the

representatives

of

that

government

assert

that

the

people

of

Hawaii

are

unfit

for

popular

government

and

frankly

avow

that

they

can

be

best

ruled

by

arbitrary

or

despotic

power

The

law

of

nations

is

founded

upon

reason

and

justice



and

the

rules

of

conduct

governing

individual

relations

between

citizens

or

subjects

of

a

civilized

state

are

equally

applicable

as

between

enlightened

nations



The

considerations

that

international

law

is

without

a

court

for

its

enforcement

and

that

obedience

to

its

commands

practically

depends

upon

good

faith

instead

of

upon

the

mandate

of

a

superior

tribunal

only

give

additional

sanction

to

the

law

itself

and

brand

any

deliberate

infraction

of

it

not

merely

as

a

wrong

but

as

a

disgrace



A

man

of

true

honor

protects

the

unwritten

word

which

binds

his

conscience

more

scrupulously



if

possible



than

he

does

the

bond

a

breach

of

which

subjects

him

to

legal

liabilities



and

the

United

States



in

aiming

to

maintain

itself

as

one

of

the

most

enlightened

nations



would

do

its

citizens

gross

injustice

if

it

applied

to

its

international

relations

any

other

than

a

high

standard

of

honor

and

morality

On

that

ground

the

United

States

cannot

properly

be

put

in

the

position

of

countenancing

a

wrong

after

its

commission

any

more

than

in

that

of

consenting

to

it

in

advance



On

that

ground

it

cannot

allow

itself

to

refuse

to

redress

an

injury

inflicted

through

an

abuse

of

power

by

officers

clothed

with

its

authority

and

wearing

its

uniform



and

on

the

same

ground



if

a

feeble

but

friendly

state

is

in

danger

of

being

robbed

of

its

independence

and

its

sovereignty

by

a

misuse

of

the

name

and

power

of

the

United

States



the

United

States

cannot

fail

to

vindicate

its

honor

and

its

sense

of

justice

by

an

earnest

effort

to

make

all

possible

reparation



Grover

Cleveland



 Good Luck!