Center for Labor Education & Research, University of Hawaii - West Oahu: Honolulu Record Digitization Project

Honolulu Record, Volume 10 No. 20, Thursday, December 12, 1957 p.7


History from Official Files

How Delegate Prince Kuhio Fought Tricky T.H. Land Grab

This is the second of two articles on the complaint Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, then Hawaii's Delegate to Congress, made against Governor Walter F. Frear in 1911, and the governor's answer. The main theme of Prince Jonah's complaint was that Governor Frear, under the influence of the sugar companies, and other other corporate interests, had failed to implement the homesteading program provided for by law.)

Inequitable appraisal was one of the charges Prince Jonah made against Governor Frear in his message to the Secretary of the Interior.

"Since my arrival in Washington," wrote Prince Jonah, "I have been informed through correspondence from a reputable and reliable constituent, that one of the lands so applied for by Kekupulau Assn., above deceased, viz: the land of Kaliamano is advertised by the government for allotment to homesteaders upon the appraisement of $90 an acre. The rental which the homesteader will be obliged to pay upon this appraisal, pending his application for title and payment of the appraised price is 8 per cent of the appraised value, or $7.20 per acre-per year—while the rental being paid by the plantation by whom it has been or is now being cultivated, is only $2.00 per acre per year."

Cited B.S. Baker

Prince Jonah made frequent reference throughout his document to articles in the November and December Issues of the American magazine, written by Ray Stan-nard Baker, which ho says gave an excellent picture of the domination of sugar interests of the Territory's land.

One of the stories both Baker and Prince Jonah told was that of how numbers of Hawaiians and Portuguese on Kauai "were clamoring" for homestead land in the sphere of the Makee Sugar Co. Recently, wrote Prince Jonah, Frear's administration had opened up some areas for homesteading there, "But no applications (or very few, if any) were made to take up the better portions of this particular land, and the reason remained officially unknown until after the creation of the Land-Board, above referred to, and a visit by several of its members to the lands "in question. As a result of that visit a report to the full' Board was made showing, in substance that the local seekers after homesteads were so intimidated by the neighboring plantation interests that, in applying for homesteads, they asked for locations up the mountain slope, where the land was unavailable for 'cane culture and vastly less valuable than the cane-cultivated slopes on the lower level."

Money the Territory might have better spent to aid homesteaders and aid with other problems of people in Hawaii, Prince Jonah said, hail been spent by the administration, instead, importing immigrant labor for the plantations from China, Japan, the Philippines and elsewhere.

Aliens sometimes fared better than citizens of Hawaii, the delegate charged, if the plantations wanted it that way. For instance, he recalled an instance when a colony of Russians was introduced to Kauai and given land more easily than natives could obtain it.

But they proved unsuited, and the project failed.

One great handicap to homesteaders, both Prince Jonah and Ray Stannard Baker stated, was the lack of transportation facilities. Nor were these likely to be improved, Prince Jonah added, so long as the Oahu Railway and Land Co. and the Hilo Railway " were given preferential treatment. Furthermore, in the opinion of the delegate, such preference was "not likely to be ended so long as Frear remained Governor of Hawaii.

Father-in-Law Favored

"It is significant and probably unfortunate in this connection," Prince Jonah wrote, "that the Oahu railway and the Hilo railway are principally owned, and are controlled by Mr. B. F. Dillingham, who is Governor Frear's father-in-law."

Governor Frear, had his reply out Jan. 30, 1912, and in large part it is a counterattack on. the delegate. The governor has a bit of fun out of the fact that Prince Jonah relied so heavily on Ray S. Baker's articles, which he said were accurate in every particular but one— that being the degree of influence the sugar plantations had over the delegate.

Frear hits Back

Frear points out that the delegate, himself, admits he has been too strongly influenced by the plantations in the past, but that he "takes this method of making his confession and suggesting remedies for the first time."

The governor maintains he has the interest of true homesteaders at heart, and remarks that Prince Jonah does not explain why he, the delegate, is "so solicitous in the interest of fake homesteaders."

The "fake homesteaders," of course, are those Frear's administration had earlier accused of being speculators.

Replying to the charge that he had not opened up plantation land for homesteading, Governor Frear says Prince Jonah's allegation is false, and that, though some 36,000 acres were under cultivation at that time, only about 12,000 were "available" for being withdrawn and homesteaded, and that he had opened more than 5,000 of these to homesteading.

One reason for delay in previous administrations, the governor claimed, was that the land law contained certain defects which he had managed to get amended.

"The public land question," he wrote, "which had long been one of the most disturbing political issues was practically eliminated from the last campaign in consequence of these amendments."

Still an Issue

It is doubtful if the people of Hawaii would agree it has been removed as an issue even today, but of course the governor was writing in 1912 and for reading by officials several thousand miles away.

Replying to charges that he had moved preferentially in regard to the railway firms of his father-in-law, B. F. Dillingham, Governor Frear replied that, "The fact is that these railroads have done more than anything else to develop the Territory in the interests of both large and small producers and have been so conducted that there has been no noticeable complaint against them."

Although Governor Frear refers to members of the Thompson Homesteading assn. as "fake homesteaders," he says that most of what happened to delay them was the result of their own activities and requests. He mentions letters be has as evidence that "at least some," of the members of the association "had no intention at that time of acquiring homesteads for other than speculative or investment purposes."

But he does not quote from the letters.

Plantation Pipes.  

As for the taking by the plantation of water rights that should have gone to the homesteaders (as charged by Prince Jonah), the governor says he couldn't do much else, since the pipe belonged to the plantation.

That statement, of course, would bear considerable questioning today.

Governor Frear did not lose his job as a result of this episode, but he did lose it as a result of the next election when national administrations changed. His previous appointment had expired the preceding April 15, and he had been serving pro tempore since then.
But homesteading increased, and it seems reasonable to assume Prince Jonah's complaint at least had the effect of stimulating action.

p /> I do not say that at odd hours a patient must be given the regular hot dinner or supper. Few people would expect this.
But what is so complicated about opening and heating a can of soup, making some toast, or preparing instant coffee or tea? Why cannot a night nurse do these simple things after the kitchen to closed? Is it just too much trouble?

It is only common humanity to feed the hungry. If our hospitals are too big, too complex, too impersonal to do these small kindnesses for the sick, something is very wrong.