Raising the U.S. Flag in Hawaii:

The Transfer of sovereignty: August 14, 1898


The following report was filed the ranking naval officer present when the American flag was first raised in Hawaii after its annexation.The appendices mentioned in the report were not included in the referenced source.
U. S. FLAGSHIP PHILADELPHIA,
Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, August 14, 1898.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report on the participation of the forces under my command in the ceremonies attending the change of sovereignty of the Hawaiian Islands, which took place at noon on Friday, the 12th instant:

As the report of this important event will be a matter of record in the files of the Navy Department, and as occasion may occur hereafter to refer to it to know what was done by the naval force on that occasion, it is made more in detail than it would otherwise be.

The force under arms from the PHILADELPHIA and MOHCIAN attending the ceremonies consisted of four companies of infantry and two sections of artillery...

The Hawaiian National Guard met our force at the landing and escorted them to the front of the executive building, where they took position in column on the driveway leading to the front of the building, the head of the column being close to the official stand. The Hawaiian troops were in position, a battalion on each side of the head of column of our men. (See Appendix B for position of troops during the ceremony.)

The official stand was in front of the executive building, one side for the Hawaiian officials, the other for the United States minister and his attaches and the officers of the Navy and Army.  Colonel Barber, of the First New York Volunteers, was third in the line of precedence, as the ranking officer of the army present and next to me.  The remaining officers of the Navy and Army were seated according to rank, there being in all twenty officers of the Navy present on the official stand and five of the Army.

All the officials having been seated except the president and his cabinet, the United States minister and his attaches, myself, Colonel Barber, and four of the ranking naval officers, the ceremonies commenced by the entrance on the platform from the executive building of the president and his cabinet, followed a moment later by the United States minister and the American officials mentioned above.  After all were seated prayer was offered by the Rev. G. L. Pearson, of Honolulu.  Minister Sewall then rose, and addressing President Dole, formally communicated to him the text and purpose of the joint resolution of Congress annexing the Hawaiian Islands to the United States.  President Dole then formally tendered the sovereignty of. the islands, with all the public property of the Hawaiian Government, to the United States through our representative, Minister Sewall, who accepted it in the name of the United States Government.  The actual ceremony of exchanging flags was then begun by the Hawaiian band playing Hawaii Ponoi, the national anthem.  Colors were sounded, and, a 21-gun salute was fired by the shore battery and by the Philadelphia and Mohican, after which the Hawaiian flag was slowly hauled down, all the spectators standing uncovered.

Minister Sewall then turned to me and requested me to perform the duty intrusted to me, of hoisting the United States flag, and upon signal from me, as had been prearranged, colors were sounded, the flagship band played the Star Spangled Banner, and the United States flag was slowly hoisted on the flagstaff of the central tower of the executive building, two smaller flags being hoisted at the corners of the building to provide for the possibility of the main halyards carrying away; and 21 guns were fired by the Philadelphia and Mohican and the shore battery when the flag had reached the truck, all the spectators standing uncovered.  The Hawaiian flag was hauled down, and the large United States flag hoisted by four men from the Philadelphia and Mohican, two from each ship, directly from the inner corners of the platform.

After the 'United States flag bad been hoisted and the salutes had been fired Mr.  Sewall made a short address, and then communicated the directions of the President continuing the present government officials in office until Congress should provide a form of Government for the islands.

The chief executive of the Hawaiian government was then sworn in by the chief justice, followed by the members of his cabinet, after which our men and the local troops marched to the drill grounds, where the military officers, including the staff officers of the chief executive, were sworn in.

The battalion from the PHILADELPHIA and MOHCIAN then returned to the ships, escorted to the landing by the local troops.  This concluded the participation of the force under my command in the change of sovereignty of these islands.

I am much indebted to Lieut.  A. G. Winterhalter flag lieutenant, and to Lieut.  Philip Andrews, flag secretary, for their assistance arranging the details of the ceremonies connected with the raising of our flag, and for seeing that they were properly carried out.

I am gratified to be able to report to the Department that the ceremonies throughout were a complete success in every particular, and were rendered very impressive and dignified by the simplicity and lack of ostentation of the carefully prepared programme.  The battalion from the two ships presented a fine appearance, and it gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Department on the opportunity given the Navy to take such a prominent part in an important event in the history of our country.

Very respectfully,

J. N. MILLER,
 Rear-Admiral, U. S. N.,
 Commander in Chief Pacific Station.

The SECRFTARY OF THE NAVY,
Navy Department, Washington, D. C.

Hawaii's executive building




Bibliography:

Clerk of the Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of the Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, Vol. 4, Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1899.


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