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James Henderson Blount (September 12, 1837 – March 8, 1903) was an American statesman, soldier and congressman from Georgia. He opposed the annexation of Hawaii in 1893 in his investigation into the alleged American involvement in the political revolution in the Kingdom of Hawai'i.

Early life[]

Blount was born near Clinton, Jones County, Georgia. He attended private schools there and in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He graduated from the University of Georgia at Athens in 1858. He studied law and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1859. During the American Civil War he served in the Confederate States Army as a private in the Second Georgia Battalion, Floyd Rifles for two years, and was later lieutenant colonel for two years.

Political career[]

Blount served in the United States Congress representing the sixth district of Georgia from 1873 to 1893. He was Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Relations (1891–1893).

Hawai'i[]

After a coup overthrew Queen Lili'uokalani of Hawai'i in early 1893, the new government sough annexation to join the U.S. President Benjamin Harrison was supportive and sent a treaty to the Senate. President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat like Blount, opposed annexation and send Blount, now a private citizen, to investigate. His report he issued on July 17, 1893 is known as the Blount Report.

Blount recommended the rejection of annexation, and stated that the natives should be allowed to continue their Asiatic ways. (The natives in fact had little or no voice in the Queen's government because she held no elections and depended on European advisors.) When Blount blamed the U.S. consul for providing assistance for the overthrow, Cleveland proposed to use American military force to overthrow the new government by force and reinstall Liliuokalani as an absolute monarch. The proposal was a dramatic reversal of American republicanism, hostility to tyrannical monarchs, and support for democracy, and lost Cleveland popular support. When the deposed Queen refused to grant amnesty as a condition of her reinstatement, and said she would behead the current government leaders and confiscate their property, Cleveland was further humiliated at the realization he was trying to put a tyrant back on her throne. He dropped the matter by referring it to Congress.

The U.S. Senate, under Democratic control but angered at being shut out of a major foreign policy issue by Cleveland, then produced its own report, written by Senator John Tyler Morgan and known as the Morgan Report, which completely contradicted Blount's findings and found the revolution in Hawaii was a completely internal affair. Following the Turpie Resolution of May 1894, which vowed a policy of non-interference in Hawaiian affairs, Cleveland dropped all talk of reinstating the Queen, and went on to officially recognize and maintain diplomatic relations with the Republic of Hawaii. Other nations had already recognized the Republic. In 1898 the Republic again sought annexation, which with McKinley's strong support won Congressional approval, despite the racist fears of Blount and other white Southerners that the Asians and natives could never be assimilated.[1]

Death[]

Blount died at the age of 65 in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, and was buried at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives Template:USRepSuccessionBox |}

See also[]

Notes[]

  1. Tennant S. McWilliams, "James H. Blount, the South, and Hawaiian Annexation." Pacific Historical Review 1988 57(1): 25-46. in Jstor; Davis R. Dewey, National Problems: 1880–1897 (1907),ch 19 pp 297-304 is online at [1]

References[]

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
William P. Price |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|U.S. Representative of Georgia's 6th Congressional District
March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1893 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Charles Lafayette Bartlett |- |}

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