Today in AFJ History

October 5, 2013  

1870: Lower the flag, consul

Kalama, Queen Consort of Kamehameha III, 1817-1870.
From the archive: ca. 5 October 1870

The daily papers publish a dispatch from San Francisco which states, on the authority of some anonymous correspondent at Honolulu, that Commander [William T.] Truxton, of the sloop-of-war Jamestown, requested Consul [Thomas] Adamson [Jr.] to display his colors at half-mast over the consular office out of respect to the late Queen Dowager [Kalama Hakaleleponi Kapakuhaili, wife of Kamehameha III], but Mr. Adamson declined to do so on the ground that he had received no official notice of the queen’s death from the United States minister resident. Commander Truxton immediately sent Lieutenant Cochran with a guard of Marines to put the flag at half-mast, by force if necessary, over the consular office. The order was obeyed, the consul and vice-consul resisting. The Honolulu press are indignant and pronounce the invasion of Hawaiian territory by an armed force of the United States a high-handed proceeding.

Editor’s note: A few weeks later, Cmdr. Truxton was reprimanded and removed from active duty. Adamson was scolded by Secretary of State Hamilton Fish for “not having lowered the flag of his own accord” and the following February, was reassigned as the consul in Melbourne, Australia. The Hawaiian government was overthrown in 1893 and annexed to the U.S. in 1898.