Hawaiians visit N.J. to honor Grover Cleveland

This AP article from New Jersey was picked up by a number of papers (including Newsday, SF Chronicle, LA Times, CBS News and Forbes):
When it comes to 19th-century President Grover Cleveland, many Americans, even residents of his home state of New Jersey, have trouble recalling anything remarkable about him.

But the former president is getting some respect from an unusual source: Native Hawaiians who credit Cleveland with sticking up for their rights and national sovereignty in the 1890s, even as sugar plantation owners were overthrowing their queen and seeking annexation to the United States.

On Thursday, three native Hawaiians landed at New York's LaGuardia Airport, toting about 20 leis, and found themselves getting lost on northern New Jersey roads as they searched for Cleveland's birthplace in Caldwell and the town's First Presbyterian Church, where Cleveland's father was a pastor.

The Hawaiians are in New Jersey this weekend to pay their respects to Cleveland in Caldwell — about 25 miles west of Manhattan and 5,000 miles northeast of Honolulu — and at his grave site in Princeton.

"We just wanted to come and visit and get a firsthand knowledge of the person and history of Cleveland," the Rev. Kaleo Patterson said after arriving in New Jersey.

The journey is part of the events leading to an April 30 national day of prayer for Hawaiian natives that groups on the islands have been organizing. Patterson, a United Church of Christ minister, is president of the Honolulu-based Pacific Justice and Reconciliation Center helping to spearhead the effort.

The day of prayer, Patterson said, is meant to raise support for efforts to reduce poverty and crime among Hawaiian natives, as well as the granting of some form of self-government and self-determination.

The day of prayer has a direct connection to New Jersey's only native-son-turned-president, because it was Cleveland as president who set aside April 30, 1894, as a day of prayer and repentance over the U.S. role in the Hawaiian monarchy's overthrow.

Update: FYI here's the actual proclamation, published in the New York Sun on February 26, 1894:
To My People:

Whereas, my good and great sister and fellow sovereign, her gracious majesty, Liliuokalani, queen of Hawai'i, has been wickedly and unlawfully dethroned by the machinations of Americans and persons of American descent in those islands, being instigated thereto by the devil, one John L. Stevens; and whereas, my well-conceived plans for the restoration of her sacred majesty have not had the result they deserved but her majesty is still defrauded of her legal rights by her refractory and rebellious subjects, and her position is a just cause of sympathy and alarm; now, therefore, I, Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, do hereby ordain and appoint the last day of April next as a day of solemn fasting, humiliation and prayer.

Let my people humble themselves and repent for their injustice to me and my great and good sister, and pray, without distinction of color, for her speedy return to the throne and the discomfiture of the miserable herd of missionaries and their sons, her enemies and traducers.

Long Live Liliuokalani, the de jure queen of Hawaii

Done at our mansion in Washington this 25th day of February, 1894.

Grover Cleveland

A true copy. Attest,
Walter Q. Gresham,
Secretary of State

And here's what he wrote later after the purported annexation:
Hawaii is ours. As I look back upon the first steps in this miserable business, and as I contemplate the means used to complete the outrage, I am ashamed of the whole affair.

Update 4/24: Star-Bulletin has the same AP story today. Oh, and the Advertiser carries the article as well.

Posted: Sat - April 22, 2006 at 06:35 PM    
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Published On: Apr 24, 2006 09:41 AM
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