(A more detailed version of this article may be found here.)

A hoaxed 1894 Presidential Proclamation by Grover Cleveland was used as the basis for a 2006 propaganda circus spanning 5,000 miles, in April 2006, by Reverend Kaleo Patterson. It was covered by the Associated Press in an April 21, 2006 article apparently taking the hoax at face value. A year later, after being presented with concrete evidence regarding the nature of the hoax, Reverend Patterson nevertheless pushed a resolution through the State of Hawaii Legislature declaring the same date of April 30 for a day of prayer for Hawaiian restoration, and specifically citing Grover Cleveland’s (fake) proclamation in the whereas clauses justifying the resolution.

The twisting of history began in a book published in 1982 by a Hawaiian sovereignty sympathizer, who changed the wording of the fake proclamation from the language contained in a piece of editorial sarcasm published in 1894 directed against Grover Cleveland, and masked the sarcastic “first day of April” (April Fools’ Day) by changing it to read “last day of April.” Whether or not this was an intentional change, or simply an error, is something we cannot know – Helena Allen passed away in 2003, and she did include a “Fool’s Day A Fast Day” in her book when citing the hoax proclamation (which she probably would have omitted if she intended to completely mask the truth). Nonetheless, she not only misquoted the hoax, but also cited it incorrectly, claiming to have found it in the New York Sun, February 26, 1894 – when scholars actually researched her reference, it was found to be printed a day later, February 27, 1894.

Allen’s more serious error is her claim that Cleveland’s proclamation was real, and that it was sarcasm by Cleveland directed against Sanford Dole’s government. Assuming that she actually read the paper she was referencing, she should have noticed another clearly fake “special message” allegedly by Cleveland, and published on the same page, demanding the “abolition of the Senate” and claiming it “commits a grave injury and wrong on every occasion when it opposes the wishes of the President”. A photocopy of the “Special Proclamation” appearing immediately below the “Special Message” in the 1894 newspaper can be seen in another article regarding the Joke Proclamation.

And so it turns out the joke proclamation was a newspaper’s editorial sarcasm against Grover Cleveland for his support of the ex-queen. The sarcasm was published immediately after the U.S. Senate released the Morgan Report that thoroughly discredited the history-twisting Blount Report which Cleveland had ordered. The newspapers then had a field day abusing President Cleveland for his support for a deposed Queen and his efforts to undo a legitimate revolution. The fake proclamation was part of that sarcasm against Cleveland. The great hoax is that it has been represented as factual by fringe group sovereignty activists, picked up by national news chains, and now presented to our legislature so that they can enshrine it in law.

And why? When confronted with the nature of the hoax in 2006, Patterson wrote, “We will allow the substance and content of that poor letter in the New York Sun, whether satire, lamentation, or a reference to an offical presidetial policy, stand as inspiration for the April 30th Day of Prayer we have initiated, with the intentions of the day being forthright and true.” Simply put, to these activists, the facts don’t matter.

On March 28, 2007 the State of Hawaii House of Representatives Committee on Water, Land, and Hawaiian Affairs held a routine public hearing to take testimony on several pieces of legislation. Included on the agenda was HCR82, House Concurrent Resolution 82 [intended to be passed first by the House and then sent to the Senate] “proclaiming April 30 of every year as Hawaiian restoration day.”

Among those giving oral testimony were Rev. Kaleo Patterson and Ms. Haaheo Guanson, who had journeyed together to New Jersey for the Grover Cleveland propaganda circus in 2006. They indicated they are planning to repeat the journey in 2007.

Another who gave testimony was Marsha Joyner, formerly head of the local chapter of NAACP. Joyner has been active in promoting Hawaiian sovereignty, including coordinating combined parades each year memorializing both Martin Luther King and Queen Lili’uokalani (the MLK holiday and the anniversary of the overthrow of Lili’uokalani are close together on the calendar). In 2007 Joyner had helped organize a special event at the East-West Center honoring Queen Lili’uokalani, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, (falsely) claiming that QL was just like MG and MLK in using non-violent resistance to (alleged) oppression. Perhaps unknown to the committee, Joyner has a criminal conviction for stealing large amounts of money from the elderly people in a condominium association of which she was president.

So what will the rest of the Hawaii Legislature think when exposed to the truth of this hoax? Will the activists who care nothing for the facts relent? Will the Associated Press be fooled again in 2007 by Patterson and his propaganda?

Wait and see.

-Ken Conklin, Ph.D.