Wednesday, November 17, 2010

U.S. Consul to Hawaii Abner Pratt Steps Down

In December news reached Honolulu’s American community that U.S. Consul Judge Abner Pratt would be temporarily stepping down due to ill health. He was succeeded by Vice-Consul Thomas T. Dougherty.

The December 15, 1859 edition of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser reported his upcoming departure on page 2, column 4. The Friend also reported this news in its January 2, 1860 edition:

“We learn that Judge Pratt contemplates visiting the United States during the coming spring and summer on account of his health. The friends of the Judge deeply sympathise with him that he should be so much of a sufferer, and as having failed to have recovered his health, the primary object of his having come to this distant part of the world.

“In his Consular career he has sustained that reputation which he had acquired upon the Bench. The official duties of a United States Consul, in a port like Honolulu, are often very onerous and perplexing, requiring an intuitive perception of a knotty and delicate point which is not unfrequently presented. Judge Pratt’s decisions have been prompt and correct, and such as did not need revision.

“The case of the French sailor in the fall of ’58, might be cited as an example. At times a little touch of the Jacksonian way of doing business is the best. It saves a world of trouble and official correspondence. Judge Pratt’s manner of dispatching business has not unfrequently reminded us of the way “Old Hickory” was accustomed to decide matters.

“Every one knowing the character of seamen is aware of the fact that, upon legal questions, shipmasters and sailors generally take opposite sides, yet we have known both classes to come from the Consul’s office satisfied with his decisions. The captain has been heard to say, “the Consul is our man,” and Jack has found him his man.

“We hope a trip home may prove in the highest degree beneficial to the Consul’s health, and in the fall he may return recruited and rejuvenated.”

A lengthy story was carried in the January 19, 1860 edition of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser on its third page. Outgoing-Consul Pratt was presented with a flag at the American Consulate. An address by A.J. Cartwright was featured in full, followed by a “communication from the ship-masters” dated November 29. The final section is devoted to a lengthy and patriotic reply from Mr. Pratt.

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