A Possibly Unique Signed Portrait of Col.Ashford; Honolulu Rifles
A Possibly Unique Signed Portrait of Col.Ashford; Honolulu Rifles; Black and white, faded to a sepia-toned look, obverse illustrating a standing Ashford in full dress uniform in a studio setting, his helmet resting upon a pillar to his right, studio marked "WILLIAMS, 102 Fort Street, Honolulu." and inscribed in handwritten black ink "Meke Aloha. Volney V Ashford / Lt. Col. Honolulu Rifles" below, reverse inscribed "J WILLIAMS, Portrait & Landscape Photographer / OLD PICTURES COPIED and ENLARGED. WORK DONE IN WATER COLORS, INDIA INK, CRAYON and OIL." / 102 FORT STREET, HONOLULU, H. I. ' Duplicate Copies will be supplied at reduced rates. Please order by number as well as name. / No. of Negative", with the number having faded to time, 107 mm x 163 mm, edge wear, soiling evident on the reverse but the photograph has inherited only minor spotting, very fine. Footnote: Volney Vallencourt “V.V.” Ashford (1844–1900) was an American soldier and involved in the nineteenth century rebellion in Hawaii. Ashford was born in 1844 and joined the Union Army in 1863 after leaving his home in Port Hope, Ontario. He was a British citizen, since Canada was a dominion of the United Kingdom. He became a Quartermaster Sergeant in the 21st Regiment New York Volunteer Cavalry "Grizwold Light Cavalry" during the American Civil War. After the Civil War, Ashford returned to Port Hope, becoming a surveyor for the Beaverton Railway and joined the Prince of Wales' Royal Canadian Dragoons, where he was promoted to Captain. He had been widowed twice and also lost a daughter. In 1884, his brother and future Attorney General of Hawaii, Clarence W. Ashford, invited him to visit Honolulu. After moving to Hawaii, he joined the Honolulu Rifles, a militia. Ashford became responsible for the Rifles’ growth from one hundred men in 1886, to a battalion of three companies in 1887, the battalion recognized as a para-military force. He rapidly moved up the ranks entering with his Canadian rank of Captain, followed by a promotion to Major, then Lieutenant Colonel, and finally, Colonel in 1887, the highest rank and commander of the Rifles itself. Shortly after becoming Colonel, a group of conspirators within the Missionary Party wanted to annex Hawaiito the United States. Ashford believed the Monarchy was corrupt and was recruited to what would be known as the Hawaiian League. The Hawaiian League used the Rifles in the Rebellion of 1887, a bloodless revolution, in order to enact the Bayonet Constitution, which made important revisions to the constitution of 1864. Executive power was placed in the hands of the cabinet, appointed by the king (Kalakaua) but responsible only to the legislature. The king's personal influence over the legislature and legislation was reduced by limiting his government appointments and restricting his veto power. The House of Nobles, like representatives, became elective. Voting was extended to all males, not limited to subjects of the kingdom, but excluded Asians. Property qualifications effectively kept Hawaiians from voting for nobles, but awarded big gains to haole (individuals of European ancestry) voters. In 1889, the Rifles did battle with the forces of Robert Wilcox in the Wilcox Rebellion. These forces were actively trying to force King Kalakaua of Hawaii to reenact the Hawaiian Constitution of 1864 from the Constitution of 1887. Upon Wilcox’s surrender, he offered Ashford his sabre, Ashford accepting the surrender but turning down the sabre. Ashford began to regret his support for the Hawaiian League. He came to believe that the League was more corrupt than the Monarchy, at advancing their own interests, rather than improving Hawaii. He joined the Liberal Party, a third party that supported neither the Monarchy nor the Missionaries. Ashford was arrested in a plot to overthrow both the Monarchy and Bayonet Constitution, known as the Burlesque Conspiracy and went into exile. His brother took his place in his absence as commander of the Honolulu Rifles. After the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, Ashford returned to Hawaii and retired from his position as commander of the Rifles. He was a strong supporter of annexation, but with the establishment of the Republic of Hawaii in 1894, he gave little support for the new government, which he believed was corrupt and later revealed at his military tribunal, that he disapproved of the mistreatment of Hawaiians by the government. Ashford was approached by counter-revolutionaries as a consultant to restore the Monarchy. The counter-revolution ended in failure in 1895 and Ashford was charged with misprision of treason, an offence found in many common law jurisdictions around the world, having been inherited from English law and is committed by someone who knows a treason is being or is about to be committed but does not report it to a proper authority. Ashford received a one year prison term and a $1000 fine. Due to his ill health, he was given the option of the one year sentence or becoming exiled. If he returned, he would receive his original sentence. After accepting exile, Ashford moved to California, his brother later moved in with him under similar circumstances of exile. Ashford died on March 21, 1900 in Oakland, California.