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1895 Wilcox rebellion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1895 Wilcox rebellion
Part of the Hawaiian rebellions (1887–1895)
Revolution of 1895 – Watching the Battle of Kamoiliili from the tower of the Executive Building (PP-53-3-004).jpg

National Guardsmen atop ʻIolani Palace during the Battle of Kamoiliili.
DateJanuary 6–9, 1895
Oahu, Hawaii

Republic of Hawaii victory

Republic of Hawaii
 United States
Kingdom of Hawaii
Commanders and leaders
Sanford B. Dole
Edward G. Hitchcock
Samuel Nowlein (POW)
Robert W. Wilcox (POW)
500 Citizens' Guards
5 Companies National Guard of Hawaii
2 Companies, Regular Army
Police Force
Casualties and losses
1 killed Several killed
190–220 captured
Most deserted

The 1895 Wilcox rebellion[note 1] was a brief war from January 6 to January 9, 1895, that consisted of three battles on the island of Oʻahu, Republic of Hawaii. It was the last major military operation by royalists who opposed the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Because of its brevity and lack of casualties, this conflict is largely forgotten; in some cases those who rediscover it coin a new name for the conflict, but it is frequently referred to as the “Counter-revolution”.

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  • ✪ Quick History of Hawaii | That Was History
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Welcome to Hawaii! This collection of islands in the Pacific Ocean is home to some of the most beautiful, natural scenery you can find. While it's easy to get wrapped up in Hawaii's tropical climate, ocean views, and tourist attractions, The Aloha State has an incredible history that shouldn't be overlooked. Join me, as we take a quick view at the good and the bad that make up this Paradise of the Pacific. Welcome to That Was History, I'm your host Cliff Langston. To kick off our quick review of Hawaii, let's go way back to when the islands were first settled. The Polynesians are credited with the first human settlements on the Hawaiian islands, however, it's tough to know exactly when they arrived. Some records suggest they showed up around 400 A.D., while others claim it might have been as early as 124 A.D. Or even as late as the year 1120. Regardless, this is where Hawaii's native culture comes from. The Polynesians are a pretty large indigenous people group that inhabit the more than 1,000 islands of Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean. As you can see, Hawaii sits at the tip of what is known as the Polynesian Triangle. For hundreds of years, the Polynesian people lived isolated from the rest of the world. During this time, Hawaii was composed of multiple groups with different Chief leaders. They would develop their own laws, social structure, and religion, but their way of life would be forever changed after European explorer, Captain James Cook, made contact with the Hawaiian Islands in January of 1778. Cook developed a trading relationship with the natives for a short time, which came in handy while he was searching for the Northwest Passage. Unfortunately, this relationship would come to an end just over a year later in February of 1779. Due to bad weather, Cook’s crew was anchored in a bay in order to perform repairs. While there, native Hawaiians stole one of his longboats. Seeking Revenge, Captain Cook  tried to kidnap the supreme leader of Hawaii Island. The next day, February 14th, an angry crowd developed that would catch up with Cook and take his life in response to his actions. Did you happen to catch that date? James Cook had the unfortunate pleasure of being killed on Valentine’s Day. Tough break. Approximately 11 years after Cook’s death, the supreme ruler’s nephew, Kamehameha I, would begin a campaign to unify the islands of Hawaii. If his name reminds you of Dragon Ball Z, there’s a reason for that. It is said that the Kamehameha finishing attack from Dragon Ball Z got its name from this Hawaiian King. There is some debate among Dragon Ball Z fans on whether that was intentional or coincidence, so I’ll let you be the judge. Getting back on track, 1810 is marked as the official unification year of the islands under the Kamehameha dynasty. During Kamehameha I’s rule, the legal system of Hawaii was unified and trade with Europe and the United States of America began. He would only live until 1819, but his accomplishments are still celebrated to this day. June 11th is Kamehameha Day which honors him and ancient Hawaiian culture. This holiday was first proclaimed by his grandson in 1871 and continues to be recognized by the United States. Hawaii’s next king was Kamehameha II. The main reason I bring him up is because he died only 5 years into his rule of the islands. He and his wife took a trip to England in 1824 and they both contracted measles while there, which brings me to my next point. The rise of European and American immigrants to Hawaii devastated the native population. When Captain Cook first documented Hawaii, their numbers were around 300,000. By the 1850’s, they were in the neighborhood of 60,000, and by 1920 only 24,000. This is all too similar to what happened to the Native American tribes that were displaced in North America, but why did immigrants decide to come to Hawaii also? Well, two early reasons were curiosity and protestant missionaries, but the biggest reason of them all was Sugar…. Hey guys... that's supposed to be sugar, not pineapples. Yeah. Yeah. You got it? We’re good? Ok, let's do it from the top. The biggest reason of them all was sugar! Not only would Sugarcane encourage immigration to Hawaii, it would also be the driving force behind the natives losing control of their island. It all started in 1835 when William Hooper of Massachusetts was able to lease 980 acres of Hawaiian land from Kamehameha III in order to grow sugarcane. Give it thirty years and sugar plantations would be operating on the four largest islands. In today’s world, this would be considered a jackpot scenario. The Kingdom of Hawaii had land of value which they could use to bolster their economy by leasing it to plantation owners. This is all fine and good until those plantation owners, who are from other countries, decide that they should have a say in Hawaiian politics. They began putting pressure on the king to provide them “land tenure.” Basically, this means they wanted to completely own the land they were currently leasing, which was an odd concept to the Hawaiian people who did not believe in private land ownership. All of this pressure on the king is going to eventually result in the development of The 1840 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii. This constitution established a “constitutional monarchy,” and stated that the land belonged to its people and was to be managed by the king. That doesn’t sound so bad, BUT, it’s also very important to note that this Constitution created executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government for Hawaii, which is going to backfire HARD within 10 years. The legislative branch in particular would now consist of an upper “House of Nobles” and a lower “House of Representatives.” The House of Nobles was made up of Hawaiian chiefs, nobles, and royal or wealthy individuals. Members of the lower House of Representatives were elected by popular vote of the people, but when I say “people” here, I mean everybody; not just the native Hawaiians. While the 1840 Constitution did allow for more political involvement from immigrants, it still did not grant private land ownership which obviously upset some people. Things got so out of hand that there was even a five month period in 1843, known as the Paulet Affair, where the British took over and occupied Hawaii due to claims that the legal rights of British subjects on the islands were being denied - A.K.A. disputes over land ownership. In the end, the Kingdom of Hawaii regained its sovereignty, but not without signing a treaty agreeing to provide British immigrants with equal representation. It was after the Paulet Affair, that Kamehameha III finally responded to everyone’s land demands with the Great Māhele on March 7th of 1848. This was the king’s land redistribution proposal that split Hawaii into thirds. One-third went to the Hawaiian Monarchy, another third went to chiefs and managers, and the last third was meant to go to the people. Now remember when I said that the changes of the 1840 Constitution would backfire? This is how. By 1850, the king’s legislative cabinet was being dominated by Americans that had been voted into those seats. This allowed for two very important laws regarding land to be passed that continued to strip Hawaii away from the natives. On July 10th of 1850, the legislature passed the Alien Land Ownership Act which allowed foreigners to own title to land in Hawaii. Just under a month later, the Kuleana Act would be passed on August 6th. This law allowed for commoners to petition for title to land that they lived on and farmed, but like I’ve mentioned before, the native Hawaiians did not understand the concept of private land ownership and didn’t see a need to claim land that they were already living on. They were given two years to make their claims to land, but sadly most did not. Even worse is the fact that many of those that DID claim property would end up losing it due to Western disease and property taxes. This means that with time, foreigners and big corporations would own the majority of the land. Before Kamehameha III’s death in 1854, the 1852 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii would be established as a result of the legislative branch calling the first constitution from 1840 into review. This second constitution would continue to add elements of democracy into the Hawaiian government, by strengthening the House of Representatives for example, which would further limit the power of the king. Kamehameha IV would feel the effects of these government changes throughout his rule from 1855 to 1863. While king, his objective was to push back the amount of influence Americans had in Hawaii. The United States had their eyes on controlling the islands because they felt it was necessary to protect their west coast. Talks of annexation had already been in the works prior to Kamehameha IV’s rule. The king knew that an American takeover would mean the end of the monarchy and of the Hawaiian people, so he looked to other options. He ended up proposing a reciprocity treaty that dealt with trade and taxes between Hawaii and the United States. An agreement was never reached, so the king began a campaign to limit Hawaii’s reliance on American trade. He worked to strengthen the Hawaiian military and aligned himself more with the United Kingdom. His wife, Queen Emma, was the granddaughter of the British royal adviser that served Kamehameha I. She and the king would have a son that they named Prince Albert Edward after Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who would later become King Edward VII. Along with all of this, Queen Victoria even agreed to be Prince Albert’s godmother in 1862. Tragically, the little Prince would become ill a short time later and died at the age of 4. Kamehameha IV tried to push through his grief and make trade deals with Britain and other European governments, but he would die of chronic asthma in 1863 having never completed the deals he had hoped to obtain for Hawaii. One big thing he did achieve during his reign was improved healthcare for the people. He originally wanted to pass his healthcare plan through the government, but the legislature struck it down. So, in typical “stick it to the man” fashion, Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma appealed to Hawaiian businessmen and residents to fund the plan. It was a massive success, and the two built Queen’s Hospital. This hospital still operates in downtown Honolulu as The Queen’s Medical Center. Due to the death of Prince Albert, the throne was given to Kamehameha IV’s brother, who, as you can probably guess, became known as Kamehameha V. He would rule until 1872, and fought to bring power back to the king from day one of his reign. Without hesitation, he said that the Hawaiian Constitution from 1852 would not be upheld. Rather than amending that constitution, he opted to draft a completely new one. A constitutional convention was held in July of 1864 where delegates were elected to help formulate this new constitution. The king met some resistance from the delegates during the convention, so he opted to disband it as well. To achieve his agenda, Kamehameha V met with his preferred advisers and implemented the 1864 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii on August 20th, 1864. Some key changes from this constitution include combining the House of Nobles and the House of Representatives into a single body known as the Legislative Assembly, abolishing the Prime Minister position that had been in place since the days of Kamehameha I, and adding a rule for voters born after 1840 that forced them to pass a literacy test and meet certain property requirements. While King, Kamehameha V also made the traditional Hawaiian medicine practices, known as Kahunaism, legal again. He also vetoed a bill in 1865 that would have made it legal to sell liquor to native Hawaiians by saying, “I will never sign the death warrant of my people.” Similar to the previous king, Americans considered Kamehameha V to be anti-american, while the people of the kingdom considered him to be the last great traditional chief. Kamehameha V died in December of 1872 without naming a successor. In accordance with the current constitution, an election was held and the legislature voted to appoint the late king’s cousin, William Charles Lunalilo as the next monarch of Hawaii. This made Lunalilo Hawaii’s first elected king. That’s probably the biggest thing he’s known for, though, because he died from tuberculosis just over a year after becoming king in February of 1874. Lunalilo had plans to revert a lot of the constitutional changes that the previous king had made, but obviously didn’t have enough time to see them through. David Kalākaua was elected as the next ruler of the Hawaiian kingdom after a bitter competition with Queen Emma, the widow of Kamehameha IV. Many believed she was the rightful heiress to the throne, but King Lunalilo never made her his official successor before his death. This sparked the Honolulu Courthouse Riot on Kalākaua’s election day where supporters of Queen Emma attacked and injured 13 legislators who supported Kalākaua. American and British military forces that were docked in Hawaii had to get involved to stop the riot. Despite his initial unpopularity, the king was able to get the United States to agree to what is now known as the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. This treaty removed import taxes on certain goods coming from Hawaii into the United States. The most important of which was Sugar. In return, Hawaii could not tax American-produced goods coming into the kingdom, and they were also not allowed to develop any similar treaties with other nations. To the king this sounded like a pretty fair agreement given the fact that many people felt that the United States would require that Hawaiian land be included as part of the treaty. The initial term of the treaty was 7 years, and the kingdom’s economy BOOMED as a result, BUT, there are always strings attached if you haven’t picked up on that already. More Americans are going to come to Hawaii to develop sugar plantations, and they’re going to bring their business agendas with them. Not to mention, 7 years is plenty of time for anyone, natives included, to get comfortable with any benefits that they received as a result. Obviously, everyone who ended up profiting off of this treaty wanted it to continue past the original 7 year term. Due to this, the king sought an extension in 1884. At this point, the United States has the Kingdom of Hawaii over a barrel, as they say. I can only describe this next part as a very genius business move by US President Chester A. Arthur. You see, the year before this treaty would expire, the United States passed the Tariff Act of 1883 which would lower sugar tariffs on imports from ALL nations, thereby diminishing Hawaii’s import advantage. After this, the US informed the Kingdom of Hawaii that they would have to give up the area of what is now Pearl Harbor in order to extend their Reciprocity Treaty. The king only had two options from there. He would either have to give up land and upset the native Hawaiians in order to maintain his current relationship with the US, or hope for the best by letting the treaty expire so that he could approach other nations with a similar deal. On December 6th of 1884, King Kalākaua came to an agreement with the United States and gave up Pearl Harbor. I can understand why this was a tough decision for the king to make. If you look at strictly the numbers, the value of Hawaii’s exported goods grew by 722% from 1874 to 1890. Although the king brought wealth to the kingdom, he was also involved in some shady practices, like accepting bribes and misusing appropriated funds, that would bring about the Rebellion of 1887. A group of mostly non-Hawaiians planned to overthrow the government. They aligned themselves with the Honolulu Rifles, a volunteer military company made up of exclusively Caucasian citizens of the Kingdom. The two groups used the threat of force to convince the king to sign a new constitution that they had written. It became known as the “Bayonet Constitution” and resulted in the king losing a great deal of his power, and his cabinet was replaced with men who supported the rebellion. This new constitution also placed higher income requirements on the right to vote, which ended up preventing roughly two-thirds of the Hawaiian population from being able to vote. Essentially, the only people who were still eligible were the rich that made their money off of the sugar industry. Although the king still held his position, I consider this to be the official moment when Hawaii was taken from the natives. About one year after the Rebellion of 1887, native Hawaiian, Robert William Wilcox, tried to lead a rebellion of his own in order to revert the changes made by the Bayonet Constitution. Unfortunately his plot was discovered just 48 hours before its implementation. This event is known as the Wilcox Rebellion of 1888. Another final blow to King Kalākaua’s reign would be the Tariff Act of 1890, also known as the McKinley Tariff. This law by the United States sent import taxes through the roof for many goods, but oddly, it completely eliminated import taxes on sugar, which would destroy Hawaii’s advantage even worse than before and would cripple the Kingdom’s economy in the years to come. The King died less than 4 months later on January 20th of 1891 while on a trip to California. His sister, Queen Lili’uokalani would become the first and only Queen of the Hawaiian Kingdom on January 29th. During her short reign, she tried to alleviate the Kingdom’s economic crisis by proposing a lottery bill and an opium licensing bill. Neither of these were well received by her supporters or opponents in government. The queen also tried to replace the Bayonet Constitution. Her new constitution would have restored power to the monarchy and returned voting rights to all of those that had been disenfranchised by current laws. Although the Queen had gained the support of the majority of registered voters, her cabinet and close friends would not publicly support her proposed constitution out of fear of backlash. Their fears became reality when a group known as The Committee of Safety began a movement to overthrow the queen and the kingdom on January 17th of 1893. The Honolulu Rifles were once again used as a threat of force to get the Queen to cooperate. U.S. Government Minister, John L. Stevens, was also able to get the USS Boston to provide 162 armed sailors and marines to help protect American lives and property in Hawaii. Their presence intimidated the Queen’s supporters enough that she was placed under house arrest without bloodshed. A provisional government was implemented that placed Sanford B. Dole in charge. And, yes, Pineapples are appropriate this time because Sanford Dole was the first cousin once removed to James Dole, who founded the Dole Food Company. I think it’s important to clarify that James Dole and the Dole Food Company had nothing to do with the overthrow of Hawaii. James didn’t move to Hawaii until 1899. I’d be willing to bet that being related to the man in charge probably DID help James acquire his initial plot of land on the island of Oahu though. Sanford Dole would officially become President after the provisional government he led transitioned into the Republic of Hawaii on July 4th, 1894. In January of the following year, Robert Wilcox tried his hand at a second rebellion with the help of Samuel Nowlein. Known as the 1895 Wilcox Rebellion, this was a last attempt to re-establish the Kingdom of Hawaii, but it ended in failure. In her final act as Queen, Lili’uokalani negotiated the release of her supporters from the rebellion in exchange for the official abdication of her throne. She signed the document of abdication on January 24th of 1895. The Republic of Hawaii’s ultimate goal was to be annexed by the United States. It would take William McKinley becoming President of the United States in 1897 for this to happen. The Spanish-American War had begun and the U.S. felt that control of Pearl Harbor was crucial. This led to President McKinley signing the Newlands Resolution on July 7th, 1898 that created the territory of Hawaii. Not surprisingly, Sanford Dole was named as the Territorial Governor. During Hawaii’s time as a U.S. Territory, the sugarcane plantations continued to grow. So much so, that a group of corporations in Hawaii that processed sugar cane became known as “The Big Five.” These corporations wielded a huge amount of political power, became multimillionaires, and ended up controlling 90% of Hawaii’s sugar business. While the Big Five were focused on sugar, James Dole marched his way towards becoming The Pineapple King. In the 1930s, the territory of Hawaii would become known as the Pineapple Capital of the World. We’re now approaching a part of Hawaii’s history that is almost impossible to forget. On December 7th of 1941, the Empire of Japan lead a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. By the time the attack was over roughly 2,400 servicemen and women, and civilians were dead. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed it as, “a date which will live in infamy.” The very next day, the United States entered World War II and fought as part of the Allied Powers. For the majority of the war, Hawaii was governed under the rules of Martial Law. The military governor controlled almost every part of Hawaiian life by fingerprinting everyone over the age of 6, rationing gasoline and food, censoring the news and mail, and implementing blackouts and curfews among other things. Martial Law would not be suspended on the islands until October of 1944, about 11 months prior to the complete end of World War II. The decade following the war is really the time period where Hawaii started transforming into what we know it as today. There were a series of strikes among plantation workers in the sugar and pineapple industries throughout the second half of the 1940’s that helped unionization spread in Hawaii. Along with this, the Democratic Party of Hawaii won the 1954 Territorial Elections which brought an abrupt end to the Big Five corporations and the Hawaiian Republican Party’s control. The Democratic Party lobbied for statehood and gained the support of 93% of registered voters in the territory. On March 18th of 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Hawaii Admission Act, and Hawaii officially became the 50th US State on August 21st. It should come as no surprise that many Native Hawaiians felt that the United States stole Hawaii from them. This eventually resulted in Congress passing a joint resolution nicknamed the “Apology Resolution” that was signed by President Bill Clinton on November 23rd of 1993. The resolution, “acknowledges that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States and further acknowledges that the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through the Kingdom of Hawaii or through a plebiscite or referendum.” A campaign known as the Hawaii Sovereignty Movement continues to this day that seeks to regain sovereignty for Native Hawaiians. Will Hawaii ever become an independent country again? I’m not convinced that it will, but I definitely understand the Native Hawaiian’s argument for why it should be. Now that we’ve discussed the history, how does Hawaii’s progression from secluded island to US state make you feel? Leave me a comment, and let’s discuss the pros and cons in the comments section below. If you enjoyed this video, I encourage you to check these out as well. Don’t forget to hit that subscribe button and notification bell so that you never miss new videos from our channel. Thanks for watching this episode of That Was History. I’m Cliff Langston, and I’ll see you next time.



Republic of Hawaiʻi

Following the 1887 Hawaiian Constitution[1] and the 1893 coup d'état, a temporary government was formed by the Committee of Safety until an assumed annexation by the United States. They were successful with President Benjamin Harrison in negotiating an annexation treaty; however, Harrison's term in office came to an end before the treaty could be ratified by Congress. The new President, Grover Cleveland, opposed the idea of annexation, being an anti-imperialist himself, and withdrew the annexation treaty upon taking office. After commissioning the secret Blount Report, he stated that the U.S. had inappropriately used military force and called for the reinstatement of Queen Liliʻuokalani. The matter was referred by Cleveland to Congress after Sanford Dole refused Cleveland's demands, and the U.S. Senate held a further investigation, culminating in the Morgan Report, which completely rejected that there had been any U.S. involvement in the overthrow.

The Provisional Government feared that President Cleveland might continue to support the queen by restoring the monarchy. The Provisional Government also realized there would be no annexation until Cleveland's term of office ended; and they wanted to establish a more permanent government until another president, more favorable toward annexation, came to office. Therefore, the Provisional Government called to order a Constitutional Convention on May 30, 1894. The Constitutional Convention drafted a constitution for a Republic of Hawaii. The Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed on 4 July 1894 at Aliiolani Hale. The Republic was a single-party oligarchy that deprived the native people of political participation.[2]

Royalist plans

Sans Souci Hotel was one location the conspirators meet, run by Royalist George Lycurgus.
Sans Souci Hotel was one location the conspirators meet, run by Royalist George Lycurgus.

In 1895, Robert Wilcox was brought into a plot to overthrow the Republic of Hawaiʻi and return Queen Liliʻuokalani to the throne. Among the plotters was Sam Nowlein, former Head of the Royal Guards of Hawaii (which had been disbanded in 1893); Joseph Nawahi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Charles T. Gulick, an advisor to both Kalākaua and Liliʻuokalani; and William H. Rickard, a sugar planter of British parentage. These men planned to attack government buildings in downtown Honolulu at night. They had recruited a number of poor Hawaiians, most of them day laborers from the outskirts of Honolulu, but failed to fill their quota of 700 recruits. In addition the recruits lacked weapons, training and discipline,[3] and were pitted against the formidable forces of the Provisional Government, which had spent the royal treasury and secured loans to arm itself thoroughly against such an attack.[4]

The rebels had purportedly smuggled arms to Liliʻuokalani to resupply them once the palace was secured. A shipment of guns and ammunition from California had been smuggled on board the Schooner Wahlber to be put aboard the Steamer Waimanalo near Rabbit Island and shipped to a secret Honolulu location.[3]

Battle of Diamond Head

Diamond Head and Waikīkī beach,1890
Diamond Head and Waikīkī beach,1890

Rumors were circulating on January 6, 1895, that armaments were being landed on Waikīkī beach, Oʻahu. A squad of six policemen led by Captain Parker, a veteran of the 1889 rebellion who commanded the 30 Royal Guards in the Palace, had been sent to Harry Bertleman’s house near Diamond Head to search for the weapons.[3] They did not know Bertleman was a Lieutenant in the insurgency. As Deputy Marshal Brown read the warrant to Bertleman, the squad was fired upon by three Royalists returning from the beach, that took shelter in Bertleman’s canoe house. The police advanced toward the canoe house until the Royalists were driven off, but not before Charles L. Carter, an armed civilian accompanying the police, was shot three times in the chest. Bertleman shot and wounded police lieutenant Holi as the policemen returned to the house. The policemen subdued Bertleman and another rebel, John Lane, in the first clash and took shelter in Bertleman’s house.[3] 70 royalists in the surrounding area joined the battle attacking the house. They were commanded by Colonel Robert Wilcox and Lieutenant Lot Lane, an intimidating six foot Irish-Hawaiian. The Royalists surrounded the house but three men escaped: Captain Parker, Deputy Marshal Brown, and Alfred Wellington Carter (Charles Carter's cousin).[3] The police officers mounted their horses and sent word of the uprising, while Alfred Carter searched for a doctor. A detachment of the National Guard of Hawaii, Company E commanded by Lt. King, drove back the Royalists towards Diamond Head by 9:00, allowing Alfred Carter to bring doctors Walter, Murry, and Doyle to his cousin. The battle continued into the night. The Royalists managed to repel the soldiers from their fallback position. By dawn of January 7, the government forces withdrew to Sans Souci Beach in Waikiki near Sans Souci Hotel run by Royalist George Lycurgus at Kapiolani Park west of Diamond Head and awaited reinforcements, ending the battle.[3]

C. L. Carter, nephew of supreme court justice Albert Francis Judd and son of former Kingdom diplomat Henry A. P. Carter, died from his wounds later that day. Two other police officers were also wounded and sent to a hospital. Bertleman and Lane were sent to the police station, where they were imprisoned. Although the royalists had triumphed in the first battle of the war, they had lost the element of surprise. Consequently, this victory would be short-lived.

Battle of Mōʻiliʻili


On January 7, 1895 martial law was declared in Hawaii by President Sanford B. Dole. The men led by Lt. Sam Nowlein rendezvoused with Col. Robert W.K. Wilcox at Diamond Head. Following the Republic government’s humiliating defeat, Marshal Edward G. Hitchcock deployed men and three artillery cannons to stop the Royalists’ march on Honolulu. An additional detachment of 25 men led by Lt. Coyne was sent, and met Lt. King near Sans Souci Beach at Kapiolani Park on the east end of Waikiki. King had sent a group of men to the rim of Diamond Head to attack the Royalists from above, while Coyne had received a field piece and zeroed in on a group of 100 Royalists on the slopes of the volcano. The artillery was at first too inaccurate to be effective, and it took several barrages to dislodge Wilcox’s men. It is noted that one round was so inaccurate that it missed Diamond Head completely, sailing over the crater and landing in the sea. The final bombardment inflicted several casualties and scattered the group. Wilcox saw no tactical importance in remaining on Diamond Head and ordered his men to retreat to Waialae to rest. The new strategy was to move north into Koʻolau mountains then west, avoiding the Government forces in south.

Nowlein's men opened fire near Diamond Head at Mauʻumae at a group of police along Waialae Road commanded by T. B. Murray and, though they caused no casualties, the police withdrew anyway. The Republic’s army moved toward the Royalists with two of the government's cannons. The third cannon was put aboard a commandeered tugboat named Eleu to form a makeshift Patrol Boat. The Eleu attacked Wilcox’s men with grapeshot at Waialae, on the northeast side of Diamond Head. The Royalists were centered around Anton Rosa’s residence, the former headquarters for the Royalists with an arms cache, which was captured.

Nowlein's men were to capture Punchbowl, but had been waiting in hiding at Mauʻumae as government troops were moving toward Diamond Head. T. B. Murray's group of police on reconnaissance along Waialae Road were sent toward their position. As they approached, Nowlein's men fired at them and the policemen retreated.[3] Murray's men returned with Company F commanded by Captain C. W. Zeiler from Palolo, sent to engage Nowlein at Kaimuki as they moved toward Moʻiliʻili. Nowlein's men were driven back to Mauʻumae, where there were ammo caches and boulders for cover.[3] The fighting led to a deadlock. Due to the distance between the opposing forces, and protective cover on both sides, neither combatant could inflict casualties on the other. Finally the government forces broke the stronghold when a howitzer was brought to bear to end the stalemate and 33 of Nowlein's men surrendered, though Nowlein himself escaped with officers and a few men although he disliked the idea of abandoning his men, his officers convinced him that it was strategic to prevent him from being captured or killed if he remanded in the stronghold.

As the Eleu began to attack Waialae, Wilcox moved his men through the mountains, advancing toward Honolulu.[3] His men moved to the settlement of Moʻiliʻili, at the mouth of Mānoa Valley, where they encountered a line of Captain Zeiler’s Company, and also met with artillery fire. Captain Camara supported Zeiler in securing his flank, positioning his Company C in Nuʻuanu and Punchbowl, cutting off the western advance by the Royalists. The Royalists retreated and entrenched themselves among the stone walls and lantana foliage of the area. Zeiler advanced on them. Wilcox awaited Nowlein's attack on Punchbowl to relieve his men of the government forces, but this never came. The Royalists could not hold their ground against Zeiler's men and retreated into the valley. At the end of the battle 40 Royalists surrendered and were taken prisoner, while one of Zeiler's men was wounded. The battle had lasted a day, and several Royalists had been killed.

Battle of Mānoa

National Guard Company F commanded by Captain C. W. Zeiler shortly after the Battle of Mānoa
National Guard Company F commanded by Captain C. W. Zeiler shortly after the Battle of Mānoa
Mānoa Valley
Mānoa Valley

The final battle took place on January 9. The Royalists had withdrawn following their defeat at Moʻiliʻili. Wilcox was down to 100 men and retreated into Mānoa Valley. Most of Wilcox's men had not eaten since the start of the rebellion and spirits were low. The Republican Government forces did not immediately pursue the Royalists because a riot had broken out among Japanese plantation workers in ʻEwa, and the government, in reaction, drew forces away from the nearly crushed rebellion to deal with this new threat. Reconnaissance patrols were sent into and around the Koʻolaus and concluded that the Royalist force was still in Mānoa Valley. They employed the Eleu to patrol the coast and destroyed suspicious unattended boats. The government forces that remained were ordered to guard the entrance to the valley in order to keep the Royalist force contained.

A Royalist force of 50 men was spotted on the evening of the 9th attempting to scale Tantalus and move through Punchbowl to enter the city. A gun battle ensued between Company A commanded by Capt. P. Smith, backed by Company D. commanded by Lt. Jones with a field piece against the Royalists, leaving one Royalist dead. The Royalists were pushed to the back of the valley where they were surrounded by mountains on three sides. Until nightfall, the doomed company withstood the ensuing siege and artillery barrage in the pocket known as “the Pen”, at the base of Puʻu Konahuanui. The Royalists then climbed the steep slopes to escape under the cover of darkness.[3] The battle had lasted three hours with two rebels captured, three confirmed dead, and most managing to escape.

After the climb up the ridge the royalists’ fates varied. Many felt the revolution was a failure and deserted. Others wished to continue the fight but were separated from Wilcox’s leadership and would eventually be captured or killed by government forces routing out the remaining Royalists. Wilcox moved over ancient footpaths to Nuʻuanu Valley and Kalihi, where the group of 10 eventually disbanded.


Citizens' Guards in Nuuanu Valley sent to drive out remaining insurgents
Citizens' Guards in Nuuanu Valley sent to drive out remaining insurgents

Skirmishes continued for a week after the victory in Mānoa as the military eradicated the areas of resistance in the Koʻolaus. Contrary to popular belief of the tropical forests of Hawaii having excesses of edibles they are actually scarce. The early native Hawaiians brought crops of their own when they settled the islands, although vegetation is bountiful, few plants are fit for eating. As a consequence most insurgents were driven out by starvation.

All the Royalist leaders were arrested. A barracks was converted into a prison to hold the captured rebels. On January 8, 1895, the captain of the Steamer Waimanalo, William Davies, and several crewmembers were arrested for distributing arms.

Nowlein was caught with three lieutenants on January 14 in Moʻiliʻili. They had been fed by native Hawaiian sympathizers while in hiding.

Wilcox hid for several days in the mountains and made his way to Nuʻuanu Valley and Kalihi with 10 loyal conspirators, but the group was disbanded. He surrendered on January 16, 1895, in a fishing hut near Kalihi.

Lane hid in the Koʻolaus above Mānoa for ten days after the final battle. He came out of hiding after fighting subsided believing a foreign intervention had come, after asking a passerby he discovered the revolution was crushed. Contrary to the fears of Lane and the warning to government forces to use caution when encountering him, he surrendered peacefully to police becoming the last insurgent to be captured. After being brought to police headquarters he was escorted by six guards in fear he may overpower the regular amount for a normal prisoner. He was locked in with over a hundred under-nourished prisoners of war, he protested that night using the guards’ fears about him to provide food for his fellow inmates. It was believed that most of the Royalists had evaded capture, and with their identities not known had slipped back into the community to return to their lives before the revolution.

men at table in military uniforms, others standing
The 1895 trial in former ʻIolani Palace throne room

A weapons cache was found and attributed to Liliʻuokalani. She was arrested on January 16. Wilcox was tried for treason (as he had after the Wilcox Rebellion of 1889) by a military tribunal with the other military leaders. This time he was found guilty and sentenced to death, but the sentence reduced to 35 years. Liliʻuokalani and other political leaders were tried and convicted for misprision of treason by those who had overthrown the Kingdom. The former attorney general of the Kingdom Paul Neumann served as legal defense, and prosecutor was William Ansel Kinney. Liliʻuokalani formally abdicated her throne to prevent further bloodshed over the controversial government in a five-page letter on January 24, 1895. The president of the republic, Sanford B. Dole, pardoned the royalists after they served part of their prison sentence.[5]


  1. ^ Also known as the second Wilcox rebellion of 1895, the revolution of 1895, the Hawaiian counter-revolution of 1895, the 1895 uprising in Hawaii, the Hawaiian civil war, the 1895 uprising against the provisional government, and the uprising of 1895.


  1. ^ William Ming Liu; Derek Kenji Iwamoto; Mark H. Chae (19 January 2011). Culturally Responsive Counseling with Asian American Men. Routledge. p. 133. ISBN 978-1-135-96833-5.
  2. ^ Noenoe Silva (1998). 'The 1897 Petitions Protesting Annexation Archived 2012-03-17 at the Wayback Machine'.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Loomis, Albertine (1976). For Whom Are the Stars?. The University Press of Hawaii. ISBN 978-0-8248-0416-9.
  4. ^ Proto, Neil Thomas (2009). The rights of my people: Liliuokalani's enduring battle with the United States, 1893-1917. Algora Publishing. p. 89.
  5. ^ "Abdication of Queen Liliuokalani: Safety at the Price of a Kingdom, of Little Moment Now for the Cause of the Royalists is a Lost Cause". The Morning Call. San Francisco. February 7, 1895. Retrieved July 19, 2010.

Further reading

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