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Overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom
Part of the Hawaiian Rebellions (1887–95)
USS Boston landing force, 1893 (PP-36-3-002).jpg

The USS Boston's landing force on duty at the Arlington Hotel, Honolulu, at the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, January 1893. Lieutenant Lucien Young, USN, commanded the detachment, and is presumably the officer at right.[1]
DateJanuary 17, 1893; 127 years ago (1893-01-17)
Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaiian League / United States victory

Hawaii Committee of Safety
 United States
Hawaii Hawaii
Commanders and leaders
Honolulu Rifles
  • 1,500 Militiamen
United States
496 troops[2]
Casualties and losses
None 1 wounded

The overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom began on January 17, 1893, with a coup d'état against Queen Liliʻuokalani on the island of Oahu by subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom, United States citizens, and foreign residents residing in Honolulu. A majority of the insurgents were foreigners.[4] They prevailed upon American minister John L. Stevens to call in the U.S. Marines to protect United States interests, an action that effectively buttressed the rebellion. The revolutionaries established the Republic of Hawaii, but their ultimate goal was the annexation of the islands to the United States, which occurred in 1898.

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  • ✪ Overthrowing a Kingdom | Hawaii
  • ✪ Hawaiian Monarchs Family Tree
  • ✪ 125th Commemoration of the Illegal Overthrow Of The Hawaiian Kingdom - January 17th 2018 - Part 1
  • ✪ The Hawaiian Kingdom, A Progressive Nation State 1843-1893
  • ✪ Speaking Truth To Power- Investigating The Illegal U.S. Military Occupation Of The Hawaiian Islands


As some of you might know, I grew up in Hawaii. I’m super white, before you ask. And a while back, when talking about former independent countries that became states, I said… But because of that, I know Hawaiian history ad nauseum, ready? Be more excited please. Well I hope you’re excited now because we’re about to- Eh, hui. Eh bruddah you try for make one video? Uh yeah. You bettah respect da aina or you get one false crack! Okay, I’m pretty sure only like half of that was English. F***in haole. What does that even mean, people have been calling me that my entire life! Hawaii! This video is brought to you by Skillshare. Hawaii is an island chain located in the middle of the Pacific, it’s the northern tip of the Polynesian Triangle, which also connects to Rapa Nui, more commonly known as Easter Island, and Aotearoa or New Zealand. All of the people in this triangle share a similar language and culture with small differences here and there. The first Hawaiians arrived around 300 BC, most likely from the Marquesas Islands. The second wave arrived from Tahiti around 1000 AD and they brought their language and religion with them. And we’ll get to what those are in a bit. Old white historians dismiss the possibility that the Polynesians knew where they were going and instead describe finding Hawaii as an accident. Polynesians did know how to sail using celestial navigation – but it’s not like they knew where Hawaii was and once they got there, they never went back. We know that two waves arrived in Hawaii, but we have no idea how many waves left Tahiti. There may have been dozens or even hundreds of unsuccessful… lost voyages. So aside from that, Hawaii was pretty much isolated for several thousand years. At least until 1778, when British explorer Captain James Tiberius K – James Cook – “discovered” them. At least for the outside world. He named them the Sandwich Isles after the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, but noted that the natives called it Owyhee – so take Hawaii and like… He landed here, on the island of Kauai, and here’s where we’re going to talk about the geography a bit. The Pacific plate is moving in this direction, so the hot spot in the middle of the plate has been moving this way, creating new volcanic islands every few thousand years. As you move down the chain, the newer the islands are, until you get to this one, Hawaii, more commonly known as the Big Island, home of the currently erupting volcano Kilauea. This is why all of the islands are called Hawaii, after this one. Kinda like how New York state is named after New York C – you get it. This also happens to be where Captain Cook was killed in 1779. If you haven’t seen the Drunk History episode on how it went down, you should. They take some comedic license with it, but that’s pretty much how it happened. He’s kind of the Columbus of the Pacific and is regarded in much the same way by the various natives he encountered – he even “discovered” New Zealand and mapped the east coast of Australia. Just to put this into some historical perspective, this all happened at the same time as the American Revolutionary War. James Cook landed in Hawaii at the same time that George Washington was freezing in Valley Forge. The islands were divided up and ruled by various chiefs known as ali’i. One of these districts was ruled by Kamehameha – Kaaaaa- Stop! We don’t have time for that joke. Seriously it takes him like 20 minutes to say it unless you speed it up. We all get the reference, haha. Kamehameha got two white advisors to provide him with guns and ships and began conquering the islands in a campaign that would last 15 years. In Hawaiian history, it’s usually portrayed as a peaceful unification but, it wasn’t. One of the battles on Maui is known as the Damming of the Waters, because so many bodies piled up that they created an obstruction on a river. Fiction often draws from historical fact. At the Battle of Nu’uanu on O’ahu, Kamehameha’s army forced several hundred enemy soldiers off the back of a cliff at spear and gun point. Again, that actually happened. After this, the remaining islands joined peacefully, creating the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810. Kamehameha loved everything about the west and especially Great Britain. So in 1816, when he ordered the first Hawaiian flag to be made, it looked like this, with the Union Jack in the corner. Kamehameha considered himself to be a British subject and believed the islands to be a British protectorate. And he set up the government in the same confusing constitutional monarchy with a parliament system. The British never made any claim to the islands and denied controlling them, but did express their continual friendship. Hawaiians believed that for chiefs and kings to maintain the mana in their royal blood line, they needed to marry from within the family. You know, like the Targaryens. Which caused all the same problems you would expect, including miscarriages, stillbirths, and even sterility. So when Kamehameha died in 1819, he was the first and last King of Hawaii to have any children. You can’t have a family tree that looks like this and expect your dynasty to rule forever. His son, Liholiho or Kamehameha II is important because he abolished the Hawaiian religion six months into his reign. It was known as the Kapu System and it governed everything from what women were allowed to eat to which fish you were allowed to catch to even what happens to you if you touch a chief. All of which were punishable by death by the way. Unless you could get to a Pu’uhonua, which was a special temple that… was kind of like base in tag. If you made it there, you were safe and absolved of breaking the kapu. Kamehameha II broke this with the simple act of eating with his mother, what were they going to do, kill him? It’s not like they chipped away at it over time, it was just poof, gone overnight. The only thing that kind of remained was the caste system, much like the one you know of from India, except there were no untouchables and now anyway, no more priests. This opened the door to missionaries because Hawaii literally had no religion. They still had a mythology, complete with their own little version of leprechauns called menehune, but look, this isn’t like some white guy talking about the uncivilized savages, they literally abolished the religion. And killed the priests and anyone else who refused to give it up. The missionaries arrived after all of this, they didn’t cause it; the Hawaiians willingly gave it up and westernized. It wasn’t forced on them, just keep that in the back of your mind. The first missionaries arrived from Boston in 1820 and were sponsored by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and were mostly Presbyterian. Mormons arrived later in 1850 on the island of Lanai, and later moved to Laie on Oahu, founding BYU Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center. But let’s follow that first group, since they’re the ones who had the most difficult task. In order to teach the bible, you first have to teach language – which is even more difficult when you consider the fact that Hawaii didn’t have a written language yet. So before everything else, they had to invent that too. The Hawaiian language has twelve letters. All five of the vowels, A, E, I, O, and U. And just seven consonants, H, K, L, M, N, P, and W, which doubled as both a U sound and a V sound. There’s also another important character that you’ll see everywhere, the apostrophe. Which signals a vocal break between vowel sounds. Like oo-ah instead of ua. So the official name of Hawaii is Hawai’I, bu tin practice no one calls it that, it’s Hawaii. Only haoles pronounce it Hawaii, Butters. Right so, let’s talk about that word as well. Everyone knows aloha, it’s the traditional greeting and also means goodbye. It means the breath of life or the presence of breath, ha meaning breath. Haole means without breath and it’s typically used for foreigners – not just white people, all foreigners. It’s unclear if it was meant as a derogatory term at first, it just meant those who don’t participate in the traditional Hawaiian greeting. But it’s definitely derogatory now. You don’t want to be a haole. And there’s no quicker way to make yourself look like one than to go around trying to pronounce the words in traditional Hawaiian. We have many customs and traditions to keep our culture alive. We drink chi-chis from the coconut. Right, maybe things have changed, but when I lived in Hawaii chi-chis were something very different. Man she had the biggest chi-chis I had ever seen. Which the missionaries did convince everyone to cover up because they were immodest. And outlawed the hula in 1830 for being too suggestive. In 1841, they founded the Punahou School mostly for their own children, separate from the natives. It has somewhat of a reputation for being the rich kids’ school and went on to educate a future president. Kamehameha II was only king for five years before dying and passing the throne to Kamehameha III, who was the longest reigning monarch. It was under his reign that the first constitution was written in 1840 and the watershed, defining moment in Hawaiian history took place. It’s the Irish Potato Famine and American Civil War of Hawaii and is known as the Great Mahele. What Kamehameha II did for the ancient religion and culture, Kamehameha III did for land division. Prior to this, land was divided up into ahupua’as, which stretched from the mountains to the sea and was ruled by an ali’i or chief. It was kind of a feudal system. These are actually pretty close to the current-day city boundaries, now that I look at it. I went to high school right here, on the boundary between “Two Seas” and “Bamboo Boy.” Anyway, the Great Mahele undid all of this and introduced the idea of private land ownership. Anybody could file a claim for their own little homestead. But doing so required you to be literate, to be able to pay the fee, and pay for someone to survey the land that you were trying to claim. Most commoners weren’t able to do so, but you know who was? Rich, white, foreigners. The Great Mahele passed in 1848 and there was a two year moratorium on any foreigners claiming land in order to allow the natives time to stake their claim. In the end, less than one percent of the land went to Native Hawaiians and two-thirds of it to foreign sugar plantations. It’s important to note that unlike during previous European conquests, this land wasn’t stolen. It was legally purchased from the native government. Before European arrival, Hawaiians mostly relied on taro, a root vegetable that would be mashed up into poi. If it helps, taro was to Hawaii what the potato was to Ireland, analogies are fun. But once trade opened up to the outside world, Hawaii became known for its sandalwood and as a whaling station. A whaling expedition would take 3-4 years and would anchor in Hawaii to refit and participate in all sorts of tomfoolery and skullduggery. Much to the dismay of the missionaries. Whaling went into decline when people discovered that you could burn fossil fuels, which happened to coincide with the rise of sugar. And to a lesser extent pineapples, but mostly sugar. Hawaii became the primary exporter of sugar to America. Especially during the Civil War when the North had trouble getting it from the Caribbean. Almost all of the arable land, and even some of the non-arable land, was converted into sugar plantations. Unfortunately, with the rise of sugar, came the rise of rats. The rat population exploded and severely damaged the sugarcane crop and costing enough money that getting rid of them became a priority. But in the time before commercially available pesticides, their only real option was biological control. So which animal would you party up with if you’re trying to control rats? The Europeans chose the mongoose, because its high mobility and damage stat made it a great candidate for dealing with smaller builds like the rat. They wasted no time importing mongooses from Jamaica. But they failed to ask the question: How will this affect the meta? Adding a new predatory class to an island server is a classic recipe for destabilizing the metagame. The new mongoose playerbase quickly became top tier in the region and had no losing matchups in the entire Hawaiian server, BUT to the dismay of the human players the rats actually were mostly unaffected by their introduction. Why? Well, because the mongoose playerbase is most active during the daytime, while the rats opt for a nocturnal playstyle. Even though mongooses could indeed body rats in combat, they hardly ever get the chance. Instead, mongoose players griefed the native bird playerbase super hard, in some cases completely invalidating certain builds like the o’o and mamo. Mongooses can be an effective party member for dealing with certain matchups, just not rats. If snakes were ever the issue, they'd present an effective counter. But for rats, I’d suggest a nocturnal build with similar stats and abilities to the mongoose. Like, for example, ferrets! That is why these were domesticated after all… Ow! But while they converted the land into a sugarcane monoculture, the labor needs of the plantations resulted in an extremely diversified human culture. The Native Hawaiians suffered the same decline due to disease as other native groups. Small pox, measles, influenza, even leprosy took the lives of 90% of the native population In 1866, they had to establish a leper colony on the Kalaupapa peninsula of Molokai, which lasted until 1969. So, much like the railroads, they had to import labor in from elsewhere, mainly the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, and even Portuguese. These people mixed their cultures together which resulted in this breakfast that you can get at McDonald’s in Hawaii, complete with two scoops of rice. As in ice cream scoop scoops of rice. Portuguese sausage – which is just regular sausage but kind of spicier – and spam. Because there’s nothing more Hawaiian than spam. If there’s one thing I miss about Hawaii, it’s the food. If someone can figure out a way to get me a kalua pork school lunch, I’ll marry you… email me or something. But it’s also pretty apparent in the language. These people from all over the world learned to communicate using Hawaiian Pidgin, which is a creole of broken English, Filipino- Ey that’s why we all kine talk like dat ah? Yeah… the pineapple’s right there how are you- Shoots… That’s not how works bruh. What? You like beef? Who are you? I’m your Uncle Try Know Bettah. No! No… we’re not doing characters, especially not racist ones. I just got a whole bunch of new subs- Hawaii! What am I going to do with two pineapples?! That diversity is still evident today, which is why white people only make up about 25% of the state’s population. But by the end of the sugar rush, they owned 90% of the land – all thanks to the Great Mahele. When Kamehameha III died, the throne went to his nephew, Kamehameha IV. He only lasted eight years, then it passed to his brother Kamehameha V, who only lasted nine. Then, thanks to all the incest, they had to elect someone from the extended family – Lunalilo, also known as The People’s King. He was Kamehameha the Great’s grandnephew and step son and only reigned for 13 months. I can’t imagine why. This was the end of the Kamehameha dynasty, after him they had to hold an election open to all of the upper class, and David Kalakaua won in 1883. He’s known as the Merrie Monarch, and yes, it is spelled that way, and his coronation lifted the ban on hula. Which is why there is an annual hula competition known as the Merrie Monarch Festival. He also built Iolani Palace, the only actual royal palace on US soil Kalakaua was also notoriously corrupt – like Grant-level corrupt. He’d buy votes with gin, took kickbacks on the opium trade – just a generally all around corrupt guy. So behind the scenes, many descendants of missionaries and sugar plantation owners created the Hawaiian League. They identified themselves as Hawaiian, not American or British or anything else. Hawaii had gone through several constitutions, but the Hawaiian League forced Kalakaua to sign yet another one in 1887 known as the Bayonet Constitution. This cut back on the monarchy’s power in the hope of reducing the corruption. When Kalakaua died in 1891, the throne passed to his sister, Liluokalani, who wanted to write a new constitution to take back that power… which resulted in the complete overthrow of the monarchy in 1893. This was a very complicated situation that resulted in many crossed wires and misunderstandings. The parliament, made up mostly of rich foreigners, seized control of the government and asked the United States to help. Queen Liluokalani told the United States that she would temporarily yield control to the US until the situation was sorted out. The United States took that to mean she was ceding power to the parliament, so they sent US Marines to help them. There were a few in parliament who wanted to be part of the United States, but annexation wasn’t the primary goal yet and they declared themselves to be the independent Republic of Hawaii. They changed the stripes on their flag to this and appointed Sanford Dole, of pineapple fame, as its president. In order to secure power, they made a lot of shady rules about who can vote, like requiring an English literacy test – Gee, where have we seen that before… In fact, the republic’s constitution plagiarized a lot of Mississippi’s Reconstruction era constitution, just aimed at natives and Asians instead. The United States didn’t have much interest in Hawaii as anything other than a trading partner, at least until the Spanish American War. They needed a forward naval base and coaling station to help with their invasions of the Philippines and Guam. They already had the rights to use Pearl Harbor, but they didn’t fully control it. Near the end of the war, the United States lifted tariffs on sugar and was soon going to possess several tropical islands capable of growing it. So in order to keep Hawaiian sugar competitive, they applied for annexation and as we all know, got it in 1898. American military presence in the islands grew and became the largest employer on the island, second only to the state government itself. So let’s talk about Pearl Harbor. Yesterday, December sev- I’m just kidding, I’ve already talked about that enough, but Pearl Harbor wasn’t the only place in Hawaii that was attacked that day. While one of the Japanese planes was returning to the fleet, it was damaged, and crash landed on the island of Ni’ihau. The entire island is privately owned by the Robinson family – that’s just one of those facts that you learn while growing up in Hawaii. A Japanese family working on the island immediately flipped sides and helped the Japanese pilot fight against the locals. This became known as the Ni’ihau Incident and was one of the justifications used for Japanese internment. The fear being that any Japanese people living on the west coast might also flip sides. The entire Territory of Hawaii was put under martial law during World War 2, bunkers and lookout points were placed all around – you can still hike to them today. But what about this island, the only one I haven’t talked about yet? This is Kaho’olawe and it was used as a test range for bombers and naval ships during World War 2 and for decades afterwards. It’s completely uninhabited and will likely stay that way for a long time due to all the unexploded ordnance. Sugar and pineapple went into decline as the military presence in Hawaii continued to grow, especially during Korea and Vietnam. And this is why there are interstates in Hawaii. I’ve talked about this before, but interstates connect military bases – going through cities is just a side benefit. So on the main island of O’ahu, there are three interstate highways. H1 connects Hickam Air Force Base to the now closed Barber’s Point Naval Air Station. H2 connects Pearl Harbor to Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Air Field. And H3 connects Pearl Harbor to Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay. I grew up in Hawaii because my dad was in the navy. It was an interesting multicultural experience, white people are the minority, even with the military presence. But it also meant I was on the cutting edge of everything you enjoy about Japan. This was before the internet, you couldn’t just stream whatever anime you wanted, so they would use Hawaii as a test market before introducing it to the rest of the United States. Pogs, Power Rangers, Pokemon, even anime, back when it was still called Japanimation. I grew up watching Sailor Moon every morning before school. Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by d- ahem. Sailor Jupiter was my favorite. So if you happen to visit Hawaii and stay at Waikiki, you’re going to see a total mix of cultures and probably be shocked to find that most of the island is just a big city. If you want the real tropical experience, you’re going to have to go to one of the outer islands. Please don’t make yourself look too much like a tourist. Don’t take disrespectful selfies in front of sacred Hawaiian temples. Take fancy DSLR photos in front of sacred Hawaiian temples, one of the many skill you can learn at Skillshare. There are a number of classes about how to take professional photos on your trip for every skill level, whether you’re a beginner wanting to take candids, instead of a tacky selfie, or you want to learn how to frame a landscape or monument. Or if you want to stay in Waikiki and take pictures at the International Marketplace, they’ve got you covered. If you’ve been watching me for a while or you’re a new subscriber going through my back catalog, you’ve probably noticed a big change in the way I film. I wish I had access to Skillshare before, instead of figuring it all out myself. So if you use go to you can get 2 months of Skillshare’s premium membership for free. Don’t be like these guys. C’mon freakin tourists… Geez buy a postcard. There is still a native sovereignty movement in Hawaii. But it’s also worth asking how much of what happened was brought on by their own monarchs. The land was legally purchased from the native government, it wasn’t stolen. But the native government was overthrown in a rather shady manner. There was no formal treaty of annexation, instead it was passed through a joint resolution of Congress. It is a state though, you don’t need a passport to go visit. And it really is an interesting experience, Hawaii is a cultural melting pot like no other. So at least now if you plan to go visit, you won’t look too much like an ignorant haole, because now, you know better. I’d like to introduce my two new friends, Atlas and Peabody, yes I know it’s spelled different in the game, but I don’t want to have to explain the stupid spelling to normies. If you’re new here, I used to have my previous ferret, Wheatley, doing something cute in the outro cards, so be on the lookout for that from now on. I’d like to give a shout out to my two new legendary patrons, Jeremy and Mike. Make sure to overthrow that subscribe button, follow me on twitter and facebook and join us on the subreddit.



The Kamehameha Dynasty was the reigning monarchy of the Hawaiian Kingdom, beginning with its founding by Kamehameha I in 1795, until the death of Kamehameha V in 1872 and Lunalilo in 1874.[5] On July 6, 1846, U.S. Secretary of State John C. Calhoun, on behalf of President Tyler, formally recognized Hawaii's independence under the reign of Kamehameha III.[6] As a result of the recognition of Hawaiian independence, the Hawaiian Kingdom entered into treaties with the major nations of the world[7] and established over ninety legations and consulates in multiple seaports and cities.[8] The kingdom would continue for another 21 years until its overthrow in 1893 with the fall of the House of Kalākaua.[9]

Sugar reciprocity

Sugar had been a major export from Hawaii since Captain James Cook arrived in 1778.[10] The first permanent plantation in the islands was on Kauai in 1835. William Hooper leased 980 acres (4 km²) of land from Kamehameha III and began growing sugar cane. Within thirty years there would be plantations on four of the main islands. Sugar had completely altered Hawaii's economy.[11]

The influence of the United States in Hawaiian government began with American-born plantation owners advocating for fair representation in the Kingdom's politics, owing to the significant tax contributions made from the plantations to both the Royal family and national economy. This was driven by missionary religion and the economics of the sugar industry. Pressure from these foreign born politicians was being felt by the King and chiefs with demands of land tenure. After a five month occupation by the British in 1843, Kamehameha III relented to the foreign advisors to private land demands with the Great Māhele, distributing the lands as pushed on heavily by the missionaries, including Gerrit P. Judd.[12] During the 1850s, the U.S. import tariff on sugar from Hawaii was much higher than the import tariffs Hawaiians were charging the U.S., and Kamehameha III sought reciprocity.[13] The monarch wished to lower the tariffs being paid out to the U.S. while still maintaining the Kingdom's sovereignty and making Hawaiian sugar competitive with other foreign markets. In 1854 Kamehameha III proposed a policy of reciprocity between the countries but the proposal died in the U.S. Senate.[14]

As early as 1873, a United States military commission recommended attempting to obtain Ford Island in exchange for the tax-free importation of sugar to the U.S.[15] Major General John Schofield, U.S. commander of the military division of the Pacific, and Brevet Brigadier General Burton S. Alexander arrived in Hawaii to ascertain its defensive capabilities. United States control of Hawaii was considered vital for the defense of the west coast of the United States, and they were especially interested in Pu'uloa, Pearl Harbor.[16] The sale of one of Hawaii's harbors was proposed by Charles Reed Bishop, a foreigner who had married into the Kamehameha family, had risen in the government to be Hawaiian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and owned a country home near Pu'uloa. He showed the two U.S. officers around the lochs, although his wife, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, privately disapproved of selling Hawaiian lands. As monarch, William Charles Lunalilo, was content to let Bishop run almost all business affairs but the ceding of lands would become unpopular with the native Hawaiians. Many islanders thought that all the islands, rather than just Pearl Harbor, might be lost and opposed any cession of land. By November 1873, Lunalilo canceled negotiations and returned to drinking, against his doctor's advice; his health declined swiftly, and he died on February 3, 1874.[16]

Lunalilo left no heirs. The legislature was empowered by the constitution to elect the monarch in these instances[17] and chose David Kalākaua as the next monarch.[18] The new ruler was pressured by the U.S. government to surrender Pearl Harbor to the Navy.[18] Kalākaua was concerned that this would lead to annexation by the U.S. and to the contravention of the traditions of the Hawaiian people, who believed that the land ('Āina) was fertile, sacred, and not for sale to anyone.[18] In 1874 through 1875, Kalākaua traveled to the United States for a state visit to Washington DC to help gain support for a new treaty.[19][20] Congress agreed to the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 for seven years in exchange for Ford Island.[21][22] After the treaty, sugar production expanded from 12,000 acres (49 km2) of farm land to 125,000 acres (510 km2) in 1891.[23] At the end of the seven-year reciprocity agreement, the United States showed little interest in renewal.[21]

Rebellion of 1887 and the Bayonet Constitution

On January 20, 1887, the United States began leasing Pearl Harbor.[24] Shortly afterwards, a group of mostly non-Hawaiians calling themselves the Hawaiian Patriotic League began the Rebellion of 1887.[25] They drafted their own constitution on July 6, 1887.[26] The new constitution was written by Lorrin Thurston, the Hawaiian Minister of the Interior who used the Hawaiian militia as threat against Kalākaua.[24] Kalākaua was forced under threat of assassination[27] to dismiss his cabinet ministers and sign a new constitution which greatly lessened his power.[18] It would become known as the "Bayonet Constitution" due to the threat of force used.[24]

The Bayonet Constitution allowed the monarch to appoint cabinet ministers, but had stripped him of the power to dismiss them without approval from the Legislature.[26]:152 Eligibility to vote for the House of Nobles was also altered, stipulating that both candidates and voters were now required to own property valuing at least three thousand dollars, or have an annual income of no less than six hundred dollars.[28] This resulted in disenfranchising two thirds of the native Hawaiians as well as other ethnic groups who had previously held the right to vote but were no longer able to meet the new voting requirements.[29] This new constitution benefited the white, foreign plantation owners.[30] With the legislature now responsible for naturalizing citizens, Americans and Europeans could retain their home country citizenship and vote as citizens of the kingdom.[31] Along with voting privileges, Americans could now run for office and still retain their United States citizenship, something not afforded in any other nation of the world[32] and even allowed Americans to vote without becoming naturalized.[33] Asian immigrants were completely shut out and were no longer able to acquire citizenship or vote at all.[34]

At the time of the Bayonet Constitution Grover Cleveland was president, and his secretary of state Thomas F. Bayard sent written instructions to the American minister George W. Merrill that in the event of another revolution in Hawaii, it was a priority to protect American commerce, lives and property. Bayard specified, "the assistance of the officers of our Government vessels, if found necessary, will therefore be promptly afforded to promote the reign of law and respect for orderly government in Hawaii." In July 1889, there was a small scale rebellion, and Minister Merrill landed Marines to protect Americans; the State Department explicitly approved his action. Merrill's replacement, minister John L. Stevens, read those official instructions, and followed them in his controversial actions of 1893.[35]

Wilcox Rebellion of 1888

The Wilcox Rebellion of 1888 was a plot to overthrow King David Kalākaua, king of Hawaii, and replace him with his sister in a coup d'état in response to increased political tension between the legislature and the king after the 1887 constitution. Kalākaua's sister, Princess Liliʻuokalani and his wife, Queen Kapiolani, returned from Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee immediately after news reached them in Great Britain.[36]

In October 1887, Robert William Wilcox, a native Hawaiian officer and veteran of the Italian military, returned to Hawaii.[37] The funding had stopped for his study program when the new constitution was signed. Wilcox, Charles B. Wilson, Princess Liliʻuokalani, and Sam Nowlein plotted to overthrow King Kalākaua to replace him with his sister, Liliʻuokalani.[citation needed] They had 300 Hawaiian conspirators hidden in ʻIolani Barracks and an alliance with the Royal Guard, but the plot was accidentally discovered in January 1888, less than 48 hours before the revolt would have been initiated.[38] No one was prosecuted but Wilcox was exiled. So on February 11, 1888, Wilcox left Hawaii for San Francisco, intending to return to Italy with his wife.

Princess Liliʻuokalani was offered the throne several times by the Missionary Party who had forced the Bayonet Constitution on her brother, but she believed she would become a powerless figurehead like her brother and rejected the offers outright.[39]

Liliʻuokalani attempts to re-write Constitution

In November 1889, Kalākaua traveled to San Francisco for his health, staying at the Palace Hotel. He died there on January 20, 1891.[40] His sister Liliʻuokalani assumed the throne in the middle of an economic crisis. The McKinley Act had crippled the Hawaiian sugar industry by removing the duties on sugar imports from other countries into the US, eliminating the previous Hawaiian advantage gained via the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875.[41] Many Hawaii businesses and citizens felt pressure from the loss of revenue; in response Liliʻuokalani proposed a lottery system to raise money for her government. Also proposed was a controversial opium licensing bill.[42] Her ministers, and closest friends, were all opposed to this plan; they unsuccessfully tried to dissuade her from pursuing these initiatives, both of which came to be used against her in the brewing constitutional crisis.[43]

Liliʻuokalani's chief desire was to restore power to the monarch by abrogating the 1887 Bayonet Constitution and promulgating a new one, an idea that seems to have been broadly supported by the Hawaiian population.[44] The 1893 Constitution would have increased suffrage by reducing some property requirements, and eliminated the voting privileges extended to European and American residents. It would have disenfranchised many resident European and American businessmen who were not citizens of Hawaii. The Queen toured several of the islands on horseback, talking to the people about her ideas and receiving overwhelming support, including a lengthy petition in support of a new constitution. However, when the Queen informed her cabinet of her plans, they withheld their support due to an understanding of what her opponents' likely response to these plans would be.[45]

Though there were threats to Hawaii's sovereignty throughout the Kingdom's history, it was not until the signing of the Bayonet Constitution in 1887 that this threat began to be realized. The precipitating event[46] leading to the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom on January 17, 1893, was the attempt by Queen Liliʻuokalani to promulgate a new constitution that would have strengthened the power of the monarch relative to the legislature, where Euro-American business elites held disproportionate power. The stated goals of the conspirators, who were non-native Hawaiian Kingdom subjects (five United States nationals, one English national, and one German national)[47] were to depose the queen, overthrow the monarchy, and seek Hawaii's annexation to the United States.[48][49]


The overthrow of the monarchy was started by newspaper publisher Lorrin Thurston, a Hawaiian subject and former Minister of the Interior who was the grandson of American missionaries,[50] and formally led by the Chairman of the Committee of Safety, Henry E. Cooper, an American lawyer. They derived their support primarily from the American and European business class residing in Hawaii and other supporters of the Reform Party of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Most of the leaders of the Committee of Safety that deposed the queen were United States and European citizens who were also Kingdom subjects.[51][52][53] They included legislators, government officers, and a Supreme Court Justice of the Hawaiian Kingdom.[54]

On January 16, the Marshal of the Kingdom, Charles B. Wilson was tipped off by detectives to the imminent planned overthrow. Wilson requested warrants to arrest the 13-member council of the Committee of Safety, and put the Kingdom under martial law. Because the members had strong political ties with United States Government Minister John L. Stevens, the requests were repeatedly denied by Attorney General Arthur P. Peterson and the Queen's cabinet, fearing if approved, the arrests would escalate the situation. After a failed negotiation with Thurston,[55] Wilson began to collect his men for the confrontation. Wilson and Captain of the Royal Household Guard, Samuel Nowlein, had rallied a force of 496 men who were kept at hand to protect the Queen.[2]

The events began on January 17, 1893, when John Good, a revolutionist, shot Leialoha, a native policeman who was trying to stop a wagon carrying weapons to the Honolulu Rifles, the paramilitary wing of the Committee of Safety led by Lorrin Thurston.[56] The Committee of Safety feared the shooting would bring government forces to rout out the conspirators and stop the overthrow before it could begin. The Committee of Safety initiated the overthrow by organizing the Honolulu Rifles, consisting of approximately 1,500 armed local (non-native) men, under their leadership, intending to depose Queen Liliʻuokalani. The Rifles garrisoned Ali'iolani Hale across the street from ʻIolani Palace and waited for the Queen's response.[49]

As these events were unfolding, the Committee of Safety expressed concern for the safety and property of American residents in Honolulu.[57]

On January 17, 1893, the Chairman of the Committee of Safety, Henry E. Cooper, addressed a crowd assembled in front of ʻIolani Palace (the official royal residence) and read aloud a proclamation that formally deposed Queen Liliʻuokalani, abolished the Hawaiian monarchy, and established a Provisional Government of Hawaii under President Sanford B. Dole.

United States involvement

John L. Stevens, a United States diplomat, conspired to overthrow the Hawaiian Kingdom
John L. Stevens, a United States diplomat, conspired to overthrow the Hawaiian Kingdom

The overthrow efforts were supported by United States Government Minister John L. Stevens with an invasion of U.S. Marines, who came ashore at the request of the conspirators.[58] Advised about supposed threats to non-combatant American lives and property[59] by the Committee of Safety, Stevens obliged their request and summoned a company of uniformed U.S. Marines from the USS Boston and 162 sailors to land on the Kingdom under orders of neutrality and take up positions at the U.S. Legation, Consulate, and Arion Hall on the afternoon of January 16, 1893.[60]

The overthrow left the queen imprisoned in ʻIolani Palace under house arrest. The United States sailors and Marines did not enter the Palace grounds or take over any buildings, and never fired a shot, but their presence served effectively in intimidating royalist defenders. Historian William Russ states, "the injunction to prevent fighting of any kind made it impossible for the monarchy to protect itself."[61] Due to the Queen's desire "to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life" for her subjects and after some deliberation, at the urging of advisers and friends, the Queen ordered her forces to surrender. The Honolulu Rifles took over government buildings, disarmed the Royal Guard, and declared a provisional government.[49]

According to the Queen's Book, her friend and minister J. S. Walker "came and told me that he had come on a painful duty, that the opposition party had requested that I should abdicate." After consulting with her ministers, including Walker, the Queen concluded that "since the troops of the United States had been landed to support the revolutionists, by the order of the American minister, it would be impossible for us to make any resistance".[62]:387 Despite repeated claims that the overthrow was "bloodless", the Queen's Book notes that Liliʻuokalani received "friends [who] expressed their sympathy in person; amongst these Mrs. J. S. Walker, who had lost her husband by the treatment he received from the hands of the insurgents. He was one of many who from persecution had succumbed to death."[62]:296

Immediate annexation was prevented by the speech given by President Grover Cleveland to Congress at this time, in which he stated that:

... the military demonstration upon the soil of Honolulu was of itself an act of war; unless made either with the consent of the government of Hawaii or for the bona fide purpose of protecting the imperiled lives and property of citizens of the United States. But there is no pretense of any such consent on the part of the government of the queen ... the existing government, instead of requesting the presence of an armed force, protested against it. There is as little basis for the pretense that forces were landed for the security of American life and property. If so, they would have been stationed in the vicinity of such property and so as to protect it, instead of at a distance and so as to command the Hawaiian Government Building and palace ... When these armed men were landed, the city of Honolulu was in its customary orderly and peaceful condition ...[63]

The Republic of Hawaii was nonetheless declared in 1894 by the same parties which had established the provisional government. Among them were Lorrin A. Thurston, a drafter of the Bayonet Constitution, and Sanford Dole who appointed himself President of the forcibly instated Republic on July 4, 1894.


December 19, 1898 letter
December 19, 1898 letter

A provisional government was set up with the strong support of the Honolulu Rifles, a militia group who had defended the system of government promulgated by the Bayonet Constitution against the Wilcox rebellion of 1889.[49]

The Queen's statement yielding authority, on January 17, 1893, protested against the overthrow:

I Liliʻuokalani, by the Grace of God and under the Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the Constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this Kingdom.

That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America whose Minister Plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the Provisional Government.

Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest and impelled by said force yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the Constitutional Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.[64]

On December 19, 1898 the queen would amend the declaration with the "Memorial of Queen Liliuokalani in relation to the Crown lands of Hawaii", further protesting the overthrow and loss of property.[65]


United States

Newly inaugurated President Grover Cleveland called for an investigation into the overthrow. This investigation was conducted by former Congressman James Henderson Blount. Blount concluded in his report on July 17, 1893, "United States diplomatic and military representatives had abused their authority and were responsible for the change in government."[66] Minister Stevens was recalled, and the military commander of forces in Hawaiʻi was forced to resign his commission.[citation needed] President Cleveland stated, "Substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair the monarchy." Cleveland further stated in his 1893 State of the Union Address that, "Upon the facts developed it seemed to me the only honorable course for our Government to pursue was to undo the wrong that had been done by those representing us and to restore as far as practicable the status existing at the time of our forcible intervention."[63] The matter was referred by Cleveland to Congress on December 18, 1893, after the Queen refused to accept amnesty for the traitors as a condition of reinstatement. Hawaii President Sanford Dole was presented a demand for reinstatement by Minister Willis, who had not realized Cleveland had already sent the matter to Congress—Dole flatly refused Cleveland's demands to reinstate the Queen.[citation needed]

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Senator John Tyler Morgan (D-Alabama) and composed mostly of senators in favor of annexation, initiated their own investigation to discredit Blount's earlier report, using pro-annexationist affidavits from Hawaii, and testimony provided to the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. The Morgan Report contradicted the Blount Report, and exonerated Minister Stevens and the U.S. military troops finding them "not guilty" of involvement in the overthrow. Cleveland became stalled with his earlier efforts to restore the queen, and adopted a position of recognition of the so-called Provisional Government and the Republic of Hawaii which followed.[67][68]

The Native Hawaiian Study Commission of the United States Congress in its 1983 final report found no historical, legal, or moral obligation for the U.S. government to provide reparations, assistance, or group rights to Native Hawaiians.[69]

In 1993, the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Congress passed a resolution, which President Bill Clinton signed into law, offering an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for its involvement in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The law is known as the Apology Resolution, and represents one of five times that the United States government has formally apologized for its actions.[70]


Every government with a diplomatic presence in Hawaii, except for the United Kingdom, recognized the Provisional Government within 48 hours of the overthrow via their consulates. Countries recognizing the new Provisional Government included Chile, Austria-Hungary, Mexico, Russia, the Netherlands, Imperial Germany, Sweden, Spain, Imperial Japan,[71] Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Belgium, China, Peru, and France.[72] When the Republic of Hawaii was declared on July 4, 1894, immediate de facto recognition was given by every nation with diplomatic relations with Hawaii, except for Britain, whose response came in November 1894.[73]

Hawaiian counter-revolution

A four-day uprising between January 6 and 9, 1895, began with an attempted coup d'état to restore the monarchy, and included battles between Royalists and the republican rebels. Later, after a weapons cache was found on the palace grounds after the attempted rebellion in 1895, Queen Liliʻuokalani was placed under arrest, tried by a military tribunal of the Republic of Hawaiʻi, convicted of misprision of treason and imprisoned in her own home. On January 24, Liliʻuokalani abdicated, formally ending the Hawaiian monarchy.[74]

Republic, United States annexation, United States Territory

The Kūʻē Petitions. Several pro-royalist groups submitted petitions against annexation in 1897. In 1900 those groups disbanded and formed the Hawaiian Independent Party, under the leadership of Robert Wilcox, the first congressional representative from the Territory of Hawaii
The Kūʻē Petitions. Several pro-royalist groups submitted petitions against annexation in 1897. In 1900 those groups disbanded and formed the Hawaiian Independent Party, under the leadership of Robert Wilcox, the first congressional representative from the Territory of Hawaii

The Committee of Safety declared Sanford Dole to be President of the new Provisional Government of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi on January 17, 1893, removing only the Queen, her cabinet, and her marshal from office.[75]:581–587 On July 4, 1894, the Republic of Hawaiʻi was proclaimed. Dole was president of both governments. As a republic, it was the intention of the government to campaign for annexation with the United States. The rationale behind annexation included a strong economic component—Hawaiian goods and services exported to the mainland would not be subject to United States tariffs, and would benefit from domestic bounties, if Hawaii was part of the United States.[75]:649–650

In 1897, William McKinley succeeded Cleveland as United States president. A year later he signed the Newlands Resolution, which provided for the annexation of Hawaii on July 7, 1898. The formal ceremony marking the annexation was held at Iolani Palace on August 12, 1898. Almost no Native Hawaiians attended, and those few who were on the streets wore royalist ilima blossoms in their hats or hair, and, on their breasts Hawaiian flags with the motto: Kuu Hae Aloha ("my beloved flag").[76] Most of the 40,000 Native Hawaiians, including Liliʻuokalani and the royal family, shuttered themselves in their homes, protesting against what they considered an illegal transaction. "When the news of Annexation came it was bitterer than death to me", Liliʻuokalani's niece, Princess Kaʻiulani, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It was bad enough to lose the throne, but infinitely worse to have the flag go down."[77] The Hawaiian flag was lowered for the last time while the Royal Hawaiian Band played the Hawaiian national anthem, Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī.

The Hawaiian Islands, together with the distant Palmyra Island and Stewart Islands, became the Territory of Hawaii, a United States territory, with a new government established on February 22, 1900. Sanford Dole was appointed as the first governor.[78] ʻIolani Palace served as the capitol of the Hawaiian government until 1969.

See also


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  71. ^ During the overthrow, the Japanese Imperial Navy gunboat Naniwa was docked at Pearl Harbor. The gunboat's commander, Heihachiro Togo, who later commanded the Japanese battleship fleet at Tsushima, refused to accede to the Provisional Government's demands that he strike the colors of the Kingdom, but later lowered the colors on order of the Japanese Government. Along with every other international legations in Honolulu, the Japanese Consulate-General, Suburo Fujii, quickly recognized the Provisional Government as the "de facto" legitimate successor to the monarchy.
  72. ^ The Morgan Report, p 1103–1111. (February 11, 2006). Retrieved on July 6, 2011.
  73. ^ Andrade, Ernest (1996). The Unconquerable Rebel. The University Press of Colorado. p. 147. ISBN 0-87081-417-6. The provisional government, with all its faults, had major difficulties in obtaining recognition, especially from Cleveland, and it was not considered likely that the republic would have any foreign problems. Recognition albeit de facto came about even more quickly than it had in 1893, for at least there was no question of a overthrow having taken place or of the government's control of the domestic situation.
  74. ^ "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.
  75. ^ a b Ralph Simpson Kuykendall (1967). Hawaiian Kingdom 1874–1893, the Kalakaua Dynasty. 3. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-87022-433-1.
  76. ^ Robert W. Brockway. "Hawai'i: America's Ally". The Spanish American War Centennial web site. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  77. ^ Michael Tighe (August 9, 1998). "Hawaii's Own: A look at a century of annexation". Associated Press. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  78. ^ Pub.L. 56–339

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