July 7, 1898 ~ The U.S. Annexes Hawaii

The History of Hawaii begins way back when Polynesians first landed sometime around 1150.

For the next 500 years or so the islands remained isolated until British explorer CPT James Cook accidentally stumbled on them in 1778.

At the time Hawaii was not one big happy family. It had multiple chiefs spread out across the Islands.

A very enterprising local from Hawaii island by the name of Kamehameha took advantage of the European arrival to learn everything he could about their weapons and tactics.

Kamehameha took on the various chieftains and by 1810 had emerged as the sole sovereign of the unified Hawaiian islands.

Upon his death in 1819, the throne passed to his son Kamehameha II who who died measles just 5-years later.

Sugar became a major export from Hawaii soon after Cook’s arrival. By the mid-1800s more and more American planters and missionaries had settled in Hawaii to partake in the sugar bonanza and to spread the gospel.

As more Americans came, U.S. interests in the islands multiplied.

By the reign of Kamehameha III American settlers were demanding more say in Kingdom politics.

When King Kamehameha V died in 1873 without a named successor, the legislature elected Lunalilo king.

He was a highly popular king and had big plans for the Aloha State, but his reign was short-lived.

When Lunalilo died in 1874, the legislature chose David Kalākaua to succeed him.

Kalākaua strengthened ties with the U.S., by signing a treaty of reciprocity and selling Pearl Harbor to the Americans. He also encouraged the immigration of contract sugar workers to the islands which further transformed the Hawaiian economy and culture.

While Kalākaua dreamed of reinvigorating Hawaiian culture and creating a pan-Polynesian confederation, he ultimately reigned over the weakening of the Hawaiian monarchy.

In 1887, he was pressured to sign a new constitution, nicknamed the Bayonet Constitution because of the duress under which it was signed, that made the monarchy little more than a figurehead position.

When Kalākaua died in 1891, his sister Liliʻuokalani ascended the throne.

Liliʻuokalani was formidable, but the decline of the monarchy was irredeemable.

She attempted to restore the power of the monarchy, but pro-American elements under under the leadership of Sanford Dole overthrew her on January 17, 1893.

The coup d’état established the Republic of Hawaii, but the ultimate goal was the annexation of the islands to the United States, which was temporarily blocked by President Grover Cleveland.

Attempts were made to restore the monarchy and oppose annexation, but with the outbreak of the Spanish–American War, president William McKinley and the United States were determined to annex Hawaii which was accomplished by a joint resolution of Congress that was McKinley signed on July 7, 1898

Living out the remainder of her later life as a private citizen, Liliʻuokalani died at her residence, Washington Place, in Honolulu on November 11, 1917.

Hawaii would later become a territory and finally the fiftieth State of Union in 1959.

In 1993, the U.S. Congress adopted a resolution that acknowledged that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States.


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