Opposition to the Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii

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Hui Aloha ʻĀina for men.
Hui Aloha ʻĀina for women.

Opposition to the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii took several forms. Following the overthrow of the monarchy on January 17, 1893, Hawaii's provisional government—under the leadership of Sanford B. Dole—attempted to annex the land to the United States under Republican Benjamin Harrison's administration. But the treaty of annexation came up for approval under the administration of Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, anti-expansionist, and friend of the deposed Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii. Cleveland retracted the treaty on March 4, 1893, and launched an investigation headed by James Henderson Blount; its report is known as the Blount Report.

Background[edit]

The overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom was a result of progressive governmental control by foreigners who were coming in increasing numbers to the island of Hawaii. Many of these foreigners bought up Hawaiian land and invested in the lucrative Hawaiian sugar industry. In 1887, these men forced the then reigning king, Kalākaua, to sign the so-called Bayonet Constitution, which stripped him of much of his power,in turn creating a constitutional monarchy. In 1890, the United States signed the McKinley Tariff into law; the new law sharply raised tariffs, ending the Hawaiian sugar industry's dominance in the North American market and pushing Hawaii into turmoil.[1][2]

Following the sugar crash, in 1893 the reigning Queen Lili'uokalani proposed a new constitution to replace the 1877 one. If signed, the new constitution would revoke many of the foreigners' powers, and put the queen back in control of the Kingdom. The proposal was backed by the majority of the native population; however, it was naturally opposed by the Americans and foreigners on the island, who hoping for American intervention, began planning a coup. The situation soon escalated as both royalists and secessionists armed themselves. Fearing for American safety, the United States called on the USS Boston to land a small force of Marines to protect American interests. Although the Americans were sworn to neutrality and never fired a shot, they did intimidate the royalist defenders, and Queen Lili'uokalani, fearing bloodshed, conceded surrender.[2][3][4]

Blount Report[edit]

In an attempt to undo the work of the Harrison administration, Cleveland removed John L. Stevens as Minister to Hawaii, as well as Gilbert C. Wiltse as captain of the USS Boston. He then retracted the treaty of annexation from the U.S. Senate, citing the opposition of Hawaiian citizens to annexation. The provisional government then became the Republic of Hawaii.[5]

After withdrawing the annexation treaty, Cleveland sent an emissary (Blount) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the revolution and the situation in Hawaii. The report stated that the provisional government was not established with the consent or approval of the Hawaiian people. It also claimed that Liliuokalani only surrendered after being convinced that the provisional government was supported by the United States and fearing a bloody military conflict. According to Blount, she was told by the revolutionaries that the U.S. president would consider her case after surrendering. After reviewing the report, Cleveland decided not to send back the treaty he had withdrawn. Blount's findings were disputed by the provisional government.[6]

Black Week[edit]

On December 14, 1893, Albert Willis arrived in Honolulu aboard the USRC Corwin unannounced, bringing an anticipation of an American invasion to restore the monarchy, which became known as the Black Week. Willis was the successor to James Blount as United States Minister to Hawaii. With the hysteria of a military assault, he staged a mock invasion with the USS Adams and USS Philadelphia, directing their guns toward the capital. He also ordered rear admiral John Irwin to organize a landing operation using troops on the two American ships, which was joined by the Japanese Naniwa and the British HMS Champion. On January 11, 1894, Willis revealed the invasion to be a hoax.[7][8] After the arrival of the Corwin, the provisional government and citizens of Hawaii were ready to rush to arms if necessary, but it was widely believed that Willis' threat of force was a bluff.[9][10]

On December 16, the British Minister to Hawaii was given permission to land marines from HMS Champion for the protection of British interests; the ship's captain predicted that Liliuokalani would be restored by the U.S. military.[9][10] In a November 1893 meeting with Willis, Liliuokalani indicated that she wanted the revolutionaries punished and their property confiscated, despite Willis' desire for her to grant amnesty to her enemies.[11] In a December 19, 1893 meeting with the leaders of the provisional government, Willis presented a letter written by Liliuokalani, in which she agreed to grant amnesty to the revolutionaries if she was restored as queen. During the conference, Willis told the provisional government to surrender to Liliuokalani and allow Hawaii to return to its previous condition, but Dole refused to comply with his demands, claiming that he was not subject to the authority of the United States.[6][10][12]

U.S. Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham announced on January 10, 1894 that the settlement of the situation in Hawaii would be left up to Congress, following Willis' unsatisfactory progress. Cleveland said that Willis had carried out the letter of his directions, rather than their spirit.[9] Domestic response to Willis' and Cleveland's efforts was largely negative. The independent New York Herald wrote, "If Minister Willis has not already been ordered to quit meddling in Hawaiian affairs and mind his own business, no time should be lost in giving him emphatic instructions to that effect." The Democratic New York World wrote: "Is it not high time to stop the business of interference with the domestic affairs of foreign nations? Hawaii is 2000 miles from our nearest coast. Let it alone." The Democratic New York Sun said: "Mr. Cleveland lacks ... the first essential qualification of a referee or arbitrator." The Republican New York Tribune called Willis' trip a "forlorn and humiliating failure to carry out Mr. Cleveland's outrageous project." The Republican New York Recorder wrote, "The idea of sending out a minister accredited to the President of a new republic, having him present his credentials to that President and address him as 'Great and Good Friend,' and then deliberately set to work to organize a conspiracy to overthrow his Government and re-establish the authority of the deposed Queen, is repugnant to every man who holds American honor and justice in any sort of respect." The Democratic New York Times was one of the few New York newspapers that defended Cleveland's decisions, saying that "Mr. Willis discharged his duty as he understood it."[9]

Response from the queen[edit]

Liliuokalani

Liliuokalani's statement yielding authority, on January 17, 1893, protested the overthrow:[13]

I Liliuokalani, 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.

Dole received her letter, but neither read it nor challenged her claim of surrendering to the "superior force of the United States of America."[13] He then sent representatives to Washington, D.C. to negotiate a treaty of annexation.[5]

Letter of protest against annexation[edit]

December 19, 1898 letter

December 19, 1898 letter of protest from Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii to the House of Representatives:

The House of Representatives of the United States:
I, Liliuokalani of Hawaii, named heir apparent on the 10th day of April, 1877, and proclaimed Queen of the Hawaiian Islands on the 29th day of January, 1891, do hereby earnestly and respectfully protest against the assertion of ownership by the United States of America of the so-called Hawaiian Crown Islands amounting to about one million acres and which are my property, and I especially protest against such assertion of ownership as a taking of property without due process of law and without just or other compensation.
Therefore, supplementing my protest of June 17, 1897, I call upon the President and the National Legislature and the People of the United States to do justice in this matter and to restore to me this property, the enjoyment of which is being withheld from me by your Government under what must be a misapprehension of my right and title.
Done at Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, this nineteenth day of December, in the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight.
[Endorsement]

Efforts by native Hawaiians[edit]

Natives of the Hawaiian Islands, who strongly opposed annexation, also organized protests in response to annexation attempts. They rallied behind two groups: Hui Aloha ʻĀina (Hawaiian Patriotic League) and Hui Kālaiʻāina (Hawaiian Political Association). On January 5, 1895, native islanders staged an armed revolution, but the attempt was quelled by Republic of Hawaii supporters. Those leading the attempt were jailed, along with Liliuokalani, who was accused of not stopping the revolt.[14][15]

After William McKinley, who favored annexation, became President of the United States in 1897, a new treaty of annexation was signed and sent to Congress for approval. In response, the Hawaiian Patriotic League and its female counterpart petitioned Congress, opposing the annexation treaty. In September and October of that year, Hui Aloha ʻĀina collected 556 pages for a total of 21,269 signatures of native Hawaiians — or over half of native residents - opposing annexation. Hui Kālaiʻāina collected around 17,000 signatures for restoring the monarchy, but their version has been lost to history. After presenting the petition to the U.S. Senate and then lobbying senators, they were able to force the treaty's failure in 1897.[14][15]

However, in 1898, Congress passed the Newlands Resolution due to the Spanish–American War; the resolution resulted in Hawaii's annexation for use as a Pacific military base.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kuykendall, Ralph (1967). The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume 3. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 533, 587–88. ISBN 0-87022-433-6. 
  2. ^ a b "Teaching With Documents: The 1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Russ 1992, p. 67: She...defended her act[ions] by showing that, out of a possible 9,500 native voters in 1892, 6,500 asked for a new Constitution.
  4. ^ "On This Day: A Revolution In Hawaii". The New York Times. January 28, 1893. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Carter 1897, p. 101
  6. ^ a b "Defied By Dole". Clinton Morning Age 11 (66). January 10, 1894. p. 1. 
  7. ^ Report Committee Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Accompanying Testimony, Executive Documents transmitted Congress January 1, 1893, March 10, 1891, p 2144
  8. ^ History of later years of the Hawaiian Monarchy and the revolution of 1893 By William De Witt Alexander, p 103
  9. ^ a b c d "Hawaiian Papers". Manufacturers and Farmers Journal 75 (4). January 11, 1894. p. 1. 
  10. ^ a b c "Willis Has Acted". The Morning Herald (United Press). January 12, 1894. 
  11. ^ "Minister Willis's Mission". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). January 14, 1894. 
  12. ^ "Quiet at Honolulu". Manufacturers and Farmers Journal 75 (4). January 11, 1894. p. 2. 
  13. ^ a b Kuykendall 1967, p. 603
  14. ^ a b c Schamel, Wynell and Charles E. Schamel. "The 1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii." Social Education 63, 7 (November/December 1999): 402–408.
  15. ^ a b Noenoe K. Silva (1998). "The 1897 Petitions Protesting Annexation". Retrieved 2011-11-27. 

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Dewey, Davis Rich (1907). National problems, 1885–1897. Harper & Brothers. 
  • Van Dyke, Jon M. (2007). Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawaii?. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-3210-0.