Hawaii from the Spanish-American War to Statehood

On this day in 1893, Queen Liliuokalani, the rightful monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, is overthrown in a coup tacitly led by American sugar planters under jurist Sanford B. Dole (like the tropical fruits). With a strong assist from US Minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens, and the US Marine Corps, Liliuokalani was placed under house arrest, and genuine native efforts to restore her reign were grimly crushed.

The State of Hawaii today encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian archipelago, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight main islands are—in order from northwest to southeast: Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and the Island of Hawaiʻi. The last is the largest island in the group; it is often called the “Big Island” or “Hawaiʻi Island” to avoid confusion with the state or archipelago. The archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.

The Kingdom of Hawaiʻi was sovereign from 1810 until 1893 when the monarchy was crassly overthrown as described above. With this history, Hawaii is one of four US states, apart from the original thirteen, along with the Vermont Republic (1791), the Republic of Texas (1845), and the California Republic (1846), that were independent nations prior to statehood. Along with Texas, Hawaii had formal, international diplomatic recognition as a nation.

With the outbreak of the Spanish–American War in 1898, the United States “officially” annexed the Republic of Hawaii via the Newlands Resolution. Living out the remainder of her later life as a private citizen, the deposed Queen Liliuokalani died at her residence, Washington Place, in Honolulu on November 11, 1917, aged 78.

In 1941, the Empire of Japan bombed Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor from the air, drawing a reticent US into WW2. Statehood came some 14 years after the end of the war, as Hawaii had played a central, vital staging role for the war in the Pacific, inspiring Tiki devotees, geologists, surfers, travelers, fleeing felons, nature lovers and the wake & bake crowd to this very day.

Be there, Aloha.

Author: Bill Urich

A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan. Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.

What say you, the people?