Racism in Hawaii - Overthrow of the Monarchy and Hawaiian Soveignty

We can read about the overthrow of the monarchy and of the reigning Queen Lili‘uokalani (pictured above) in her own words! A brilliant leader, author, and songwriter, she wrote the book Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen (1898) by Lili‘uokalani, Queen of Hawai‘i (1838-1917). Here are the  "Chapters XXXVI-XLVIII, on the Overthrow of the Monarchy" that directly speak to the breach of international law and interference with the sovereignty of the kingdom of Hawai‘i by United States government officials on behalf of corporate interests. Queen Lili‘uokalani was imprisoned in her own palace after the over throw. Here is an excerpt from her book discussing the thrust towards over throw that developed as a result of the service of white missionaries turned government officials and corporate leaders to serve as aides to King Kalakaua (Lunalilo) and in the government.

September 1st, 1892, witnessed the opening of the legislative assembly. There was nothing lacking of that pomp and display which had been first inaugurated in the days of Kanikeaouli, the third of the Kamehamehas. These forms and ceremonies were suggested and taught to the Hawaiian people by Dr. G. P. Judd, Mr. W. Richards, and Mr. R. Armstrong, men who originally came to Hawaii with no other avowed object than that of teaching the religion of Jesus Christ; but they soon resigned their meagre salaries from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and found positions in the councils or cabinets of the Kamehamehas more lucrative and presumably more satisfactory to them.

Lunalilo had an official staff, and many of his aids-de-camp were white men, as also happened with Kamehameha V., Kalakaua, and all the recent Hawaiian sovereigns. Dr. E. Hoffman, Mr. W. F. Allen, Mr. M. T. Monserrat, Mr. Prendergast, and many others whose names I might mention, have been perfectly willing to wear the uniform of the crown, to display their gilt lace and brass buttons on state occasions, and to ride richly caparisoned horses with shining accoutrements through our streets; and as long as the missionary party chose the men that were to be thus decked out, honored, and exhibited, it was never alleged that the Hawaiian kings loved display, and sought pomp and fuss and feathers. Yet what had our earlier monarchs ever done for the public good? Individually, nothing. They had acquiesced in the course laid down for them by the missionaries. The government established by these pious adventurers was the government of the day.

Those of their number who were able to get into government service drew their salaries faithfully, and spent or saved as they saw fit, but observed a truly "religious" silence as to the folly of spending money on public displays. This is the more remarkable, because there were other ways, even then, of securing treasury deficiencies. I remember that when G. P. Judd, W. Richards, and R. Armstrong were cabinet ministers, a deficiency so inexplicable occurred that the cabinet was required to resign immediately, and to one of the retiring members the popular appellation "kauka-kope-kala" subsequently adhered pretty tenaciously. I refrain from translating, as the title is not one of honor; but it still clings to the family as an heirloom.

It is more to the point that Kalakaua's reign was, in a material sense, the golden age of Hawaiian history. The wealth and importance of the Islands enormously increased, and always as a direct consequence of the king's acts. It has been currently supposed that the policy and foresight of the "missionary party" is to be credited with all that he accomplished, since they succeded in abrogating so many of his prerogatives, and absorbing the lion's share of the benefits derived from it. It should, however, be only necessary to remember that the measures which brought about our accession of wealth were not at all in line with a policy of annexation to the United States, which was the very essence of the dominant "missionary" idea. In fact, his progressive foreign policy was well calculated to discourage it.

And for this reason, probably, they could not be satisfied even with the splendid results which our continued nationality offered them. They were not grateful for a prosperity which must sooner or later, while enriching them, also elevate the masses of the Hawaiian people into a self-governing class, and depose them from that primacy in our political affairs which they chiefly valued. They became fiercely jealous of every measure which promised to benefit the native people, or to stimulate their national pride. Every possible embarrassment and humiliation were heaped upon my brother. And because I was suspected of having the welfare of the whole people also at heart (and what sovereign with a grain of wisdom could be otherwise minded?), I must be made to feel yet more severely that my kingdom was but the assured prey of these "conquistadores."

The overthrow of the monarchy came on the heels of decades of harm to the native Hawaiians by visitors from England and the United States. The harm included disease causing the death of more than three-quarters of the population, loss of land to outside interests, and economic establishment that favored the wealthy outsiders. Decades later a majority of Hawaiian voters affirmed the move to make Hawaii a state and the economy of the state became increasingly entwined with the United States. 

A sovereignty movement continues and the many complex issues surrounding self-determination.  A discussion of these issues can be read here on the website of the Hawaiian Kingdom presently operating within the occupied State of the Hawaiian Islands.

4th-grade students in Hawaii's Waikiki Elementary School have written AwesomeStories about Hawaiian History and Culture. The story on the Overthrow of the Monarchy by a 4th-grader may be of particular interest.

Recently a team of Hawaii teachers (pictured above) brought the issues surrounding Hawaii's to the NEA, the largest national teachers union. This resolution was passed: 

“The NEA will publish an article that documents the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1893, the prolonged occupation of the United States in the Hawaiian Kingdom and the harmful effects that this occupation has had on the Hawaiian people and resources of the land.”


0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Bond-Upson, Deborah 106stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 17, 2017

Updated Last Revision: Sep 01, 2017

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Overthrow of the Monarchy and Hawaiian Soveignty" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 17, 2017. Feb 20, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips