January 17, 1893: Hawaiian kingdom overthrown
January 17, 2014
Today marks the 121st anniversary of the death of the Hawaiian monarchy.
It was on January 17, 1893, that Queen Liliʻuokalani’s throne was stolen by non-Hawaiian subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Previously, Queen Liliʻuokalani had attempted to write a new constitution, as the Hawaiian people were unsatisfied and upset with the one that had currently been in place (this constitution is more commonly known as the Bayonet Constitution).
The group that had created this constitution in the first place, headed by Lorrin A. Thurston, a missionary descendant, feared that their new constitution would be abolished.
Another player in the overthrow, John L. Stevens, wrote to the United States Government and stated that the lives and property of non-natives living in Hawaii were being threatened, and on January 16, U.S Marines and sailors landed on Oʻahu and came ashore armed.
Faced with a powerful group of economically-motivated businessmen who demanded her abdication and U.S. soldiers at the ready to back them up, Queen Liliʻuokalani surrendered her throne and kingdom to avoid bloodshed. She did it under the impression that the American government would right the wrong done to her and her people, but five years later, Hawaiʻi was annexed by the United States, leading them down the path to eventual statehood in 1959.
If you’d like to learn more about the overthrow and the events that sparked it today, here are some resources. The first two are from pro-sovereignty groups.
- An article by Pat Spitzer, who wrote for Honolulu Publishing for 20 years. This article appeared in Aloha Airlines’ in-flight magazine, Spirit of Aloha, in May 1994. It is written in a straightforward manner. The Hawaiian Independence website posted the article and marked it up with hyperlinks to other sites with verifying or clarifying information: hawaii-nation.org
- The Hawaiian Kingdom’s website is headed by Dr. David Keanu Sai, acting Minister of the Interior of the Acting Council of Regency. This is a pro-sovereignty group who is “presently operating within the occupied State of the Hawaiian Islands,” according to Dr. Sai’s welcome letter on the site’s home page. This link will take you to an extensive research page filled with links to artifacts that document the kingdom’s political history: hawaiiankingdom.org
- This is a link to purchase Queen Liliʻuokalani’s book on Amazon. If you don’t want to purchase it today, you can read the first few pages there via Amazon’s preview function (click where it says “look inside”): Hawaiʻi’s Story by Hawaiʻi’s Queen Liliuokalani
- This is another link to Amazon to purchase the late Michael Dougherty’s book, To Steal a Kingdom:Probing Hawaiian History. Written in 2000, the book is widely used in Hawaiian studies courses and traces the origins and development of the Hawaiian people and the history of their governance. Use Amazon’s look inside feature to get a sampling of its contents: To Steal a Kingdom: Probing Hawaiian History by Michael Doughtery