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THE HANA HOU SERIES
Wahine o Hawai`i
1999 Kawika Sands

Liliuokalani

QUEEN LILI`UOKALANI (1838 - 1917)
One of seven children born to Kapaakea and Keohokalole, she was adopted by High Chief Paki and became foster sister of Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Like Mrs. Bishop she was also educated by the missionaries. She married John Owen Dominis in 1862 shortly before he was made governor of O`ahu and inherited the thrown from her brother, King David La`amea Kalakaua, after his death.

The first thing she did was to dissolve the cabinet and appoint a cabinet of her own with (then) fifteen year old Princess Kaiulani as heir to the throne. She wanted Hawai`i to be ruled by Hawaiians and the "Bayonet Constitution" forced on her brother fueled her resentment. She continued to appoint her people to key positions with a plan to eventually delegate the administration of the Hawaiian government back to the Hawaiians.

Economically, the islands were depressed primarily because of the McKinley Tariff Act allowing foreign sugar into the U.S. duty free while charging two cents a pound for sugar grown locally. Annexing Hawai`i to the U.S. would benefit the sugar growers/businessmen immensely. The idea of annexation did not make relations between the Queen and the Americans any better!

Lili`uokalani's remedy was a new constitution. This gave the businessmen the excuse they needed for a revolt. The American businessmen formed the Annexation Club which did not hide its contempt for the crown. Their position was the Queen's attack on the present constitution was treason. To "protect the government" they formed the "Committee of Safety," which created a provisional government AND a militia.

John L. Stevens, the American foreign minister, had 162 troops march through downtown Honolulu to I`olani Palace from the U.S.S. Boston. Soon things deteriorated into violence and armed citizens in the militia stormed government buildings while members of the Committee of Safety took possession and control, and later deposed the Queen. Queen Lili`uokalani sadly surrendered her throne on January 17, 1893.

She wrote a letter in which she yielded to "...the superior forces of the United States...." She pleaded with the U.S. government to "...undo the actions of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority I claim as the Constitutional Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands...." Meanwhile, the provisional government sent representatives to Washington D.C. to apply for annexation where they drew up a treaty. President Harrison signed it and submitted it to Congress.

Before the Senate could approve the treaty, President Grover Cleveland took office. He had reservations about taking over an independent country and withdrew the treaty. He sent a special commissioner, Colonel James Blount, to Hawai`i to investigate the revolution. Blount reported Minister Stevens conspired with a small group of revolutionaries to overthrow the government and Cleveland replaced Stevens with a new minister.

The new minister told the Queen that if she would grant amnesty to the revolutionists the throne would be restored to her. Some accounts say that she was intent on having them beheaded. Lili`uokalani's own book (Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen) says she never asked for that nor had it ever been practiced by the monarchy as a form of punishment. Hawaiian law DID however prescribe death for traitors which she officially rescinded.

President Dole (of the provisional government) flatly refused to give the government back to the Hawaiians. He told President Cleveland the U.S. had no right to meddle in Hawaii's internal affairs. Congress agreed, and it adopted a "hands off" policy. Dole's new government created an army and held a constitutional convention. On July 4th, 1894, they unveiled the completed constitution and declared the Republic of Hawai`i.

Despite Lili`uokalani's pleas for help, other governments quickly recognized the new republic. In desperation, supporters of the queen collected weapons and made secret plans to overthrow the republic and restore the monarchy. They planned to strike the morning of January 7, 1895, but informers told the provisional government.

At dawn, the rebels slipped ashore at Waikiki, and government soldiers opened fire. A few rebels fell dead or wounded, others surrendered and the government declared martial law. During the next few days, government troops defeated the disorganized rebels in a series of brief but deadly skirmishes. Within two weeks, they completely suppressed the uprising and captured its followers, including Queen Lili`uokalani.

Lili`uokalani and the prisoners were tried for treason and Liliuokalani was forced to sign a document in which she finally renounced all claims to the throne and her land. She was then placed under house arrest in I`olani Palace. After her release, she was allowed to live out her days, as a citizen under the new government, and resided at her home at Washington Place.

From being known as "Lili`u Loloku Wailania Paki Kamaka`eha" at birth, to "Queen Lili`uokalani" (Kalakaua renamed her after he made her heir to the thrown), to simply "Mrs. Lydia Dominis" (the missionaries thought it appropriate to give Lili`u a Christian name, Lydia Paki), she remained a queen in her people's eyes even after she died of a stroke at her home in 1917. Her death marked the end of old Hawai`i. The Queen Lili`uokalani Children's Center (placing and rehabilitating neglected children) remains her legacy. But perhaps her best known legacy, is her song "Aloha `Oe" whose chorus reads:

Aloha `oe, aloha `oe, -- Farewell to thee, farewell to thee,
E ke onaona noho ika lipo, -- Thou charming one who dwells among the bowers,
One fond embrace, -- One fond embrace,
A hoi ae au, -- Before I now depart,
Until we meet again. -- Until we meet again.

Liliuokalani timeline

About the U.S. overthrow of Hawai`i

(another) Hawaiian Historical Chronology

Part 34<< -|- Index -|- >> Part 36

Hele on to Canoe Club News

Last Modified: Saturday - 19991113.15:22 EST
Copyright 1999 Kawika Sands
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