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Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy

The storm that had been gathering broke on Jan. 17, 1893, when the Hawaiian monarchy ended in a day of bloodless revolution.  Armed insurrection by a relatively small group of men, most of them American by birth or heritage, succeeded in wresting control of the Islands with the backing of American troops sent ashore from a warship in Honolulu Harbor.  To this "superior force of the United States of America," Queen Lili`uokalani yielded her throne, under protest, in order to avoid bloodshed, trusting that the United States government would right the wrong that had been done to her and the Hawaiian people. 
The Overthrow of the Monarchy
''Spirit of Aloha'' May 1994


For readers new to Hawaii's history, Pat Pitzer's article The Overthrow of the Monarchy, is an excellent introduction, although it covers events in the middle of a very long time-line.  If you have found this page first in your search for information, please read the introduction to the History of Hawai`i.  

Those who believe the republican form of government of the United States to be the best we have yet devised often find it difficult to understand the issues of sovereignty.  Very often race is tossed into the discussion when it really isn't about race, or even culture, it's about nationality.  

If the concept of sovereignty is new to you, the following may help to understand it better.   Suppose that some long lost relatives showed up at your house and wanted to stay with you.  Suppose you welcomed them, shared everything you had and were interested in what interesting things they had.  In time, they started to call your home theirs and make more and more demands about the food they wanted to eat, the colors of paint in the rooms, the type of furniture and how it's arranged.  Finally one day they tell you that you have to stay in the garage, or the basement, or even the yard, because they now own your home and you don't have any right to it any longer.

The "Black's Law Dictionary" definition of sovereignty is accurate, of course, but rather long and involved, so as I read discussions here and there, I use a simple definition of self-determination to keep my thoughts grounded on the root of the issue, and perhaps, for other U.S. citizens, these words from the Declaration of Independence will also assist in understanding:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ..." 


So with that, begin or continue your journey with these Sovereignty Resources specific to the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai`i in 1893:

'Apology' Resolution
Full text of Public Law 103-150, 103d Congress Joint Resolution 19, November 23, 1993: "To acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the January 17, 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and to offer an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii."   Also see Senate Congressional Record and House Congressional Record.

Gresham's Letter
Summarizes the Blount Report and concludes:  "Can the United States consistently insist that other nations shall respect the independence of Hawaii while not respecting it ourselves? Our Government was the first to recognize the independence of the Islands, and it should be the last to acquire sovereignty over them by force and fraud."

President Cleveland's Message to Congress
"By an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress, the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown. A substantial wrong has thus been done which a due regard for our national character as well as the rights of the injured people requires we should endeavor to repair."

Treaties, Conventions and other International Agreements
Index of international documents, with links to those that have been placed online, from the Nation of Hawai`i.  Also see:  Kingdom of Hawai`i Documents, an index to the constitutions in effect during the monarchy.

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