homepage logo

America turns its back on Hawaii’s queen

By Staff | Mar 13, 2014

Queen Lydia Lili’uokalani, honored on the grounds of the State Capitol, reigned less than three years.

HONOLULU – Of all the kings and queens in history, perhaps none loved America as much as Her Majesty Lydia Lili’uokalani of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She said so in her writings. In the ultimate irony, it was America that had the tragic final say on her destiny.

A forceful advocate for her people who would eventually travel all the way to Washington, D.C., to get her kingdom restored, the queen interestingly wasn’t shy talking about the motivations of those who betrayed her.

The queen wrote bluntly, “For many years, our sovereigns had welcomed the advice of Americans. who had… settled throughout the islands.

“As they became wealthy and acquired title to lands through the simplicity of our people and their ignorance of values and of the new land laws… Their greed love of power and schemes (avoided their obligations to us).

“The mercantile element, as embodied in Chamber of Commerce, the sugar planters and the proprietors of missionary stores, formed a distinct political party.

“Although settled upon us and drawing their wealth from our resources, they were alien to us in their customs and ideas respecting government and desired above all else the extension of their power and to carry out their own special plans of advancement.”

Lili’uokalani, upon returning from Europe in 1888, found conspiracy alive in the land. She fought for more than ten years to resist and then try to overturn the coup d’tat that removed her from leading her people.

1887: A missionary party drafts the so-called Bayonet Constitution, taking power from then-King Kalakaua. The king signs it, fearing assassination if he fails to do so.

1888: King Kalakaua, Lydia’s brother, known as the “Merry Monarch,” dies.

January 1891: Lili’uokalani becomes queen, beginning years of internal strife.

1893: U.S. Minister John Stevens conspires to overthrow the kingdom and supports a provisional government. Queen proposes to rewrite the Bayonete Constitution.

Jan. 14, 1893: Committee of Safety formed by businessmen deposes queen. She yields authority to avoid bloodshed.

Jan. 16, 1893: U.S Marines land “to restore order.”

1893: James Blount, appointed by the president. conducts an investigation and declares Lili’uokalani “the constitutional ruler of Hawaii.”

Feb. 17, 1893: Conspirators declare queen guilty of treason for wishing to rewrite the Constitution and other actions, fine her $5,000 and sentence her to imprisonment and five years of hard labor.

September 1893: New government pardons queen. President Cleveland declares overthrow was “an act of war and wholly without justice.”

February 1894: U.S. flag is raised, protectorate proclaimed.

July 1894: Provisional government formed; declares Hawaii a republic.

January 1895: Royalists revolt to restore monarchy but are captured.

Jan. 25, 1895: Queen abdicates; receiving warrant for her arrest, she is imprisoned in Iolani Palace for eight months under guard. Forty supporters are jailed.

February 1895: Queen says she will be shot for treason unless she renounces the crown.

February 1895: Military commission tries queen. imposes $5,000 fine and imprisonment with hard labor for five years.

June 1897: Queen asks U.S. president to defeat annexation treaty. Some 17,000 Hawaiians and other residents petition Congress to restore the monarchy.

September 1897: Gov. Sanford Dole pardons queen.

July 1898: President McKinley signs annexation treaty.

April 1900: President McKinley names Hawaii a U.S territory.

After spending 19 years in exile in her home at Washington Place across from Iolani Palace, Her Majesty Lydia Lili’uokalani died Nov. 11, 1917.

Columnist’s Notebook: This is the second in a series of three.