Ancient Hawaii

European Contact - Kingdom of Hawaii


From Republic to State

Sovereignty Movement

Bibliography and Image credits

The Republic of Hawaii and Annexation

Nine months after the hoisting of the American flag over the Honolulu post office, annexation had still not been granted. This is because soon after the 17th of January 1893, Grover Cleveland had become the twenty fourth president of the United States. Soon after taking office, President Cleveland ordered an investigation into the overthrow of the monarchy and sent James H. Blount to Honolulu on a fact-finding mission. Based on Blount's report, Cleveland began leaning in favor of restoring the monarchy, however, due to possible miscommunications involving the word "behead" Cleveland was advised that reinstating the Queen would not be the wisest course of action. Thus, the provisional government, which had taken the name the Republic of Hawaii was stuck with maintaining the government for the next five years, a task they neither forsaw nor desired.

On January 6, 1895 Robert Boyd, a classmate of Robert Wilcox in Italy, commanded supporters of Queen Lili'uokalani in a struggle against the Republic for ten days. Their attempt failed, and the loyalists were hunted down and taken prisoner. Lili'uokalani, who had been confined in a room in Iolani Palace, was forced to sign a formal abdication, under threat that the loyalists would be executed. The monarchy was now legally dissolved.

Finally in July of 1898, the S.S. Coptic brought the news that Congress had finally passed annexation. The official ceremony took place on the 12th of August, 1898.


In 1900 Hawaii was granted self governance by the United States, and settled into territorial existence.  Iolani palace was kept as the territorial capitol building, and the Hawaiian flag remained the flag of the territory.  Although over the years several attempts to achieve statehood were made, they were all denied.  The cause of this was mainly the fact that the large plantation owners and major capitalists found the ability to import cheap foreign labor, which would be denied them as a state, beneficial to their interests.  Eventually however, the offspring of these same foreign laborers would be their downfall.  As they were born in a United States territory, they were automatically United States citizens, and many actively campaigned for statehood with the expectation that they would receive full voting rights. 

Finally, in March of 1959, both houses of US congress passed the Hawaii Admission Act, and US President Eisenhower signed it soon after.  Following a referendum on June 27th, it was found that a ratio of 17:1 or the residents of Hawaii accepted the Admission Act.  This referendum has been questioned however, when used as evidence by opponents of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement, because only two options were presented: accept statehood, or remain a territory.