Following the overthrow of the constitutional monarchy of Queen Liliʻuokalani on January 17, 1893, the Committee of Safety established the Provisional Government of Hawaiʻi as a temporary government until an assumed annexation by the US.
The Provisional Government convened a constitutional convention and established the Republic of Hawaiʻi on July 4, 1894. The Republic continued to govern the Islands.
From January 6 to January 9, 1895, patriots of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and the forces that had overthrown the government were engaged in a war that consisted of three battles on the island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi.
This has frequently been referred to as the “Counter-revolution”. It has also been called the Second Wilcox Rebellion of 1895, the Revolution of 1895, the Hawaiian Counter-revolution of 1895, the 1895 Uprising in Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian Civil War, the 1895 Uprising Against the Provisional Government or the Uprising of 1895.
In response, President Sanford B Dole, on January 7, 1895 proclaimed martial law:
“The right of the writ of habeas corpus is hereby suspended and Martial Law is instituted and established throughout the Island of Oahu, to continue until further notice, during which time, however, the Courts will continue in session and conduct ordinary business as usual, except as aforesaid.”
During the afternoon of January 7, several of the rebels were captured, and it was learned that the insurgents were under the command of Robert Wilcox and Samuel Nowlein, with Carl Widemann, WHC Greig and Louis Marshall as Lieutenants.
Wilcox had received military instruction in Italy during the days of King Kalākaua (he previously led a rebellion in 1887.) Nowlein served in the military under the Monarchy, and after the overthrow of 1893 had lived at Washington Place as a retainer of the ex-Queen.
Widemann was the son of a judge (who was one of Liliʻuokalani’s Commissioners to President Cleveland. Greig and Marshall were young clerks in business houses in Honolulu.
On January 14, Nowlein, Widemann, Greig and Marshall surrendered themselves to the authorities, and during the afternoon Robert Wilcox was captured in the outskirts of the city.
On the forenoon of January 16, Deputy Marshal Brown and Senior Captain Parker of the police force served a military warrant on the ex-Queen at her Washington Place residence.
President Dole, as Commander in Chief, ordered a Military Commission “to meet at Honolulu, Island of Oahu, on the 17th day of January, A. D. 1895, at to A. M., and there after from day to day for the trial of such prisoners as may be brought before it on the charges and specifications to be presented by the Judge Advocate.”
The trials were held in the Legislative Hall of the Executive building and were open to the general public, special accommodations also being made for the attendance of the diplomatic corps.
One of the first moves of the lawyer for the defense was to raise objection to the jurisdiction “That no military or other law exists in the Hawaiian Islands under which a Military Commission is authorized to try any person for a statutory crime.”
“That under the proclamation of martial law the general authority of the Courts of the Republic created by the Constitution continues, and they have authority to conduct all business which comes properly before them, and have the sole authority to try persons accused of offenses such as are specified in the charges before the Commission.”
The Judge-Advocate stated that martial law is a law of necessity, in which the question of necessity rests in the discretion of the Executive and nobody can call it in question. The right had been exercised; there was nothing more to say.
During its session of thirty-six days, 191-prisoners were brought before the Commission. The most prominent persons were ex-Queen Liliʻuokalani and Prince Kūhiō. Some were acquitted, others found guilty; by January 1, 1896, the last of the prisoners was released from prison, typically under conditional pardons.
The trial of the last case brought before the Commission ended March 1; however, the Commission did not adjourn until March 18, 1895 and the martial law was lifted.
This was not the first proclamation of martial law in the Islands. On January 17, 1893, martial law was declared by the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Islands. Later, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, martial law was in effect in the Islands from December 7, 1941 to October 24, 1944.) (Lots of information here is from Alexander and Farrington.)
The image shows the proclamation of martial law, signed January 7, 1895.