Some suggest the overthrow of the Hawai‘i constitutional monarchy was neither unexpected nor sudden.
Dissatisfaction with the rule of Kalākaua and Lili‘uokalani initially led to the ‘Bayonet Constitution,’ then, the overthrow. “(M)ounting dissatisfaction with government policies and private acts of officials led to the formation of the Hawaiian League, a group of Honolulu businessmen.” (Forbes)
Challenges with Kalākaua
• Polynesian Confederacy
• “(Gibson) discerned but little difficulty in the way of organizing such a political union, over which Kalākaua would be the logical emperor, and the Premier of an almost boundless empire of Polynesian archipelagoes.” (Daggett; Pacific Commercial Advertiser, February 6, 1900)
Opium License Bribery Case
• Initially the king, through his minister of foreign affairs, disclaimed any involvement. However, “To cap the climax of the opium matter, the Attorney General proceeds to acknowledge that the money was paid over by the Chinese … (H)e informed the gentlemen interested in getting the money back that he would never accomplish his object so long as he allowed the newspaper to speak of the affair.” (Hawaiian Gazette, May 17, 1887)
• Although Kalākaua had been elected and serving as King since 1874, upon returning from a trip around the world (1881), it was determined that Hawaiʻi’s King should also be properly crowned.
• “ʻIolani Palace, the new building of that name, had been completed the previous year (1882), and a large pavilion had been erected immediately in front of it for the celebration of the coronation. This was exclusively for the accommodation of the royal family; but there was adjacent thereto a sort of amphitheatre, capable of holding ten thousand persons, intended for the occupation of the people.” (Liliʻuokalani)
Bayonet Constitution (1887)
• In 1887, the struggle for control of Hawaiʻi was at its height with David Kalākaua on the throne. But some of the businessmen were distrustful of him. “So the mercantile element, as embodied in the Chamber of Commerce, the sugar planters, and the proprietors of the ‘missionary’ stores, formed a distinct political party, called the ‘down-town’ party, whose purpose was to minimize or entirely subvert other interests, and especially the prerogatives of the crown, which, based upon ancient custom and the authority of the island chiefs, were the sole guaranty of our nationality.” (Liliʻuokalani)
Concern with Lili‘uokalani’s Attempt to Rewrite the Constitution
• “When Lili‘uokalani became Queen, she took the following oath: ‘I solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God, to maintain the Constitution of the Kingdom whole and inviolate, and to govern in conformity therewith.’” (UH Law School)
• “On January 14, 1893, Lili‘uokalani was prepared to ignore the constitutionally mandated approval-by-two-successive Legislatures process for amending the 1887 Constitution by announcing a new constitution in place of Kalākaua’s 1887 Constitution.” (UH Law School)
• “She did not do so because the Cabinet she appointed on January 13, 1893, refused her authorization request. The members of that Cabinet were Samuel Parker, William Henry Cornwell, Jr,, Arthur P. Peterson and John Colburn. Parker was a Native Hawaiian.” (UH Law School)
Some Native Hawaiian Dissatisfaction with the Acts of Kalākaua and Lili‘uokalani
• Robert W Wilcox – the man who figured so prominently & conspicuously in the revolution of 1889 (All quotes from Wilcox, Morgan Report)
o “Queen Lili‘uokalani brought these evils upon herself and the country both by her personal corruption, and that of her Government.”
o “I believe that if we can be annexed to the United States, the rights of all of our citizens, and especially those of the native Hawaiians, will be protected more carefully than they have ever been under the monarchy.”
o “They are naturally somewhat prejudiced against (the Provisional Government), as monarchy is the only form of Government with which they are familiar, but this feeling will quickly wear away as the Hawaiians are led to see that the Government is friendly to them and their interests. They already have confidence in the integrity and patriotism of President Dole.
o “I have repeatedly (advocated annexation to the United States) in public meetings held in this city. … but I am compelled to move cautiously or I shall lose my influence over them. I believe I am doing a good work by constantly conversing with them on the subject.”
o “I have told my countrymen that the monarchy is gone forever, and when they ask me what is the best thing to follow it I tell them annexation, and I firmly believe that in a very short time every Hawaiian will be in favor of that step.” (Robert W Wilcox – the man who figured so prominently & conspicuously in the revolution of 1889; Morgan Report)
Repeated Changes in Cabinet Ministers in the Kalākaua and Lili‘uokalani Reigns
• “Under every constitution prior to 1887 the ministers were appointed by the King and removed by him; but until Kalākaua’s reign it was a very rare thing that any King changed his ministry. They had a pretty long lease of political life.” (Judd; Blount Report)
• “It was a very rare political occurrence, and made a great sensation when a change was made.” (Judd; Blount Report) if
January 14, 1893 Lili‘uokalani’s Ministers Refused to Support Her Constitution – Threats of Bloodshed were Made Against Her Cabinet Ministers
• “The Queen retired to the blue room and summoned the ministers (Samuel Parker – Minister of Foreign Affairs; John F Colburn – Minister of Interior; William H Crowell – Minister of Finance; Arthur P Peterson – Attorney General) who repaired at once to the palace. The Queen was at a table, still dressed in the magnificent costume of the morning, and sparkling in a coronet of diamonds.”
• “She at once presented them with the draft of the new constitution, demanded their signatures, and declared her intention to promulgate the same at once.”
• “Attorney-general Peterson and Minister of Interior Colburn decidedly refused to do so, and Ministers Cornwell and Parker, though more hesitatingly, joined their colleagues in this refusal.”
The Provisional Government (and subsequent Republic, Territory & State) did not steal the land from the Hawaiian people – Crown Lands Remain in the Public Trust
• Crown and Government Lands, though under the control of changing sovereigns and governments (Kingdom to Provisional Government to Republic to Territory to State,) were in and continue to remain in the ‘public domain’ for the public good.
• US Court of Claims concluded, “The constitution of the Republic of Hawai‘i, as respects the crown lands, provided as follows: ‘That portion of the public domain heretofore known as crown land is hereby declared to have been heretofore, and now to be, the property of the Hawaiian Government …” (Lili‘uokalani v The United States, 1910)
• We now generally refer to the Crown and Government Lands as ‘ceded’ lands. Under the Admission Act, about 1.2-million acres are to “be held by (the) State as a public trust” to promote one or more of five purposes:
o support of the public schools and other public educational institutions
o betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians (per the Hawaiian Homes Act, 1920)
o development of farm and home ownership on as widespread a basis as possible
o making of public improvements
o provision of lands for public use
The United States does not have to acquire property only through a Treaty of Annexation with a concurring vote by the US Senate.
• Annexation of Hawai‘i to the US was not a hostile takeover, it was something the Republic of Hawai‘i sought. “There was no ‘conquest’ by force in the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands nor ‘holding as conquered territory;’ they (Republic of Hawai‘i) came to the United States in the same way that Florida did, to wit, by voluntary cession”. (Territorial Supreme Court; Albany Law Journal)
• “There is no provision in the Constitution by which the national government is specifically authorized to acquire territory; and only by a great effort of the imagination can the substantive power to do so be found in the terms of any or all of the enumerated powers.” (Legal Issues Raised by Proposed Presidential Proclamation To Extend the Territorial Sea, October 4, 1988)
One more correction to the many misconceptions … on January 17, 1893, the Hawai‘i constitutional monarchy was overthrown, not the Hawaiian race.