This Day In History: Americans Overthrow The Hawaiian Monarchy (1893)

On this day in history in 1893, some American planters and businessmen overthrow the last monarch Queen Lili’uokalani of the Hawaiian Islands.  They Americans were led by the American planter Sanford Ballard Dole and they staged the coup to protect their own interests in the islands. They claimed that the coup was needed to protect American lives that were allegedly endangered.

They established a new provisional government on this date. The coup had the backing of the American government and the US ambassador to the islands arranged for a detachment of marines to land on the islands in conjunction with the coup. Dole made himself President of the Provisional Government. Americans first came to the islands as traders and missionaries. In the 1830s they had established a sugar industry on the islands. Americans came to dominate this lucrative industry.

The coup had the backing of the American government and the US ambassador to the islands arranged for a detachment of marines to land on the islands in conjunction with the coup. Dole made himself President of the Provisional Government. Americans first came to the islands as traders and missionaries. In the 1830s they had established a sugar industry on the islands. Americans came to dominate this lucrative industry.

American missionaries and planters disrupted traditional Hawaiian society. Hawaii had been settled centuries before by Polynesian settlers and they have developed a sophisticated society and culture. The introduction of Christianity utterly changed Hawaii. There were demands by the Americans usually backed by the US government that Hawaii modernize and this led to the introduction of a constitutional monarchy in the 1840s. The Hawaiian monarch lost most of its powers. The King of Hawaii was forced to sign a series of treaties with the US government. Increasingly, the islands were under the de-facto control of the Americans.

In 1887 the US Navy set up a naval base and they islands became vital for American interests in the Pacific. Also in 1887 a group of Americans staged a revolt and they demanded further changes to the constitution. A militia that was controlled by American planters was used to intimidate the monarch into changing the constitution. The new constitution only benefitted the Americans and they came to control the monarchy.

Fort that was garrisoned by American troops in Hawaii after 1897.

Sugar exports to the United States expanded greatly during the next four years, and U.S. investors and American sugar planters on the islands sought to protect their interests. In 1891 Queen Lili’uokalani, ascended the throne after the death of her brother and she refused to recognize the constitution of 1887.  Instead, she behaved as a traditional Hawaiian monarch. This infuriated the American planters and this provoked them to stage their coup. After they had deposed the Queen, in 1893, the planters managed to persuade the American government to declare Hawaii a US protectorate.

An effort to annex the island was blocked in the Houses of Congress.  There was an effort to place Queen Liliuokalani back on the throne under the previous constitution. Dole and the other members of the self-appointed provisional government threatened to declare independence if the Queen was restored.  Many Americans were worried that the British or another European power could seize the islands.  Hawaii became knowns as the Republic of Hawaii and was controlled by Americans. An attempt to restore the Queen was easily crushed in 1895 and she was later imprisoned. In 1898 the Spanish-American War broke out and the US navy needed the islands. American declared Hawaii a US territory in 1900 and the islands became a state in 1959.

Advertisement