• Queen Liliuokalani, pictured here, was not only the last monarch of the Hawaiian islands but also its first and only reigning queen. She was celebrated for her adamant, yet unsuccessful, defense of native Hawaiians. She died in Honolulu in 1917.

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    Lilioukalani, Queen of Hawaii, 1892-93
    • Date
    • 1860 - 1920
    • Description
    • From a photograph by Rau Studios, Inc., Philadelphia.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection. The New York Public Library

  • Hawaiians organized against annexation efforts. In this petition, members of the Women’s Patriotic League of Hawaii protest US intervention "in any form or shape." Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

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    Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii

  • Once annexed, Hawaii provided a key outpost for US vessels crossing the Pacific. Army engineer H. Ambrose Kiehl took this photograph of US army barracks in Honolulu while en route to Japan. Courtesy of University of Washington.

     

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    Army barracks in Honolulu, Hawaii, ca. 1899
    • Description
    • This photograph is part of a set of images that depict the progress of a trip to Japan and include views of Hawaii, the Philippines, and Japan. It is not known whether H. Ambrose Kiehl was the photographer or took part in the journey.On verso of imag... more
      This photograph is part of a set of images that depict the progress of a trip to Japan and include views of Hawaii, the Philippines, and Japan. It is not known whether H. Ambrose Kiehl was the photographer or took part in the journey.On verso of image: Barracks - Honolulu less
    • Rights
    • For information on permissions for use and reproductions please visit UW Libraries Special Collections Use Permissions page: http://www.lib.washington.edu/specialcollections/services/permission-for-use
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    • University of Washington

  • American officials held a ceremony in 1898 to honor the transfer of power from the Hawaiian monarchy to the US imperialists. Princess Ka’iulani, niece to Queen Liliuokalani, lamented: "When the news of annexation came it was bitterer than death to me. It was bad enough to lose the throne, but infinitely worse to have the flag go down." Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

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    Hawaii : The symbolic transfer of sovereignty of the Island at Honolulu, August 12, 1898
    • Date
    • 1860 - 1920
    • Creator
    • Rau Art Studios, Inc.
    • Description
    • 514 18208.
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection. The New York Public Library

The US planted its flag in Hawaii well before 1898. With the help of Christian missionaries and sugarcane planters, Americans settled in Hawaii forming a robust, wealthy—and largely white—class who lobbied for the US. Their ambitions came to a head in 1887 with the Bayonet Constitution. Issued by a coalition of American and European industrialists and Hawaiian elite, the document aimed to dismantle the Hawaiian monarchy by transferring legislative and executive power to the US and stripping native Hawaiians and Asian immigrants of their citizenship rights. President Grover Cleveland rejected the document stating that it constituted nothing less than an "armed invasion... committed...without the authority of Congress."

Native Hawaiians fought back by drafting their own document to "maintain...the independent autonomy of the islands of Hawaii…[and] secure...the continuance of their civil rights." Queen Liliuokalani, sister to King Kalakaua, also moved to restore power to the monarchy and native Hawaiians, but she was eventually deposed in 1893 during a coup d'etat organized by the US. Increasing interests in Pacific trade and industry, coupled with the strategic advantage Hawaii provided during the Spanish-American War, compelled President McKinley to formally annex the islands in July 1898. In August, the US celebrated the transfer of power with a ceremonial flag raising over Iolani Palace in Honolulu.