And yes, it was when law officers killed Jim Reed, who was the first husband of Myra Maybelle Shirley. She of course was better known as the famous bandit queen Belle Starr.
As for what else was going on that year of interest to Americans?
Well, how about going to Hawaii?
In 1874, Americans saw the first time that U.S. Marines would land in Honolulu, Hawaii. In that circumstance, it was to protect a Hawaiian King.
A lot of people know about, or have heard of, the time when United States sent Marines ashore in Hawaii in 1893 during the coup that overthrew Queen Liliukalani.
The involvement of the Marines during the overthrow of the Queen in that coup d'etat by prominent businessmen in Hawaii at the time has always been a point of contention since it happened.
Some say they assisted in the coup, others like myself disagree and believe that the U.S. Marines were there simply "on standby" in case history repeated itself.
But as for the Marine's role in it, well, I believe that they were there to do as they had done once before in Hawaii during another episode where the Hawaiian government was in turmoil.
How did it start?
When King Kamehameha V, the last ruler of the House of Kamehameha died on December 11, 1872 without naming a successor, the Kingdom of Hawaii faced a political crisis. Under the Kingdom's 1864 constitution, if the king did not appoint a successor, a new king would be elected by the legislature from the eligible Hawaiian royals still alive.
The election was between William Charles Lunalilo and David Kalakaua.
David Kalakaua was born David Laamea Kamanakapuu Mahinulani Nalaiaehuokalani Lumialani Kalakaua.
His lineage went back to many High Chiefs. Kalākaua was the second surviving son of his father High Chief Caesar Kaluaiku Kapaakea and his mother High Chiefest Analea Keohokalole.
When Kalākaua was four, he returned to Oahu to live with his biological parents and to begin his education at the Chiefs' Children's School. At the school, Kalākaua became fluent in English and the Hawaiian language.
Lunalilo was the more popular of the two. His grandfather was Kalaimamahu, a half brother of Kamehameha The Great and was thus a cousin of King Kamehameha V.
His grandmother was Queen Kalakua Kaheiheimalie, sister of Kamehameha’s favorite wife, Queen Kaahumanu. Because of this, many people believed the throne rightly belonged to Lunalilo since the only person more closely related to Kamehameha V, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, made it clear that she did not want the throne.
Another contender was Princess Ruth Keelikolani who was a half sister to King Kamehameha V. She was a favorite among the Hawaiian Chiefs because of her adhering to the old Hawaiian ways. She was governess of Hawaii and refused to speak English even though she was fluent in it.
Lunalilo, unlike Kalakaua, wanted to amend the constitution to make the government more democratic by removing property qualifications for voting. Property qualifications stoped a lot of Native Hawaiian from voting in the popular election.
It was decided that there would be a popular election to give the people a chance to have their voices heard. However, because the constitution gave the legislature the power to decide who would be the next king, the popular election would be unofficial.
Lunalilo urged the people of the Kingdom to have their voices heard. The popular vote was held on January 1, 1873 and Lunalilo won by an overwhelming majority.
Right after Lunalilo was voted in as King, it was speculated that the reason for the unanimous vote was because each legislator was required to sign his name on the back of his ballot. The legislators were afraid to go against the wishes of the people.
Queen Emma later wrote in a letter that hundreds of Hawaiians were ready to tear to pieces anyone who opposed Lunalilo.
Commerce groups asked the Lunalilo to look at sugar to improve the economy and recommended that a treaty be drawn with the United States to allow Hawaiian sugar to enter the nation tax-free.
To make such a treaty, many thought that the Kingdom would have to offer the Pearl Harbor area to the United States in exchange.
There was much controversy over this, and he subsequently dropped the proposal.
During Lunalilo's reign, a Mutiny took place in the small Hawaiian Army.
The King intervened and actually interviewed the troops involved in the Mutiny to persuade them to lay down their arms.
Following this, the king disbanded the army. From that point on, the Kingdom had no armed forces until the person who replaced him restored them.
After only one year and 25 days, King Lunalilo died on February 3, 1874, from tuberculosis at the age of 39. It is said that Lunalilo did not designate an heir to the throne becasue he wished to have the people choose their next ruler.
However, the constitution of 1864 had charged the legislature, not the people, with the task of electing the next king. So again with no successor named, again a crisis was at hand.
According to the Kingdom of Hawaii's Constitution of 1864, Article 22 stated if the monarch dies before naming a successor “such vacancy, shall cause a meeting of the Legislative Assembly, who shall elect by ballot some native Alii of the Kingdom as Successor”, therefore the elections were held by the representatives not the public.
Understand that Hawaiian elections never included Hawaiian people - just the Assembly members.
The Hawaiian Election Of 1874
The Royal Elections of 1874 were held in Hawaii on February 12, 1874. It was the second time an elections for head of state was held.
Now the stage was set for another election. This time the Hawaiian electoral process began with Queen Emma, the widowed wife of Kamehameha IV, running against Kalakaua.
The day after Lunalilo died, Kalākaua declared himself candidate for the throne. The next day Queen Emma did the same. And that, that was when the animosity between the Kamehamehas and Kalākaua houses went public.
Queen Emma, her full name Emma Kalanikaumakaamano Kaleleonālani Naea Rooke of Hawaii, was Queen Consort of King Kamehameha IV from 1856 to his death in 1863.
Leading up to the elections, businesses and political interest, the newspapers of the time, and early political parties developed strong opinions and the public was divided between the two candidates.
To give an example of how horrible it had gotten. At one point David Kalakaua and his sister Lydia Kamakaeha, who herself would become Queen Liliuokalani, criticized Queen Emma's claim of descent from Kamehameha's brother and subsequently the Kamehameha bloodline - as false.
In other words, they questioned who her parents were.
Tragically, Prince Albert died in August 1862 of "brain fever" while under the care of Princess Kapiolani. The newspapers of the time reported the illness as "brain fever," now known as meningitis. The young Prince was only four years old.
Afterwards, the King fell into despair, blaming himself for the loss of his son. The King then ordered the construction of the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu Valley to house his son's body, since the old mausoleum had become too full. Today, the mausoleum is burial site of most of the members of the Hawaiian royal family.
The King's depression was so severe that he considered abdicating the throne.
A year later, a grief-stricken Kamehameha IV, who blamed himself for the boy’s death, also died. Emma would not have any more children.
It was hard for me to believe that Kalakaua's sister, the future Queen Liliuokalani, would actually accuse Queen Emma of not being eligible to take the throne because of her lineage. Knowing full well that that was not the case.
Politics can bring out the ruthlessness in people. I guess, Queen Liliuokalani was not exempt for that rule.
She also strongly wished to stop Hawaii's dependence on American industry and to give the Native Hawaiians a more powerful voice in government, though she did not like the idea of a Republic where the people rule.
Emma was a popular choice among the people, especially in Honolulu, but her pro-British views were unpopular with the Hawaiian legislature dominated by pro-American factions. Compared to Kalakaua, who was considered more sympathetic to growing power of the American business interest in the islands, she wasn't in a good place when election day came on February 12.
The Hawaiian Legislative Assembly - which actually elected the new monarch - favored David Kalakaua.
Results, Riots, Revolution, And The Rebellion!
David Kalakaua won the election 39 to 6.
It was February 12, 1874, and it is known as the Honolulu Courthouse Riot of 1874. In reality, it was a rebellion. And yes, some even called it a "Revolution!"
"The Honolulu Courthouse Riot" took place when Hawaiian followers of Queen Emma, known as Emmaites, attacked the supporters of King Kalakaua on election day and riots broke out across Honolulu.
It all happened before the Hawaiian Electoral Committee could tell the driver to go tell the new King the news of his victory - but somehow the word still got to Kalakaua..
So what about the Hawaiian Police?
Well, when the Hawaiian Legislative Assembly was attacked, the Hawaiian Police tore off their badges and joined the rioters.
It's true, Honolulu Police guarding the legislature initially held back the rioters from entering the court house but were overwhelmed.
When the police were unable to stop the riot they removed their badges to save themselves from being targeted as members of the government establishment.
Fact is that the Honolulu police force deserted. Many of them actually joined in the riot against the new King and his supporters.
To add to the problems, many former Hawaiian Army soldiers and Honolulu police officers ended up actually fighting against each other and those trying to restore order.
It was a fight about Political Ideologies as much as it was about who won and who lost.
It was sort of a Red State versus Blue State situation, if you know what I mean.
Queen Emma's followers surrounded and attacked the Honolulu courthouse and then proceeded to attack the occupants of other buildings, other Hawaiians, which spread the riot throughout most of the city.
Revolution was in the air, and when it didn't look like the riot would subside, the King Elect along with Charles R. Bishop who was Hawaii's Minister of Foreign Affairs went to U.S. Minister Henry Pierce and requested U.S. military intervention to reestablish order.
It was apparent to the Hawaiian government, the King Elect and his Ministers, to the embarrassment that Hawaii was a nation that could not quell its own riot - foreign intervention was the answer to quell what appeared to many to be the start of a revolution.
The U.S. Navy In Hawaii
Back in 1865, the United States Navy established the North Pacific Squadron to take care of America's concerns on the West Coast and the Hawaiian Islands.
In fact, on 28 August 1867, Captain William Reynolds of the USS Lackawanna formally took possession of the Midway atoll for the United States.
Also called Midway Island, it is about one-third of the way between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Tokyo, Japan.
It is about 2,800 nautical miles (5,200 km; 3,200 mi) west of San Francisco, and 2,200 nautical miles (4,100 km; 2,500 mi) east of Tokyo.
Midway Island became the first Pacific island to be annexed by the United States.
The agreement had been in negotiations for many years, and was definitely something the David Kalakaua supported during his campaign.
He felt stronger ties with the United States would assure economic growth to the islands. It was just that simple.
Send In The Marines!
So with the legislature's election of King Kalakaua, riots broke out throughout Honolulu, the Hawaiian Assembly was attacked and the Hawaiian Police tore off their badges and joined the rioters.
The King Elect along with Hawaii's Minister of Foreign Affairs went to U.S. Minister Henry Pierce and requested military intervention to re-establish order.
|U.S. Marine Corps Emblem Pre-1958|
Marine Detachments aboard warships, just like the mission of the Marine Corps itself, was in transition in the mid to late 19th century.
The Navy's transition from sail to steam put into question the need for Marines on naval warships.
Meanwhile, while the politicians in Washington, D.C., wondered about what "role the Marine Corps" would have in the future.
Marines served as a convenient resource for interventions and landings to protect American lives and interests overseas.
Among those interventions was Hawaii in 1874.
The Reciprocity Treaty was something that previous Hawaiian Kings had been unable to accomplish. Hawaii's treaty with the United States granted exclusive trading rights between America and Hawaii.
The bloodlines of the Hawaiian people was being mixed with those who were being brought there.
By the time of King Kalakaua, Hawaiians were becoming more and more a mixed race. The King wanted to reverse that, but simply couldn't.
The Rebellion of 1887 - The Bayonet Constitution
On June 30, 1887 a meeting of residents including the armed militia of the Honolulu Rifles and politicians who later formed the Reform Party of the Hawaiian Kingdom demanded King Kalakaua dismiss his cabinet headed by the controversial Walter M. Gibson.
The meeting was called to order by Sanford B. Dole, and chaired by Peter Cushman Jones. Lorrin A. Thurston prepared a list of demands to the king.
The meeting also insisted a new constitution be written.
The next morning, on July 1, 1887, a shipment of arms was discovered - although they were later found to be nothing more than smooth-bore hunting guns used to scare bird from farmers' fields.
The Honolulu Rifles took control and arrested Gibson.
Kalakaua in return called in US Minister George W. Merrill, and the British, French, Portuguese and Japanese representatives and requested help.
They all suggested he comply with any demands, which he did.
Thurston then became the powerful interior minister, although Englishman William Lowthian Green was nominally head of the cabinet as minister of finance.
Over less than a week, the new constitution was drafted by a group of lawyers including Thurston, Dole, William Ansel Kinney, William Owen Smith, George Norton Wilcox, and Edward Griffin Hitchcock.
Most were also associated with the Hawaiian League, which was actually in favor of ending the Kingdom and annexation by the United States.
Kalakaua signed the document July 6, 1887, despite arguments over the scope of the changes.
Basically, what the new Constitution did was create a Constitutional Monarchy like that of the United Kingdom.
It essentially striped the King of most of his personal authority, and empowered the legislature and cabinet of the government.
It has since become widely known as the "Bayonet Constitution" because of the threat of force used to gain Kalakaua's cooperation.
At the time Kalakaua had been forced to sign the constitution under threat of arms, military rifles were commonly fixed with bayonets.
King Kalakaua was essentially stripped of much of his authority. King Kalakaua was reduced more or less to a figurehead.
Then a conspiracy by R.W. Wilcox, C.B. Wilson, Sam Nowlien demanded that King Kalakaua abdicate the throne in favor of sister Liliuokalani.
In April of 1889, his sister, Liliuokalani, planned an insurrection by the League that was headed by R.W. Wilcox who formed the Rifle Club preparing for another revolution following the revolution of 1887.
A duel between the insurgents and volunteers begins with artillery and rifle fire, by evening the fighting ends and the insurgents surrendered.
On June 17, 1890, Kalakaua made conservative appointments of J.A. Cummins, C.N. Spencer, Godfrey Brown, and A.P. Peterson a Royalists to his cabinet.
Fact is that he had prepared himself to rule.
Though not of Kamehameha bloodline, Kalakaua was educated, wise, and comfortable with both the Hawaiian and the Western cultures. He understood and respected both ways of life.
He reigned for 17 years until his death on 20 Jan 1891. He decided to take a trip to San Francisco to visit America and improve his health.
The great King died of a stroke, kidney failure, and liver cirrhosis.
Queen Liliuokalani - The Last Hawaiian Monarch!
Ironically, she supported the same R.W. Wilcox in an earlier attempted coup against her own brother King Kalakaua.
While R.W. Wilcox was unsuccessful in his effort to overtrow the Queen, he would change sides later as he did many times in his life.
This time it seems that karma has come around full swing.
On August 30, 1892, that was the day that the first introduction of the "Lottery Bill" that was supported by C.B. Wilson, the appointed Kingdom marshal, and the bill was tabled due to strong opposition by the legislature.
On September 1892, Liliuokalani and legislature were deadlocked on control because of differences on the opium and lottery bills.
Three separate cabinets in succession were voted out by the legislature because they believed the cabinets were in sympathy with C.B Wilson who was the Kingdom’s Marshal.
In 1892, the so-called "Annexationists" feared that if Queen Liliuokalani died and Princess Kaiulani took control - Kaiulani's father was Archibald Cleghorn, governor of Oahu, a Scotsman - then she would bring a strong English influence into the palace.
Wodehouse, the English minister, his son had married a half white sister of Kaiulani and several other sons held important political jobs.
Later in 1892, Queen Liliuokalani yields to pressure and appoints a conservative cabinet of G.N. Wilcox, P.C. Jones, Mark Robinson, and Cecil Brown.
That didn't last very long, and by January 9, 1893, Liliuokalani dismisses the G.N. Wilcox cabinet.
She receives strong opposition from the legislature relating to the lottery and opium bills, and to a new Constitution. Liliuokalani then appoints a new cabinet with John Colburn, W. Cornwell, Sam Parker, and Arthur Peterson under intense public indignation.
On January 12, 1893, the lottery and opium license bills approved by the legislative body.
The new cabinet was voted out, the lottery and opium bills approved after neighbor island legislative members, who opposed the bills, returned home.
On January 13, 1893, Liliuokalani announced the presentation of the new constitution and schedules a public announcement of the new constitution for January 14, 1893.
So again the United States Marines were called out. But this time, the Marines stationed themselves across the street from the palace grounds.
They Did Nothing!
Compared to the Marines who took over the government in 1874, these Marine force was half the size as needed in 1874, and these Marines did nothing but sit there for two weeks.
In fact, unlike in 1874, this time the U.S. Marines there did not fire a single shot.
Some say they effectively intimidated the Hawaiian royalist defenders, who in fact completely outnumbered the Marines.
They were numbered at over 500 men, so they out numbered the U.S. Marines there 3 to 1.
They were under the command of the Marshal of the Kingdom Charles Wilson. They could have gone to battle for Queen and Country, but they didn't.
If the Marine there were being used as an intimidation force, then it obviously worked - because Queen Liliuokalani resigned peacefully.
I believe that that was the case.
I believe that the Marines were again there by request of the Hawaiian government - whoever was in charge at the time - to put down any riot and re-establish order if need be just as they were requested to do in 1874.
It is interesting that Hawaiian history shouts that the United States Marines were supposedly the factor used to oust Queen Liliuokalani, but never a word is said about how the United States Marines helped install, without question, the most popular monarch in Hawaiian History.
Yes, 1874 was America's First Military Intervention in Hawaii. It was by request of the Kingdom of Hawaii. And yes, the Merrie Monarch, King Kalakaua can thank his throne to the United States Marines.
Story by Tom Correa