Wednesday, July 8, 2015

U.S. vs Hawaii War of 1894 -- Part One

Coup d'etats were not unusual in Hawaii during the late 1800s

In 1874, as a result of the Hawaiian government's request, two U.S. Marine Detachments landed on Oahu to restore order in Honolulu, fight a rebellion instituted by the opposition candidate in the Royal Election of a new King, and assist with the orderly coronation of King David Kalakaua.

During the fighting, American Marines actually seized most government buildings and took control of the Hawaiian government. In fact American Marines occupied the city armory, the Hawaiian treasury, the station house, the Honolulu jail, and the Honolulu Courthouse which was there main objective.

After order was restored, the Marines returned power to King Kalakaua and simply returned to their ships.

In 1889, U.S. Marines were again in Hawaii, again on Oahu to quell a small revolution. It was called the Dominis Conspiracy, and was named after Princess Liliuokalani who also went by the name Lydia K. Dominis. Yes, the King's sister.

She had plotted to overthrow her own brother and take the throne for herself. The plot was to overthrow King David Kalakaua, but her attempted coup d'etat on her brother didn't work.

Then in 1893, karma seem to come around when Queen Liliuokalani ended up losing her throne to even another coup d'etat by members of her own cabinet. They were successful and upon taking over, they set up the Provisional Government of Hawaii and the Queen abdicated.

Today, there are a lot of people who enforce the lie that America was behind the overthrow of the Queen. Granted that it is true that from January 16th to April 1st of 1893, U.S. Marines were back in Hawaii at the request of the Hawaiian government. But unlike in 1874, this time American Marines did not fire a shot or take control of any part of the Hawaiian government.

The American Marines there in 1893 did not take control of any government building, seize any property, jail anyone, or conduct any Combat Operations against any Hawaiian, American, British, or other citizen there. Fact is, those 160 U.S. Marines and Sailors simply waited for instructions and assumed a role of neutrality while the Hawaiian Government sorted out its problems.

And as for America being behind the overthrow of the Queen, fact is the United States didn't want Hawaii. Most in Washington D.C. at the time saw annexing Hawaii as more trouble than it was worth. Besides, America already had a great reciprocity treaty with Hawaii -- so subsequently why bother.

The Provisional Government of Hawaii was set up after opposing the Queen. It started over the Queen's desire to change Hawaii's Constitution to retake power from the Hawaiian Legislature. That is the bottom line as to what the overthrow was all about.

In response to the Queen's submission of a new Constitution, her cabinet, her staff, and a group of European and American residents formed a Committee of Safety on January 14, 1893. After a meeting of supporters, the Committee committed itself to removing the Queen and seek annexation to the United States.

Again, as a point of interest, negotiations over annexation of Hawaii with the United States had been going on for almost 40 year at that point. Annexation was nothing new as it was discussed and negotiated since King Kamehameha III.

We should remember that by 1853, King Kamehameha III was convinced that annexation would only be acceptable if Hawaii became a U.S. state. And would not accept annexation as a protectorate, thought the main reason for annexation with the U.S. was protection against other nations. That was what King Kamehameha III wanted.

Back in the 1850s, the British, French, German, Russian, and Japanese representatives all objected to the Hawaii-United States annexation plan because all of the world powers had eyes on Hawaii.

U.S. Commissioner David L. Gregg received instructions from Secretary of State William L. Marcy and negotiated a treaty of annexation in August 1854. It was never signed, and might not have been ratified by the Senate -- but it does point to evidence which supports the claim that the Kingdom of Hawaii wanted to join the United States.

Most people today forget about the use of United States Marines in 1874 to ensure King Kalakaua's place on the throne, or how American Marines were also sent ashore to quell a coup by then Princess Liliuokalani in 1889.

Most remember time and time again that U.S. Minister John L. Stevens summoned U.S. Marines from the USS Boston to land and take up positions at the US Legation, Consulate and Arion Hall on the afternoon of January 16, 1893.

The Committee of Safety had claimed an "imminent threat to American lives and property". The Provisional Government of Hawaii was established and supported by a militia group -- the Honolulu Rifles. It's leader was Sanford Dole. It's mission was to manage the government of Hawaiian islands between the overthrow and expected U.S. annexation,

Sanford B. Dole and Lorrin A. Thurston, who were native-born subjects of the Hawaiian kingdom and speakers of the Hawaiian language, had strong financial, political, and family ties to the United States. While some make having strong family ties to someone in a another country as something ominous, both were born and raised in Honolulu and spoke Hawaiian fluently.

Dole left Hawaii to get a law degree in Boston, then returned. Upon his return, King Kalakaua appointed Dole as a justice of the Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Hawaii on December 28, 1887, and to a commission to revise judiciary laws on January 24, 1888. After King Kalakaua's death, his sister Queen Lili'uokalani appointed Dole to her Privy Council (cabinet) on August 31, 1891

Dole was a former member of the Kingdom legislature from Koloa, Kauai, and Justice of the Kingdom's Supreme Court, and he appointed Thurston—who had served as Minister of Interior under King Kalakaua — to lead a lobbying effort in Washington to secure Hawaii's annexation by the United States.

The Republic of Hawaii's government was made up of the Queen's own cabinet and staff. And yes, while some put emphasis on the point that the Republic of Hawaii was led by men of European ancestry instead of Native Hawaiians, those same people don't mention that the cabinet's and advisers going back to Kamehameha II, who was King from 1818 to 1825 and had mainly European advisers.

Every monarch after Kamehameha II, including Queen Liliuokalani, had cabinets and staffs and advisers of mainly European ancestry. Strange how those same people who try to make the European connection to Hawaii ominous, but yet forget to mention that Kamehameha the Great was only able to united the islands after he received European war-fighting technology.

And frankly while Kamehameha the Great is known to have killed thousands of Hawaiians in his efforts to unite the islands, Queen Liliuokalani decided not to shed "Hawaiian blood" for Hawaii on January 17, 1893 -- when she abdicated her throne the "first time". And yes, I haven't forgotten that Queen Liliuokalani would abdicate her throne for the "second time" in 1895 after an attempted coup failed to overthrow the Provisional Government of Hawaii and put her back on the throne.

In 1893 though, the Provisional Government sent members of the Missionary Party to Washington to negotiate the annexation treaty which was agreed upon but not ratified. U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, who had just lost the presidential election that year, didn't want to deal with the subject of Hawaii and promptly passed it over to the Senate for ratification.

But then an envoy from the deposed Queen arrived in Washington, and made the case that the dethroning and annexation were illegal. And yes, the incoming administration agreed with the Queen.

That's something many don't realize.

Tom Correa


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