What Happened to the Last Queen of Hawaii

Keyra Herrington, Staff Writer

The start of American influence in Hawaii occurred many years before the last ruler would ever rise to power. In the early 18th century, American traders came to the island in hopes of exploiting their supply of sandalwood. Due to the demand in China and America’s hopes to expand their influence in foreign countries through trade, the supply of sandalwood would be crucial for the United States’ impact on the international trade market. The sandalwood market soon expanded to the sugar industry. The climate of Hawaii was very special for growing certain crops like sugar, pineapple, and other exotic fruits which piqued many countries’ interest, but ultimately the United States would force its way into Hawaii and claim that market as its own. 

In America during the early/mid-18th century, conflicts surrounding American expansion, business corporations, and a very fresh start of the Progressive Era would become the downfall of the island. The influence of the previous American settlers and the government that attempted to expand its authority would implement great changes in Hawaiian politics, culture, economics, and religious life. In 1840, a constitutional monarchy would be established stripping the Hawaiian monarchy of its authority. Over the next four decades, American influence on the island would be nearly irreversible. Hawaii and the United States would participate in many political treaties that would ultimately lead to the establishment of Pearl Harbor. Due to this sugar import profit, the United States would begin to dominate Hawaiian affairs. Although, the actual downfall of the Hawaiian monarchy would eventually take place when Lili’uokalani would succeed her late brother King Kalakaua. This leads us to the story of the first and last female sovereign ruler of Hawaii.

Queen Lili’uokalani was born on September 2nd, 1838 in Honolulu. She was the daughter of a high chief and chieftess. Due to the death of her brother, King David Kalakaua, Queen Lili’uokalani would become the first and last sovereign queen known to Hawaii. When the Queen came into power she would entirely ignore the constitution already enacted in Hawaii in an attempt to regain control of her rightful territory. In 1893 the “Committee of Safety” organized by Sanford B. Dore( an American born and raised in Hawaii) would stage a coup against the queen with intentions of supporting the United States government. The governmental takeover would be due to a group of American sugar planters under Ballard Dore, who after overthrowing the Queen would name Dole as president. The U.S. minister along with the U.S. Navy would soon arrive on the island to “protect American lives”. The United States would then acknowledge Dole and his efforts and declare the annexation of Hawaii as an American territory because of Pearl Harbor’s importance in the Spanish-American war. Although prior to the war the annexation was extremely unpopular with Democrats and Hawaiians the annexation would still take place due to the fact that when the U.S. government tried to restore the Queen to power, Dore refused to step down. Because of the profits in trade, the establishment of Pearl Harbor, and the Spanish-American war the island of Hawaii would never again be under the rightful Hawaiian monarchs. 


Sources: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/americans-overthrow-hawaiian-monarchy