A Brief History
On July 6, 1887, the King of Hawaii, David Kalākaua, was forced to sign off on The 1887 Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, thus ceding his monarchical powers to the legislature, effectively giving power to American and European wealthy traders along with the Hawaiian upper crust.
Called “The Bayonet Constitution” because of the coercion involved, King David was compelled to sign the document under the threat of the anti-monarchist militia. Refusal to sign would have cost David his throne entirely, and perhaps his life.
The Hawaiian Islands had gradually come under European and later American influence after the first encounter with Europeans in 1778. What remained of the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, replaced by a Provisional Government, and then a Republican Government in 1894. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the United States, becoming a Territory until achieving status as the 50th state in 1959. Statehood had followed a referendum vote where 94.3% of Hawaiians voted for statehood.
Note: The author has been to Hawaii and found the state to be a wonderful place!
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you been to Hawaii? If so, how did you like it? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Haley, James. Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2015.
Lani Ing, Tiffany. Reclaiming Kalākaua: Nineteenth-Century Perspectives on a Hawaiian Sovereign. University of Hawaii Press, 2019.
The featured image in this article, a depiction of King Kalakaua I, Sandwich Islands, from the Rulers, Flags, and Coats of Arms series (N126-2) issued by W. Duke, Sons & Co. is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
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