Republic of Hawai i was the formal name of the
government that controlled Hawai
i from 1894 to 1898 when it was run as a republic.
The republic period occurred
between the administration of the Provisional Government of Hawai
which ended on July 4, 1894 and the adoption of the Newlands Resolution
in the United States Congress
in which the
Republic was annexed
to the United States
and became the Territory of Hawai
on July 7, 1898.
The Hawaiian kingdom was overthrown in 1893 as a result of the
intervention of foreign business interests and the U.S. military.
The Republic of Hawai i was led by men of European ancestry, like
Sanford B. Dole
and Lorrin A. Thurston
, who were native-born subjects
of the Hawaiian kingdom and speakers of the Hawaiian language
, but had strong
financial, political, and family ties to the United States.
Dole was a
former member of the Kingdom legislature from Koloa, Kaua i, and
Justice of the Kingdom's Supreme Court, and he appointed
Thurston—who had served as Minister of Interior under King Kalākaua—to lead a lobbying effort in
Washington, DC to secure Hawaiʻi's annexation by the United States.
The first order of business for the Provisional Government after
the successful overthrow of Lili
was to form an interim government while Lorrin A.
Thurston was in Washington, DC to negotiate annexation with
Congress. One group proposed the assumption of power of Princess
Victoria Ka iulani
while a body formed by
the Committee of Safety could act as a regency government. With the
physical absence of the princess from the islands, the proposal was
immediately struck down.
Provisional Government was dealt a huge blow when United States
President Benjamin Harrison, who
was supportive of the annexation of Hawaii, was voted out of the
President Grover Cleveland
, an anti-imperialist, assumed the presidency and
right away worked to stop the treaty of annexation. Just a month
before Cleveland became president, Lorrin A. Thurston had struck a
deal with Congress as it prepared to ratify a treaty of annexation.
Cleveland, having heard the appeals of Princess Victoria Ka iulani
on behalf of her imprisoned aunt, withdrew the treaty and launched
an investigation of the matter.
appointed James Henderson
Blount of Macon,
Georgia as Commissioner Paramount and Minister to Hawai
His chief mission was to investigate the overthrow of
Lili uokalani's government. Blount concluded in his report that the
overthrow had utilized the aid of the John L. Stevens
, United States Minister to Hawai i
who ordered the landing of troops from the USS Boston
. On the basis of
Blount's report, Cleveland sent Albert Sydney Willis of Kentucky to Honolulu as Minister
to Hawai i with secret instructions.
rebuffed by the queen, obtained Lili uokalani's promise to grant an
amnesty after a considerable delay. After securing that promise,
Willis made a formal demand for the dissolution of the Provisional
Government and complete restoration of the monarchy, although
unbeknownst to him by that time it was too late since Cleveland had
already referred the matter to Congress. Taking the demand at face
value, on December 23, 1893, Sanford B. Dole sent a reply to Willis
flatly refusing to surrender the authority of the Provisional
Government to the deposed queen.
In response to Cleveland's referral of the matter, the Senate
passed a resolution empowering its Foreign Relations Committee to
hold public hearings under oath, and cross-examine witnesses, to
investigate U.S. involvement in the revolution and also to
investigate whether it had been proper for President Cleveland to
appoint Blount and give him extraordinary powers to represent the
U.S. and intervene in Hawai i without Senate confirmation. John Tyler Morgan
, an expansionist
Senator from Alabama,
chaired the commission.
The findings of the Morgan Report
contradicted the assertions of which he was not a part of earlier
made by Blount and former President Cleveland, and on February 26,
1894 at 10:43 PM was submitted. It concluded that the U.S. troops
had remained completely neutral during the overthrow, exonerated
Minister Stevens in landing troops, and concluded Blount's
appointment and investigation without congressional approval were
constitutional. However, the nine member Senate Foreign Relations
Committee that submitted the report could not agree on a final
conclusion, and the oft-executive summary was signed only by Morgan
Following the Morgan Report, and the Turpie Resolution
on May 31, 1894 in which
further intervention by the president and other government
officials against the Provisional Government of Hawai i, Cleveland
officially recognized the Provisional Government as "neither de
jure nor de facto".
On February 7, 1894, the US House of Resolutions issued the
n the U.S. House of Representatives, Feb. 7,
Resolved First. That it is the sense of this House that the action
of the United States minister in employing United States naval
forces and illegally aiding in overthrowing the constitutional
Government of the Hawaiian Islands in January, 1893, and in setting
up in its place a Provisional Government not republican in form and
in opposition to the will of a majority of the people, was contrary
to the traditions of our Republic and the spirit of our
Constitution, and should be and is condemned.
Second. That we heartily approve the principle announced by the
President of the United States that interference with the domestic
affairs of an independent nation is contrary to the spirit of
American institutions. And it is further the sense of this House
that the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to our country, or the
assumption of a protectorate over them by our Government, is
uncalled for and inexpedient; that the people of that country
should have had absolute freedom and independence in pursuing their
own line of policy, and that foreign intervention in the political
affairs of the islands will not be regarded with indifference by
the Government of the United States.
Robert William Wilcox
Establishment of the Republic
The Provisional Government feared that Grover Cleveland might
continue interfering in the internal affairs of Hawai i by trying
to restore the monarchy. The Provisional Government also realized
there would be no annexation until Grover Cleveland's term of
office ended; and they wanted to establish a more permanent
government for the continuing independent nation of Hawai i.
Therefore the Provisional Government called to order a
Constitutional Convention on May 30, 1894. The Constitutional
Convention drafted a constitution
Republic of Hawai i. The Republic of Hawai i was proclaimed on 4
July 1894 at Ali iōlani
Hale. Sanford B.
Wilcox Rebellion of 1895
Hawaiian revolutionary Robert
led several rebellions in pursuit of the
restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy. He led an army of 150
Hawaiians, Europeans and Chinese in an attempt in 1889
. Wilcox was brought to trial but released as
juries refused to find him guilty of wrongdoing. In 1895
, Wilcox participated in another attempt, this time
to overthrow the
Republic of Hawai i
and to restore Lili uokalani to power.
supporters landed a cargo of arms and ammunition from San Francisco,
California in a secret Honolulu
At the location on January 6, 1895, a company of
royalists met to draft plans to capture the government buildings by
surprise. A premature encounter with a squad of police alarmed
Honolulu and the plans were abandoned as the royalists were quickly
routed. Wilcox spent several days in hiding in the mountains before
being captured. The son of one pro-annexationist was killed.
Several other skirmishes occurred during the following week
resulting in the capture of the leading conspirators and their
followers. The government allegedly found arms and
ammunition and some potentially evidential documents on the
premises of Washington
Place, Lili uokalani's private residence implicating her
in the plot.
Lili uokalani's trial
The Republic of Hawaii put their former queen on trial. The
prosecution asserted that Lili uokalani had committed "misprision
of treason," because she allegedly knew that guns and bombs for the
Wilcox attempted counter-revolution had been hidden in the flower
bed of her personal residence at Washington Place.
The Queen read the following statement at her trial:
"In the year 1893, on the fifteenth day of January, at
the request of a large majority of the Hawaiian people, and by and
with the consent of my cabinet, I proposed to make certain changes
in the constitution of the Hawaiian kingdom, which were suggested
to me as being for the advantage and benefit of the kingdom, and
subjects and residents thereof.
These proposed changes did not deprive foreigners of
any rights or privileges enjoyed by them under the constitution of
1887, promulgated by King Kalakaua and his cabinet, without the
consent of the people or ratified by their votes.
My ministers at the last moment changed their views, and requested
me to defer all action in connection with the constitution; and I
yielded to their advice as bound to do by the existing constitution
A minority of the foreign population made my action the pretext for
overthrowing the monarchy, and, aided by the United States naval
forces and representative, established a new government.
I owed no allegiance to the Provisional Government so established,
nor to any power or to any one save the will of my people and the
welfare of my country.
The wishes of my people were not consulted as to this change of
government, and only those who were in practical rebellion against
the constitutional government were allowed to vote upon the
question whether the monarchy should exist or not.
To prevent the shedding of the blood of my people, natives and
foreigners alike, I opposed armed interference, and quietly yielded
to the armed forces brought against my throne, and submitted to the
arbitrament of the government of the United States the decision of
my rights and those of the Hawaiian people. Since then, as is well
known to all, I have pursued the path of peace and diplomatic
discussion, and not that of internal strife.
The United States having first interfered in the interest of those
founding the government of 1893 upon the basis of revolution,
concluded to leave to the Hawaiian people the selection of their
own form of government.
This selection was anticipated and prevented by the Provisional
Government, who, being possessed of the military and police power
of the kingdom, so cramped the electoral privileges that no free
expression of their will was permitted to the people who were
opposed to them.
By my command and advice the native people and those in sympathy
with them were restrained from rising against the government in
The movement undertaken by the Hawaiians last month was absolutely
commenced without my knowledge, sanction, consent, or assistance,
directly or indirectly; and this fact is in truth well known to
those who took part in it.
I received no information from any one in regard to arms which
were, or which were to be, procured, nor of any men who were
induced, or to be induced, to join in any such uprising.
I do not know why this information should have been withheld from
me, unless it was with a view to my personal safety, or as a
precautionary measure. It would not have received my sanction; and
I can assure the gentlemen of this commission that, had I known of
any such intention, I would have dissuaded the promoters from such
a venture. But I will add that, had I known, their secrets would
have been mine, and inviolately preserved.
That I intended to change my cabinet, and to appoint certain
officers of the kingdom, in the event of my restoration, I will
admit; but that I, or any one known to me, had, in part or in
whole, established a new government, is not true. Before the 24th
of January, 1895, the day upon which I formally abdicated, and
called upon my people to recognize the Republic of Hawaii as the
only lawful government of these Islands, and to support that
government, I claim that I had the right to select a cabinet in
anticipation of a possibility; and history of other governments
supports this right. I was not intimidated into abdicating, but
followed the counsel of able and generous friends and well-wishers,
who advised me that such an act would restore peace and good-will
among my people, vitalize the progress and prosperity of the
Islands, and induce the actual government to deal leniently,
mercifully, charitably, and impassionately with those who resorted
to arms for the purpose of displacing a government in the formation
of which they had no voice or control, and which they themselves
had seen established by force of arms.
I acted of my own free will, and wish the world to know that I have
asked no immunity or favor myself, nor plead my abdication as a
petition for mercy. My actions were dictated by the sole aim of
doing good to my beloved country, and of alleviating the positions
and pains of those who unhappily and unwisely resorted to arms to
regain an independence which they thought had been unjustly wrested
As you deal with them, so I pray that the Almighty God may deal
with you in your hours of trial.
To my regret much has been said about the danger which threatened
foreign women and children, and about the bloodthirstiness of the
Hawaiians, and the outrages which would have been perpetrated by
them if they had succeeded in their attempt to overthrow the
They who know the Hawaiian temper and disposition understand that
there was no foundation for any such fears. The behavior of the
rebels to those foreigners whom they captured and held shows that
there was no malignancy in the hearts of the Hawaiians at all. It
would have been sad indeed if the doctrine of the Christian
missionary fathers, taught to my people by them and those who
succeeded them, should have fallen like the seed in the parable,
upon barren ground.
I must deny your right to try me in the manner and by the court
which you have called together for this purpose. In your actions
you violate your own constitution and laws, which are now the
constitution and laws of the land.
There may be in your consciences a warrant for your action, in what
you may deem a necessity of the times; but you cannot find any such
warrant for any such action in any settled, civilized, or Christian
land. All who uphold you in this unlawful proceeding may scorn and
despise my word; but the offence of breaking and setting aside for
a specific purpose the laws of your own nation, and disregarding
all justice and fairness, may be to them and to you the source of
an unhappy and much to be regretted legacy.
I would ask you to consider that your government is on trial before
the whole civilized world, and that in accordance with your actions
and decisions will you yourselves be judged. The happiness and
prosperity of Hawaii are henceforth in your hands as its rulers.
You are commencing a new era in its history. May the divine
Providence grant you the wisdom to lead the nation into the paths
of forbearance, forgiveness, and peace, and to create and
consolidate a united people ever anxious to advance in the way of
civilization outlined by the American fathers of liberty and
In concluding my statement I thank you for the courtesy you have
shown to me, not as your former queen, but as an humble citizen of
this land and as a woman. I assure you, who believe you are
faithfully fulfilling a public duty, that I shall never harbor any
resentment or cherish any ill feeling towards you, whatever may be
She was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment at hard labor and a fine
of $10,000. But the imprisonment was served in a small bedroom at
Iolani Palace where she guarded by military personnel at all times.
After eight months she was kept under house arrest at her
Washington Place home by President Sanford B. Dole. A year later
she was granted a full pardon, including the right to travel; and
President Dole gave her a passport to travel to Washington D.C. to
visit her friends and in-laws. However, she used that opportunity
to lobby the U.S. Senate in 1897 against annexation.
Dole, former advisor to Queen Lili uokalani, President and
then Governor of Hawai i
Dissolution of the Republic
Upon the inauguration of William
as president of the United States on March 4, 1897,
the Republic of Hawai i resumed negotiations for annexation, which
continued into the summer of 1898. By this time, the President saw
the islands as having gained a new strategic relevance in the wake
of the Spanish-American War
that Britain, France and Japan had shown interest in annexing the
islands for themselves. On June 16
year, a new treaty of annexation was signed. As the Senate
appeared uncertain to ratify the
treaty, its supporters took extreme measures by passing the
Newlands Resolution through which the cession was accepted,
ratified and confirmed by a vote of 42 to 21. The House of
accepted the Newlands Resolution
by a vote of 209 to
91. McKinley signed the bill on July 7, 1898. The formal transfer
of sovereignty took place on August 12, 1898 with the hoisting of
the flag of the United States over Iolani Palace.
- Allen, Helena G. Sanford Ballard Dole: Hawai i's Only
President, 1844-1926 (1998).
- Kuykendall, Ralph Simpson. Hawai i: A History, from
Polynesian Kingdom to American State (2003)
- Schweizer, Niklaus R. His Hawaiian Excellency: The
Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy and the Annexation of Hawai