Annexation of Hawaii

Not many Americans are familiar with the history behind Hawaii becoming part of the United States. Most people know Hawaii for beautiful beaches, nice weather, and the native cultures. The annexation of Hawaii is an interesting story and was not an easy task to accomplish for the United States. The story of the annexation is a story of conflicting goals as the American businessman struggled to obtain favorable trade conditions and native Hawaiians sought to protect their culture and heritage. In 1891 Hawaii was a monarchy ruled by King Kalakaua and was later ruled by his sister, Queen Liliuokalani.

The United States began seeking interest in Hawaii in the early 1820s to expand on agricultural growth. The United States became interested in Hawaii’s sugar growing agriculture and began trading with Hawaii [1]. America began trading and making deals with Hawaii while King Kalakaua was still ruling. During this time the United States did not charge anything for importing Hawaiian sugar. Also, the United States established a U. S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in the late 1880s. The sugar growing industry is where the annexation of Hawaii started to begin or was the root cause of the annexation.

In 1890 Congress approved the McKinley Tariff; this tariff raised the rates on sugar being imported into the United States from foreign countries. The raised rates caused a financial hardship on the sugar farmers of the Hawaiian Islands. The American sugar farmers knew if the islands were to be annexed by the United States, then the tariff would be no longer needed. Queen Liliuokalani tried to rebuild the monarchy and was against the annexation with the United States. Many of the local sugar farmers were plotting a revolt to defeat the Queen because of her opposition to the annexation.

American troops invaded the island without the consent from the President of the United States. The troops overthrew the Queen in a bloodless battle on January 17, 1893 and raised the American flag to lay claim of their new proclaimed territory [2]. After being overthrown by the American troops the annexation committee decided to proclaim themselves the Provisional Government. The Senate did not get a chance to ratify the treaty of annexation before the new President, Grover Cleveland withdrew the treaty.

President Cleveland felt the United States acted inappropriately by ordering the overthrowing of the Hawaiian monarch and quickly withdrew the annexation treaty. Queen Liliuokalani resumed her authority as queen and leader, but the newly appointed President of the Provisional Government, Sanford Dole, was not so willing to submit his power back to the Queen. Many of the natives were not happy with the new government and began to form rallies to protest. Two groups were formed to try and prevent the annexation of Hawaii.

The two groups were Hui Hawaii Aloha Aina (this was the female group) and the other group was Hui Hawaii Aloha Aina o Na Wahine (this was the male group). The groups fought to try and prevent the takeover, but were not successful. The leaders of the rebellion along with the Queen were put in prison. The Queen was imprisoned because she failed to stop the fight. In 1897 the new President of the United States, William McKinley, was inaugurated. President McKinley was in favor of the annexation. McKinley along with three representatives of the government of the Republic of Hawaii signed a treaty to annex Hawaii.

Once the treaty was signed, it was then passed on to the Senate for ratification. Once again this provoked the two protest groups, who then decided to organize a mass petition drive. The groups hoped to accomplish showing the American government that the majority of the Hawaiian natives wanted the annexation to be stopped. The groups gathered 21,269 signatures to oppose the petition [2]. Four delegates along with Liliuokalani met with Senator George Hoar to present the petition for the Senator to read to the Senate.

The petition was formally accepted and the treaty was turned down by the Senate. Not long after Senate opposed the annexation treaty was the subject brought up again. A United States’ battleship was blown up in the Havana Harbor. The Hawaiian Islands became a key place for the refueling of the naval ships during the Spanish-American War. The Congressmen who were for the annexation of Hawaii submitted a proposal to annex the islands by joint resolution, which required only a simple majority, vote in both houses.

The “Newlands Resolution” passed Congress and President McKinley signed the document on July 7, 1898. After being, annexed Hawaii remained a United States territory and then in 1959 became the fiftieth state. Bibliography 1. Schamel, Wynell and Charles E. Schamel. “The 1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii. ” Social Education63, 7 (November/December 1999): 402-408. 2. ushistory. org. “Hawaiian Annexation”. U. S. History Online Textbook. Accessed March 19, 2013. http://www. ushistory. org/us/44b. asp.

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