Ianuari 17: Lā Hoʻokāhuli Aupuni

January 17, 1893: Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi

Photo Credits: Hawaiʻi State Archives, PP-36-3-002; Caption – Bluejackets of the U.S.S. Boston occupying Arlington Hotel grounds during overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani. Commander Lucien Young, U.S.N. in command of troops. Site of childhood home of Queen Liliuokalani.

The overthrow of Hawaiʻi’s last reigning monarch, Lydia Lili‘u Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamaka‘eha, took place 126 years ago on January 17, 1893. Queen Liliʻuokalani’s motto was tied to the Hawaiian word, ʻonipaʻa, which means, “Fixed, immovable, motionless, steadfast, established, firm, resolute, determined.”

In her book, Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, Liliʻuokalani wrote:

He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes. It is for them that I would give the last drop of my blood; it is for them that I would spend, nay, am spending, everything belonging to me.

(available on Punawaiola, Kahn Collection – General History, Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen (1898), English, 5/106). Queen Liliʻuokalani’s enduring strength continues to inspire her people today. E onipaʻa kākou.

For today’s post, we wanted to share just some of the records that may be found on Punawaiola that relate to the overthrow.  In particular, it is interesting to see, from a non-native perspective, how events surrounding the 1893 illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom government, and the subsequent acquisition of Hawaiʻi by the United States were construed. One such example of this perspective may be found in the first listed item below, which is a publication containing a collection of letters published in the Honolulu Bulletin in 1893. At issue is Mr. Theo. H. Davies’ question regarding the “constitutionality of annexation.” As explained by Mr. C.J. Lyons, “No one at this end of the line pretends that the revolution of January, 1893, was constitutional. Revolutions are never constitutional.” Another example may be found in Krout’s book below in which she states, “When I visited the Islands first, in 1893, I went prejudiced in favour of the natives, deeply sympathising with them because they had been dispossessed of their lawful possessions. A careful and conscientious study of the situation on the spot led me to change my views absolutely, and I perceived that whatever had been done had been done of necessity . . . .”