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Republic of Hawaii

The Republic of Hawaii (1894-1898) forms an interlude in the history of the Hawaiian Islands between the end of the Hawaiian monarchy (1893) and the United States' annexation of Hawaii Territory in 1898.

Background The reign of Queen Liliuokalani[?] (1891 - 1893) displayed a trend to autocracy. The legislative session of 1892, during which four changes of ministry took place, was protracted to eight months chiefly by the queen's determination to carry through the opium and lottery bills and to have a pliable cabinet. She had a new constitution drawn up, practically providing for an absolute monarchy, and disfranchising a large class of citizens who had voted since 1887; this constitution (drawn up, so the royal party declared, in reply to a petition signed by thousands of natives) she undertook to force on the country after proroguing the legislature on 14 January 1893, but her ministers shrank from so revolutionary an act, and with difficulty prevailed upon her to postpone the plan. An uprising similar to that of 1887 declared the monarchy forfeited by its own act. A third party proposed a regency during the minority of the heir-apparent, Princess Kaiulani, but in her absence this scheme found few supporters. A Committee of Safety was appointed at a public meeting, which formed a provisional government and reorganized the volunteer military companies, which had been disbanded in 1890. Its leading spirits were the "Sons of Missionaries" (as E. L. Godkin styled them), who were accused of using their knowledge of local affairs and their inherited prestige among the natives for private ends - of founding a "Gospel Republic" (actually a business enterprise). The provisional government called a mass meeting of citizens, which met on the afternoon of the 16 January 1893 and ratified its action.

The United States steamer Boston, which had unexpectedly arrived from Hilo[?] on 14 January 1893, landed a small force on the evening of 16 January, at the request of the United States minister, Mr J. L. Stevens, and a committee of residents, to protect the lives and property of American citizens in case of riot or incendiarism. On 17 January 1893 the Committee of Safety took possession of the government building, and issued a proclamation declaring a monarchy to be abrogated, and establishing a provisional government, to exist "until terms of union with the United States of America shall have been negotiated and agreed upon".

Meanwhile two companies of volunteer troops arrived and occupied the grounds. By the advice of her ministers, and to avoid bloodshed, the queen surrendered under protest, in view of the landing of United States troops, appealing to the government of the United States to reinstate her in authority.

A treaty of annexation was negotiated with the United States during the next month, just before the close of President Benjamin Harrison?s administration, but it was withdrawn on 9 March 1893 by President Harrison?s successor, President Cleveland, who then despatched James H. Blount[?] (1837 -1903) of Macon, Georgia, as commissioner paramount, to investigate the situation in the Hawaiian Islands. On receiving Blount?s report to the effect that the revolution had been accomplished by the aid of the United States minister and by the landing of troops from the Boston, President Cleveland sent Albert Sydney Willis[?] (1843 - 1897) of Kentucky to Honolulu with secret instructions as United States minister. Willis with much difficulty and delay obtained the queen?s promise to grant an amnesty, and made a formal demand on the provisional government for her reinstatement on 19 December 1893. On 23 December President Sanford B. Dole sent a reply to Willis, declining to surrender the authority of the provisional government to the deposed queen. The United States Congress declared against any further intervention by adopting on 31 May 1894 the Turpie Resolution[?].

Proclamation and initial troubles

On 30 May 1894 a convention was held to frame a constitution for the Republic of Hawaii, which was proclaimed on 4 July 1894, with S. B. Dole as its first president. Toward the end of the same year a plot was formed to overthrow the republic and to restore the monarchy. A cargo of arms and ammunition from San Francisco was secret]y landed at a point near Honolulu, where a company of native royalists were collected on 6 January 1895, intending to capture the government buildings by surprise that night, with the aid of their allies in the city. A premature encounter with a squad of police alarmed the town and broke up their plans. There were several other skirmishes during the following week, resulting in the capture of the leading conspirators, with most of their followers. The ex-queen, on whose premises arms and ammunition and a number of incriminating documents were found, was arrested and was imprisoned for nine months in the former palace. On 24 January 1895 she formally renounced all claim to the throne and took the oath of allegiance to the republic. The ex-queen and forty-eight others were granted conditional pardon on 7 September 1895, and on the following New Year?s Day the remaining prisoners were released.

Decline and abolition

On the inauguration of President McKinley in March 1897, negotiations with the United States were resumed, and on 16 June 1897 a new treaty of annexation was signed at Washington. As its ratification by the Senate had appeared to be uncertain, extreme measures were taken: the Newlands joint resolution, by which the cession was "accepted, ratified and confirmed", was passed by the Senate by a vote of 42 to 21 and by the House of Representatives by a vote of 209 to 91, and was signed by the president on 7 July 1898. The formal transfer of sovereignty took place on 12 August 1898, when the flag of the United States (the same flag hauled down by order of Commissioner Blount) was raised over the Executive Building with impressive ceremonies.



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