Friday, September 2, 2016

Queen Lydia Liliuokalani -Born September 2, 1838

Queen Lydia Liliuokalani
(September 2, 1838 - November 11, 1917)

Queen Liliuokalani was the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian islands. She believed her mission was to preserve the islands for their native residents. Queen Liliuokalani was deposed by the advocates of a Republic for Hawaii in 1893. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed to the United States and Queen Liliuokalani was forced to give up her throne permanently.

She was born in Honolulu to high chief Kapaakea and the chiefess Keohokalole. Her brother was King Kalakaua.

Liliuokalani married a ha'ole (European male), John Owen Dominis on September 16, 1862. Dominis would eventually serve the monarchy as the Governor of O'ahu and Maui. They had no children and according to her private papers and diaries, the marriage was not fulfilling. Dominis died shortly after she assumed the throne, and the queen never remarried.

Upon the death of her brother, King Kalakaua, Liliuokalani ascended the throne of Hawaii in January 1891. One of her first acts was to recommend a new Hawaii constitution, as the "Bayonet Constitution" of 1887 limited the power of the monarch and political power of native Hawaiians. In 1890, the McKinley Tariff began to cause a recession in the islands by disrupting a mainland market for Hawaiian sugar. American interests in Hawaii began to consider annexation for Hawaii to get Hawaiian sugar back on American markets tariff free.

In 1893, Queen Liliuokalani sought to empower herself and Hawaiians through a new constitution which she herself had drawn up and now desired to promulgate as the new law of the land. It was Queen Liliuokalani's right as a sovereign to issue a new constitution through an edict from the throne. Since that move would block American Annexation of the Islands, a group led by Sanford B. Dole sought to overthrow the institution of the monarchy. The American minister in Hawaii, John L. Stevens, called for troops to take control of Iolani Palace and various other governmental buildings. In 1894, the Queen was deposed, the monarchy abrogated, and a provisional government was established which later became the Republic of Hawaii.

In 1893, James H. Blount, newly appointed American minister to Hawaii, arrived representing President Grover Cleveland. Blount listened to both sides, annexationists and restorationists, and concluded the Hawaiian people were aligned with the Queen. 

Blount and Cleveland agreed the Queen should be restored. 

Blount's final report implicated the American minister Stevens in the illegal overthrow of Liliuokalani. Albert S. Willis, Cleveland's next American minister offered the crown back to the Queen on the condition she pardon and grant general amnesty to those who had dethroned her. She refused insisting they should be punished harshly as traitors, but she later changed her mind and offered clemency. During the delay, however, President Cleveland had released the entire issue of the Hawaiian revolution to Congress for debate. The annexationists, using great sums of money provided by the sugar interests, promptly lobbied Congress against restoration of the monarchy. On July 4, 1894, the Republic of Hawaii with Sanford B. Dole as president was proclaimed. It was recognized immediately by the United States government.

In 1895 a plot to restore the Queen by force was uncovered. Liliuokalani was arrested and forced to reside in Iolani Palace after a cache of weapons was found in the gardens of her home in Washington Place. She denied knowing of the existence of this cache and was reportedly unaware of others' efforts to restore the royalty. In 1896, she was released and returned to her home at Washington Place where she lived for the next two decades. Hawaii was annexed to the United States through a joint resolution of the U. S. Congress in 1898.

The queen died due to complications from a stroke in 1917. A statue of her was erected on the grounds of the State Capital in Honolulu.

The Queen was also an accomplished musician and composer. Among her more notably compositions is Aloha Oe (Goodbye My Love) which is still probably the most recognizable "Hawaiian Song" today.

Today's Reflection:
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Live Long and Prosper...

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