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A Look at the Rise and Fall of Hawaii's Monarchy

Updated on June 19, 2013
Oahu | Source

Hawai'i is one of the most popular vacation spots in the United States. It's known for miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. Approximately 7,368,048 people visited the Hawaiian Islands in 2007, and numbers have remained fairly constant in more recent years. Most tourists stay for a week to two weeks. While the tourism industry undoubtedly boosts Hawaii's economy, what price is being paid by Native Hawaiians who call the Islands home? Could you imagine having the doors to your home wide open for people to come and go as they please...? It's a reality that many don't consider, but for Native Hawaiians it is a reality that they must live every day. In this article I have put together a realistic look at the rise and fall of Hawai'i through the eyes of a Native Hawaiian.



Early Spring 300 A.D.

My father, Chief Hawai'iloa, says that we are on a voyage to explore the seas in search of more land for our people to inhabit. We left the Marquesas Islands three weeks ago and haven't found anything yet. I was told that our Polynesian ancestors found the Marquesas Islands while on an exploration like the one we are on now. I hope that we are as successful in our journey as they once were.

I think that we might have to turn around soon because we are running out of food and water. The group is getting restless and most are starting to lose hope. My father says that if we do not find any land by mid-spring we will go back to our island. I am trying to stay hopeful for the sake of our people.

Mid Spring 300 A.D.

We finally found an island. It is beautiful, and there seems to be many different fruits growing wild on the island. We spent the first day fishing because we haven't had a good meal for many weeks. The fish are abundant here. My father says that this island would be ideal for our people to settle. It is a large island, we haven't explored all of it yet, but from what I have seen it looks promising. We are the first ones on this island as far as I can tell, but we are keeping our guard up until we can further explore the island.

Tomorrow we will explore the island on foot. My father wants to be sure that we are the first ones on the island. He also wants to see what else the island has to offer for our people. I don't know how long it is going to take to travel the entire island, but I am looking forward to seeing what else is here. Food and water are no longer a concern, the island is plentiful.


Late Spring 300 A.D.

We traveled the entire island on foot, and we have decided to settle on the island and make a life here for ourselves and our people. My father has named the island Hawai'i. We will begin to grow our own crops and make the island our home.

Captain Cook's Arrival on the Hawaiian Islands
Captain Cook's Arrival on the Hawaiian Islands | Source

Who Discovered Hawai'i?

There has been some controversy over the years about who discovered Hawaii. Captain James Cook was the first European to discover Hawai'i on January 18, 1778. In some cases the discovery of Hawai'i is attributed to Capt. Cook. However, when Captain Cook first discovered the Island of Hawai'i it was already inhabited by the descendants of Chief Hawai'iloa. So, I'll let you decide for yourself given the facts that you now know. Who discovered Hawai'i? Chief Hawai'iloa, or Captain James Cook?

For more information and history on Captain Cook and his arrival on the Hawaiian Islands, click here.

Queen Lili'oukalani
Queen Lili'oukalani | Source

The Fall...

December 12, 1893

Queen Lili'oukalani has been fighting to restore the monarchy to power in Hawai'i, but her efforts seem to be futile. The white people are already taking over our land. I am sure that our ancestors would look down upon the possibility of Hawai'i being taken over by haoles who only care about making money off our land. Queen Lili'oukalani does not want a war. She cares too much about her people to allow innocent lives to be lost. Some of my family members and friends think that we should fight for our freedom and for our land. I don't think we would win.

My grandmother told me a story about our family journeying many miles from the Marquesas Islands, and settling here in Hawai'i. Will the whites take over that island next? It doesn't seem fair...we discovered Hawai'i, how can they take what is not theirs?


January 05, 1893

It is only a matter of time now. The haoles from the Mainland have taken over all of our government buildings. They are taking over everything. Why isn't Queen Lili'oukalani doing anything about this invasion? Many Hawaiians are very angry, and they want to rebel against the haoles who are invading our land. I know that there are many more of them than there are of us. A fight won't stop them from taking what they want. I don't want to see any fellow Hawaiians die, even if they are defending what is rightfully ours. It seems wrong to just allow this to happen, but what can we do? There are so many of them and more are arriving every day.

I'olani Palace
I'olani Palace | Source

January 17, 1893

The Queen has officially surrendered her throne to the United States. I knew that it was coming, but it still seems surreal. I don't think it's right, but I guess there is not much anyone can do. I wonder what is going to happen now? I went to the beach today with my cousins and there were large ships with American soldiers. I wonder what kind of changes there will be now that the monarchy has turned Hawai'i over to the white men from the Mainland. No matter what happens, Hawai'i is our home, and we are not going to abandon our home.


The Aftermath...

In 1895 Hawaiians who were loyal to the Queen staged a revolt in an effort to restore the throne to Queen Lili'oukalani. The revolt was futile and as a result Queen Lili'oukalani was imprisoned in her own home of I'olani Palace as an attempt by U.S. officials to prevent further rebellion by the Hawaiian people.

American and European men got their wish and took control over the economy and business aspects of Hawaiian plantations.

Hawaii was annexed to the United States in 1898 and became a territory in 1900.

Hawaii becomes the 50th state
Hawaii becomes the 50th state | Source

Hawaii- The 50th State

On August 21, 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state and the 585,000 people who called Hawaii home became citizens of the United States. Hawaii was the first island state. There was some heavy debate as to whether or not Hawaii should become a state, but Hawaii became a state nonetheless. Some argued that there was too much racial diversity in Hawaii for it to be a good fit for the United States. In 1959 Hawaii consisted of 35 percent Japanese, 25 percent Caucasian, 18 percent Hawaiian, 12 percent Filipino, 6 percent Chinese and 4 percent mixed or other races.

Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach

Hawaii now...

People who visit Hawaii are often attracted to the unmatched beauty of the island paradise. The history of Hawaii and it's journey to statehood are often not even considered by the masses of people who flock to the Islands each year for vacation. Hawaii's many beaches are now home to high-rise resorts and other tourist attractions. However, you will find that the real history and culture of Hawaii still exists if you take the time to look a little closer.


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    • alisharenee profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York

      David- Thank you for taking the time to read my article, I'm glad that you learned a little about the history of Hawai'i and it's monarchy! :-)

      Elias- I agree. For many people Hawai'i is simply a vacation spot, but for some of us, it's home. While I live in the Mainland now, I still feel very connected to Hawai'i and most of my paternal family still lives on the Big Island. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub!

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 

      7 years ago from Athens, Greece

      A fascinating history of the origins of Hawaii. The video was also interesting. For the majority of people the word 'Hawaii' brings in mind holidays and beautiful beaches but it's always nice to have a closer look at the historical and cultural background that shaped a place. Well written and informative article.

    • David Trujillo profile image

      David Trujillo Uribe 

      7 years ago from Medellin, Colombia

      Didn´t know Hawaii had a monarchy. What an interesting story, and the narrtive style you chose to tell it.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      This was very well written and informative. I find Hawaiian history and culture fascinating. I have visited twice and hope to return some day. Voted up and informative.

    • alisharenee profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York

      Kidscrafts- Yep, Queen Lili'oukalani was the last Queen of Hawai'i. She took over the throne when her brother, King Kalakaua, died. She was actually only Queen for several years before she was forced to step down from her throne, which eventually led to the annexation of Hawaii by the U.S.

    • kidscrafts profile image


      8 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Excellent article with great information! I didn't knew that was a time that Hawaii had a queen! Voted up and interesting!

    • alisharenee profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York

      Amy Becherer- Thank you for the insightful comment! It is greatly appreciated! It really is a shame that people don't take the time to really get to know the history of Hawai'i and the injustices that the Native Hawaiian people suffered. Many don't look beyond the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, but the rich culture and history deserve respect as well. I will definitely be looking into the book that you mentioned, it sounds interesting!

    • alisharenee profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York

      DDE- I'm glad that you enjoyed the article! I learned quite a bit while writing it and it was very eye opening for me.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you for a beautifully written account of Hawaii's beginnings and history, so much of which I never knew. My sister took a job with the IRS in Honolulu many years ago and retired early this January. She owns a condo and loves living on the big island. My sister recently sent me a copy of a book written by her significant other, an astronomer who authored 'Hokuloa, The British 1874 Transit of Venus Expedition to Hawai'i.' It has much of the interesting history of Hawaii. I find the American acquisition of your beautiful land shameful, especially hearing that some Americans, who profess the U.S. as land of the free and a haven for immigrants, deemed Hawaii too racially diverse for statehood. However, from my view of Washington, D.C., intolerance lives on as the American Way, as divergent politics tell the story. Thank you for this brilliant view of the most beautiful state in the nation, alisharenee.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      8 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Most interesting and unique information.It was a learning lesson for me.


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