|Queen of the Hawaiian Islands (more...)|
|Reign||January 29, 1891 – January 17, 1893|
September 2, 1838|
Honolulu, Oʻahu, Kingdom of Hawaii
|Died||November 11, 1917
Honolulu, Oʻahu, Territory of Hawaii
|Burial||November 18, 1917
Mauna ʻAla Royal Mausoleum
|Spouse||John Owen Dominis|
Liliʻuokalani (Hawaiian pronunciation: [liliˌʔuokəˈlɐni]; born Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaʻeha; September 2, 1838 – November 11, 1917), was the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, beginning January 29, 1891 until the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893. The composer of "Aloha ʻOe" and numerous other musical compositions, she authored her biography during her imprisonment following the overthow.
Liliʻuokalani was born on September 2, 1838, in Honolulu, on the island of Oʻahu. Her parents were Analea Keohokālole and Caesar Kapaʻakea, but she was hānai (informally adopted) at birth to Abner Pākī and Laura Kōnia. She was raised with the family of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, founder of the Kamehameha Schools. Baptized as a Christian and educated at the Royal School, she and her siblings and cousins were deemed eligible for the throne by King Kamehameha III. Married to American-born John Owen Dominis, who later became the Governor of Oahu, she had no biological children but adopted several. After the accession of her brother, Kalākaua to the throne as monarch in 1874, she and her siblings were given Western style titles of Prince and Princess. In 1877, after her younger brother Leleiohoku II's death, she was proclaimed as heir apparent to the throne. During the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, she represented her brother as an official envoy to the United Kingdom.
After her brother's death on January 20, 1891, Liliʻuokalani ascended to the throne and assumed the title on January 29. During her reign, she attempted to draft a new constitution which would restore the power of the monarchy and the voting rights of the economically disenfranchised. Threatened by her attempts to abrogate the Bayonet Constitution, pro-American elements in Hawaii overthrew the monarchy on January 17, 1893. The overthrow was bolstered by the landing of U.S. Marines under John L. Stevens to protect American interests, which rendered the monarchy unable to protect itself.
The revolutionaries established the Republic of Hawaii, but their ultimate goal was the annexation of the islands to the United States, which was temporarily blocked by the President Grover Cleveland. After an unsuccessful uprising to restore the monarchy, the oligarchical government placed the former Queen under house arrest at the ʻIolani Palace. Attempts were made to restore the monarchy and oppose annexation, but with the outbreak of the Spanish–American War, the United States annexed the Republic of Hawaii via the Newlands Resolution. Living out the remainder of her later life as a private citizen, Liliʻuokalani died at her residence Washington Place in Honolulu on November 11, 1917.
Liliʻuokalani was born Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaʻeha on September 2, 1838, to the Analea Keohokālole and Caesar Kapaʻakea. She was born in the large grass hut of her maternal grandfather, ʻAikanaka, at the base of Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu on the island of Oʻahu.[note 1] According to Hawaiian custom, she was named after an event linked to her birth. At the time she was born, Kuhina Nui (regent) Elizabeth Kīnaʻu had developed an eye infection. She named the child using the words; liliʻu (smarting), loloku (tearful), walania (a burning pain) and kamakaʻeha (sore eyes). Upon her baptism by Reverend Levi Chamberlain, she was given the Christian name Lydia.
Of the aliʻi class of Hawaiian nobility, her family were considered collateral relations of the reigning House of Kamehameha sharing common descent from the 18th-century aliʻi nui Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku. From her biological parents, she descended from Keaweaheulu and Kameʻeiamoku, two of the five royal counselors of Kamehameha I during his conquest of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Kameʻeiamoku, the grandfather of both her mother and father, was one of the royal twins alongside Kamanawa depicted on the Hawaiian coat of arms. Liliʻuokalani referred to her family line as the "Keawe-a-Heulu line" after her mother's line. The third surviving child of a large family, her biological siblings included: James Kaliokalani, David Kalākaua, Anna Kaʻiulani, Kaʻiminaʻauao, Miriam Likelike and William Pitt Leleiohoku II. She and her siblings were hānai (informally adopted) to other family members. The Hawaiian custom of hānai is an informal form of adoption between extended families practiced by Hawaiian royals and commoners alike. She was given at birth to Abner Pākī and his wife Laura Kōnia. As a young child she would spend much of her time with Bernice Pauahi, the Pākīs' birth daughter.
In 1842, at the age of four, she began her education at the Chiefs' Children's School (later known as the Royal School). Along with her classmates, she was chosen by Kamehameha III to be eligible for the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was taught in English by American missionaries Amos Starr Cooke and his wife, Juliette Montague Cooke, with her two older brothers James Kaliokalani and David Kalākaua, and her thirteen royal cousins. Liliʻuokalani was placed in the youngest section of the class with Princess Victoria Kamāmalu, Mary Polly Paʻaʻāina, and John William Pitt Kīnaʻu. The boarding school headed by the Cookes discontinued around 1850, so she, along with her former classmate Victoria Kamāmalu, was sent to the relocated day school (also called Royal School) run by Reverend Edward G. Beckwith.
After returning from school, Liliʻuokalani lived with her hānai parents at Haleʻākala, which she referred to in later life as her childhood home. Around this time, her hānai sister Pauahi married the American Charles Reed Bishop against the wishes of their parents but reconciled with them shortly before Pākī's death in 1855. Kōnia died two years afterward and Liliʻuokalani came under the Bishops' guardianship. During this period, the young Liliʻuokalani became a part of the young social elite under the reign of Kamehameha IV who ascended to throne in 1855. In 1856, Kamehameha IV announced his intent to marry Emma Rooke, one of their classmates. However, certain elements of the court argued "there is no other chief equal to you in birth and rank but the adopted daughter of Paki," which infuriated the King and brought the Queen to tears. Despite this upset, she was regarded as a close friend of the new Queen, and she served as a maid of honor during the royal marriage along with Princess Victoria Kamāmalu and Mary Pitman. At official state occasions, she served as an attendant and lady-in-waiting in Queen Emma's retinue. Visiting British dignitaries: Lady Franklin and her niece Sophia Cracroft noted in 1861 that the "Honble. Lydia Paki" was "the highest unmarried woman in the Kingdom".
Marriage consideration had begun early on for her. American merchant Gorham D. Gilman, a houseguest of the Pākīs', had courted her unsuccessfully when she was fifteen. Around the time of Kōnia's final illness in 1857, Liliʻuokalani was briefly engaged to William Charles Lunalilo. They both shared an interest in music composition and had known each other from childhood. He had been betrothed from birth to Princess Victoria, the king's sister, but disagreement with her brothers prevented the marriage from materializing. Thus, Lunalilo proposed to Liliʻuokalani during a trip to Lahaina to be with Kōnia. A short-lived dual engagement occurred in which Liliʻuokalani was engaged to Lunalilo and her brother Kalakaua to Princess Victoria. She ultimately broke off the engagement at the urging of King Kamehameha IV and the opposition of the Bishops.[note 2] Afterward, she became romantically involved with the American-born John Owen Dominis, a staff member of Prince Lot Kapuāiwa (the future Kamehameha V and also later a secretary of King Kamehameha IV and an Adjutant General Major. Dominis was the son of Captain John Dominis, of Trieste, and Mary Lambert Jones, of Boston. According to Liliʻuokalani's memoir, they had known each from childhood when he spied upon the royal children from a neighboring school next to the Cookes'. During a court excursion, Dominis escorted her home despite falling from his horse and breaking his leg.
From 1860 to 1862, Liliʻuokalani and Dominis were engaged with the wedding set on her twenty-fourth birthday. However, this was postponed to September 16, 1862, out of respect for the death of Prince Albert Kamehameha, son of Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. The "small and quiet" wedding was held at Haleʻākala, the residence of her hānai sister Pauahi and her husband Charles Reed Bishop. The ceremony was officiated by Rev. Samuel Chenery Damon in the Anglican rites. King Kamehameha IV and other members of the royal family were honored guests, but Dominis's mother Mary Dominis made her disapproval apparent by not attending the ceremony. The couple moved into the Dominises' residence Washington Place in Honolulu. Through his wife and connections with the king, Dominis would later become Governor of Oʻahu and Maui. The union was reportedly an unhappy one with much gossip about Dominis' infidelities. They never had any children of their own but, against the wish of her husband, she adopted three hānai children: Lydia Kaʻonohiponiponiokalani Aholo, the daughter of a family friend; Joseph Kaiponohea ʻAeʻa, the son of a retainer; and John ʻAimoku Dominis, her husband's illegitimate son.[note 3]
After her marriage, she retained her position in the court circle of Kamehameha IV and later his brother and successor Kamehameha V. She assisted Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV in raising funds to build The Queen's Hospital. In 1864, she and Pauahi helped Princess Victoria established the Kaahumanu Society, a female led organization aimed at the relief of the elderly and the ill. At the request of Kamehameha V, she composed "He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi" in 1866 as the new Hawaiian national anthem. This was in use until replaced by her brother's composition "Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī". During the 1869 historical visit of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and the Galatea, she entertained the British prince with a traditional Hawaiian luau at her Waikiki residence of Hamohamo.
When Kamehameha V died in 1872 with no heir, the 1864 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii called for the legislature to select the next monarch. By both popular vote and the unanimous vote in the legislature, Lunalilo became the first elected king of Hawaii. Lunalilo died in 1874, also without an heir to succeed to him. In the election that followed, Liliʻuokalani's brother, David Kalākaua, ran against Emma, the dowager Queen of Kamehameha IV. The choice of Kalākaua by the legislature, and the subsequent announcement, caused a riot at the courthouse. US and British troops were landed, and some of Emma's supporters were arrested. The results of the election strained the relationship between Emma and the Kalākaua family.[note 4]
After his accession, Kalākaua gave royal titles and styles to his surviving siblings, his sisters, Princess Lydia Kamakaʻeha Dominis and Princess Miriam Likelike Cleghorn, as well as his brother William Pitt Leleiohoku, whom he named heir to the Hawaiian throne as Kalākaua and Queen Kapiʻolani had no children of their own.[note 5] Leleiohoku died in 1877, leaving no one to succeed him. Leleiohoku's hānai (adoptive) mother, Ruth Keʻelikōlani, wanted to be named heir to her son's right, but the legislature objected as that would place Bernice Pauahi Bishop, Ruth's first cousin, next in line. This would put the Kamehamehas back in succession to the throne again, which Kalākaua did not wish. On top of that, Kalākaua's court genealogists had already cast doubt on Ruth's direct lineage, and in doing so placed doubt on Bernice's. At noon on April 10, 1877, Liliʻuokalani became the newly designated heir apparent to the throne of Hawaii. It was at this time that Kalākaua had her name changed to Liliʻuokalani (the smarting of the royal ones), replacing her given name of Lili'u and her baptismal name of Lydia.
During King Kalākaua's world tour in 1881, Liliʻuokalani served as Regent in his absence. It was during this regency that Liliʻuokalani visited the leper settlement at Kalaupapa on Molokaʻi in September 1881. She was too overcome to speak and John Makini Kapena, one of her brother's minister, had to address the people on her behalf. After the visit, in the name of her brother, Liliʻuokalani made Father Damien a knight commander of the Royal Order of Kalākaua for his service to her subjects. She also convinced the governmental board to set aside land for branch hospitals at Kakaʻako. She made a second visit to the settlement with Queen Kapiolani in 1884.
In April 1887, Kalākaua sent a delegation to attend the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in London. It included his wife Queen Kapiʻolani, the Princess Liliʻuokalani and her husband, as well as Court Chamberlain Colonel Curtis P. Iaukea acting as the official envoy of the King. The party landed in San Francisco and traveled across the United States visiting Washington, D.C., Boston and New York City where they boarded a ship for England. While in the American capital, they were received by President Grover Cleveland and his wife. In London, Kapiʻolani and Liliʻuokalani received an official audience with Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria greeted both Hawaiian royals with affection, and recalled Kalākaua's visit in 1881. They attended the special Jubilee service at Westminster Abbey and were seated with the other members of the Royal Household and foreign royal guests. Shortly after the Jubilee celebrations, they learned of the Bayonet Constitution that Kalākaua had been forced to sign under the threat of death. They canceled their tour of Europe and returned to Hawaii.
Attempts were made to replace Kalākaua with Liliʻuokalani as queen. In 1889, a part kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiian) officer Robert William Wilcox, who resided in Liliʻuokalani's Palama residence, instigated an unsuccessful rebellion to overthrow the Bayonet Constitution.
Tired from years of politics, Kalākaua visited California aboard the USS Charleston on November 25, 1890. There was uncertainty as to the purpose of the king's trip. Minister of Foreign Affairs John Adams Cummins reported that the trip was solely for the king's health and would not extend beyond California, while local newspapers and the British commission Wodehouse worried that the king might go further east to Washington, D.C. to negotiate a treaty and the cessation of Pearl Harbor, or the annexation of the kingdom. After unsuccessfully dissuading his departure, Liliʻuokalani wrote that he meant to discuss the McKinley Tariff in Washington with the Hawaiian ambassador to the United States Henry A. P. Carter. In his absence, Liliʻuokalani was left in charge as regent for the second time. In her memoir, she wrote that "Nothing worthy of record transpired during the closing days of 1890, and the opening weeks of 1891."
Upon arriving in California, Kalākaua, whose health had been declining, stayed in a suite at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Traveling throughout Southern California and Northern Mexico, the monarch suffered a stroke in Santa Barbara and was rushed back to San Francisco. Kalākaua fell into a coma in his suite on January 18, and died two days later on January 20, 1891. The news of Kalākaua's death did not reach Hawaii until January 29 when the Charleston returned to Honolulu with the remains of the king.
On January 29, 1891, Liliʻuokalani took the oath before the cabinet ministers and the supreme court justices to uphold the constitution, and became the first and only Queen of the Hawaiian Islands. The first few weeks of her reign was obscured by the funeral of her deceased brother Kalākaua. After the end of the period of mourning, one of her first acts was to request the formal resignation of the hold-over cabinet from her brother's reign. These ministers refused, and asked for a ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court. The justices (except for one dissenting opinion) ruled in favor of the Queen's decision, and the ministers resigned. Liliʻuokalani appointed Samuel Parker, Hermann A. Widemann, and William A. Whiting, and reappointed Charles N. Spencer (from the hold-over cabinet) as her new cabinet ministers. On March 9, with the approval of the House of Nobles, as required by the Hawaiian constitution, she named her niece Kaʻiulani as her successor. From April to July, Liliʻuokalani paid the customary visits to the main Hawaiian Islands including a revisit to the leper settlement of Kalaupapa. Historian Ralph Simpson Kuykendall noted, "Everywhere she was accorded the homage traditionally paid by the Hawaiian people to their alii."
Following her accession, John Owen Dominis was given the title Prince Consort and restored to the Governorship of Oʻahu, which had been abolished following the Bayonet Constitution of 1887. Dominis' death on August 27, seven months into her reign, greatly affected the new Queen. Liliʻuokalani later wrote: "His death occurred at a time when his long experience in public life, his amiable qualities, and his universal popularity, would have made him an adviser to me for whom no substitute could possibly be found. I have often said that it pleased the Almighty Ruler of nations to take him away from me at precisely the time when I felt that I most needed his counsel and companionship." Her sister's widower Archibald Scott Cleghorn was appointed to succeed Dominis as Governor of Oʻahu. In 1892, Liliʻuokalani would also restore the positions of governor for the other three main islands for her friend and supporters.
From May 1892 to January 1893, the legislature of the Kingdom convened for an unprecedented 171 days, which later historians such as Albertine Loomis and Helena G. Allen dubbed the "Longest Legislature". This session was dominated by political infighting between and within the four parties: National Reform, Reform, National Liberal and Independent; none were able to gain a majority. Debates heard on the floor of the houses concerned the popular demand for a new constitution, the passage of a lottery bill and an opium licensing bill, aimed at alleviating the economic crisis caused by the McKinley Tariff. The main issues of contention between the new monarch and the legislators were the retention of her cabinet ministers since political division prevented Liliʻuokalani from appointing a balanced council and the 1887 constitution gave the legislature the power to vote for the dismissal of her cabinet. Seven resolutions of want of confidence were introduced during this session, and four of her self-appointed cabinets (the Widemann, Macfarlane, Cornwell. and Wilcox cabinets) were ousted by votes of the legislature. On January 13, 1893, after the legislature dismissed the Wilcox cabinet (which had political sympathies to the Reform Party), Liliʻuokalani appointed the new Parker cabinet consisting of Samuel Parker, as minister of foreign affairs; John F. Colburn, as minister of the interior; William H. Cornwell, as minister of finance; and Arthur P. Peterson, as attorney general. She had chosen these men specifically to support her plan of promulgating a new constitution while the legislature was not in session.
The precipitating event leading to the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893, was the attempt by Queen Liliʻuokalani to promulgate a new constitution that would have strengthened the power of the monarch relative to the legislature, where Euro-American business elites held disproportionate power. The stated goals of her opponents, who were non-native Hawaiian Kingdom subjects (five American nationals, one English national, and one German national) were to depose the Queen, overthrow the monarchy, and seek Hawaii's annexation to the United States.[note 6]
Shortly after her accession, Liliʻuokalani began to receive petitions to re-write the "Bayonet Constitution"[note 7] through the two major political parties of the time, Hui Kālaiʻāina and the National Reform Party.[note 8] With a vote of two-thirds of the registered voters, she moved to abrogate the existing 1887 constitution however, when the Queen informed her cabinet of the plan, they withheld their support knowing what her opponents' likely response would be.[note 9]
The proposed constitution (co-written by the Queen and two legislators Joseph Nāwahī and William Pūnohu White) would have restored the power to the monarchy, and voting rights to economically disenfranchised native Hawaiians and Asians. The McKinley Act had crippled the Hawaiian sugar industry by removing the duties on sugar imports from other countries into the US, eliminating the previous Hawaiian advantage under the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. Many Hawaiian businesses and citizens felt pressure from the loss of revenue; in response, Liliʻuokalani proposed a lottery system to raise money for her government. She also proposed a controversial opium licensing bill. Her ministers, and closest friends, were all opposed to this plan; they tried unsuccessfully to dissuade her from pursuing these initiatives, both of which came to be used against her in the brewing constitutional crisis.
The coup d'état itself was led by Lorrin A. Thurston, who was the grandson of American missionaries and derived his support primarily from the American and European business class residing in Hawaii and other supporters of the Reform Party of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Most of the leaders of the Committee of Safety that deposed the Queen were American and European citizens who were also Kingdom subjects. They included legislators, government officers, and a Supreme Court Justice of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
On January 16, the Marshal of the Kingdom, Charles Burnett Wilson was tipped off by detectives to the imminent planned coup. Wilson requested warrants to arrest the 13 member council of the Committee of Safety, and put the Kingdom under martial law. Because the members had strong political ties with United States Government Minister John L. Stevens, the requests were repeatedly denied by the Queen's cabinet, fearing if approved, the arrests would escalate the situation. After a failed negotiation with Thurston, Wilson began to collect his men for the confrontation. Wilson and Captain of the Royal Household Guard, Samuel Nowlein, had rallied a force of 496 men who were kept at hand to protect the Queen. U.S. Marines from the USS Boston and two companies of U.S. sailors landed and took up positions at the U.S. Legation, Consulate, and Arion Hall. 162 sailors and Marines aboard the USS Boston in Honolulu Harbor came ashore well-armed but under orders of neutrality. The sailors and Marines did not enter the Palace grounds or take over any buildings, and never fired a shot, but their presence served effectively in intimidating royalist defenders. Historian William Russ states, "the injunction to prevent fighting of any kind made it impossible for the monarchy to protect itself".
The Queen was deposed on January 17, 1893, and temporarily relinquished her throne to the United States. She had hoped the United States, like Great Britain earlier in Hawaiian history, would restore Hawaii's sovereignty to the rightful holder. Liliʻuokalani issued a statement yielding her authority to the United States Government rather than to the Provisional Government.
A provisional government, composed of European and American businessmen, was then instituted until annexation by the United States could be achieved. On February 1, 1893, the US Minister (ambassador) to Hawaii proclaimed Hawaii a protectorate of the United States.
The administration of Grover Cleveland commissioned the Blount Report, and based on its findings, concluded that the overthrow of Liliʻuokalani was illegal, and that U.S. Minister Stevens and American military troops had acted inappropriately in support of those who carried out the overthrow. On November 16, 1893, Cleveland sent his minister Albert S. Willis to propose to return the throne to Liliʻuokalani if she granted amnesty to everyone responsible. Willis reported to the Secretary of State in Washington that she was intent on killing the culprits. There was a dispute: Willis said the Queen said "beheading"; she later said she used "execute."
With this development, President Grover Cleveland sent the issue to the Congress. The Queen later changed her position on the issue of punishment for the conspirators, and on December 18, 1893, US Minister Willis demanded her reinstatement by the Provisional Government. The Provisional Government refused. Congress responded to Cleveland's referral with a US Senate investigation that resulted in the Morgan Report on February 26, 1894. It found all parties (including Minister Stevens), except the Queen, "not guilty", absolving them of responsibility for the overthrow.
On July 4, 1894, the Republic of Hawaiʻi was proclaimed and Sanford B. Dole, one of the first people who originally called on the institution of the monarchy to be abolished, became President. The Republic of Hawaiʻi was recognized by the United States government as a protectorate, although Walter Q. Gresham, Cleveland's Secretary of State, remained antagonistic towards the new government.
Liliʻuokalani was arrested on January 16, 1895, several days after the failed rebellion led by Robert William Wilcox and Samuel Nowlein, when firearms were found at the base of Diamond Head Crater. She was tried by the military commission of the Republic led by her former attorney general Whiting in the throne room of the former palace on February 8, 1895. Defended at trial by another one of her former attorney general Paul Neumann, she claimed ignorance but was sentenced to five years of hard labor in prison by the military tribunal and fined $5,000.
During her imprisonment, she abdicated her throne in return for the release (and commutation of the death sentences) of her jailed supporters; six had been sentenced to be hanged including Robert Wilcox and Samuel Nowlein. She signed the document of abdication on January 24, 1895. Historian Julia Flynn Siler noted, "her shaky signature suggests her abdication was excruciating for her". In 1898, Liliʻuokalani wrote:
For myself, I would have chosen death rather than to have signed it; but it was represented to me that by my signing this paper all the persons who had been arrested, all my people now in trouble by reason of their love and loyalty towards me, would be immediately released. Think of my position, — sick, a lone woman in prison, scarcely knowing who was my friend, or who listened to my words only to betray me, without legal advice or friendly counsel, and the stream of blood ready to flow unless it was stayed by my pen.— Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's Story By Hawaii's Queen
The sentence was commuted on September 4, 1895, to imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom of ʻIolani Palace, attended by her lady-in-waiting Eveline Townsend Wilson (aka Kitty), wife of the Marshal of the Kingdom, Charles Burnett Wilson. In confinement she composed songs including "The Queen's Prayer" (Ke Aloha o Ka Haku – "The Grace of the Lord") and began work on her memoirs.
On October 13, 1896, the Republic of Hawaii gave her a full pardon and restored her civil rights. "Upon receiving my full release, I felt greatly inclined to go abroad," Liliʻuokalani wrote in her memoir. She stayed with her husband's cousins William Lee and Sara White Lee in Brookline, Massachusetts in December 1896 and January 1897. During this period she wrote her memoir Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen with the help of Julius Palmer and Sara Lee, as editor; it was published in 1898 by Lee and Shepard, a publishing company owned by William Lee.
At the end of her visit in Massachusetts, Liliʻuokalani began to take up periodic temporary residencies in Washington, D.C., sailing back to Hawaii between seeking indemnity from the United States.
She attended the inauguration of US President William McKinley on March 4, 1897, with a Republic of Hawaiʻi passport personally issued to "Liliuokalani of Hawaii" by the republic's president Sanford B. Dole. On June 16, McKinley presented the United States Senate with a new version of the annexation treaty, one that eliminated a provision granting Liliʻuokalani a $20,000 per annum lifetime pension, and Kaʻiulani a lump-sum payment of $150,000. Liliʻuokalani filed an official protest with Secretary of State John Sherman the next day. The protest was witnessed by Joseph Heleluhe as her agent and private secretary, Wekeki Heleluhe and Captain Julius A. Palmer Jr. reported to be her American secretary.
In June 1897 President McKinley signed the treaty of annexation for the Republic of Hawaii, but it failed to pass in the United States Senate after the Kūʻē Petitions were submitted by a commission of Native Hawaiian delegates constituting of James Keauiluna Kaulia, David Kalauokalani, William Auld, and John Richardson. Members of Hui Aloha ʻĀina collected over 21,000 signatures opposing an annexation treaty. Another 17,000 signatures were collected by members of Hui Kālaiʻāina but not submitted to the Senate because they were asking for restoration of the Queen. The petitions were used as evidence of the strong resistance of the Hawaiian community to annexation, and the treaty was defeated in the Senate. After the failure of the treaty, Hawaii was instead annexed by a joint resolution called the Newlands Resolution, in July 1898, shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish–American War.
The annexation ceremony was held on August 12, 1898, at the former ʻIolani Palace. President Sanford B. Dole handed over "the sovereignty and public property of the Hawaiian Islands" to United States Minister Harold M. Sewall. The flag of the Republic of Hawaii was lowered and the flag of the United States was raised in its place. Liliʻuokalani and her family members and retainers boycotted the event and shuttered themselves away at Washington Place. Many Native Hawaiians and royalists followed suit and refused to attend the ceremony.
Prior to the 1848 division of land known as the Great Māhele, during the reign of Kamehameha III, all land in Hawaii was owned by the monarchy. The Great Māhele subdivided the land among the monarchy, the government, and acreage to allow private ownership by tenants living on the land. What was reserved for the monarchy became known as the Crown Lands of Hawaii. When Hawaii was annexed, the Crown Lands were seized by the United States government. The Queen gave George Macfarlane her power of attorney in 1898 as part of her legal defense team in seeking indemnity for the government's seizure of the Crown Lands. She filed a protest with the United States Senate on December 20, 1898, requesting their return and claiming the lands were seized without due process or recompense.
On April 30, 1900, the US Congress passed the Hawaiʻi Organic Act establishing a government for the Territory of Hawaii. The territorial government took control of the Crown Lands, which became the source of the "Ceded Lands" issue in Hawaiʻi. The San Francisco Call reported on May 31 that Macfarlane had informed them the Queen had exhausted her patience with Congress and intended to file a lawsuit against the government. Former United States Minister to Hawaii Edward M. McCook said he believed that once President McKinley began his second term on March 1, 1901, that the government would negotiate a generous settlement with Liliʻuokalani.
During a 1900 Congressional deadlock, she departed for Honolulu with her Washington, D.C., Doctor Charles H. English (sometimes referred to as John H. English). Newspapers speculated that the Queen, having been diagnosed with cancer, was going home to die. Historian Helena G. Allen made the case that English intended to gain title to crown lands for himself. According to Allen, the Queen balked at his draft of a settlement letter to Senator George Frisbie Hoar that he wanted her to copy in her handwriting and sign. A month after her return, the Doctor was terminated "without cause" and subsequently sued her.
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser lamented in 1903, "There is something pathetic in the appearance of Queen Liliuokalani as a waiting claimant before Congress." detailing her years-long residencies in the nation's capital seeking indemnity, while legislators offered empty promises, but nothing of substance.
In 1909, Liliʻuokalani brought an unsuccessful lawsuit against the United States under the Fifth Amendment seeking the return of the Hawaiian Crown Lands. The US courts invoked an 1864 Kingdom Supreme Court decision over a case involving the Dowager Queen Emma and Kamehameha V, using it against her. In this decision the courts found that the Crown Lands were not necessarily the private possession of the monarch in the strictest sense of the term.
The Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust was established on December 2, 1909, for the care of orphaned and destitute children in Hawaii. The entire proceeds of her estate were to be used for the trust, except twelve individual inheritances specified therein, effective upon her death. The largest of these hereditary estates were willed to her hānai sons and their heirs: John ʻAimoku Dominis would receive Washington Place while Joseph Kaiponohea ʻAeʻa would receive Kealohilani, her residence at Waikiki. Both men predeceased the Queen. The Queen Liliʻuokalani Children's Center exists today as part of her legacy.
Before and after her death, lawsuits were filed to overturn her will establishing the Trust. One notable litigant was Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, the nephew of her brother Kalākaua and his wife Kapiʻolani and her second cousin, who brought a suit against the Trust on November 30, 1915, questioning the Queen's competency in executing the will and attempting to break the Trust. These lawsuits were resolved in 1923 and the will went into probate.
Although she was never successful in her more than a decade of legal pursuits for recompense from the United States government for seized land, in 1911 she was finally granted a $1,250 a month lifetime pension by the Territory of Hawaii. Historian Sydney Lehua Iaukea noted that besides being a greatly reduced figure from what she had asked for recompense, it also never addressed the question of the legality of the seizure itself.
In April 1917, Liliʻuokalani raised the American flag at Washington Place in honor of five Hawaiian sailors who had perished in the sinking of the SS Aztec by German U-boats. Her act was interpreted by many as her symbolic support of the United States. Subsequent, historians like Neil Thomas Proto have disputed the true meaning of her act. Proto argued that "[h]er gesture that day was intended to reflect the dignity with which she still held the right of her people to choose their own fate long after she was gone".
By the end of that summer, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported that she was too frail to hold her birthday reception for the public, an annual tradition dating back to the days of the monarchy. As one of her last public appearances in September, she officially became a member of the American Red Cross. Following several months of deteriorating health that left her without the use of her lower limbs, as well as a diminished mental capacity rendering her incapable of recognizing her own house, her inner circle of friends and caregivers sat vigil for the last two weeks of her life knowing the end was near. In accordance with Hawaiian tradition, the royal kāhili fanned her as she lay in bed. On the morning of November 11, 1917, Liliʻuokalani died at the age of seventy-nine at her residence at Washington Place.
Her body lay in state at Kawaiahaʻo Church for public viewing, after which she received a state funeral in the throne room of Iolani Palace, on November 18, 1917. As her catafalque was moved from the palace up Nuuanu Avenue with 1200-foot ropes pulled by 200 people, for entombment with her family members in the Kalākaua Crypt at the Royal Mausoleum of Mauna ʻAla, composer Charles E. King led a youth choir in "Aloha ʻOe". The song was picked up by the procession participants and the crowds of people along the route. Films were taken of the funeral procession and later stored at ʻĀinahau, the former residence of her sister and niece. A fire on August 1, 1921, destroyed the home and all its contents, including the footage of the Queen's funeral.
Educated by American Protestant missionaries from a young age, Liliʻuokalani became a devout Christian and adherent to the principles of Christianity. These American missionaries were largely of Congregationalist and Presbyterian extractions, ascribing to Calvinist theology, and Liliʻuokalani considered herself a "regular attendant on the Presbyterian worship". She was the first member of the royal family to consistently and regularly attend service at Kawaiahaʻo Church since King Kamehameha IV converted to Anglicanism. On Sundays, she played the organ and led the choir at Kawaiahaʻo. She also regularly attended service at Kaumakapili Church and held a special interest in the Liliuokalani Protestant Church, to which she donated the Queen Liliuokalani Clock in 1892.
Historian Helena G. Allen noted that Liliʻuokalani and Kalākaua "believed all religions had their 'rights' and were entitled to equal treatment and opportunities". Throughout her life, Liliʻuokalani showed a broad interest in the different Christian faiths including Catholicism, Mormonism, Episcopalianism and other Protestant denominations. In 1896, Liliʻuokalani became a regular member of the Hawaiian Congregation at St. Andrew's Cathedral associated with the Reformed Catholic (Anglican/Episcopal) Church of Hawaii, which King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma had founded. During the overthrow and her imprisonment, Bishop Alfred Willis of St. Andrew's Cathedral had openly supported the Queen while Reverend Henry Parker of Kawaiahaʻo had supported her opponents. Bishop Willis visited and wrote to her during her imprisonment and sent her a copy of the Book of Common Prayer. Shortly after her release on parole, the former Queen was baptized and confirmed by Bishop Willis on May 18, 1896, in a private ceremony in the presences of the sisters of St. Andrew's Priory. In her memoir, Liliʻuokalani stated:
That first night of my imprisonment was the longest night I have ever passed in my life; it seemed as though the dawn of day would never come. I found in my bag a small Book of Common Prayer according to the ritual of the Episcopal Church. It was a great comfort to me, and before retiring to rest Mrs. Clark and I spent a few minutes in the devotions appropriate to the evening. Here, perhaps, I may say, that although I had been a regular attendant on the Presbyterian worship since my childhood, a constant contributor to all the missionary societies, and had helped to build their churches and ornament the walls, giving my time and my musical ability freely to make their meetings attractive to my people, yet none of these pious church members or clergymen remembered me in my prison. To this (Christian ?) conduct I contrast that of the Anglican bishop, Rt. Rev. Alfred Willis, who visited me from time to time in my house, and in whose church I have since been confirmed as a communicant. But he was not allowed to see me at the palace.
She traveled to Utah in 1901 for a visit with Mormon president Joseph F. Smith, himself a former missionary to the Hawaiian Island. There she joined in services at the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and was feted at a Beehive House reception, attended by many expatriate Native Hawaiians. In 1906, she was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elder Abraham Kaleimahoe Fernandez. However, her interest in Mormonism later waned.
The Queen was also remembered for her support of Buddhist and Shinto priests in Hawaiʻi and became one of the first Native Hawaiians to attend a Vesak Day (Buddha's Birthday) celebration of May 19, 1901, at the Honwangji mission. Her attendance in the celebration helped Buddhism and Shintoism gain acceptance into Hawaiʻian society and prevented the possible banning of the two religions by the Territorial government. Her presence was also widely reported in Chinese and Japanese newspapers throughout the world, and earned her the respect of many Japanese people both in Hawaiʻi and in Japan itself.
Liliʻuokalani and her siblings are regarded by the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame as the Na Lani 'Ehā (The Royal Four) for their patronage and enrichment of Hawaii's musical culture and history. Liliʻuokalani was an accomplished author and songwriter. Her book Hawaiʻi's Story by Hawaiʻi's Queen gave her view of the history of her country and her overthrow. Liliʻuokalani was known for her musical talent. She is said to have played guitar, piano, organ, ʻukulele and zither, and also sang alto, performing Hawaiian and English sacred and secular music. She would find herself in music. In her memoirs she wrote:
To compose was as natural to me as to breathe; and this gift of nature, never having been suffered to fall into disuse, remains a source of the greatest consolation to this day.[…] Hours of which it is not yet in place to speak, which I might have found long and lonely, passed quickly and cheerfully by, occupied and soothed by the expression of my thoughts in music.
Liliʻuokalani helped preserve key elements of Hawaii's traditional poetics while mixing in Western harmonies brought by the missionaries. A compilation of her works, titled The Queen's Songbook, was published in 1999 by the Liliʻuokalani Trust.
After Liliʻuokalani was imprisoned in the ʻIolani Palace, she was denied literature and newspapers, essentially cutting her off from her people. However, she was not forbidden from having a paper and pencil, so she could continue to compose music while she was in confinement. According to Liliʻuokalani, she "found, notwithstanding disadvantages, great consolation in composing".
Liliʻuokalani used her musical compositions as a way to express her feelings for her people, her country, and what was happening in the political realm in Hawaii. One example of the way her music reflected her political views is her translation of the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian creation chant. While under house arrest, Liliʻuokalani feared she would never leave the palace alive, so she translated the Kumulipo in hopes that the history and culture of her people would never be lost. The ancient chants record her family's genealogy back to the origin story of Hawaii.
Another of her compositions was Aloha ʻOe, a song she had written previously and transcribed during her confinement. In her writings, she says, "At first I had no instrument, and had to transcribe the notes by voice alone; but I found, notwithstanding disadvantages, great consolation in composing, and transcribed a number of songs. Three found their way from my prison to the city of Chicago, where they were printed, among them the 'Aloha Oe' or 'Farewell to Thee', which became a very popular song." Originally written as a lovers' good-bye, the song came to be regarded as a symbol of, and lament for, the loss of her country.
Kalākaua and Liliʻuokalani held formal titles in both English and Hawaiian. The official title of Queen Liliʻuokalani was Ma ka Lokomaikaʻi o ke Akua, Moʻi Wahine o ko Hawaiʻi Pae ʻAina which translates as; By the grace of God, Queen of the Hawaiian Islands.
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LiliuokalaniBorn: September 2, 1838 Died: November 11, 1917
|Queen of Hawaii
January 29, 1891 – January 17, 1893
|Head of State of Hawaii
January 29, 1891 – January 17, 1893
Title next held bySanford B. Dole
|Titles in pretence|
|Loss of title
||— TITULAR —
Queen of Hawaii
January 17, 1893 – November 11, 1917
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