History of Hawaii/Printable version

History of Hawaii

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Hawaiians by Manookian


We might just as well ask: How do people come to know who they are? -- Noenoe K. Silva, Aloha Betrayed

For a long time, so the story goes, indigenous Hawaiians—whom we will hereby refer to as the Kānaka Maoli—lived in a peaceful state of harmony with nature; possessing tribal independence and high living standards uninterrupted by the European colonial project. Then, in 1778, James Cook arrived, and—over the course of the next two-hundred years the culture and language of the Kānaka Maoli, through a succession of coups and regulative measures, was systematically repressed, leading to the eventual assimilation of Hawai'i into the American nation.

Yet, when one looks back over these two centuries of supposed cultural repression, it is observable that—rather than their being a lessening of discourses pertaining to the subject of Kānaka culture once Hawai’i entered the sphere of American influence—there was actually a veritable proliferation of such discourse. Missionaries, for example, authored the first texts on Hawai’in vocabulary, grammar, and diction between 1836 and 1865[1] while the establishment of the University of Hawai’i in 1862 helped spur an increased body of cultural research [2]. The impact of these developments was not restricted to white colonists: the unification of Hawai’i under King Kamehama in 1795, and the arrival of new technologies in Hawai’i brought by the haoles allowed for a broader transmission of pan-Hawai’in “factual” historical and cultural content than ever before, and in the nineteenth century the publication of newspapers, many of which contained anti-colonial content, flourished. [3][4]

We must be clear on this point, however: while the body of written knowledge that existed about Hawai’in culture flourished in the nineteenth century—a fact attributable to the embrace of positive control and governmentality in Europe prior to Cook’s arrival—much of it was nonetheless imbued with a set of assumptions. These were, roughly, as follows: that “culture” is chiefly understood through the techniques of academic study and the materialist conceptualization of history, much of it devoted to understanding the upper-class; that the Kānaka Maoli derive their identity from being an individuated ethnic/racial group, rather than from the concept of Aloha `aina (an idea that would have profound implications on the perception of Hawai’i’s mixed racial make-up); that the Hawai’in language should continue to exist out of a need for cultural preservation, rather than as the normal, day-to-day, basis for communication. In this sense, Hawai’in culture was not repressed: rather, it was created; or more precisely, rendered an object for the interpretation of the standpoint of European culture.[5]

For all its pretensions to cultural inclusiveness, the current post-colonial narrative that enshrouds Hawai’i does not differ fundamentally from those of the aforementioned nineteenth-century scholarship. In both cases, history and culture are understood as a linear, chronological succession of events (albeit more flexible than in the nineteenth century); European conquests and their consequences are treated with a high degree of triumphalist self-importance, the “indigenous peoples” of a given area are glorified in a way that barely conceals an importation of the “noble savage” ideal, “culture” is assumed to be a thing that exists within the parameters of its European understanding, etc. [6]

A good example of the difficulty posed to the historian in understanding the history of the Kānaka Maoli can be seen in Noenoe K. Silva's discussion in Aloha Betrayed of the role of women in Hawai’in history. "In nineteenth century Hawai'i, as elsewhere", the author writes, "women's public writings were small in volume relative to men's." Elsewhere, Silva remarks that the birth of academia in Hawai'i actively resulted in the trivialization of oral tradition. "The epistemology of the school system is firmly western in nature: what is written counts." [7]What is seen here is that the very institutional framework in which academia exists—that of the written and scholastically sanctioned—has great difficulty, by its very nature, in grappling with the essence of Hawai'in culture (in this case, the way in which women's roles were affected by the transition away from oral communication that coincided with the arrival of European settlers); a problem post-colonial scholarship has never fully negotiated. It could be said, as well, that the tone of many academic, post-colonial writings—that of uncritical admiration for indigenous peoples, mixed with a virulent resentment of colonialists, whose arrival becomes a sort of Creation-Fall by which history is assessed—reveals a deeply patronizing dimension, and in Hawai'in culture could easily result in the overlooking of exploitative parties who themselves identified as Kānaka Maoli (and much could be said of King Kamehama, in this respect).

The goal of the historian, then, in approaching Hawai’in history is not to unthinkingly embrace the post-colonial narrative—that of a culture of indigenous peoples that was repressed for the purposes of global capitalism, and that needs to be rehabilitated through acts of historically sensitive scholarship. Rather, it is to conduct an investigation of the underlying assumptions that shape the nature of our own research, and in doing so to attempt to find a way in which the notion of “culture” itself can be redefined to provide relatively unbiased insight into the past.


  1. Hawaiian language, "This is the 115-year period during which Hawaiian-language newspapers were published. Missionaries introduced newspaper publishing in Hawaiian and in English, and played a significant role in publishing a vocabulary (1836) grammar (1854) and dictionary (1865) of Hawaiian. Literacy in Hawaiian was widespread among the local population, especially ethnic Hawaiians."
  2. University of Hawaii, "The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, founded as a land grant college under the terms of the Morrill Act of 1862 for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts in the United States, is the flagship institution of the University of Hawaiʻi system."
  3. Hawaii Journalism History, "The missionaries, who ran the schools in the mid-1800s, introduced the idea of newspapers as a teaching tool. The first edition of Ka Lama, for example, was dominated by an essay on the habits and habitats of He Liona, the lion."
  4. Teaching With Documents: The 1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii, "Originally governed by individual chiefs or kings, the islands united under the rule of a single monarch, King Kamehameha, in 1795, less than two decades after Cook's arrival."
  5. Foucault's Critical Project, "Knowledge, thus, became the phenomenon to explain, and over time, Foucault came to believe the way to make sense of it rested in conducting a social (or more accurately, historical) epistemology of the western will to truth. The historical a priori came to have many names in his works--fundamental codes, epistemes, discourses, regimes of truth, games of truth--but Han leads us to recognize that, at its heart, Foucault's critical project was always conceived as an attempt to transform Kant's a priori into an empirically accessible and assessable phenomenon."
  6. Paradoxes of the other (post)colonial racism, racial difference, stereotype-as-fetish, "This paper draws on the work of Homi Bhabha to mount an explanation for a facet of(post)colonial racism, the 'paradox of otherness' as exemplified in the racial stereotype. The paradox in question operates at the levels of discourse and identification alike. As a mode of discourse the stereotype functions to exaggerate difference of the other, whilst nevertheless attempting to produce them as a stable, fully knowable object."
  7. Aloha Betrayed

Early Independence

First Settlers and SocietyEdit

Arago – 'Supplice Sandwich'

The earliest people to arrive and settle the Hawaiian islands were Polynesian seafarers who traveled from Tahiti. The Polynesian sailors were expert navigators and would have reached Hawaii in their voyaging canoes at a time when Western boats rarely left sight of land, demonstrating how advanced the society was at the time. A second large wave of migration from Tahiti took place approximately 700–1000 years later, although it is argued that by some that there was simply one long, steady migration spanning across this entire time period.

With these settlers came the Tahitian priests, including the high priest Pa’ao who brought new reform to the religious and social structures on the islands. This new form of religion brought a rigidity and new type of caste system to Hawaii, as well as developing the idea of kapu, or taboos, and the practice of human sacrifice (as seen in the artists rendition "Supplice Sandwich").

The caste system that was introduced was extremely strict, and although it was not unheard of for a person to move from one social class to another, it was very rare. The four class groupings on the island were the Ali’i, Kahuna, Maka’āinana, and the Kauā, and in each there class there were several subclasses. The Ali’i was the highest class in Hawaiian society and consisted of chiefs and sub-chiefs who ruled over the islands, and in common mythology the chiefs used a supernatural power known as ‘mana’ to rule their kingdoms. The next class was the Kahuna which consisted of advisors to the chief such as priests and generals, as well as professionals such as doctors and boat makers. The Maka’āinana were the common people of ancient Hawaii. They performed tasks such as farming, fishing, and hunting to feed not only their families but also their chiefs and Kahunas, much like the serfs of medieval Europe did for their lords. The final class, the Kauā, were the servitude class of Hawaii. This class was comprised mostly of law breakers who often served as servants of the Ali'i class as punishment for their crimes, as well as being used for human sacrifice.

The social system that held the Hawaiian peoples together from the time of the Tahitian migration until after the arrival of Europeans was known as the Kapu system. The laws of Kapu can be split into three basic categories based on their origins: ones derived from the basic tenets of the Kahuna religion, ones associated with maintaining the social caste system, and those used by chiefs and other officials to maintain order. The first group of laws included rules that forbade men and women from eating together and prevented women from eating certain types of foods, such as bananas for example. The second category included the rules that men and women had to follow when in the presence of members of a higher class than themselves. For example, lower class Hawaiians could not touch the shadow of an Ali’i, which would avoid them stealing his ‘mana’. The final group of rules were the political and legislative decisions made by the chief, which were the ancient Hawaiians laws. Any violations of Kapu, even accidental ones, were punishable by death. These social and religious dogmas preserved the Hawaiian culture for over 1500 years until the arrival of Europeans and are still spoken of today in classic mythology and Hawaiian legends.

Captain James Cook and Hawaiian Contact with the WestEdit

Captain James Cook

After Polynesians came to inhabit the island; the Marquesans and the Polynesians began to live a simplistic life, building temples and irrigation ponds and fishing. Yet, they still lived in isolation from the rest of the world for the next six hundred years until the arrival of Captain James Cook. A prominent British explorer, navigator and cartographer. James Cook was born in November 1728 in the small village of Marton-in-Clevland in the riding of Yorkshire. His parents were a conservative couple, whose only surviving children (besides James) were two daughters by the names of Margaret and Christina. As a child, James had a steady adherence to his “own plans and schemes”, which often attracted the reverence and respect of his companions. His first sight of the sea was in Staithes as a teenager, where he was instantly enamoured by it.

On June 17, 1755, James Cook volunteered for the Royal Navy at Wapping and by June 30, 1757 he became Master of the 24-gun frigate, The Solebay. This portrayed his ability to gain the respect amongst his peers. James made three voyages through the Pacific for the Royal Society of Britain between 1768 and 1779, and his trips to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, were only a few of his voyages. His third journey began on February 10, 1776 as the Master of the HMS Discovery. The official purpose of the journey was to find a profitable passage through the Northwest to the Pacific Ocean, but it would ultimately lead him to become the first documented Westerner to discover the islands of Hawaii.

On the morning of January 18, 1778, Captain James Cook documented seeing first the island of Oahu, followed by the island of Kauai, and was surprised to see Native canoes in a place he had first thought to have been uninhabited. He landed on Kauai in Waimea Bay, where he describes how he was first greeted with reverence by the native islanders. It is argued by scholars that the ceremony surrounding Cook's arrival was because his landing coincided with the festival of makahiki, an annual harvest festival. The god of the harvest, Lono, was who the Hawaiian priests identified Cook as. They treated him as such and went so far as to call him akua; which many have taken to mean 'god'. However, it has been brought to light that the term akua does not hold the same connotations as the English translation. Instead it refers to any being of nature, or one of immense power, which may be an invisible spirit or a living person.

The descriptions of the first encounters he and his crew made describe that the Hawaiians “differ but little” from the other indigenous populations in the South Sea Islands. They regarded the native Hawaiians’ customs, physique, and languages as similar to those of Tahiti, although their descriptions of their tattooing practices were poor in comparison to the complexity in design of the New Zealand, Tonga or Tahitians. Captain Cook's documentation of the first visit to Kauai does give a high appraisal to the Hawaiians clothing and general attire. He describes the local people's outfits as “elegant and pleasing beyond compare”, demonstrating that he did hold some respect for the natives that he had just encountered.

Cook's original visit to the Hawaiian Islands was brief albeit tumultuous, and on February 2, 1778 he departed north towards North America. During the visit, he took the time to briefly study the indigenous culture, as well as learning the original native names for the archipelago. Before his departure, James Cook officially named them the Sandwich Isles after the sponsor of his third voyage, the Earl of Sandwich. Cook's men however, did not share his penchant for geography and anthropology. The men often opted instead to harass locals much to the chagrin of the local chiefs, who encouraged their people not to retaliate. This would be short-lived, however, by the end of the trip Cook and his crewmen had discovered a local Hawai'ian stealing the iron boards along their ship and arrested him, angering many of the local warrior class. Cook took this opportunity to take a break from his scholarly/exploratory endeavors and engaged in what the British Empire did best, violent suppression of native dissent. Cook and his men brought more than wholesale slaughter, they also brought with them epidemics of disease, both traditional and venereal. Native population numbers, as cited in NoeNoe Silva's book Aloha Betrayed, dwindled to 135 000 by 1832, only 60 years from Cook's initial visitation.

Many believe that Cook was the first European to discover Hawaii or the “Sandwich Islands” as Cook referred to them. However, writer NoeNoe Silva in her book Aloha: Betrayed gives detailed translated works of many indigenous people of the time, and her argument insists that Cook was not the first white man to travel to the islands. Still, it is a widely believed fact that Cook was the first European explorer to arrive in Hawaii.

Cook's given name to the islands was used up until the 19th century, and many of the European and Asian traders that made the voyage to the islands during this time took up permanent residence there. Hawaii was beginning to prosper, but relations with Cook and the indigenous peoples were beginning to sour. On January 24, King Kalaniopuu returned from a conquest in Maui to meet with Cook who was treated with divine honors. After receiving goods from Kalaniopuu to stock his ships Cook and his two vessels departed, only to return a few days later after being battered by heavy storms. However, the reception by the natives upon their return was not what Cook had expected.

It was here that Cook's men, and Cook himself, began a succession of violent episodes against the native Hawaiians. One such incident involved a chief and the theft of a boat off of Cook's ship. Cook wanted the boat returned to him and when it was not he ordered a blockade of the harbor. At first the natives did nothing, not wanting to engage the foreigners in battle. But, Cook decided to take a landing party onto the island and hold King Kalaniopuu hostage until such a time that his boat was returned. When he landed Cook was surrounded by a large crowd of natives who demanded he explain himself. Believing the chiefs and their people to be hostile Cook and his men began a confrontation that resulted in the killing of many natives and a handful of chiefs. Throughout this confrontation the Hawaiians did not believe that Cook could be killed as he was Lono. At one point in the fight however, Cook was wounded. Upon seeing this the natives realized that Cook was no akua. He was stabbed and killed at Kealakekua Bay, near Kona, and his remains were presented subsequently to Vancouver when he returned to the islands.

Other European explorers would not meet such a grisly fate. George Vancouver, a member of Cooks first expedition, returned to Hawaii after Cook and had a much more amicable relationship with local Hawai'ians. Vancouver's interactions with King Kamehameha were so cordial in fact, that Vancouver was able to convince him to place the Hawai'ian islands under the protection of the British Empire. Earlier foreign emissaries, such as Alexander Baranov, would be repulsed and exiled from the islands when making similar suggestions.

Ten years later after the death of Cook, the first Chinese sailors arrived in the Islands after jumping off of a trading vessel. Shortly after, sugar cane became a massive crop to be grown on the island and had many uses. Pineapple plants and coffee were both attempted to be grown on the island years later. Even after Cooks death, the British still remained interested in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1794, Captain Vancouver, an officer in the British Navy, put the islands under the protection of Great Britain. Vancouver himself was present on Cook's second and third voyages-the third being to the Hawaiian Islands.

King Kamehameha IEdit

King Kamehameha I Statue - Honolulu

Throughout the time period of the Tahitian and Polynesian migrations and the subsequent Western contact, the islands were not united together as one nation or as one population. It was not until 1810 when King Kamehameha united the islands together politically that the islands of Hawaii became a singular kingdom. In 1819, the great King Kamehameha died and Prince Liholiho ascends to the throne as Kamehameha II, until 1824.

Even once Hawaii had been unified, there were still issues to be resolved in order to establish a stable Monarchy. King Kamehameha unified the islands with the spear but once he was in control he showed he could wield the sceptre of administration just as well. His first task was to remove the system of district chiefs. He gave the chiefs detached land portions far apart in order to prevent any chieftain becoming more powerful than him in any area. At the same time he made sure the most ambitious and untrustful chiefs were in his court as often as possible in order to ensure there were no revolts. By doing this and centralizing the power of Hawaii under one authority, King Kamehameha had brought Hawaii to a period of peace after decades of war. With his new authority Kamehameha was able to bring order to the chaos of Hawaiian war by creating laws resembling many found in the Geneva Convention. For example, the ‘Law of the Splintered Paddle’ was created by Kamehameha during a raid on Puna when his foot became trapped in a crevice and a man bashed a paddle against his head till it broke. The new law provided protection to non-combatants during a battle. Through his reforms, it can be seen that Kamehameha strove to erase the savagery of war from Hawaii.

Growing up in Hawaii during the chieftain wars, Kamehameha experienced war and its brutality first hand. The experience drove him to establish a stable monarchy and to tirelessly work to remove the scars of war from Hawaii. With the removal of the old caste system, Kamehameha appointed governors to each island who in turn appointed government positions such as tax collectors. Never had such a system been seen on the islands of Hawaii before, and these reforms strengthened the power of both the Monarch and the nation. With a strong new government, King Kamehameha was able to improve infrastructure and promote order throughout his kingdom. With the goal to remove the ravages of war from Hawaii he constructed large terraces on mountains and dug irrigation ditches miles long to promote agriculture production. To the same end he hunted down and eliminated groups of thieves and bandits. He greatly improved the lives of his subjects, to the extent it was said to be like Saxon England under Alfred's reign and that “the old men and children could sleep unharmed on the highways”. Hawaii was on its way to becoming the paradise we call it today.

Under the new monarch Hawaii emerged from a motley group of islands to an international state. Trades with the outside world had given Kamehameha a valuable edge during his conquest. During his reign he fostered those connections by giving aid to any ship that came to port and in some cases stopping his own chiefs from attacking visitors. Soon Hawaii established trade routes with the bordering continents on both sides of the Pacific. Thus, King Kamehameha successfully established and maintained a monarchy throughout his life and created a strong nation out of the Hawaiian Islands.

Missionaries Sugar Immigration

Missionaries, Sugar and Immigration
In the Nineteenth Century

Sugar PlantationsEdit

Sugarcane has historically been an important source of income for Hawaii. The colonial powers brought imperialism with them to Hawaii, and with it, the production of sugar for exportation. This export in a short period of time became a central component of the Hawaiian economy, especially due to the exploitative nature in which the land and population were handled by imperial powers. These events were a major turning point in Hawaiian history.

In the early 19th century, sugarcane agriculture was very limited on the Hawaiian Islands. The first commercial sugar plantations were developed in the 1830s under the reign of Hawaiian King Kamehameha III. The plantations in Hawaii were unlike those that existed elsewhere in the world during that time, such as Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Haiti. The main difference was that Hawaiian plantation owners paid their laborers. Some plantation owners leased land from the King to harvest sugarcane, paying a flat rate each year. One such plantation, called the Koloa Plantation, was operated by three American businessmen who founded Ladd & Company. The Koloa Plantation was built on 980 acres of land leased from King Kamehameha III for 50 years at a rate of $300.00 annually. The plantation grew from only 25 staff in September of 1835 to 100 by March of 1838. Male Chinese workers were often recruited to work in the mill with the Hawaiian natives. Within a year of being established, the Koloa plantation contained twenty-five acres of cane under cultivation and many buildings including twenty houses for native workers, a house for the superintendent, a carpenter’s shop, a blacksmith’s shop, a mill dam, a sugar house, a boiling house and a sugar mill. Life on the Koloa Plantation involved labor for both male and female workers. Laborers were assigned to living quarters and allowed to take Fridays off to maintain their own food crops, and Saturdays for cooking and preparing meals. The workers on the plantation were paid in the form of coupons which could be redeemed at the plantation store. The plantation was managed by twenty-six year old William Hooper, from Boston, Massachusetts. Hooper instilled a strong free labor system and a capitalist system on the Islands by creating a wage-earning labor force, as well as a consumer class that was dependent on a market of sugar exports. Hooper is credited for helping set the pattern of good owner-worker relationships in Hawaii. His successful development and organization of the Koloa Plantation ensured that even after he departed the island in 1839, his legacy and institutions would remain and flourish. Hooper’s most important contribution was instigating the development of a corporate-dominated sugar economy in Hawaii.

During the early years of sugar production, commerce between Hawaii and the United States was relatively limited. However, the California gold rush of the 1840s would change that. The California gold rush had a significant impact on the Hawaiian economy because it increased settlement on the west coast of the United States, which led to rapid agricultural and plantation development in Hawaii. American miners began sending their soiled laundry to Hawaii because it was less expensive than getting it laundered in the States. Mining companies began importing Hawaiian food, clothing, and other supplies from over the Pacific rather than haul them across the American interior. With increased revenue to Hawaii came increased opportunity for sugar plantation owners to expand. While in 1859 the Hawaiian Islands’ annual sugar production was only about 1.8 million pounds, towards the end of the 1860s, sugar exports from Hawaii had increased ten-fold, with annual sugar exports of over 18 million pounds in 1868. Due to the increase of sugar production, this lead to a high demand for laborers to assist the farmers. “The sugar industry increased from 10 plantations in 1858 to 22 plantation operating in 1861, and sugar farmers continued to request additions to the labor force.”. This increase in sugar production corresponds almost perfectly with the California gold rush, which occurred during the years of 1848 -1855. By the end of the 19th century, Hawaii’s sugar exports would skyrocket to hundreds of millions of pounds of sugar each year.

As the California gold rush demonstrates, the success of the sugar industry in Hawaii was largely tied to events that occurred in America. The American Civil War which began in 1861 is an example of this relationship. The Civil War largely spurred the sugar industry in Hawaii because the Union significantly reduced importing products from the Southern States. Hawaii therefore gained new markets in the North, who sought sugar elsewhere. This demonstrates how the Hawaiian sugar industry was widely influenced by greater economic production in the United States.

As the century progressed, many plantation owners (some of whom were missionaries) had become very wealthy and powerful. Their influence on both the economy and religion of the island allowed them to manipulate the fledgling government. Sugar plantation owners dominated the capitalist system, and this allowed for significant influence in both public and private spheres of society. Firstly, the growth of the sugar industry was the major phenomenon to stimulate population growth in the form of immigrant workers, and with these people came their respective cultures. Secondly, the money brought into the island for sugar sales meant industrial development of the island, along with the many developments that come with wealth. It is therefore likely that the sugar industry had a significant impact on Hawaiian lifestyle and culture.

Another issue that resulted from the commercial production of sugar cane was the environmental impact it had on the island. Development of more efficient methods of cultivation allowed for greater yield per acre. Increase in production gave way to immense environmental degradation and deforestation. This altered both the resources and landscape of the island as a whole.

The plantations were harsh environments; however, they allowed natives to escape the traditional life on the islands, which consisted of hard labor for the Chiefs of the King, where failure to perform or complete work could sometimes result in death. People lived in “chronic fear” of the Chiefs on the islands and most people jumped at any opportunity to escape these norms and work on a plantation. The California Gold Rush, and the Great Mahele of 1848 where the traditional system of land ownership in Hawaii was destroyed, and the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States in 1875, were all factors in the growth of Hawaiian outside investment and economic growth. With increased investment came increased exports. Sugar production on the island increased from 30 tons during Hooper’s time in 1838 to 375 tons. By the turn of the 19th century, exports climbed all the way to 298,544 tons.

The rapid increases in sugar exports seen towards the end of the 19th century were also in part due to reciprocity agreements between Hawaii and the United States. In 1856, the King of Hawaii commissioned the Hon. E. H. Allen to act as the Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary in Washington to negotiate an agreement between the United States and Hawaii that would allow entry to ports free of duty. Although the proposed agreement was initially received favorably by the United States federal government, it was heavily opposed by senators from southern states such as Louisiana that also relied on sugar production as a source of income. As a result, the agreement was initially rejected.

Finally, in 1875, the United States and Hawaii were able to reach agreeable trading terms. The Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 allowed for the admission of a number of products in the United States free from duty. Products listed in the treaty as being free from duty included: Muscovado, brown and all other unrefined sugar, commonly known as “Sandwich Island Sugar,” syrups of sugarcane, and molasses. By the end of the 19th century, sugar had fully emerged as the dominant export in Hawaiian industry, and many of the richest Hawaiians were those involved with the sugar industry.


During the nineteenth century, Hawaii saw a high rate of immigration. At the time, many people were working on farms producing sugar cane, a driving force in the Hawaiian economy. The sugar cane and pineapple industries provided many pull factors to potential immigrants.

Hawaii then looked to Puerto Rico for laborers. Puerto Ricans came to Hawaii looking to find employment in the many sugar cane fields because of their previous experience in Puerto Rico. There were two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and completely destroyed their sugar cane plantations and left many without a job. This meant that a major producer of sugar cane was eliminated from the equation and now Hawaii was seen as a major producer. After many of the new immigrants work contracts had begun to expire, people began returning home or moving to mainland America to try and establish a life there. However, there were many who stayed behind and established communities including schools, churches and even building a stronger economy.

In order for the sugar industry to be commercially profitable, it was necessary to import foreign laborers. This is because the native population had been decimated by diseases which were introduced by Westerners to which the natives had no immunity. This shows that the elite class in Hawaii needed a working class group, so they allowed foreigners to migrate to Hawaii. Hawaii began accepting too many new immigrants and they were not necessarily paying these immigrants well in the sugar fields. Around 1864, King Kamehameha V thought that a Board of Immigration was needed to help control importation of foreign labor because the current process was very obsolete. During the 1900’s the demand for these two industries in Hawaii’s economy created a huge need for unskilled workers. According to an article called, Dual Chain Migration: Post 1965 Filipino Immigration to the United States, “The Hawaiian sugar planters deliberately recruited illiterate men who were either single or willing to leave their family behind, and by 1831, about 113 000 Filipinos mainly from the Ilocano provinces, had migrated to Hawaii.” This helps illustrate the large number of willing workers who had immigrated in order to make a living. The Board of Immigration in Hawaii failed to consider the needs of the immigrants that they were accepting from China specifically. Five hundred Chinese men were brought over to Hawaii to serve as additional workers. However, they did not bring over any women that lead complaints of prostitution and sexual perversion. The Board of Immigration later then was able to bring Chinese women to the islands in order for prostitution to be limited.

Japanese immigration to the Hawaiian islands began in 1868, but the systematic immigration of contract workers did not begin until 1884 when the Japanese government finally approved it. Prior to 1884 the Japanese government opposed sending their citizens to Hawaii because they did not want to be perceived as another “coolie storehouse”, or reserve of manual labor - like nations such as China. The Japanese Government also had a negative impression of Hawaii due to the behavior of American representatives in Hawaii through correspondence. Hawaiian Foreign Minister Robert Crichton Wyllie, who was a plantation owner in Hawaii himself and was therefore motivated by his own need for plantation workers, wrote to an American businessman in Japan, Mr. Eugene M. Van Reed. He arranged for contract workers from Japan to fill the many positions available at sugar plantations in Hawaii. This communication and the sugar industry on the islands are the main catalysts that began mass Japanese immigration. Van Reed’s correspondence resulted in 148 Japanese people arriving in Hawaii in 1868, which served to anger the Japanese government as Van Reed did not attain official permission from the Japanese government during treaty negotiations to begin immigration. The offense the Japanese government took to Van Reed's conduct halted Japanese immigration to Hawaii for the next seventeen years.

From 1778-1872, the overall population on the islands dropped from 300,000 to 50,000, due to a series of epidemics. It is estimated that over 46,000 Chinese were brought to Hawaii as laborers, mainly between 1876 – 1885 and 1890 – 1897. This shows the large contribution that the Chinese labor force had towards the Hawaiian economy. This mass immigration of the Chinese into Hawaii came to a close in the 1900`s. The annexation of Hawaii, meant that Hawaii became part of the continental United States of America and was therefore subject to the laws in the USA. This had vast implications to Chinese immigration in Hawaii. The Chinese Exclusion Act could now be enforced in Hawaii. This meant the legal end to large-scale Chinese immigration. The Chinese Exclusion Act stopped the supply of Chinese immigrants to Hawaii and forced plantations to seek workers from elsewhere. Since Hawaii could no longer rely on the Chinese to supply their labor force they had to encourage other cultures to immigrate. In early 1885, Japanese people again started coming to the islands in large numbers as contract workers, with many of them returning to Japan at the end of their three-year contracts. At first, they comprised a “low caste of Japanese gathered from the riff raff of the cities,” but as time passed the immigrants were said to have started coming from higher classes. In this year, two ships (one arriving on February 8th and the other on June 17th) brought over 900 Japanese to Hawaii, and immigration continued at a steady pace from then onwards. In fact, over 9000 Japanese contract workers and farmers came to the islands from 1885-86. The first Japanese immigrants in 1885 lived in unstable huts that they had to build themselves once they arrived.

The sugar industry and later the pineapple industry were and are Hawaii’s chief commodities and have substantially affected the state both politically and economically. In order for these two industries of cultivation to become commercially profitable they had to rely on cheap labor. Since the native population had been decimated by disease brought on by Westerners, plantation owners needed to import foreign workers. The Hawaiian native population went from 800,000 in 1778 to 40,000 in 1878, and the state became a hub for foreigners willing to relocate and work. Hawaii was the destination of the earliest and the largest Asian immigrations to America. It all began in the mid-19th century with many Asians flocking into the state to find work. The main ethnic groups were the Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Filipino. The plantation owners would only take on men, since women were deemed useless. Most Asian women were illiterate since education for a female child was deemed irrelevant and even jeopardized her chance for a good marriage. Through this immigration, Native Hawaiian’s became the minority in their own home. By the year 1884 Chinese laborers constituted about a quarter (22.6 percent) of the total population of Hawaii. Native Hawaiian's were being replaced by Asian workers willing to uproot their lives and work for next to nothing on these plantations. This immigration continued and allowed the sugar and pineapple industries to prosper until 1934 when the depression heightened racial animosity towards Asians. It was in this year that the Tyding-McDuffie Act restricted the entry of Filipinos into the United States to fifty persons a year. The act also changed the status of Filipinos from American nationals to alien immigrants. As years faded, so did the racial tension and tight immigration policies for Asians were loosened. If it were not for the immigration of Asians willing to work for almost nothing into Hawaii, the sugar and pineapple industries would not have been able to prosper and Hawaii would not be the prosperous and respected state that it is today.

By the 1896 census, Japanese people comprised a quarter of the population in the Hawaiian islands. By 1910, they encompassed 40% of the population.

As plantation owners sought outside labor many immigrants emerged to work in Hawaii. This immigration sparked by the sugar companies had an everlasting effect on Hawaiian culture, creating a multicultural society, along with the emergence of a new language – Hawaiian Pidgin. The language emerged as immigrants on plantation farms struggled to communicate with one another. In seeking a common language to communicate through, a hybrid primarily influenced from Hawaiian, English, Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese languages emerged. The language is often referred to as “Hawaii Creole”, or, “Hawaii Creole English”, due to its similar appearance to the English language. The language has historically been deemed a sub-standard of English, though many linguists argue the language stands separately. While English and Hawaiian are the two official languages of the legislature, Hawaiian Pidgin is still commonly heard in advertisements, neighborhood conversation and even sometimes in Hawaiian school systems. The language possesses its own specific spelling system, though it can be found spelled out in English. Hawaiian Pidgin also has a very unique intonation with word rhythms quite different than those found within the English language.


The industry was originally tightly controlled by “The Big Five”; five major corporations that started within the sugar industry. These five companies, started by missionary families, were Castle & Cook, Alexander & Baldwin, C. Brewer & Co., American Factors, and Theo H. Davies & Co. Dealing their workers very low wages, these companies were able to prosper. In the early-nineteenth century, Protestant missionaries from the United States arrived in Hawaii with the aim of Christianizing and “civilizing” its inhabitants, an idea related to that of manifest destiny. It was in 1810 that the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Ministers set a plan in motion to “[promote] the spread of the gospel in Heathen lands,” attracting a handful of American Protestant missionaries who began their journey from Boston to Hawaii in 1819. Upon their arrival, they were greeted by “children of nature,”--what they observed as Hawaiians, who in their eyes, were in need of Christ and a missionaries’ model of Western society. They were eager to evangelize the Sandwich Islands, believed to be “a dark and ruined land,” as many Protestants thought that the Second Coming of Christ was near. It was hoped that Hawaii could be transformed into a purely Protestant nation, ready for the Salvation of the Lord. While the missionaries failed to achieve the total victory of Protestantism they had envisioned at their onset, Hawaiian culture and legislation were profoundly Christianized under their influence, but not without having to overcome several obstacles.

Although the missionaries came to Hawaii with the intention of bringing Abrahamic faith to the Islanders, they were met with an opposition from merchants who had settled in Hawaii in the 1790s, and who desired an economic focus on Hawaii rather than a religious one. British merchants established trade by exchanging goods like guns, cloth, glass, and rum for Hawaiian sandalwood; they would then trade these goods to the Chinese for silk and furniture. At first, these merchants argued that allowing missionaries into Hawaii would have negative political and social consequences, and that they were “sent by the American government for political purposes.” However, sugar then quickly became a major industry fueled by emigrants brought to Hawaii by missionaries. This wave of emigrants helped power the missionaries’ cause for Christ by establishing a foundation of people to be “saved,” but it did not alleviate the negative opinions that were held by merchants towards missionaries and their work. The two different camps clashed so much, that by 1823, Reverend William Ellis called merchants, “the enemy” for their economic motivations hindered the latter’s religious cause. Since Hawaii’s population had faced a sharp decline and there weren’t enough people to work the sugarcane fields, Hakka emigrant workers were brought in with the help of the missionaries. One of the Reverends, Lias Bond, “operated a sugar plantation... in order to support his mission work.” There is a notable convergence of mission work and economic pursuit in Hawaii at this time, regardless of the tension between missionaries and merchants. The eager missionaries helped handfuls of refugees enter Hawaii safely, managing to show them their point of view, and successfully converting them to Christianity. On the other hand, the merchants and men of industry were benefiting from the mission work, supplied with plenty of workers--the fuel of Hawaii’s sugar crops. Although the established relationship between men of God and men of the empire was held in a negative light, the two continued to depend on each other for success in their respective pursuits.

The missionaries began their quest by targeting Hawaiian leaders in the hope that their conversion would influence the masses to follow. Little success was achieved with the King, Liholiho, who demonstrated relatively no interest in converting to Christianity. The missionaries were more successful with Hawaiian chiefs; more specifically, Kaahumanu and Kalanimoku. These chiefs, under the influence of the missionaries, would make significant cultural and legal changes in Hawaii. While missionaries agreed not to get involved in politics directly, they had no problem impacting politics and legislation indirectly by advising the chiefs and informing them about the laws and political institutions of Christian countries. These changes to culture and law in Hawaii had become visible by 1824 when the beginnings of a new moral law began to appear. Kaahumanu and Kalanimoku instructed Hawaiians not to work or travel on Sabbath and to attend school and church. On December 17th 1817, Hawaiian chiefs imposed new laws that prohibited murder, theft and adultery. In 1831, under the influence of the Protestant missionaries, the chiefs declared that Catholicism was extirpated in Hawaii and forced all Catholic missionaries to leave the island. Shortly after the extirpation of Catholics, the Protestant American missionary, Titus Coan, arrived in Honolulu. Coan demonstrated an amazing ability to convert large numbers of Hawaiians to Protestantism; his period of mass conversion was later deemed the “Great Awakening”. Between 1837 and 1840 approximately 100,000 Hawaiians entered the Protestant church as Protestantism had begun to reach the masses.

One major technique utilized by the missionaries to influence conversion was through literacy and also the establishment of print media. Teaching natives to read and write was an integral part of the “civilizing” process, working to increase Protestant conversion by the spread of Christian teachings, as well as colonial ideas such as capitalism rather than subsistence.

With the missionaries and other colonial settlers came the arrival of European disease that the island had never before been exposed to, such as syphilis and leprosy. Because the native peoples lacked the immunity to ward of these illnesses, their population was significantly depleted by epidemics such as the smallpox disease, which took thousands of lives in 1853. Illness weakened the native race, serving as another way in which missionaries and other settlers could assert dominance. Thus, a sense of biological superiority prevailed, creating a line of racial discourse and increasing the motivation for missionaries to civilize the native population.

The sense of accomplishment that the “Great Awakening” brought to Protestant American missionaries began to dissolve in 1839 with the arrival of the French Captain, C.P.T. Laplace. Laplace came with a list of demands that, if not met, would lead to war between France and Hawaii. The Hawaiian King, Kauikeaouli, met the demands of the Captain and ordered religious freedom for Catholics, a bond of $20,000 from the chiefs to guarantee compliance and a salute for the French flag. Before long the American Protestant missionaries were forced to compete against missionaries of Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, and Episcopalism.

In 1854, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions created the Hawaiian Evangelical Association to direct and control the Protestant mission in Hawaii, from within the island. In 1870, when the Hawaiian Evangelical Association celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the coming of the first group of missionaries, there were fifty-eight churches in the association, with a membership of 14,850 - approximately one-fourth of the whole population of the Kingdom. Clearly the Protestant missionaries had achieved great success in Hawaii, but they had ultimately failed to win the kind of absolute victory for Protestantism that they had been so sure of fifty years earlier.

One must not forget an important element of missionary work in the islands: women. In the early 19th century, women did not venture to Hawaii as missionaries themselves, but as the wives of missionaries. Men were highly encouraged to marry before they departed on a call. Missionary wives came from middle class New England lifestyles, where Protestantism reigned and there were clearly defined roles for all members of society.

Missionary wives were, “for the most part, energetic, intelligent, and well-educated women, daughters of farmers or small business men”. These women embodied “a passion to reform the habits, inform the minds, and modify the world views of those whose life-styles differed markedly from the model established by New England Protestantism.” The spirited involvement in the mission field of Hawaii is an example of women attempting to break through into the public sphere of life during the 19th century.

As the wife of a missionary, a woman’s focus revolved around the domestic sphere. In addition to bearing responsibility for the household concerns within their own homes, missionary wives were mainly involved in the lives of other women. These women from New England saw their Hawaiian counterparts as heathens in desperate need of salvation. Missionary wives saw it as their duty to reform Hawaiian women so that they were “genuinely pious, sexually pure, dutifully submissive and domestically oriented as housewives and mothers.” It was expected that Hawaiian women would then transfer these values onto their children.

This reformation of Hawaiian women took place in many forms, including but not limited to “bible-reading groups, church meetings, school examinations, Sunday school picnics and tea meetings, as well as formal classroom instruction.” The wives of missionaries completed all these tasks while they were accompanied by their own children, of whom they had many: “with fertile couples, first infants arrived as early as nine or ten months after marriage...second and subsequent births occurred at around two-yearly intervals.”

The division between the work male missionaries were doing, and the work female missionaries were undertaking was stark. Male missionaries were quite content with the separation of the sexes: “they were vociferous in criticizing women who stepped outside their appropriate sphere” 6. In 1834, these women created a ‘Maternal Association’ whereby “they could discuss together those issues affecting their lives that were ignored in the mens deliberations.” Stating that the work of missionary wives was different from that of their husbands’ in no way diminishes their belief in their work; these women “believed they had a strong call in their own right to teach the nations”. Both missionaries and their wives’ efforts had a significant influence on the Hawaiian people in the 19th century.

Colonialism and Hawaiian ResistanceEdit

Though remote and isolated, Hawaii was realized by many in the 19th century to be of rather strategic importance for both trade and naval operations. Russia, France, Britain and the United States of America all staked imperial claims on the islands throughout the 19th century, with the United States finally annexing Hawaii in 1898. The story of Hawaii throughout the 19th century is one of exploitation and mistreatment by nations with colonial aspirations on the islands, of immigration, of missionaries, and plantations. Though taken advantage of time and time again, the native Hawaiians were not passively colonized. Silvia Noenoe asserts that the European and American powers desired to exploit the land and subjugate its people, but the native Hawaiians resisted in a number of ways.

Foreigners established contact with the native Hawaiians in the 18th century. The first and most notable were the expeditions of Captain Cook, who discovered the Hawaiian islands in 1778. On his third expedition Cook was killed in a quarrel with the natives, who showed little fear of the Europeans and their superior weaponry. Resistance of colonizing punctuated 19th century Hawaii, though the mode of resistance was not homogenous. Silvia Noenoe emphasizes the variation of resistance throughout Hawaii, pointing out that the way in which people resisted in rural areas was vastly different from those living in more urban areas like Honolulu. Creating a nation in a form similar and recognizable to European and American governments was a strategy of resistance because it increased Hawaii’s chance of being recognized by a large power like France or England.

In the early 19th century Imperial Russia began to show a serious interest in the colonization of the islands, establishing three forts. Though a very brief and futile attempt, it was the first time in the island’s history that a government funded expedition had made serious efforts to settle in the islands. The French and British also made futile attempts to colonize Hawaii, but an agreement between the two countries recognized Hawaii as an independent sovereign nation.

The last and ultimately successful attempt at colonization was perpetrated by the United States in the later half of the 19th century. Through several trade agreements, the United States invested a great amount into the plantations and agriculture throughout Hawaii. Many Americans settled on the island, bringing Asian immigrants along with them as cheap laborers. Most of the islands’ inhabitants would not work for foreigners on Hawaiian ground. This labor boycott can also be seen as a form of economic resistance to colonialism exerted by Hawaii's native population. In 1893 the United States government funded an overthrow of Hawaii’s monarchy, ousting Queen Liliʻuokalani in January of that year. In his inaugural address, President Cleveland admitted that “substantial wrong has thus been done” and that the United States “should endeavor to repair the monarchy." Although many Americans were disturbed by such a blatant act of Manifest Destiny, no action was ever taken to restore Queen Lili’oukalani to her throne. The Hawaiians stood in opposition to Hawaii's annexation, as exhibited through the "1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii" which was presented to the U.S. congress and turned the tide of opinion against annexation. However, this success was short lived as the Spanish American War soon forced the United States to annex Hawaii for strategic purposes in 1898.

Hawaii's past is marked by foreign powers with colonial aspirations intervening in Hawaiian affairs. The Hawaiians had successfully established a constitutional monarchy, which was recognized as sovereign by both France and England, but not taken seriously among world powers. Though the islanders never staged a full-on rebellion to colonialism, the various strategies they employed to resist colonialism are a mark of their courage and ingenuity.

End of Independence

The End of the Kamehameha Line of KingsEdit

King Kamehameha V. Ruled: November 30, 1863 — December 11, 1872

On December 11, 1872, the last monarch styled as Kamehameha, Kamehameha V, passed away at the Iolani Palace in Honolulu. Unfortunately, Kamehameha died without naming a suitable successor to the throne. Since Kamehameha did not have an heir, his death brought on a constitutional issue. Because of the absence of a named heir, the constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii stated that the new monarch should be chosen from an election by the legislature, rather than being directly appointed. Lunalilo objected to a legislative vote alone and requested a special election of the popular vote. For the first time since the founding of the Kingdom, the Hawaiians were called upon to select their own ruler. Giving the people a choice in the selection of a ruler was a definite move towards a more democratic form of governance that Lunalilo supported.

Read more about the House of Kamehameha on Wikipedia.

The Election of King Lunalilo, 1873-1874Edit

King William Charles Lunalilo. Ruled: January 8, 1873–February 3, 1874.

The two candidates who emerged from the line of succession were William Charles Lunalilo and David Kalākaua. Lunalilo, who was a cousin of the previous king and the son of a former queen consort of Kamehameha I and therefore the closest possible link to the Kamehameha line, promised a democratic and even liberal administration based on the rule and will of the people. During his campaign, he promoted his desire to support American interests, as opposed to English interests, which was popular in parts of Hawaii. He wanted to create a more liberal constitution, in contrast to his opponent, Kalākaua, who appealed to Hawaiian patriotism through the restoration of the Native Hawaiian culture.

Ultimately, Lunalilo secured the popular vote as affirmed by the legislature and became the first elected monarch of the kingdom of Hawaii on January 8, 1873, just shy of the one month anniversary of Kamehameha V's death. During his one-year reign, King Lunalilo left most decisions to his ministers. King Lunalilo, like King Kamehameha V, refused to name a successor because he preferred the selection of the leader to be made democratically. Lunalilo, who had been quite ill throughout his reign, died of tuberculosis on February 3, 1874 most likely complicated by heavy drinking.

The Election and Reign of David Kalākaua 1874-1891Edit

King David Kalākaua. Ruled: February 12, 1874 — January 20, 1891.

David Kalākaua, who was the seventh King of Hawaii, reigned from the year 1874 until 1891. He had previously stood for election as monarch, but was defeated by the future King Lunalilo.

After the death of Lunalilo, Kalākaua once again arose as a candidate for King, this time opposed by Queen Emma, the wife of King Kamehameha IV. Queen Emma claimed she was to inherit the throne from Lunalilo because he had promised it to her. She wrote several letters to her cousin mentioning Lunalilo’s wishes to make her the heir. However, since he never legally made the pronouncement, her claim proved invalid. Queen Emma urged her followers, the “Queenites” to stir up competitive propaganda against Kalākaua, and chant outside the Legislature on Election Day.

On the day of the election, the Legislative Assembly announced the votes were thirty-nine for Kalākaua and six for Queen [[w:Emma of Hawaii|Emma]. Once the results were announced the Queenite mob broke into the courthouse in an uproar and attacked members of the Assembly who did not vote for the Queen. They ransacked the building and vandalized the offices of both the Attorney General and Judge Hartwell. Kalākaua, some Ministers, and the Governor of Oahu requested that the American Minister Peirce land an armed force to help put down this riot. Within minutes, 150 marines and 70 men from the H.B.M Tenedos were ashore and scared the rioters away with their force and numbers. The men marched towards the Legislative Assembly and once they were spotted the Queenites “ran like rats”.Kalākaua asked Emma to tell her people to stand down and to support him as the leader. She did so promptly.

After the riots subsided, Kalākaua toured the country in an effort to gain popularity among the people by throwing parties and selling his happy demeanor to the public.

The Reciprocity TreatyEdit

King Kalākaua of Hawaii meets President Ulysses S. Grant at the White House in the first state visit for a ruling monarch to the USA in December 1874.
King Kalākaua and members of the Reciprocity Commission: John Owen Dominis, Governor of Oahu; Henry A. Peirce, the presiding U.S. Commissioner to Hawaii; Kalākaua; E. M. Mayor, the king's private secretary, and John M. Kapena, Governor of Maui.

Under pressure from his cabinet Kalākaua travelled to Washington D.C. to meet with President Ulysses S. Grant about a possible reciprocity agreement. King Kalākaua’s willingness to go to the United States to negotiate a treaty surprised many people in Hawaii because he had built his entire campaign on the eviction of foreigners and making Hawaii self-sustaining. His sudden change of policy once elected may have been due to a majority of people, mainly businessmen and farmers, wanting a treaty with the United States. The bulk of the revenue-producing sugar plantations were now owned by wealthy, western businessmen following the disintegration of the feudal system while the descendants of the earliest American missionaries now held prominent positions within the constitutional monarchy of Hawaii Kalākaua's advisers accelerated the sudden change in beliefs as they were very influential on his decisions and policy making.

In 1875, Kalākauamet with U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant to draft a treaty and reaffirm Hawaii’s independence. The Reciprocity Treaty was signed and ratified by both parties. It involved the ceding of land, including Pearl Harbor, to the United States free of cost in exchange for duty free Hawaiian sugar and rice exports and an acknowledgement of Hawaiian sovereignty. The United States agreed to the treaty in part because they feared that if they did not, England or France would strike a similar deal with Hawaii, stripping the United States of its advantage in Hawaiian trade. While the pro-English citizens were unhappy with the treaty the vast majority of Hawaiians, especially farmers and businessmen, profited from the treaty. In spite of this, large scale protests did occur which temporarily halted negotiations.

Read more about The Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 on Wikipedia.

Japanese and Chinese ImmigrationEdit

Chinese immigrant family living in Honolulu in 1893.

The Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 enormously accelerated the growth of the sugar industry. During the next few years, the economy of the kingdom became largely dependent on the sugar industry, and in turn, became almost totally dependent on the American market. Another effect of the treaty was the increase in the importation of cheap laborers, especially Chinese and Japanese, to work on plantations. The arrival of Japanese labourers in 1885 was a significant contributing factor leading to the coup d’état against the Queen of Hawaii years later. By 1884, Chinese immigrant population in the Kingdom of Hawaii had reached 22% and a law was introduced that limited further Chinese immigration. The Japanese labourers, meanwhile, arrived in large numbers and composed a very large ethnic minority labour force which came to make up over 40% of Hawaii’s population. Though Japanese migrants composed a pool of inexpensive labour, they proved quick to assert their expectations about labour conditions and frequently went on strike. This was of immense concern to plantation owners, their contacts in the American government, and for American foreign policy as Japan, under the Meiji restoration, was developing rapidly and promoting expansionist policies. Rumours circulated that the Japanese labourers in Hawaii were actually an underground military force with the capacity to gain control over the islands. These factors, no doubt contributed to American intervention in Hawaiian affairs.

Read more about Chinese immigration to Hawaii on Wikipedia.

The Aki Opium ScandalEdit

Confiscated opium pipes in Hawaii are piled up and readied for burning in this photo circa 1920.

Opium arrived in Hawaii along with the first Chinese laborers and its traffic was soon controlled by the government. The Hawaiian government was always in need of revenue and aspired to regulate and profit from the opium trade. They began to issue costly licenses in 1860, hoping to benefit from bidding wars between rival Hui. This was followed by a period in which opium was made illegal, but smuggling and corruption were rampant. In 1886, despite vigorous protests emerging from all reaches of the Kingdom, it was deemed legal upon reception of a license to use and purchase opium. The license was issued on a four year contract and would cost upwards of $30,000 annually. Inevitably, the situation became too volatile to be contained and in early June of 1887 a scandal broke. During the fall of 1886, one of the king’s followers, Junius Kaae, had suggested to a Chinese rice planter named Tong Kee, or Aki, that a “present” of $75,000 given to the king would guarantee him a license. The situation translated to scandal, however, when a second Chinese syndicate offered $5,000 more to the King, without first securing the license in hand. When Aki was denied his license, as well as the reimbursement of his "present", he revealed the situation to major Honolulu newspapers. The following October, the cabinet also learned that the king had accumulated private debts of nearly $250,000 and he was forced to assign his estates and crown land revenues to a board of trustees empowered to settle the claims. The accumulation and subsequent exposure of illegitimate activity in the Monarchy escalated the mobilization of Kalākaua’s enemies to secretly plot his imminent collapse.

The HaoleEdit

Asa Thurston (1787–1868) and Lucy Goodale Thurston (1795–1876)Some of the first Missionaries in Hawaii, Grandparents of Lorrin A. Thurston (1857–1931), Contributor to the Bayonet Constitution

The driving force behind Hawaiian Annexation was the Haole. Haole is a Hawaiian term used to describe white Americans or foreigners that reside in Hawaii. The Haole were descendants of missionaries who had traveled to and began living in Hawaii to help bring enlightenment and civilization by converting the native Hawaiian population to Christianity. The Haole were made up of grandsons and sons of missionaries, as well as sugar cane plantation owners and businessmen who saw the current Hawaiian government as a regression to a savage culture and thought it was a foolish comic apparatus without their control or leadership. The Haole were the main group behind the series of political events that would lead to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and Hawaii's annexation into the United States.

The Haole had three reasons for why they were in favour of making Hawaii another American state. The first reason was that the U.S. and Europe had been establishing sugar plantations on the islands and wanted a Reciprocity Treaty so they could sell their sugar to the large U.S. market, duty free. The second reason is that the Haole were the sons and grandsons of missionaries and had a sense of superiority over the native Hawaiian population since birth because they were white Americans. The third and final reason was the fact that the Haole did not respect the current government and leadership that controlled Hawaii and saw monarchy as a savage culture that was foolish, comic and regressive. Overall, the desire for annexation stemmed from business, racism, and imperialism which were three traits that most white Americans living in Hawaii at the time promoted.

The Haole of Hawaii were able to use political events to overthrow the monarchy and cause the annexation of Hawaii. The first example of Haole involvement in Hawaiian politics was during the nineteenth century when many descendants of the missionaries began gaining key positions in the government and advising the Hawaiians on Western politics and economy. The appointment of the controversial Walter M. Gibson as Prime Minister in 1886, after years of service ranging from: Attorney General, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Interior and Secretary of War further exhibits the Haole's leverage over Hawaiian policies. Gibson was an American adventurer who originally came to the islands in the 1861 and founded a colony among Mormans, which is widely considered a form of Christianity. He was excommunicated, however, after a church investigation regarding accusations of preaching false doctrine, maladministration of the colony and embezzlement of church funds. Following his dismissal, Gibson then set his sights on the political realm and started a major Honolulu newspaper in 1873 called the Nuhou while also purchasing the Pacific Commercial Advertiser (now The Honolulu Advertiser) in 1880. His newspaper publishings astutely alligned himself with Kalākaua by panegyrizing the perspectives of the King's party, he gained trust and support from not only the King, but the Hawaiian population and he eventually secured a seat in the House of Representatives. John Edward Bush, who was Minister of the Interior at the time and descendant of Caucasian and Hawaiian ancestors, arranged for a government loan, and a guarantee of all government printing contracts. Gibson's media and political ventures were funded by Claus Spreckles, a foreigner and industrialist who dominated the sugar trade on the west coast of Hawaii during the 19th century. Spreckles had coincidentally granted several personal loans to Kalākaua and with Gibson and other Western immigrants holding prominent positions within the government, the cabinet approved giving Spreckles a large tract of land on Maui to settle his claim on crown lands. During the reign of Kalākaua it was perceived these men had a strong royalist slant seemingly in full support of the monarchy, much to the ire of American plantation owners and politicians in favour of annexation. Upon investigation, however, the roles these men played in the ultimate annexation of Hawaii are undeniable. Gibson's undying loyalty to the King created a bond between the two men, giving Gibson and essentially Spreckles, influence over the King's decisions. Gibson advised on a series of rash political moves by Kalākaua, including the introduction of race-based politics and the idea of a Pacific Empire with aspirations of forming alliances with Polynesian groups in the Pacific. Bush was effectively dismissed of his role in government by Gibson, following accusations of "irregularities" in the process of awarding public works contracts, contracts mostly benefiting foreign interests. Spreckles was famed in Hawaii for producing a media publication strongly in support of the King and his administration, but following a decline in revenue he was forced to sell his newspaper. Spreckles sold his media outlet the Hawaiian Gazzete Company, who in turn sold it to Lorrin A. Thurston, widely known as a key player in the organization of the Hawaiian League, who were instrumental in the eventual overthrow of the monarchy. Following Kalākaua's reign over Hawaii, it is interesting to note that celebrated royal supporter, Bush, suddenly lost his confidence in the Monarch and throne successor Queen Liliuokalani. He published periodicals in Hawaii and is quoted as saying "the base of the throne is decayed, and no severe shock will be awaited to topple it over." Instances like this, fuel a fire of suspicion regarding the ultimate motives of these influential, foreign businessmen.

This was the beginning of the Haole’s role in Hawaiian politics and would lead to the Bayonet Constitution. Once the Haole were established in the government they decided they needed to take control and did this by forcing the Bayonet Constitution upon King Kalākaua with the support of the U.S. government and U.S. troops. The Bayonet Constitution created an oligarchy of Haole planters and businessmen and destroyed the executive powers of the king and gave them to the cabinet. In practice, this meant that wealthy white foreigners could vote while working class Maka’ainana and Asian immigrants could not. These political events and actions would quickly be protested by Hawaiians in two ways. The first means of protest was the formation of the first Kanaka Maoli political organization and the second way was the 1897 anti-annexation petition containing over twenty one thousand names. These protests would be unsuccessful and the Haole would succeed in gaining annexation of Hawaii by the United States.

Read more about the Haole on Wikipedia.

The "Bayonet" ConstitutionEdit

Lorrin A. Thurston, A contributor to the Bayonet Constitution, 1887

In 1887, amid accusations of scandal and corruption in the monarchy and after gaining considerable control over the armed forces, a group of cabinet officials and advisers to King Kalākaua, many of whom composed Hawaii's plantation owning elite formed the Hawaiian League. Backed by armed militia, and an organization named the Honolulu Rifles, the Hawaiian League forced Kalākauato sign what is known as the “Bayonet Constitution”, under which the monarchy was stripped of much of its authority, including royal control over land ownership, and income and property requirements were introduced for voting. It was dubbed the "Bayonet Constitution", in light of the armed force used to bring the agreement into existence. The 1887 constitution assured the white oligarchy of larger political control that secured their economic investments in the islands. The radical change in the monarchy's powers and the voting population set a grounds for American annexation that would ultimately lead to the end of Hawaiian independence.

The implications of the treaty towards voting rights were also significant. The Constitution removed the voting rights of many immigrant farmers who were allowed to vote previously, and set literacy and economic standards for voting. In addition, it granted voting rights to foreign immigrants who were not Hawaiian citizens, many of whom would favour annexation to reduce taxes on their farming exports. Only males of native Hawaiian, American, or European ancestry were allowed to vote; if they had enough money and educational background. The Hawaiian BAR association claims that two thirds of Hawaii's original voting population was no longer able to vote. Since much of Hawaii's economy relied on agriculture, many Hawaiian farming families were stripped of a right to vote. The Bayonet Constitution destroyed the monarchy which Hawaii had build and distributed the King’s executive powers to a cabinet. In a meeting on June 30th of that year, the King was given a list of demands which included who he may choose for the cabinet and that he may not interfere with new legislation's or legislators. Lands that belonged to Hawaiians were gradually stripped away after this new constitution was passed. These provisions of the Bayonet Constitution enraged the native Hawaiian population, and many petitions were signed protesting annexation. These were to no prevail when sent to Doles new provisional government, which was soon to come.

The loss of royal control over Hawaiian lands was both significant and symbolic, as this has historically been the traditional source of the Hawaiian monarchy’s political power. The "Bayonet Constitution" did not pass without resistance, objectors disagreeing with the illegal and revolutionary means of obtaining this constitution claimed another one could be secured just as easily through extortion. The sponsors of the constitution recognized the irregular means in which it was attained, but justify it on the score of necessity and need for a better form of government.

In 1889, 70-80 men under Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox on July 30th stormed the palace grounds with the intention of undoing the constitution. Wilcox's revolt was quelled with the assistance of one hundred soldiers from the U.S.S. Adams. The response to the Bayonet Constitution was negative and led to the construction of the Hui Kalai aina, a political group made up of only Hawaiians . The group grew and created a political platform, which opposed the new constitution and wished to preserve the monarchy. In July, a rifle association led by Robert Wilcox assembled at the palace grounds that resulted in a shoot out with the government troops. This act caused armed soldiers of the U.S. to guard the streets . With the presence of U.S. troops and U.S. government officials growing, the culture of Hawaii was suppressed even more. The Americans who came to Hawaii held their identity and did not participate or contribute to the culture of the islands . There was an obvious divide in the Islands and tensions were high.

Read more about the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii on Wikipedia.

Political PartiesEdit

Sanford Ballard Dole (April 23, 1844 – June 9, 1926)

During this time period, Hawaii was very much divided amongst various political parties. The descendants of American missionaries and plantation owning elites, including post-coup leader Sanford Dole, created the Reform Party. The reform party supported assimilation into the United States, and favoured American economic interests. Americans living both in Hawaii and the United States saw Hawaii as a valuable military and economic resource. Hawaii would be a perfectly placed fueling post for possible conflict with Spain in the Pacific. In addition, the rich Hawaiian crops, mostly sugar, would be a massive economic benefit to the Americans. Furthermore, as a new world power, the Americans saw Hawaii as a way to expand their territorial influence. Americans living in Hawaii favoured these conditions of American annexation.

The Reform Party took control of the Hawaiian house in 1887 and made efforts to 'ready' the country for American annexation. The reform party was headed by the same people who were responsible for the 1887 Constitution months before the creation of the reform party-this indicates the party's intentions.

The Hawaiian National Reform Party was another political party that became more known after 1990. The National Reform Party was meant to oppose the reform or republican party, and arose from an alliance of the white working class and mostly native Hawaiians loyal to the queen and the monarchy. This party posed one of the biggest threats to the Bayonet Constitution by sweeping the 1890 legislative elections. The queen's new cabinet was made up fully of members of the Hawaiian National Reform Party. Other parties, such as the Liberal Party, desired a democratic republic with native Hawaiian self-rule, but chose to tolerate the monarchy in order to oppose the much more conservative Reform Party.

The Republic of Hawaii and the Annexation ClubEdit

Photographs of the Hawaiian League members also known as the Annexation Club. The goal of this group was to achieve annexation of Hawaiʻi to the United States.

After Kalākaua died in 1891, his sister Lili'uokalani became the next and final Hawaiian monarch to assume the throne. Lili'uokalani's government, the legislature, and crown in particular, were at a standstill because the Bayonet Constitution disallowed any action unless approved by the cabinet. At the same time, the constitution gave authority to the legislature to dismiss the cabinet at any time. Liliuokalani, determined to restore the authority of the monarchy and reverse suffrage requirements, drafted a constitution to that end. A group of European and American residents formed the Committee of Safety whose intent was to remove the Queen from power and join the United States. While the exact date of its founding is unknown, the Annexation Club was formed in January or February of 1892 in Honolulu, Hawaii by a small group of foreign residents who supported the annexation of Hawaii to the United States. The Club was founded by Lorrin A. Thurston and Henry E. Cooper in order to bring together foreigners who feared that Queen Lili'uokalani would attempt to subvert the “Bayonet” Constitution of 1887 and create a new absolutist one. Thurston himself was the primary author of the Bayonet Constitution and was a firm believer in both America’s destiny to rule over Hawaii and white superiority over the native Hawaiians. Originally a member of the Hawaiian League, whose goal was to achieve a constitutional representative government in Hawaii by any means necessary, Thurston later came to believe that annexation to the U.S., was the best course for Hawaii. It was believed that the split amongst the Hawaiian population along racial lines ruined the potential for a strong government and thus prevented capital investment in the Kingdom. Annexation was therefore the best way to ensure investment in Hawaii by providing a strong territorial government. The Club was small, never containing more than seventeen members, thirteen of whom constituted the Committee of Safety which would later plan and direct the overthrow of the monarchy. In the meantime, Thurston was sent by the Club to Washington D.C. to determine whether or not American politicians favoured annexation. In Washington, Thurston met with Secretary of the Navy, B.F Tracy, who indicated that President Benjamin Harrison was sympathetic to the Club’s position.

Back in Hawaii, the Club knew that they had two key difficulties to overcome if they were to succeed in getting Hawaii annexed. Firstly, they would need to gain the support of the native Hawaiians. Secondly, it was thought necessary to depose the monarchy. The Club decided to pursue the following course of action in order to achieve their goal; they would secure the appointment of a cabinet that was committed to annexation, educate the Natives in favour of annexation and finally, if successful, bring about annexation via the Hawaiian Legislature. The Club, however, was unsuccessful both at turning public opinion in favour of annexation and in having a pro-annexation cabinet appointed. All the while, Thurston was in communication with the U.S. government about creating an annexation treaty by which the Queen would peacefully relinquish her rights as sovereign in exchange for monetary compensation. These discussions, however, bore no fruit. Having also had no success in installing a cabinet that would introduce annexation legislation, the Annexation Club would have to resort to the use of force to overthrow the monarchy and achieve annexation. Led by the U.S. Minister to Hawaii, John L. Stevens, three hundred American Marines arrived on the Steamship Boston on January 16th 1893 and were moved ashore in response to claims of an imminent threat to American welfare. Queen Lili'uokalani was overthrown in a bloodless coup, and a provisional government was established under Sanford B. Dole. Stevens officially recognized the Provisional Government and proclaimed Hawaii to be an American protectorate.

Read more about the Hawaiian League on Wikipedia.

President Cleveland and the Blount ReportEdit

James Henderson Blount

The Provisional Government had signed a treaty of annexation with President Benjamin Harrison, but the treaty had not passed through the senate by the time Grover Cleveland replaced Harrison as president. Cleveland withdrew the treaty and commissioned James Blount to investigate the events that occurred in Hawaii leading up to the creation of the Provisional Government. In his investigation Blount concluded that “The undoubted sentiment of the people is for the Queen, against the Provisional Government and against annexation”.

Blount subsequently “directed the removal of the flag of the United States from the government buildings and the return of the American troops to their vessels”. Blount also determined that the Queen should be returned to power. The Provisional Government however, refused to give up the power that they had. The President of the Provisional Government, [[w:Sanford B. Dole|Stanford Dole], refused to return the queen to power on the basis that the United States had no right to interfere in the affairs of Hawaii; therefore, they did not have to do what Blount and the American government had told them to do. The American Government agreed with Dole and did not force the Provisional Government to give up its power. The Provisional Government subsequently proclaimed Hawaii a republic, which was recognized by the United States, in 1894.

The Native Reaction to the Provisional GovernmentEdit

The actions of the Provisional Government in overthrowing of Queen Lili’uokalani and creating the Republic of Hawaii were against the will of the natives of Hawaii. As a response to the Provisional Government, Native Hawaiians staged massive protests and formed two groups to protest the actions of the Provisional Government and to prevent annexation by the United States. The Groups, whose names roughly translate to Hawaiian Patriotic League, were the Hui Hawaii Aloha Aina (for men), and the Hui Hawaii Aloha Aina o Na Wahine (for women) 1. In 1895, these protest groups turned violent and made an armed attempt to take power from the progressing movement for annexation. The revolt was suppressed by the Hawaiian Republics forces. The leaders of the revolt and Queen Lili’uokalani were imprisoned as a result.

The End of Hawaiian IndependenceEdit

The Honolulu Rifles (1854—1893) in full uniform.
On August 12, 1898, the flag of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi over ʻIolani Palace was lowered to raise the United States flag to signify annexation.

When the revolution finally took place on January 17th 1893, Queen Lili'uokalani did not want any bloodshed or loss of life, and she surrendered to the army, the Honolulu Rifles, then proceeded to disarm the royal army taking over buildings and proclaimed a provisional government. Once the provisional government was in control there was still debate on whether to keep the government in its current state or immediately annex to the United States. Since the Queen even though she had been overthrown had not officially abdicated her thrown the Hawaiian government was in a state of exile, it only took a week for Queen Lili'uokalani to formally abdicate her title in hopes to avoid further bloodshed. During the administration of U.S. President William McKinley, a treaty for the annexation of Hawaii initially failed in the Senate in 1898. However, the Newlands Resolution was passed on July 7, 1898, under which Hawaii was annexed and became the American Territory of Hawaii and lost much of their culture and identity.

To learn more about the End of Hawaiian Independence the documentary "Hawaii's Last Queen" focuses on Queen Lili'uokalani.

Territorial Years

American Military Interest and Expansion in HawaiiEdit

It was President McKinley who said the takeover of Hawaii would only be the result of Manifest Destiny. It was he that urged Congress to annex Hawaii for economic interest, but also for military interest. On the seventh of July 1898, Hawaii was officially annexed to the United States following the signing of the Newlands Resolution by the president. The process of Hawaii’s annexation was long and tedious, however, it was something that the American government knew needed to occur in order to keep its foothold in the Pacific. The United States wanted to use Hawaii as a platform from which they could have a dominant military presence in the Pacific. Hawaii was a militarily significant island throughout the Spanish-American War. Navy Admiral George Dewey was in need of reinforcements and supplies for his campaigns in the Philippines, which could only come from Hawaii and that could only occur if it was annexed. Hawaii became a key point for recoiling, and American naval activities when fighting enemy Spanish influences in the pacific islands of the Philippines. Due to technologies of the time, only two American naval vessels had the mechanical capabilities of making the lengthy trip from California to Manila without taking on more coal which was required to power their steam engines. The islands were seen as the perfect location for a military base as it was quite centralized in the Pacific Ocean, an asset which would certainly give an advantage to the island's owners because it was an ideal place from which they could launch an imperial power into Asia. From 1898 until the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Hawaii’s annexation to the United States played a pivotal role in not only creating military stability and comfort in the Pacific, but also allowing the islands to thrive economically through their plantation exports. These plantation exports also drove the United States to further protect the island from other colonial powers, because they knew how valuable the island was economically. For both the military and economic reasons, the United States felt it was necessary to start developing permanent military facilities on the island. These two separate American interests ushered in a wave of military construction on the Islands of Hawaii.

On December 7th, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese, forcing the US to participate in the Second World War.

This idea of having a strong military presence on the islands was pushed further under the Theodore Roosevelt administration. Roosevelt was a big believer of having a strong navy, and having a forceful military existence outside of the US mainland. He believed this would serve great strategic importance in wartime, and was very keen on using Hawaii as one of these military footholds. He saw Hawaii as a very vital location in the Pacific in terms of American interests. Roosevelt, along with Alfred Mahan, a friend and naval officer who shared the same ideology , started to construct naval and infantry bases on the Islands. The first installation to go up on the islands was Fort Shafter which was constructed for the Army in 1907. Schofield Barracks was the next base built-in 1908, followed by Fort Ruger built-in 1909 on the island of O’ahu. Fort DeRussy and Fort Armstrong were also constructed within the first decade of the century. Pearl Harbour was also expanded to accommodate the navy, and the Wheeler Airfield was build to house the American Air force. The pace at which these bases were constructed showed how important the protection of the islands was to the U.S. The construction of these facilities showed how devoted the U.S. was to investing the funds to house all branches of the military. These first few bases would only be the start of the U.S.’s military existence on the islands. Over the next few decades the Bellows Airfield would be constructed. Soon after, Hawaii would witness the creation of Hickam Air station, and the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, in Kaneohe Bay. After their creation in the early 1900’s, these military installations would turn the islands of Hawaii from an almost entirely plantation island, to a strategic military strong point in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It was this military necessity which began the transformation of the quiet island of Hawaii into the militarily driven island which it became. Pearl Harbor is the most famous of the eleven bases, as it was here that Japan attacked and killed 2,402 innocent American Marines and soldiers, an event that forced the U.S.A. to join the Allies in World War Two.

Plantations in Hawaii (1898–1939)Edit

Workers at a Hawaiian Sugar Plantation in the 1910s.

The plantation system that began in Hawaii around 1835 was extremely perilous for those laboring in the fields and profitable for the plantation owners due to a reciprocity treaty signed by both the Hawaiian and United States' governments which removed taxation from any trade with the Hawaiian Islands. The industry focused mainly on the production and exportation of sugar cane that created a major social and cultural change in the islands as a result of the plantation owners' need for labor. As the native Hawaiian population was extremely diminished due to the spread of diseases brought by arrivals to the islands, there was simply not enough labor available to work the plantations, which took up about 75 percent of the island's land. As Hawaii was now a part of the United States, the native farmers no longer had to pay tariffs. [WHOA, hold your horses. Readers: This person suddenly jumps from 1835 to 1898 without even mentioning anything about the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 (a.k.a The Reciprocity Treaty of 1876) between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Hawaii, its renewal with King Kalakaua in 1887, the opportunistic McKinley Tariff of 1890 that unfairly devastated Hawaii's entire economy, nor even mentioning the many other events, including the subsequent overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, the establishment of a Provisional Government just following the overthrow, the formation of the oligarchic, undemocratic, and disfranchising Republic of Hawaii in 1894 that anticipated U.S. annexation, the annexation itself in 1898 with passage of the Newlands Resolution in Congress (when Hawaii becomes "a part of the United States"), and then, finally, Hawaii becoming a U.S. territory with enactment of the Organic Act in April, 1900. Hawaii becoming "a part of the United States" was not as instantaneous as the person who is conveying our Hawaiian history here is making it to be. Much gap-filling needs to be made here.] This gave them extra funding to spend of production and development of their sugarcane fields. Having enough water to keep up with the demand of these plantations was critical, an issue which brought about much advancement in irrigation. USDA date shows that sugarcane and its production continued to grow throughout the twentieth century. In 1902, 200 000 tonnes of sugarcane was being produces, a number which had more than tripled by 1928, and continued to increase to over 1.2 million by its peak in the nineties. With all of this increased production, many more workers were needed. It is for this reason why the multiculturalism of Hawaii began to increase so heavily throughout this period.

Freshly cut sugar cane

Assisted by the Hawaiian government who very systematically began recruiting immigrants, the foreign businessmen who owned the Hawaiian plantations began bringing in Asian workers to provide labor in the fields; eventually, over 337 thousand people arrived from Korea, China, Japan, the Philippines and Puerto Rico [Readers: That this person never even mentioned Portugal indicates that they know nothing about Hawaii's history]. Though slavery had been long abolished at this point in history, the conditions that the workers faced in the sugarcane industry were similar to that which went on in the slave trade. These immigrants were known as indentured servants which centers around the idea of work being contracted over a period of years. The landowners also instituted a caste system in which social restriction was prevalent ; minorities facing social issues was nothing new in the United States was nothing new, and would continue for many more years as African-Americans were still facing segregation and other Asian minorities around the country were also discriminated against. The journey to the Hawaiian Islands was perilous as many died on the boat. Living conditions were extremely poor, and working in the fields was both harsh and dangerous, religious conversion was highly encouraged and the wages paid were particularly low. However, there were measures taken to protest; the Japanese workers went on strike in 1909 to protest the conditions they were under, though they were mostly unsuccessful. Another issue was the sense of unrest; until 1940 many immigrants believed they would only be in Hawaii temporarily, in the 1930’s, during the Depression, over 3500 Filipinos were sent back to the Philippines.

However, more and more people continued to move to Hawaii in search of work as they believed that this was an opportunity that would bring them freedom, and money to be able to support themselves and their families, and to build a better life for their loved ones. The impact that these new immigrants had on Hawaii was immense: there was no longer an ethnic majority in the islands as the new immigrant population from many different nations had overtaken the numbers of the native population , and the culture was obviously affected as well, as the influx of new citizens arrived, bringing with them different cultural ideas from their home countries. It was expected that the children of the workers would also begin to work at the same plantation as their parents as they became old enough. Many parents however, did not want this for their children and sent them to school to be educated. The owners of the plantations did not want to see the children of labourers educated beyond sixth or eighth grade, fearing that the more educated these children became, the less likely they would be to continue to work on the plantation when they became adults.

Island Protests and the Annexation of HawaiiEdit

The Hawaiian people had struggled to accept American control over the islands, and the years leading up to the 1898 Annexation of Hawaii was marked with wide spread protest from the Native islanders. [Readers: Annexation to the U.S. was not simply a Native Hawaiian versus white American issue; there were Native Hawaiians who supported annexation, as there were American and European whites who were against it. Many of Hawaii's royalists were also Europeans, and to a lesser extent, Americans.] Prior to the up rise of protest, the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 and later in 1887 would integrate the Hawaiian islands into the American economy and give the United States control over Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu. [Mention of the McKinley Tariff of 1890 and its devastating economic effects upon the people of the Kingdom of Hawaii is strongly suggested here.] 1896 was when the Hawaiian people signed a petition to oppose the annexation of Hawaii into the United States of America. The majority of the Natives living in Hawaii signed this petition. After being successful in preventing Annexation last until 1898 during the America-Spanish Civil war meant the use of the Hawaiian islands as a mid-Pacific stop for the American Navy and Military. [Actually, the U.S. already acquired Pearl River (Harbor) as a strategic coaling station and naval base with the renewal of its reciprocity treaty with the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1887, well before annexation took place in 1898.] The Hawaiian people were adamant in opposing the American endeavors but would fall short in their need for a staging area to fight the American-Spanish war in the Philippines. [???]

Anti-Annexation meeting at Hilo, 1897 shows the dissent among Native islanders over United States occupation of their home

As Annexation was forced upon the Hawaiian people there were little in common between the American business men and the Hawaiian people. Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii stated her case to the American Congress in a letter which she protested the United States ownership of the Hawaiian islands, and pointed out that they wish to annex these islands without compensation to the Hawaiian government for commandeering 1 million acres of the Hawaiian people. President Grover Cleveland was not originally for the annexation of Hawaii in 1893 when the overthrow happened. President Cleveland wanted to put Queen Liliuokalani back into her original position before she was removed by the overthrow. However, this never happened because of the continued interest of the United States Government in annexing Hawaii. Despite the unpopularity of Hawaii joining the United States, the American Military had other interest for Hawaii. Hawaii would become a strategic coaling station for the US Navy who would be involved in conflict in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Pearl Harbour would be used as an export and refueling station until its naval conversion in 1901.

The U.S continued to control the Hawaiian islands not only using the island a a strategic port for the navy, but would also replace the long standing monarchy which had been in existence before the island were discovered. After annexing the islands, President McKinley then appointed his own Governor of the territory. The Hawaiian Organic Act of 1900 was the final blow to Hawaiian chances for independence from the United States. The act transformed Hawaiian government into a centralized government, made in the form of all American states. The head of the government was appointed by the President of the United States. Sanford B. Dole was appointed as the first Governor of Hawaii on April 30th 1900. With Sanford B. Dole appointed Governor, the Hawaiian government then sought to achieve statehood only 3 years after becoming a territory of the United States. It has seemed to have been a changed of attitude in the relations of Hawaii and the United States. Although when it voting for Statehood, only American citizens living in Hawaii hold the right to vote when it come to accepting statehood. Which did not reflect what was going on 6 years ago with the Petition against Hawaii’s annexation to the United States of America.

Hawaii had become a Territory of the United States serving them in many areas from the Military strategic location to the fruit plantation which would later be known as the Dole Plantation. Hawaii had served the Unites States but would see little in return for the native Hawaiians who lived and thrived on the Island before Western contact.

The Hawaiian Organic ActEdit

The forced inclusion of Hawaii into the United States in 1898 was a part of a larger system adopted by the United States government known as the “doctrine of incorporation”, whereby all colonies of predominantly non-Caucasian descent were assigned into territories. Following the attempted overthrow of the Hawaiian government from January 6th to 9th, 1895, the United States government launched a full invasion of the Hawaiian Islands. A puppet government was then installed, which subsequently “ceded” the territory to the United States in 1898. The United States federal law then enacted in 1900 to give Hawaii its own government was known as the Hawaiian Organic Act.

Hawaii Territory Admission Day ceremonies held on June 14, 1900 when the Hawaiian Organic Act formally came into effect

The man who advocated for the annexation and territorial status of Hawaii in the mid 1890's was William McKinley, the future twenty-fifth president of the United States of America. As an important military commander in the Spanish-American war, he recognized the great value of a naval base in the Pacific Ocean. In his attempts to press the idea in Washington, he “pressured senators to approve annexation as the fulfillment of American manifest destiny, as a means to cement American presence in the Pacific, and as a vital support link for America's new claim on the Philippines ”. In addition to his desire for strategic naval and military bases in the Pacific Ocean, McKinley was worried that the growing Japanese population would “lead the islands into the hands of the increasingly active Japanese Empire ”. With these fears making their way around the White House, President McKinley signed the Act on April 30th, 1900, and it came into effect formally on June 14th.

The Act was divided into six articles: General Provisions, the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary, United States Officers and Miscellaneous. Perhaps the most important question, that of citizenship, was laid to rest in Article 1, section 4, which states that “all persons who were citizens of the Republic of Hawaii on August twelfth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States and citizens of the Territory of Hawaii .” In addition to citizenship, all rules of law and legislature were outlined in this document, ensuring that the new government instituted would maintain absolute power over their new constituents. With these six acts, and the mighty fist of the United States government, any chances for Hawaiian independence disappeared, and the typically combative ties binding the United States and Hawaii grew ever tighter.

Annexation of HawaiiEdit

Hawaii was officially annexed to the United States on the 7th of July 1898 when United States President William McKinley officially signed the Newlands Resolution. A formal ceremony was held on the steps of ‘Iolani Palace when the Hawaiian flag was lowered and the American flag raised in its place. The Newlands Resolution gave life to the idea that when Hawaii was annexed, all would become a part of the United States. The United States then gained access and possession of all ports, buildings, harbors, military equipment and public property that had formally belonged to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands.

Although Hawaii was annexed by the United States, it lacked a proper government structure of its own. The Organic Act was signed in 1900 by President McKinley, which established Hawaii as a territory of the United States. All citizens of the Republic of Hawaii then became American citizens of the Territory of Hawaii. Even though through annexation Hawaii was established as a territory of the United States, citizens were still not allowed to vote in U.S. presidential elections. After annexation, Hawaii created a territorial government under that of the American government which allowed an ‘Office of the Territorial Governor,’ who was appointed by the president of the United States and could be replaced at any time. The first governor of Hawaii was Sanford Ballard Dole (1844-1920). Dole was able to work his way through the Hawaiian government, as he then became President of the Provisional Government from 1893-1894, President of the Republic of Hawaii from 1885-1898, then finally the governor of the island until 1903. Dole played an interesting role in the history of the Hawaiian Islands as he was one of the original revolutionaries and took part in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.

Upon annexation the US took over all of Hawaii’s schools in attempt to assimilate everyone, starting with the young children. The use of the Hawaiian language in schools was officially banned in 1896. English was to be the only spoken language in Hawaiian schools so that eventually all Hawaiians would be speaking English. Many students who attended these schools were already American-born and therefore American citizens, their parents had just immigrated to Hawaii due to a a high demand for labourers for the sugar plantations. However, mainland Americans still could not see Hawaiian citizens as full Americans because of their different races and cultures.

Post annexation, Hawaii was seen to be the United States’ most essential and strategic military asset due to location. The United States government decided to seize the opportunity and establish several key military bases on the island, some of which are still in use today. In 1903, over 3 000 men arrived in Honolulu Harbor off of United States warships to take supplies necessary to the Islands. The U.S. military quickly established many working military bases on the island. In 1915, one of the four navy submarines based in the Islands exploded and sank to the bottom of the Honolulu Harbor killing the crew. It was the first submarine disaster ever to occur in American Naval History. In 1916 in Honolulu Harbor, the crews of seven different steam ships set fire to their vessels in order to prevent them from being used by the United States Military. The United States remained neutral in the affair until war was declared with Germany on April 6th 1917. The end of the First World War concluded on November 11th 1918. The barracks of Pearl Harbor served as home for the United States Marine Corps in 1923. The War Memorial Natatorium was built overlooking the waterfront as a memorial to the 179 men and women of the Hawaiian Islands that died serving as soldiers during the First World War.

Dole fruits and vegetables, which are so common in the grocery stores, was actually founded by James Drummond Dole in 1900 in Hawaii.

While Hawaii's use as a strategically located military base for the United States increased in the years following the annexation, so too did the economy of the islands, with the mainstay of Hawaii's economic output being agricultural. In the period between 1898 and 1939, commercial agriculture increased greatly in the Territory of Hawaii. Production of new crops increased dramatically, both for domestic use, but largely for export worldwide. Agriculture on a larger scale, such as began to develop in Hawaii was beneficial to the economic growth of the territory, both by providing employment for many, and by leading to some degree of industrialization. The growth in agriculture, and its results, can be observed by studying the growth in production of both pineapples and macadamia nuts in Hawaii.

The economic growth brought on by commercial agriculture in Hawaii can be clearly observed in the development of the pineapple industry. In 1897, the beginning of the period in question, 150 000 pecks of pineapples were exported, at a value of $14 000. James Drummond Dole, began growing pineapples in 1900, and formed the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1901. In the same year, the Hawaii Agriculture Research Station was founded. By 1905, Dole was producing 125 000 cases of pineapples, thereby illustrating the rapid growth in the industry. In the following years, more canneries were built, requiring rail links to Honolulu to be built. In this manner, the pineapple industry was clearly driving the industrialization of Hawaii to an extent, bringing with it an increase in jobs and economic output. New machinery was invented, such as the Ginaca machine used in the processing of pineapples. By 1930, eight pineapple canneries were producing nine million cases annually, a huge increase from the amount in 1897. With the growth in pineapple production, many jobs were created, in industries both indirectly and directly related to agriculture. Infrastructure necessary for producing, packaging, and transporting this commodity was established, aiding in the industrialization of Hawaii.

The growth of the macadamia nut industry followed a similar pattern, albeit occurring slightly later. In 1925, Ernest Van Tassel began to grow macadamia trees, being the first person in Hawaii to do so. By 1929, he had expanded his operation, planting upwards of 7000 macadamia trees. He then proceeded to open a nut processing facility in Kakaako. The successful grafting of macadamia trees with other trees in 1937 allowed for the future mass production of macadamia nuts in Hawaii. In similar fashion to the pineapple industry, macadamia nut production increased dramatically in the early 20th century, adding to Hawaii’s economy in many different aspects.

The development of agricultural production greatly led to economic growth for Hawaii. Expanding production levels led to more people being employed in the agriculture sector, growth in necessary infrastructure used in production and transport, and the formation of large companies based in Hawaii, some of which, like Dole, are recognizable today.

World War II and Statehood

World War II and Statehood: Cultural Diversity and TourismEdit

Development of Diversity in Hawaii - An IntroductionEdit

Hawaii’s main industry in the 19th century was sugar production, which required many labourers. Due to a labour shortage, people from Asia, Europe, and America immigrated to Hawaii to work on these sugar plantations. This was the beginning to the creation of a very ethnically diverse Hawaii. At this point in time the population of Hawaii consisted of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean immigrants that came to work on these plantations. The 20th century saw an increase in ethnicity around the islands during and after World War II. A large portion of the laborers that came to Hawaii in the later 19th century were Japanese, because of the relatively close proximity of the two lands. The second generation of these immigrants were very invested in their home; therefore they flocked to sign up to fight and defend it. The Japanese formed the vast majority of the island's population, numbering close to 160,000. Hawaii is a strong example of how people with different ethnic backgrounds can come together and work towards a common goal. All the immigrants came from different cultures but through hard work the generations to come had a particular attachment to the island, demonstrating how these people with various ethnic heritages came together to become a major part of all Hawaiian institutions.

Barney F Hajiro - Medal of Honor Recipient from 442 RCT

Before the start of the war, the population of Hawaii was at 423,000 which included an Asian majority of around 310,000 and a white minority of 105,000. Although the census depicted over one hundred thousand whites living on the island, this was not the case. In the census, Portuguese and Spanish immigrants that had arrived decades earlier to work on the plantations were also considered part of the white minority. It was not until large scale military preparations in late 1940 and early 1941, that white American serviceman arrived. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, military officers and civilians with Japanese backgrounds were scrutinized. Many loyal to mainland US became distrustful of the large population of Japanese. They were distrusted by others on the island, yet they were invaluable as they comprised a large part of the workforce. Many of the Japanese people dealt with the suspicion and continued to contribute to the war effort. Their commitment can be seen in the distinguished 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army. Also, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, martial law was put in place meaning military rule was exerted by military officials in Hawaii when the local government could no longer handle the situation at hand. Hawaii became a military zone with thousands of different people essential to the war effort passing through the area. This meant that people from all over were flooding in and around Hawaii from many different places, increasing the ethnic diversity of the island. Many of these people that were posted in Hawaii or spent any amount of time there on their way to battles in the pacific found ties to the islands. In Honolulu, a large cemetery was developed for the thousands that died in the war. This meant that many people, including friends and family members of those buried there, wanted to travel back to pay their respects. With the strategically valuable military institutions on the island, communications between Hawaii and mainland United States improved drastically. This had an impact on the volume of travel to Hawaii. Along with this, Pearl Harbor became a major attraction to many travelers, increasing tourism to the islands. The population census of 1950 indicated this change with the total count of the people on the island reaching over 5,000,000.

After many heated political events, Hawaii became the 50th state on August 21, 1959. This momentous event drew tourists from all over to join the celebrations. Ever since the decrease of agricultural practices, Hawaii has depended largely on the tourism industry to maintain its economy, though resources such as sugar and pineapple are still major contributors. The part it played in the war efforts and the interesting colorful history of the path to statehood has kept interest up among civilians to visit the islands as well as helped maintain the ethnic diversity that has been present since the need for laborers in the 19th century.

The Road to Pearl HarborEdit

The rising events taking place during the post annexation period in Hawaii would lead Hawaiian residents to resent the United States due to their involvement in eastern affairs and the Russo-Japanese conflict. President Theodore Roosevelt mediated concessions after Japan won its influence over Russia in 1905, which lead to tensions between the U.S and Japan. Japan blamed Roosevelt for obstructing Japanese gains and blocking a Japanese indemnity that would have helped Japan pay for the war. Tensions would escalate further, eventually leading to the attack on Pearl harbor and U.S involvement in World War II.

The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor had its beginnings in Japanese expansionism in Eastern Asia and the Pacific. The tandem of victory in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and a rapidly increasing population forced Japan to look beyond its own shores for vital raw materials. After the 1931 Mukden Incident, wherein the Japanese plotted an explosion to be blamed on the Chinese, the Japanese invaded Manchuria for economic and political gains. Full-scale war between Japan and China broke out after the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident, the result of conflicting border patrols from each nation leading to an exchange of fire and a battle for the bridge. China was sourcing military supplies from the United States, which caused Japanese-American relations to deteriorate. Consequently, the Japanese invaded French Indochina to cut the Burma Road, the route by which American military supplies reached the Chinese. The Americans countered by freezing Japanese assets in the United States on July 26th, and embargoing petroleum exports to Japan on August 1st. The Japanese relied heavily on American oil causing them to look for alternative ways to keep their war machine going.

The Japanese response to this was preparation for full-scale war with the United States and the development of a three-phase plan. “Phase I, capture the ‘Southern Resources Area’ (mainly the Dutch East Indies) and defensible perimeter locations around the ‘Co-Prosperity Sphere’; Phase 2, consolidate and strengthen the defenses; Phase 3, defend until the USA is weary of war.” However, the Japanese began conducting preparations for war months prior to the freezing and embargo. Admiral Yamamoto, the commander-in-chief of the Japanese fleet, had already devised a “secret plan for a preemptive strike against the American fleet in order to give Japan time to fortify its newly conquered territories.” The bulk of the American fleet, including three aircraft carriers and nine battleships, had been moved to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, posing a significant threat to Japanese operations in the Pacific. The Japanese fleet, comprised of six aircraft carriers, two battleships, and numerous escort cruisers and destroyers under the command of Vice Admiral Nagumo, assembled near the Kurile Islands in mid November, and embarked upon their journey to Hawaii on November 26th. The fleet maintained radio silence and followed a storm front in order to escape detection. These precautions weren’t completely necessary as the Americans had yet to break the Japanese Naval code. The Americans, using the MAGIC system, had however broken the diplomatic codes used by the Japanese in 1940. Intercepted messages illustrated just how strained the Japanese-American relationship had become. Fearing an imminent attack, US Admiral Stark sent a warning message to American Commanding Officers in Hawaii and the Philippines. On December 2nd, a Japanese diplomatic message was intercepted and decoded, the message instructing officials at the Japanese Embassy in Washington to destroy the codes in order to prevent the Americans from seizing them. On December 4th, the Japanese Embassy began leaving Washington for Japan, which led President Roosevelt to implore Emperor Hirohito to avoid war on December 6th. However, it was to no avail, as the Japanese unleashed one of the most successful surprise attacks in history on Pearl Harbor on “a day which will live in infamy,” December 7th, 1941. Full scale war began between the Americans and the Japanese with Hawaii serving as a major military outpost in the Pacific.

Attack on Pearl HarborEdit


On December 7th, 1941, the nation of Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, west of Honolulu. During this time the majority of American naval power was stationed in Pearl Harbor. Japan intended to attack countries in South East Asia and the Pacific Islands for their strategic locations and resources and in order for this to happen, the Imperial Japanese Navy decided to attack Pearl Harbor to destroy the majority of the fleet, thus preventing the Americans

View looking up "Battleship Row" on 7 December 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

from attacking them for a few years. Japan was also retaliating against American intervention in Japanese affairs, which included the U.S. prohibition of steel, scrap iron and fuel exports to Japan due to the takeover of French Indochina. Japan had considered other American Naval bases as their target but 2-3 days before the attack they decided to attack Pearl Harbor because the other naval bases had empty docks. Pearl Harbor at this time had the USS Arizona docked in the naval harbor and the Arizona was the pride of the American Pacific fleet.

At 6:04 in the morning the Japanese launched their first wave on Pearl Harbor with the support of 183 aircrafts with the objective of disabling the American fighter planes to eliminate their ability to fight back in the air. The Island had advance radar, so the Americans did get early warning that unknown planes were approaching the island, but the warning was called off due to an arrival of six bombers. The American military was caught off guard and it was nearly impossible for them to launch a counter attack. The second wave of attack came at 8:30 am and the main objective on this attack by the Japanese was to disable any naval ships docked in the harbor. Upon the attack the Japanese navy thought that all Pacific naval ships were docked at Pearl Harbor but this critical information was wrong. The majority of the Pacific fleet was out on a training mission and not in the harbor. After the second wave Pearl Harbor was severely paralyzed but it remained a strong naval base in the Pacific. After all the fires were put out and the smoke cleared, 9 ships of the U.S. fleet had been sunk and 21 ships were severely damaged and the death toll reached 2,400 military personnel. The Japanese also received casualties by losing 29 of 350 fighter planes.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a huge shock to the United States. President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the United States Congress as well as the world with his famous quote “December 7 , a date which will live in infamy". The following day the United States declared war on Japan. The attack on Pearl Harbor is the factor that pushed the United States to enter World War II in both the Pacific and Europe. Although the Japanese attack was, in many ways, a tactical success, it was in retrospect a strategic failure. Seven months after the attack, fuel supplies overlooked in the attack enabled the defeat of a Japanese naval fleet forced by U.S. Pacific Fleet carriers at Midway, in a battle that turned the tide of the war.

Hawaii after Pearl HarborEdit

The Hawaiian population was able to maintain social cohesion and order in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor through organization, mass mobilization, and the utilization of Martial Law. The civilian response was united and overwhelming; civilian groups and clubs mobilized to aid emergency response teams while many citizens volunteered to protect public utilities and prepare for further attacks. The implementation of Martial law was welcomed by the majority and viewed as a necessary response to the crisis. The attack on Pearl Harbor was the beginning of war for the American nation as well as the state of Hawaii; after the initial response the citizenry settled in to a state of war by remaining organized and mobilized.

The civilian response to the initial chaos of the attack was immediate organization and mobilization through the involvement of volunteers and civilian groups and clubs. Clubs like the boy scouts of America signed aided services such as the police department fulfilling duties such as running supplies and transporting the wounded. Organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army set up canteens to provide food and drinks to the overwhelming number of civilian volunteers who organized and mobilized to help with the rescue and relief operations. As Hawaii and the United States entered the war, this organization of the citizenry grew into organized efforts to support the war and enabled the society to remain cohesive during a time of total upheaval. The mobilization of the population also primed society for the inevitable call to battle; as the men left to fight abroad Hawaii’s society was able to rationally and effectively reorganize to accommodate for such upheaval in state and social order. Schools were shut down as teachers left to the battlefields while women and children organized supply stations and interim hospitals. The effective use of organization and mass mobilization allowed the Hawaiian population to maintain social cohesion and order preventing the event from crippling the state and dispelling the populous into chaos and dysfunction.

Maintaining social order and unity was also achieved through the utilization of Martial law; in this case the mass population was willing to suspend civil liberties for the security of the citizenry and the defense of the state. Immediately after the attack, Hawaii’s Territorial Governor Joseph B. Poindexter proclaimed Martial law. National Guards took over control of the cities and protected civilians from a possible third wave of attack. A military curfew was implemented and all homes were ordered to blacken out at night. If any persons were to be found on the streets after curfew hours they would be detained and considered an enemy of the state until further investigation. What was damaging to the state of Hawaii was the treatment of Japanese Americans after the attack. Hawaii's large minority of Japanese Americans became especially vulnerable after the Pearl Harbor attack to acts of violence from the populace on the islands. Since the attacks took place on the islands, many Hawaiians felt like they were personally being attacked by the Japanese leading to increased anti-Japanese sentiment throughout the islands. Many Japanese Americans were detained and removed to relocation centers; the Defense Department considered them spies until a full investigation could be completed. Although the treatment of Japanese Americans has been theorized as inhumane it allowed the state to create an atmosphere of order and security while enforcing social cohesion. The treatment of Japanese Americans really hurt the sugar plantations in Hawaii as well. Seeing as how sugar was a main export of Hawaii, the attack on Pearl Harbor weakened the industry immensely. In the 1860's Hawaii sent recruiters to Japan to bring Japanese immigrants to work on the sugar plantations for low pay, and with the majority of Japanese immigrants sent to relocation centers many of the sugar plantations closed due to the lack of labor.

Through organization, mass mobilization and martial law the Hawaiian population was able maintain social order and cohesion during a time of chaos and social upheaval. The citizenry was able to maintain civil order while organizing temporary police and fire departments. The attacks on Pearl Harbor led to social mobilization and prepared the state to support to coming war.

Pre-1959 support for statehoodEdit

Hawaii spent a long time on the road to statehood before actually achieving the goal on August 21, 1959 through the Hawaii Admission Act. The calls for the local population of Hawaii becoming a state can be seen as early as 1946, in a brochure titled “Hawaii: 49th State” compiled by the University of Hawaii’s Student Association. The local support for statehood provided legitimacy to the claim. However, many people in the continental United States had concerns about the racial diversity of the island chain. The large population of Asians and Native Hawaiians led to concerns in pre-segregation USA. The large Japanese population in particular led to many concerns in the years directly following the war with Japan, as the stigma against the Japanese had not faded from American society. The Hawaiians actually believed this to be a strong point in their argument for statehood, by stating that many nationalities are represented within America, and that Hawaii was the bridge between the Europeans and Asia.

Another concern was the large amount of Native Hawaiians and their resistance to the annexation in 1898. It is evident that the United States was reluctant to allow a state made of an ethnic minority, due to concerns of how the Hawaiian population will run the state in relation to the European dominated states in the mainland. The resistance could also signify future problems concerning secession from the union over cultural and nationalistic justifications. Some Americans recognized that Hawaiian citizens had been entirely loyal to the United States during World War II even under Martial Law, and the threat of invasion by the Japanese army. The Pacific War actually gave Hawaiians a chance to prove themselves as patriotic citizens by standing with the American government and not taking up arms with the support of the Japanese. The government officials in Hawaii began to send pleas to leading politicians in the United States in the late 1950’s, including direct pleas to the Vice President and the Senate in 1958. It was shortly after in January 1959 that the Republican Party in Hawaii recommended that Hawaii be granted statehood. This was done because Hawaii filled all of the requirements to become a state and showed that they were patriotic American citizens. This was monumental as the Republican Party had been elected to the White House, giving new credentials to the idea of Hawaii gaining statehood and allowing Republicans in the continental United States to open their minds to the idea. It was shortly after that the 86th Congress of the United States took a new vote on Hawaii’s promotion to statehood. With the evidence of loyalty and patriotism within Hawaii, congress was more inclined to vote positively to the idea. A vote was cast with 86 members in favour and 3 opposed. With the approval of President Dwight Eisenhower, the Hawaii Admission Act was signed, thus granting Hawaii statehood on August 21, 1959 making it the 50th state in the United States of America.

Democratic Revolution of 1954Edit

Kekaha sugar mill once owned by Amfac, Inc., one of the Big Five.

A defining moment in the Territory of Hawaii leading up to statehood was the Democratic Party’s first win in the 1954 territorial elections. This has come to be commonly known as the Democratic Revolution of 1954. This revolution was one that came to encompass not only political changes, but social and economical ones as well. Up until 1954, the Republican Party controlled all major political institutions in the Territory of Hawaii, including the state legislature, the non-voting delegate to Congress, and the Territorial Governor. During the 1954 election, the Democratic Party dominated, winning two thirds of the house seats and a 9-6 majority in the Senate. The sudden rise of the Democratic Party in the Territory resulted from a combination of factors including changing political allegiances and the growing influence of labor groups. One factor was the effort to ward off mass interment during World War Two of alien Japanese and Japanese-Americans in the territory. Through this, the Democratic Party gradually became the voice of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii, who had always supported the Republican Party. The first Japanese-American was elected to the state legislature as a Republican in 1930, and over the next twenty years their influence in the legislature would increase to near proportionality of Japanese ancestry within the Territory filling sixteen of forty-five seats by 1952. John A. Burns, then chairman of the Democratic Party in Hawaii and future state Governor, reached out to Japanese- Americans to come under the big tent of his party. In 1954 twenty-one Japanese-Americans were elected, sixteen being Democrats. While attracting a long marginalized ethnic group within the territory helped the Democratic Party towards their success, the growth of the labor movement in Hawaii also factored into the Democratic Party’s 1954 breakthrough. The launching of the modern labor movement in Hawaii began with the organization of Hawaii’s plantations in 1945 under the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which directly challenged the oligarchic nature of the economic system through strikes and other forms of civil disobedience. Hawaii economy had long been driven by what was known as the “Big Five” corporations which controlled virtually all the staples of the Hawaiian economy including sugar and pineapple cultivation. Labor groups felt the need to challenge the long-standing order of the Territory’s economy and by extension the political system as well. The Democratic Party was seen as their avenue to achieve this. The Democratic Party was seen as progressive, and indeed in their first legislative session in 1955-56 passed a raft of reforms to taxes, education and labor, despite its eventual veto by the appointed Republican Governor. The path to electoral success for the Democratic Party in Hawaii then was the upheaval from labor groups coupled with shifting political allegiance of the Japanese-Americans both coalescing under the banner of the party.

Road to StatehoodEdit

Hawaii Statehood Stamp, 1959
Hawaii State Seal

When Hawaii was annexed in 1898 it became a territory of the United States. Ever since the annexation, there had been multiple movements from the residents for Hawaii to be accepted as a state.

Hawaii’s bid for statehood was supported not just by the people of Hawaii but people from the mainland as well. Students played a major part in supporting and promoting Hawaii's bid for statehood.The grade eight students of Honokaa High and Elementary School, the students of the University of Hawaii, the representatives of the County of Maui, and California State Senate all expressed their belief in the statehood of Hawaii in written letters and petitions to the United State Congress between 1946 and 1959. Prior to becoming one of the states of the union, many Hawaiians felt like second class citizens and wanted to be able to enjoy all of the rights and freedoms other American’s had. The Associated Students of the University of Hawaii released a brochure in 1946 that requested Congress to make Hawaii the 49th state in the union. The brochure contained the opinions of several students, both men and women, giving reasons for statehood that included the desire of its citizens to receive the full American experience. They stated, that due to the influence of the United States government, the community is already quite like Americans in thought, purpose, and action, that given Hawaii’s history they are capable of independent government. In a 1951 letter expressing her belief in Hawaiian statehood, eighth grader Elizabeth Young from Honokaa High and Elementary School stated her and her classmates’ desire to, in the future, be able to vote for the President of the United States and thanked the senators who supported Hawaii’s efforts.

In 1953, the California State Senate passed a resolution that urged Congress to pass laws that would grant the Territory of Hawaii the status of statehood proving that it was not just Hawaiians who felt they should be full citizens of the United States. Many of the territorial counties of Hawaii submitted petitions to Congress on the topic of statehood, such as the County of Maui’s 1958 petition which reinforced their persistence and resolve for Hawaii to become a state no matter how many times the issue was brought before Congress. Hawaii finally achieved its goal of statehood on August 21, 1959 after over a decade of petitions, resolutions, and politicking. The Associated Students of the University of Hawaii passed a resolution that offered its thanks and gratitude to Congress for passing the Hawaii Statehood Bill. Through hard work, dedication, and a firm resolve the post-World War II citizens of Hawaii made their voices heard by Congress and were able to achieve full statehood for their collection of islands. Truly they achieved the American Dream of being free citizens of the United States. Even though Hawaii had achieved statehood there are some questions that need to be asked like, were all of Hawaii’s citizens treated equal? What of the original denizens of Hawaii, the natives who had their land annexed by the United States little more than a century before Hawaii became a state, were they also free citizens of the Union?

Like all great debates there many different arguments presented to oppose and support the granting of Statehood of Hawaii. Here are some of the arguments used:


Those against Hawaii entering statehood argued that the population of Hawaii was only one third Caucasian and a big portion of the population was Japanese. Ever since the bombing of Pearl Harbor the Americans harbored resentment against the Japanese and they thought that if they made Hawaii a state that the Japanese would betray them. Another argument that was made was that Hawaii had a high population of communists. The people feared that the communists would spy and give information to Russia.


Accepting Hawaii as a state would support American foreign policy and strengthen the position of the United States in international affairs. It would better the position of the States in the East, since two-thirds of the population was oriental, it would look like the country was willing to forget the distrust they had of the oriental population during the “Yellow Menace” policy during the World War II, and accept Asians as equals. Statehood would permit the sugar industry in Hawaii to expand their own refineries. It would give Hawaiians “an equal footing with the present states”. “The political power of citizens will be substantially enlarged by participation in national elections, by more efficient representation in Congress in the form of two senators from each area and, initially, two representatives from Hawaii and by election of the governor and other officials presently appointed by the President”.

The Boom of Tourism and How Hawaii Influenced AmericaEdit

In 1946 there were around 1200 hotel rooms available on the islands, with roughly 30,000 annual visitors. By the beginning of the 21st century, however, these numbers had ballooned to roughly 65,000 hotel rooms and over 7 million visitors annually. This rapid growth in Hawaii’s appeal to tourists rests not only in its climate, beauty and culture, but in the way these features are presented to the public. The media plays an important role in Hawaii’s rise to fame as a top tourist destination, particularly using the mediums of clothing, music, movies and art.

After World War Two and statehood, sugar and pineapple (which previously drove Hawaii’s agricultural economy) became the third and fourth largest export and contributor to the Hawaiian economy. The capital gained from these resources was replaced largely by tourism. While Hawaii was at first seen as a territory that had, “too much cultural diversity for statehood to be achieved", it was not until the growth of tourism and defense spending that American politicians started to view Hawaii as a worthy state. With the Democrats in control of the islands in 1954, the push for statehood became increasingly more powerful and more popular. Statehood was finally attained in 1959 and with it, Hawaii began to come to the forefront as a popular tourist destination, particularly for American travellers.

Hotels in Hawaii

Hawaii becoming a recognized state meant that the islands were now fully backed by the United States government. This made the prospect of investing in Hawaii a much more attractive option. The real funding that birthed the economic shift came from American and other foreign investors. After statehood, the rate in which new hotels were announced accelerated each year. Between 1955 and 1968, 22 hotels were built in the Waikiki area alone, as well as an average of 22% annual growth in number of tourists visiting the island in the 1950’s, and 19% annual growth in the 1960’s.

Another very large contributor that made Hawaii become one of the largest tourist locations was the jet airliners industry with one of the main actors being Pan American World Airways. It was said that no other single entity was more “responsible for promoting the Islands during the formative tourist period with money, passenger-carrying equipment, and dedicated personnel.” In comparison to many other popular tourist destinations in Europe, Hawaii was located in a convenient location for travel, and Pan Am saw potential in expanding its services to the islands. If someone wanted to travel to New Zealand, Australia, Japan, or any other location on the Pacific, they stopped in Hawaii. This gave the Islands more recognition and made people more aware of the state and what it had to offer. Hawaii had a foreign feel to it, without actually requiring that tourists leave the United States of America. This made Hawaii a less expensive alternative to foreign travel, and proved to be much simpler for Americans when they did not need to exchange currencies or learn new customs. According to a Gallop Poll conducted in 1963, Hawaii was by far the most desired vacation spot for Americans, being chosen almost twice as often as the second most popular destination, California.

While the airline industry worked to provide an inexpensive way to reach the islands, cruise ships sought to provide a more luxurious and decadent travel experience. Due to the distance between mainland America and the Hawaiian islands, travelling by sea took approximately 5 days when departing from the West Coast in addition to another 5 days for return. Due to this lengthy travel time, the Matson Navigation Company advertised its cruise ships to wealthy individuals who could afford the money and leisure time required to take such a trip. Matson's targeted consumer for its cruise ships was often portrayed in its promotional material: travellers were depicted as admirable and sophisticated. By pinpointing Hawaii as a desirable destination for the elite, Matson would effectively create an appeal to those of a lower class wishing to engage in the luxury of the wealthy as well.

Media and pop culture was also a large influence in making Hawaii a popular place to get away. During the 1950’s it was still very expensive to travel by air, and many people in the middle and lower class never had an opportunity to travel. Hawaii was incorporated into many songs and films during that era. As an early form of virtual tourism, this made the islands an iconic place for Americans, as a destination full of atmosphere, exotic culture, and nostalgia. As technology improved, and flying became cheaper, more and more people who always dreamed of going to Hawaii but could never afford it, now could. The media, through fashion, music, films and art helped promote this dream of the Hawaiian islands for many potential tourists.

One of the most immediately identifiable pieces of Hawaiian culture is the Aloha shirt. It is mentioned in this section not because it is a form of media, but because it was an integral part of promoting Hawaii that garnered much attention through the media. The fabric of the aloha shirt is easily recognizable: it is made up of bright colours and generally depicts famous cultural landmarks or symbols, such as palm trees and hula girls. Some Aloha shirts even directly incorporate words that are commonly associated with Hawaii; for example, "Hula Dance" and "Waikiki". These shirts served as the ultimate means of spreading the word as vacationers returned to their everyday life wearing them all over the country. Some even described the Aloha shirt as “postcards you can wear” and believed that donning a shirt speaks to a person's "love for, and connection to, a most special place", according to Tommy Holmes. Holmes is also quoted as saying, "There is today probably no better known garment in the world that captures a land's 'spirit of place'" (Holmes, "The Aloha Shirt").

Kuʻu Hae Aloha (My Beloved Flag) Hawaiian cotton quilt from Maui, c. 1890s, Mission Houses Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaii, before it became the popular tourist destination that it is today, was well known for its music and dance (the hula). Western instruments gained popularity in the islands in the nineteenth century, but were altered so as to give the music a clear “Hawaiian” sound. For example, the guitar was tuned and often played with a metal bar, turning it into a “steel guitar”. This distinctly Hawaiian music appealed not only to the islanders, but also to Americans on the mainland. Hawaiian themed music was soon embraced by American songwriters and began to make an appearance in the sheet music market, allowing consumers to play it at home. Many songwriters who famously contributed Hawaiian-themed songs to the music industry had never actually set foot on the island and instead promoted the image of Hawaii that they often got from sources such as the movies. These songwriters gave their music titles such as "Oh, How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo (That's Love in Honolu)" and “O'Brien is Tryin' to Learn to Speak Hawaiian", perpetuating the image of Hawaii as both a fun and romance filled destination. Hawaiian music also made appearances in film, such as Bing Crosby’s versions of “Blue Hawaii” and “Sweet Leilani” from the 1937 film Waikiki.

Film often helped throw Hawaii into the public limelight, with many early movies being set in the tropical destination. What the public often did not realize was that these movies generally were not actually filmed on location. Instead they were filmed in Hollywood using a combination of film sets and natural California scenery. Furthermore, Hollywood sets were often designed by people who had never actually been to the islands and were likely basing their perceptions from other forms of media, which as previously mentioned were often based on early forms of media as well. Movie stars also had a part in promoting the islands. These well-known figures were often spotted and pictured spending leisure time on the beach while awaiting their next scene in an upcoming movie, helping to create the idea that if Hawaii was desirable enough for a movie star, it was certainly good enough for everyone else too. Television also followed the catchy Hawaiian culture trend, with popular shows like Baywatch, Hawaii Five - O and Magnum, P.I.

Finally, art was a useful way to draw in potential vacationers with the allure of beautiful women, water and weather. As previously mentioned, Hawaiian music began to take the sheet music industry by storm. Sheet music was sold in a similar fashion to magazines and thus flashy and appealing photos depicting the beauty of the islands often appeared on the cover. Various organizations, such as The Hawaii Tourist Board and Matson Navigation Company, utilized the work of artists like Don Blanding, Ruth Taylor White, and Frank McIntosh to show the appeal of the islands and draw in tourists with pamphlets, brochures, books, and so forth.

The Legacy of AnnexationEdit

For all of recorded history prior to annexation, including all census counts made during the Kingdom of Hawaii, the number of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii declined. The lowest recorded number of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii was 37,656 in the first census conducted by the United States in 1900 after the annexation of Hawaii to the United States in 1898. Since Hawaii has joined the United States the Native Hawaiian population in Hawaii has increased with every census to 289,970 in 2010.

For many Native Hawaiians, the manner in which Hawaii became a U.S. territory was illegal. However, many Hawaiians are also proud to be Hawaiians and Americans and believe the manner in which Hawaii became a U.S. State was legal. Hawaii Territory governors and judges were direct political appointees of the U.S. President. Native Hawaiians created the Home Rule Party to seek greater self-government. The 1960s Hawaiian Renaissance led to renewed interest in the Hawaiian language, culture and identity.

In 2000, Akaka proposed what was called the Akaka Bill to extend federal recognition to those of Native Hawaiian ancestry as a sovereign group similar to Native American tribes. The bill did not pass before his retirement.

Hawaii in Popular Culture


Byrds of Paradise

In the history of Hawaii, there was a shift in cultural representation and cultural production; as the years progressed Americans would come to view Hawaii differently. Before Hawaii was exposed to the mainstream American audience Hawaii was symbolized as a place of consumption, great scenery and a place where outsiders were actors. The 1994 Charles Eglee television series called "Byrds of Paradise” depicted the assumptions of contemporary Hawaii. “Byrds of Paradise” is a dramatic television series about a professor who moved his family to Hawaii to recover from the loss of his wife. The professor becomes the headmaster of a private Palmer school. The show portrayed life in Hawaii.

The reason why “Byrds of Paradise” did not receive the same reaction as its counterpart Hawaii Five-O is because it did not make its viewers aware of Hawaii’s causes. According to the producer the goal of the show was to portray the realities of Hawaii without “bursting” anyone’s bubbles. Although the show aimed to display the culture of Hawaii to Americans, it distorted and made the outsider views of Hawaii worse. The show exemplified engaging issues while leaving out common ideals people already knew, with the exception of typical Hawaii stereotypes, to appeal more to the mainstream audience. During the filming of the "Byrds" the people of the island interfered with filming by defying stereotypes while being in the spotlight. When the women were asked to act more Westernized they told them to leave immediately instead of acting less local for the camera. The producers admitted that they took a risk when they portrayed a more real Hawaii in some of the main scenes. A lot was scripted about Hawaii to appeal to both the mainlanders and mainstream audience. The logic behind why so much was scripted was to simplify ideas. Hawaii had too many different types of pidgins for each ethnicity and the island names got confusing because of the numbers. The producer’s main concern was presenting too much pride and insiderism of local culture behind the tourism stereotypes. Mainlanders feared stereotypes and wanted to be represented realistically because since the 1970s tourist industries began to take over their land and create false culture. The depiction of Hawaii influenced the tourism industry greatly to outsiders.

“Byrds of Paradise” was ultimately cancelled before the first season finished, with multiple theories explaining the cancellation of the show. One theory explained that the "Byrds" did not represent the Hawaii that these island natives experienced on a daily basis, turning off local viewers. Local viewers expected to see a less Americanized depiction. The exotic paradise was not illustrated in "Byrds", but a darker side of Hawaii was illustrated, depicting the aftermath of tsunami. The Hawaii portrayed was not what Americans envisioned and they disliked it immediately. Although the show attempted to be accurate, while appealing to Westerners, some thought that denying “reality” would end up helping the show’s ratings, but instead it appealed to neither audience and caused a sense of confusion about Hawaii. “Byrds of Paradise” was not the first of its kind either; many shows such as "Baywatch Hawaii", "Magnum, P.I", "Adventures in Paradise", "Little People", "Hawaiian Eye" and "Hawaii Five-O", followed a similar formula. These shows used the locals for smaller roles in the show with Hawaii as a backdrop.


My Pretty Hawaiian Baby

Music produced in Hawaii has contributed to the popular visual of Hawaii as an exotic destination of discovery at the time of colonization, as well as a tourist destination since annexation in 1959. Stemming from its Hawaiian aboriginal roots, Hawaiian music was used as one of many tools to familiarize the American society with Hawaii. Additionally, music produced in Hawaii was used to divert attention away from the colonization occurring within Hawaii. Marketing assimilation was accomplished through merging traditional Hawaiian culture with elements of Western culture. For example, Western stringed instruments like the Portuguese ukulele, joined with the steel guitar was used to project a tone that had been accepted as Hawaiian music. A further example of merging Hawaiian music with Western culture is Beachboy music.

The popularity of Beachboy music increased exponentially in the 1930s, composed of Hawaiian background instrumentals merged with American pop and sung in English. It was formally known as hapahaole before it received its nickname Beachboy. This musical style received national attention with Albert Cunha's performance the song “On the Beach at Waikiki” at the 1915 Panama-Pacific international festival in San Francisco in front of 17 million people. The year following Cunha’s performance, hapahaole music sold more than any other genre. Hapahaole music contributed to tourism and introduced Westerner’s to traditional Hawaiian music.

The distinct Hawaiian sound created by the merging of Hawaiian culture, and Western culture created the popular image of Hawaii as an exotic destination. Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson, with his melodic guitar playing, has contributed substantially to the merging of Hawaiian and Western culture. His success as a musician can be attributed to the unique Hawaiian influence which differentiates his music from that of mainland American acoustic music.

In addition to the exotic image, popular music feminized Hawaii. This is evident in both the cover art of albums and the lyrics of the songs produced in Hawaii. This exotic and feminine image of Hawaii is evident in the lyrics of the Aloma and Milican song “Texas has a Hula Sister Now”:

The yellow rose of Texas wears an orchid in her hair
 and her garland of white blossoms so sweet in the Western air
 She was born of a pagan marriage of the sand and the coral sea
 and she learned from the restless tradewinds that men and the wind are free.

The lyrics feminize Hawaii with the connection of hula and the use of the word sister. The lyrics also depict Hawaii as an exotic destination by portraying hula as an “exotic and alluring dance.” Album cover art often feminizes Hawaii by depicting the hula dancer as the face of Hawaii. Additionally, Hawaiian music is used as a tool in popular culture to promote tourism. The lyrics and cover art of albums depict Hawaii as an exotic and tropical paradise as well as a cultural resource there to discover. The music depicts Hawaii as a fantasy and a heaven on Earth, making the islands a prime tourist destination for people around the world.


Hawaiian hula dancers posed in J. J. Williams' photo studio

The Hula, or Ha’a as Hawaiians have called it until the name Hula was created in the 1800s, is defined as the dance performed with bent knees. The dance is performed by women and men in costume with an accompaniment of instruments or chants. Hawaiian legends say that the Hula began on the islands of Molokai and Kauai. The ancient form of the Hula is called Hula Kahiko and the modern form is called Hula Auana, influenced by Western culture. Hula has been influenced by Western presences in Hawaii since well before Hawaii was annexed by the United States. Prior to European contact in Hawaii the hula was a religious custom that was performed at temples for worship and for entertaining chiefs and visitors, most commonly at feasts. Hula dancers at this time danced under the protection of Laka, the Goddess of the Hula.

The Hawaiian hula has greatly influenced Hawaiian’s sense of self-identity and the way that the mainland states perceive the Hawaiian islands. In the 1820s Christian missionaries began arriving in Hawaii and tried to ban the hula due to its strong sexuality and spiritual significance which were strongly integrated into Hawaiian culture. However, it was not until 1859 that the Hawaiian Legislature passed a law stating that public hula performances had to be regulated. Although the Hula was banned it continued to be practiced in the secrecy of small villages. After two decades the resurgence of this traditional dance created publicity for Hawaii depicting the state in the same fashion it is depicted in today’s society.

The dance itself is comprised of many Nā Keʻehi I Ka Haʻa (Hula Steps). Some have more then one name that describes the action and a name that's origin is unknown. Lele, which involves walking forward while lifting the heel with every step with a slight inward movement is an example of a Nā Keʻehi I Ka Haʻa. The steps and motions of the body tell a story visually with an upright torso, bent knees and certain placement of arms. Motions and gestures above the shoulders mean the action was above the ground, between shoulders and waistline means that the location was on land, and below the waistline means the location was in the sea or underworld. The body, torso, and leg positions dramatize the gestures to an extreme, such as bending the torso, straightening the legs, standing on the balls of the feet, or crouching down as close to the floor as possible demonstrate the meaning.

Instruments and chants contribute to the story and motion of the dance. Kahiko hula involves more chants because in ancient times chants related to achievements of rulers or honored Gods. The dances entertained rulers, those in power, and the people of Hawaii who knew the culture and language. Chants were also preformed to pray to Laka (Goddess of Hula) and to welcome the audiences. In Auana hula Western culture has influenced instruments and sound as well as the dance. Many of the popular hula songs that have been used are about the late monarchy era of the late 1800s. The Auana hula dances are now the more common in American popular culture and consist of modernized sounds that American mainlanders have become accustomed to.

Hula dancers' costumes relate to the elements of the poetic text being told in the story of the hula. Traditional hulas dancers' heads, necks, wrists and ankles are always covered. Long ago, men wore necklaces of human hair with bones or whale's teeth attached, bracelets and buskins of net work, hog or dog teeth. Women were covered in garlands of flowers, grass skirts, necklaces of shells, leis, wreaths, and feathers. Color and fabric are important to display a natural look. Depending on which Hula being performed, ancient or modern, the costumes affect the ear. Auana dancers wear grass skirts, leis and flowers while Kahiko costumes are more elaborate.

Today, rather then watching the hula for its traditional meaning and story, the majority of American audiences watch it for entertainment. The audiences do not understand or hear the texts' original meanings, affecting the tradition as well as the performance, since the audience is unaware how to react to certain parts or appreciate fully what is being depicted.

With its history in traditional religious practices and cultural folklore the hula may have a deeper significance for, and certainly has a longer history to, native Hawaiians than to mainstream American society. However, it has always been practiced by native Hawaiians in one capacity or another, whether for religious ceremony or as an entertaining dance. The function of hula has changed over time but remains very popular in the Hawaiian Islands and has been especially popular since the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s. As the citizens of Hawaii struggled to gain recognition and governmental rights before becoming a state in 1959 it was the hula that helped earn the small, distant place some attention. In the 1930s a film "Paradise of the Pacific" was released and emphasized how friendly and laid back Hawaiian citizens were and how united hula was with Hawaiian identity; according to the film “hula is Hawaii and Hawaii is hula.” Not only did hula contribute to a tourist industry in Hawaii itself, but it also made its way into American night clubs and showrooms and impacted the entertainment industry in mainland USA.

Hula circuits traveled all throughout the United States in the 1930s marketing hula as “middlebrow American entertainment”. These hula circuits of the 1930s are significant to American popular culture since at this time, even before Hawaii was annexed and made a US territory, Hawaiian culture was still very much a part of the entertainment of the average American citizen through hula as an art form. Many islanders believe that it was this migration of traditional Hawaiian entertainment that provoked the idea of an “imagined intimacy” between both sides. Hula, once a traditional Hawaiian custom, has long been an essential part of a more broad and inclusive American popular culture and has contributed to American perception of Hawaii both positively, as with the booming tourism industry in Hawaii and likewise in America, and negatively, as with the popular misconception that hula is but a frivolous art form meant only for entertainment purposes and that Hawaiians are but a laid back and relaxed people. While hula is important in Hawaiian tradition it is also an important part of popular culture in the United States, though not for the same historical reasons. As a result of the influence that the West has had on hula and its place in American popular culture, mainlanders commonly regard hula as a sexy but superficial part of Hawaiian tradition and history and not necessarily as a historical or significant part of Hawaiian culture. However, because of its appeal and popularity among Euro-Americans in continental USA hula is an important part of the tourist industry and popularization of Hawaii.

US Navy 081219-N-0879R-001 Hula dancers perform as family and friends welcome USS Reuben James (FFG 57) during the ship's return to Naval Station Pearl Harbor

The cultural relationship between Hawaii and America, including the popularity of hula in mainland USA, grew even stronger after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. The attack on the then-American territory greatly upset Americans and fostered a special relationship between the United States and Hawaii which was encouraged by further embracing of Hawaiian culture and hula in American popular culture. Hawaiian hula girls commonly performed for American troops during the war at military bases and outposts and participated in USO tours both during and after the war and still up to today. The performances of hula as a part of the war effort became more than just entertainment like it had always been before to mainlanders; hula is now more symbolic to Americans as it represents the attack on Pearl Harbor and the strengthened bond between Hawaii and the United States and Hawaii as a part of the United States of America. Hawaii’s contributions during the war, including its contribution of entertaining and encouraging performances of hula, was valuable to the United States military and American citizens and contributed to Hawaii’s becoming a state in 1959.

The Westernization of hula and its purposes parallel the Westernization, or rather Americanization, of Hawaii. The sexuality of Hawaiian hula girls and the ideas of picturesque beach scenes and leisurely lifestyles which seem to always accompany them are idealistic and misrepresentative. The false image is perhaps one of the reasons that Americans really began to embrace Hawaii and Hawaiian traditions. The skewed perception of Hawaii and Hawaiians, through Westernized hulas and hula girls for example, is suggestive of an attitude of mainland American superiority, with the molding of the traditions of Hawaiians to suit a mainland American audience. Though Hawaiians are still somewhat distanced as “others” to mainland Americans the very fact that Americans have embraced Hawaii as a state and adopted traditional Hawaiian practices, like hula, into American popular culture is indicative of America’s inclusion of Hawaii as a part of American identity, but also represents the certain paternalistic relationship there is between the United States and Hawaii.

Since the war Hawaiian hula culture and the stereotypical, grass-skirt clad, carefree, sexualized “native” Hawaiian hula dancers have remained an integral part of American, especially Euro-American, popular culture. Hula, however, is not the only traditional Hawaiian custom that has evolved and become a part of a larger American popular culture.


Lahaina Luau

Luaus represent an essential part of Hawaiian culture and are among the chief imagery for foreigners with regards to the Islands and its culture.

The traditional luau, or lū'au, takes its name from taro leaves, served in traditional Hawaiian dishes. Traditional luaus were feasts emphasizing preparation, consumption and the giving away of food by their hosts. It was necessary for preparations to begin several days in advance in order to prepare all the food that was required. It was used only to celebrate special social occasions, such as a child's first birthday or a wedding. Luaus also followed festivals such as the Hi'u Wai (water-throwing festival) where it became a tradition to hit a person with water, contributing to the luau later or at the festival for the New Year to welcome the New and mourn the passing of the Old. After the feast, there were typically games until the sun set.

The more Americanized, tourist version of luaus emerged in the 1930s and 1940s as promoting tourism in the area. This was partly due to the fact that many celebrities, such as Shirley Temple and Mary Pickford, were visiting the sanctions of Hawaii. Another factor leading to the Americanization of luaus was the many singers and dancers performing in world fairs and expositions. The tourist perception of the luau not only revolved around food and beverages, but furthermore, the light and energetic atmosphere, and the excellent entertainment. Luau companies have ensured to always go to a fairly secluded beach site with palm trees for the night. Upon arrival, guests are presented with leis, with Tahitian drums and rattles playing in the background. The evening involves a night of singing, dancing and consistent joking, with the performers dressed in grass skirts or loincloths, tall feather headdresses and flower leis.

Many elements that were originally present in luaus, such a special celebratory event or day, are no longer a factor since they have become tourist attractions around the islands and occur nightly. Despite the exception of a few dishes such as the laulaus (steamed bundles of greens with either pork or beef wrapped in cordyline leaves), there has not been a drastic change in the foods that were served in previous events. Foods served in modern luaus are mostly recreated from ritual offerings from old Hawaiian religion (which was abolished in 1819). The iconic roasted pig (kalua), tarococonut pudding (kūlolo) and red fish were all once restricted to ceremonial offerings to pagan Gods and to upper classes. Since then red fish has been replaced with lomilomi salmon (with tomatoes, green onions and crushed ice) in modern luaus.

Another element present in modern Americanized luaus is the music. It has become part of the tradition to have slack key guitar and ukulele playing as main entertainment while in the background there are Tahitian drums and rattles playing. This is somewhat curious as the ukulele is commonly attributed to 19th century Portuguese immigrants and slack key guitar is an adaptation of introduced musical styles yet both have become deeply embedded in the traditional image of the celebrations.


Surfing the waves

By 1779, riding waves either lying down or standing on long, hardwood surfboards was an essential part of Hawaiian culture. Surfing was as layered into the society, religion and myth of the islands as baseball is to the modern United States. This is important because surfing created an identity for Hawaii and its culture, which informed others of its presence. The nature of the sport itself is significant in developing Hawaiian characteristics due to the warm weather and water currents needed to surf. Surfers find these elements enjoyable and pleasurable because the create a sense of exclusivity, separating Hawaii from most destinations. Surfing is also significant to the Hawaiian culture, demonstrating the dominance of its people over nature, which is rooted within the nation.

Surfing had a direct impact on the development of California as a surfing destination. California adapted the Hawaiian creation in hopes of recreating a similar lifestyle within the state. Doc Ball's classic photo book, "California Surfriders 1946" is a masterpiece of the time, illustrating sturdy men and women enjoying a pristine California coast; from beach parties with fresh lobster and abalone pulled from the ocean, to minimal traffic along the coast highway. This is significant because mainland America has begun to mimic the Hawaiian culture proving the strength of its influence and the desire others had to live a comparable lifestyle. With increasing media coverage over the past 40 years, surfing has grown from a small clique sport to an immense industrial complex. Where kings and commoners once competed in the surf, risking status, property, life and limb, now there is a multi-million dollar international professional surfing circuit, with a tour that covers the globe from Hawaii to South Africa and back to Tahiti. This is a prime example of how the Hawaiian culture has spread significantly and will only continue to grow as generations pass.

Positive representations of its people and scenery helped Hawaii grow into a nation that is viewed by others as attractive. Surfing creates a bond between person and nature and it is for this reason that Hawaiian natives are associated with a distinct outdoor personality. In return, this has created a significant amount of tourism for the island as people from all over the world come to Hawaii to get a taste of its historical culture. Without a shadow of a doubt surfing has had a tremendous impact on popular culture in America and across the world. It is true that surfing is an element of traditional Hawaiian culture that has survived the test of time.

Despite its popularity in Hawaii today, the modern sport of surfing nearly disappeared forever from Hawaii’s shores. By the 1840s surfing was almost nowhere to be found on the islands, with the exception of Lahaina, Maui, an area which still saw a considerable loss of interest. Other traditional Hawaiian games and sports (such as land-sledding, called holua) had vanished and some Hawaiians were concerned that this may also be the fate of surfing. Fortunately for future generations of surfers, the sport did not diminish completely and many Hawaiians continue to surf today.

The loss of interest in Hawaiian surfing can be attributed to several different factors. First, the native Hawaiian population decreased significantly prior to the 20th century. An estimated population of 300,000 Hawaiians in the late 18th century decreased to approximately 40,000 by the turn of the 20th century. The traditional structure of the tabu system (which diminished in 1819) had once been fundamental in supporting native Hawaiian religion and traditions. The loss of the system resulted in a cultural revolution, which in combination with the population dive made surfing as a tradition difficult to maintain. The rituals associated with the sport of surfing like gambling and chants had disappeared by the early 1900s. Had Hawaii's interest in surfing had not been restored, a significant element to Hawaiian culture could have been lost forever. However, the beginning of the 20th century witnessed changes essential to the revival of surfing in Hawaii. One alteration to traditional surfing was a change in the surfboard itself. Popularity of the sport had weakened, causing many surfboard manufacturers to close their businesses. What were once 16-foot surfboards were now 6 to 8 feet in length. Expert techniques had also been lost with the disappearance of surfing rituals, thus with a new board length and no expert techniques, only new methods of surfing were inevitably surfacing across the islands. An intrigued young population was eager to take on these challenges. However, the most fundamental component to regained interest in surfing was its introduction to the rest of America.

The turn of the century brought surfing to mainland America, having gained some popularity in California by 1912. George Freeth (an Irish-Hawaiian) has been credited for bringing surfing and other water sports to California. The popularity of theses sports grew quickly due to an increased interest in water sports by some southern Californian groups. Today, California maintains the most surfboards in use than anywhere else in the world. Some Californians have kept in contact with Hawaiians surfers to share techniques and tricks, and the two groups continue to modernize (and preserve) surfing in America. If surfing did not have continuous support from California as it has, it is possible that the sport would have diminished or disappeared entirely.


Japanese and American tourist on beach shores

Tourism in Hawaii has been around since Europeans first set foot on this tropical island in the mid 18th century. The first explorer to discover the island was Captain James Cook in 1778. He was on his third voyage at this time and was in search of the North West passage at the request of the English government. He stumbled upon the islands and named them the Sandwich Islands after the Earl of Sandwich. Cook was the first recorded visitor from Europeans to step foot on the islands and thus it was Cook who began a long prosperous tourism industry in the island archipelago of Hawaii.

Throughout the 19th century the islands of Hawaii were visited by many scholars and well-known authors of the time. Many theories for their visits include the one that they were drawn there for inspiration, since Hawaii was classified as a remote, friendly and newly exotic location. People did vacation on the island although tourism was a such a new concept at this time. The small amount of tourism that the islands did receive throughout the 19th century is most likely what helped to catalyze the great tourism boom that came to the islands in the 20th and 21th centuries. During the 19th century Hawaii went through some very important changes that can be seen to have helped out tourism expansion in later centuries. The arrival of Protestant missionaries in 1820 plus the spread of European diseases among the native population are important because they are just the beginning of Europeans and American expansion into the islands during the 19th century.

After Hawaii became the newest state in 1959, the state flourished due to the substantial increases in the tourism industry. At this time air travel was now capable of covering the distance from the American mainland all the way to the islands which brought a greater number of tourists to the island state. The Hawaiian culture along with its tropical and exotic location were the main driving forces behind the marketing of tourism. Tourist from around the world in the 20th and 21th century were coming to the islands to see a real luau and hula dance. Tourist are always drawn to new and exotic things and always have been so this is why the Hawaiian culture has appealed to generations of tourists for many decades.

The demographics of Hawaiian tourism are another area to look at historically because they have changed dramatically even over the last few decades. After Hawaii became a state in 1959, most tourists that visited were from the mainland United States. In more recent years however this has changed drastically because of the economic situation facing the country. More and more tourists to Hawaii are coming from Asian countries such as Japan, China and more recently South Korea. Much of the tourism sector in Hawaii now caters more specifically to Asian tourists and crowds than to North American tourists because of this demographic shift.

The history of Hawaiian tourism dates back to the 18th century with the first visit by a European explorer, however it is the more recent decades of the 20th and 21th century that saw the real growth in this facet of the Hawaiian economy.

Unfortunately for Hawaiians, the industry which has undoubtedly brought Hawaii the affluence it currently possesses, also serves as a tool of oppression. The negative effects of tourism on Hawaii can be witnessed through the flagrant industrialization and commercialization visible in present-day Hawaii. Most affected by the powerhouse industry of Hawaii are the Native Hawaiians, who have attempted to develop and retain a national identity not only on a state level, but on a national one. The inescapable influences of tourism has deployed a false identity upon many Native Hawaiians and as a result their unique culture is subdued by a manufactured image that the tourist industry portrays. The false image is produced to solidify mainland perceptions of Hawaii as a Utopian paradise. The false depiction of Hawaii escaping the economic struggles of mainland America does not bring to light the financial exertions many Native Hawaiians experience daily. Although being packaged with detrimental effects, tourism will likely continue to enhance Hawaii economically and cause Hawaii to remain a top tourist destination for many years to come because of its beautiful and exotic locations, saturated with a rich history and culture.

Further Reading


  1. Brown, DeSoto. “Beautiful, Romantic Hawaii: How the Fantasy Image Came to Be.” The Journal of Propaganda 20 (1994): 225-271.
  2. Bureau of Yards and Docks. "Building the Navy's Bases in World War II: History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps", 1940-1946. Vol. 2, Chapter 22, pp. 121-162
  3. Cane Sugar and Hawaii. San Francisco: California and Hawaiian Sugar, Public Relations Dept., 1969. Print.
  4. Desmond, Jane C. “Invoking "The Native": Body Politics in Contemporary Hawaiian Tourist Shows.” TDR 41, no. 4 (Winter, 1997): 83-109.
  5. Finney, Ben R. “The Development and Diffusion of Modern Hawaiian Surfing.” Journal of the Polynesian Society 69(4):314-331.
  6. Greenwell, Amy B. H. “Taro: With Special Reference to Its Culture and Uses in Hawaii” Economic Botany 1, no. 3 (1947): 276-289.
  7. Hackler, Rhoda E. and Cummins E. Speakman. "Vancouver in Hawai'i" Hawaiian Journal of History 23 (1989): 31-38
  8. Hargrove, Ermile, Kent Sakoda, and Jeff Siegel. "Hawai‘i Creole." University of Hawaii System. Web. 30 Oct. 2011. <http://www.hawaii.edu/satocenter/langnet/definitions/hce.html>.
  9. Handler, Richard and Jocelyn Linnekin. “Tradition, Genuine or Spurious” The Journal of American Folklore 97, no. 385 (1984): 273-290.
  10. Herman, R.D.K. "Out of sight, out of mind, out of power: leprosy, race and colonization in Hawai’i” Journal of Historical Geography 27, no. 3 (2001): 319-337.
  11. Imada, Adria L. “Hawaiians on Tour: Hula Circuits through the American Empire” American Quarterly 56, no. 1 (2004): 111-149.
  12. Lanny The Imperial Republic: A Comparison of the Insular Territories under U.S. Dominion Thompson, "The Imperial Republic: A Comparison of the Insular Territories under U.S. Dominion after 1898," Pacific Historical Review, 71, no. 4 (2002): 535-574.
  13. Linnekin , Jocelyn S. “Defining Tradition: Variations on the Hawaiian Identity” American Ethnologist 10, no. 2 (1983): 241-252.
  14. MacLennan, Carol. “Kilauea Sugar Plantation in 1912: A Snapshot.” Hawaiian Journal of History 41, no. 1 (2007): 1-35.
  15. McGowan, William. "Industrializing the Land of Lono: Sugar Plantation Managers and Workers in Hawaii", 1900-1920. 69, Vol No. 2, (1995), pp. 177-200
  16. Osborne, Thomas. “Trade or War? America’s Annexation of Hawaii Reconsidered.” Pacific Historical Review 50, no.3 (1981): 285-307.
  17. Poka Laenui, "The US and the Kingdom of Hawaii," Peacework, Jul/Aug, no. 13 (1998): 287.
  18. Pollenz, Phillippa. “Changes in the Form and Function of Hawaiian Hulas.” American Anthropologist 52.2 (April-June 1950): 225-234.
  19. Pukui, Kawena. “Games of My Hawaiian Childhood” California Folklore Quarterly 2, no. 3 (1943): 205-220.
  20. Schroeder, Jonathan E. and Janet L. Borgerson. “Packaging Paradise: Consuming Hawaiian Music.” Advances in Consumer Research 26 (1999): 46-50.
  21. Spitz, Allan. “The Democratic Transplantation: The Case of Land Policy in Hawaii.” Land Economics 42, no. 4 (1966): 473-484.


  1. Bancroft, Hubert Howe. The New Pacific. New York: Bancroft Co., 1900.
  2. Bell, Roger John. Last Among Equals: Hawaiian Statehood and American Politics. Honolulu: University of Honolulu Press, 1984.
  3. Bryan, Willian Alanson. Natural History of Hawaii: Being an Account of the Hawaiian People, the Geology and Geography of the Islands. Charleston: Nabu Press, 2010.
  4. Coffman, Tom. The Island Edge of America: A Political History of Hawai'i. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2003.
  5. Coffman, Tom. "Nation Within: The Story of America's Annexation of the Nation of Hawaii." Kāneohe: University of Hawaii Press, 1998.
  6. Clark, John. ‘Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions from the Past’. University of Hawaii, 2011.
  7. Creighton, Thomas H. The Lands of Hawaii: Their Use and Misuse. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii, 1978.
  8. Dalton, M. M. "Teacher TV" New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc, 2008.
  9. Daws, Gavan. Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1968.
  10. Jennings, Helen. Chronology and Documentary Handbook of the State of Hawaii. New York: Oceana, 1978.
  11. Kuykendall, Ralph S. The Hawaiian Kingdom Volume I 1854-1874: Twenty Critical Years. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1953.
  12. Kuykendall, Ralph S. The Hawaiian Kingdom Volume III 1874-1893: The Kalakaua Dynasty. Honolulu: University of Honolulu Press, 1967.
  13. Lawler, Kristin."Radical: The image of the surfer and the politics of popular culture" New York:ProQuest LLC, 2008.
  14. Marin, Lester, S. R. "Images that Injure Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media". Westport: Praeger.2003
  15. Northrop, Henry Davenport. “Great Events of a Great Nation” Philadelphia, National Pub. co, 1898.
  16. Okihiro, Gary. Island World: A History of Hawai'i and the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.
  17. Oshiro, Lisa Cami. "Recognizing Na Kanaka Maolis Right to Self Determination". Albuquerque: New Mexico Law Review, 1995.
  18. Osorio, Jonathan K.K. Dismembering Lahui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2002.
  19. Peterson, Barbara Bennett. Notable Women of Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1984.
  20. Ray Brownie, R. A. "Continuities in Popular culture". Bowling Green: University Popular Press. 1993
  21. Silva, Noenoe K. Aloha Betrayed : Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1996.
  22. Stevens, Sylvester Kirby. American Expansion in Hawaii, 1842-1898. New York: Russell & Russell, 1968.
  23. Takaki, Ronald. Pau Hana: Plantation Life and Labour in Hawaii 1835-1920. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1983.
  24. Tate, Merze. The United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom: a Political History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965.
  25. Tate, Merze. "Hawaii: Reciprocity or Annexation." East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1968.
  26. Whitehead, John. Completing the union: Alaska, Hawai'i, and the battle for statehood. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004.
  27. Young, Lucien. The Real Hawaii; its History and Present Condition. New York: Arno Press, 1970.

Government DocumentsEdit

  1. Blount, James H. “Report of U.S. Special Commissioner James H. Blount to U.S. Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham Concerning the Hawaiian Kingdom Investigation.” Honolulu, Hawaii, July 17 1983.


History of Surf - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVIo0yhm01g

History of Queen Liliuokalani and Hawaiian Annexation - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuKLYVLJya4&list=PLA072ACFDC39635CB&feature=plpp_play_all

Center for Hawaiian National Archives - http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/hawaii/