January 17, 1893, United States Illegally Overthrows Hawaiian Government

LiliuokalaniQueen Lili‘uokalani’s reign was fraught with political power struggles and rumors of overthrow. The 1890 McKinley Tariff Act created an economic depression. On January 14, 1893, the Queen proclaimed her intent to reinstate the lawful constitution in response to calls by the people and political organizations, in particular the Hui Kalai‘aina (Hawaiian Political Association).

In reaction, Lorrin Thurston organized a small groupLorrin_Thurston of insurgents into a Committee of Safety to plan for the ultimate takeover of the government and to secure annexation to the United States. The so-called Committee of Safety sought support from U.S. Minister John L. Stevens on January 16, 1893 to order the landing of U.S. troops to protect the insurgents while they prepared for the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States by a voluntary treaty of cession.

Sanford_DoleOn January 17th the group declared themselves the Provisional Government with Sanford Dole as its president. Article 31 of the Hawaiian constitution provides, “To the [Queen] belongs the executive power.” Therefore, as the constitutional monarch, the Queen was vested with the faithful execution of Hawaiian law, and it was her duty to ensure that certain insurgents be apprehended by the police forCharles_B_Wilson committing the crime of treason, being a violation of Chapter VI of the Penal Code. However, under threat of war by the presence of U.S. troops who were ordered by the U.S. diplomat Stevens to protect the insurgents, the police force, headed by Marshall Charles Wilson, could not apprehend the insurgents without bloodshed between the police and U.S. troops. Later that day, the Queen made the following assignment of executive power under protest, called the Lili‘uokalani assignment:

I, Lili‘uokalani, by the Grace of God, and under the Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this Kingdom.

That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America whose Minister Plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the said Provisional Government.

Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest, and impelled by said force yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representative and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.

Done at Honolulu this 17th day of January, A.D. 1893.

Lili‘uokalani, R.

Samuel Parker, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Wm. H. Cornwell, Minister of Finance.

John. F. Colburn, Minister of the Interior.

A.P. Peterson, Attorney General.

Benjamin_HarrisonIn complete disregard of the Queen’s protest and assignment of executive power, the Provisional Government and Secretary of State James Blaine signed a treaty on February 14, 1893 at Washington, D.C. President Benjamin Harrison submitted the treaty to the United States Senate for ratification in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. ClevelandPresidential election already had taken place in 1892, with Grover Cleveland defeating the incumbent Benjamin Harrison. After his inauguration on March 4, 1893, President Cleveland received the Queen’s protest and assignment from Paul Neumann, former Hawaiian Attorney General, who, by a power of attorney, represented the Queen.

BlountOn March 9, 1893, Cleveland withdrew the treaty from the Senate and appointed James H. Blount as Special Commissioner, a former U.S. Representative from Georgia and former Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as special Walter_Greshamcommissioner to investigate and report his findings to Secretary of State Walter Gresham. By accepting the Queen’s temporary assignment of executive power, President Grover Cleveland bound himself and his successors in the office to temporarily administer Hawaiian Kingdom law in accordance with Article 31 of the Hawaiian constitution until the executive power would be returned.

The investigation concluded that the United States diplomat and troops were directly responsible for the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian government with the ultimate goal of transferring the Hawaiian Islands to the United States. Blount reported that, “in pursuance of a prearranged plan, the Government thus established hastened off commissioners to Washington to make a treaty for the purpose of annexing the Hawaiian Islands to the United States.” The report also detailed United States government actions that violated international laws as well as Hawaiian territorial sovereignty.

7 thoughts on “January 17, 1893, United States Illegally Overthrows Hawaiian Government

  1. Aloha… today is a special day as our mo’opuna ‘Ema and her Kula Ke Anuenue head up to Mauna Ala to give Ho’okupu… as a kid growing up here we were never taught our Hawaiian history… sending a shout out to Keanu (aka Dr Sai) love the history lessons…for the love of our Country… may Ke Akua bless you and all of us… mahalo

  2. Aloha Kakahiaka To One and All, These facts have been documented,read by many, Reviewed and then Reviewed many Times over in the Past, Now Brought up for Hawaii’s State Legislative (Senate & House Representatives) Tor Review by Mele Carroll ( and Ignored), and “Again Today 1-16-2014!!! This, “For the Record”, should be “Documented as being 121 years and I (ONE DAY), after “January 16 1893′s so called Committee of Safety Having sought support from the U.S. Minister John Stevens to protect the insurgent’s as they prepared for annexation of the Hawaiian slands to the United States by a voluntary cession”(?)
    CORRECTION, Not “Voluntary” as Quoted above, without being under “DURESS” of fear of HARM and DEATH of the Queens Hawaiian Ohana (Family by Birth-Bloodline, and Personal Friends) with ACTIONS by the UNITED STATES oF AMERICAN NAVAL FORCES as an ACT oF WAR against a SOVEREIGN NATION that HONORED and WELCOMED VISITORS to the Hawaiian Nation in the located middle of the PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL WATERS(?).
    Thus, the CRY for TRUTH and JUSTICE continue TODAY and will CONTINUE, as modern day Kanakas shout out to the WORLD and INTERNATIONAL (Human Rights Watch) Director Julie de Rivero & Directors of Geneva Advocacy Council(?). We the Modern Day Kanakas send our Letter to sought the Aide of Internation War Crime Advisory Directors for Protection of the Occupying Forces Here in the Hawaiian Kingdom that has waited patiently [Ho'omanaunui with Patience and Calmness despite the HEWA(?)] AMEN
    Glory to the Father, and Credit to His Son for Loving His Father!!!!!!

    • Follow-up, must correct two miss-spellings (Hawaiian slands) should’ve been Hawaiian Islands, and (Internation) should’ve been International, please excuse Emotional and now accept Correctiveness(?)

  3. This is precisely the ’19th Century Geopolitic’ that the extreme right in the US hopes to restore by disparaging the UN. They hope to create a “Pax Americanus” modelled after the “Pax Romanus” of the Roman Empire…… for the benefit, of course, of only the USA.
    UNFORTUNATELY: This would require that the US maintain (as it does now) military expenditures greater than the rest of the G20 combined in order to enforce it….and the American people are finding, as the US share of the global economy shrinks, that this kind of expenditure is not something that they can or will tolerate.
    This is the premise of a wonderful little book by Military Historian Gwynne Dyer entitled, prosaically, “Future: Tense”

  4. On August 13, 2013, I added the Hawaiian Kingdom to the Wikipedia list of current military occupations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_occupations#Current

    To date, the listing has been deleted 10 times, by different editors, after which I undid those deletions. Recently a discussion has ensued on the talk page for that article, as part of the editing war. A third opinion was received, which I disagreed with. We then sought the help of the Wikipedia Mediation Committee, which referred it an RfC (request for comments) on the article talk page. This is where editors get to vote and make statements regarding whether the listing should remain posted or be removed. I have made my closing statements.

    Law is not my area of professional expertise, so I am seeking to remove myself from the debate. I am posting this here, in case someone who has expertise in this area, and who is also proficient in Wikipedia editing, feels it is a battle worth taking up. There are some diligent editors determined to defeat my arguments and sources, to get the listing removed. It has gotten past my scope of knowledge in this field, but I have done my best so far. At the conclusion of the RfC process, I will no longer be participating in the discussion about Hawaiʻi in that article. However, if someone feels this forum is important enough, to pick up where I have left off, and make sure that Hawaiʻi remains on that list, then here are the relevant links:

    article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_occupations

    article section: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_occupations#Current

    talk page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:List_of_military_occupations

    revision history: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_military_occupations&action=history

    request for mediation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_mediation/List_of_military_occupations

Leave a Reply