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Today In History : January 17, 2022

On This Day In History

On January 17, 1893 on the Hawaiian Islands, a group of American sugar planters under Sanford Ballard Dole overthrew Queen Liliuokalani, the Hawaiian monarch, and established a new provincial government with Dole as president. The coup occurred with the foreknowledge of John L. Stevens, the U.S. minister to Hawaii, and 300 U.S. Marines from the U.S. cruiser Boston were called to Hawaii, allegedly to protect American lives.

In the early 18th century the first American traders came to Hawaii to exploit the islands’ sandalwood. By the mid-19th century the sugar industry had become well established in Hawaii. American missionaries and planters brought about great changes in Hawaii. In 1840 a constitutional monarchy was established, stripping the Hawaiian monarch of much of his authority.

Sugar exports to the United States expanded greatly during the late 19th century. U.S. investors and American sugar planters on the islands broadened their domination over Hawaiian affairs. In 1891 Liliuokalani, the sister of the late King Kalakaua, ascended to the throne, She replaced the constitution of 1887 with a constitution increasing her personal authority.

In January 1893, a revolutionary “Committee of Safety,” organized by Sanford B. Dole, staged a coup against Queen Liliuokalani. On February 1, Minister John Stevens recognized Dole’s new government and proclaimed Hawaii a U.S. protectorate. Dole submitted a treaty of annexation to the U.S. Senate, but most Democrats opposed it, especially after it was revealed that most Hawaiians did not want annexation.

President Grover Cleveland sent a new U.S. minister to Hawaii to restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne under the 1887 constitution, but Dole refused to step aside. Cleveland’s successor, President William McKinley, negotiated a treaty with the Republic of Hawaii in 1897. In 1900, Hawaii was organized into a formal U.S. territory and in 1959 entered the United States as the 50th state.


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