The Annexation of Hawaii: The Pride of a People put to the Test
The Hawaiian Islands contain some of the most beautiful and resource rich land in the Pacific, and thus presented an ideal location for the United States to expand its empire. Sanford B Dole, an American lawyer and jurist, pushed for the annexation of the Islands to make them another one of America’s territories. Before the US actually annexed the islands, Americans corrupted the local government and put whites in practically complete control. The Americans maintained power until the Hawaiian king died, but his successor, Queen Lilioukalani exerted more power over her own people. Because she placed the well being of her people and the quelling of oppression as her top priorities, Queen Lilioukalani held the more American ideas of freedom and equality.
Sanford B Dole was not interested in how what he was doing affected Hawaiian people. He only wanted the American fruit plantations to flourish and bring in more money. The Americans on the island, including Sanford B Dole, persuaded the Hawaiian King to pass a law that limited the voting rights on the island to land owners who could pass an American literacy test. Unfortunately most Hawaiians were illiterate and didn’t own property, so the white people maintained their control the government. In 1891, King Kalakaua, Queen Lilioukalani’s brother, died and she inherited the throne.
The Americans were expanding their influence in Hawaii fast, gaining political control, and building fruit plantations all over the islands. However in 1993, President Grover Cleveland started looking at the situation and placed restrictions on the United States expansion in Hawaii. But the Hawaiian people’s protection was limited, in 1898 Grover’s term was over and President William McKinley was elected. McKinley wanted to maintain control of the Hawaiian island for American interests; he approved the annexation of Hawaii and sent troops to overthrow the government. Queen Lilioukalani surrendered to the US to avoid the violence.
Despite Queen Lilioukalani’s strong attempt to maintain her nation, she had to surrender because, unlike Sanford B Dole, she valued above all the safety and welfare of her people. Queen Lilioukalani could have rallied Hawaiians to fight and die for their queen, but she knew that her forces were outnumbered and under-trained. The fight between the Hawaiians and well-armed and trained US Marines would have resulted in an overwhelming loss for her people.
With the help of Sanford B Dole, the United States government gained everything they possibly could out from Hawaii. By 1890 Hawaii provided a huge amount of revenue for the United states, importing over six million dollars worth of goods and exporting over 13 million dollars worth of good. Sanford served as ambassador for the US, convincing the government to give America more and more things. The government allowed the building of hundreds of plantations on the islands, and it also approved the construction of a major Naval Base on the island of Oahu. American lawyers, like Sanford, and representatives were slowly taking the resources of Hawaii away from the Hawaiian people. By the year 1890, 75% of privately held land on Hawaii was owned by foreigners, primarily Americans.
The people of Hawaii were mistreated and taken advantage of by the Americans. They jumped on any opportunity to use Hawaii’s many resources to benefit the United States. They completely rewrote the Hawaiian constitution and gained control over the government. Finally when someone decided to stand up for the rights of her people, the US completely took over the islands and transformed them into an American territory. Queen Lilioukalani was simply trying to correct the injustices done to her people; she did not deserve to lose the kingdom she had worked so hard to restore.