The leader of the Hawaiian Islands was Kalakaua, who ruled as he pleased. When he died his sister, Liliuokalani became Queen of the Hawaiian Islands (1891). Instead of favoring the Americans and missionaries, as every one expected, Liliuokalani soon showed that she too wanted to change the laws so as to rule just as she pleased. Like her brother, she spent much money, listened to the proposals of the Louisiana Lottery Company and of the opium dealers, and tried to change the laws so they could carry on their business in the Hawaiian Islands.
The better class of people on the islands knew that the lottery and opium eating would ruin the Hawaiians, and, led by Sanford B. Dole, an American born in the islands, they rebelled. The queen was made to sign a paper whereby she gave up her throne, but she added that the Americans had forced her to do so, and that the United States should judge whether they had a right to turn her out of her kingdom or not.
Dole and several other men on the island immediately set up a provisional government (1893), and sent men to Washington to offer the rich Hawaiian Islands as a free gift to our great republic. The Hawaiian question came up at Washington about a month before Harrison was to make room for Cleveland, and as everybody knew that the first of these gentlemen was for, and the latter against, the annexation of the islands, it became largely a question of time.
An attempt was made to rush a treaty through the Senate before the 4th of March. It failed, however, and Cleveland’s first action was to withdraw the treaty and send a man to Hawaii to find out the wishes of the natives, because Liliuokalani insisted that they did not want to be annexed, and that she would never have been deposed had it not been for the American settlers and the United States marines. The latter had been sent ashore to protect the lives and property of Americans during the revolution, but the queen declared they had helped the rebels to dethrone her.
Now, it is very hard to find out the exact truth about such things, and many people have stated that the man sent out to Hawaii by Cleveland heard only one side of the story. However that may be, the President, upon receiving his report, felt sure that the Americans alone were to blame for all the trouble which had occurred.
When a person or a nation has done anything wrong, the only honorable course is to apologize and try to undo the harm done. Cleveland therefore sent a man out there, with orders to help the queen recover her lost power. This American minister, however, found out that it could not be done without bloodshed, and that Liliuokalani meant to have some of the men who had taken part in the revolution put to death, and to take their property. He therefore wrote to Washington for further orders, and the President promptly answered that he would not compel the people to receive the queen if they did not want her, and that lie would not uphold a woman who was not ready to show a generous and forgiving spirit. Liliuokalani thus lost his support, and, as the provisional government refused to yield to the queen, she had to withdraw to her private house, while the Hawaiians in power, seeing no chance of immediate annexation, set up a republic, with Dole as President.
Secretly helped by a few Englishmen, the Louisiana Lottery, and the opium sellers, Liliuokalani’s friends now began to plot to overthrow the republic, and, it is said, they made arrangements to blow up the President and his Cabinet while they were at church.
We are told that this plot was discovered almost at the last minute by a man who stepped into the church and spoke a few words in President Dole’s ear. The latter rose from his seat, after whispering in his turn to the men near him, who softly passed the message on. A few minutes later only the women and children were left in the building, but they too rushed out when they heard soldiers marching in the street.
Liliuokalani’s friends and troops were promptly surrounded, and after a few men had been killed the rest surrendered. The queen was arrested, her stores of arms and explosives seized, and the uprising of 1895 was at an end. Fearing that the islands would not be able to resist an attack from the British or the Japanese (who both seemed inclined to pounce upon them), the Hawaiians again asked to be annexed by the United States. They had proved so quiet and orderly under a republican government that the proposal was accepted, and the stars and stripes now float over all the Hawaiian Islands, where until 1898 we owned only the right to a coaling station.