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The U.S. Occupation

On January 16, 1893, United States diplomatic and military personnel conspired with a small group of individuals to overthrow the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom and prepared to provide for annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States of America, under a treaty of annexation submitted to the United States Senate, on February 15, 1893. Newly elected U.S. President Grover Cleveland, having received notice that the cause of the so-called revolution derived from illegal intervention by U.S. diplomatic and military personnel, withdrew the treaty of annexation and appointed James H. Blount, as Special Commissioner, to investigate the terms of the so-called revolution and to report his findings.

The report concluded that the United States legation assigned to the Hawaiian Kingdom, together with United States Marines and Naval personnel, were directly responsible for the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom government. The report details the culpability of the United States government in violating international laws and the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom, but the United States Government fails to follow through in its commitment to assist in reinstating the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Instead, the United States allows five years to lapse and a new United States President, William McKinley, enters into a second treaty of annexation with the same individuals who participated in the illegal overthrow with the U.S. legation in 1893 on June 16, 1897, but the treaty was unable to be ratified by the United States Senate due to protests that were submitted by Her Majesty Queen Lili‘uokalani and signature petitions against annexation by 21,169 Hawaiian nationals.

As a result of the Spanish-American War, the United States opted to unilaterally annex the Hawaiian Islands by enacting a congressional joint resolution on July 7, 1898, in order to utilize the Hawaiian Islands as a military base to fight the Spanish in Guam and the Philippines. The United States has remained in the Hawaiian Islands and the Hawaiian Kingdom has since been under prolonged occupation to the present, but its continuity as an independent State remains intact under international law.

The main documents surrounding United States intervention and subsequent occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom are recorded in the following.

The Executive Documents of the United States House of Representatives, 53rd Congress, 1894-95, Appendix II, Foreign Relations, 1894, Affairs in Hawai‘i, volumes 1 and 2:

  • Report of U.S. Special Commissioner James H. Blount to U.S. Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham concerning the Hawaiian Kingdom Investigation, July 17, 1893
  • Petition filed with U.S. Special Commissioner James Blount by the Hawaiian Patriotic League, March 2, 1893
  • Dispatch from U.S. Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham to U.S. President Grover Cleveland concerning the Hawaiian Kingdom Investigation, October 18, 1893
  • Dispatch from U.S. Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham to U.S. Minister Albert S. Willis, assigned to the Hawaiian Islands, concerning the Hawaiian Kingdom Investigation, October 18, 1893
  • U.S. President Cleveland's Message to the U.S. Congress concerning the conclusion of the Hawaiian Kingdom investigation, December 18, 1893
  • Dispatch from U.S. Minister Albert S. Willis to U.S. Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham concerning the consent of Queen Lili‘uokalani to the Condition of Restoration of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government, December 20, 1893
  • Dispatch from U.S. Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham to U.S. Minister Albert S. Willis concerning U.S. Senate resolution warning Foreign Governments not to interfere in Hawaiian Political Affairs, June 2, 1894
  • Dispatch from U.S. Minister Albert S. Willis to U.S. Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham concerning the delivery of the U.S. Senate Resolution to the provisional government, June 23, 1894

The 1893 Executive Agreements between President Cleveland and Queen Lili`uokalani obligating the U.S. to administer the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and to restore the Hawaiian Kingdom government:

  • Article, "1893 Cleveland-Lili`uokalani Agreements," November 28, 2009
  • Lili`uokalani Agreement (administration of Hawaiian Kingdom law), Appendix II, Foreign Relations, Affairs in Hawai`i, sent to the Congress by President Cleveland, December 18, 1893
  • Restoration Agreement (restoration of the Hawaiian Kingdom government), Appendix II, Foreign Relations, Affairs in Hawai`i, sent to the Congress by President Cleveland, January 13, 1894

Congressional Record: containing the Proceedings and Debates, 53rd Congress, 2nd Session, volume 26:

  • Resolution of U.S. House of Representatives condemning U.S. Minister Stevens for his role in aiding the illegal overthrow of Hawai'i's legitimate government and also instituting the hands-off policy of noninterference to the U.S. President, Feb. 7, 1894
  • Resolution of U.S. Senate instituting the hands-off policy of noninterference but also warning other Governments not to interfere with Hawaiian political affairs, May 31, 1894
  • U.S. Senate Secret Debate concerning Hawai`i, May 31, 1898

Hawai'i National Archives in Honolulu, and the United States National Archives in Washington, D.C.:

  • Protest filed with the United States Legation by the Governor for the Island of O'ahu against the unauthorized landing a U.S. troops from the U.S.S. Boston, January 16, 1893.
  • Protest filed with the United States Legation by the Minister of Foreign Affairs against the unauthorized landing a U.S. troops from the U.S.S. Boston, January 16, 1893.
  • Protest filed with the United States Legation by Her Majesty Queen Lili'uokalani against the U.S. Minister's recognition of the provisional government and calling for an investigation by the U.S. President into the actions of its representative and to reinstate the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom, January 17, 1893.
  • Protest filed with U.S. Minister Albert Willis by Her Majesty Queen Lili'uokalani against the formation of the Republic of Hawai'i, June 20, 1894.
  • Protest filed with the British Legation by Her Majesty Queen Lili'uokalani against the formation of the Republic of Hawai'i, June 20, 1894.
  • Protest filed with the U.S. State Department by Her Majesty Queen Lili'uokalani against the Treaty of Annexation signed by the United States of America and the Republic of Hawai'i, June 17, 1897
  • Petitions filed with the U.S. State Department by Joseph Heleluhe, commissioner for the Men and Women's Hawaiian Patriotic League and the Hui Kalaiaina, on July 24, 1897
  • Petition against the Annexation of Hawaii Submitted to the U.S. Senate in 1897 by the Hawaiian Patriotic League
  • Protest filed with U.S. Minister Harold Sewall on August 6, 1898, by the Hawaiian Patriotic League (Hui Aloha 'Aina) and the Hawaiian Political Association (Hui Kalai'aina) against the Joint Resolution purporting to annex the Hawaiian Islands
  • Memorial filed by the Hawaiian Patriotic League (Hui Aloha `Aina) with the United States "Hawaiian Commission" for the creation of the territorial government. The commission was established on July 9, 1898 after President McKinley signed the joint resolution of annexation on July 7, 1898

United States Department of Justice, Legal Issues Raised by Proposed Presidential Proclamation to Extend the Territorial Sea, Opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel, vol. 12, p. 238-263, October 4, 1988, commenting on the annexation of Hawai‘i

United States Statutes at Large:

  • Joint Resolution no. 55, To provide for annexing the Hawaiian Islands to the United States, July 7, 1898
  • Chapter 339., An Act to Provide a Government for the Territory of Hawai'i, April 30, 1900
  • Chapter 42., An Act To amend an Act entitled "An Act to provide a government for the Territory of Hawaii," approved April 30, 1900, as amended, to establish an Hawaiian Homes Commission, granting certain powers to the board of harbor commissioners of the Territory of Hawaii, and for other purposes, July 9, 1921
  • U.S. Public Law 86-3, An Act to Provide for the admission of the State of Hawai'i into the Union, March 18, 1959
  • U.S. Public Law 103-150, To acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the January 17, 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and to offer an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, Nov. 23, 1993

Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague, Netherlands:

United Nations Security Council:





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