One of the little-known historical facts about Hawaii is that the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown not only by the Queen’s enemies, but also by those who were her friends.
The last in line of the monarchy of Hawaii, Queen Lili’uokalani, was a cultured, refined and talented woman. She was a multi-lingual world traveler, a skilled statesman, a writer, historian and a composer of hundreds of songs, including the famous and beautiful, “Aloha Oe.”
One of her “friends” who was central in the overthrow of Hawaii was Sanford Dole. The son of missionaries, Dole grew up on Kauai, one of the 8 islands of Hawaii. His mother died soon after he was born, so his missionary father had a Hawaiian woman care for him. She nursed him and taught him Hawaiian lore and he became fluent in the Hawaiian language. He was often taunted as a child that he was of “American blood, but Hawaiian milk.”
Dole became a friend of the monarchy of Hawaii, including King Kalakaua and Queen Lili’uokalani. The Queen was often a guest at the Dole home for social events and she and Sanford Dole shared an interest in conservation. They even took a trip together to Ni’ihau (another of the 8 islands of Hawaii) to see about preserving a species of bird that had been an important source for the feathered cloaks of the ancient Hawaiian chiefs.
Dole (whose cousin was the “Dole” of Dole Pineapple) was a leading figure in the history of Hawaii becoming a state. He had been a Hawaiian Kingdom Supreme Court judge, but resigned his commission, betrayed the Queen and worked for what was “the annexation of Hawaii, so called, but which never actually happened. The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown by men like Dole who had grown up in Hawaii (many of them third generation) and immigrants from America and of other nationalities.
Dole became the leader of the group who perpetrated the overthrow of Hawaii. He was the head of the “provisional government” that was set up after the monarchy of Hawaii was overthrown; he became the president of the Republic of Hawaii (an oligarchy that was created to appear like a legitimate government that could petition the U.S. to annex Hawaii); and he was the first territorial governor after the supposed annexation.
What was the annexation of Hawaii, so called, which never happened after the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown? In international law, annexation can only happen by treaty – otherwise a hostile power is considered to “occupy” the foreign state. The United States moved to annex Hawaii by a joint resolution of Congress. A joint resolution of Congress can only apply to the domestic U.S., not to a foreign country. (If it could apply, then the U.S. Congress could pass a resolution to annex Mexico or Canada or any other country and yet this is how they proceeded to “annex” the Kingdom of Hawaii.)
Those who were the primary players in the overthrow of Hawaii worked diligently after the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown to rewrite the history books, including that a “treaty of annexation” had been signed. However, as the true history shows, no such treaty ever existed and the majority of subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the 19th century (both native Hawaiian and immigrants from other countries) strongly opposed annexation to the United States.