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The Annexation of Hawaii and Its History


Hawaii is located on the northeastern edge of Polynesia and almost in the center of the North Pacific Ocean. In the years 1870-1880, the political situation worsened and more and more demands were made for the annexation of the islands. In the early 1890s, a revolution broke out in Hawaii, and after the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, an interim government was formed, which in February 1893, proposed signing an annexation treaty (Sai, 2017). At that time, President Grover Cleveland and the Senate replied by rejecting the proposal. However, in 1894, Hawaii has proclaimed a republic recognized by the United States (Smith, 2019). There was a long political game during the whole process, which even today raises many questions.

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Annexation History

In 1893, the monarchy was overthrown in Hawaii as a result of the intervention of the American military and with the support of American business (Miller, 2019). The Republic of Hawaii was led by Sanford Dole and Lorrin Thurston, Americans by birth and subjects of the Hawaiian kings by birth who spoke Hawaiian (Smith, 2019). Therefore, people who America preferred were gradually attracted to power for the further simplicity of managing decisions.

The case was slightly slowed down by the new US President – the inaugural Democrat Grover Cleveland. He reacted extremely negatively to the coup, apologized to Queen Liliuokalani, recalled the US ambassador who supported the coup and returned the annexation document from the Senate. It was no longer possible to change the situation’s general development, and the next president’s government, Republican William McKinley, returned to the conversation about the annexation of Hawaii (Smith, 2019). In this direction, the decisions of each president decided the fate of many people.

In 1896, William McKinley was elected President of the United States, and he took office on March 4, 1897. The leadership of the Republic of Hawaii immediately began accession negotiations, which ended in the summer of 1898. The President believed that the Hawaiian Islands were of significant strategic value to the United States, especially in light of the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. In addition, Britain, France and Japan have also shown interest in the islands. Therefore, on June 16, 1898, an agreement was signed on the admission of the republic to the United States with the transformation into the Territory of Hawaii. The treaty was ratified by Congress and finally signed by the President on July 7, with further transfer of power by August 12 (Smith, 2019). This way, a result was obtained that had dubious justifications but was in the interests of the United States.

In 1897, when the annexation treaty was first submitted to the Senate, it was rejected. However, during the war between Spain and the USA, Congress passed a resolution for the annexation of the islands. As a result, Hawaii received the status of a USA state by 1959 (Smith, 2019). Therefore, as a result, the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, which took many years, was nevertheless accomplished.

In 1956, Police Officer John Burns was elected to represent Hawaii in the US Congress, winning with Japanese and Filipino votes. Arriving in Washington, Burns began recruiting allies from Congress leaders and state governors. His biggest achievement was convincing Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson that Hawaii was ready to become a state. In March 1959, both houses of Congress passed the Hawaii Acceptance Act, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s signature made it into law (Smith, 2019). Thus, after passing through the reign of three presidents, this long process of land appropriation came to an end.

However, for many years after the state became part of the United States, Hawaiians continued to resist this. As a result of numerous petitions and appeals, the decision still remained official, its revision was not carried out (Naylor, 2017). The actual process of the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands is rather controversial regarding political and ethical views. It is not only the basic humanity of such a decision that is questioned but its legality at the time of adoption.

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Learning Outcomes

The learning outcome of the research on the topic is the knowledge that the Republic of Hawaii is a state that existed in the Hawaiian Islands between 1894 and 1898. The Hawaiian Republic came into being after the abolition of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the termination of the interim government on July 4, 1894. On July 7, 1898, Hawaii was annexed to the United States and received territory status (Smith, 2019). The study of such information allows for forming an understanding of the history of the United States and Hawaii in particular.


In conclusion, it is also important to emphasize that, hypothetically, such a decision could apply to any independent land if the United States had the opportunity to do so. Additionally, information about the policies of various US presidents in relation to such decisions as this annexation turned out to be new. The decisions of each of them are historically different and in some aspects even contradict. That is why the policy of the country during the rule of each of them was different.


Miller, P. (2019). Business as mission and its history in 19th century Hawaii. Glocal Conversations, 7(1), 25-48. Web.

Naylor, E. (2017). Mauna kea – Construction site or sacred land? A look at the long-lasting effects of the Hawaiian Annexation. Waterloo Historical Review, 9. Web.

Sai, D. (2017). Review of the book nation within The history of the American occupation of Hawai’i by Tom Coffman. Hawaiian Journal of History, 51, 186-189. Web.

Smith, T. (2019). History, “unwritten literature,” and US colonialism in Hawai ‘i, 1898–1915. Diplomatic History, 43(5), 813-839. Web.

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