Hawai‘i as a Republic
A small number of men, many of whom were from missionary families, were primarily responsible for the events that led to the illegal overthrow of the monarchy and the annexation of Hawai‘i as a territory of the United States. Close-knit, bound by common backgrounds, social connections, marriage, and business ties, these men and their families were powerful. They formed the core of an elite group that had managed to gain and maintain control of the economy, wealth, and politics of Hawai‘i for more than forty years.
In the period of the Republic, 1894 to 1898, between the overthrow of the monarchy and annexation, Hawai‘i expanded. Industry doubled and many fortunes were made. The sugar planters built fine houses, which were richly furnished with luxuries to be found in mansions in New York or Chicago—baths, electric lights, and telephones.
On the other hand, life for Native Hawaiians declined. Some felt the Republic was a police state. Large gatherings were broken up, and people were arrested on suspicion of treason. Dancing hula was again forbidden, and Sunday concerts were stopped. Other Hawaiian cultural practices were frowned upon.
Over the years, with strong American influences, Hawai‘i had become more “American.” Hawaiians largely spoke English and were given an American education. Children educated by missionaries in what was now called the Royal School had later become Hawai‘i’s rulers. The latest Hawaiian Constitution was written in English first, later in Hawaiian. The Hawaiian legislature used English during its meetings.