Chapter 1, Section 1
In Progress

Opposition to and Overthrow

The cabinet met with members of a new group called the Committee of Safety, composed of Americans and Europeans who wanted to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. They planned to set up their own government and try to get America to annex Hawai‘i. They asked U.S. Minister John L. Stevens to land U.S. troops from the U.S.S. Boston in Honolulu Harbor. He agreed. On January 16, 1893, a force of 162 heavily armed marines and sailors marched through Honolulu. They went down King Street and camped out across from ‘Iolani Palace. The Provisional Government (an “in between” government) took control. Queen Lili‘uokalani gave up the throne under protest. She believed the American government would help her get it back.

Now Hawai‘i was under martial law. Two weeks after the overthrow, the American flag was raised. People had to take an oath supporting the new government, but many refused. The Royal Hawaiian Band resigned rather than take the oath. Many Hawaiians wrote and sang patriotic songs for their queen. The most famous of these was “Mele ‘Ai Pōhaku,” the “Stone-Eating Song.” Native Hawaiians would rather eat stones than support the new Provisional Government and be disloyal to their queen.

Sanford B. Dole was chosen as the president of the Provisional Government. He was a respected son of a missionary family. Dole and the Provisional Government sent word to Washington that Hawai‘i wished to be annexed to America. The queen sent friends to Washington to stop such a move. U.S. President Cleveland sent James Blount to Hawai‘i see what should be done. He sent back a report that favored the queen. However, the Provisional Government went ahead with its own work. The idea of annexation was forgotten for a time. It was now its plan to frame a new constitution and form a republic.

On the Fourth of July in 1894, President Dole, on the steps of ‘Iolani Palace, told the people that Hawai‘i was to be a republic. Before this, the cabinet and the legislature had promised to be loyal to such a republic. They would oppose any return of the queen. President Dole was to be the first President of the Republic for a term of six years. Thus, far out in the Pacific Ocean, America spread its power.

Commitee on Safety
Committee of Safety


Marines at ‘Iolani Palace


Executive council
Provisional government cabinet (left to right) James A. King, Sanford B. Dole, W. O. Smith and Peter C. Jones


Boston USS cruiser c1891 LOC cph 3b39622
U.S.S. Boston


Liliuokalani as Princess Regent1
Lili‘uokalani – “ I, Lili‘uokalani, by the Grace of God and under the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this Kingdom. That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America, whose Minister Plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the said Provisional Government. Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps loss of life, I do, under this protest, and impelled by said forces, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representative and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.” — Queen Lili‘uokalani, Jan 17, 1893


Royal Hawaiian Band in 1889
Royal Hawaiian Band


Members of the Constitutional Convention Republic of Hawaii 1894
Members of the Constitutional Convention, Republic of Hawaii, 1894


Sanford Ballard Dole
Sanford B. Dole


Stamp Hawaii 1893 Dole Sc79
Hawaii Stamp 1893 – Dole


Sanford Dole proclaiming the Republic of Hawai‘i
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