Hawaii's Last Queen — Transcript
David McCullough, Series Host: Good evening and welcome to The American Experience. I'm David McCullough.
As is plain to see on the map of the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian Islands are farther away from anywhere else than any group of islands on earth -- because the Pacific Ocean is so unimaginably large.
Historically, too, Hawaii has often seemed far removed. That Hawaii even existed wasn't known to the western world until 1778.
But a look at the map also shows Hawaii on the route to China, like a perfect stepping stone, and it was only a short time later, in 1784, that an American ship set sail out of New York to make the first important U.S. contact with the Chinese Empire. And once started, the American dream of riches in the China trade would never die. The westward-ho spirit of the nineteenth century by no means stopped at the California shoreline. As early as 1843, the United States declared it would never permit any other world power to take over Hawaii.
For ships bound to and from Asia, Hawaii was the ideal stopover, for provisions, for fresh water, and for coal, as the age of sail gave way to the age of steam. By the 1890's with the creed of "expansionism" being taken up by a number of American politicians and businessmen, the American annexation of Hawaii seemed only a matter of time.
What followed, in 1893, was the overthrow of the hereditary monarchy of Hawaii, of Queen Lili'uokalani, an unfamiliar story to most Americans today. In Hawaii, however, the subject is anything but old hat and interpretations of what actually happened differ sharply, depending on who's telling the story.
Narrator: Just over a century ago, there was an isolated kingdom called Hawaii--an independent nation, with a parliament, its own flag, a national anthem, and a beloved queen, Lili'uokalani. But in 1893, she was removed from her throne--with the help of the United States Marines. It was a great loss to her people.
Thelma Bugbee: If you can imagine something within your own culture that is tremendously important to you, that is suddenly done away with. Just totally ripped out and gone. If you can imagine yourself relating to something like that, that's what we went through.
Narrator: Lili'uokalani was descended from generations of chiefs, revered by the Hawaiians as gods. She had been educated by Americans. A poet and composer, she dined at the White House, was a guest at Buckingham Palace. But nothing had prepared her for the crisis she would face as queen.
Aaron Mahi, Conductor, Royal Hawaiian Band: Liliu was well versed in Hawaiian, well versed in the western culture, and knew the values of both sides. Knew the inevitable of what was going to happen to Hawaii.
Narrator: When Lili'uokalani was born in 1838, the chanting lasted for days. It was the way to herald new arrivals among the ali'i, the high chiefs of the islands. But by this time, many of the old ways had already vanished. The greatest change had been brought by a small group of congregationalist missionaries from New England who had landed in the islands almost twenty years earlier. It would be their grandchildren who would one day--overthrow the queen.
By the time Lili'uokalani was born, a third of the Hawaiians were Christian, nudity was banned, the hula outlawed. The missionaries had developed a written Hawaiian language and taught virtually the entire adult population to read and write. More and more Hawaiians were accepting western ways.
Thelma Bugbee: They were able to simply rip out the essence of that which our native soul related to. And cast it down and said now you relate to this, which was the new culture they had brought in. And if the missionaries were like Jesus Christ, it would have worked beautifully...But they were not, they were human beings.
Narrator: In the harbors, an increasing number of American ships were stopping to refuel on their way to Asia. Hawaiian chiefs could now see that their future lay with the world beyond the islands. They turned to the missionaries for help.
Jim Bartels, Curator, 'Iolani Palace: They did a remarkable thing. They created a school only for the children of the seven families which would be appropriate to rule. And they simply turned their children over to an American missionary couple and allowed them to just take them and train them any way they wished.
Narrator: Liliu was one of sixteen royal or ali'i children sent by their families to attend the school.
Patricia Grimshaw, Historian: Lili'uokalani at that school was exposed to influences quite other than simply Christian or learning to read and write. For example, those children learned to dress and speak and behave in ways of polite American society. To be strictly regulated by time, self-discipline, thrift, self-denial. I am not suggesting that all of this was fully accomplished. But they certainly did learn, at least, the trappings of polite American society very thoroughly there.
Narrator: She would be called by her christian name, Lydia. A brilliant student, she learned languages and music and read biographies of English kings and queens.
By the time she finished her education she was easily the most accomplished young woman in the islands.
Glen Grant, Historical Researcher: I think you can not underestimate the force that this school had on providing the children with a sense of their own importance. Their own role in Hawaiian history. The missionaries had that sense of their importance and I think they bestowed it upon the ali'i, the children, that they had an obligation and a responsibility to the Hawaiian nation when they would become rulers
Narrator: They would rule in a court that emulated the elegance and ceremony of the British Monarchy and even adopted their parliamentary system. But it was from this point on, that the Hawaiians began to lose political control.
Davianna McGregor, Historian: Once a constitutional government was established, then the king had to rely upon foreign advisors to run the government because none of the Hawaiian chiefs had been trained in running a whole constitutional government. And so many of the missionaries assumed roles in the cabinet.
Narrator: Foreigners became increasingly powerful, not only in the government, but also the royal family. In 1862, when Liliu was twenty-four, she married into the American community. Her husband, John Dominis, came from a prominent Boston family.
Glen Grant: They were married, but not to the favor of his mother, who always looked upon her as a non-Caucasian and as someone who she was not going to accept into her house with open arms, despite the fact that she was a princess.
Narrator: The couple would live in his mother's home, Washington Place, a plantation style house in the middle of Honolulu.
It was not a happy household. Liliu wanted a family of her own but was never able to bear children. And she was frequently lonely, her husband preferring to socialize without her.
But she would find herself in music. In her memoirs she wrote: "to compose was as natural to me as to breathe. This gift remains a source of the greatest consolation."
Aaron Mahi: Day in and day out she would write. It was indeed a place of refuge for her. Most of her inner feelings during the latter part of her life were all recorded through song.
Narrator: Over time she would compose 165 pieces, and would write one of Hawaii's most famous songs, Aloha Oe.
Aaron Mahi : She would use western melodies and had the ability to write in the western style with harmonies and supporting the melodic line. And then she also wrote in the style of the ancient way.
Narrator: Liliu became expert in the ancient chants, at a time when traditions were being lost. The Hawaiians themselves were disappearing. The ali'i were dying off at an alarming rate, epidemics and alcoholism--diseases of foreign contact--were taking their toll. Kings were dying young without heirs. When westerners had first arrived in the islands in 1778, there were eight hundred thousand Hawaiian people. Only fifty years later, 80% of the population had perished.
Glen Grant: As many said, the Hawaiians were dying not only of disease. I think it was Robert Louis Stevenson that commented they were dying of cultural malaise.
Narrator: Everything about the Hawaiian way of life seemed to be vanishing. More and more Hawaiians were losing control of their land. The missionaries had pushed through complex reforms they claimed were democratic, but that would ultimately benefit only a small minority.
Davianna McGregor: The common people ended up with less than one percent of the land combined. Then, soon after that laws were passed enabling foreigners to own land in Hawaii and the way was open for them to purchase lands from the chiefs or from the government.
Narrator: Now, the traditionally large and close-knit Hawaiian families were being scattered, people were forced to seek work in the towns.
Patricia Grimshaw: So it turned out to be a disaster for the native Hawaiians. But, of course, it turned out to be a bonanza for the foreigners and that included the mission children, who made good use of these possibilities and became very swiftly quite affluent landowners.
Narrator: Although she herself was married to a foreigner, Lili'uokalani became increasingly critical of their growing power in the kingdom. But she had yet to realize just how powerful they would become.
Narrator: In 1874, Lili'uokalani's brother, Kalakaua became king. He named his sister heir to the throne. She was thirty-eight years old.
The king was Liliu's temperamental opposite:. extravagant, opportunistic, and always flamboyant. Kalakaua staged some of the greatest celebrations in Hawaiian history. The royal Hawaiian band captured the king's spirit in the "Kalakaua March."
Bartels: He had a two-week birthday party. He had a grand ball. He had a hula program. He had a great luau for ten thousand people. Everything that both cultures could provide were put at the service of this one event.
Narrator: Kalakaua shared his sister's dedication to Hawaiian tradition. He brought back hula which had been banned since missionary times.
Grant: Often times called "the merry monarch," I think he's looked upon mostly for his lighter side and his love of music and dance. But his majesty was intensely nationalistic. And intensely driven by a need to I think preserve the sovereignty of Hawaiian rule in the Hawaiian kingdom.
Narrator: At first, Kalakaua allied himself with the landowners. It was natural, because he himself owned thousands of acres. In 1876 , he traveled to Washington to secure a treaty so that Hawaiians could sell sugar to the United States, tax- free. In time, the treaty would prove disastrous in ways that Kalakaua could not foresee. But when it first went into effect, Hawaii's economic future seemed secure.
Lili'uokalani wrote: "The planters were elated, the merchants were encouraged, sugar companies declared fabulous dividends."
As they opened new fields the planters realized that there weren't enough Hawaiians left to cut cane. They brought in thousands of laborers from China and Japan, who, in time, would outnumber the Hawaiians. The planters imported the latest machinery from America and built railroads to transport the cane. Within a short time, Hawaii became one of the largest sugar producers in the world.
By 1885, almost all the plantations were in the hands of foreigners, many of them the grandchildren of the original missionaries. They called themselves "the missionary boys."
Grant: They are a generation who believe that on their shoulders has fallen the responsibility of bringing Hawaii into a state of high civilization as they define it. They have I think a very deep-seated goal and that is not only to benefit themselves, but in their view to benefit the entire nation by Americanizing it as rapidly as possible.
Narrator: The more money they made, the more they tried to control the internal affairs of the kingdom and the actions of very king who had laid the groundwork for their fortunes. Soon they would find out that his sister, the Princess Lili'uokalani, would stand in their way. In 1881, Kalakaua went on an extended journey around the world, leaving Lili'uokalani to run the affairs of the kingdom.
Soon after he left, ships from canton arrived in Honolulu carrying 4000 new chinese workers. When they docked in the harbor, a captain reported several cases of small pox aboard ship. Within a month, the disease had assumed epidemic proportions, particularly among the Hawaiians. Lili'uokalani responded immediately.
Grant: The princess closed the port. She felt that small pox as it had in earlier years, had a devastating effect upon her people. The outpouring of protest by the business community which was haole, or Caucasian, was tremendous.
Narrator: The Americans and Europeans, who were far less susceptible to small pox than the Hawaiians, were livid over this interference.
Grant: But she stood her grounds I think she clearly demonstrated that the welfare of her people was far more important than the profits for the business community.
Narrator: When Kalakaua returned from his grand tour, he seemed a changed man--more assertive, more self-assured. To the horror of the business community, he purchased a gun boat and declared it the beginning of the Hawaiian navy. Turning his back on the United States, he moved to cement a relationship with the Japanese...Who were gaining interest in the rich China trade. Then, at enormous expense to the kingdom, he built the new 'Iolani Palace, evoking the splendor he had seen in Europe.
Bartels: Kalakaua built 'Iolani Palace strictly to impress. The furniture was purchased from the same factory that was making the furniture for the White House. The champagne was all real French champagne.
In fact, Kalakaua discussed electricity with Thomas Edison himself. And in 1887 installed a fantastically expensive electric light system in the palace. The light system actually ended up costing as much as the whole palace had without it.
Narrator: Kalakaua's indulgences infuriated the "missionary boys," who now held powerful positions in the legislature. Leading the opposition was a young, hotheaded lawyer and journalist named Lorrin Thurston. He formed a secret society of white businessmen.
Thurston Twigg-Smith, Grandson of Lorrin Thurston: My grandfather started the Hawaiian League to try to offset some of the acts that Kalakaua was already beginning to do. Kalakaua had been king for about thirteen years by that time and he was really aching for more absolute power.
Narrator: The Hawaiian League joined forces with a citizens militia, the Honolulu Rifles.
Thurston Twigg-Smith: He wanted as did the other members of that group, to do what the colonists had done in 1776, which was to throw off the yoke of monarchy and take on the civil rights and other things of a democracy. And they believed that that was in the best interests of the Hawaiians and I believe so too.
Narrator: In 1886, the conflict with the king escalated. The United States, in exchange for renewing the sugar treaty, demanded rights to Pearl Harbor as a fueling station for American ships in the Pacific.
But King Kalakaua flatly refused to grant the concession.
Davianna McGregor: King Kalakaua became aware that the benefits of this sugar industry was not going to him, or the chiefs, or to the Hawaiian people, but had gone to the Americans. And he was not about to give up the independence of Hawaii, even it if was over only just Pearl Harbor.
Narrator: Throughout these struggles, Kalakaua's greatest ally was his sister. In 1887, at the height of the tension, he sent Liliu and his wife, the queen, on a trip to london. They would represent Hawaii at the fifty year jubilee of Queen Victoria. It was one of the great social occasions of the century. Lili'uokalani went to dinner on the arm of the future Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, and had an audience with Queen Victoria, herself. She rode in a procession with the reigning families of the world, exhilarated to be in an environment where royalty was revered. But in Hawaii, the monarchy was under siege.
Grant: The Hawaiian League took action one night in July of 1887, and went to Kalakaua with a document that they had drafted, which was a new constitution, which limited his power, and forced him at the point of guns to sign this document. It would stick in the gullet of all Hawaiians and especially, the Princess Lili'uokalani.
Narrator: The king called it the bayonet constitution. It turned him into little more than a puppet and deprived most Hawaiians of the vote.
Lili'uokalani returned to Honolulu and found Kalakaua distraught. She wrote: We could see on my brother's countenance traces of the terrible strain and anxiety although this was only the commencement of the troubles for our nation.
Kalakaua had no option but to sign the treaty with the United States. American warships now had a permanent port at Pearl Harbor. In her diary, Lili'uokalani wrote, "It should not have been done." In November 1890, defeated and in declining health, Kalakaua sailed for San Francisco to seek medical help.
Two months later, crowds turned out to welcome the King home. But as the ship pulled into the harbor, the yards were crossed and the flags were flying at half mast. The King was dead.
As her brother's coffin was taken ashore, Lili'uokalani was being prepared to assume the throne.. She wrote: Few people have ever been placed in such a trying situation. Iwas compelled to take the oath to the constitution, which had led to my brother's death.
Narrator: On January 29, 1891, at a private ceremony held inside the palace., Fifty-two-year-old Lili'uokalani was declared Queen of Hawaii.
She inherited the throne at a most critical time for the Hawaiian people.
But as heralds went out onto the streets of Honolulu to spread news of her ascendance , the city seemed to be thriving. Sugar money had transformed the capital into a bustling commercial center. There were street cars, electric lines, telephones, and even tourists.
Grant: People coming in were surprised, they thought Hawaii was a wilderness, a Pacific jungle and what did they find but this smaller version of San Francisco that was growing very rapidly.
Narrator: Within a matter of weeks, Lili'uokalani and her entourage left the capital to tour her kingdom.
She began a campaign to renew her people's faith in the monarchy, to bolster their hopes that as queen she would restore all that had been lost during Kalakaua's reign.
She travelled to five of the eight islands in the kingdom.
There were now only about 40,000 Hawaiians left. They had become, for the first time, a minority in their own land, outnumbered by the immigrants brought in to work the sugar fields.
Malcolm Chun: When Lili'uokalani becomes queen, the expectations of the native population were that she would continue on her brother's legacy. That is, Hawaiians were first. This is our country. This is our nation.
Narrator: But Lili'uokalani also had to contend with the sugar planters who took for granted their right to control the throne.
Chun: And so their expectations is that she will not be a sovereign. She will be a constitutional monarch. She will be a woman, and therefore, go for the advice of her advisors, of her cabinet.
Narrator: Early on, she was warned by U.S. Representative, john stevens, not to follow in her brother's path. After years of Kalakaua's lavish spending, the treasury was nearly bankrupt. The queen attempted economic reforms and cut her own salary. Then, two months into her reign, a wave of panic spread across Hawaii's plantations. The United States government, in a move to protect domestic growers, in effect, revoked Hawaii's favored position on the American sugar market.
Tennant McWilliams: This creates a major problem for the Hawaiian sugar growers. They have only one outlet now, one chance to survive. They have got to become part of the United States.
Narrator: Lorrin Thurston formed a new organization with one goal: annexation to the United States. They met in secret and kept no records. Thurston set off for Washington to determine the U.S. Government's position on annexation.
Twigg-Smith: And they told him that they would look favorably on it, but it had to come as a request from the government out here.
Narrator: In Honolulu, annexation was the last thing Lili'uokalani had in mind. She was secretly making her own plans--to do away with the bayonet constitution. The bayonet constitution was despised by the Hawaiians. It had taken away their right to vote, and to hold high political office. Now they would push their queen to regain political power.
Bartels: Early in her reign, delegations of Hawaiians began to come to her and asked her to get rid of this terrible document. They came to her in the traditional way, coming to the ali'i for redress of wrong. And there was only one thing she could do. She had to take up this issue.
Narrator: She had a constitution drafted and waited for the right moment to announce it to her people. Early in January, the queen called in the head of the palace guard. And revealed her plan. She asked him to prepare for the possibility of violence.
Glen Grant: On the morning of January 14, 1893, the queen met with her cabinet and informed them that she had all intention of promulgating a new constitution which would restore herself as monarch with powers of a monarch and reestablish the voting rights of her people.
Narrator: Two of her ministers --both of American descent--betrayed her. They went to the annexationists with news of her secret plans.
Twigg-Smith: Her idea of a new constitution was to go back to her appointing the upper house, her naming her own cabinet without the legislature approving it. Things that simply couldn't be accepted by the business community and they decided that she had to go.
Narrator: That afternoon, the Hawaiian community converged on the palace. The new constitution was no longer a secret.
Chun: streams of people, said to be in the thousands are coming into 'Iolani palace grounds for the announcement of the promulgation. That is, the establishment of a new constitution.
Narrator: Foreign diplomats assembled in the throne room waiting for ceremonies to begin. The queen was meeting privately with her cabinet. She believed she had their total support.
Bartels: She asked them to do their duty and sign it. And to her amazement, her cabinet refused to do that.
Narrator: She wrote: I told them that I would not have undertaken such a step if they had not encouraged me. They had led me out to the edge of a precipice and now were leaving me to take the leap alone. The moment had arrived when the queen had to face the thousands of Hawaiians who were patiently waiting.
Chun: So she went on to the balcony to address this crowd of thousands of people, after all they had been waiting for this moment. And as she goes on, she talks in Hawaiian and says to them in a future time I will promulgate, I will establish a new constitution. Go home peacefully. Well. in Hawaiian the word "future time" can also mean "some other day." Could be the next day. Could be tomorrow. And the foreign community is aghast, particularly some who have been backing annexation. And they're saying, see, this is what we have been telling you, this is an act of revolution, this is a treason.
Narrator: The evening newspapers played up the threat.
Grant: And its fascinating the way they cast her as a revolutionary. I mean we usually think of them as the revolutionaries, but they were I think brilliant in casting her in this new role, as the revolutionary against the constitution.
Narrator: Her opposition regrouped--this time calling themselves "the Committee of Safety," a name that they had taken from the French Revolution.
That night, at a private home, the committee of safety and other prominent members of the business community plotted to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy.
They drafted papers to establish a new government, and would soon name Judge Sanford Dole, a missionary son, to be their president. They knew they had the support of the U.S. Representative in Hawaii.
McWilliams: John L. Stevens, the American minister, was known for his expansionist views. And there is no question that he was in league with, shared the deepest of nationalistic sentiments with the sugar producers and with Lorrin Thurston and all his friends and relatives.
Narrator: Two days later, Stevens sent word to an American warship in the harbor to land a company of Marines, ostensibly to protect American lives and property.
McWilliams: He is not cleared to do this by the appropriate channels in Washington. Stevens did this clearly out of his own prejudice, his own deep personal belief that now was the time for the United States to take Hawaii.
Narrator: Four boatloads of Marines came ashore. They carried Gatling guns and 14,000 rounds of ammunition, followed by two revolving cannon and a hospital unit. As the queen watched from the palace balcony, 162 blue jackets marched through the streets of Honolulu. When they reached the palace, they lowered their flags and saluted her with a drum roll.
Grant: The idea that a revolution was taking place probably did not occur to most of the people of Honolulu, throughout most of these events. When the U.S. Marines landed, the royal Hawaiian band was playing a concert at the Hawaiian hotel, it didn't stop the concert. Most people probably saw this as another political disturbance in Honolulu which would resolve itself as the way it always resolved itself in a few days.
Narrator: But by the evening, the U.S. Marines took up positions facing 'Iolani Palace and the queen. The following day, the Committee of Safety proclaimed a new Hawaiian government. Within hours, on behalf of the United States, Stevens recognized the regime. The queen was ordered to resign.
Chun: With guns pointed at her, she met with her cabinet and had to make a decision. And after great deliberation she surrendered to the United States of America not to the provisional government that was established there but to the United States of America.
Narrator: Her surrender read: I, Lili'uokalani , by the grace of God yield my authority until such time as the government of the United States shall reinstate me as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian islands.
Mahi: Liliu had a great faith in America, it was the Americans that brought Christianity which she took in and embraced. And because of that faith she felt that truth and justice would prevail.
Narrator: The queen ordered the palace guard be disarmed. The same day, the police department of Honolulu swore allegiance to the new provisional government.
Bartels: The amazing thing is that as soon as Lili'uokalani was put out of power, she exerted all of her influence to keep the Hawaiian people from rising up to put her back on the throne. She was so terribly afraid of shedding Hawaiian blood in her cause. She leaves this comment in her writings that it's a matter of great pride to her that not a single drop of blood, either of friend or of foe is upon my soul. But had she allowed blood to be shed, she probably would have survived as queen.
Narrator: Thurston and his colleagues sailed for Washington. They now had the power to formally request the annexation of Hawaii. It would take ten days for news of the queen's overthrow to reach the outside world.
Narrator: On January 18, 1893, the day after she surrendered, Lili'uokalani went for a ride in her carriage. On her way back, she told her driver not to turn in to the palace , but instead to take her to her private residence, Washington Place. She firmly believed her exile would be brief, that the United States would recognize the error and she would be reinstated.
On February 1st, Minister Stevens ceremonially raised the American flag over the government building. Lili'uokalani wrote in her diary,
"Time may wear off the feeling of injury--but my dear flag--the Hawaiian flag--that a strange flag should wave over it. May heaven look down on these missionaries and punish them for their deeds"
The palace was renamed "the executive building." Martial law was declared and would be enforced by the ragtag army of the provisional government.
Malcolm Chun: There was a blackening out of things, of news, but our people were able to find a means of protest because they were told by their leader, their queen not to take up arms, they began wearing hat bands that said "aloha aina". That meant patriotism. They began to make quilts that had the Hawaiian flag, because the Hawaiian flag had been banned.
Narrator: In Washington, D.C., where Lorrin Thurston had been lobbying for the annexation treaty, everything was changing. A new president was coming into office. In Hawaii, neither the annexationists nor the queen's followers knew what to expect. One of Grover Cleveland's first moves was to send a special envoy to investigate the situation in the islands. Everyone turned out to greet James H. Blount. Both sides assumed that he would champion their cause.
Malcolm Chun: There is a lot of hope amongst royalists because it is a different administration. Now, he's being sent now perhaps to correct, to listen to what's going on. And of course one of the first things he does is to lower the American flag.
McWilliams: Blount wants it clear that the United States government does not view Hawaii as its possession and that the people of the United States who might be living in Hawaii while he is doing this investigation, at least, are not running that island.
Narrator: When the Hawaiian flag was raised once again, the queen sent word to her people to remain quiet and not to cheer, to avoid aggravating the Americans. Blount, a former Georgia congressman and retired confederate army colonel, his wife and his secretary quickly became part of the social life of Honolulu. They were welcomed everywhere. Hawaiians and Americans were only too eager to bend Blount's ear with their version of the events that had transpired. Citizens of American descent heard his deep southern accent and felt free to air their prejudices against the non-white Hawaiians. For four months, Blount took testimony from all sides, documentation that remains to this day the primary historical record of the period. His conclusions were unexpected.
McWilliams: Mr. Blount writes a 2,000-page report that is one of the greatest condemnations of United States foreign policy by a United States government representative in the annals of American history. Not only did he condemn United States aggressiveness and the conspiracy and the secrecy of it all as illegal and wrongheaded and immoral but he urged a very pragmatic and moral solution to the problem: put the queen back in power.
Narrator: The provisional government was asked by President Cleveland to resign in favor of the queen, but they refused, sandbagging the palace in preparation for a showdown. The President was shocked but unwilling to use force against Americans. In a deft political move, he referred the matter to Congress. The queen wrote: "When the U.S. is ready, she will undo all that her minister has done." Many of Lili'uokalani's supporters did not share her optimism. In the latter part of 1894, Sam Nowlein, the former captain of her royal guard, began a covert operation to restore the queen to power. But his actions would only make matters worse. At night, on a beach near Waikiki, Nowlein and his men unloaded guns they had shipped in from San Francisco. When the police got wind of their plot they sent out a search party. A shot was fired, killing the son of a leading annexationist.
Glen Grant: Fighting breaks out. The citizen guards are formed.
The cannons are brought out and guns barricaded all around the palace. And finally, after several days of searching and searching they found and brought in all the rebels. And then most dramatically the sheriff went to the home of Queen Lili'uokalani and arrested the queen.
Narrator: Accused of knowing about the plot, Lili'uokalani was brought to the palace where she would be held to await trial.
Glen Grant: The trial itself will take place in the throne room. She is no longer queen Lili'uokalani, she is Mrs. Lydia Dominis, a common citizen, a traitor. A person who has attempted to bring the law into her own hands as she had done before.
Narrator: She wrote: The only charge against me really was that of being a queen. The object was evidently to humiliate me, to make me break down in the presence of the staring crowd. But in this they were disappointed. Lili'uokalani was sentenced to five years of hard labor and fined five thousand dollars. Neither was ever imposed But she would be imprisoned in a small room on the second floor of the palace. Here she was denied all reading material except for her prayer book. During this time she composed a number of pieces including the queen's prayer. Fearing that she would die a prisoner, Lili'uokalani embroidered a quilt with a record of her life.
Lydia Kamakaeha Lili'uokalani, ascended the throne January 29, 1891, dethroned January 17, 1893 ,imprisoned at 'Iolani Palace ...We began this quilt there.
It was during her imprisonment that she would formally abdicate the throne.
Jim Bartels: Under the threat that six of her people will be executed, she signs a document, that is not only an abdication for herself but a statement that the monarchy itself is over, that the kingdom is no more. The news strikes the Hawaiian people with great force because to them she was still queen.
Narrator: On September 6, 1895, after eight months' imprisonment, Lili'uokalani was released on parole to Washington Place. It would take another two years before her civil rights were fully restored. The provisional government had established "the republic of Hawaii", with Sanford Dole as president. But they had still not succeeded in their ultimate goal--annexation to the United States.
In 1898, when the Spanish American War broke out, American troops headed for the Philippines. President McKinley recognized the strategic value of Hawaii and supported a congressional resolution for annexation.
On August 12, 1898, in a grand ceremony, President Dole formally yielded the sovereignity and public property of the Hawaiian islands to the United States.
The stars and stripes was slowly raised over 'Iolani Palace. And the Hawaiian flag was brought down for the last time. But few Hawaiians would witness the ceremony. Most spent the day at home, behind closed blinds.
Malcolm Chun: On the actual day of annexation, the queen shuttered herself at Washington Place, surrounded by her court, by the princes, by her ladies in waiting, and they had a solemn picture taken. On the other side at 'Iolani Palace, there were sharpshooters pointed out. There was still tension in the air that something might happen. But when the Hawaiian flag was lowered, it was said that it was cut into small little, two to three inch ribbons and given out a tokens of remembrance to the sons and daughters of the missionary families, so that they could keep those as little tokens of their great victory over the Hawaiian kingdom and the end of the tyranny of the Hawaiian monarchy.
Narrator: Lili'uokalani would live for another twenty years as an American citizen in the U.S. Territory of Hawaii. By the time of her death at the age of seventy-nine, she had become the embodiment of the kingdom itself--and of its loss. For weeks after her funeral, strange events were recorded in the islands. Volcanoes erupted and the seas turned an odd hue, from the sudden appearance of a multitude of red fish. It was as if the elements recognized that the kingdom was no more.
Written and Produced by
NICOLE K.L.N. EBEO
ANNA DEAVERE SMITH
Original Music by
PACIFIC MUSIC PRODUCTIONS
WAYNE DE LA ROCHE
DAVIANNA POMAIKA'I MCGREGOR/ University of Hawaii, Manoa
TENNANT MCWILLIAMS/University of Alabama, Birmingham
NANCY J. MORRIS
AMY KU'ULEIALOHA STILLMAN
HEATHER HAUNANI GIUGNI
Much of the music in this film was composed by
DOUGLAS SPOTTED EAGLE: Nose flute
DAN BARRETT: Cello
ERIC WEISSBERG: Ukelele, Slide Guitar
DAN PICKERING: Trumpet
BRIAN KEANE: Keyboards
THE GALLIARD STRING QUARTET
"Songs of Lili'kalani"
Courtesy of Wa Nui records
JOHN KAHAI'I TOPOLINSKI
HAWAII YOUTH OPERA CHORUS
KAWAIAHA'O CHURCH CHOIR
Music and Sound Engineering
JERRY LA ROSA
Assistant Music Engineer
RENA C. KOSERSKY
LYNN ANN DAVIS
JOHN E. ALLEN
BISHOP MUSEUM ARCHIVES
THE FRIENDS OF 'IOLANI PALACE
HAWAII STATE ARCHIVES
HAWAIIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY
KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS ARCHIVES
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
HAWAIIAN MISSION CHILDREN'S SOCIETY LIBRARY
OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SOCIETY
PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM
Special thanks to:
PACIFIC ISLANDERS IN COMMUNICATION
THE HONORABLE BENJAMIN J. CAYETANO, GOVERNOR,
STATE OF HAWAII
BIG ISLAND FILM OFFICE
THE BISHOP MUSEUM ARCHIVES
BEADIE AND DONNE DAWSON
BOB AND ALICE DICKIESON
THE FRIENDS OF 'IOLANI PALACE
BENNETT HYMER, MUTUAL PUBLISHING
THE KAMAKAWIWOOLE FAMILY
KAUAI FILM COMMISSION
VIRGINIA DOMINIS KOCH
THE MANOA VALLEY INN/MARC RESORTS
MCBRYDE SUGAR COMPANY
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII PRESS
GARY AND SUE ANNA WELLS
For The American Experience
Post Production Supervisor
Post Production Assistant
Series Theme Adaptation
MARI LOU GRANGER
HELEN R. RUSSELL
DAPHNE B. NOYES
A Ducat Segal Productions, Inc. Film
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
is a production of WGBH/Boston.
Major funding for this series is provided by the
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Additional funding provided by
the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
and public television viewers.
Corporate funding is provided by
WGBH Educational Foundation
All rights reserved