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Timeline: Hawai'ian History and the Massie Case

1778-1919 | 1931-1959  


Captain James Cook January 18: On his third and final voyage to the Pacific Ocean, British explorer Captain James Cook is the first European to visit the Hawai'ian Islands. He is welcomed by the islanders, but later tensions arise and he is killed in a skirmish with them.


A group of Christian missionaries from Boston arrive in Hawai'i.


Dr. Garrit P. Judd Dr. Gerrit P. Judd arrives in Hawai'i as a medical missionary to treat diseases brought to Hawai'i by early explorers. Dr. Judd eventually becomes one of King Kamehameha III's haole (white) advisers.


In the Tyler Doctrine, President John Tyler asserts that Hawai'i is within the United States "sphere of influence." His statement is a warning to European powers interested in controlling Hawai'i's strategic location.


King Kamehameha III agrees to a mahele, or division, of Hawai'i's land. Hawai'ian land has never been "owned," but the mahele, supported by Kamehameha's haole advisers, opens the door for foreigners to buy government land. By 1890, foreigners will hold 90 percent of Hawai'ian land.


Since the beginning of contact with Europeans, the Hawai'ian population has been devastated by disease, famine and war. By 1866, only 20% of the pre-1778 population remains.


King Kalakaua King Kalakaua signs the "Bayonet Constitution" under pressure from the "Hawai'ian League," a group of armed businessmen set on defending the interests of Hawai'i's haole landowners. The new constitution gives foreigners (excluding Asians imported to work in the sugar industry) the right to vote, puts in place an income restriction on the electorate, and takes power away from the king.

Hawai'i cedes Pearl Harbor Lagoon to the United States in the Reciprocity Treaty of 1887 in exchange for duty-free sugar, which benefits the haole sugar exporters.


Queen Lili'uokalani surrenders her throne at gunpoint to the United States government. A haole provisional government claims control of the republic, and the U.S. Minister to Hawai'i declares Hawai'i a U.S. Protectorate, submitting a request for annexation. Instead, President Grover Cleveland orders an investigation into the queen's surrender. Upon reading the results of the inquiry, Cleveland tells Congress, "believing... that the United States could not, under the circumstances disclosed, annex the Islands without justly incurring the imputation of acquiring them by unjustifiable methods, I shall not again submit the treaty of annexation to the Senate."


President Cleveland attempts to restore Queen Lili'uokalani to her throne by asking the Provisional Government to relinquish its illegally obtained power. The Provisional Government refuses and instead creates the Republic of Hawai'i on July 4, 1894, declaring Sanford B. Dole president.


President William McKinley annexes Hawai'i. The Hawai'ian public never votes on the question of annexation. Sanford B. Dole is recognized as governor of the Territory of Hawai'i in a ceremony at Iolani Palace on August 12, 1898. The American flag replaces the flag of Hawai'i.


The U.S. Congress passes the Organic Act, a law defining Hawai'i's territorial government. The act grants U.S. citizenship to all persons who were citizens of Hawai'i as of August 12, 1898, and includes universal male suffrage.


Pearl Harbor dredging and building contracts are granted to haole-owned businesses. At the time, the contracts are the largest military contracts ever awarded.


August 21: The recently completed drydock at Pearl Harbor Naval Station is dedicated.

1778-1919 | 1931-1959  

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