Native Hawaiians Petition Against U.S. Annexation

If your native country was taken away from your queen, would you fight to get it back?

From 1893 to 1897, native Hawaiians protested the possible American annexation of Hawaii. They lost in the 1895 counter-revolution and held mass protest rallies. They established two organizations against annexation: Hawaii Aloha Aina (Hawaiian Patriotic League) for men and Hui Hawaii Aloha Aina o Na Wahine for women.

In 1897, U.S. President William McKinley wanted the United States to annex Hawaii. He and three representatives of the Republic of Hawaii–Francis Hatch, William Kinney, and Lorrin Thurston–signed a treaty of annexation on June 16, 1897. Next, the U.S. Senate was to decide whether to ratify it.

The two anti-annexation organizations held a petition drive against annexation. From September 11 to October 2, 1897, 21,269 native Hawaiians, or the majority of the 39,000 native Hawaiians on the census, signed the “Petition Against Annexation” in public meetings on five Hawaiian islands.

The San Francisco Call quotes those against U.S. annexation:

“I want the American Government to do justice. American helped to dethrone Liliuokalani. She must be restored. Never shall we consent to annexation!”

“My father is American; my mother is pure Hawaiian. It is my mother’s land I love. The American nation has been unjust. How could we ever love America?”

“I stand–we all stand to testify to our love of our country. No flag but the Hawaiian flag. Never the American!”

In December 1897, Queen Liliuokalani, James Kaulia, David Kalauokalani, John Richardson, and William Auld presented the petition to the U.S. Senate. Consequently, the majority of the senators opposed the treaty of annexation.

The chairman of the U.S. Senate foreign relations committee, Senator Davis, assigned Lorrin A. Thurston to analyze the petition. Thurston played an instrumental role in overthrowing the Hawaiian monarchy and headed the committee for U.S. annexation.

Thurston “uncovered overwhelming evidence of fraud, perjury, forgery and deceit”:

1. Twenty-three percent of the petitioners were minors.
2. The ages of fifty-three male petitioners under fourteen were “fraudulently changed to fourteen or upward.”
3. The signatures of children who were two to three years old were “in good, round handwriting, impossible to be genuine.”
4. Many of the signatures had the same handwriting and round numbers only.

Furthermore, Thurston asserted many of the petitioners did not necessary agree with the petition:

“It is common knowledge in Hawaii that even to a greater degree than in this country there is little feeling of responsibility attached to signing a petition. Among the native Hawaiians especially the feeling is that it is rather an honor to see one’s name attached to a petition, and that is would be unfriendly to refuse and sign a petition, an act which costs nothing.”

The Spanish-American War brought the American military to the Philippine Islands, and the Hawaii served as a strategic location for a mid-Pacific fueling station and naval installation. Congressmen for annexation proposed to annex Hawaii through a joint resolution, which needed a majority vote in both houses and not a 2/3 majority. Congress passed the “Newlands Resolution,” House Joint Resolution 259, 55th Congress, 2nd session, and President McKinley signed it into law on July 7, 1898. Thus, Hawaii became a part of the United States.

On July 14, 1898, The Pacific Commercial Advertiser’s front-page headline declared “ANNEXATION!: HERE TO STAY!” A month later, in a ceremony at Iolani Palace, the Hawaiian flag was lowered and an American flag was raised.

– Alice Kim

Articles from Chronicling America

“Treaty Prepared: Was to Have Been Presented to Senate June 16”
The Pacific commercial advertiser, June 24, 1897, Image 1

“Ex-queen Lil. Protests: She Presents an Able Argument Against the Hawaiian Annexation Treaty”
The Austin weekly statesman., June 24, 1897, Page 10

“Appeal from Hawaiians: A Monster Petition Against Annexation Said to Be Coming”
The times., June 30, 1897, Page 5

“Protest from the Hawaiians: Natives Opposed to the Treaty of Annexation”
The San Francisco call, September 09, 1897, Page 2, Image 2

“Annexationists are Worried: Fears That the Natives Opposed to Them Will Influence Visiting Senators”
The watchman and southron, September 15, 1897, Image 2

“Strangling Hands Upon a Nation’s Throat”
The San Francisco call, September 30, 1897, Image 1

“Appeal from Hawaiians”
The Independent, October 07, 1897, Image 4

“The Anti’s Meet: Several Hawaiians Make Stirring Addresses”
The Hawaiian gazette., October 12, 1897, Page 3, Image 3

“Will Go to Washington: Special Commission of Anti-Annexationists”
The Hawaiian star, October 13, 1897, Image 1

“Hawaii’s Last Struggle for Freedom”
The San Francisco call., November 28, 1897, Image 1

“Hawaiian Native Delegation” (bottom)
Evening star., December 09, 1897, Image 1

“A Monster Protest: Against Annexation Signed by Native Hawaiians, Presented by Senator Hoar”
The Wheeling daily intelligencer., December 10, 1897, Image 1

“A Huge Protest: Presented to the Senate by Native Hawaiians”
Daily public ledger., December 10, 1897, Page 3, Image 3

“Protest from Hawaiians: Senator Hoar Presents a Petition Signed by 21,269 Natives”
The Scranton tribune., December 10, 1897, Image 1

“The Hawaiian Protest”
Omaha daily bee., December 11, 1897, Page 4, Image 4

“Hanna Talks about Hawaii: Does Not Think the Senate Will Ratify the Treaty”
The times., December 12, 1897, Image 1

“The Native Petitions”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., December 29, 1897, Page 4, Image 4

“Strong for Annexation: The Two-thirds Majority Is Now Claimed”
The Hawaiian star., January 17, 1898, Image 1

“Annexationists Abandon Hope: Cannot Get the Votes Necessary to Pass the Treaty”
The San Francisco call., February 13, 1898, Page 8, Image 8

“The Native Petition: An Analysis of That from the Hawaiian Patriotic League”
Evening star., March 14, 1898, Image 1

“The Hawaiian Royalists: Their Petition Against Annexation Is Analyzed”
The evening times., March 14, 1898, Image 1

“The Native Petitions”
Evening star., March 15, 1898, Page 6, Image 6

“That ‘Petition’ Sent to Washington by Hawaiians Is Under Fire: Signatures Were Examined”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., March 31, 1898, Page 1, Image 1

“Thurston on Petitions”
The Independent., April 01, 1898, Image 2

“The Annexation of Hawaii: The House Passes the Newlands Resolution”
The herald [microform]., June 16, 1898, Image 1

The Pacific commercial advertiser., July 14, 1898, Image 1

“The Law of It: Seizure of Hawaii by Resolution”
The Independent., July 16, 1898, Image 1

“Flags Changed: Old Glory Is Now the Ensign of the Hawaiian Islands”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., August 13, 1898, Image 1

“Hawaiians Complain of Unfairness: Not Given the Desired Hearing”
The San Francisco call., October 01, 1898, Page 4, Image 4

4 Comments on “Native Hawaiians Petition Against U.S. Annexation”

  1. […] Today in history — September 11, 1897 — marked the start of the Native Hawaiians’ petition against U.S. annexation. The majority of the 39,000 native Hawaiians on the census, 21,269 native Hawaiians, signed the “Petition Against Annexation” in public meetings on five Hawaiian islands. Read more about it in “Native Hawaiians Petition Against U.S. Annexation.” […]

  2. […] Read more about it in Native Hawaiians Petition Against U.S. Annexation. […]

  3. […] in history — August 12, 1898 — people gathered at Iolani Palace to celebrate the “U.S. annexation” of Hawaii. U.S. troops came ashore from Honolulu Harbor. But Queen Lili’uokalani was nowhere to be […]

  4. […] Today in history — July 14, 1898 — the United States of America claimed Hawaii as its own. Pro-annexationists celebrated and raised the American flag. Royalists mourned Hawaii’s colonization, and Native Hawaiians previously protested through a petition. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s