Princess Kaiulani Touring the U.S. Mainland

Princess Kaiulani's Portrait

Originally the heir to the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Princess Kaiulani instead found herself trying to save the overthrown kingdom in 1893. On the U.S. mainland, she delivered speeches, held news conferences, attended banquets, and met U.S. President Grover Cleveland and his wife. Newspapers published Kaiulani’s address to the American people.

On February 22, 1893, with her guardian Theophilus Davies, Kaiulani sailed from London to Boston and Washington D.C. to meet the president. She told a newspaper reporter that America and Hawaii should be “warm friends” and did not think England would intervene in Hawaiian issues: “I want to do all I can for my people, and be an honest, true leader to them.”

A steamship took Kaiulani to New York on March 1, and a crowd of spectators gathered on the pier to get a glimpse of her. Kaiulani and her cohort went straight to the Brevoort House, formerly one of New York’s oldest and most famous hotels.

The Morning Call reported that Kaiulani came to the United States to learn and observe the American people rather than petition for her crown.

Kaiulani said, “‘That [crown] is rightfully mine, and the Americans are the noble-minded people that I have learned to regard them they will not be a party to the outrage by which I have lost my birthright.'”

As a private citizen, Kaiulani did eventually meet President and Mrs. Cleveland, who hosted a reception for her in the White House’s Blue Parlor. With Mr. and Mrs. Davies, their daughter, and a female friend, Kaiulani spoke with the presidential couple for about 15 minutes.

The Highland Recorder says the Hawaii guests were “charmed with the cordiality of the reception,” the ladies were “captivated by the pleasing manners of the wife of the President,” and Kaiulani said Mrs. Cleveland was the only woman she has ever fell in love with. Mr. Davies called the visit a “purely social one.”

Kaiulani left for England on March 22 and bid Americans goodbye in her letter, which ended with, “And now, God bless you all for it, from the beautiful home where your fair first lady reigns, to the dear crippled boy who sent me his loving letter and his prayers.”

– Alice Kim

Note: President Cleveland opposed the overthrow and ordered an investigation (resulting in the Blount report). However, President William McKinley became president in 1897, and the United States annexed Hawaii.

Read about what U.S. mainland newspapers thought about Princess Kaiulani.


“Kaiulani in Gotham: The Heiress to Hawaii’s Throne Lands on Our Shores”
St. Paul daily globe, March 2, 1893, Page 4

“Hawaiian Question: Princess Kaiulani to Make a Personal Appeal to Cleveland: Considerable Opposition to Annexation”
The record-union, February 23, 1893, Image 1

“Her Only Plaint: Kaiulani Wants but Her Crown”
The morning call, March 2, 1893, Image 1

“Bidding Us Goodby: Another Letter from Princess Kaiulani: An Address to Americans”
The evening bulletin, March 21, 1893, Image 1

“Princess Kaiulani: Received by Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland–Members of the Commission”
Highland recorder, March 24, 1893, Image 4


2 Comments on “Princess Kaiulani Touring the U.S. Mainland”

  1. […] in history — March 6, 1899 — Princess Kaiulani, who fought for the independence of Hawaii, died at the age of 23 in her Ainahau home. Read more about it in “The Call of Grim […]

  2. […] the United States. During the latter after the Hawaiian Monarchy’s overthrow, Theo watched Kaiulani deliver impassioned speeches about her people losing their monarchy and disprove her reputation as the “Barbarian […]

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