(c) Copyright 2008 - 2015
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved
July 4, 1776 marked the creation of the United States through the Declaration of Independence. Hawaii proudly celebrates that date as part of our heritage because Hawaii joined the union.
July 4, 1894 marked the creation of the Republic of Hawaii through the publication of its Constitution. At least five delegates to the Constitutional Convention were native Hawaiians; the Constitution was published in both English and Hawaiian; the Speaker of the House was former royalist John Kaulukou.
July 4, 1960 marked the date when the U.S. flag with 50 stars was first officially displayed, by being raised at 12:01 AM at the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland (where Francis Scott Key had written "The Star Spangled Banner"). On August 21, 1959 President Eisenhower had issued Proclamation 3309 "Admission of the State of Hawaii into the Union" published in the Federal Register at 54 F.R. 6865. Also on August 21, 1959 President Eisenhower issued the accompanying Executive Order 10834 "The Flag of the United States" published at F.R. 6868, which followed the tradition of naming the next July 4 as the date for official display of the new flag.
Let's remember what Hawaii was like on America's birthdate in 1776. Captain Cook had not yet arrived. Hawaiians were living in the stone age. They had not yet invented the wheel, had no written language, and no clay pottery. They had only extremely small amounts of metal that washed up in driftwood from sunken ships. There was constant warfare among competing warlords. There was no concept of human rights -- both slavery and human sacrifice were practiced. The death penalty was imposed on anyone who stepped on the shadow of a high chief, or any woman who ate a banana or coconut.
Things had functioned that way for a thousand years and would have remained unchanged except for the arrival of British explorers in 1778, followed by European and American whalers and businessmen, and then American missionaries in 1820. Hawaiians eagerly embraced reading and writing, Christian religion, human rights, private property rights, a market economy, the rule of law, etc. In 1893 a revolution led by a local militia with 1500 members put an end to a corrupt and ineffective monarchy, replacing it with a republic.
Thus we Hawaiians celebrate a triple holiday on July 4, for 1776 (U.S. independence) 1894 (Republic of Hawaii), and 1960 (50th star added to U.S. flag). Unfortunately most citizens today don't know why the Republic's creation was an important step on the path toward joining the United States.
The Republic was internationally recognized de jure as the legitimate government of Hawaii. Formal letters of recognition were rediscovered in our state archives during February and March, 2008. They had been sent to President Sanford Dole, personally signed by Emperors, Kings, Queens, and Presidents of at least 20 nations, on four continents, in eleven languages. Photographs of the originals are at
along with Liliuokalani's letter of abdication and oath of loyalty to the Republic. Thus Hawaii continued as an independent nation whose internationally recognized government was no longer the Kingdom but the Republic.
Queen Victoria's gracious letter recognizing the Republic, calling Sanford Dole her "friend", was especially significant because of Britain's long and close relationship with the Hawaiian monarchy. Princess Liliuokalani had attended Victoria's coronation. Victoria was godmother to Queen Emma's baby Prince Albert. Emma herself was granddaughter of British sailor John Young, without whom Kamehameha could not have succeeded in unifying Hawaii (Young's tomb is in Mauna Ala (the Royal Mausoleum) and protected with a pair of sacred puloulou (kapu sticks). But Queen Victoria knew the Hawaiian monarchy was finished, and switched her diplomatic recognition to the Republic.
President Grover Cleveland's letter was tersely phrased. Cleveland had spent a year trying to destroy the revolutionary Provisional Government until Congress, following a two month investigation, told him the U.S. had done nothing wrong during the revolution and he should stop trying to undo it. U.S. Minister Albert Willis had given a letter to President Dole in December, 1893 on behalf of President Cleveland, "ordering" Dole to step down and restore Cleveland's friend the Queen. But in August 1894 it was Willis who swallowed his pride and made a pretty speech while personally handing Cleveland's letter of de jure recognition to President Dole.
The Republic was not fully democratic; but neither was the United States at that time (which still had Jim Crow laws preventing Negroes from voting). In 1894 Russia and China had ruthless Tsar and Emperor brutally oppressing ethnic minorities, which did not happen in Hawaii. Many Latin American nations were dictatorships in 1894, unlike Hawaii. Some people hated President Dole and thought his government was illegitimate, just as some Americans today regarded President Bush from 2000 to 2008. Pro-government and anti-government commentaries were published uncensored in both English and Hawaiian language newspapers in 1894, unlike other nations where anti-government rhetoric was punished with imprisonment or death. The Republic in 1894 was more democratic than most nations then, and even today.
How did Hawaii become part of the USA? International recognition of the Republic by at least 20 nations condoned the revolution of 1893 as having been legal (otherwise nations would have protested rather than recognizing the successor government). It empowered the Republic, as a member of the family of nations under international law, to offer a treaty of annexation in 1897. Congress accepted the offer in 1898 by votes of 42-21 in the Senate and 209-91 in the House. (See below for a webpage containing full text of the Treaty of Annexation and also the resolutions whereby the U.S. and the Republic of Hawaii ratified it). In 1959 94% of Hawaii voters said "yes" to statehood.
The Republic, internationally recognized as the legitimate government, also had the right to cede Hawaii's public lands in return for the U.S. paying off Hawaii's national debt. Thus our public lands today, just as during the last 27 years of the monarchy, are owned by the government of Hawaii in fee simple absolute, on behalf of all Hawaii's people, without racial distinction. Too bad Hawaii's Supreme Court got that wrong in their 5-0 ceded lands decision on January 31, 2008. But on March 31, 2009 the U.S. Supreme Court set things right, reversing the Hawaii court. By unanimous vote of 9-0, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hawaii's public lands are owned by the State of Hawaii in fee simple absolute, and that the apology resolution of 1959 cannot strip or impair the State of Hawaii from exercising full control over the lands returned to Hawaii by the United States in the statehood admission act of 1959. A webpage includes full text of Judge Sabrina McKenna's trial court ruling, Hawaii Supreme Court ruling, all principal briefs and amicus briefs by both sides to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court oral argument transcripts, and U.S. Supreme Court final ruling; plus news reports and commentaries.
July 4 is worthy of triple celebration in Hawaii, for 1776, 1894, and 1960. It's a good day to remember the inspirational first sentence written by Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III in his 1839 Declaration of the Rights of Man, which became the preamble of the first Hawaii Constitution in 1840 -- profound and beautiful words which can help heal the racial divisiveness now plaguing Hawaii nei.
"Ua hana mai ke Akua i na lahuikanaka a pau i ke koko hookahi, e noho like lakou ma ka honua nei me ke kuikahi, a me ka pomaikai." This "kokokahi" sentence can be translated into modern English usage as follows: "God has made of one blood all races of people to dwell on this Earth in unity and blessedness." E imua makou!
On July 4, 2014 Keli'i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, published the following short essay, which was republished July 4, 2015, on the online newspaper Hawaii Free Press:
The 1840 Hawaiian Constitution and the Fourth of July
by Keli'i Akina, Ph.D., President/CEO, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted a statement known today as the Declaration of Independence. The 13 American colonies not only declared their independence from Great Britain, but established the foundation for a new nation of free and sovereign states - the United States. July 4, 1776 is familiar to all as the birthday of our country, but it is also the intellectual and spiritual birthday of all freedom-loving countries which trace their philosophical origins to the Declaration of Independence.
Hawaii was one such country.
In 1840 the Kingdom of Hawaii adopted a constitution with strong parallels to the Constitution of the United States, but its framers were concerned with more than the structure of government. They wanted to make certain that the proper philosophy underlying government would guide the interpretation of their constitution. Thus, they included the essential philosophy of the Declaration of Independence as the very preamble of their constitution:
"God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the earth, in unity and blessedness. God has also bestowed certain rights alike on all men and all chiefs, and all people of all lands. These are some of the rights which He has given alike to every man and every chief of correct deportment; life, limb, liberty, freedom from oppression; the earnings of his hands and the productions of his mind, not however to those who act in violation of laws."
The language which opens the Kingdom of Hawaii Constitution clearly echoes and amplifies the earlier language of the Declaration of Independence which states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Moreover, the constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, as a comprehensive document, helped ensure that its constitutional laws were to be interpreted in light of its philosophy of unalienable, God-given rights.
In contrast, with the rise of American Pragmatism in the 19th Century and the progressive movement, the United States Constitution has been increasingly interpreted apart from the context of the Declaration of Independence. The consequence is that the rule of law is now often practiced without a fundamental commitment to the unalienable, God-given rights of the individual.
On this Fourth of July, let us come full circle and learn from the spirit of the Kingdom of Hawaii which now resides in the 50th state, that the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence must precede and inform our nation's laws and practice of government.
STATEHOOD VOTE OF 1959: There were 132,773 votes "yes" and 7971 votes "no" for an astonishing 94.3% "yes" vote. For those who like to say ethnic Hawaiians were opposed to Statehood: Do the math. If 20% of the voters were ethnic Hawaiians, that would mean there were 28,149 votes cast by ethnic Hawaiians = 20% out of the total 140,744. Supposing ALL the 7971 "no" votes had been cast by ethnic Hawaiians; then there were still 20,178 "yes" votes from ethnic Hawaiians, representing 72% of the 28,149 ethnic Hawaiian votes. The vote count was also broken down by individual representative district. The district with the highest percentage of ethnic Hawaiians -- sparsely-populated Moloka'i -- had 1904 "yes" and 75 "no" for a 96.2% "yes" vote -- the highest percentage among all the 17 districts. A 3-page pdf file (unfortunately 5.4 Megabytes!) shows the statistics as certified by Hawaii Chief Elections Officer Dwayne Yoshina in his letter dated January 7, 2000:
SOME IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS OF THE REPUBLIC OF HAWAII
Republic of Hawaii Constitution adopted July 4, 1894 (including its certification by the Constitutional Convention and the names of the Convention delegates)
Abdication document signed by ex-queen Liliuokalani, January 24, 1895 formally giving up the throne. She pledged her allegiance to the Republic of Hawaii and told her supporters to do likewise. Also, her formal oath of loyalty to the Republic of Hawaii, personally signed.
Documents from 20 nations, plus Liliuokalani, formally recognize the Republic, de jure, as the legitimate government of Hawaii. A 23-page booklet displays for each nation (plus the Queen) a one-page montage of photos of its recognition documents. The booklet can be downloaded in pdf format (caution -- 18 megabytes!) at
Approximately 100 individual photos of letters of recognition, and their translations and supporting documents, can be seen in full, and can each be magnified for easy reading of the contents. The photos are grouped by nation; see the chart at the bottom of this webpage:
A webpage thoroughly explains the historical significance of the recognition of the Republic, and implications for Hawaii statehood, the Akaka bill, and ceded lands dispute. See:
Sanford Ballard Dole -- Elected Legislator and Appointed Supreme Court Justice of the Kingdom of Hawai'i; President of the Provisional Government and of the Republic of Hawai'i; Governor of the Territory of Hawai'i; and Presiding Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Territory of Hawai'i
PLACING THE REPUBLIC OF HAWAII INTO THE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS LEADING TO STATEHOOD
Treaty of annexation to the United States written in 1854 by King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III, which failed of the King's signature by reason of his death
The revolution of 1893
The Morgan Report of February 1894. Senate Report 227 of the 53rd Congress, second session, was dated February 26, 1894. It was an 808-page report of the investigation into the events surrounding the Hawaiian Revolution of 1893, and the alleged role of U.S. peacekeepers in the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani. The entire report, and extensive summaries and analyses, are at:
Twisting History -- Reverend Kaleo Patterson knowingly uses fake Grover Cleveland proclamation from 1894, cites it as fact, and uses it as basis for a media blitz calling for a national day of prayer for restoration of Native Hawaiians and repentance for overthrow of monarchy. Patterson pushes resolution through Hawaii legislature citing joke proclamation as real.
See also "The Rest of the Rest of the Story" at
The annexation of 1898
Treaty of Annexation between the Republic of Hawaii and the United States of America (1898). Full text of the treaty, and of the resolutions whereby the Republic of Hawaii legislature and the U.S. Congress ratified it. The politics surrounding the treaty, then and now.
Hawaii Great Statehood Petition of 1954 -- 120,000 Signatures Gathered in 2 Weeks On a Petition for Statehood for Hawaii
Statehood vote count in 1959, broken down by representative districts, figures certified in a letter by Chief Elections Officer Dwayne Yoshina on January 7, 2000.
The Native Hawaiians Study Commission report of 1983. The commission was created by the Congress of the United States on December 22, 1980 (Title III of Public Law 96-565). The purpose of the Commission was to "conduct a study of the culture, needs and concerns of the Native Hawaiians." It included a historical review of the Hawaiian revolution, and the question whether reparations are owed.
Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do the Facts Matter?" by Thurston Twigg-Smith, 1998. Includes important material about the revolution and the Republic, written by the grandson of Lorrin A. Thurston, a leader of the revolution and ambassador for the Republic. The entire book can be downloaded in pdf format at:
Hawaii Statehood Day 2006 -- Celebration at Old Territorial Capitol Building (Iolani Palace) Disrupted by Hawaiian Ethnic Nationalist Wannabe-Terrorists
"Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State" by Kenneth R. Conklin, 2007. Includes chapters about historical falsehoods related to the revolution and annexation.
COMMENTARY DESCRIBING HOW JULY 4 WAS CELEBRATED IN THE KINGDOM OF HAWAII FROM 1814 TO 1866
Hawaii Reporter, July 4, 2008
Happy Independence Day!
By Jeffrey Bingham Mead
George Washington took a tour of the newly established United States of America in 1789. At one spot, where I stand now, he paused in front of the meetinghouse of Greenwich, Connecticut's Second Congregational Church. Old timers record a period when one could look out all the way to the calm waters of Long Island Sound from this hill. A plaque on the stone edifice of the church marks this place, the view shrouded today by majestic trees but providing comfortable shade from the glare of the summer sun.
Nearby cemeteries contain the graves of my Revolutionary War ancestors and those of others, all who risked their lives, property and fortunes to do their part. British and American loyalists plundered houses in those chaotic days. Battles with British redcoats were fought a stone's throw away. A small church once occupied the summit of nearby Putnam's Hill. An editorial in the Greenwich Observer on July 4, 1878 said, "And thus it seems that every rock and mound of earth in Greenwich holds a record of its own regarding the days of the Revolution." How true of this community I call my ancestral home as my family has for nearly 400 years.
Over the past thirteen years I've had the fortune of calling one of America's oldest states and newest states home, a grand adventure through thick and thin that has certainly been life-changing. During this time I have come to be awed and amazed at the breadth of these United States, of the commonalities of the celebrations commemorating the birth of this nation.
Citizens along Greenwich's Long Island Sound shore will observe the skies light up with colorful fireworks in virtually the same manner as those along the shores of Hawaii's islands in the Pacific. True, the six-hour time difference influences the timing of those events, but the smiles, the cheers the music, the orations will be virtually the same.
Young people in Scouting and JROTC uniforms, not to mention those brave 21st century souls who dress in Revolutionary War regalia, add an air of pomp and propriety to the festivities. The flag will be saluted here, there, everywhere. And America's party to celebrate its beginning unfolds!
I have been particularly intrigued and delighted by how July 4 has been celebrated in Hawaii. Each year seems unique from all others, a colorful pageant of originality.
The first July 4 American Independence Day celebrations in Hawaii is said to have been in 1814. Published in the August 1856 edition of The Friend, "Forty-two years ago, on the Fourth of July 1814, there were moored in the quiet and newly discovered harbor of Honolulu, three American merchant ships, engaged on the north-west trade, the Isabella, commanded by Capt. Davis, the O'Kane, commanded by Capt. Jona Winship, and the Albatross, commanded by Capt. Nathan Winship…At the time the only pilot to the new harbor was the King, Kamehameha I, who, in his royal double canoes, each seventy-five feet in length, manned by two hundred brawny arms, always first boarded each vessel, and taking command, brought her within the harbor. Those were fabulous days when the royal pilot stood up, and with his sword in hand waved the motion of a hundred paddlers."
"The brothers Winship," the account continues, "were as true patriots as ever sailed under the American flag, and with the consent of that noble King Kamehameha I, they determined to celebrate their nation's birthday. Each vessel fired a national salute –one in the morning, another at meridian, and the third at sunset." The hand of one of the seamen was blown off by a discharge, a reminder of the risks of launching fireworks or cannons. Later, a royal banquet was prepared and all were invited. Reportedly the King removed the taboo on Prince Liholiho –then aged about 19 years- so that the young prince could be part of the festivities.
In 1854, referring to Kawaiahao Church, "the large Stone Church was filled to overflowing with Americans, Frenchmen, Germans, Hawaiians, and the representatives of not less than a half score of other nations. It was a novel, impressive, suggestive and animating scene to witness such an immense audience, gathering in the heart of the Pacific, to celebrate the birth-day of the National Independence of the United States of America." A parade held that July 4 day included the First Hawaiian Guard, clergy, military officers of the Hawaiian Islands, civil officers of the government, consuls and representatives of various governments, members of Hawaii's House of Nobles and House Representatives, members of the fire department, the police, judges, captains and shipmasters, and many others.
Two years later, July 4 was celebrated for formally celebrated "at Punalu in a beautiful kukui grove on the farm of Judge Hardy. Songs, prayers, the reading of the Declaration of Independence and orations were delivered among about 70 assembled. In a letter published about this event, J.S. Green states, "thus without the aid of powder, or wine, of the frivolous exercise of dancing we gave as we were able, an example to the Hawaiians of the best method of observing such a season." In an amusing twist as read by 21st century eyes, the author of this account observes, "I fully agree with an opinion which I see in one of the late papers of the metropolis [Honolulu] of the shameful doings of the natives on the 2nd of July at their feast at which they introduced the Hula." As we know and are pleased to report the resurgence of hula was on the side of the Hawaiians, much to our pleasure.
In the midst of the Civil War in 1863 a program was held at Honolulu's Fort Street Church featuring singing, prayer, orations and a benediction. This was followed by a picnic at the campus of Oahu College (Punahou School) that included the raising of the American flag, the reading of the Declaration of Independence, the singing of ‘Charleston Ode and ‘Flag of Our Union.' In the same account in The Friend, published by Rev. Samuel C. Damon, he wrote:
"All men are born free and equal; so declared the signers of the American Declaration of Independence, eighty-seven years ago. Washington and his compatriots vindicated and established this great truth during the Revolutionary War, with reference to the Anglo-Saxon or white races scattered over North America. Unfortunately, the negro, or black race, was not included among those to whom this principle was applied, that, ‘all men are born free and equal.' The time has now come when the negro race must be admitted into the enjoyment of the same rights as the white man.
This we honestly believe to be the decree of Heaven, notwithstanding Jeff Davis and his fellow rebels declare that negro-chattel slavery is, and shall be, the cornerstone of the Southern Confederacy. Here lies the grand secret of this fearful struggle. Some writers may throw dust in the eyes of the people and the reading public, by declaring that this is not the cause of the war, but facts speak, in language not to be misunderstood. We are glad that Americans in Honolulu are disposed to observe the day, and we hope, in the midst of their festivities, that they will remember their countrymen who are struggling to maintain the flag of the Union."
"At sunrise," reported the Pacific Commercial Advertiser in 1866, "the bright stars and broad stripes of America were run up to the head of the lofty flagstaff, accompanied with a national sunrise salute mingled with loud hurras for the ‘Fourth of July and the Ulupalakua Plantation, which were re-echoed by every man, woman and child within the precincts of Ulupalakua."
Over 225 years ago a great experiment began when the Continental Congress took up the question of separation and revolution from the British Empire. A pledge by its inventors and leaders involving their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" to a people who decreed freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as the path of the future.
While celebrations have been and ever shall be varied, original and reflective, the price many have paid must not be forgotten just as how this grand experiment in representative government is celebrated year after year.
As I stroll among the graves of my Revolutionary forefathers and mothers here in Greenwich, Connecticut, under the protective shade of a nearby stone spire –a symbol of hope- I recall those who gave their full lives and who rest eternally at Pearl Harbor's U.S.S. Arizona in Hawaii. In the spire above me a bell will be rung signaling the renewal of freedom and liberty, while a bell will be rung at the Arizona by those among the living who bore witness to the catastrophic events of December 7, 1941.
These bells, the great Liberty Bell itself in Philadelphia, and thousands others around the country and the world will counterbalance the shouts of joy and hope, a reminder that Americans are united with common purpose, expectation, anticipation and faith, but that the price is high. Never forget. Never give up. God bless America and all her people, her ideals, struggles and its future.
* Jeffrey Bingham Mead is the secretary and chaplain of the Hawaii Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, a deacon emeritus at Central Union Church, an historian and founder of the History Education Council of Hawaii, and a college professor.
Send comments or questions to:
You may now
GO BACK TO OTHER TOPICS ON THIS WEBSITE
(c) Copyright 2008 - 2010
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved