Was the 1898 annexation illegal?

(c) Copyright 2000 - 2012 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

Sovereignty activists believe that the annexation of Hawai'i to the United States in 1898 never happened, because it was done illegally. A proposed treaty of annexation had failed because it did not receive the 2/3 vote required for the United States Senate to ratify a treaty. Later, annexation was done by a joint resolution, which requires only a simple majority of both houses of Congress. And a joint resolution is only an internal document within the United States, which cannot reach out to take control of events in other nations.

Sovereignty activists say the revolution that overthrew the monarchy was illegal, and that the ensuing Republic of Hawaii was not internationally recognized as a nation and therefore had no right to offer a treaty of annexation to the United States. But letters granting full diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Hawaii were personally signed by the rulers of 19 foreign nations in 1894, including Queen Victoria, President Grover Cleveland, and Tsar Alexander III of Russia. Photographs of letters from all 19 nations are available on a new webpage at

No nation ever filed a protest with either Hawaii or the U.S. regarding either the overthrow or the annexation, although Japan used diplomatic and military maneuvers to try to block annexation because massive immigration had made Japanese the largest ethnic group in Hawaii. The family of nations recognized the Republic as the legitimate government of Hawaii, thereby condoning the revolution as having been done legally, and also thereby recognizing that the Republic had the right under international law to offer a treaty of annexation including the ceding of Hawaii's public lands. The historical significance of the fact that the Republic was internationally recognized, and its implications for statehood, Akaka bill, and ceded lands; are discussed at
along with a detailed example of the Hawaiian sovereignty lie that the Republic was never recognized.

If the annexation was illegal or never happened, then Hawai'i would legally still be an independent nation. Presumably it would revert to the status of the Republic of Hawai'i as of 1897. However, the sovereignty activists also believe that the overthrow of 1893 was illegal, so that Hawai'i would revert to the status of the Kingdom under the Bayonet Constitution of 1887 (they would really prefer the queen's proposed but never proclaimed constitution of 1893 that precipitated her overthrow). But then the activists also believe that the Bayonet Constitution of 1887 was illegal because it was forced on King Kalakaua. So then the Constitution of 1864 (Lot Kamehameha V) would still be in effect, although there were some major irregularities in the way it was adopted, so that perhaps the Constitution of 1852 would still be in effect, which was the only other constitution established after the proclamation of the first Constitution by Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III in 1840.

The sovereignty activists are correct that there never was a treaty of annexation adopted by the United States Senate, which would have required a 2/3 vote. The failure to achieve a 2/3 vote happened for several reasons. One reason is that senators from southern states where sugar production was important to the economy opposed the annexation, which would have allowed Hawai'i sugar to compete more favorably. Another reason is that some senators felt that the population of Hawai'i contained too many dark-skinned people, especially kanaka maoli and Asians. A major reason the annexation treaty failed was that kanaka maoli submitted many thousands of signatures on a petition opposing annexation, and the petition may have swayed some important votes in the Senate.

The petition against annexation contained about 21,000 signatures, and was rediscovered in the U.S. National Archives by a kanaka maoli graduate student who has now completed her dissertation, Dr. Noenoe Silva. Copies of the petition were displayed throughout Hawai'i in 1998, together with some of the original pages; and many kanaka maoli took great pride in finding the signatures of their ancestors. There was allegedly another petition containing about 17,000 signatures, demanding the restoration of the monarchy; but that petition was apparently never presented to Congress because it cannot be found in the U.S. Archives (and indeed it cannot be found anywhere despite diligent searching). During the protests commemorating the 100th anniversary of annexation, many kanaka maoli activists kept repeating that there were 38,000 kanaka maoli who had "signed a petition against annexation, which would represent nearly 100% of the kanaka maoli population in 1893." But that is clearly not correct. There were only 21,000 signatures on the petition opposing annexation. The 17,000 signatures on the other petition (if it can ever be found) were demanding restoration of the monarchy. Clearly there must have been many people who signed both petitions. Indeed, if someone favored restoration of the monarchy, he would also have happily signed another petition opposing annexation. A different way of looking at the numbers on the two petitions would suggest that there must have been 4,000 kanaka maoli who, although opposed to annexation, were also opposed to restoring the monarchy and had enough courage to refuse to sign that restoration petition. It should also be noted that infants and children are included among the signers of the petition, as we know from the fact that each signature is accompanied by the signer's age. Also, there were non-kanaka maoli who signed the petition. Considering that tremendous effort was invested in the kanaka maoli community to get those signatures, and great pressure must have been placed on people whose community leaders were coming around in person demanding that they support their queen and sign the petition, it is notable that half the kanaka maoli population did not sign the petition against annexation, and many more than half did not sign a petition to restore the queen.

Sovereignty activists believe it is of great importance that there never was a treaty of annexation ratified by the U.S. Senate. They believe that the joint resolution of annexation is not valid. They say that a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress cannot extend beyond the borders of the U.S., which of course is obviously true if the only issues are laws to govern people's conduct in relations with each other. For example, the U.S. Congress has no power to tell the people of China that cigarettes must have less than a certain level of tar and nicotine, or that February 21 shall be celebrated as a Presidents' Day holiday. However, a joint resolution certainly can determine how the United States in and of itself chooses to respond to something happening abroad. And if a foreign nation offers itself for annexation, it is up to the United States to use whatever means it chooses to make its own decision how to respond to such an offer. There are no international laws forcing any nation to use any particular method for ratifying its own decisions.

It is an internal matter for the United States to decide by what method it will accept an offer of annexation. The U.S. Constitution nowhere states that annexation can be accomplished only by treaty. Texas had been annexed by joint resolution almost 50 years previously, establishing the precedent; and other territories such as the Louisiana Purchase and Alaska had been acquired through purchase from France and Russia. Sovereignty activists assert that Texas had been annexed directly as a State, whereas Hawai'i was being annexed only as a Territory. But clearly, if Congress can set a precedent in the case of Texas by using joint resolution to annex something so important as a State, then Congress can also establish a precedent in the case of Hawai'i by using joint resolution to annex the less important entity of a Territory.

Regarding the sovereignty activists' claim that Texas had been annexed directly as a State: that claim, like so many others, is a distortion of history which leaves out important facts. The first thing that happened was a Joint Resolution annexing Texas. About a year and a half later, there was a separate Admission Act that made Texas a state. In between the two Congressional actions, the Mexican American War broke out because Mexico still claimed Texas was a rebellious province of Mexico and objected to the US annexing "Mexican" territory. For that matter, Spain still claimed that Mexico, including Texas, was still a rebellious province of the Spanish Empire. This illustrates the point that as far as American law is concerned, Congress can annex any land it pleases to the US, although as a practical matter it needs to be prepared for war if some other country stakes an overlapping claim. Texas became part of the US when it accepted the terms of the Annexation Resolution, not when Mexico gave up its claim to Texas after losing the war. The key documents re Texas Annexation are on the Web as part of the Avalon Project at Yale: yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/texmenu.htm In Texas v. White, after the Civil War, the US Supreme Court confirmed the principle established by the Union's victory: as a result of annexation and admission to the Union Texas was a state and states can't quit.

Must the inhabitants of a territory be consulted, prior to being annexed? In the annexations of the Louisiana Territory and the Territory of Alaska, the inhabitants were not consulted by France or Russia (who sold those territories to the U.S.) nor by the U.S. There were only two times when annexations of land to the United States included consulting the inhabitants of the annexed areas: Texas and Hawai'i. The reason why the inhabitants were consulted in these two cases was that these were independent nations prior to annexation. In the case of Texas, there was a plebiscite in which the vote was limited to white males who had sworn loyalty to the Republic of Texas. In the case of Hawai'i, the elected legislature of the Republic of Hawai'i made the commitment.

The powerful Senators, States, and even kanaka maoli or the ex-queen who had successfully opposed the earlier treaty of annexation had every opportunity to file a suit in the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose or undo annexation by joint resolution, but they never did so. The joint resolution of annexation required only a simple majority in both houses of Congress, but it actually passed by 2/3 (42-21) in the Senate and by more than 2/3 (209-91) in the House, partly because sentiments had changed due to the Spanish American War, and Grover Cleveland's failure to win re-election. So, in the final analysis, 2/3 of the Senate ( and more than 2/3 of the House) did vote for the document of annexation, as would be required for a treaty, even if it was now called by a different name. In modern times, it is now well-established in constitutional law that an international agreement can be approved and become binding on the US by a majority vote of both houses of Congress [ Restatement (3d) of the Foreign Relations Law of the US sec. 303 ]. Literally hundreds of international agreements have been done this way in the 20th century, and the Supreme Court repeatedly has held that the method is valid.

Some sovereignty activists assert that it is against international law for the U.S. to annex by joint resolution. But that is silly. Each sovereign nation decides its own internal procedures for ratifying an agreement with another sovereign nation. There was no treaty ratified by 2/3 vote when Kamehameha conquered the islands of the Hawaiian archipelago and annexed them into his control; and there was no treaty or plebiscite when Kamehameha intimidated King Kaumuali'i of Kaua'i into ceding sovereignty to him in 1810.

Suppose two people meet to sign a contract. Joe has a lifelong habit of asking his mother for permission before he signs anything, but this time he doesn't ask her. Bill and Joe sign the contract. Then years later Bill wants to get out of the contract, and he discovers that Joe had never asked his mother for permission before signing it. So Bill goes to court to claim that the contract is null and void because Joe didn't follow his own usual procedure. Clearly, Bill doesn't have a leg to stand on. Joe's mom would be the only one who might have a right to complain, and only if she had an enforceable contract with her son prohibiting him from signing without her permission. There was strong opposition to annexation among the Southern states in the U.S., both because Hawaiian sugar would compete against sugar from their own states, and because of race. But although internal U.S. opponents to annexation would be the only party to have standing to bring a lawsuit to prevent annexation on the grounds that it was not done by way of a treaty, such a lawsuit was never filed by them or anyone else.

The U.S. annexation of Hawai'i was not a one-sided affair. Perhaps it should be seen as a merger in which the smaller partner offered a contract which the larger partner accepted. The Republic of Hawai'i had consistently offered itself for annexation to the United States, and following a change in the U.S. government and the beginning of a war between the U.S. and Spain, the U.S. finally accepted the offer. The agreed-upon contract was the Newlands Joint Resolution, with fully accredited representatives of both sides signing and exchanging copies in a public ceremony on the steps of 'Iolani Palace in August, 1898. The entire document in which the Republic of Hawai'i offered to be annexed, and the entire joint resolution in which the U.S. accepted the offer, can be seen in the page on this website dealing with the 1910 lawsuit filed by Lili'uokalani against the U.S. The Republic of Hawai'i forced its larger partner, the United States, to agree to two expensive and important concessions in consummating this merger: (1) the debts of the Republic of Hawai'i (most of which were debts inherited from the monarchy) were fully accepted as debts of the United States government; and (2) the government and crown lands were ceded to the United States only on condition that they would be held in trust to benefit all the inhabitants of Hawai'i (rather than simply being absorbed into the land bank of the United States). This second condition became very important in 1959, when all these "ceded" lands were returned to the new State of Hawai'i, except for land retained by the U.S. for military bases, national parks, and other public purposes benefitting the residents of Hawai'i.

Some sovereignty activists say that since the annexation was illegal, the United States has no sovereignty in Hawai'i and the State of Hawai'i is also illegal. Some activists refuse to pay traffic and parking tickets, or to get State license plates for their cars, because they claim the State is illegal and therefore has no jurisdiction. In response to this far-fetched argument, the following response may be given:

At the time of the overthrow, the queen said, "I yield to the superior force of the United States of America ... I do, under this protest and impelled by said force, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives, and reinstate me in the authority which I claim ..."

For those who are fond of citing legal technicalities, the queen's surrender (and the power of the United States) is still legally in effect, because the United States has not yet undone the action of its representatives, nor reinstated her in the authority which she claims, as would be required by the language of her surrender. Read the terms of her surrender again -- she yielded her authority to the United States until such time as certain things would happen. Those things have not yet happened. Thus, the annexation was not necessary according to the queen's surrender, because she had already handed power directly to the United States, and her surrender has not yet been undone by the United States, as she required. This last argument given here is clearly far-fetched -- in exacly the same way as the claims of certain sovereignty activists are far-fetched, when they say that the overthrow was illegal and the annexation never happened. If they say the annexation never happened because a proposed treaty of annexation was defeated and annexation was done only by joint resolution -- then we may just as well say the annexation was never necessary because the queen had surrendered to the United States already in January 1893, until such time as the United States would undo the surrender, which has never happened.

An outstanding book was published in 1998 on the history of Hawai’i in general, and the Hawaiian sovereignty issue in particular. Thurston Twigg-Smith, “Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do the Facts Matter?” (Honolulu, HI: Goodale Publishing, 1998). This book focuses on the overthrow of the monarchy (1893) and the annexation of Hawai’i to the United States (1898), but other topics are also covered, including the role of the missionaries. Mr Twigg-Smith is grandson of Lorrin A. Thurston, a leader of the overthrow; and his great-great grandparents were Asa and Lucy Thurston who were in the first company of missionaries to arrive in Hawai’i in 1820. Mr. Twigg-Smith’s entire book, including historical photos, can be downloaded free of charge at:

The overthrow of the monarchy, and annexation of Hawai'i to the United States, continue to be controversial topics in Hawai'i today. Government handouts through racially exclusionary programs to benefit ethnic Hawaiians are defended as justifiable reparations for the overthrow and annexation. Sovereignty activists seeking independence for Hawai'i feel it important under "international law" to show that native Hawaiians opposed and resisted both the overthrow and the annexation. Of course many did resist, but there were also many native Hawaiians who applauded and actively helped with the overthrow and annexation. Sovereignty activists today are trying to re-write history by turning such "traitors" into non-persons (as Communists in the Soviet Union did with people they didn't like, both living and dead).

In 2011 a major book was published by a highly respected historian who analyzed the Hawaiian revolution and annexation, and Grover Cleveland's attempt to overthrow President Dole and restore the Hawaiian monarchy. He gave special attention to Japanese immigration, Japanese diplomatic and military involvement in opposing annexation, and the normalcy of using joint resolution as the method of annexation. See Book Review of William M. Morgan Ph.D., PACIFIC GIBRALTAR: U.S. - JAPANESE RIVALRY OVER THE ANNEXATION OF HAWAII, 1885-1898 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2011), including numerous lengthy quotes from each chapter in the book.


Thurston Twigg-Smith, author of the book above and grandson of a leader of the overthrow and annexation, draws a great amount of hatred on account of his gradfather and on account of his own opposition to race-based programs. It came as no surprise when a major hula teacher used the centennial of annexation to revive a hula from 1893 filled with hatred toward Lorrin A. Thurston, and now directed toward Thurston Twigg-Smith. Here’s a newspaper article reporting the event.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Monday, August 3, 1998

By Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Bulletin

** Photo caption: Noe Kaiu performs "Kaulilua" as kumu hula John Kaha'i Topolinski plays the drums.

100 years
Hula pageant marks annexation centennial
By Kekoa Catherine Enomoto

A turn-of-the-century chant likens annexationist Lorrin Andrews Thurston to a scorpion. The chant is part of "La Ho'olilo," a hula pageant marking the Aug. 12, 1998, centennial of Hawaii's annexation.

"The chant compares Thurston to Satan, and to a scorpion that attacks their own in vengeance," said kumu hula John Renken Kaha'iali'iokaiwi'ulao-kamehameha Kauauaamahikalaniki'eki'eokohala Topolinski. He wrote and directed "La Ho'olilo," in which his Ka Pa Hula Hawai'i halau premieres for modern audiences the "Pala Mai'a" (rotten bananas) chant. Its verses also use sexual metaphor -- common in Hawaiian art forms -- in reference to Thurston.

"There's a lot of innuendo about what he was doing to Hawaii, put in sexual terms," Topolinski said. "You know, like he's screwing us over -- but it's nicely put."

Besides Ka Pa Hula Hawai'i, the show features Topolinski's peers in the late kumu hula Maiki Aiu Lake's Halau Hula O Maiki Papa 'Uniki Lehua (Lehua graduating class). Five Oahu halau perform -- Halau Kealakapawa, and kumu hula Michael Canopin; Halau Mohala 'Ilima, and kumu hula Mapuana de Silva; Ka Pa Hula O Kauanoe O Wa'ahila, and kumu hula Maelia Loebenstein; Na Pualei O Likolehua, and kumu hula Leina'ala Kalama Heine; and Pua Ali'i 'Ilima, and kumu hula Victoria Holt Takamine. The Big Island is represented by Halau O Kekuhi, and na kumu hula Pualani Kanaka'ole Kanahele and Nalani Kanaka'ole.

Topolinski's favorite pageant scene is reminiscent of the recently reported estrangement between Princess Abigail Kawananakoa and former 'Iolani Palace curator Jim Bartels over palace authority.

The pageant scene reenacts a confrontation between King David Kalakaua and Queen Emma, after the 1874 elections elevated Kalakaua to the Hawaiian throne. Emma's supporters were storming the kingdom's courthouse.

"It shows them in a human light, that they were both set on the same goals to keep the kingdom independent, but they had a difference of methodology," Topolinski said. "Emma was very, very indignant. He asked her to stop the rioting or he would bring in the American marines. She did so reluctantly, but she did not promise anything."

Another favorite scene depicts Queen Lili'uokalani chanting at annexation about 'alalauwa -- a red swarm of young 'aweoweo fish, an omen of royal death. She chants that 'alalauwa had appeared earlier upon the death of her beloved hanai sister, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop.

"It's interesting that I should focus on women," Topolinski observed. "I've always believed that women are the strength of family, society and culture. For these two women to be politically inclined was totally ahead of their time. They were both strong, well educated and proud to be representatives of their people ... Women are very influential, I listen to my wife more than anything else."

Topolinski had tried to stage the show seven years ago, and then again three years ago. He finally unveils the production 100 years to the day after the Aug. 12, 1898, annexation of Hawaii by the United States.

His multilayered production combines drama, dance, music, costumes, history, even protest, to recreate the time, place and emotion of annexation. He dedicated the work to his maternal grandparents, Ernest Valentine Holbron Renken and Elizabeth Kapeka Kaleilokeokaha'i Cummins Mersberg Kekahio.

His grandparents' generation was most impacted by annexation, so "I always feel their presence about 3 or 4 in the morning, when I'm writing the script. Some of the feelings are so momentous. I felt them guiding my pen as I wrote the script ... The memory of them is fading fast and fleeting, but I've felt close to them in writing this pageant."

Sighing quietly, Topolinski said the show was a year and a half in planning and his halau's 80 members fund-raised for three-fourths of the more than $30,000 needed to stage the production.

"A halau hula has deeper dimensions than hula. This (program) is to showcase to the public what Ka Pa has, and to make the public aware of our commitment and the depth of our (Hawaiian) people."


Kumu hula John Kaha'i Topolinski directs 200 participants in eight halau, including his Ka Pa Hula Hawai'i, in his original "La Ho'olilo" pageant commemorating the centennial of Hawaii's annexation.
Where: Hawai'i Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12; music prelude at 6:30 p.m.
Cost: $21 and $26
Call: 528-0506


The University of Hawai'i library has created an internet-accessible collection of historical documents about the overthrow of the monarchy and the annexation of Hawai'i to the United States. The project was created by a group of Hawaiian sovereignty-activist students and professors for the purpose of memorializing the resistance of some of the natives. The idea is to prove that the overthrow and annexation were "illegal" and contrary to the wishes of Hawai'i's people. The collection includes:

* The 1894 report on the overthrow to President Cleveland, written by U.S. Rep. James H. Blount. [Mr. Blount was sent to Hawai'i by President Grover Cleveland, a friend of the ex-queen, with a specific mission to gather evidence to justify a restoration of the monarchy. Blount did not place anyone under oath, and he interviewed only Royalists]

* Congressional debates on the annexation statute (the "Organic Act").

* The anti-annexation petition signed by Hawai'i citizens. [note Lorrin A. Thurston's report, below]

* Documents penned by Queen Lili'uokalani and others in protest of the overthrow.

There is a pledge to eventually include the Morgan Report, produced by Congress, running over 800 pages, which took testimony under oath and concluded the overthrow was primarily an internal Hawai'i matter with minimal U.S. involvement. But of course those in charge of this archive project have no desire to provide evidence contrary to their opinions, and it is doubtful the Morgan Report will ever be posted here.

The archive project, including the documents mentioned above, can be found here:

Lorrin A. Thurston, a leader of the overthrow and annexation, wrote a 32-page report thoroughly discrediting the anti-annexation petitions. He pointed out that some individuals signed the petition numerous times in their own names, and also forged the signatures of numerous others (their handwriting was remarkably the same as the forger's!). Sone individuals apparently routinely gathered entire pages of signatures on otherwise blank documents, and later filled in the cause being petitioned. The ages of some small children were also changed to make it appear they were adults. Mr. Thurston's 32-page report is difficult to read because the typewriting has faded, and the documents were scanned as photographs. The first page is at:

In the interest of making the 32 pages of the Thurston challenge available with a single mouse-click (instead of 32 separate webpages), Jere Krischel assembled all 32 pages into a single pdf file. The disadvantage is that the file has a size of 16 megabytes (dialup internet subscribers take note).


The myth of the shredded Hawaiian flag is a false claim that the Hawaiian flag removed from ‘Iolani Palace on annexation day August 12, 1898 was cut up into pieces distributed to the annexationists as souvenirs of their victory over the Hawaiian people. The story is completely false. Such a story has an obvious purpose -- to inflame the anger of ethnic Hawaiians today by portraying the annexationists as hateful, despicable people who desecrated a beloved symbol of the monarchy right before the eyes of the Hawaiian people to humiliate them. The story also is a personal attack on the character of Thurston Twigg-Smith, who continues in his grandfather’s footsteps, opposing race-based government handouts and opposing efforts to create a race-based government in Hawai’i today. The story creates sympathy for ethnic Hawaiians, and places them on a moral pedestal for refraining from violence in the face of such outrageous provocation, both in 1898 and also today. Like all Hawaiian sovereignty myths, this falsehood is attention-grabbing and easy to assert in just a sentence or two which can be repeated over and over again until the general population comes to believe it. This falsehood, like the other ones, is difficult and time consumung to disprove, and the details of disproving it seem dull and uninteresting. The following facts are proved on the shredded flag webpage: Some Hawaiian sovereignty activists said that even though the claim of the shredded flag is false, the claim should be asserted anyway because of its propaganda value. James Michener included the myth in his fiction novel “Hawaii” published in 1959. The story was included in the Public Broadcast System’s "documentary" video about the overthrow and annexation nationally televised in 1997. The video was accompanied by lesson plans for teachers, including one that focused on teaching this lie to children throughout America as though it were a fact. In summer 2000, as Senator Inouye was starting his propaganda campaign to pass the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill, he was reported to be personally spreading the lie. This lie can now be found on many internet websites. For details about everything in this paragraph, see:


In January 1993 perhaps ten thousand ethnic Hawaiians (and some non-Hawaiian political leftists) commemorated the 100th anniversary of the overthrow by marching from Mauna Ala (the Royal Mausoleum where ex-queen Lili'uokalani is buried) to 'Iolani Palace, where there was a day of speeches and flag-waving -- Hawaiian flag only, of course. The ethnic Hawaiian Governor John Waihe'e had ordered all U.S. flags to be removed from all government buildings during a three-day period (out of sensitivity to the feelings of Native Hawaiians, he said).

In January 2003, on the 110th anniversary of the overthrow, another march to 'Iolani Palace had only perhaps fifty participants. But also, several hundred ethnic Hawaiians demanding tens of millions of dollars for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs staged a noisy rally at the Legislature on opening day. The victimology of overthrow and annexation was cited repeatedly as a reason why the non-Hawaiian taxpayers of today's Hawai'i owe reparations to those of native ancestry.

A remarkable series of letters to editor of the Honolulu Advertiser followed after these rallies, focusing on whether the overthrow and annexation were good for Hawai'i, and whether native Hawaiians at the time had supported those events. Here are five of those letters. Earl Arakaki, author of the first letter, was the lead plaintiff in the Arakaki1 lawsuit that desegregated candidacy for trustee of Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and also the Arakaki2 lawsuit seeking to dismantle both OHA and the Departmentof Hawaiian Homelands as being unconstitutional. Kaha'i Topolinski, who write a reply, is a well-known hula master. Thurston Twigg-Smith, who responded to Topolinski and defended Arakaki, is the grandson of Lorrin A. Thurston who was a leader of the overthrow and a diplomat representing the Republic of Hawai'i in negotiations for annexation with the U.S. government.


Posted on: Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Letters to the Editor

Monarchy overthrow was good for Hawai'i

I wholeheartedly agree with John L. Kaulukou, former judge, marshal under the monarchy, speaker of the House of the Republic of Hawai'i, longtime ally of King Kalakaua and his sister, Lili'uokalani, in his statement that annexation to the United States was "the best thing that could happen for Hawai'i, both for the native and foreign population ... I rejoice heartily that it has come."

And, I also agree with Queen Lili'uokalani's entry in her diary on Sunday, Sept. 2, 1900, that "Tho' for a moment (the overthrow) cost me a pang of pain for my people, it was only momentary, for the present has a hope for the future of my people."

And, I agree with the statement by Stephen T. Boggs, emeritus professor of anthropology, University of Hawai'i, that "Sovereignty in the modern day and age rests with the people, not with any government, or any form of government."

Only in the 50th state, and the rest of the United States, are pro-sovereignty activists free to march and demonstrate, and I to opine. God bless America!

Earl Arakaki
'Ewa Beach


Posted on: Saturday, February 8, 2003
Letters to the Editor

Liliu'okalani's quote taken out of context

Earl Arakaki's Jan. 22 letter ("Monarchy overthrow was good for Hawai'i") was interesting. The use of quotes from Judge John L. Kaulukou and Queen Liliu'okalani, however, presents a manufactured point of view. One needs to consider the context of these quotes, the time, the politics and political differences in which they were said.

Judge Kaulukou, after serving a brilliant career under his own Native Hawaiian government, traded his loyalty and became a proponent of U.S. annexation, without question causing the displeasure of many politically connected Hawaiian families. He was branded a traitor.

Addressing Arakaki's quote of Liliu'okalani, "Tho' for a moment (the overthrow) caused me a pang of pain for my people, it was only momentary, for the present has a hope for the future of my people," is taken out of context with the insertion "(the overthrow)". I have searched the dairies of the queen from 1900-1909 and could not find Arakaki's dubious quote with reference to the queen.

From 1900-1909, Liliu'okalani made five trips to Washington, D.C., protesting America's illegal takeover of Hawai'i. Further, my research reveals that the queen's diaries were written "in numerical code and a type of Hawaiian and Tahitian gibberish ... " proving " ... her reluctance to trust her diaries falling again into the wrong hands ... a concerted effort was made by the Hawai'i repositories to keep her diaries private for many years."

Mr. Arakaki, the queen by your quote may have accepted the permanence of U.S. political presence in Hawai'i "a hope" for her people. But never, ever did she agree to accept the traitorous manner in which it was done.

Kaha'i Topolinski


Posted on: Friday, February 14, 2003
Letters to the Editor

Key Hawaiian figures favored annexation

Kaha'i Topolinski attempts in his Feb. 8 letter to belittle the comments in favor of annexation made by Judge John Kaulukou and Queen Lili'uokalani, quoted in an earlier letter to the editor by Earl Arakaki, calling them "a manufactured point of view." They were not. They were real and good evidence that not all Hawaiians opposed annexation and that even logical opponents, like the deposed queen, could see benefits in it.

Judge Kaulukou was elected speaker of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Hawai'i, part of the Hawaiian majority in that body. The republic's Senate also included Native Hawaiians, and it voted unanimously for annexation. This may have caused displeasure among some Hawaiians, as Topolinski alleges, but it is a historical fact.

Judge Kaulukou made his statement that annexation was "the best thing that could happen for Hawai'i, both for the native and foreign population ... I rejoice heartily that it has come" in a lengthy article that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 28, 1898.

The quote attributed to Queen Lili'uokalani — "Tho' for a moment it (the overthrow) cost me a pang of pain for my people it was only momentary, for the present has a hope for the future of my people" — was not taken out of context, as Topolinski charges.

He said he could not find it in her diaries. It was taken directly from her diary for Sunday, Sept. 2, 1900, a copy of which I saw when I entered that information into my book, "Hawaiian Sovereignty, Do the Facts Matter?" on Page XII.

There were other key Hawaiian figures of the time who came to favor annexation and the release from the whims of a monarchy. One, also quoted in the forward of my book, was John F. Colburn, a Native Hawaiian member with Sam Parker of Lili'uokalani's last, four-member cabinet, the one that tried to depose her themselves in January 1893.

Thurston Twigg-Smith


Posted on: Saturday, February 22, 2003
Letters to the Editor

The Akaka Bill is just a seditious conspiracy

I am writing to protest Gov. Lingle's trip to Washington, D.C., to support passage of the Akaka Bill. I also want to protest the Hawai'i congressional delegation for its support of the same bill. All those who support passage of the Akaka Bill are engaged in a seditious conspiracy against the inherent sovereignty of the kanaka maoli people and the lawfully reinstated Hawaiian government of March 13, 1999.

U.S. Public Law 103-150 was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the Jan. 17, 1893, overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai'i, and to offer an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow. Congress was told by Sen. Slade Gorton that "the logical consequences of this resolution would be independence."

The Akaka Bill is proof of an ongoing criminal enterprise relative to the continued misuse, abuse and disposal of the stolen government lands by elected and appointed agents of the de facto state of Hawai'i and U.S. government.

The Akaka bill is an offense against the law of nations and a seditious conspiracy against the inherent sovereignty of the lawful Hawaiian government.

James D. Kimmel
Wailuku, Maui


Posted on: Friday, February 28, 2003
Letters to the Editor

Pro-sovereignty stand misleading

James D. Kimmel (Letters, Feb. 22) misled readers about the issue of Hawaiian sovereignty. He states things as truth that are nothing more than revisionism.

U.S. Public Law 103-150 is anything but. It is a letter of apology, nothing more. It does acknowledge that American presence during the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani might have influenced events, but in light of the Morgan Senate report of 1894, it goes no further.

Fact: The queen was overthrown by a committee led by individuals with U.S. ties, but the majority were legal citizens of the kingdom. The queen suffered the fate of popular insurrection against her attempt to consolidate power to her court.

Fact: At the time of the overthrow, the annexation club in Honolulu had hundreds of Native Hawaiian members.

Fact: U.S. military forces played no role in the overthrow. The U.S. ambassador did not recognize the republic until all kingdom government buildings were seized. The republic was quickly recognized under international law by all major powers. The elected representatives of the republic, the majority of whom were Native Hawaiians, legally provided a mandate for the republic to seek annexation to the United States. James ignores the messy detail that all elected Hawaiians voted for annexation.

Fact: State ceded lands were defined as "crown land" by the king in 1856. Upon annexation, they were transferred intact to Washington, then returned to the state in 1959. The king's edict declared this land as a benefit for all citizens of the kingdom. The benefits flowing from ceded lands continue to serve the king's purpose to this day: It benefits all citizens of the state of Hawai'i. Individual Hawaiians never had title to this land.

The most important fact: In the annexation bill, the elected representatives unanimously voted that all Native Hawaiians become citizens of the United States. This means the Akaka bill is an offense to the U.S. Constitution. All federal and state laws that grant unique rights to Native Hawaiians are unconstitutional. To adhere to the Constitution, there cannot be a government-to-government relationship of any sort. All U.S. citizens are equal under the law.

There is a constitutionally legal method to address Native Hawaiian land grievances, which, for the large part, stem from my ancestors having little concept of fee-simple land ownership. Thousands, in ignorance, were taken undue advantage of. Ceded lands are solely in state jurisdiction, for the benefit of my citizens, as the king put it.

I believe another Great Mahele is due. Each individual Hawaiian, of 50 percent blood quantum or greater, on Jan. 17 two years from now, to give time for the state to sort out legalities, would receives three acres fee simple. On that date, all unique state and federal programs for Native Hawaiians would cease per the Constitution.

Pat Kean
Kihei, Maui


The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 23, 2003

U.S. must feed its industrial oligarchy

By Eduardo M. Hernandez

[Photo caption: Eduardo M. Hernandez is a fund-raiser and organizer for AIDS awareness and prevention.]

In 1893, a small group of industrialists illegally manipulated U.S. military forces to oust the leader of the Hawaiian Kingdom — Queen Lili'uokalani.

While this benevolent monarch can hardly be compared with the despotic ruler of Iraq, the method and ends of this historical event clearly show that the United States will lie, bully, cheat and steal under the guise of freedom to feed an insatiable industrial oligarchy.

Today, as the United States appears ready to launch a first-strike attack against Iraq, the character of our nation is once again drawn into question. Will we, in the name of justice and freedom, use force to overthrow Saddam Hussein, disarm Iraq and assume control of its oil? Or will we strive to find a less-violent solution that serves the needs of humanity more than those of the military-industrial complex?

There can be no doubt that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a significant and lethal threat to freedom and democracy. However, it seems unlikely that the massive invasion planned by U.S. military leaders will significantly reduce this threat.

For more than 10 years, the policy of containment has been effective in constraining Iraq from using these weapons. A war may actually empower Saddam and legitimize, in his view, deployment of a hidden arsenal against U.S invaders, his own people or other targets including Israel, causing an escalation of events far beyond anyone's imagination.

The Bush administration seems intent on pursuing its own aims, much as John Stevens and the Committee of Safety were intent on theirs in Hawai'i 110 years ago. Both share little regard for international law, relying rather on the hegemonic power of the United States to achieve a perpetuation of corporate domination.


Posted on: Wednesday, March 5, 2003
Letters to the Editor

'Industrial oligarchy' wasn't part of overthrow

Your community editorial board member Eduardo Hernandez makes an interesting, if somewhat unusual, comparison Feb. 23 of the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani and the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 to the contemplated overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his government in Iraq, blaming both on what he calls the "industrial oligarchy" of the United States.

Actually, there is a valid comparison, but the root is not some industrial oligarchy. In both cases a dictator/monarch not serving the people of his/her country is the common element.

There was no industrial oligarchy fomenting a revolution in Hawai'i in 1893; there were simply subjects of the kingdom who objected strongly to the willful ways of their queen — she announced she was going to install a new constitution, take away the voting rights of certain taxpayers and appoint all the members of one of the two houses of government. They said no way and removed her from office in a virtually bloodless coup.

The U.S. played a minimal role, pointing no guns, firing no bullets. And even that role was denounced very quickly by President Cleveland, making clear the U.S. itself was not interested in taking over the kingdom.

Interestingly, neither those Hawaiians who now seek independence and those who merely seek compensation from Uncle Sam for damages that never happened are looking for a return to a monarchy.

Further, contrary to Mr. Hernandez' assertions, both the actions of the Hawaiian revolutionists in 1893 and America in Iraq in 2003 follow a clear precept of international law: Any people who believe they are oppressed can exercise the right to overthrow a government that threatens their chosen way of life. Ask the English about their revolution in 1688, Americans about theirs in 1775, the French about theirs in 1789, and don't forget the Chinese revolution in 1911 or the Russian revolution in 1917.

Thurston Twigg-Smith


Posted on: Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Letters to the Editor

'Minimal role' during overthrow maximum

Thurston Twigg-Smith said: "The U.S. played a minimal role, pointing no guns, firing no bullets. And even that role was denounced very quickly by President Cleveland, making clear the U.S. itself was not interested in taking over the kingdom" (Letters, March 5).

This "minimal role" consisted of U.S. Minister Stevens ordering the firepower of the USS Boston pointed toward 'Iolani Palace and sending U.S. Marines into the streets of Honolulu. Stevens said such was needed to "protect the lives and the property of American citizens."

If all were equal citizens under the kingdom, who, then, were these "American citizens" whom this abuse of force was designed to protect?

Lili'uokalani said, "That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America ... (that) Stevens has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the provisional government.

"Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest ... until such time as the government of the United States shall ... undo the action of 'its representatives' and reinstate me in the authority which I claim ... "

Sounds like the queen's concern about loss of life was the reason bullets were not fired.

The facts here show that, indeed, the United States, through the actions of its representatives, did orchestrate the overthrow.

Mr. Twigg-Smith, do not whitewash factual history in order to obscure the ugly deeds of Lorrin Thurston, your great-uncle.

Damon Senaha
San Diego


Posted on: Thursday, March 13, 2003
Letters to the Editor

Overthrow assertion is revisionist history

I must take exception to Thurston Twigg-Smith's ludicrous assertion that the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy by a handful of foreign-born, greedy, self-interested traitors has the same legitimacy as the French or American revolutions.

The point that Mr. Twigg-Smith ignores is that the vast majority of the Hawaiian people did not feel oppressed by their queen but, to the contrary, loved and worshiped her. The only "oppressed" people were members of the Annexation Club, a treacherous gang of planters and businessmen, led by Mr. Thurston's great-uncle, Lorrin A. Thurston, who sought to control the kingdom politically as well as economically by plotting the overthrow of the queen and annexation to the United States.

Mr. Twigg-Smith asserts that the United States played a minimal role in this illegal overthrow. This allegation stands in stark contrast to President Cleveland's words to Congress: "But for the lawless occupation of Honolulu under false pretexts by the United States forces, and but for Minister Stevens' recognition of the provisional government when the United States forces were its sole support and constituted its only military strength, the queen and her government would never have yielded to the provisional government."

Surely it is time for Mr. Twigg-Smith to forego his attempts at revisionist history and come to terms with the illicit activities of his great-uncle, who, along with the other traitors, should rightly have been hanged for treason.

Michael Lafreniere


NOTE FROM WEBSITE EDITOR KEN CONKLIN: The two letters above, from Damon Senaha and Michael Lafreniere, appear to have been written based on some sort of single-source false history of the overthrow. For example, both letters make the same mistake in describing Lorrin A. Thurston as the “great-uncle” of Thurston Twigg-Smith, when in fact Lorrin was his grandfather. Specific detailed errors like that, one day apart, do not happen by accident. The word on the grapevine is that about two dozen letters were received by the Honolulu Advertiser, all sent to San Diego and then re-mailed from there. Perhaps a professor at the UH Center for Hawaiian Studies assigned a letter campaign as a class project, with extra credit for anyone whose letter actually got published. Hawaiian sovereignty activists, following Marxist analysis, regard history as a political weapon and dirty tricks are fair in war. Thurston Twigg-Smith’s letter below (after Frank Scott’s) sets the record straight.


Posted on: Monday, March 24, 2003
Letters to the Editor

Overthrow interpreted differently

Opinions on the role played by the United States on the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani in 1893 seem to depend on how one interprets historical data.

Thurston Twigg-Smith (Letters, March 5) indicated that the United States played a minimal role, with no pointing of guns, no firing of bullets and denouncement by President Cleveland.

Next comes Damon Senaha (Letters, March 12), who indicates that the United States, through actions of its representatives, orchestrated the overthrow and that Twigg-Smith is simply whitewashing history.

And then, lo and behold, comes Michael Lafreniere (Letters, March 13), who speculates that the queen was loved and worshiped by the majority of the people, and the lawless occupation of Honolulu by U.S. forces prompted her to resign.

I think all three critics would agree that the crucial basis for their divergent views stems from different interpretations of the actions of John Stevens, U.S. minister to Hawai'i, and Capt. G.C. Wiltse of the USS Boston, as well as the statements in the queen's capitulation.

Stevens indicated to the Committee of Safety, whose members precipitated the overthrow, that he would likely approve of a new government resulting from a potential overthrow, but would play no role in their revolutionary actions. Capt. Wiltse, with the approval of Stevens, sent a limited number of troops to Honolulu for the express purpose of protecting Americans and American property. The U.S. government in Washington had no knowledge of the overthrow until after the fact and expressed strong objections when word was received.

The queen's interpretation as to who was responsible for the overthrow may be ambiguous and irrelevant to those who believe the United States played a minimal, if any, role in the overthrow. Was it a clever ploy on her part to blame the U.S. minister to Hawai'i, hoping the favorably leaning U.S. government in Washington would counter Stevens and argue for her reinstatement? Further actions seem to indicate this.

But for those looking for supporting evidence to support the belief of major U.S. involvement, the wording of the queen's capitulation, however profound, is crucial.

Discussion of the pros and cons on the issue will likely continue unabated unless a critically needed, unbiased investigation is conducted by the U.S. Congress. In retrospect, it is obvious that such an investigation should have preceded the 1993 apology resolution.

Frank Scott


Posted on: Thursday, March 27, 2003
Letters to the Editor

Few Americans were part of 1893 revolution

Lorrin A. Thurston was not my great-uncle (as erroneously stated in two letters to the editor because of an editor's error). As clearly stated in my book "Hawaiian Sovereignty, Do the Facts Matter," he was my grandfather.

Letter writer Damon Senaha wonders who were the American citizens being protected by U.S. Minister Stevens when he brought ashore the 162 men from the USS Boston, a move that had been taken several times in earlier years at moments of crisis.

As he could discover by reading Chapter 5 of my book, which describes in detail the events that led to the revolution, there were well over 1,000 Americans in residence in Honolulu who were not part of the revolutionary group. That group of 13 — or as letter writer Michael Lafreniere calls them, "a handful of foreign-born, greedy, self-interested traitors" — was comprised of seven subjects of the monarchy (including L.A. Thurston, one of three Island-born members of the committee), four citizens of America and two Europeans. All were residents and taxpayers of Hawai'i.

In 1893, Cleveland's "fact finder" to Hawai'i, James H. Blount, wrote in his report that the 5,500 members of the city's Annexation Club at that time included 1,218 Americans (22 percent of the club); 1,022 Native Hawaiians (19 percent); 251 Englishmen (5 percent); 2,261 Portuguese (41 percent); 69 Norwegians (1 percent); 351 Germans (6 percent), along with 328 persons unclassified but making up the balance.

Lafreniere's assertion that my grandfather should rightly have been hanged for treason was the queen's viewpoint also. When President Cleveland sent Minister A.S. Willis to replace Stevens as minister and also order the revolutionists to return the kingdom to Lili'uokalani, she overplayed her hand by telling Willis she'd have them hanged when she got control, which caused Cleveland to abandon that course and recognize the new Republic of Hawai'i.

Notably, when the queen's abortive counterrevolution failed in 1895, the republic confined her to the palace for a few months instead of hanging anyone.

Thurston Twigg-Smith


The Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Letters to the Editor

Hawaiians' views of annexation are diverse

Not all Hawaiians looked at annexation negatively. Some Hawaiians accepted these changes or customs. Hawaiians were divided into three groups: the Native Hawaiians, the bicultural Hawaiians and the "haole-fied" Hawaiians.

Many Native Hawaiians did not change for America. They kept their old way of life and wanted to restore the monarchy.

Bicultural Hawaiians were part-white and part-Hawaiian. They took the best of both worlds.

"Haole-fied" Hawaiians took on the American way of life to fit in with the community. They imitated the Americans and married into white families, diluting the Hawaiian gene pool.

Therefore, Hawaiians were quite diverse on their opinion about annexation. Some chose to embrace and accept the American culture while others rejected this new way of life. The bicultural community took both sides and got the most out of each.

Even though the Native Hawaiian groups' viewpoint was expressed the most, there was more than one view to the issue.

Isaiah Peacott-Ricardos


Hawaiian sovereignty activists are extremely zealous. They are always eager to uphold the concept that ethnic Hawaiians would never have supported the overthrow or annexation, that they resisted actively, and that the white leaders of those events were villains. Queen Lili'uokalani is portrayed as a martyr, almost to the point of sainthood. Candlelight vigils are held in her memory at the Royal Mausoleum and at ‘Iolani palace, and prayers are said. Overthrow leader Lorrin Thurston's grandson, Thurston Twigg-Smith, is an active campaigner against today's Hawaiian racial programs and against today's sovereignty movement, and has published a book "Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do The Facts Matter." Thus, Mr. Twigg-Smith is regarded as a villain by the sovereignty activists both because of his own views and because of the activities of his grandfather. Bookstores are pressured by the sovereignty activists not to carry his book, and copies of it in the library and in bookstores are often vandalized. Indeed, valuable old books published during the decade of the overthrow and annexation, or thereafter, have also been stolen from the public library or vandalized beyond repair, such as the two volumes by William Adam Russ on the “Hawaiian Revolution” and the “Hawaiian Republic”; Lorrin A. Thurston's "A Handbook on the Annexation of Hawaii"; and the Morgan Report.

In view of that background, it's understandable that the sovereignty activists were shocked and outraged to see Earl Arakaki's letter to editor (above) using an amazing quote from Lili'uokalani's diary of 1900 (7 years after the overthrow and 2 years after annexation), as reported in Mr. Twigg-Smith's book. Surely, they thought, their heroine the Queen would never have uttered those words or harbored such a sentiment. Earl Arakaki quoted the ex-queen as follows:


And, I also agree with Queen Lili'uokalani's entry in her diary on Sunday, Sept. 2, 1900, that "Tho' for a moment (the overthrow) cost me a pang of pain for my people, it was only momentary, for the present has a hope for the future of my people."


And so the sovereignty activists began scurrying to somehow discredit the accuracy of that dastardly quote. They turned to a fellow ethnic Hawaiian with expertise in Hawaiian history, and who has extensive experience using the State of Hawai'i archives and the archives at Bishop Museum. Unfortunately for the activists, they chose an honorable man whose personal integrity causes him to place truth above politics, and who has a history of standing firm against intimidation.

DeSoto Brown is collections manager of the Bishop Museum archives, and his work is also his hobby. He has published books on Hawaiian history, including "Hawaii Goes to War" and "Hawaii Recalls," and sells Hawai'i memorabilia on eBay. He is committed to preserving the Hawaiian cultural heritage, and making it available for the education and inspiration of future generations. In 1999-2000, his bosses at Bishop Museum were working closely with the radical organization Hui Malama to remove bones and artifacts from Bishop Museum for re-burial, and even to prohibit photographs of such things from being exhibited. During that period DeSoto Brown showed great courage in speaking out publicly against that policy. He willingly risked loss of his job and hostility bordering on intimidation from Hui Malama, even though a fellow employee was fired for daring to speak out (see the March 29, 2000 issue of the Honolulu Advertiser, article available at http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/2000/Mar/29/localnews3.html ).

DeSoto Brown spent weeks doing his research to track down the original source of the Arakaki/Twigg-Smith quote from Lili'uokalani. At first he published an article showing (politically correct) disdain for Thurston Twigg-Smith and casting doubt on the validity of the quote. But then a week later Mr. Brown did a remarkable thing. He published a follow-up article describing new evidence he had found that verifies the quote's correctness and provides enough context to show that the quote meant what it plainly said. Mr. Brown could have simply kept his findings to himself; but he gave a clear demonstration of scholarly integrity and personal courage by publishing his second article. Here are DeSoto Brown's two articles from the left-wing, alternative, weekly newspaper "The Honolulu Weekly"

The Honolulu Weekly
May 28 - June 3, 2003
Page 4

The queen's diary

"'Tho' for a moment it [the overthrow] cost me a pang of pain for my people it was only momentary, for the present has a hope for the future of my people.'

-former Queen Lili'uokalani in her diary, Sunday, September 2, 1900"

This quote, cited in Thurston Twigg-Smith's book Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do The Facts Matter? (Goodale Publishers; 1998), inspired an interesting exchange of letters in The Honolulu Advertiser earlier this year. In January, a letter from Earl Arakaki got things going by referencing Twigg-Smith's use of the queen's quote (written, as it happens, on her 61st birthday) to bolster claims that some Hawaiians actually ended up supporting their government's overthrow.

Predictably, subsequent letters denounced Twigg-Smith's reading, including one from kumu hula Kaha'i Topolinski, who wrote that he thought the diary entry had been taken out of context. Twigg-Smith himself denied this in a letter published on Feb. 14, in which he said that the wording "was taken directly from her diary a copy of which I saw when I entered that information in my book." The letter doesn't say where Twigg-Smith saw the copy, but the book's bibliography cites the Hawai'i State Archives and Bishop Museum as the sources for the queen's diaries.

These two repositories do, in fact, have a total of 15 of Lili'uokalani's diaries between them, dating from 1878 to 1906. But anyone looking for the 1900 diary is out of luck: It doesn't exist in either collection.

So, where did the quote come from? In an e-mailed response to the question, Twigg-Smith said he'd seen the words in a transcribed copy of the diary - not the original - and that the copy was in a private collection. According to Twigg-Smith, the copy was made after World War II from the original diary, which was in what's known today as the Hawai'i State Archives.

At press time, an unofficial statement from the Archives said they have no record of ever having had the 1900 diary.

Unfortunately, these explanations are unlikely to settle the question of context and the queen's real meaning. With no access to the original, that debate will continue.

-DeSoto Brown


The Honolulu Weekly
June 4-10, 2003
Page 4

Thurston was right

A story in last week’s Honolulu Diary described a published quote from the 1900 diary of deposed Queen Lili‘uokalani, reprinted by overthrow apologist Thurston Twigg-Smith and subsequently questioned by others. Twigg-Smith had attributed the source as the Hawai‘i State Archives, but upon inquiry the Archives responded that there was no evidence that the 1900 diary had ever been in their collection.

A further search there, however, turned up a photostatic copy (probably made in the 1930s) of a single page of this diary, in Lili‘uokalani’s handwriting, which did contain the contested quote. The full text of the photostat:

How sad and yet I gave my consent to have the old Royal Hawaiian Band who are now the Government U.S. band come and serenade me on this the occasion of my 62nd birthday. My consent is the healing over of ill will of all great differences caused by the overthrow of my throne and the deprivation of my people of their rights. Tho’ for a moment it cost me a pang of pain for my people — it was only momentary, for the present has a hope for the future for my people. 10 a.m. Went out to Kahala with Mr & Mrs Mana [?] and children. Mr & Mrs Auld, Kaipo, Myra Aimoku Kalahiki. Wakeki Paoakalani J. Aea Mahiai Robinson.

This, at least, addresses the context the quote came from, which had been contested. Still unanswered, however, is the location of the elusive diary in its entirety. It’s not in any known, publicly accessible repository at this time. Perhaps this source of further insight into Lili‘uokalani’s life still waits, somewhere, for discovery.

—DeSoto Brown


On September 7, 2003 a pro-apartheid "red shirt" march by 5,000 to 10,000 ethnic Hawaiians and supporters took place in Waikiki. The purpose of the march was to protest the Arakaki2 lawsuit as well as the two Kamehameha School desegregation lawsuits. Over a period of several weeks, the red-shirt march generated important published statements by the Arakaki2 plaintiffs and by the OHA trustees, as well as letters to editor debating the legitimacy of the overthrow and annexation and bemoaning the allegedly downtrodden status of ethnic Hawaiians. To see extensive material about all that, visit:


A major leader of the overthrow and annexation was Sanford B. Dole. 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

Sanford B. Dole is still remembered, both positively and negatively, and his role in the history of the overthrow and annexation continues to be discussed in newspaper letters to editor. See: Dole's 160th Birthday April 23, 2004 -- Newspaper publications, responses, rebuttals (also of interest to journalism students as a case study in how different newspapers edit and handle the same content differently)

In 2004 a book was published by Dr. Noenoe Silva entitled "Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism." The book focuses on the late 1800s and especially the overthrow and annexation. It claims ethnic Hawaiians were overwhelmingly opposed to the overthrow and annexation. An important essay-length book review is available at:


(c) Copyright 2000 - 2012 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved


Email: ken_conklin@yahoo.com