What If The U.S. Had Not Annexed Hawaii?

Hawaiian protesters insist that the annexation of Hawaii by the United States in 1898 was illegal. The remedies they demand are many, including the recognition of Hawaiians as an indian tribe or a separate independent nation.

Assuming the US did not annex Hawaii, it helpful to understand that several international powers had their eyes on Hawaii. Due to its strategic location in the middle of the Pacific it would have been impossible to maintain an independent Hawaii. It is entirely possible that any takeover of Hawaii by a nation other than the United Stares would have been accomplished by far more violent means. You will note that even the threat of military action was enough to cause capitulation. Below are historical incidents which demonstrate the fragility of Hawaii’s independence.

Russia

In 1815 the Russian empire affected the islands when Georg Anton Schäffer, agent of the Russian-American Company, came to retrieve goods seized by Kaumualiʻi, chief of Kauaʻi island. Kaumualiʻi signed a treaty making Tsar Alexander I protectorate over Kauaʻi. From 1817 to 1853 Fort Elizabeth, near the Waimea River, was one of three Russian forts on the island.

France

In 1839 Captain Laplace of the French frigate Artémise sailed to Hawaii under orders to: Destroy the malevolent impression which you find established to the detriment of the French name; to rectify the erroneous opinion which has been created as to the power of France; and to make it well understood that it would be to the advantage of the chiefs of those islands of the Ocean to conduct themselves in such a manner as not to incur the wrath of France. You will exact, if necessary with all the force that is yours to use, complete reparation for the wrongs which have been committed, and you will not quit those places until you have left in all minds a solid and lasting impression. Under the threat of war, King Kamehameha III signed the Edict of Toleration on July 17, 1839 and paid the $20,000 in compensation for the deportation of the priests and the incarceration and torture of converts, agreeing to Laplace’s demands. The kingdom proclaimed: That the Catholic worship be declared free, throughout all the dominions subject to the King of the Sandwich Islands; the members of this religious faith shall enjoy in them the privileges granted to Protestants. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu returned unpersecuted and as reparation Kamehameha III donated land for them to build a church upon.

Britain

In January 1843 Lord George Paulet on the Royal Navy warship HMS Carysfort entered Honolulu Harbor and demanded that King Kamehameha III cede the Hawaiian Islands to the British Crown. Under the guns of the frigate, Kamehameha stepped down under protest. Surely this meant that the islands were British? but how, why and when did the Brits lose the islands to America. Later Paulet’s commanding officer, Admiral Thomas. apologized to Kamehameha III for Paulet’s actions, and restored Hawaiian sovereignty on July 31, 1843

France

In 1849 French admiral Louis Tromelin arrived in Honolulu Harbor with the La Poursuivante and Gassendi. De Tromelin made ten demands to King Kamehameha III on August 22, mainly demanding that full religious rights be given to Catholics, (a decade earlier, during the French Incident the ban on Catholicism had been lifted, but Catholics still enjoyed only partial religious rights). On August 25 the demands had not been met. After a second warning was made to the civilians, French troops overwhelmed the skeleton force and captured Honolulu Fort, spiked the coastal guns and destroyed all other weapons they found (mainly muskets and ammunition). They raided government buildings and general property in Honolulu, causing damage that amounted to $100,000. After the raids the invasion force withdrew to the fort. De Tromelin eventually recalled his men and left Hawaii on September 5.

Japan

In 1897 Empire of Japan sent warships to Hawaii to oppose annexation

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