Friday, September 02, 2011

Happy Birthday, Liliuokalani

LiliuokalaniLiliuokalani, last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai'i, was born today in 1837 outside Honolulu. In 1893 she attempted to widen suffrage within the kingdom and at the same time abridge the current rights of American and European residents; they rose against her and, with the implicit backing of US Marines landed in Honolulu to "keep order", overthrew the monarchy. The then President of the US, Grover Cleveland, proclaimed that a "great wrong" had been done, but Congress refused to back his desire to call for the end to the Provisional Government and instead recognized the Republic of Hawaii. Five years later, under a new president, that republic was annexed by the United States.

Liliuokalani outlived her kingdom by two dozen years, but only because she bowed to force and abdicated her throne to save the lives of her advisers. Her sentence of five years hard labor was commuted to prison in the 'Iolani Palace, and it was after eight months of this that she abdicated, after which she lived in retirement in Washington Place, now the official residence of the governor of the state. She was supported by the income from a sugar plantation, all that remained of the once extensive royal holdings, and she wrote and composed until her death.

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