The rule of monarchy ended on the United States mainland with a war and in Hawaii with a coup. July 4 is an important date to both. Some here note with sadness the end of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the role of U.S. colonists in its demise.

The islands of Hawaii were united into a single kingdom by King Kamehameha I in 1810. Over the next eighty years, Hawaii became an active commercial sea port. American colonists followed the missionaries who arrived in 1820 and became increasingly involved in the government of the islands. Over this time, also, western disease decimated the Native Hawaiian population. Some estimates put the number of Native Hawaiians at nearly a million at the time of contact with the west; that number plummeted to just over 22,000 by 1920.

This was also a time of rapid cultural change in Hawaii. The monarchy was challenged by the influx of foreigners with different views of religion, land ownership and the role of commerce. Western nations were competing with one another to place flags of conquest on newly-discovered islands across the Pacific. Hawaii was subject to a military occupation by Britain for five months in 1843. The end of that rule is celebrated each year as “Restoration Day” when the flag of the Hawaiian Kingdom flew once again, replacing the Union Jack.

In 1893 American colonists overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom, deposing Queen Liliuokalani. Many hoped that the United States government would return control of the islands to the monarchy, as Britain had done earlier. However, on July 4, 1894 the provisional government proclaimed the Republic of Hawaii with Sanford B. Dole as President. Four years later, Hawaii became a territory of the United States.

While this basic timeline is relatively undisputed (and served as the basis of the Apology Resolution by the U.S. Congress in 1993), there are many different interpretations of history and no clear consensus on what an appropriate remedy might be, if any. Traditional July 4 festivities celebrate American independence with fireworks, parades and picnics in Hawaii, and residents of every descent take part. However, many Native Hawaiians still experience a sense of loss on this date of dual historic significance.


  1. Thanks for the information.

    None the less, July 4th on Oahu is unbelievable. Fire crackers such as mortars and roman candles are legal. Making this event a must see.

  2. Wow! Excellent post. And Makana, you’re right…Oahu is amazing on the 4th, especially down in Waikiki..the fireworks show is awesome!

  3. Yes, while the sense of loss is always prevalent here, I remain steadfast in the belief things stolen should be returned.

    I believe the right thing to do is to return what wasn’t theirs to begin with, although that is a far future that in my eyes not even my grand children will see.

    While there are many who just want the islands back and everyone to leave unless they belong here, I am not one of those. I do not believe everyone here should be removed just because they are not Native Hawaiian. Everyone with the “heart” of a local should always be allowed to remain. ‘Ohana has and always will be more than just blood.

    As for the celebration effect. Its interesting to see that western influences have brought us to this point. Fireworks, parades, and picnics are all very enjoyable and a sight to see. Most of us are into it for many reasons. My reasons are: everyone is off work and spending time with loved ones is always important, and come on now can this pyro really give up a chance to set a bunch of fires and blow up mini bombs, I think not. Happy 4th everyone.

  4. Thanks for the comments. Lin, I used one of your earlier remarks in today’s parade post. Thanks for the inspiration!

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