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Queen Liliʻuokalani

Hawaiʻi‘s only reigning queen

"I, Liliʻuokalani of Hawaiʻi.... do hereby protest against the ratification of a certain treaty, which . . . has been signed at Washington . . . purporting to cede those Islands to the territory and dominion of the United States. I declare such a treaty to be an act of wrong toward the native and part-native people of Hawaiʻi, an invasion of the rights of the ruling chiefs, in violation of international rights both toward my people and toward friendly nations with whom they have made treaties, the perpetuation of the fraud whereby the constitutional government was overthrown, and, finally, an act of gross injustice to me.”
—Excerpted from a Letter to President McKinley Protesting the Annexation of Hawaiʻi, 1897

Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Waiania Kamakaʻeha (1838–1917), better known as Queen Liliʻuokalani, was the Hawaiian Kingdom’s only reigning queen and last monarch before the overthrow of the sovereign state. Queen Liliʻuokalani presided over the Hawaiian Kingdom during a time of great economic growth. By 1890, 21 international treaties and more than 80 embassies around the world recognized the Hawaiian archipelago. Additionally, Hawaiʻi and its multiethnic society enjoyed universal suffrage in 1840 (a full 120 years before the United States), universal health care, state neutrality (1855), and a 95 percent literacy rate, the second highest in the world. Deceit and treachery also marked the queen’s tenure: on January 17, 1893, the queen was forcefully removed in a coup de main supported by American troops and warships under the direction of John L. Stevens, U.S. minister to the Hawaiian Kingdom. The United States argued that it needed Hawaiian ports to fight the Spanish-American War deeper in the Pacific, which the Hawaiian Kingdom’s neutral status prevented.  Despite years of unsuccessful appeals to international states and the United States government, Liliʻuokalani was confined at home in Honolulu until her death in 1917. While not an American woman, Queen Liliʻuokalani marks a significant voice in the framework of American imperialism. A force to be reckoned with, she protected her country, citizens, and role as sovereign until her passing.

—Kālewa Correa, Curator of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific, Asian Pacific American Center

Liliuokalani

slideshow with 2 slides
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
Date
c. 1891
Object number
NPG.80.320
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum
Artist
Menzies Dickson, c. 1840 - 1891
Sitter
Lili?uokalani, 2 Sep 1838 - 11 Nov 1917
Topic
Interior
Costume\Dress Accessory\Sash
Photographic format\Cabinet card
Lili?uokalani: Female
Lili?uokalani: Rulers and Nobility\Queen
Portrait
Medium
Albumen silver print
Dimensions
Image: 12.7 x 9.1 cm (5 x 3 9/16")
Sheet: 16.8 × 11 cm (6 5/8 × 4 5/16")
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Type
Photograph
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sm43283e526-0090-40b4-ae5d-9349b7198db4
Record ID
npg_NPG.80.320
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