Monday, June 25, 2007

Overthrow Monday: Hawaii


In terms of my blog, I have one goal for the summer. Last summer I read Stephen Kinzer's Overthrow, in which he details the 14 regimes the US overthrew- starting w/ Hawaii and ending with Iraq. I found this book interesting, pertinent, and disturbing. But it was bothering me that even though I'd read it, I was still always getting different invasions mixed up or forgetting certain ones (Was it Iran or Guatemala that the CIA made a fake civil war for? Why were we even in Grenada?).

So, I thought it would be neat to focus on one invasion a week. Not only would this give me a chance to review, but now if I ever needed a refresher on how we took down Chile, I could just look it up on my blog. My plan is to do this on Monday, the serious day of the week. An additional goal, is to rank each overthrow in terms of which was the worst, eventually trying to see where Iraq ranks. My criteria for badness will be (A) how good the government was that we overthrew, (B) the aftermath, and (C) how many deaths took place in the takeover. Without further ado, let's get to the US's first overthrow- HAWAII

A Little History
White people had started coming since Captain Cook arrived in 1778. And although he eventually was cut into little bits and roasted by the locals, he and his shipmates left a litany of diseases that would decimate much of the native population. In the 1800's more whites would move to the islands. The first were missionaries, particularly motivated by the Hawaiians' heathen habits of walking around naked and participating in polygamy.

The missionaries' children would change their focus from souls to money and would begin converting most of the land to sugar plantations. Since the natives and whites had no interest in working on these, Japanese and Chinese came to Hawaii as workers. This was also when talk of having the US annex Hawaii began. The sugar barons wanted Hawaii treated like a US territory so they could avoid sugar tariffs. The US government didn't want to go that far, but in 1876 did sign a reciprocity agreement in which Hawaiian sugar would be tariff-free in exchange for putting military bases on Hawaii (eventually Pearl Harbor). This will cause sugar exports to the US to increase exponentially (from 21 million in 1876 to 225 million in 1890).

The Inciting Incident
Hawaii had various kings throughout this time, but they all were pretty much puppets for the US-born sugar barons. This changed when King Kalakaua died in 1891 and his bad ass sister Queen Liliuokalani took over. Liliuokalani was extremely angry about what she saw happening to Hawaii. So in 1893 she created a new Constitution that allowed only Hawaiian citizens the right to vote, in an attempt to take control away from all foreigners.

The Takeover
After Liliuokalani's constitution , the local annexers went into plot mode. What the annexers had against them was that the locals obviously loved Liliuokalani. For them, they had the tacit support of the US government and, oh yah, a little military base nearby. Ever hear of Peal Harbor? Once Liliuokalani heard about the planned overthrow, she back pedaled (she put the Consitution on hold and her "advisors" said she would never bring it up again), but it was too late for that. The annexers were smelling blood. Soon after, troops from a warship in Pearl Harbor landed in Honolulu. 162 marines and soldiers marched through the city and set up camp next to the Government Building. The next day they declared a new government and forced the Queen to abdicate. And guess who became the new president? That's right, Sam Dole, just who the Hawaiians would've elected I'm sure.
Aftermath
Hawaii will be officially annexed in 1898 and won't become a state until 1959. It'll be treated like a US territory from the day of the rebellion onwards.

How Bad Was It?
1. Hawaii

Well, since Hawaii's first, it obviously gets ranked #1. Still, let's assess. In terms of the takeover itself, at least no one died. And, in terms of the future of Hawaii, you could also argue things didn't end up so bad. Hawaii does get a lot of the bonuses by being part of the US and would most likely be significantly poorer if left alone. Of course, I'm not sure the locals would feel this way and I'm not sure how things are there for them. Judging from Dog The Bounty Hunter, most of the population is hopped up on ice, but I'm not sure that show is the best authority.

Where this overthrow feels bad is just the utter hypocrisy of the land of the free being against a woman who is pushing for more democracy. Even worse, the US rationalized it by calling her "treasonous" for changing the constitution. Of course, this won't be the first time we do this...

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3 Comments:

Blogger Jenny! said...

I learned more in that post than I think I have in five years! Thanks! Will be back every Monday for more! My brain hurts now!

12:44 pm  
Blogger michael5000 said...

This is classic CDX! I can't wait to pick my favorite imperialist adventure!

9:35 pm  
Blogger The [Cherry] Ride said...

Yes! Go USA!

7:42 am  

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