The queen, who was deposed by a coup led by American sugar planters, died 100 years ago, but is by no means forgotten.
In January 1893, a coup led by Sanford Dole took over the Hawaiian government and pressed the U.S. government to annex the islands. Two years later, after a failed insurrection by Liliuokalani’s supporters to return power to Hawaiian royal rule, she was charged with treason and put under house arrest. In a statement, in exchange for a pardon for her and her supporters, she “yield[ed] to the superior force of the United States of America” under protest, pointing out that John L. Stevens, U.S. Minister to Hawaii, who supported the provisional government, had already “caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu.” She continued:
“Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps loss of life, I do, under this protest, and impelled by said forces, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representative and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.”
In exile, Liliuokalani advocated for a free Hawaii until her death in 1917 at the age of 79.