July 17 important date in the history of Hawaii

July 17 is an important date in Hawaiian history. It marks the 121st anniversary of the Blount Commission report, proposed by President Grover Cleveland, as an effort to determine the “true facts” of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.

Blount concluded that the annexationist element in Hawaii had conspired with the U.S. minister to land American Marines from the USS Boston and forcibly remove Queen Lili’uokalani from power in order to establish a Hawaiian republic.

The overthrow of the queen was encouraged by a group of businessmen and sugar planters, citizens of the kingdom – but many were descendants of the American missionaries – who wished to reduce the tariffs paid on sugar imports to the U.S. The queen was attempting to promulgate a new constitution, replacing the so-called “bayonet constitution,” signed by King Kalakaua in 1887, which allowed only literate citizens to vote, and reduced the power of the monarchy.

The new Hawaiian Republic was heartily endorsed by “imperialists” in the Republican Benjamin Harrison administration, but before the treaty reached the U.S. Congress, Cleveland, a Democrat and anti-expansionist, had been elected president. When the Blount Commission’s findings were reported, Cleveland appealed to Sanford B. Dole, president of the Republic of Hawaii, to return the queen to power. Dole refused, and argued that the Republic of Hawaii did not recognize any right of the Cleveland administration to settle its domestic affairs.

Hawaii thus remained a republic until 1898, when it was annexed by the U.S. following the Spanish-American War.

John Glen