Newlands Resolution

On August 12, 1898, the Flag of Hawaii over ʻIolani Palace was lowered and the United States flag raised to signify annexation.

Lowering the Hawaiian flag at Annexation ceremony (PPWD-8-3-006)
Raising the American Flag Over Iolani Palace

The Newlands Resolution was a joint resolution passed on July 4, 1898 by the United States Congress to annex the independent Republic of Hawaii. In 1900, Congress created the Territory of Hawaii. It was drafted by Congressman Francis G. Newlands of Nevada, a Democrat. Annexation was a highly controversial political issue along with the similar issue of the acquisition of the Philippines in 1898.


In 1897 President William McKinley signed the treaty of annexation for the Republic of Hawaii. It failed to gain two thirds support in the Senate, with only 46 out of 90 senators voting yes. In April 1898, the United States went to war with Spain, and the Republic of Hawaii declared its neutrality. In practice, it gave enormous support to the United States, demonstrating its value as a naval base in wartime, and winning widespread American approval for its non-neutral behavior.[1] With the opposition weakened, Hawaii was supposedly annexed by means of the Newlands Resolution; a domestic congressional law, which required only majority vote in both houses, and no input from Native Hawaiians. Despite the bill being authored by a Democrat, most of the support came from Republicans. It passed the house by a vote of 209 to 91; the yeas included 182 Republicans. It was approved on July 4, 1898 and signed on July 7 by McKinley. On August 12 a ceremony was held on the steps of ʻIolani Palace to signify the official transfer of Hawaiian state sovereignty to the United States. The majority of Hawaiian citizens did not recognize the legitimacy of this event and did not attend.[2]

The Newlands Resolution established a five-member commission to study which laws were needed in Hawaii. The commission included: Territorial Governor Sanford B. Dole (R-Hawaii Territory), Senators Shelby M. Cullom (R-IL) and John T. Morgan (D-AL), Representative Robert R. Hitt (R-IL) and former Hawaii Chief Justice and later Territorial Governor Walter F. Frear (R-Hawaii Territory). The commission's final report was submitted to Congress for a debate which lasted over a year. Congress raised objections that establishing an elected territorial government in Hawaii would lead to the admission of a state with a non-white majority. Annexation allowed duty-free trade between the islands and the mainland, and made the existing American military presence permanent.

The Spanish–American War forced the annexation issue. President Benjamin Harrison had submitted a treaty to annex the Hawaiian Islands to the United States Senate for ratification.[3]

The creation of the Territory of Hawaii was the final step in a long history of dwindling Hawaiian sovereignty and divided the local population. The annexation was opposed by the express wishes of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous population and without a referendum of any kind.[4] Debate between anti-sovereignty and sovereignty activists still exists over the legality of the acquisition of Hawaiian land under the United States constitution.[5][6] The Hawaiian sovereignty movement views the annexation as illegal.[5] In 1993 the U.S. apologized for the annexation.[7]


The United States assumed $4 million in Hawaiian debt as part of the annexation. David R. Barker of the University of Iowa stated in 2009 that unlike the Alaska Purchase, Hawaii has been profitable for the country, with net tax revenue almost always exceeding non-defense spending. He estimated an internal rate of return for the annexation of more than 15%.[8]

Popular controversy

Multiple viewpoints in the United States and in Hawaii were raised for and against annexation from 1893 to 1898. Historian Henry Graff says that at first, "Public opinion at home seemed to indicate acquiescence...."Unmistakably, the sentiment at home was maturing with immense force for the United States to join the great powers of the world in a quest for overseas colonies."[9]

President Grover Cleveland, on taking office in March 1893, rescinded the annexation proposal. His biographer Alyn Brodsky argues it was a deeply personal conviction on Cleveland's part to an immoral action against the little kingdom:

Just as he stood up for the Samoan Islands against Germany because he opposed the conquest of a lesser state by a greater one, so did he stand up for the Hawaiian Islands against his own nation. He could have let the annexation of Hawaii move inexorably to its inevitable culmination. But he opted for confrontation, which he hated, as it was to him the only way a weak and defenseless people might retain their independence. It was not the idea of annexation that Grover Cleveland opposed, but the idea of annexation as a pretext for illicit territorial acquisition.[10]

Cleveland had to mobilize support from Southern Democrats to fight the treaty. He sent former Georgia Congressman James H. Blount as a special representative to Hawaii to investigate and provide a solution. Blount was well known for his opposition to imperialism. Blount was also a leader in the white supremacy movement that in the 1890s was ending the right to vote by southern Blacks. Some observers speculated he would support annexation on grounds of the inability of the Asiatics to govern themselves. Instead, Blount opposed imperialism and called for the US military to restore Queen Liliuokalani. He argued that the Hawaii natives should be allowed to continue their "Asiatic ways."[11]

Blount seems to been unaware of the written policy set in Cleveland's first term by his Secretary of State Thomas F. Bayard for Hawaii. Bayard sent written instructions to the American minister George W. Merrill that in the event of another revolution in Hawaii, it was a priority to protect American commerce, lives and property. Bayard specified, "the assistance of the officers of our Government vessels, if found necessary, will therefore be promptly afforded to promote the reign of law and respect for orderly government in Hawaii." In July 1889, there was a small scale rebellion, and Minister Merrill landed Marines to protect Americans; the State Department explicitly approved his action. Stevens had read those 1887 instructions and followed them in 1893.[12][13]

A vigorous nationwide anti-expansionist movement, organized as the American Anti-Imperialist League, emerged that listened to Cleveland and Carl Schurz, as well as Democratic leader William Jennings Bryan, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, author Mark Twain and sociologist William Graham Sumner, and many prominent intellectuals and politicians who came of age in the Civil War.[14] The anti-imperialists opposed expansion, believing that imperialism violated the fundamental principle that just republican government must derive from "consent of the governed." The League argued that such activity would necessitate the abandonment of American ideals of self-government and non-intervention—ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's Farewell Address and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.[15]

However, the Antis could not stop the even more energetic forces of imperialism. They were led by Secretary of State John Hay, naval strategist Alfred T. Mahan, Republican congressman Henry Cabot Lodge, Secretary of War Elihu Root, and young politician Theodore Roosevelt. These expansionist had vigorous support from newspaper publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, whipping up popular excitement. There was deep concern that a Japanese takeover of Hawaii was inevitable, and would pose a serious threat to the West Coast.[16] Mahan and Roosevelt designed a global strategy calling for a competitive modern navy, Pacific bases, an isthmian canal through Nicaragua or Panama, and, above all, an assertive role for America as the largest industrial power.[17] President McKinley's position was that Hawaii could never survive on its own. It would quickly be gobbled up by Japan—already a fourth of the islands' population was Japanese. Japan would then dominate the Pacific and undermine American hopes for large-scale trade with Asia.[18]

See also

  • Hawaiian Organic Act, approved in 1900 by Congress to adopt a form of government for the new territory, in supplement of the Newlands Resolution.


  1. ^ Thomas A. Bailey, "The United States and Hawaii during the Spanish–American War" American Historical Review 36#3 (1931), pp. 552-560 online
  2. ^ Liliuokalani, Queen (1898). Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen. Boston: Lee and Shepard.
  3. ^ The 1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, retrieved on October 29, 2014.
  4. ^ From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaiʻi Haunani-Kay Trask P.29
  5. ^ a b *Twigg-Smith, Thurston (1998). Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do the Facts Matter?. Honolulu: Goodale Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9662945-0-7. OCLC 39090004.
  6. ^ Trask, Haunani-Kay (1999). From a Native Daughter : Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaiʻi. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. pp. 13–16. ISBN 978-0824820596 – via eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost).
  7. ^ United States Public Law 103-150. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Researcher's analysis shows buying Alaska no sweet deal for American taxpayers" (Press release). University of Iowa. 2009-11-06. Retrieved 2018-01-20.
  9. ^ Henry F. Graff (2002). Grover Cleveland: The American Presidents Series: The 22nd and 24th President, 1885-1889 and 1893-1897. p. 121. ISBN 9780805069235.
  10. ^ Alyn Brodsky (2000). Grover Cleveland: A Study in Character. p. 1. ISBN 9780312268831.
  11. ^ Tennant S. McWilliams, "James H. Blount, the South, and Hawaiian Annexation." Pacific Historical Review (1988) 57#1: 25-46 online.
  12. ^ Charles S. Campbell, The Transformation of American Foreign Relations: 1865–1900 (1976), pp 178-79.
  13. ^ United States. Department of State (1895). Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States. p. 1167.
  14. ^ Fred H. Harrington, "The Anti-Imperialist Movement in the United States, 1898-1900." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 22.2 (1935): 211-230. online
  15. ^ Fred Harvey Harrington, "Literary Aspects of American Anti-Imperialism 1898–1902," New England Quarterly, 10#4 (1937), pp 650-67. online.
  16. ^ William Michael Morgan, Pacific Gibraltar: U.S.-Japanese Rivalry Over the Annexation of Hawaii, 1885-1898 (2011).
  17. ^ Warren Zimmermann, "Jingoes, Goo-Goos, and the Rise of America's Empire." The Wilson Quarterly (1976) 22#2 (1998): 42-65. Online
  18. ^ Thomas J. Osborne, "The Main Reason for Hawaiian Annexation in July, 1898," Oregon Historical Quarterly (1970) 71#2 pp. 161–178 in JSTOR

Further reading

  • Bailey, Thomas A. "Japan's Protest against the Annexation of Hawaii." Journal of Modern History 3.1 (1931): 46-61. online
  • Bailey, Thomas A. "The United States and Hawaii during the Spanish–American War" American Historical Review 36#3 (1931), pp. 552-560 online
  • Fry, Joseph A. "From Open Door to World Systems: Economic Interpretations of Late Nineteenth Century American Foreign Relations." Pacific Historical Review 65#2 (1996): 277-303.
  • Hilfrich, Fabian. Debating American exceptionalism: empire and democracy in the wake of the Spanish–American War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
  • Holbo, Paul S. "Antiimperialism, Allegations, and the Aleutians: Debates Over the Annexation of Hawaii." (1982): 374-379. Reviews in American History 10#3 (1982) pp. 374-379 online
  • Morgan, William Michael. Pacific Gibraltar: U.S.-Japanese Rivalry Over the Annexation of Hawaii, 1885-1898 (Naval Institute press, 2011). See online review by Kenneth R. Conklin, PhD
  • Osborne, Thomas J. "Empire Can Wait": American Opposition to Hawaiian Annexation, 1893-1898 (Kent State University Press, 1981)
    • Osborne, Thomas J. "The Main Reason for Hawaiian Annexation in July, 1898," Oregon Historical Quarterly (1970) 71#2 pp. 161–178 in JSTOR
    • Osborne, Thomas J. "Trade or War? America's Annexation of Hawaii Reconsidered." Pacific Historical Review 50.3 (1981): 285-307. online
  • Pratt, Julius William. Expansionists of 1898: The Acquisition of Hawaii and the Spanish Islands (1951).
  • Russ, William Adam. The Hawaiian Revolution (1893-94) (1992)
  • Russ, William Adam. The Hawaiian Republic (1894–98) and its struggle to win annexation (Susquehanna U Press, 1992), a major scholarly history
  • Snowden, Emma. "Instant History: The Spanish–American War and Henry Watterson's Articulation of Anti-Imperialist Expansionism." Fairmount Folio: Journal of History (2016) 15:74-102. [file:///C:/2017/150-163-1-PB.pdf online]

External links

Hawaii Territory's at-large congressional district

Hawaii Territory's at-large congressional district was the congressional district for the Territory of Hawaii, which was established by the Newlands Resolution of 1898.

On April 30, 1900, the Hawaiian Organic Act gave the Territory of Hawaii the authority to elect a single non-voting Congressional delegate.After Hawaii's admission to the Union as the 50th state by act of Congress on August 21, 1959, this district was replaced by Hawaii's at-large congressional district.

Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 556 U.S. 163 (2009), was a United States Supreme Court case about the former crown lands of the Hawaiian monarchy, and whether the state's right to sell them was restricted by the 1993 Apology Resolution. The Court, in an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, ruled unanimously that the state had the power to sell the lands free of encumbrances.

Hawaiian Kingdom

The Hawaiian Kingdom (a.k.a. Kingdom of Hawaiʻi) originated in 1795 with the unification of the independent islands of Hawaiʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, Molokaʻi, and Lānaʻi under one government. In 1810, the whole Hawaiian Islands became unified when Kauaʻi and Niʻihau joined the Hawaiian Kingdom voluntarily. Two major dynastic families ruled the kingdom: the House of Kamehameha and the House of Kalākaua.

The Kingdom won recognition from major European powers. The United States became its chief trading partner. The U.S. watched over the Kingdom lest some other power (such as Britain or Japan) threaten to seize control. Hawaii was forced to adopt a new constitution in 1887 when King Kalākaua was threatened with violence by the Honolulu Rifles, a white, anti-monarchist militia, to sign it. Queen Liliʻuokalani, who succeeded Kalākaua in 1891, tried to abrogate the 1887 constitution and promulgate a new constitution, but was overthrown in 1893, largely at the hands of the Committee of Safety, a group of residents consisting of Hawaiian subjects and foreign nationals of American, British and German descent, many of whom were educated in the U.S., lived there for a time and identified strongly as American.. Hawaii became a republic until the United States annexed it using The Newlands Resolution which was a joint resolution passed on July 4, 1898, by the United States Congress creating the Territory of Hawaii.

Hawaiian Renaissance

The First, Second, and Third Hawaiian Renaissance (also often called the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance) was the Hawaiian resurgence of a distinct cultural identity that draws upon traditional kānaka maoli culture, with a significant divergence from the tourism-based culture which Hawaiʻi was previously known for worldwide (along with the rest of Polynesia).

Hawaiian sovereignty movement

The Hawaiian sovereignty movement (Hawaiian: ke ea Hawaiʻi) is a grassroots political and cultural campaign to gain sovereignty, self-determination and self-governance for Hawaiians of whole or part Native Hawaiian ancestry with an autonomous or independent nation or kingdom. Some groups also advocate some form of redress from the United States for the 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani, and for what is described as a prolonged military occupation beginning with the 1898 annexation. The movement generally views both the overthrow and annexation as illegal. Palmyra Island and the Stewart Islands were annexed by the Kingdom in the 1860s and are regarded by the movement as being under illegal occupation along with the Hawaiian Islands. The Apology Resolution passed by the United States Congress in 1993 acknowledged that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 was an illegal act.Sovereignty advocates have attributed problems plaguing native communities including homelessness, poverty, economic marginalization, and the erosion of native traditions to the lack of native governance and political self-determination. They have pursued their agenda through educational initiatives and legislative actions. Along with protests throughout the islands, at the capitol itself as well as the places and locations held as sacred to Hawaiian culture, sovereignty activists have challenged United States forces and law.

John Tyler Morgan

John Tyler Morgan (June 20, 1824 – June 11, 1907) was a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, a six-term U.S. senator from the state of Alabama after the war. An ex-slave holder, he was a proponent of Jim Crow laws, states rights and racial segregation through the Reconstruction era. He was an expansionist, arguing for the annexation of Hawaii against the native population's will and for U.S. construction of an inter-oceanic canal in Central America.

July 7

July 7 is the 188th day of the year (189th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 177 days remain until the end of the year.

The terms 7th July, July 7th, and 7/7 (pronounced "Seven-seven") have been widely used in the Western media as a shorthand for the 7 July 2005 bombings on London's transport system. In the Chinese language, this term is used to denote the Battle of Lugou Bridge started on July 7, 1937, marking the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Kūʻē Petitions

The Kūʻē (Hawaiian: "opposition") Petitions of 1897 were a protest against the annexation of Hawaii by the United States. Also referred to as the "monster petition".

Legal status of Hawaii

The legal status of Hawaii—as opposed to its political status—is a settled legal matter as it pertains to United States law, but there has been scholarly and legal debate. While Hawaii is internationally recognized as a state of the United States of America while also being broadly accepted as such in mainstream understanding, there have been essays written denying the legality of this status. The argument is that Hawaii is an independent nation under military occupation. The legality of control of Hawaii by the United States has also been raised in the losing side in cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, and in U.S. District Court.

List of conflicts in Hawaii

This is a list of wars, bloodless wars, battles, conspiracies, rebellions, revolutions, nonviolent revolutions, massacres, and terrorist attacks in the Hawaiian Islands.

Opposition to the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom

Opposition to the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom took several forms. Following the overthrow of the monarchy on January 17, 1893, Hawaii's provisional government—under the leadership of Sanford B. Dole—attempted to annex the land to the United States under Republican Benjamin Harrison's administration. But the treaty of annexation came up for approval under the administration of Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, anti-expansionist, and friend of the deposed Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii. Cleveland retracted the treaty on March 4, 1893, and launched an investigation headed by James Henderson Blount; its report is known as the Blount Report.

Provisional Government of Hawaii

The Provisional Government of Hawaii, abbreviated "P.G.", was proclaimed after the coup d'état on January 17, 1893, by the 13-member Committee of Safety under the leadership of its chairman Henry E. Cooper and former judge Sanford B. Dole as the designated President of Hawaii. It replaced the Kingdom of Hawaii after the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani as a provisional government until the Republic of Hawaii was established on July 4, 1894.

Republic of Hawaii

The Republic of Hawaiʻi was a short-lived one-party state in Hawaiʻi between July 4, 1894, when the Provisional Government of Hawaii had ended, and August 12, 1898, when it became annexed by the United States as an organized incorporated territory of the United States. In 1893, U.S. Minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens and white native-born subjects of the Kingdom of Hawaii overthrew Queen Liliʻuokalani after she rejected the 1887 Bayonet Constitution which was forced on Hawaii. The perpetrators intended for Hawaii to be annexed by the United States but President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat opposed to imperialism, refused. A new constitution was subsequently written while Hawaii was being prepared for annexation.

While leaders of the republic such as Sanford B. Dole and Lorrin A. Thurston were native-born subjects of the Hawaiian Islands and spoke the Hawaiian language, they had strong financial, political, and family ties to the United States. They intended the Republic to become a territory of the United States. Dole was a former member of the Royal Legislature from Koloa, Kauai, and Justice of the Kingdom's Supreme Court, and he appointed Thurston—who had served as Minister of Interior under King Kalākaua—to lead a lobbying effort in Washington, D.C. to secure Hawaii's annexation by the United States. The issue of overseas imperialism was controversial in the United States due to its colonial origins, but rising jingoism during the Spanish–American War led to anti-imperialism’s decline. The day before the end of the war, Hawaii was annexed under Republican President William McKinley. The Territory of Hawaii was formally established as part of the U.S. on June 14, 1900.

The Blount Report "first provided evidence that officially identified the United States' complicity in the lawless overthrow of the lawful, peaceful government of Hawaii." American officials immediately recognized the new government and U.S. Marines were sent by the US Ambassador to aid in the overthrow. The Queen's supporters charged the Marines' presence frightened the Queen and thus enabled the revolution. Blount concluded that the United States had carried out unauthorized partisan activities, including the landing of U.S. Marines under a false or exaggerated pretext, to support the anti-royalist conspirators; that these actions were instrumental to the success of the revolution; and that the revolution was carried out against the wishes of a majority of the population of Hawaii.

Robert R. Hitt

Robert Roberts Hitt (January 16, 1834 – September 20, 1906) was an Assistant Secretary of State and later a member of the United States House of Representatives.

He was born in Urbana, Ohio, to Reverend Thomas Smith Hitt and Emily John Hitt. He and his parents moved to Mount Morris, Illinois in 1837. There he was educated at Rock River Seminary and later at De Pauw University. An expert shorthand writer (one of few men of his time who represented that skill), he became a very close friend of future President of the United States Abraham Lincoln, and during the famous Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858, at the request of Lincoln, Hitt served as a shorthand note-taker. During Lincoln's legal days in Chicago, he had first employed Hitt as such.

In 1872, Hitt was a personal secretary for Indiana Senator Oliver P. Morton, In December 1874, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him First Secretary of the American Legation in Paris; he served from 1874 to 1881 and as Chargé d'Affaires a part of that time.

He was United States Assistant Secretary of State under James G. Blaine during President James A. Garfield and President Chester A. Arthur's Administrations in 1881 and was elected to represent Illinois' 5th district in the United States House of Representatives in 1882. Hitt became Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the beginning of the Fifty-first Congress and from the Fifty-fourth to Fifty-ninth Congresses.

When the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 came up for renewal in 1892, he argued against the alien documentation provisions of the bill: "Never before in a free country was there such a system of tagging a man, like a dog to be caught by the police and examined, and if his tag or collar is not all right, taken to the pound or drowned and shot. Never before was it applied by a free people to a human being, with the exception (which we can never refer to with pride) of the sad days of slavery. …"He was appointed in July 1898 by President William McKinley as a member of the commission created by the Newlands Resolution to establish government in the Territory of Hawaii.

During the last years of his life, he was Regent of the Smithsonian Institution.

He died on September 20, 1906. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Mount Morris, Illinois, along with his parents.

Hitt is the namesake of the community of Hitt, Missouri.

Sarah Vowell

Sarah Jane Vowell (born December 27, 1969) is an American historian, author, journalist, essayist, social commentator and actress. Often referred to as a "social observer," Vowell has written seven nonfiction books on American history and culture. She was a contributing editor for the radio program This American Life on Public Radio International from 1996 to 2008, where she produced numerous commentaries and documentaries and toured the country in many of the program's live shows. She was also the voice of Violet Parr in the animated film The Incredibles and its 2018 sequel.

Shelby Moore Cullom

Shelby Moore Cullom (November 22, 1829 – January 28, 1914) was a U.S. political figure, serving in various offices, including the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate and the 17th Governor of Illinois.

Territory of Hawaii

The Territory of Hawaii or Hawaii Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from April 30, 1900 until August 21, 1959, when most of its territory, excluding Palmyra Island and the Stewart Islands, was admitted to the Union as the fiftieth U.S. state, the State of Hawaii. The Hawaii Admission Act specified that the State of Hawaii would not include the distant Palmyra Island, the Midway Islands, Kingman Reef, and Johnston Atoll, which includes Johnston (or Kalama) Island and Sand Island, and the Act was silent regarding the Stewart Islands.On July 4, 1898, the United States Congress passed the Newlands Resolution authorizing the U.S. annexation of the Republic of Hawaii, and five weeks later, on August 12, Hawaii became a U.S. territory. In April 1900 Congress approved the Hawaiian Organic Act which organized the territory. Hawaii's territorial history includes a period from 1941 to 1944, during World War II, when the islands were placed under martial law. Civilian government was dissolved and a military governor was appointed.

Timeline of United States history (1860–1899)

This section of the Timeline of United States history concerns events from 1860 to 1899.


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