Settled by Polynesians some time between 124 and 1120, Hawaii was home to numerous independent chiefdoms. In 1778, British explorer James Cook was the first known non-Polynesian to arrive at the archipelago; early British influence is reflected in the state flag, which bears a Union Jack. An influx of European and American explorers, traders, and whalers arrived shortly thereafter, introducing diseases that decimated the once isolated indigenous community. Hawaii became a unified, internationally recognized kingdom in 1810, remaining independent until Western businessmen overthrew the monarchy in 1893; this led to annexation by the U.S. in 1898. As a strategically valuable U.S. territory, Hawaii was attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941, which brought it global and historical significance, and contributed to America's decisive entry into World War II. Hawaii is the most recent state to join the union, on August 21, 1959. In 1993, the U.S. government formally apologized for its role in the overthrow of Hawaii's government, which spurred the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
Historically dominated by a plantation economy, Hawaii remains a major agricultural exporter due to its fertile soil and uniquely tropical climate in the U.S. Its economy has gradually diversified since the mid-20th century, with tourism and military defense becoming the two largest sectors. The state attracts tourists, surfers, and scientists from around the world with its diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches, oceanic surroundings, active volcanoes, and clear skies on the Big Island. Hawaii hosts the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the world's largest naval command, as well as 75,000 employees of the Defense Department.
Although its relative isolation results in one of the nation's highest costs of living, Hawaii is the third-wealthiest state. Honolulu performs well in several world livability indexes, ranking 22nd out of 140 cities worldwide in the 2019 Global Liveability Index, more than any American city.
The state of Hawaii derives its name from the name of its largest island, Hawaiʻi. A common Hawaiian explanation of the name of Hawaiʻi is that it was named for Hawaiʻiloa, a legendary figure from Hawaiian myth. He is said to have discovered the islands when they were first settled.
Hawaiʻi is one of two states that were widely recognized independent nations prior to joining the United States. The Kingdom of Hawaiʻi was sovereign from 1810 until 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown by resident American and European capitalists and landholders. Hawaiʻi was an independent republic from 1894 until August 12, 1898, when it officially became a territory of the United States. Hawaiʻi was admitted as a U.S. state on August 21, 1959.
First human settlement – Ancient Hawaiʻi (800–1778)
Based on archaeological evidence, the earliest habitation of the Hawaiian Islands dates to around AD 300, probably by Polynesian settlers from the Marquesas Islands.[dubious– discuss] A second wave of migration from Raiatea and Bora Bora took place in the 11th century. The date of the human discovery and habitation of the Hawaiian Islands is the subject of academic debate. Some archaeologists and historians think it was a later wave of immigrants from Tahiti around AD 1000 who introduced a new line of high chiefs, the kapu system, the practice of human sacrifice, and the building of heiau. This later immigration is detailed in Hawaiian mythology (moʻolelo) about Paʻao. Other authors say there is no archaeological or linguistic evidence for a later influx of Tahitian settlers and that Paʻao must be regarded as a myth.
The history of the islands is marked by a slow, steady growth in population and the size of the chiefdoms, which grew to encompass whole islands. Local chiefs, called aliʻi, ruled their settlements, and launched wars to extend their influence and defend their communities from predatory rivals. Ancient Hawaiʻi was a caste-based society, much like that of Hindus in India.
The 1778 arrival of British explorer Captain James Cook marked the first documented contact by a European explorer with Hawaiʻi; early British influence can be seen in the design of the flag of Hawaiʻi, which bears the Union Jack in the top-left corner. Cook named the archipelago "the Sandwich Islands" in honor of his sponsor John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, publishing the islands' location and rendering the native name as Owyhee. The form 'Owyhee' or 'Owhyhee' is preserved in the names of certain locations in the American part of the Pacific Northwest, among them Owyhee County and Owyhee Mountains in Idaho, named after three native Hawaiian members of a trapping party who went missing in the area.
It is very possible that Spanish explorers arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in the 16th century, two hundred years before Cook's first documented visit in 1778. Ruy López de Villalobos commanded a fleet of six ships that left Acapulco in 1542 bound for the Philippines, with a Spanish sailor named Juan Gaetano aboard as pilot. Depending on the interpretation, Gaetano's reports describe an encounter with either Hawaiʻi or the Marshall Islands.[better source needed] If de Villalobos' crew spotted Hawaiʻi, Gaetano would thus be considered the first European to see the islands. Some scholars have dismissed these claims due to a lack of credibility.
Nonetheless, Spanish archives contain a chart that depicts islands at the same latitude as Hawaiʻi, but with a longitude ten degrees east of the islands. In this manuscript, the island of Maui is named La Desgraciada (The Unfortunate Island), and what appears to be Hawaiʻi Island is named La Mesa (The Table). Islands resembling Kahoʻolawe', Lānaʻi, and Molokaʻi are named Los Monjes (The Monks). For two-and-a-half centuries, Spanish galleons crossed the Pacific from Mexico along a route that passed south of Hawaiʻi on their way to Manila. The exact route was kept secret to protect the Spanish trade monopoly against competing powers. Hawaiʻi thus maintained independence, despite being situated on a sea route east–west between nations that were subjects of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, an empire that exercised jurisdiction over many subject civilizations and kingdoms on both sides of the Pacific.
Despite such contested claims, Cook is generally credited as being the first European to land at Hawaiʻi, having visited the Hawaiian Islands twice. As he prepared for departure after his second visit in 1779, a quarrel ensued as Cook took temple idols and fencing as "firewood", and a minor chief and his men stole a boat from his ship. Cook abducted the King of Hawaiʻi Island, Kalaniʻōpuʻu, and held him for ransom aboard his ship in order to gain return of Cook's boat, as this tactic had previously worked in Tahiti and other islands. Instead, the supporters of Kalaniʻōpuʻu attacked, killing Cook and four sailors as Cook's party retreated along the beach to their ship. The ship departed without retrieving the stolen boat.
After Cook's visit and the publication of several books relating his voyages, the Hawaiian Islands attracted many European and American visitors: explorers, traders, and eventually whalers, who found the islands to be a convenient harbor and source of supplies. These visitors introduced diseases to the once-isolated islands, causing the Hawaiian population to drop precipitously. Native Hawaiians had no resistance to Eurasian diseases, such as influenza, smallpox and measles. By 1820, disease, famine and wars between the chiefs killed more than half of the Native Hawaiian population. During the 1850s, measles killed a fifth of Hawaiʻi's people.
Historical records indicated the earliest Chinese immigrants to Hawaiʻi originated from Guangdong Province; a few sailors had arrived in 1778 with Captain Cook's journey, and more arrived in 1789 with an American trader who settled in Hawaiʻi in the late 18th century. It is said that leprosy was introduced by Chinese workers by 1830, and as with the other new infectious diseases, it proved damaging to the Hawaiians.
Kingdom of Hawaiʻi
House of Kamehameha
During the 1780s, and 1790s, chiefs often fought for power. After a series of battles that ended in 1795, all inhabited islands were subjugated under a single ruler, who became known as King Kamehameha the Great. He established the House of Kamehameha, a dynasty that ruled the kingdom until 1872.
After Kamehameha II inherited the throne in 1819, American Protestant missionaries to Hawaiʻi converted many Hawaiians to Christianity. They used their influence to end many traditional practices of the people. During the reign of King Kamehameha III, Hawaiʻi turned into a Christian monarchy with the signing of the 1840 Constitution.Hiram Bingham I, a prominent Protestant missionary, was a trusted adviser to the monarchy during this period. Other missionaries and their descendants became active in commercial and political affairs, leading to conflicts between the monarchy and its restive American subjects. Catholic and Mormon missionaries were also active in the kingdom, but they converted a minority of the Native Hawaiian population. Missionaries from each major group administered to the leper colony at Kalaupapa on Molokaʻi, which was established in 1866 and operated well into the 20th century. The best known were Father Damien and Mother Marianne Cope, both of whom were canonized in the early 21st century as Roman Catholic saints.
In 1887, Kalākaua was forced to sign the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Drafted by white businessmen and lawyers, the document stripped the king of much of his authority. It established a property qualification for voting that effectively disenfranchised most Hawaiians and immigrant laborers and favored the wealthier, white elite. Resident whites were allowed to vote but resident Asians were not. As the 1887 Constitution was signed under threat of violence, it is known as the Bayonet Constitution. King Kalākaua, reduced to a figurehead, reigned until his death in 1891. His sister, Queen Liliʻuokalani, succeeded him; she was the last monarch of Hawaiʻi.
In 1893, Queen Liliʻuokalani announced plans for a new constitution to proclaim herself an absolute monarch. On January 14, 1893, a group of mostly Euro-American business leaders and residents formed the Committee of Safety to stage a coup d'état against the kingdom and seek annexation by the United States. United States Government Minister John L. Stevens, responding to a request from the Committee of Safety, summoned a company of U.S. Marines. The Queen's soldiers did not resist. According to historian William Russ, the monarchy was unable to protect itself.
Overthrow of 1893 – Republic of Hawaiʻi (1894–1898)
On January 17, 1893, Queen Liliʻuokalani was overthrown and replaced by a provisional government composed of members of the Committee of Safety. The United States Minister to the Kingdom of Hawaii (John L. Stevens) conspired with U.S. citizens to overthrow the monarchy. After the overthrow, Lawyer Sanford B. Dole, a citizen of Hawaii, became President of the Republic when the Provisional Government of Hawaiʻi ended on July 4, 1894. Controversy ensued in the following years as the Queen tried to regain her throne. The administration of President Grover Cleveland commissioned the Blount Report, which concluded that the removal of Liliʻuokalani had been illegal. The U.S. government first demanded that Queen Liliʻuokalani be reinstated, but the Provisional Government refused.
Congress conducted an independent investigation, and on February 26, 1894, submitted the Morgan Report, which found all parties, including Minister Stevens—with the exception of the Queen—"not guilty" and not responsible for the coup. Partisans on both sides of the debate questioned the accuracy and impartiality of both the Blount and Morgan reports over the events of 1893.
In 1993, the US Congress passed a joint Apology Resolution regarding the overthrow; it was signed by President Bill Clinton. The resolution apologized and said that the overthrow was illegal in the following phrase: "The Congress—on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi on January 17, 1893, acknowledges the historical significance of this event which resulted in the suppression of the inherent sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people." The Apology Resolution also "acknowledges that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States and further acknowledges that the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi or through a plebiscite or referendum".
Annexation – Territory of Hawaiʻi (1898–1959)
After William McKinley won the 1896 U.S. presidential election, advocates pressed to annex the Republic of Hawaiʻi. The previous president, Grover Cleveland, was a friend of Queen Liliʻuokalani. McKinley was open to persuasion by U.S. expansionists and by annexationists from Hawaiʻi. He met with three non-native annexationists: Lorrin A. Thurston, Francis March Hatch and William Ansel Kinney. After negotiations in June 1897, Secretary of State John Sherman agreed to a treaty of annexation with these representatives of the Republic of Hawaiʻi. The U.S. Senate never ratified the treaty. Despite the opposition of most native Hawaiians, the Newlands Resolution was used to annex the Republic to the U.S.; it became the Territory of Hawaiʻi. The Newlands Resolution was passed by the House on June 15, 1898, by 209 votes in favor to 91 against, and by the Senate on July 6, 1898, by a vote of 42 to 21.
In 1900, Hawaiʻi was granted self-governance and retained ʻIolani Palace as the territorial capitol building. Despite several attempts to become a state, Hawaii remained a territory for 60 years. Plantation owners and capitalists, who maintained control through financial institutions such as the Big Five, found territorial status convenient because they remained able to import cheap, foreign labor. Such immigration and labor practices were prohibited in many states.
Political changes of 1954 – State of Hawaiʻi (1959–present)
In the 1950s, the power of the plantation owners was broken by the descendants of immigrant laborers, who were born in Hawaiʻi and were U.S. citizens. They voted against the Hawaiʻi Republican Party, strongly supported by plantation owners. The new majority voted for the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi, which dominated territorial and state politics for more than 40 years. Eager to gain full representation in Congress and the Electoral College, residents actively campaigned for statehood. In Washington there was talk that Hawaiʻi would be a Republican Party stronghold so it was matched with the admission of Alaska, seen as a Democratic Party stronghold. These predictions turned out to be inaccurate; today, Hawaiʻi votes Democratic predominantly, while Alaska votes Republican.
USS Abraham Lincoln Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), is the fifth Nimitz-classaircraft carrier in the United States Navy. It is the second Navy ship to have been named after former President Abraham Lincoln. Her home port is Norfolk, Virginia, and she is a member of the United States Atlantic Fleet.
She is administratively responsible to Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic, and, operationally served as the flagship of Carrier Strike Group Nine and host to Carrier Air Wing Two until 2012. She is currently undergoing a 4-year Refueling and Complex Overhaul process.
Photograph was taken in 2005 during my visit to Hawaii.
Hickam Field (formerly Hickam Air Force Base) is a United States Air Force installation, named in honor of aviation pioneer Lieutenant ColonelHorace Meek Hickam. The base merged with the Naval Base Pearl Harbor to become part of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The base neighbors Honolulu International Airport and currently shares runways with the airport for its activities and purposes.