The Auction That Sold Hawaii (1897)
The land grab after the Maui fire recalls how America stole a kingdom
August 2023: Hawaii Gov. Josh Green is warning developers from the mainland United States and around the world not to buy up land in the wake of catastrophic wildfires that have destroyed the historic town of Lahaina.
Lahaina carries deep historical significance for Hawaii’s native culture. The town was the capital of Hawaii in the early 19th century when the islands were an independent kingdom. The seat of government moved to Honolulu in 1850, several decades before the U.S. overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. - CNBC
The 19th-century American land grab in Hawaii is captured in this 1897 cartoon. It depicts Sanford B. Dole, the president of the Republic of Hawaii, conducting a land auction in Honolulu, selling property that he does not own to American businessmen and settlers. (Dole Pineapple - same family)
The cartoon critiques America’s overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom - a coup that was staged by American sugar planters, but opposed by native Hawaiians and Queen Lili'uokalani, who wanted to preserve Hawaii's sovereignty and culture.
The cartoon also mocks Dole's role as a puppet of American imperialism and his disregard for the rights and culture of the Hawaiian people.
The overthrow began in 1893, when a group of American businessmen, backed by U.S. Marines, overthrew Queen Lili'uokalani and established a provisional government under Dole. They then petitioned the U.S. government to annex Hawaii as a territory, but their request was initially rejected by President Grover Cleveland, who opposed imperialism and favored restoring the queen to power.
But after the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the strategic importance of Hawaii as a naval base and a gateway to Asia increased. The new US president - William McKinley - signed a joint resolution that annexed Hawaii as a U.S. territory without the consent of the Hawaiian people or their government. Hawaii remained a territory until it became the 50th state of the United States in 1959.
This cartoon depicts a shotgun wedding between Uncle Sam and a young woman labeled “Hawaii.” A cartoon of former Confederate general, Ku Klux Klan leader, and US senator John Tyler Morgan forces the marriage with a shotgun.
Morgan was an ardent expansionist who was also a major proponent of Jim Crow laws, racial segregation, and the annexation of Hawaii. Then-president William McKinley sanctifies the marriage without a Bible, but rather a book entitled “Annexation Policy.”
Looking for cartoon critiques of American Imperialism?
Title: Likely to happen under the coming administration / J.S. Pughe..
Artist: Pughe, J. S. (John S.), 1870-1909, artist
Created / Published: N.Y. : Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1897 January 27.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012648458
Title: Another shotgun wedding, with neither party willing / C.J. Taylor.
Artist: Taylor, Charles Jay, 1855-1929
Created / Published: N.Y. : Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1897 December 1.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012647635