Liliuokalani (September 2, 1838 – November 11, 1917), born Lydia Liliu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaeha, was the last monarch and only queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was also known as Lydia Kamakaeha Pākī, with the chosen royal name of Liliuokalani, and she was later named Lydia K. Dominis.
The Premier Elizabeth Kinau had developed an eye infection at the time of Lili'u's birth. She gave her the names Liliu (smarting) Loloku (tearful) Walania (a burning pain) Kamakaeha (sore eyes), translated as Lydia Smarting Tearful Anguish the Sore Eyes. Her brother changed it when he named her Crown Princess, calling her Lili'uokalani, "the smarting of the royal ones".
Liliuokalani received her education at the Royal School (originally known as the Chiefs' Children's School), and became fluent in English. She attended along with her two elder brothers James Kaliokalani and David Kalākaua.
In the election that followed, Kalakaua won a majority of the vote of the Legislature and was annointed the new king of Hawaii. Queen Emma never forgave Lili'u and her position in the family which was chosen to reign over the Hawaiian people. Lili'u said: "It did not trouble me at all, but I simply allowed her to remain in the position in which she chose to place herself." One of the first act of the Kalakaua was to name his brother heir-apparent and also granting other royal titles to his two surviving sister Liliuokalani and Likelike. With Lili'u's younger brother's death in 1876, the position of heir-apparent became vacant. Princess Ruth Keelikolani offered to filled the spot of her adoptive son; and this suggestion was placed before the king's counselors at a cabinet meeting, but it was objected that, if her petition was granted, then Mrs. Pauahi Bishop would be the next heir to the throne, as they were first cousins.
At noon of the tenth day of April, 1877, the booming of the cannon was heard which announced that Liliuokalani was heir apparent to the throne of Hawaii. From this point on she was referred to as Crown Princess with the name Liliuokalani, given to her by his brother. One of her first act as Crown Princess was to tour the island of Oahu with her husband, sister, and brother-in-law.
In April of 1887, Kalakaua sent a delegation to attend the Golden Jubilee of England's Queen Victoria. Britain had long been a valued ally of Hawaii, and it was thought proper that Queen Kapiolani, along with Crown Princess Liliuokalani and her husband John Owen Dominis, attended the festivities celebrating Queen Victoria's fifty years on the throne. It seemed to be a great success, with the Hawaiian royals accepted as equals of the reigning family of the civilized world. This was especially important because Kamehameha IV had met with much prejudice in America just after the Civil War because of his dark skin color. All of Liliuokalani's reports of the Jubilee were glowing as were the newspaper accounts of the honors bestowed upon the Hawaiians. Never had so many ruling monarchs and heads of government gathered in one place as descended upon London in 1887. However, Queen Victoria's journals, which were made public decades later, add a sobering footnote. She reported that both the King of the Belgians and the King of Saxony refused to accompany Princess Liliuokalani to the Jubilee Supper because she was "colored". This created a behind-the-scenes furore until Queen Victoria herself commanded her son Albert to accompany the Hawaiian princesses. Tidings of trouble in Hawaii brought Liliuokalani and the royal party back from Europe. While on the trip, she learned of the Bayonet Constitution that Kalakaua had been forced, under the threat of death, to sign. She was so upset that she canceled a tour of the rest of Europe and returned to Hawaii at once. The Missionary Boys had offered her the throne and a part in a conspiracy against the King. Liliuokalani refused.
Liliuokalani inherited the throne from her brother Kalākaua on January 29, 1891. Shortly after ascending the throne, petitions from her people began to be received from the two major political parties of the time, mainly Hui Kala'aina and the National Reform Party. Believing she had the support of her cabinet and that to ignore such a general request from her people would be against the popular will, she moved to abrogate the existing 1887 Bayonet Constitution, by drafting a new constitution that would restore the veto power to the monarchy and voting rights to economically disenfranchised Native Hawaiians and Asians.
Threatened by the queen's proposed new constitution, American and European businessmen and residents organized to depose Liliuokalani, asserting that the queen had "virtually abdicated" by refusing to support the 1887 Constitution. Business interests within the Kingdom were also upset about what they viewed as "poor governance" of the Kingdom, as well as the U.S. removal of foreign tariffs in the sugar trade due to the McKinley Tariff. The tariff eliminated the favored status of Hawaiian sugar guaranteed by the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. American and Europeans actively sought annexation to the United States so that their business might enjoy the same sugar bounties as domestic producers. In addition to these concerns, Lili'uokalani believed that American businessman like Charles R. Bishop, expressed an anxiety concerning a female head of state.
On January 14, 1893, a group composed of American and Europeans formed a Committee of Safety in opposition to the Queen. As these events were unfolding, the Committee of Safety, speaking for American citizens living in Honolulu, expressed concern for their safety and property. United States Government Minister John L. Stevens summoned a company of U.S. Marines from the USS Boston and two companies of U.S. Navy sailors to take up positions at the U.S. Legation, Consulate, and Arion Hall. On the afternoon of January 16, 1893, 162 sailors and Marines aboard the USS Boston in Honolulu Harbor came ashore under orders of neutrality. One historian has noted that the presence of these troops, ostensibly to enforce neutrality and prevent violence, effectively made it impossible for the monarchy to protect itself.
The Queen was deposed on January 17, 1893 and temporarily relinquished her throne to "the superior military forces of the United States". She had hoped the United States, like Great Britain earlier on in Hawaiian history, would restore Hawaii's sovereignty to the rightful holder.
Queen Liliuokalani issued the following statement yielding her authority to the United States Government rather than to the Provisional Government:
A provisional government, composed of European and American businessmen, was then instituted until annexation with the United States could be achieved. On February 1, 1893, the US Minister (ambassador) to Hawaii proclaimed Hawaii a protectorate of the United States.
The administration of Grover Cleveland commissioned the Blount Report, and based on its findings, concluded that the overthrow of Liliuokalani was illegal, and that U.S. Minister Stevens and American military troops had acted inappropriately in support of those who carried out the overthrow. On November 16, 1893 Cleveland proposed to return the throne back to her if she granted amnesty to everyone responsible. She initially refused, and it was reported that she said she would have them beheaded - she denied that specific accusation, but admitted that she intended them to suffer the punishment of death. With this development, then-President Grover Cleveland sent the issue to the United States Congress. She later changed her position on the issue of punishment for the conspirators, and on December 18, 1893 U.S. Minister Willis demanded her reinstatement by the Provisional Government. The Provisional Government refused. Congress responded to Cleveland's referral with a U.S. Senate investigation that resulted in the Morgan Report on February 26, 1894. The Morgan Report found all parties (including Minister Stevens) with the exception of the queen "not guilty" from any responsibility for the overthrow. The accuracy and impartiality of both the Blount and Morgan reports has been questioned by partisans on both sides of the historical debate over the events of 1893.
On July 4, 1894, the Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed and Sanford B. Dole, one of the first people who originally called on the institution of the monarchy to be abolished, became President. The Republic of Hawaii was recognized by the United States government as a protectorate, although Walter Q. Gresham, Cleveland's Secretary of State, remained antagonistic towards the new government.
She entered claims against the U.S. totaling $450,000 for property and other losses, claiming personal ownership of the crown lands, but was unsuccessful. The territorial legislature of Hawaii finally voted her an annual pension of $4,000 and permitted her to receive the income from a sugar plantation of 6,000 acres (24 km²). She went home to Washington Place, where she lived until her death in 1917 due to complications from a stroke. She was 79.
Upon her death, Liliuokalani dictated in her will that all of her possessions and properties be sold and the monies raised would go to the Queen Liliuokalani Children's' Trust to help orphaned and indigent children. The Queen Liliuokalani Trust Fund is still in existence today.
Liliuokalani was an accomplished author and songwriter. Her book, Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen, gave her view of the history of her country and her overthrow and therefore became the first Native Hawaiian female author . Liliuokalani was known for her musical talent. Lili'u is said to have played guitar, piano, organ, 'ukulele and zither. She also sang alto, performing Hawaiian and English sacred and secular music. She would find herself in music. In her memoirs she wrote:
"To compose was as natural to me as to breathe; and this gift of nature, never having been suffered to fall into disuse, remains a source of the greatest consolation to this day.... Hours of which it is not yet in place to speak, which I might have found long and lonely, passed quickly and cheerfully by, occupied and soothed by the expression of my thoughts in music...."
Liliuokalani helped preserve key elements of Hawaii's traditional poetics while mixing in Western harmonies brought by the misionaries. A compilation of her works, titled The Queen's Songbook, was published in 1999 by Liliuokalani Trust.