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How did the government of the United States claim Hawaii as a territory?

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Quick Answer

The government of the United States claimed Hawaii as a territory in 1900, but President William McKinley signed a joint resolution two years earlier, in 1989, annexing Hawaii. This was during a war with Spain, and naval bases on Hawaii were of military significance.

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How did the government of the United States claim Hawaii as a territory?
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Full Answer

At the time when Hawaii was annexed, it was an independent republic headed by Samuel Dole, the leader of the owners of sugar plantations on the islands. Dole was the first governor of Hawaii after it became a territory in 1900. He led the revolt against Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani in 1893.

The queen was opposed to American expansionism on the islands. During the course of the uprising, sailors from the USS Boston surrounded the royal palace. The American minister to Hawaii, John L. Stevens, raised the American flag in Honolulu. One of the causes for the overthrowing of the native queen was high import rates on sugar that the U.S. introduced at the time. The sugar growers hoped to escape this tax by becoming part of the United States.

However, back in Washington D.C., President Grover Cleveland withdrew the annexation treaty from the Senate. He wanted to see Queen Liliuokalani back on the throne, but public opinion in the U.S. stood in the way. Eventually, due to military considerations, Hawaii was annexed in 1989, made a territory in 1900 and became the 50th state in 1959.

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