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>> Events leading to the Annexation of 1898

PRIMARY SOURCE: The POLITICAL and ANNEXACTION topics from pages 93-99 of Reminiscences of the Kamehameha Schools by Uldrick Thompson written in 1921 are quoted in full. Thompson was a teacher at the Kamehameha Schools during this tumultuous time.


Colonel David Kalakaua was elected King by the Legislature on February 12th, 1874. This means that he took the oath of office under a Constitutional form of Government.

Gradually, Kalakaua abrogated powers of Government to himself to such a degree that on June 30th, 1887, a mass meeting was held in the Armoury. A Committee was appointed to present to Kalakaua a new Constitution; and get his signature. Mr. Wm. B. Oleson was one of that Committee. Mr. Oleson told me that as they talked with Kalakaua, in the Throne Room, they could hear his soldiers marching and grounding arms, in the basement underneath them.

On July 30th, 1889; Robert Wilcox, recently returned from his military training in Italy; headed an insurrection to restore the old order of Government to Kalakaua. Again Mr. Oleson was in the fight till the insurgents surrendered and order was restored under the Constitution.

When the Revolution of January 17th, 1893, came, Mr. Oleson again took an active part.

The Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed on July 4th, 1894; with Judge Sanford B. Dole as President. Late in 1894 an attempt was planned to restore Liliuokalani to power. On January 15th, 1895, the clash came; and the attempted Restoration failed. A few personal reminiscences of the Revolution and of the attempted Restoration are added here.

Everyone here knew the Revolution was to take place. I talked with Mr. Oleson on the 16th. I said to him, "If I take part in this matter; I must resign at once and go home. I cannot shoot Hawaiians and then return to teach these boys. But if it come to a choice between the whites and the Hawaiians, I must of course stand with my own race".

Early on the 17th, I went into town. A body of nearly one hundred white men, merchants, professional men, teachers and students; had taken possession of the grounds about the Judiciary Building, opposite the Palace. At that time a stone coping about 30 " high, surmounted by a heavy iron fence and with iron gates, surrounded these grounds. The men within, were armed with all kinds of rifles. They lay or sat on the grass and talked or slept to pass the time.

Armed guards were at the gates; and no one was permitted to enter or to leave without a written order. I spent the day walking up and down before the gates. I could plainly see both parties as they made their preparations; or, waited.

Late in the afternoon, the garrison in the old Armory surrendered; and as twilight, came, the Police Station also surrendered. Then I knew the crisis was past; and was about to walk home when Mr. P. came out. He had borrowed Katherine Pope's horse and brake and had them secreted on Emma Street. As we seated ourselves in the brake, Mr. P. placed a heavy revolver in the seat between us with the remark, "I will not be stopped tonight". We passed many groups of men and women; but no one spoke to us.

When school opened in September, only 43 boys enrolled but the number gradually rose to 90.

When the attempted Restoration came in 1895 several incidents occurred on our Campus that are presented here.

When we woke up Monday morning, the 17th, we found the telephone wires cut. As remarked in another place, our faculty divided into two groups. Mr. Richards said that we could do better service by remaining here and keeping our boys on the CAmpus. Mr. Dumes and two other teachers took their rifles and went into town. there was no attempt to have class room work or shop work. But every boy was kept playing ball or engaged in some sports, planned by Mr. Richards.

That night the children and women slept fully dressed. Mr. Richards and the rest of us spent the night on the Campus and about the Dormitories, waiting and watching for trouble that, fortunately did not come.

A few nights later I was on duty in Bishop Hall. After the boys were dismissed, I attended to some matters then started for the dormitories. as I was passing the Museum, a rifle was fired in the direction of Dormitory D. I ran to my cottage, got my rifle, told Mrs. Thompson to call the police and rant to Dormitory D. There I found the boys in their night shirts, assembled in the Waikiki end of the lower hall. A piece of flooring two feel long had been ripped up. The bullet had then ricocheted and passed through the outer wall of Room No. 4, just under the window. Fred Cockett was sitting by this window, his knees crossed, strumming an instrument. The bullet had left a black and blue mark near his knee but had not broken the skin. It was evident the rifle had been fired in Room. No. 13; or through the window of that room. While I was questioning the boy who occupied that room mounted police entered. On searching, they found a Springfield rifle slung under the wire spring of the bed. The boy finally confessed he had intended to join in the Restoration; and had not had a chance to get the rifle back to the owner. It had been accidentally discharged by another boy.

On May 6th, 1893, Mr. Bishop said to the Trustees, "Whatever happens, whatever was the outcome of the present state of political affairs, he hoped the Hawaiian flag would always be the flag of the Kamehameha Schools. It was always to be remembered that these were the Kamehameha Schools. The Hawaiian flag was the flag of the Kamehamehas; and it ought to be displayed at the schools on all our anniversaries; and on occasions where flags were usually displayed".

We kept the Hawaiian flag on our flag staff till about 1902.

It would be a mistake to think that the Hawaiians failed in their attempt to keep the Government in their own hands, because the warrior spirit of the old-time Hawaiians has disappeared. They proved their spirit in the World War.

One of the finest tributes ever paid any people was paid by the white men in 1893, and again in 1895. They left their homes and families without protection when they went to wrest the power from the Hawaiian people. Not a home was fired. Not a woman or child was disturbed and these men knew this would be so when they left their homes.


After the Revolution of 1893, political affairs were the principal subject of conversation and for diplomacy.

President Dole's letters to Plenipotentiary, Willie, and to President Cleveland are worth reading. But annexation was only a dream till the Spanish-American War loomed; and troops began to pass through to Manila. Then the full value of these islands was plain to all.

On the afternoon of June 1st, 1898, three transports appeared off Koko Head; and that night they lay in this harbor. President Dole and the members of this Cabinet decided to offer the allegiance of the Republic of Hawaii to the United States; and opened the harbor to the transports and the city to the officers and men. This was a breach of neutrality which Spain resented but people here were willing to take chances.

On June 2, 1898, officers and men were feasted in the Capitol Grounds. Both Hawaiians and whites joined in this friendly demonstration. The bill of fare included potato salad; roast beef, roast lamb, roast turkey, roast chicken, ham sandwiches; watermelons, pineapples, oranges; ginger ale, pie and cakes. All these were contributed.

The men had been very badly fed, on the way down, as the commissary officers were paid so much per man and were in the game to make money so the feast here was fully appreciated. Other transports followed at short intervals; and all officers and men were entertained as the first had been.

The first ten thousand men were a fine lot, --business men, professional men, students. Even the Regulars were a fine lot, - intelligent, self-respecting, dignified and gentlemanly. All homes were opened to both officers and men.

At that time we had the use of the school carriage; and we seldom came from town without one or more of the enlisted men. We chose the men from the ranks because we knew they were more in need of cheering up. Many of these men visited our Campus. Sometimes there was not a thing left in the house to eat; and at such times I milked a cow or tow and gave a drink of milk to as many as possible.

One day I found two boy friends on our Campus, very homesick. They attached themselves to me and during their three days in port, we did all we could to make them forget their homesickness. One was a son of Prof. Lovell of the University of Oregon. He was only sixteen years old. The other was the son of a lumber dealer in Portland. He was not yet eighteen years old. Mere boys, -- just before they sailed, each gave me the home address of his family and asked me to write that the boys were in perfect health. A correspondence with these people continued several years. Young Lovell died in Manila that winter. The other served through the war; but returned by the northern route; so I did not meet either again.

Everyone in town was doing for the boys in blue, what Mrs. Thompson and I did.

Soon, sickness developed. The ladies of Honolulu at once organized a Red Cross Hospital and did all that was possible till a military hospital was established by the U.S. Government, opposite the territorial experiment station, on King street. The New York volunteers were camped in Kapiolani Park. The officers knew less of sanitation than a child of ten years now knows. And soon typhoid filled the U.S. Hospital with patients. The men slept and lay on the floor, without mosquito nets!

This Government Red Tape management is an abomination. Letters must go to Washington and pass through the red-tape system before a bed or mosquito net could be bought for the men sick and dying. But again the people of Honolulu were equal to the emergency. Mattresses and mosquito nets were contributed, without red-tape. And as men were recovering they were taken into homes and helped to recover.

Colonel Smith, in command of the New York volunteers, was as arrogant and as egotistical as he was ignorant and foolish. A member of our Board of Health visited the camp and found it a menace to Honolulu. He pointed out the unsanitary conditions and was volunteering information for their improvement when Col. Smith became so enraged he drew back his fist to strike the city official. But an officer standing near, caught his hand and said, "Don't' you see Co. Smith, his arm is broken?" Which was true.

In the end, sanitary conditions about the camp were improved; and the cases of typhoid disappeared.

But after the first then thousand men passed through, the character of the units began to change. Always there were fine men in each unit; but the hoodlum element grew; and there were so many abuses of hospitality, so many cases of bad conduct, so much petty thieving, that gradually the homes of Honolulu were closed to the enlisted men.

On July 5, 1898, the Newlands joint Resolution was passed by the Senate, the vote being 42 to 21. This news was telegraphed by Mr. Thurston to San Francisco and brought from there by steamer. President McKinley signed this Resolution on July 7th, 1898. a Commission of Senators Morgan and Cullum and Representative Hilt was appointed to come to Hawaii; and, with President Dole and Chief Justice Frear, to recommend to Congress such Legislation concerning the Hawaiian Islands and the future Government as they deemed necessary or proper".

The Hawaiian flag was lowered; and the Stars and Stripes were raised on the Executive Building on August 12th, 1898.

"President Dole was continued in office until such time as Congress could provide for the Government of Hawaii as a part of the American Union. On May 1st, 1900, President Dole was selected as the first Governor of the Territory of Hawaii. And with his inauguration the long-cherished, dream of Annexation was fully realized."


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