American Experience - Season 9, Episode 4 - Rotten Tomatoes

Hawaii's Last Queen

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Before Hawaii was a hot spot for honeymooners and surfers, prior to its petition by American sugar growers for annexation to the United States, the Kingdom of Hawaii was an independent monarchy. Queen Lili'uokalani was its last queen. Succeeding to the throne in 1891, Lili'uokalani's focus was to frame a new constitution that would restore power to native Hawaiians that had been diminished by the success of white American business owners. Shortly into her reign, the U.S. government effectively revoked Hawaii's favored position on the American sugar market and Lili'uokalani's kingdom faced economic collapse. Convinced the only way to survive was annexation to the United Sates, the sugar growers stirred a clash of interests among plantation owners, native Hawaiians, the U.S. government, and the Queen's cabinet. Eventually, Lili'uokalani would lose her throne at gun point and yield her power to the U.S. government. In 1898, Hawaii was recognized as part of the United States by President William McKinley.

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