She Was Queen

Published January 25, 2023 by tindertender

Her name was Lili’uokalani, and she was queen regnant of the Hawaiian Islands. That is, until the United States decided those islands with their beautiful sunsets and amazing beaches were a little too fine to be left to self-rule, and stole them in a coup d’état.

–On This Day in History Shit Went Down: January 17, 1893–

Born in 1838, she became queen in 1891 when her brother died. Then she had the audacity to take a look at this thing called “the Bayonet Constitution,” which had been forced on her brother and her nation in 1887 to give a bunch of power to American and European elites living in Hawaiʻi, and she said, “This is some major fucking bullshit.”

And it was some fucking bullshit. It was named after an implement of death because they threatened to murder her brother if he didn’t adopt it. And it disenfranchised two-thirds of the native Hawaiian population of their right to vote. Lili’uokalani proposed a new constitution that would bring back power to the monarchy and the people by restoring their voting ability. The people were all hey that’s totally awesome please do it.

But the wealthy foreigners and native elites who loved to exploit Hawaiʻi and her people were all hell fucking no. So, they formed a “Committee of Safety,” which was a fancy term for “Protect the Rich People.”

And those loyal to Queen Lili’uokalani responded by forming their own “No, fuck you” committee against said rich people and gave some speeches in the palace square. Then the bad guys said fuck this it’s coup time, and they said hey ‘murica lil’ help and ‘murica was all oh yeah we love to steal places, and gave them the loan of a bunch of Marines and sailors from the USS Boston, which was moored nearby purely by coincidence, I’m sure, to march around and be all intimidating and the royalists were all, well I guess we’re boned and gave up. Queen Lili’uokalani was deposed as monarch on January 17, 1893.

Two years later there was a rebellion to restore her to power, but it failed and Lili’uokalani abdicated her throne in order to save the lives of her supporters who had been sentenced to death. She was sentenced to five years hard labor for the rebellion, but it was commuted to imprisonment in the palace; she received a pardon the following year. Hawaiʻi was annexed by the U.S. in 1898 and became a state in 1959.

And that’s the story of how Americans got a place where they could travel to surf and get skin cancer without needing a passport.

Get both volumes of ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY SH!T WENT DOWN at JamesFell.com/books.

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