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The Stolen Kingdom

The provisional government established itself as the Republic of Hawai'i in 1894, but its clear intention was to be absorbed into the US. President Grover Cleveland refused to annex the pirated kingdom, but his successor McKinley did so gladly. In 1900, Hawai'i became a US territory. The territorial government was largely an oligarchy of white Republicans who controlled every aspect of island life from their positions as directors of Hawai'i's five main agribusiness companies. Attempts to unionize plantation labor during the '30s were firmly squelched.

The stalemate was broken by World War II, when the US government declared martial law in Hawai'i. Five years of direct federal involvement forced territorial leaders behave more democratically. The unfettered labor unions responded with fervor. A six-month waterfront strike in 1949 spread throughout the plantations. Soon, the children of the camps were being elected into positions of political power, and a bloodless revolution had begun. Still, ten more years of reform were necessary before the US Congress would admit Hawai'i as the 50th state.

During the same year, 1959, jet airplanes began to fly regularly to the islands. Tourism mushroomed from a sleepy side-line to a leading force in island economy. Starting in the 1960s, investors began building lavish resorts on Kamehameha's shores. Big landowners began turning their attention from sugar to real estate transactions. At the same time, Hawaiians began reclaiming political power in their ancient homeland. During the '70s, native rights groups began demanding the release of Kaho'olawe from the grip of the US military, which had been using the island as a practice target for fifty years. A symbol of native pride, an authentic voyaging crew, the Hokule'a, set sail for Tahiti in 1976.

In 1993 the US government officially apologized for the overthrow of the monarchy, and the nation of Hawai'i began a movement to re-establish its own sovereignty.