Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

The Hawaiian Islands

Since August 12, 1898, the Hawaiian Islands have belonged to the United States of America. They are a group of eight large and a few small islands in the Pacific Ocean, about two thousand miles from San Francisco.

We know very little about the early history of these islands, which were already inhabited by the gentle Kanakas when the Spaniards visited them in the sixteenth century. About two hundred years later, in 1778, Captain Cook, an English navigator, landed there, naming the whole group Sandwich Islands in honor of the Earl of Sandwich. The natives, however, went on calling them the Hawaiian Islands, after Hawaii, the largest of the group, and it is by this name that they are best known.

The natives worshiped Captain Cook as a god, and treated him so well that he went back there the following winter. But this time the Hawaiians were not so glad to see him, for his men had behaved very badly during their first sojourn. While repairing his ships, Captain Cook missed some tools, and knowing they had been stolen by the natives, he tried to seize one of their chiefs and hold him a prisoner until his property was returned. In the midst of the fight which this attempt stirred up, Captain Cook was separated from his men, who escaped when they saw he had been killed. He was buried on the island, where a monument has been erected over his remains.

During one of his sojourns he had received a visit from Kamehameha, a young prince whose ambition was to conquer the other chiefs and rule over all the islands. He knew he could succeed if he had European vessels and arms, so he begged Vancouver, who visited the islands for the third time in 1794, to show him how to build a ship. Vancouver greatly admired this young Hawaiian chief, who was so skilled a warrior that when six spears at once were cast at him, he "caught three, parried two, and avoided the sixth by a quick movement of the body."

The Hawaiians are so clever at imitating anything they see, that the young prince soon had a fleet of more than twenty ships. He bought arms from passing vessels, one of which he seized, killing all its crew except one man, whom he spared to show him how to use the guns. This man and another English-speaking castaway were so kindly treated by Kamehameha that they soon became his friends and principal advisers. Helped by these white men, Kamehameha became sole ruler of the islands, and, following their advice, he encouraged trade by treating all strangers as well as he could.

We are told that passing captains made the Hawaiian king presents of British and American Rags, which floated in turn from his flagstaff. When the War of 1812 began, an American privateer ran into the port of Honolulu,—the capital of the Hawaiian Islands,—and the captain, seeing the British colors, indignantly asked what Kamehameha meant by flying the enemy's flag. To please these Americans the king immediately hoisted Old Glory; but a British man-of-war came along soon after, and Kamehameha promptly raised the British flag to suit the last arrivals. When his visitors had gone, however, he called his two advisers and asked them whether he could not fly both flags at once so as not to offend either nation.

They told him this would never do, but instead suggested a Hawaiian flag made up of the colors and emblems of both countries. So, while the field of the Hawaiian flag bore the British cross, the eight large islands were represented by eight red, white, and blue stripes.

In 1820, the first American missionaries came to settle in the island, where they were soon followed by many others. These men founded schools and churches for the Hawaiians, who had already given up many of their heathenish practices, such as throwing people into the burning crater of Mauna Loa to appease the anger of the awful goddess Pele.

Palace at Honolulu


During the reigns of five Kamehamehas, the missionaries converted most of the natives. Many foreigners came to settle on the islands, where they began planting sugar cane, rice, and coffee, built huge mills, and carried on a brisk trade. Many of these settlers were Americans, and the greater part of their trade was with the United States. As they and their children were the best educated people on the island, they soon won considerable influence, which they used to model the Hawaiian laws on those of the United States, and to introduce American customs, methods, money, language, and schools.

After the British had made a vain effort to get the islands, the king offered them, in 1851, to the United States. But we had recently secured so much new territory that we refused them. Hawaiian kings therefore went on ruling as before, and when the fifth and last Kamehameha died, leaving no direct heir, the people elected Kalakaua, a member of the royal family, who proved a very bad master.

Still, for a time, he respected the constitution made in 1864, which gave the Hawaiians the right to help govern themselves, and he made a trade treaty with the United States in 1875. But this king loved to spend, and could never get enough money. He took bribes from opium dealers, and when an agent from the Louisiana Lottery offered to pay him a large sum every year if he would only allow them to carry on there the business soon to be forbidden by law in the United States, he gladly consented.

But when Kalakaua tried to rule just as he pleased, thus depriving the people of the rights they had enjoyed, they became so angry that they rebelled and forced him to grant a new constitution and promise to govern by it. When he died, four years later, during a visit to San Francisco, his sister Liliuokalani became Queen of the Hawaiian Islands (1891). The Americans were glad of this change, because she had been brought up by American missionaries, and had married an American named Dominis. Being a Christian, they knew she would not encourage the people to become heathens again, as Kalakaua had done.