First and Last Queen of the Hawaiian Kingdom

This week, Justin focuses in on Lili’uokalani and the story of her brief (but momentous) reign as the first and last Queen on the Hawaiian Kingdom!

If you don’t know the true story of Hawaii, its annexation by the United States, and the atrocities committed by Sanford Dole (cousin of James Dole, the pineapple guy), learn about it here!

Episode Transcript

(please excuse any errors, spelling or otherwise – audio transcription is tricky)

Justin Xavier 0:05
Welcome to BROADS YOU SHOULD KNOW: The podcast about amazing and noteworthy women from history. I’m Justin Xavier.

Sara Gorsky 0:52
I’m Sara Gorsky.

Sam Eggers 0:53
And I’m Sam Eggers.

Justin Xavier 0:54
And today I will be talking about Liliʻuokalani, who was the first female Queen of Hawaii and also the last ruler of Hawaii before it was annexed by the United States.

Sam Eggers 1:08

Sara Gorsky 1:08

Sam Eggers 1:09
Can you say her name again?

Justin Xavier 1:10
Liliʻuokalani. So yeah, she was the first Queen region and the last sovereign monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, born September 2 1838, died November 11, 1917, at age 79. She was born and died in Honolulu, Hawaii. But she did travel a lot as part of her job as Princess. So her mother – that she first – I guess, was involved in Hawaiian politics because her mother was an advisor to King Kamehameha III. But because she was a princess, she received a special education and training that was deemed appropriate for a Hawaiian Princess, including modern knowledge and a tour of the Western world. So she was like kind of the the face of Hawaii. She was – she would go to Europe and she’d go to America and she’d go to all the countries that like had people in Hawaii to just kind of be the face – kind of what royalty does.

Sara Gorsky 2:00
Did the monarchy – was it like a similar to European monarchies with like a – ?

Justin Xavier 2:05
Yes. Especially once European influence started going to Hawaii. They were very strongly influenced by European monarchy and the way that they changed their own monarchy to kind of fit that. Because they, like, looked up to it. They’re like, “Oh, Europe. That’s cool.

Sara Gorsky 2:21

Justin Xavier 2:22
And they treated them very nicely, at first. So yeah, there might be a an ending to the story that goes a different direction. She was a member of the court of Kamehameha IV. Married in 1862, to John Owen Dominis son of a Boston sea captain.

Sara Gorsky 2:40
I was gonna say that’s not a Hawaiian name.

Sam Eggers 2:41

Justin Xavier 2:42
no, but he was, I think, half Hawaiian. Like it was a Boston guy and a Hawaiian woman and he served on the – he was an official in the Hawaiian government. So he was still he was Hawaiian and given full Hawaiian privileges.

Sara Gorsky 2:56

Justin Xavier 2:57
In 1874, this is where the story is. starts to get interesting 1874 her brother, David Kalākaua is chosen as king in 1877 her second brother, who was the heir apparent at the time, died and she was named the heir presumptive.

Sara Gorsky 3:17
Wow, what is presumptive? What’s the difference? Do you know?

Justin Xavier 3:21
Heir apparent dislike it’s the only other guy in the family who could be the king so if that one dies it’s going to be him and heir presumptive is like well, we don’t know because we have never had a woman Queen before, or Queen period, so we assume it’s gonna go to her cuz she’s the only other person in the family who could take it up, but it wasn’t like set in stone.

Sara Gorsky 3:41

Justin Xavier 3:42
And starting when she became the heir presumptive. She started being known as Liliʻuokalani, which is her royal name. Before that, there’s a – I found a few different names that all claim to be her real full name. Lydia Aimoku Dominis, the Dominus. probably from her husband, Lydia Kaʻonohiponiponiokalani Aholo. It’s I don’t know which one of those is the right one. They found them both on different websites. So it’s possible that both of them were correct. I don’t know. But she’s – once she became – it was like, she’s definitely gonna be the Queen then it’s Liliʻuokalani. In 1881, King Kalākaua, her brother, did a world tour and she served as the Queen Regent. She was very active during this whole time in organizing schools for Hawaiian youth. But she always regretted the loss of power that the monarchy suffered under her brother Kalākaua, because there’s this whole crazy thing that happened.

Sara Gorsky 4:38
What happened under her brother?

Justin Xavier 4:40
So some people think that the 1874 election when he was put into power was fraudulent. The King before him, wanted Queen Dowager Emma to rule next. Or at least that’s what the claim is. There’s nothing written anywhere that he says that he wants.

Sara Gorsky 4:56
Was that the mother of somebody?

Justin Xavier 4:57
Yeah, so one of the previous kings. The King before Kalākaua wanted, theoretically wanted Queen Dowager Emma to rule, but he was too sick to put it in writing. So Kalākaua campaigned hard with the platform of “we will adhere strictly to the Hawaiian Kingdom’s constitution”. And Emma campaigned with “Well, the last king wanted me to be the queen. So…”

Sara Gorsky 5:21
And this was before gerrymandering.

Justin Xavier 5:22

Sara Gorsky 5:25
That’s not a great campaign slogan….

Justin Xavier 5:27

Sara Gorsky 5:27
This old guy who was dying, wanted

Justin Xavier 5:30
He really he really wanted me to be

Sara Gorsky 5:32
But he forgot to write it down.

Justin Xavier 5:33

Sara Gorsky 5:33
But you have to believe me.

Justin Xavier 5:39
The King’s council issued a denial and Kalākaua will won in a landslide 39 – 6.

Sara Gorsky 5:46
Yes. 39-6. Yeah, that’s like not even what a waste of taxpayer dollars to hold an election at that point.

Justin Xavier 5:55
Right. But this provoked the Honolulu courthouse riot were Emma’s supporters attacked all the legislators who supported Kalākaua and injured 13 of them. Police officers were sent to the scene and they didn’t do anything they either watched or they joined the riot. Like

Sara Gorsky 6:15
The riot of the people supporting…

Justin Xavier 6:16
Supporting Emma, like upset that Kalākaua had won because they were like “she obviously is the one who’s supposed to she’s supposed to be the queen”. So Kalākaua did something that set all of the rest of history in motion. He needed to quell this protest that was angry that he was the king. So he asked the American and British military to put down the uprising.

Sara Gorsky 6:19

Sam Eggers 6:19

Justin Xavier 6:24
So he went to the port and he said I need your help. They sent in military and created peace through you know, holding guns to everyone. And the uprising was put down.

Sara Gorsky 6:51
At what cost?

Justin Xavier 6:52
Exactly. So, now we get to 1887

Sara Gorsky 6:56
That very intense.

Justin Xavier 6:58
1887 we have the rest of porosity treaty. The reciprocity treaty is a free trade agreement between the United States and Hawaii that guaranteed a duty free market for Hawaiian sugar in exchange for special privileges for the US. Specifically, they were given Pearl Harbor. Now, this is known as the Bayonet Treaty because Kalākaua was surrounded by an armed militia that said, if he didn’t sign it, he would be deposed.

Sam Eggers 7:23

Justin Xavier 7:24
So he signed it under threat signed it said, “okay, United States, you can get all of our sugar. No other countries in the world are going to get that and you own Pearl Harbor now.”

Sam Eggers 7:33

Sara Gorsky 7:34
And they didn’t have to pay taxes. Right?

Justin Xavier 7:36

Sara Gorsky 7:36
It’s like tax free sugar exports.

Justin Xavier 7:39
Mm hmm. And the reason they needed this so badly is because the Civil War was happening. And sugar prices skyrocketed, because all of the sugar is coming from the south. And now it isn’t. And if you’re if you are able to get it, it costs more because you have to pay people and all this.

Sara Gorsky 7:55
There is no excuse for shitty behavior on behalf of the American government.

Justin Xavier 7:58
Oh, I know. Oh, I know. No, no, it’s absolutely – it’s abhorrent,

Sara Gorsky 8:01
Oh man.

Justin Xavier 8:02
While this treaty is going around and people are saying, you know, sign it, don’t sign it. Liliʻuokalani strongly opposed this treaty. And everywhere she went spoke very loudly and proudly about – “No.” And she said when I’m Queen, what what my platform is is “Hawaii for Hawaiians”. And she was like, “I’m gonna I’m gonna rewrite our entire constitution. I’m going to get America out of here. No more. This is absolutely absurd.”

Sara Gorsky 8:26

Justin Xavier 8:27
So, because she had opposed the treaty, as soon as she ascended to the throne, people began plotting to overthrow her.

Sara Gorsky 8:34
Of course they did.

Justin Xavier 8:35
There’s this person named Sanford Dole and that is a name you’re gonna want to remember because Sanford Dole.

Sara Gorsky 8:42

Justin Xavier 8:42
Probably, Sanford Dole is a big old douchebag.

Sara Gorsky 8:48
Dole is it D-O-L-E?

Justin Xavier 8:50
Yeah. So Sanford Dole and the Missionary Party – Oh, before I do that, okay, nine days after Kalākaua died, January 20th, 1891, Liliʻuokalani became the new Queen. The first thing that she did as Queen is start drafting a new constitution that would restore the monarchy and voting power of the economically disenfranchised.

Sara Gorsky 9:13

Justin Xavier 9:14
She was like…

Sara Gorsky 9:15
A Queen for the people!

Justin Xavier 9:15
Exactly. She was like “not doing this anymore. This is this been going on for too long. America has too much influence here. No more.” So, Sanford Dole asked for her abdication in 1893, which is two years after she…

Sara Gorsky 9:27
Asked her like, “can you please step down?”

Justin Xavier 9:29
Basically. They announced the establishment of a provisional government pending United States annexation. The Provisional Government feature Sanford Dole as the President of the Republic of Hawaii.

Sara Gorsky 9:43
Well, he seems the best qualified for the role.

Justin Xavier 9:46
Of course.

Sara Gorsky 9:46

Justin Xavier 9:46
Yeah, sure, certainly.

Sara Gorsky 9:48
What an asshole. *laughs*

Justin Xavier 9:49
So, to avoid bloodshed, because all these people are threatening violence. She surrendered. But, she reaches out to President Cleveland to reinstate her. So President Cleveland orders that she be restored, rejecting the Treaty of Annexation sent to Congress and Dole defies the order and says that the United States President does not have the power to tell him what to do in his new country of the Republic of Hawaii.

Sara Gorsky 10:17
What the fuck?

Justin Xavier 10:17
Okay, Sanford, you need to calm down. Take a step back.

Sara Gorsky 10:22
Dude. What a pissy white dude.

Justin Xavier 10:24
Yeah. So…

Sara Gorsky 10:27
Wait, does Cleveland do something about it?

Justin Xavier 10:28

Sara Gorsky 10:29
Oh, Cleveland.

Justin Xavier 10:32
So, 1895. There’s a loyalist named Robert Wilcox, who decides “We’re going to go we’re going to take out these people who are doing this to us. We’re going to lead an insurrection in the Queen’s name” and they they lead an attack. But! Dole’s well armed forces completely decimated them, and threw most of them in jail, and I don’t I didn’t look up. I didn’t find out if any of them were hurt, but I’m sure somebody was. She thought…

Sara Gorsky 10:59
Wasn’t there a time when she’s like…didn’t they like put her away – like they kept her on house lockdown?

Justin Xavier 11:04
Yes, they did.

Sara Gorsky 11:05
This was the same period of time?

Justin Xavier 11:05
This is after – immediately after the Wilcox Rebellion. They put her in house arrest

Sara Gorsky 11:10
They were like you can’t leave here.

Justin Xavier 11:11
They’re like you’re not allowed to leave here. They surrounded the house 24 hours a day with armed military keeping her from leaving. She was kept on house arrest at gunpoint by Dole’s forces. January 24, 1895 she signed a formal abdication of her throne in exchange for freedom for all of the rebellion.

Sara Gorsky 11:30
Oh, the the people in prison?

Justin Xavier 11:32
Yeah, everyone who led a rebellion in her name. They were like, “Alright, we’ll set them free if you stop being the Queen or we’ll keep them forever.”

Sara Gorsky 11:39
That’s so heartbreaking.

Justin Xavier 11:40
And so she gave it up for them.

Sara Gorsky 11:41
I don’t want a pineapple again in my life!

Justin Xavier 11:43
That’s – literally anytime anyone says pineapple on pizza, Amber is like “fuck pineapples”. No pineapples ever.

Sara Gorsky 11:49
Yeah, FUCK PINEAPPLE. Yeah, that’s fucking terrible. Oh my gosh, how come I didn’t hear about – I feel like so cheated that that history was never taught to me in history class.

Justin Xavier 11:59
They very specifically don’t want you to know about it.

Sara Gorsky 12:01
Yeah. They don’t want us to know.

Justin Xavier 12:03
America did not apologize for this until Bill Clinton.

Sam Eggers 12:07

Justin Xavier 12:07
Bill Clinton was the first president to ever say, “Hey, I think maybe…

Sara Gorsky 12:10
To the Hawaiian people?

Justin Xavier 12:11
Yeah, he…

Sara Gorsky 12:12
Like, “Oh, sorry, that was really fucked up.”

Justin Xavier 12:14
Yeah. And they didn’t get anything out of it. He just said, “Sorry”.

Sara Gorsky 12:17
My god.

Justin Xavier 12:19
So but, uh, immediately after she left office, or whatever, she wrote and published a song called Aloha ‘Oe that is still a very, very, very popular Hawaiian song that is meaningful to everyone who still lives there who opposes being stolen by America.

Sara Gorsky 12:38
That whole story is such a crime. Such a fucking colonizer crime.

Sam Eggers 12:43
Isn’t this – is she the one when when she was forced to advocate she wrote a letter

Justin Xavier 12:47
To Puerto Rico

Sam Eggers 12:48
And sort of, she’s sort of explaining what had happened to her.

Justin Xavier 12:54
Because Puerto Rico was the other… Hawaii and Puerto Rico got along very well. They were both like, we’re just islands and we have our own thing and these Americans are trying to steal us. So they were like, “we’re on your side, we got your back no matter what.” And so when this was happening, she sent a letter to Puerto Rico. I don’t think they got it in time.

Sara Gorsky 13:12
Oh my gosh.

Sam Eggers 13:13
So what happened to her and she just sort of lived out her days…?

Justin Xavier 13:16
She retired, she retired, living on a government pension for the rest of her life and died in 1917.

Sara Gorsky 13:22
Wow. That is such a sad story.

Sam Eggers 13:25
So is there still – forgive me if this is an ignorant question. So the descendants of the Hawaiian former the former Hawaiian royal family, are they those… like are they seen as sort of celebrities in Hawaii? Or do people know who they are? Or is it like, people don’t even keep track of it?

Justin Xavier 13:41
Once America took over and they had a new president that had all the leadership, and then it was another wasn’t it like 60 more years before Hawaii was a state because they just needed all the like anger to die down so they could be like, well, now do you want to be in a state? It’s going to get your benefits.

Sara Gorsky 13:56
I thinkt they’re still recognized…. like the royal line as like…. I feel like they still are

Justin Xavier 14:01
Probably the Hawaiian people do, yeah.

Sara Gorsky 14:04
Like I’ve seen, like, photos of like, “Oh, this is the granddaughter of blah blah blah”, right?

Justin Xavier 14:09
Yeah, just the rest of the world doesn’t care and they don’t have any power. They’re respected.

Sara Gorsky 14:14
By the people.

Justin Xavier 14:15
Yeah , by just the Hawaiian people.

Sara Gorsky 14:18
I really hate the Dole family. I’m filled with rage.

Justin Xavier 14:21

Sam Eggers 14:22
I mean, that must be the same – Sanford Dole…

Justin Xavier 14:24
It has to be.

Sam Eggers 14:25
I wonder what – I need to see what Sanford Dole looks like. Because I have an image.

Justin Xavier 14:29
It’s what you think I think. Describe the image of Sanford Dole.

Sara Gorsky 14:34
Voldemort. It’s Voldemort, right?

Justin Xavier 14:37
That’s kind of close. I can’t wait…

Sam Eggers 14:42
Oh, it’s bad. No, it’s better than I could have ever imagine

Justin Xavier 14:47
Oh yeah?

Sara Gorsky 14:48
That split beard…

Sam Eggers 14:49
It’s a little like Colonel Sanders meets like Robert E. Lee meets Santa Claus. Right?

Justin Xavier 14:57
I think that’s accurate. Yeah. Look, look how proud he is of himself.

Sara Gorsky 15:01
He was one of the richest men in the world at that time, I’m sure.

Justin Xavier 15:06

Sara Gorsky 15:06
Because I’m sure he owned…

Justin Xavier 15:08
Yeah. And he, you know, he obviously held the assumption that anyone who wasn’t living the white lifestyle was savages and needed to he needed Western culture to civilize the islands and bring actual civility to them.

Sara Gorsky 15:23

Justin Xavier 15:24
At gunpoint.

Sara Gorsky 15:25
At gunpoint. Be civil – with a gun in your face.

Justin Xavier 15:29
So that’s the story of Lili’uokalani the last – first and last Queen of Hawaii.

Sam Eggers 15:35
Wow, what a BROAD.

Sara Gorsky 15:36
She was a great broad. She did the best she could. That situation was like the worst situation you could be in.

Justin Xavier 15:43
She did the best she could given her circumstances. All right. Well, that you know, that’s every once in a while you do these episodes and you just feel sad about history. Yeah, look at the way the world is but you know, and Hawaii is still fighting. Like, if we’re going to talk about like modern events. They’re still like – someone’s trying to put up a big satellite tower on the top of like a sacred mountain. And there’ve been protests there for the last, like six month.

Sara Gorsky 16:08
Yeah, I have a friend involved in the protests that lives there.

Justin Xavier 16:10

Sara Gorsky 16:10
And it’s been. It’s been a big…

Justin Xavier 16:12
Yeah, there’s a lot of like Puerto Rican standing with them. And it’s like that that bond has not died.

Sara Gorsky 16:18
Yeah. And I think there’s a lot of camaraderie, too between the tribal nations on the mainland, as well.

Justin Xavier 16:24

Sara Gorsky 16:25
Because I know, my friend involved in Hawaii has also been involved with like the Standing Rock demonstrations and like, people have this combined, like, “get the colonizers out of here, preserve the land preserves the people and the… you know, anyway.

Justin Xavier 16:39
Well, thank you for listening. If you want to support the show, leave us a review on iTunes. It’s the best way that…

Sara Gorsky 16:45
You can help us.

Justin Xavier 16:46
Yes, it’s the best way you could help us. It’s the best way that new listeners can find the show. That’s what I was trying to say. And I had like three sentences crossing in my brain. Thank you. Or you could tell a friend about the show or reach out to us on Instagram @broadyoushould know or email us at