Skip to main content
Year
1893
Month Day
January 17

Americans overthrow Hawaiian monarchy

On the Hawaiian Islands, a group of American sugar planters under Sanford Ballard Dole overthrow Queen Liliuokalani, the Hawaiian monarch, and establish a new provincial government with Dole as president. The coup occurred with the foreknowledge of John L. Stevens, the U.S. minister to Hawaii, and 300 U.S. Marines from the U.S. cruiser Boston were called to Hawaii, allegedly to protect American lives.

The first known settlers of the Hawaiian Islands were Polynesian voyagers who arrived sometime in the eighth century, and in the early 18th century the first American traders came to Hawaii to exploit the islands’ sandalwood, which was much valued in China at the time. In the 1830s, the sugar industry was introduced to Hawaii and by the mid-19th century had become well established. American missionaries and planters brought about great changes in Hawaiian political, cultural, economic, and religious life, and in 1840 a constitutional monarchy was established, stripping the Hawaiian monarch of much of his authority. Four years later, Sanford B. Dole was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to American parents.

During the next four decades, Hawaii entered into a number of political and economic treaties with the United States, and in 1887 a U.S. naval base was established at Pearl Harbor as part of a new Hawaiian constitution. Sugar exports to the United States expanded greatly during the next four years, and U.S. investors and American sugar planters on the islands broadened their domination over Hawaiian affairs. However, in 1891 Liliuokalani, the sister of the late King Kalakaua, ascended to the throne, refusing to recognize the constitution of 1887 and replacing it with a constitution increasing her personal authority.

In January 1893, a revolutionary “Committee of Safety,” organized by Sanford B. Dole, staged a coup against Queen Liliuokalani with the tacit support of the United States. On February 1, Minister John Stevens recognized Dole’s new government on his own authority and proclaimed Hawaii a U.S. protectorate. Dole submitted a treaty of annexation to the U.S. Senate, but most Democrats opposed it, especially after it was revealed that most Hawaiians did not want annexation.

President Grover Cleveland sent a new U.S. minister to Hawaii to restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne under the 1887 constitution, but Dole refused to step aside and instead proclaimed the independent Republic of Hawaii. Cleveland was unwilling to overthrow the government by force, and his successor, President William McKinley, negotiated a treaty with the Republic of Hawaii in 1897. In 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out, and the strategic use of the naval base at Pearl Harbor during the war convinced Congress to approve formal annexation. Two years later, Hawaii was organized into a formal U.S. territory and in 1959 entered the United States as the 50th state.

READ MORE: The Hawaiian Princess Who Revived Surfing 

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

NFL's Rams announce move to St. Louis

On January 17, 1995, the Los Angeles Rams announce they are leaving Southern California after 49 years and moving to St. Louis. The team, which reportedly lost $6 million in 1994, is lured to Missouri with a package that includes a new $260 million stadium and a $15 million ...read more

NFL's Rams announce move to St. Louis

On January 17, 1995, after years of poor attendance at home games and poor on-field performance, Los Angeles Rams ownership announces the team will move to St. Louis. The relocation, which the league initially resisted, ends a 49-year run in Los Angeles for a team that is no ...read more

Ireland grants a divorce for the first time in the country's history

The Republic of Ireland legally grants a divorce for the first time following a 1995 referendum. The first divorce in Ireland, granted to a terminally ill man who wished to marry his new partner, was a harbinger of the decline of the Catholic Church’s power over the Republic. The ...read more

The execution of Gary Gilmore

Gary Gilmore, convicted in a double murder, is shot to death by a firing squad in Utah, becoming the first person to be executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, in violation of the eighth Amendment ...read more

H-bomb lost in Spain

B-52 bomber collides with a KC-135 jet tanker over Spain’s Mediterranean coast, dropping three 70-kiloton hydrogen bombs near the town of Palomares and one in the sea. It was not the first or last accident involving American nuclear bombs. As a means of maintaining first-strike ...read more

Boston thieves pull off historic robbery

On January 17, 1950, 11 men steal more than $2 million ($29 million today) from the Brink's Armored Car depot in Boston, Massachusetts. It was the perfect crime—almost—as the culprits weren’t caught until January 1956, just days before the statute of limitations for the theft ...read more

Soviets capture Warsaw

Soviet troops liberate the Polish capital from German occupation. Warsaw was a battleground since the opening day of fighting in the European theater. Germany declared war by launching an air raid on September 1, 1939, and followed up with a siege that killed tens of thousands of ...read more

President Nixon threatens President Thieu

President Richard Nixon warns South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu in a private letter that his refusal to sign any negotiated peace agreement would render it impossible for the United States to continue assistance to South Vietnam. Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry ...read more

PGA is formed

On January 17, 1916, a group of golf professionals and several leading amateur golfers gather at the Taplow Club in New York City, in a meeting that will result in the founding of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA). The lunch meeting occurred at the invitation of Rodman ...read more

Paula Jones accuses Bill Clinton of sexual harassment

Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state clerk, files suit against President Bill Clinton in the federal court in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Janua 1994, asking for $700,000 in damages. Jones claimed that Clinton, while governor of Arkansas, sexually harassed her and then defamed her ...read more

President Eisenhower warns of military-industrial complex

On January 17, 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower ends his presidential term by warning the nation about the increasing power of the military-industrial complex. His remarks, issued during a televised farewell address to the American people, were particularly significant since Ike had ...read more

NBC greenlights “The Monkees”

The inspiration came from the Beatles, the financing came from Screen Gems, the music came from Don Kirshner and the stars came from an exhaustive audition process that began with this ad in Daily Variety in September 1965: Madness! Auditions For Acting Roles in New TV Series ...read more

English author Anne Brontë is born

On January 17, 1820, Anne Brontë, the youngest of the six Brontë children, is born in Yorkshire, England. Their mother died when Anne was still an infant, and the children were left largely to their own devices in the bleak parsonage in Haworth, a remote village in Yorkshire, ...read more

Earthquake rocks Los Angeles

On January 17, 1994, an earthquake rocks Los Angeles, California, killing 54 people and causing billions of dollars in damages. The Northridge quake (named after the San Fernando Valley community near the epicenter) was one of the most damaging in U.S. history. It was 4:31 a.m. ...read more

Heavy rain traps Union Army

On January 17, 1865, Union General William T. Sherman’s army is rained in at Savannah, Georgia, as it waits to begin marching into the Carolinas. In the fall of 1864, Sherman and his army marched across Georgia and destroyed nearly everything in their path. Sherman reasoned that ...read more

Corvette unveiled at GM Motorama

On January 17, 1953, a prototype Chevrolet Corvette sports car makes its debut at General Motors’ (GM) Motorama auto show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Corvette, named for a fast type of naval warship, would eventually become an iconic American muscle car and ...read more

Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina

Relying upon strategic creativity, Brigadier General Daniel Morgan and a mixed Patriot force rout British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton and a group of Redcoats and Loyalists at the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781. Commander in chief of the Southern Army, Major ...read more

Winston Churchill hears speech on the tragedy of war

Winston Churchill, beginning his service as a battalion commander on the Western Front, attends a lecture on the Battle of Loos given by his friend, Colonel Tom Holland, in the Belgian town of Hazebrouck. The Battle of Loos, which took place in September 1915, resulted in ...read more