Hawaii is probably the weirdest U.S. State, as Sarah Vowell observed when she interviewed with our Amber Taufen on Friday: The U.S. basically annexed it over the course of a summer, and even today, native Hawaiians recognize a strong loyalty to the former monarchy -- something Vowell says, as an American "with the Declaration of Independence in my heart," she can't relate to. "That form of government is basically unfair," she says.
As evidence of the complexities still at play, reader Palemano offers a rebuttal, maintaining that the Hawaiian monarchy was rooted in democratic principals -- and that in fact, the annexation still today amounts to an occupation.
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I like Sarah Vowell's works but her statement regarding Hawai`i's monarchial form of govt (..." that part of Hawaiian society was hard for me to even understand on a basic level, and not just because I have the Declaration of Independence in my heart. It's just unfair. That form of government is basically unfair") fails to recognize that Hawai`i became a Constitutional Monarchy in the mid 1800's. King Kamehameha III and his government created a Bill of Rights in 1849 and a Constitution in 1850. The content of both documents drew heavily on British and U.S. principles that would be recognized by anyone with a Declaration of Independence in her heart. In the late 1880's, the missionary offspring removed important rights from the native tenant Hawaiians through the illegal "Bayonette Constitution." One reason the missionary offspring had to depose the Queen in 1893 was her intent to restore the rights of the native tenant Hawaiians through restoration of the lawfully created Constitution.
Also, as a matter of law and fact, the U.S. was never able to successful annex Hawai`i. Journalist Tom Coffman (if I recall correctly, he headed the AP bureau in Hawaii for a number of years) recently published a revised edition of his Nation Within. With the revision, he changed the subtitle from "The History of America's Annexation of Hawai`i" to "The History of America's Occupation of Hawai`i."
Next up for statehood: Iraq?