The United States to the Rescue?
In 1893, local plantation owners, businessmen, and politicians in the Kingdom of Hawaii, many of whom had deep American roots, staged a coup and overtook the government. The coup was staged upon the ascension of Queen Liliuokalani to the throne. She believed Hawaii's problems stemmed from foreign interference, casting the future of the island's American-owned sugar plantations in doubt. Furthermore, Congress had raised the import taxes on sugar, causing White planters on the islands to lose money. The planters knew if Hawaii would become part of the United States, the taxes would disappear and they could ensure ownership of their plantations. The leaders of the coup easily and quickly overthrew the government and formed the Republic of Hawaii. They waited for it to be annexed by the United States.
The Annexation of Hawaii May Never Have Been Legal
In 1898, in what came to be known as the Newlands Resolution, the United States Congress approved the annexation creating the U.S. Territory of Hawaii. 61 years later it would become the 50th state. Today, the legality of the annexation is still in question. At the time, President Grover Cleveland believed the annexation of Hawaii was a blatant act of imperialism and sought to nullify the annexation. Hawaii's geographic location in the Pacific Ocean, however, proved too valuable to the United States, and the annexation stood. It was the first American acquisition procured through government resolution rather by treaty or cession.