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LETTER: July 4 Is a Triple Holiday for Hawai‘i, Celebrating 1776, 1894, 1960

July 4, 2019, 9:00 AM HST (Updated July 3, 2019, 10:07 AM)
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July 4 is a triple holiday for Hawaii, celebrating 1776, 1894, 1960.

July 4, 1776 marked the creation of the United States through publication of the Declaration of Independence. Hawaii proudly celebrates that date as part of our heritage because Hawaii joined the union.

July 4, 1894 marked the creation of the Republic of Hawaii through publication of its Constitution. At least five delegates to the Constitutional Convention were native Hawaiians; the Constitution was published in both English and Hawaiian; the Speaker of the House was former royalist John Kaulukou.

July 4, 1960 marked the date when the U.S. flag with 50 stars was first officially displayed, by being raised at 12:01 AM at the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland (where Francis Scott Key had written “The Star Spangled Banner”). Hawaii had become the 50th State in 1959; and the tradition is that the next July 4 after a new State is admitted shall be the date for official display of the new flag.

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Let’s remember what Hawaii was like on America’s birthdate in 1776. Captain Cook had not yet arrived. Hawaiians were living in the stone age. They had not yet invented the wheel, had no written language, and no pottery. They had only extremely small amounts of metal that washed up in driftwood from sunken ships. There was constant warfare among competing warlords. There was no concept of human rights — both slavery and human sacrifice were “normal.” The death penalty was imposed on anyone who stepped on the shadow of a high chief, or any woman who ate a banana or coconut (because they embody the gods of masculinity).

Things had functioned that way for a thousand years and would have remained unchanged except for the arrival of British explorers in 1778, followed by European and American whalers and businessmen, and then American missionaries in 1820. In a triumph of cultural appropriation, Hawaiians eagerly embraced reading and writing, Christian religion, human rights, private property rights, a market economy, the rule of law, etc. In 1893 a revolution led by a local militia with 1500 members put an end to a corrupt and ineffective monarchy, replacing it with a republic in 1894.

Thus we Hawaiians celebrate a triple holiday on July 4, for 1776 (U.S. independence) 1894 (Republic of Hawaii), and 1960 (50th star added to U.S. flag). Unfortunately most citizens today don’t know why the Republic’s creation was an important step on the path toward joining the United States.

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The Republic was internationally recognized as the lawful legitimate government of Hawaii. Formal letters of recognition were rediscovered in our state archives during February and March, 2008. They had been sent to President Sanford Dole in the Fall of 1894, personally signed by Emperors, Kings, Queens, and Presidents of at least 20 nations, on four continents, in eleven languages. Photographs of the originals, along with Liliuokalani’s letter of abdication and oath of loyalty to the Republic, are on a webpage you can reach by copy/pasting the following line of 4 words into your browser or google:
letters recognize hawaii republic

Thus Hawaii continued as an independent nation for 5 more years, whose internationally recognized government was no longer the Kingdom but the Republic.

Queen Victoria’s gracious letter recognizing the Republic, calling Sanford Dole her “friend”, was especially significant because of Britain’s long and close relationship with the Hawaiian monarchy. Princess Liliuokalani had attended Victoria’s coronation. Victoria was godmother to Queen Emma’s baby Prince Albert. Emma herself was granddaughter of British sailor John Young, without whom Kamehameha could not have succeeded in unifying Hawaii. Young’s bones are the oldest in Mauna Ala, the Royal Mausoleum, where his tomb, built to resemble a miniature heiau, is protected with a pair of sacred puloulou (kapu sticks). Queen Victoria knew the Hawaiian monarchy was finished, and did her duty as head of her nation by switching her diplomatic recognition to the Republic.

For further details, copy/paste the following line of 6 words into your browser or google:
july 4 hawaii triple holiday angelfire

Letters, commentaries and opinion pieces are not edited by Big Island Now.

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