The History of Hawaii

Hawaii’s long history began when the islands were first settled, by Polynesians originating either from the Marquesas Islands or from Tahiti, traveling by canoe. These settlers brought with them pigs, dogs, chicken, coconut, sugarcane, bananas, coconut, and taro, book-a-cruise each of which would profoundly impact the landscape and lifestyle in Hawaii for centuries to come.

Captain James Cook discovered Hawaii in 1778 as he was trying to find the elusive Northwest Passage, a water route that would connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans through North America. He named the chain the Sandwich Islands; news of his discovery prompted other Europeans and Americans to travel to the area, settling throughout the islands during the 1790s and 1800s. Missionaries began arriving as soon as 1820 to attempt to convert the natives to Christianity; their efforts were very successful, cruise-ship-booking and Hawaii became a primarily Christian nation within just a few decades. Due to these foreign influences, both the diet and living standards of the islanders changed drastically during this period.

Many people do not realize that for much of history, each Hawaiian island was its own distinct entity. They were not united under a single ruler until 1810, when King Kamehameha united them to form the Hawaiian Kingdom. By 1840 under King Kamehameha III, influenciveinc there was a very well-developed governmental system in place, including a constitution. In 1848, the western-style concept of land ownership allowed for private ownership of land. Before this change, known as Mahele, the islands’ land was owned in common by every resident. This move allowed the economy of Hawaii to become dominated by large pineapple and sugar plantations, while many native Hawaiians were left without their own land.

In 1843, Hawaii was briefly under British rule, though sovereignty was re-established in the same year. Still, this proved to be a sign of things to come. The Kingdom of Hawaii’s government would be challenged throughout the century. American colonists overthrew the government in 1893, smart-trove leading to Hawaii becoming a U.S. territory in 1898. This change symbolized the end of nearly two millennia of uninterrupted control by native Hawaiians of Polynesian ancestry.

Hawaii was still a U.S. territory in December of 1941, when a surprise attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, prompted the United States to enter World War II. Before the attack, few Americans had heard of Pearl Harbor, though to the U.S. Navy it held incalculable strategic importance. In the aftermath of this surprise attack, Hawaii was placed under martial law until the end of the war and exposed to unprecedented international attention. Life would never be as isolated on Hawaii as it had been before the war.

Hawaii finally became a state in 1959, after a vote showed 94 percent in favor of statehood. Despite this overwhelming majority, there has been a significant movement since that time headed by Native Hawaiians petitioning to regain Hawaiian sovereignty. In fact, even dating back to Hawaii’s addition as a U.S. territory in 1898, various political groups have advocated for self governance.


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