Date of this Version
Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, Vol. 5. No. I-January 2007 ISSN: 1541-6224
In 1982, a bronze statue of Hawaii's last monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, was placed on the state capital grounds in Honolulu. The dedication brochure created for the event, describes Liliuokalani as the "Polynesian chief tess of olden times, in whom centuries of tradition had bred a belief in the sacred bond between a people and their land; the strong-willed, well-educated Victorian monarch who valiantly defended her inherited sovereignty and made it her overriding duty to safeguard and preserve Hawaiian independence." Liliuokalani was born in Hawaii in 1838 into the family of a high chief. She attended the Royal School, run by American missionaries and received a high quality education and learned to love music, writing and politics. Liliuokalani was given the Christian name "Lydia" as a child. Her brother, Kalakua reigned as king in the late 1800's. During his leadership, Kalakua gave governing power to a cabinet composed of non-Hawaiian members. To Liliuokalani's dismay, this cabinet had succeeded in passing a constitution that gave voting rights to foreign residents but denied the vote to most Hawaiian natives. When Kalakua died in 1891, Liliuokalani inherited the throne and became the Queen of Hawaii. During her reign, Liliuokalani was determined to restore the power and authority of the crown and saw it as her mission to preserve the islands for the native residents. Many American missionaries and businesspeople had settled in Hawaii during the nineteenth century and as their population grew, they tried to weaken the monarchy and gain political power. Although beloved by the native Hawaiians, the new queen had several factors working against her, including an economy severely damaged by tariffs on Hawaii's sugar industry. The American media at this time was highly political and religious and humiliated the native Hawaiians and Queen Liliuokalani and depicted them as barefoot, uncivilized savages. At various times in her life, Liliuokalani was accused of sorcery, adultery, promiscuity and treason.