Attempted Annexation of Hawaii

Conditions in the Hawaiian Islands were critical in the early 1890s. Sugar sales, controlled by the descendents of earlier white missionaries, had fallen on hard times because of the special protection afforded growers in the United States under the McKinley Tariff.

The economic chaos in the Islands opened the door for American diplomat John L. Stevens, a leader of the white elite. He organized a revolt against Queen Liliuokalani, who openly opposed the influence exerted by foreigners. The revolt succeeded and a treaty of annexation was negotiated with the Queen's native rivals. Benjamin Harrison, a supporter of annexation, left office in early 1893 before the Senate had had an opportunity to ratify the agreement.

Upon assuming office, Grover Cleveland reviewed the pending Hawaiian annexation and concluded that a majority of the natives did not favor the change. Acting on principle, Cleveland withdrew the treaty from Senate consideration, angering the growing body of expansionists.

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