By Shaun Ivory
With the destiny of a kingdom at stake, Princess Ka’iulani, heir to the Hawaiian crown, entered the the White House in Washington, D.C. She was on a sensitive diplomatic mission. It was 1893, a momentous year for all Hawaiians.
While her audience with America’s 24th president was brief and cordial, her goal was to advance the cause of Hawaii and her future throne. Prior to her trip she had issued an eloquent and emotional appeal: “Four years ago, at the request of Mr Thurston, then the Hawaiian Cabinet Minister, I was sent away to England to be educated privately and fitted to the position which by the constitution of Hawaii I was to inherit. For all these years I have been waiting and in exile… Have I done anything wrong, that this should be done to me and my people? I am coming to Washington to plead for my throne, my nation, and my flag. Will not the great American people hear me?”
Grover Cleveland, one of the most pragmatic of America’s presidents could not fail to be moved and promised to take her case to Congress, demanding that they honour the legitimate Hawaiian monarchy and refuse to legitimise the January 17th, 1893 coup led by a cartel of powerful American businessmen attempting to annexe the Hawaiian islands.
A decision by Congress would determine her fate and that of Hawaii.