Brief history of Hawaii summarized
A look at Hawaii’s brief history in a nutshell.
The Hawaiian Principles
The first humans arrived in Hawaii from the Marquesas Islands around 300 AD. The people of Tahiti arrived in Hawaii after 1100 AD. Then, in 1778, Captain Cook set sail for Hawaii. Cook was assassinated in Hawaii the following year.
Then, in 1786, a Frenchman named La Perouse set sail for Hawaii. The Europeans introduced diseases to which the natives had no resistance, and their numbers dropped dramatically in the following decades.
Meanwhile, in 1810 a chief named Kamehameha united the Hawaiian Islands into a single kingdom. Then in 1820 the first missionaries came to Hawaii from the United States. Many whalers also visited Hawaii. In 1848 Hawaiian law was changed to allow foreigners to own land.
Large sugar plantations were then established and foreign labor was brought in to work on them, including many Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Portuguese workers. In 1893 the Queen of Hawaii was overthrown in a coup and in 1898 she was annexed by the United States. It became the territory of Hawaii on June 14, 1900.
In 1900, Hawaii’s population was only 154,000, but it grew rapidly. By 1950 Hawaii’s population had grown to nearly 500,000. In the early 20th century, Hawaii’s economy was dominated by pineapple and sugar plantations. Then on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor causing catastrophic damage.
Hawaii was under martial law until the end of World War II. In 1949, longshoremen in Hawaii went on strike for 177 days. Then, in 1954, the Democrats won a landslide election. Finally in 1959 Hawaii joined the union as the 50th state.
Since the late 1950s, air travel has made Hawaii a popular tourist destination. However, the last sugar plantation closed in 1992. In 2017 Hawaii’s population was 1.4 million.
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