by Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D., Thanksgiving 2021
Giving thanks that the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown and the successor Republic of Hawaii was internationally recognized as the rightful government (therefore authorized under international law to speak for the nation of Hawaii and to offer the Treaty of Annexation to the United States).

Once again this year Hawaiian secessionists are celebrating Ka La Ku’oko’a, the Independence Day holiday of the bygone Kingdom of Hawaii. It’s their way to claim that Hawaii remains an independent nation, and to seek to restore actual independence through political action in Hawaii, in the U.S., and in the United Nations.

Let’s see what all the fuss is about.

November 28 was an annual holiday of the Kingdom of Hawaii called La Ku’oko’a, which means Independence Day. It commemorated the date in 1843 when a diplomat from France and a diplomat from Britain signed a document pledging to each other that neither France nor Britain would take possession of the Hawaiian islands, because the islands had their own government capable of handling their own relations with other nations. Two identical copies of the agreement were written in side-by-side English and French; and each diplomat took one of them.

The agreement happened because a team of three men were authorized by King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III to speak on behalf of Hawaii to government officials in France and Britain to seek recognition of Hawaii’s sovereign independence. The three men were the American missionary William Richards, age 50, one of the King’s closest advisors who composed the Kingdom’s first Constitution which the King had signed earlier in 1843; Sir George Simpson, age 56, Scottish/Quebec businessman and colonial Governor of the Hudson Bay Company of fur traders; and Timoteo Ha’alilio, a 35-year-old native Hawaiian ali’i who served as the King’s secretary.

The agreement says, in its entirety: “Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and His Majesty the King of the French, taking into consideration the existence in the Sandwich Islands of a government capable of providing for the regularity of its relations with foreign nations, have thought it right to engage, reciprocally, to consider the Sandwich Islands as an Independent State, and never to take possession, neither directly or under the title of Protectorate, or under any other form, of any part of the territory of which they are composed.”

This agreement was a mutual non-aggression pact between Britain and France where they promised to each other that neither one of them would try to take over Hawaii. It was not a treaty with Hawaii, was not addressed to Hawaii, was not signed by Hawaii, and was written only in English and French but not in Hawaiian. It was only Britain and France talking with each other ABOUT Hawaii, and was signed only by one low-level diplomat from France and one from Britain.

In 1893, after the monarchy had been overthrown, the temporary revolutionary Provisional Government of Hawaii was given de facto (temporary) recognition within two days by the local consuls of all the nations which had consulates in Honolulu, until such time as a permanent government of Hawaii could be created and could then receive de jure (full-fledged) recognition from their home governments. When the permanent Republic of Hawaii was created through a Constitutional Convention and election of President and Legislature, then during the next several months letters in 11 languages were received in Honolulu, directly addressed to President Sanford Dole, personally signed by Emperors, Kings, Queens, and Presidents of at least 19 nations on 4 continents officially recognizing the Republic as the rightful successor government of the still-independent nation of Hawaii. Photos of those letters, and some accompanying English translations of them and accompanying diplomatic letters and envelopes, are at

As always happens when a nation’s government changes, whether by monarchial inheritance or by election or by revolution, the successor government’s legitimacy and right to speak for the nation replaces the authority of the previous government; and is confirmed under international law by the formal diplomatic recognition given to it by the heads of the other nations in the family of nations. Thus the Republic of Hawaii had the right to offer the Treaty of Annexation to the United States, including the provisions that ceded Hawaii’s public lands to be held in trust for Hawaii’s people by the U.S. and provisions that nullified previous treaties that had been made by the Kingdom with other nations.

Hawaiian sovereignty activists like to imagine that the Kingdom of Hawaii remains alive today as the rightful government, ignoring the revolution of 1893. They revive the celebration of the independence day holiday of the Kingdom period as a way of asserting their imaginary continuing independence and demanding future secession and reparations from the United States. They tout the signatures of two low-level diplomats from Britain and France, talking only in their own languages and only to each other while not addressed to anyone in Hawaii, as though that non-aggression pact is somehow as powerful as the letters of formal diplomatic recognition in eleven languages addressed directly to Republic of Hawaii President Sanford Dole by Emperors, Kings, Queens and Presidents of at least 19 nations on four continents.

If you see news reports about Hawaiian Independence Day, and you want to write a comment in a place that does not allow internet links, include these two lines:
Copy/paste the following line into Google:
letters recognize Republic Hawaii