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Hawaii’s history is filled with twists and turns, from its origins as an independent kingdom to its eventual statehood as the 50th state to join the United States.

One of the most pivotal events in Hawaii’s history was its annexation by the United States in 1898, but how much did this tropical paradise cost? Read on to find out the full story behind Hawaii’s purchase price and the events leading up to it.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The United States officially annexed Hawaii in 1898 after supporting an overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and provisional government in 1893.

Hawaii was not formally purchased by the U.S. but the expropriated 1.8 million acres of former Crown Lands were valued at around $4 million at the time.

The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy

A Kings Crown and the Crown of Thorns

The Kingdom of Hawaii, a sovereign nation in the Pacific, existed from 1810 until its overthrow in 1893.

During this time, Hawaii enjoyed diplomatic recognition from major world powers and had a thriving economy based on the export of sugar and other agricultural products.

However, tensions began to rise between the Hawaiian monarchy and American business interests in the late 19th century.

Also Read: A Comprehensive History Of The Rulers Of Hawaii 

Tensions with American Business Interests

As American businesses sought to expand their presence in Hawaii, conflicts arose with the Hawaiian monarchy.

American sugar planters, for example, began to acquire large landholdings in Hawaii and exerted significant influence over the local government.

This led to growing resentment among native Hawaiians, who felt marginalized and exploited by these economic interests.

Furthermore, the establishment of the Reciprocity Treaty in 1875 between the Kingdom of Hawaii and the United States further strengthened American influence in the islands.

The treaty, which allowed duty-free export of Hawaiian sugar to the US, benefited American sugar planters but had negative consequences for the Hawaiian economy and sovereignty.

The 1887 Bayonet Constitution

In response to mounting pressure from American interests, a group of Hawaiian businessmen and politicians, supported by the US Minister to Hawaii, forced King Kalakaua to sign the 1887 Bayonet Constitution.

This constitution significantly curtailed the power of the monarchy and effectively placed it under the control of the American-dominated legislature.

The Bayonet Constitution limited the King’s authority, empowered the legislature dominated by American businessmen, and disenfranchised many native Hawaiians.

This marked a turning point in the history of Hawaii and set the stage for the eventual overthrow of the monarchy.

The 1893 Overthrow

The final blow to the Hawaiian monarchy came in 1893 when a group of American and European businessmen, with the support of the US Minister to Hawaii and the US Marines, orchestrated a coup d’√©tat against Queen Liliuokalani.

This illegal overthrow, known as the “Bayonet Revolution,” led to the establishment of a provisional government and ultimately paved the way for Hawaii’s annexation by the United States in 1898.

Establishment of the Republic of Hawaii

The establishment of the Republic of Hawaii marked a significant turning point in the history of the Hawaiian Islands.

It was a time of political upheaval and change, as the monarchy was overthrown and a new government was formed.

The events leading up to the establishment of the Republic of Hawaii were complex and multi-faceted, involving both local Hawaiian politics and international pressures.

Declaration of the Republic

The Declaration of the Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed on July 4, 1894, by a group of American and European businessmen and politicians.

This group, known as the Committee of Safety, had orchestrated the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani and sought to establish a government that would promote their own economic and political interests.

The declaration stated that Hawaii would be a republic with Sanford Dole as its president. This marked the end of the Hawaiian monarchy and the beginning of a new era for the islands.

President Sanford Dole

Sanford Dole, the first and only president of the Republic of Hawaii, played a crucial role in shaping the new government.

Dole was a lawyer and businessman who had lived in Hawaii for many years. He was a strong advocate for the interests of the sugar planters and other business elites, and his presidency reflected this.

During his time in office, Dole focused on promoting economic growth and attracting foreign investment to the islands.

His policies favored the business community, leading to increased prosperity for some, but also exacerbating social and economic inequalities.

Liliuokalani’s Abdication

Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii, was forced to abdicate the throne in 1893 following the overthrow of the monarchy.

She initially sought to regain her power and resist the establishment of the Republic, but ultimately decided to yield in order to avoid further bloodshed and protect the well-being of her people.

Her abdication marked the end of the Hawaiian monarchy and the beginning of a new era of governance in Hawaii.

Crown Lands

One of the contentious issues surrounding the establishment of the Republic of Hawaii was the disposition of the Crown Lands. These lands had been held by the Hawaiian monarchy and were a significant source of income for the royal family.

Under the new government, the Crown Lands were transferred to the control of the Republic.

This decision caused controversy and led to legal battles that continued for many years.

Today, the legacy of the establishment of the Republic of Hawaii continues to shape the islands’ history and identity.

The events surrounding this period provide important insights into the complexities of colonization, power dynamics, and the struggle for self-determination.

Annexation of Hawaii by the United States

The annexation of Hawaii by the United States is a fascinating chapter in American history. It began with the first attempts at annexation in the late 19th century and eventually culminated in the transfer of sovereignty to the United States.

Let’s take a closer look at the key events that led to this significant event.

First Attempts at Annexation

In the late 1800s, there was a growing interest in Hawaii among American businessmen and politicians. They recognized the strategic location of the islands in the Pacific and saw the economic potential they held.

The first attempts at annexation were made during the presidency of Benjamin Harrison in the 1890s. However, these efforts were met with opposition both in Hawaii and in the United States.

William McKinley’s Presidency

It was during the presidency of William McKinley that the annexation of Hawaii gained significant momentum.

McKinley, a strong supporter of American expansionism, saw the annexation of Hawaii as a way to secure American interests in the Pacific.

With the backing of influential businessmen and politicians, McKinley successfully pushed for the annexation of Hawaii.

The Newlands Resolution of 1898

The Newlands Resolution of 1898 was the official act that led to the annexation of Hawaii.

This resolution, named after Representative Francis Newlands, authorized the transfer of sovereignty from the Republic of Hawaii to the United States.

It was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President McKinley on July 7, 1898. The Newlands Resolution solidified the annexation of Hawaii and paved the way for Hawaii to become a U.S. territory.

Transfer of Sovereignty

The transfer of sovereignty from the Republic of Hawaii to the United States took place on August 12, 1898.

A ceremony was held in Honolulu where the Hawaiian flag was lowered and the American flag was raised, symbolizing the transfer of power. From that day forward, Hawaii became an integral part of the United States.

Read more: The Meaning And History Of The Upside Down Hawaiian Flag

For more information on the annexation of Hawaii, you can visit the History Channel website.

Valuation of Expropriated Crown Lands

Crown Lands Under Kingdom Rule

During the reign of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the crown lands were held by the monarch and were considered separate from government lands.

These lands consisted of prime real estate, including vast areas of fertile land, coastal properties, and valuable resources such as forests and minerals.

The value of the crown lands was not only based on their potential for economic development but also on their cultural significance to the Hawaiian people.

Republic Seizes Crown Lands

Following the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the establishment of the Republic of Hawaii, the crown lands were expropriated by the new government.

This action was met with controversy and legal challenges, as the rightful ownership of the lands was disputed.

The Republic justified its seizure of the crown lands by asserting that they were public lands and should be made available for settlement and economic development.

Estimates of the Crown Lands’ Worth

Various estimates have been made regarding the value of the expropriated crown lands. According to historical records, the total area of the crown lands amounted to approximately 1.8 million acres.

Valuing these lands is complex due to factors such as location, potential use, and market conditions at the time. While there is no definitive figure, experts suggest that the worth of the crown lands in today’s market could be in the billions of dollars.

One study conducted by the University of Hawaii estimated that the value of the crown lands, if managed sustainably, could generate over $200 million annually in revenue. This figure takes into account various factors such as tourism, agriculture, and renewable energy projects.

Payments to Liliuokalani

As part of the settlement between the United States government and the overthrown Queen Liliuokalani, a sum of $200,000 was offered as compensation for the loss of the crown lands.

However, Liliuokalani refused to accept this payment, stating that it did not adequately compensate for the value and significance of the expropriated lands.

It is worth noting that the issue of the crown lands and their valuation continues to be a topic of discussion and debate in Hawaii.

Efforts have been made to reconcile the past injustices and find a fair resolution for the Hawaiian people.

Read more: Who Did The US Buy Hawaii From?

Hawaii’s Road to Statehood

flags in a windy beachfront scene with palm trees. Hawaii State Flag features an union jack.

Hawaii’s journey to becoming the 50th state of the United States was a complex and significant one. Let’s explore the key milestones and events that paved the way for Hawaii’s statehood.

Territorial Status

In 1898, Hawaii became a territory of the United States following the annexation of the islands. Prior to this, Hawaii had a unique history as a kingdom and later a republic.

The annexation marked a turning point in Hawaii’s relationship with the United States, as it became subject to U.S. federal law and administration.

During the territorial period, Hawaii experienced rapid economic growth, primarily driven by the sugar industry.

The islands’ strategic location in the Pacific also made them important for military purposes, especially during World War II.

Statehood Campaigns and Votes

The road to statehood was not without its challenges. In the early 20th century, there were various campaigns and debates surrounding Hawaii’s status. Some argued for statehood, while others advocated for independence or continued territorial status.

One major milestone in the statehood movement was the passage of the Hawaii Admission Act in 1959. This act provided for a referendum in which Hawaii residents could vote on whether they wanted the islands to become a state.

The referendum took place on June 27, 1959, and the majority of voters supported statehood.

It’s worth noting that the question of statehood was not without controversy, as there were concerns about the impact on Native Hawaiians and the potential loss of cultural identity.

However, the majority of residents saw statehood as an opportunity for economic growth and increased political representation.

Hawaii Admitted as 50th State in 1959

On August 21, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the proclamation admitting Hawaii as the 50th state of the United States. This marked the culmination of decades of efforts to achieve statehood.

With its unique blend of cultures, stunning landscapes, and rich history, Hawaii has since become a beloved destination for tourists from around the world.

It also plays an important role in U.S. politics, with its two senators and representation in the House of Representatives.

If you want to learn more about Hawaii’s road to statehood, you can visit the National Park Service website for additional information.

Read more: Was The Annexation Of Hawaii Justified?


In the end, placing an exact dollar value on Hawaii’s annexation by the United States is difficult due to the complex circumstances surrounding its overthrow as a kingdom and transition to a territory.

While Hawaii was not directly purchased like the Louisiana Purchase or Alaska Purchase, the seizure of 1.8 million acres of valuable former Crown Lands enriched the territorial government.

Estimates placed the worth of the lands at around $4 million at the end of the 19th century.

The legacy of Hawaii’s loss of sovereignty continues to echo to this day, as arguments for native self-determination and indigenous rights follow Hawaii on its unique path from island kingdom to American state.

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