World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii

Article Id: WHEBN0001755442
Reproduction Date:

Title: 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Kingdom of Hawaii, Wilcox rebellion of 1889, Elias Abraham Rosenberg, Walter M. Gibson, Hawaii
Collection: 1880S Coups D'État and Coup Attempts, 1887 in Hawaii, 1887 in Law, Hawaii State Constitutions, Kingdom of Hawaii, Military Coups in the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii

King David Kalākaua (left) signed the 1887 Constitution under threat of force; Lorrin A. Thurston (right) was one of its writers.

The 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii was a legal document by anti-monarchists to strip the Hawaiian monarchy of much of its authority, initiating a transfer of power to American, European and native Hawaiian elites. It became known as the Bayonet Constitution for the use of intimidation by the armed militia which forced King Kalākaua to sign it or be deposed.[1][2] The document denied the King most of his personal authority, empowering the legislature and cabinet of the government.These anti-monarchists, known as the Hawaiian League, were mainly white males of American origin, and they quickly appointed themselves as government officials, providing themselves with almost complete control of the government.[3]


  • Rebellion of 1887 1
  • Provisions 2
  • Native response 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6

Rebellion of 1887

On June 30, 1887 a meeting of residents including the armed militia of the [5] The Hawaiian League and Americans controlled a vast majority of the Kingdom of Hawaii’s wealth. Lorrin A. Thurston, the main instigator of the subsequent overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, prepared a list of demands to the king. The meeting also insisted a new constitution be written.

On the next morning, July 1, 1887, a shipment of arms was discovered from a neutral Australian ship (although later found to be smooth-bore hunting guns used to scare bird from farmers' fields). The Honolulu Rifles took control and arrested and almost hanged Gibson.[6] Kalākaua called in

  • 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii (scanned images)
  • 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii (Full text, with access to the English translation, and other resources)

External links

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ (subscription required)
  4. ^ Pat Pitzer. "The Overthrow of the Monarchy." Spirit of Aloha, 1994, 2 Accessed January 27, 2015. http://www,
  5. ^ a b c Lorrin A. Thurston, and Andrew Farrell. Memoirs of the Hawaiian Revolution. Honolulu: Advertiser Publishing, 1936.
  6. ^ Sanford B. Dole, and Andrew Farrell. Memoirs of the Hawaiian Revolution. Honolulu: Advertiser Publishing, 1936.;view=1up;seq=9.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b Queen of Hawaii, Liliuokalani. Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1898,
  10. ^ a b Constitution of the Hawaiian Islands, Signed by His Majesty Kalakaua, July 6 and promulgated July 7, 1887. Hawaiian Gazette (Honolulu, HI), 1887.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Buescher, John. "What Happened to the Royal Family of Hawaii After the U.S. Took Over?", accessed 1 October 2011.
  13. ^ James H Blount, Report of U.S. Special Commissioner James H. Blount to U.S. Secretary of State Walter Q. Gresham Concerning the Hawaiian Kingdom Investigation. Honolulu, HI. July 17, 1893.


Immediately after the adoption of the Bayonet Constitution, the native population of the Kingdom of Hawaii sought to restore King Kalakaua’s power and authority. A committee of Hawaiians met with Kalakaua to discuss dismantling the constitution because the King signed it under duress. According to Thurston, Kalakaua even defended the constitution to protesting natives, Queen Liliuokalani affirms that he was threatened with violence should he attempt to undo the new constitution. She also lists several petitions from natives that pleaded for a new constitution. Out of 9,500 registered voters, 6,500 signed these petitions. Since the majority of the population supported a new constitution, Queen Liliuokalani proposed one in January 1893. In response the Hawaiian League overthrew her monarchy and took control of the country.[5] [9]

Native response

The 1864 constitution required that voters generate annual income of at least US$75 (equivalent to $1131 in 2016) U.S. dollars, or own private property worth at least US$150 (equivalent to $2262 in 2016). The wealth requirements were removed during the short reign of Lunalilo in 1874.[2] This change extended voter eligibility to many more Hawaiians, and was kept for the lower house of representatives. However, the 1887 constitution required an income of US$600 (equivalent to $15749 in 2016) or taxable property of US$3000 (equivalent to $78744 in 2016) to vote for the upper house (or serve in it). This excluded an estimated two thirds of the Hawaiian population. Essentially, only white males, wealthy from the sugar industry, retained suffrage with the Bayonet Constitution. Allocating the government’s power to the Cabinet, then promptly appointing themselves to the Cabinet, and securing the disenfranchisement of their opposition, the Hawaiian League seized complete control over the Kingdom of Hawaii. The Bayonet Constitution was the first great implement in the downfall of the monarchy.[13]

The 1887 constitution made significant changes to voting requirements. It allowed foreign resident aliens to vote, not just naturalized citizens. Asians, including subjects who previously enjoyed the right to vote, were specifically denied suffrage. Only Hawaiian, American, and European males were granted full voting rights if they met the economic and literacy thresholds.[12]

The 1887 constitution replaced the previous absolute veto allowed to the king to one that two-thirds of the [10][11]


Kalākaua signed the document July 6, 1887, despite arguments over the scope of the changes. It stripped the King of most of his personal authority, empowering the legislature and cabinet of the government. It has since become widely known as the "Bayonet Constitution" because of the threat of force used to gain Kalākaua's cooperation. While Thurston and Dole denied this use of coercion and threats, Queen Liliuokalani asserted that Kalakaua’s life was threatened, and that “He signed that constitution under absolute compulsion.” The new constitution was never ratified in the Hawaiian Kingdom's legislature.[1][9]

Over less than a week, the new constitution was drafted by a group of lawyers including Thurston, Dole, Edward Griffin Hitchcock. All were also associated with the Hawaiian League, which expressed its purpose of ending the Kingdom and annexation by the United States since its inception.[1]

[8] was nominally head of the cabinet as minister of finance. Gibson was later exiled to San Francisco.William Lowthian Green Thurston then became the powerful interior minister, although Englishman :363–364[7]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.