LILIUOKALANI Biography - Royalty, Rulers & leaders


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Liliuokalani, Queen Lydia                                                           
September 2, 1838 - November 11, 1917                                               
Last Monarch and Christian Queen of Hawaii                                           
As she cried her way into the world, the little baby girl was wrapped in "the       
finest soft tapa cloth"1. She was taken at once to another home, where she would     
be raised. Her life would be greatly used by God to impact her people, and her       
struggles would be difficult. She was to be the last monarch of her nation, and     
a great Christian queen, who would one day proclaim the words of truth, "Ua Mau     
Ke Ea O Ka 'Aina I Ka Pono." 2                                                       
The day was September 2, 1838, the place, Honolulu, Hawaii. Lydia Liliuokalani       
had just been born into the prestigious family of Kapaakea and Keohokalole. Her     
father was a noblemen and her mother held the position of member of the king's       
very own advisory board. However, little Lydia was raised by another chief and       
his wife "immediately after [her] birth"3, as was a typical Hawaiian custom. At     
the age of four, Liliuokalani began her schooling at the Royal School, in which     
the students all held some right to the throne. In her autobiography, she           
describes herself as "[being] a studious girl"4 and notes her desire for "the       
acquisition of knowledge [which] has been a passion with me during my whole life,   
one which has not lost it charm to the present day."5 So, for most of her young     
life, Liluokalani remained at this boarding school under the training and care       
of the instructors there. The founders of the boarding school were faithful in       
taking the children to church every Sunday, thus this was probably the beginning     
of Liliuokalani's training in the things of the Lord.6                               
On September 16, 1862, at the age of twenty-four, Liliuokalani married John Owen     
Dominis. Liliuokalani did not have children, and some sources suggest that she       
was unhappy with the marriage.7 After his death, a short time after her             
ascension to throne, she remained unmarried.                                         
Liliuokalani's goal was to please her people, and protect their interests, and       
throughout her life she tried to make that goal a reality. In 1887, under           
pressure from Americans with economic interests in Hawaii, King Kalakaua             
submitted to a new constitution which took away much of his power. Four years       
later, Liliuokalani boldly ascended to the throne and began to rule, not             
according this new constitution, but by a new constitution which would reinforce     
the supremacy of the monarchy. By doing so, she would continue to serve her         
nation well for 12 years, until the U.S. government seized her authority over       
the country.                                                                         
She was faced with decisions. Her actions cost favor. Eventually, she lost. In       
1892, the Hawaiian islands were in an economically dire state. It was at this       
time that a secret association called the Annexation Club formed and began to       
try to take the islands from the rule of Liliuokalani. To try and solve the         
recession problem without annexation to the United States, Liliuokalani allowed     
a lottery to pay for public expenses, and tried to pass a bill to allow the         
importation of opium. This upset many, including missionaries and opium             
smugglers. Some accused Liliuokalani of "supporting gambling and intoxication"8,     
and her opponents were quick to point out that this devout Christian was             
disregarding teachings of the Bible. Through the circumstances, the public image     
of Queen Lydia Lililuokalani was lessened by her opponents.                         
On January 17, 1893, the Hawaiian government was overthrown by "by a relatively     
small group of men, most of them American by birth or heritage, who seized           
control of the Islands with the backing of American troops."9 Their purpose was     
to escape the tariffs placed on the valuable economic sugar trade. Lilioukalani     
protested, but eventually gave up in an attempt to allow both countries to           
refrain from bloodshed. She believed that in the end the U.S. would "right the       
wrong that had been done to her and the Hawaiian people."10                         
In 1895, Liliuokalani was arrested on charges of hiding a "cache of weapons"11       
in the "gardens of her home in Washington Palace."12 After her denial of the         
aforementioned charges she eventually was allowed to return to her home.             
Even after the U.S. seized Liliuokalani's power, she continued to demonstrate       
great persistence by spending much of the remainder of her life in the U.S.,         
petitioning the government, in some attempt to change what they had done.           
Through the following words, penned by the Queen herself, we see her strong         
faith in the Lord's justice prevailing, and her sorrow for the people of her         
"Oh, honest Americans, as Christians hear me for my downtrodden people! Their       
form of government is as dear to them as yours is as precious to you. Quite         
warmly as you love your country, so they love theirs. With all your goodly           
possessions, covering a territory so immense that there yet remain parts             
unexplored, possessing islands that, although new at hand, had to be neutral         
ground in time of war, do not covet the little vineyard of Naboth's, so far from     
your shores, lest the punishment of Ahab fall upon you, if not in your day, in       
that of your children, for "be not deceived, God is not mocked." The people to       
whom your fathers told of the living God, and taught to call "Father," and now       
whom the sons now seek to despoil and destroy, are crying aloud to Him in their     
time of trouble; and He will keep His promise, and will listen to the voices of     
His Hawaiian children lamenting for their homes."13                                 
The Queen is also known for her musical talents and some of her compositions are     
often associated with Hawaii today, such as "Aloha Oe."14                           
On November 11, 1917, Liluokalani died from problems from a stroke. Had this         
life, which had begun that autumn day seventy-nine years ago, been wasted? Had       
this queen been a worthless monarch who had succeeded in allowing the U.S. to       
posses the land of her people? Surely not. For as this woman ruled, she set an       
example for many to follow, simple, Christ-like character. Her impact survives       
even to this day, as Hawaii's motto still bears those words which Liliuokalani       
herself spoke, "Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka 'Aina I Ka Pono" meaning "The Life of the Land     
is Perpetuated in Righteousness."15