The first civilizing mission to Hawaii disembarked from Boston on October 23rd, 1819, and arrived on the 31st of March 1820. Most of the missionaries disembarked to the islands with the preconception that they would be dealing with idol worshipping ‘heathens’. The Captain, Blanchard, was “expecting a protracted and perilous conflict with pagan rites,human sacrifices, and bloody altars”.
At that there was very little communication between the ‘Sandwich Islands’, as the Hawaiian Islands were called then, and America. And it is certainly plausible that the members of this original mission knew nothing of Hawaii other than what they had heard from old tales by merchant ships and the unfortunate voyage of Captain Cook (Cook made the first recorded western contact with the Hawaiian Islands and was subsequently murdered before he could leave).
Beginning with the first mission, the Protestants were given almost immediate amnesty by the king, Liholiho, and a vast amount of influence among the royal class of Hawaiians. After being granted residence for one year on separate parts of the island of O’ahu, the seat of the capital and still its current location, the missionaries swiftly began teaching and proselytizing to Liholiho and his family. One of the mission’s two ministers, Asa Thurston, “had for pupils the king, his brother Kauikeaouli (afterwards the well known King Kamehameha III.), then only five years old, Kamamalu and Kinau, two of the king’s wives, and Kuakini, who soon after [he became] the governor of Hawaii; and among other lads John Ii, since one of the judges of the Supreme Courts”.
Over the next century the Native Hawaiian population dwindled and the Hawaiian monarchy was gradually decentralized. A combination of foreign influence from western diplomats and ambitious American businessmen led to the economic and social disenfranchisement of the Native Hawaiian populous. Eventually these influences led to the establishment of a Non-Hawaiian ‘republic’ in 1893, after the Queen, Lili’uokalani, was arrested by a coalition of sugar plantation owners called the Annexation Club and U.S. Marines. Many of the members of this Caucasian Annexation Club and the proceeding Republic of Hawaii were the descendants (particularly sons) of the first Protestant missions from New England. The legacy of the American Protestant Missions was a major cause for the unfair transfer of land and power away from the Hawaiian people and Kingdom, to western colonial powers.
This is the general history behind the eventual annexation of the Hawaiian Islands by the United States. Do the numerous groups calling for Hawaiian sovereignty have a case? Yes. Will these groups ever achieve their ultimate goal of a seperate nation? Highly doubtful. However, the fact remains that foreign influeses played a major role in shaping the state of the Hawaiian Islands.