A Brief History of Hawaii
Could you imagine traveling the sea in canoes, with nothing more than the stars guiding you? That's exactly how the Polynesians traveled from the Marquesas Islands to land on Hawaii's Big Island over 1500 years ago. Surely, it wasn't an easy journey. In fact, the trip between the Marquesas Islands to Hawaii's Big Island would have been over an amazing 2000 miles.
Around 500 years later, Tahiti natives landed in Hawaii. This brought the introduction of gods and demi-gods, leading to a stickler of a social hierarchy system that was constructed around a taboo system… technically called a "kapu" system. Captain James Cook landed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in January of 1778. He gave the islands the name Sandwhich Islands. This was to honor John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwhich. However, this name dissolved shortly after, because Captain James Cook opened Hawaii to the West, and the US began to take control of the area. He died a year later.
Westerners had settled into the land by 1790, and the way of life in Hawaii began to drastically change by the 18th century. Unfortunately, alcoholism and contagious disease were running rampant among the natives.
The Hawaiian Islands were unified into a royal kingdom in 1810 after Kamehameha brought the warring factions of the time together. However, he died just short of seeing the kapu system come to an end. His son, Liholiho abolished it less than a year from his father dying. So what was going to fill this gap?
Around 1819 or 1820, American missionaries found their way to the Hawaiian Islands. They were able to produce change by bringing their lifestyle and religion to those who lived there. The Hawaiian people began to learn of their sinful ways and make a change to live like the Protestant missionaries did. By 1898 Hawaii was annexed by the U.S.
As the 19th century approached and began to pass, Hawaii was home to seaman, whalers, and traders. Foreign whaling ships were often found in ports around Honolulu and Lahaina; their presence and influence put the native culture at risk of extinction. This was a time of great growth and change. However, the natives of Hawaii paid dearly by falling prey to western diseases that were brought to the islands. By 1893, the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown by the American Colonists that had controlled the economy so much. It was a peaceful take-over, but controversial at the same time. Hawaii was to become a territory of the U.S. in 1898.
During the 20th century, Hawaii's economy became sustained by pineapple and sugar plantations. This led to Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and Filipino immigrants filling in the Hawaiian population. Then, on December 7, 1941 a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was successfully carried out by Japan…leading to the U.S joining World War II. The Japanese surrender unconditionally on September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Battleship Missouri. The battleship is still found in Pearl Harbor.
Hawaiian residents repeatedly called out for official statehood. However, the Japanese that were there partially made that a challenge. They were finally given their wish, though, and Hawaii becomes the 50th state of the U.S. in 1959. Since then, plantation declined, and tourism quickly became the foremost industry.
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