Hawaiian Independence Day 

Hawaii #H74 pictures Hawaii’s Coat of Arms.

On November 28, 1843, France and the United Kingdom officially recognized Hawaii as an independent Kingdom.

After the death of King Kamehameha in 1819, his wife, newly converted Protestant Queen regent Ka’ahumanu, outlawed Catholicism in Hawaii. French Catholic priests were deported and native Hawaiian Catholic converts were arrested. They were later freed when they rejected Catholicism.

Hawaii #H9 pictures Kamehameha III.

Then in 1839, the French government sent captain Cyrille Pierre Théodore Laplace to Hawaii. Laplace was ordered to threaten King Kamehameha III with war if he didn’t issue the Edict of Toleration. This decree called for the creation of the Hawaiian Catholic Church and the king also had to pay $20,000 in compensation to the French government. The Catholic missionaries were then allowed to return to Hawaii and were given land to build a church.

U.S. #815 from the Prexies series.

This incident, known as the Laplace Affair, made King Kamehameha III worry about future foreign intrusions. He decided to send diplomats to the U.S. and Europe to get official recognition of Hawaii’s independence. The diplomats left in mid-1842 and by December of that year, U.S. President John Tyler assured them that the U.S. would recognize their independence.

Hawaii #H78 is the only stamp to bear the name “Republic of Hawaii.”

It took a bit longer for the British and French to recognize their independence. The first meeting with the British was unsuccessful, but after the delegation traveled to Belgium, that nations king promised to use his influence to help their cause. In March and April 1843, French and British representatives said their respective leaders would acknowledge Hawaii’s independence. However, during this time a British naval captain landed in Hawaii and occupied it for five months in the name of Queen Victoria. On July 31, 1843, King Kamehameha III was restored to power.

On November 28, 1843, British, and French representatives met at the Court of London to sign the Anglo-French Proclamation, formally recognizing Hawaii’s independence. Despite President Tyler’s earlier assurance, the U.S. didn’t sign the proclamation because it needed to be ratified by the U.S. Senate. However, in 1846 Tyler’s Secretary of State John C. Calhoun sent Hawaii a formal recognition of its independence.

U.S. #C55 was issued on the day Hawaii became a U.S. state in 1959.

In the years since, November 28 came to be known as Lā Kūʻokoʻa, or Hawaiian Independence Day. It is still celebrated today, particularly among native Hawaiians.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. Sad to know that the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom was not respected by the US government before the islands were forcibly annexed in 1898. There needs to be a follow-up after an apology was made to the native Hawaiians several years ago.

  2. Interesting that the recognition of Hawaii, was the result of religious toleration, better said ‘LACK THERE OF’. Thank you Mr Hans M. Frankfort.
    It just goes to show that every country no matter how Christian and Democratic it may consider itself, has its share of force regarding racial superiority.

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