Victoria Ka’iulani, heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii, fought to restore her nation’s independence after the overthrown of the monarchy on January 17, 1893. She traveled the States, arguing against annexation. She met with President Grover Cleveland, who was impressed with her and brought her case before the Congress.
“Seventy years ago, Christian America sent over Christian men and women to give religion and civilization to Hawaii. Today, three of the sons of those missionaries are at your capitol asking you to undo their father’s work. Who sent them? Who gave them the authority to break the Constitution which they swore they would uphold? Today, I, a poor weak girl with not one of my people with me and all these ‘Hawaiian’ statesmen against me, have strength to stand up for the rights of my people. Even now I can hear their wail in my heart and it gives me strength and courage and I am strong – strong in the faith of God, strong in the knowledge that I am right, strong in the strength of seventy million people who in this free land will hear my cry and will refuse to let their flag cover dishonor to mine!”
Despite her efforts, in 1894 the Republic of Hawaii was established, and on August 12, 1898 Hawaii was annexed by the United States.
“When the news of Annexation came it was bitterer than death to me,” Princess Kaʻiulani, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It was bad enough to lose the throne, but infinitely worse to have the flag go down…”
In 1898, she was caught in a storm while horseback riding, and came down with pneumonia. She died at the age of 23. Her father said that since Hawaii was gone, it was fitting for her to go as well.