Which U.S. state was once a monarchy?
And the answer: Hawai'i.      
Photo credit: public domain. 

Hawaii was a monarchy until 1893 when it was overthrown. Queen Lili‘uokalani was both the first sovereign queen and the last monarch of Hawaii. She would go on to devote her life to preserving native Hawaiian rights and traditions. She composed over 150 songs including Aloha ‘Oe, a national anthem of Hawaii.

Hawai'i is an island nation with roots dating back to as early as 300 AD. Polynesians coming from Aoetreoa and Rapa Nui made their way over the massive expanse of the Pacific Ocean to Hawai'i in two major waves of migration: the first being somewhere around 300-600 AD, and the second around the 11th-13th century. While records of exact movement are scant, Hawai'i's deep roots in storytelling mean that the details of performances and other rituals have been kept in pristine condition over the centuries.

Although ancient Hawai'i did not possess a single, overarching political structure, there was a consistent hierarchy that persisted across the various islands. Chiefs and priests presided over farmers and fishermen, and a strict social code informed interaction between classes as well as men and women. Generally speaking, Hawaiians lived in small communities ruled by chieftains who battled one another for territory.

In 1778, Captain Cook of the British Empire was the first European to make contact with Hawai'i. After circumnavigating the globe, Cook and his ship touched down on Hawaiian islands to a less-than-warm welcome— naturally, cultural and linguistic differences chafed between the colonist and native Hawaiians, and Cook was ultimately killed after shooting a local king. Ensuing interactions between Europeans and Hawaiians proved to be slightly less tense, and soon European monarchs realized the wealth that lay in the waters around Hawai'i. The island nations became a major trading hub in the Pacific, as it was located between Asia and the Americas.

Learn more about the history of Hawai'i here.


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