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Biographies Unit Biographies

Liliuokalani, Lydia Kamekeha 1838–1917
Queen of Hawaii

Lydia Kamekeha Liliuokalani (luh lee uh oh kuh LAH nee) was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the time, Hawaii was a country. Liliuokalani was a member of Hawaii's “chief class” and her parents were local rulers. Growing up, she was interested in learning. At school she studied music, math, and English, which was a new language in the islands. In her 20s, she persuaded Oahu (oo WAH who) College, which did not admit women, to accept her as a student.

As an adult, Liliuokalani wanted to help native Hawaiians. She adopted children and set up an educational society for women.

Liliuokalani became queen of Hawaii in 1891. At the time, there was much conflict between the wealthy American plantation owners who lived there and native Hawaiians, who had been there for thousands of years. As queen, Liliuokalani tried to rescue her kingdom from the plantation owners who were taking land and power. She drew up a new constitution restoring the voting rights that had been taken away from Hawaiians. But in 1893, American soldiers forced her from the palace at gunpoint. A government of American businessmen took power. Five years later, Hawaii was annexed by the United States. Although no longer the ruler of Hawaii, Liliuokalani continued to help native Hawaiians. She formed the Liliuokalani Trust to help Hawaiian children who were orphaned or needy.

Throughout her life, Liliuokalani valued her Hawaiian roots. She had a deep love of the Hawaiian people, their history, music, and dance. She wrote over 200 Hawaiian songs, including the Hawaiian National Anthem and Aloha Oe (Farewell to Thee).

Comprehension Check

Why was Liliuokalani forced to give up control of Hawaii?

Critical Thinking

What character trait would you use to describe Queen Liliuokalani? Explain your answer.