The Rights of My People - How the US Took Hawaii

Overview

The Rights of My People reviews Liliuokalani's decades-long campaign for the dignity and sovereignty of Hawaii, particularly in the wake of the 1893 coup d’état, and the outright annexation in 1898. The author gives the first detailed and documented description of the seizure of the Crown lands, a quarter of the Hawaii islands, in 1893. This illegal move was contested aggressively by Liliuokalani for nearly two decades.

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Overview

The Rights of My People reviews Liliuokalani's decades-long campaign for the dignity and sovereignty of Hawaii, particularly in the wake of the 1893 coup d’état, and the outright annexation in 1898. The author gives the first detailed and documented description of the seizure of the Crown lands, a quarter of the Hawaii islands, in 1893. This illegal move was contested aggressively by Liliuokalani for nearly two decades.

With previously unexamined documents, court records, and correspondence, and with an engaging prose and graphic portrayals, author Neil Thomas Proto weaves into the story  Liliuokalani’s political, legal, and media maneuvering, and the exercise of her harshly learned wisdom and skill in forming and giving life to her claim that the taking of the Crown lands by the United States was immoral and illegal. The threat of execution and assassination and the continued use of religious and racial condescension and deception by her adversaries, old and new, unfold in Honolulu, Hilo, and on to the continent in San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

Over more than a decade, the queen took up residence in the nation’s capital, often for months at a time, to challenge the complicity of the United States in the media and before Congress. The story ends with the lawyers’ arguments and the final decision in Liliuokalani v. United States of America in 1910. In the grandeur of what is now the Renwick Art Gallery, the United States Court of Claims heard and decided the case and sealed the islands' fate; a fate that neither Liliuokalani nor her people accepted through her death in 1917.  

With aneasily accessible but penetrating analysis, Proto demonstrates the deliberate effort by Liliuokalani’s own lawyers to denigrate her claim.  The epilogue reflects the queen’s intent through the end of her life to ensure persistence among her people and discomfort among those who had taken Hawaii. There is no conclusiveness or note of warmth to the ending.

Through Proto’s new perspective and exploration, Liliuokalani's cosmopolitan character and her place in a larger history emerge with clarity as do the continued contentiousness within Hawaii and between its native people and the United States.
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What People Are Saying

Arthur J. Gajarsa
Arthur J. Gajarsa
"Must reading for anyone who has an interest in Native American rights [and] how the United States government by using its political and legal opposition defeated the Native Hawaiian rights to their lands."--(Honorable Arthur J. Gajarsa, Judge, United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals)
Stuart Franklin Platt
"An essential read for all Americans to understand the discomfort, historically and into this century, that still tempers Hawaii's relationship with Washington, D.C. Neil Proto captures accurately and with compelling prose the disquieting religious and financial motivation of the missionary-planters and its coalescence with the institutional and strategic needs of the United States Navy to rectify the failures of the Civil War and to project its presence further across the Pacific. Brace yourself: Proto is a sophisticated thinker and writer, able to integrate history and culture and personalities with a unique literary skill. Savor history written this way."--(Rear Admiral Stuart Franklin Platt, United States Navy, Ret.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780875867212
  • Publisher: Algora Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/1/2009
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Thomas Proto is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute and a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Schnader Harrison Segal and Lewis. In 1993 he drafted a unique statutory scheme at the behest of the State of Hawaii that resulted in the conveyance of Kahoolawe Island - a religious site- from the United States to Hawaii to be held in trust for native Hawaiians. The island had been used as a bombing range since 1941. He continued to represent Hawaii as counsel in its dealings with the United States through 2003. He also has lectured on Hawaii history and Kahoolawe in Hawaii (1994) and at the University of Washington Law School (2005). Mr. Proto is a member of the board of directors of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institution. He also is the author of To A High Court, The Tumult and Choices that Led to United States of America v. SCRAP (2006).
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