Hawaii State History

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General State History
Historic Figures

General Hawaii State History

Photo, Hawaii General History

First settled by Polynesians sailing from other Pacific islands between C.E. 300 and 600, Hawaii was visited in 1778 by British Captain James Cook, who called the group the Sandwich Islands.

Hawaii was a native kingdom throughout most of the 19th century, when the expansion of the vital sugar industry (pineapple came after 1898) meant increasing U.S. business and political involvement. In 1893, Queen Liliuokalani was deposed and a year later the Republic of Hawaii was established with Sanford B. Dole as president. Then, following its annexation in 1898, Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1900.

The Japanese attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was directly responsible for U.S. entry into World War II.

Hawaii, 2,397 miles west-southwest of San Francisco, is a 1,523-mile chain of islets and eight main islands-Hawaii, Kahoolawe, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, other than Midway, are administratively part of Hawaii.

Hawaii Historic Figures

Father Damien
1840-89: Catholic priest, missionary; born in Belgium. a member of the Fathers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, he went to Hawaii as a missionary (1864). In 1873 he asked his order to send him to the island of Molokai, Hawaii, where there was a leper colony. He served as both priest and doctor to the lepers there. In 1884 he discovered that he himself had leprosy but he stayed on and died there. Hawaii placed his statue in the U.S. Capitol.


Daniel K. Inouye
1924-Present: He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Served in World War II with the U.S. Fifth army. Earned his law degree at the George Washington University Law School, he returned to Hawaii and served as a Deputy Public Prosecutor for the city of Honolulu and went on to serve as Representative to Hawaii and then as their Senator. He has been serving the people of Hawaii since 1962.


Kamehameha I
1758-1819: Hawaiian unifier and king; born on Kohala, District of Hawaii, then known as the Sandwich Islands. Following the death of the chief of Hawaii, his uncle Kalaniopu'u (1782), Kamehameha conquered the island. after other victories on Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and the other islands, he formed the Kingdom of Hawaii by 1810. He stimulated Hawaiian trade but kept intact the customs and the religion of his people. Hawaii placed his statue in the U.S. Capitol.


Bette Midler
1945-Present: Comedienne and actress, born in Honolulu, HI. after studying drama at the University of Hawaii she was hired as a film extra, and made her stage debut in New York City in 1966. She then developed a popular nightclub act as a chanteuse and purveyor of outrageously bawdy comic routines. Her album The Divine Miss M (1974) won her a Grammy award as Best New artist, and the same year she received a Tony award for her record-breaking Broadway show. Her dramatic performance in the film The Rose (1979) earned her an Oscar nomination, and she has since enjoyed considerable commercial success in a string of films including Outrageous Fortune (1987), Big Business (1988), Scenes from a Mall (1991), The First Wives Club (1996), and That Old Feeling (1997). Married to Martin von Haselberg, Bette has one child, Sophie.


Duke Paoa Kahanamoku
1890-1968: Swimmer, surfer; born in Hawaii. He revolutionized sprint swimming by introducing the flutter kick, and for 20 years was an international freestyle champion. a member of Olympic teams from 1912 to 1932, he won gold medals in 1912 and 1920. In addition, he is generally regarded as having introduced surfboarding (practiced for centuries by Pacific islanders) to the West, starting with australia and California about 1912. after a brief movie career, he was sheriff of Honolulu (1932-61).