Hawaii By James Michener

.. ey to the New Orleans, Colorado, and Nebraska sugar tycoons. Pretty soon they would all be bankrupt. The McKinley Tariff protected the United States sugar producers by penalizing those who imported Hawaiian sugar, and subsidized those who sold American sugar. So Whip and the eight others devised a plan to begin a revolution, seize control of the government, and turn the islands over to the United States.

Queen Liliuokalani was the new queen, succeeding her brother after he died. She wished that the non-Hawaiian enterprises would leave; this included Whip and his companions. The coalition planned to begin a revolution, with the help of their friend and relative Micah Hale – a minister. There were two problems, though. First, would the rican warship at Honolulu send US troops ashore to fight the revolutionaries, and second, if they seized control of the government, would the United States recognize them as the legal government of Hawaii? Both questions were answered at the same time: The ships men would have the simple orders to “protect American lives” (the revolutionaries were Americans also), and if they seized control of the government, they would be the de facto government, and the American Minister would immediately recognize them.

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Whip fooled Micah into wanting to get the United States to annex Hawaii, because he scared him with stories that Japan, England, or Germany might want to take over the islands. When the revolution began, the troops marched ashore. The sugar plantation owners immobilized the queens troops, and Liliuokalani abdicated the throne. But before the Treaty of Annexation could get through the Senate in February, 1893, Cleveland was President: A Democrat protecting the sugar companies of the United States. He dropped the discussion of the Annexation of Hawaii, and sent investigators to see how Liliukalani would like her government restored. She said she would have to behead the sixty or more Americans that aided in the revolution if her government was restored. This outraged everyone.

Despite Whips own many outrages to Hawaii and America, on July 6, 1898, the American Senate finally accepted Hawaii by a vote of 42 to 21. Supposedly, in history, an underground organization which included many well known business men, under the title of “Committee for Safety,” acquired ammunition, rifles, and other arms. On January 16, 1893, with help from the marines on the USS Boston, who were “protecting American property”), the revolution was started. Since most of the Queen’s cabinet was made up of Americans, she was helpless, and decided to abdicate the throne until the Americans reinstated her position. The revolutionaries went under the title of the Provisional Government, and had Judge Sanford Dole as their President. President Grover Cleveland denied the request for annexation because he was alarmed by the events at Honolulu.

Secretary of State John Gresham declared that “it would lower our national standards to endorse a selfish and dishonorable scheme of a lot of adventurers.” When Albert S. Willis, the new Secretary of State, informed Liliukalani that Cleveland would restore her throne, she said th according to Hawaiian law, Thurston, the leader of the revolution should be beheaded. Unlike the novel, she was willing to forgive and forget, but the Provisional government refused the idea of abdicating. On July 4, 1894, the Provisional government established a minority government, the Republic of Hawaii because hopes for annexation in the near future were crushed. However, when the strategic importance of Hawaii in the Spanish American war was recognized, annexation occurred on August 12, 1898.

Once again the novel turns to the Kee Hui and the Chinese community. A hui is a large family, bonded together for economic interests. On December 12, 1899, an old man died of the bubonic plague. Others began to catch it. If nothing was done it would quickly become an epidemic. The four houses of the victims were ordered burned after much controversy.

But there were still many hiding from the quarantine of thousands of Chinese. It was proposed that the fire department should burn half of Chinatown, to save the other half and the rest of the islands. Unfortunately, when the blaze was started, the wind threw it in the wrong direction and All of Chinatown was quickly engulfed in a great conflagration. The hardest hit out of all were the Kees – they had the most to lose. Again the novel is fairly accurate in its account of history. In 1899, Bubonic plague did break out in Hawaii.

“A strict quarantine was placed around the area, and military guards were stationed at the boundaries of Chinatown. All schools were closed, and no Oriental was permitted to leave the city.” Suspicion was roused when the Chinese found that the precautions taken for them were not taken for the few haole (Caucasian) cases. The houses of five plague victims were ordered burned. As in the novel, the fire began under control. But when the wind shifted, it turned toward Chinatown.

There was a riot when people rushed to their houses to get their belongings. A total of 38 acres were burned, and 4500 people were left homeless. Once again, when the Chinese could not be convinced that the Board of Health had not purposely destroyed their homes, it is seen that Michener follows history closely. The Chinese took it personally, and would not forget the cruel act. The fifth chapter, “From the Inland Sea,” involves the arrival of the Japanese plantation workers, the introduction of a good breed of pineapples to Hawaii, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese-Americans from Hawaii in World War II. Kamejiro Sakagawa was the Japanese immigrant to Hawaii that Michener followed most closely. In 1902 his family decided he would go to Hawaii for five years on a work contract.

Before he left he fell in love and swore that he would return. Like most of the other 1850 Japanese laborers how left that day, in September, 1902, Kamejiro would not return. After arriving, the Japanese were sent to their new houses on the plantations. They were told to obey the lunas (the plantation officials). A few days later Kamejiro approached Whip Hoxworth to get some corrugated iron for a hot bath. After a long, tense period of time, Hoxworth gave him the metal.

The Japanese needed to take daily hot baths. But they were better workers, so Whip did not mind. Historically, in 1868, 148 Japanese went to Hawaii. Various misunderstandings occurred, as they did in the novel. For example, whenever a language barrier or a misunderstanding was reached, the lunas, usually Germans, violently subdued the Japanese workers.

Whip once again turned to his agricultural fancies. He had a theory that pineapple and sugar were natural partners – sugar needs a lot of water (one ton for one pound of water), and pineapples do not. Sugar thrives on low fields, and pineapples thrive on the higher lands. Since he had tried to grow pineapples unsuccessfully many times before, and was having problems importing a special breed of pineapples (Cayennes, from French New Guinea), he decided to enlist the help of a certain botanist, Dr. Schilling.

Schilling sold him 2000 prime Cayenne crowns that he would grow in Hawaii. The Cayennes grew beautifully, and Whip was pleased. Nobody actually knows who brought the first pineapple to Hawaii. “After annexation, when the American customs duties were no longer charged on Hawaiin fruit, a band of farmers from southern California settled around the town of Wahaiwa, in the middle of the island of Oahu. They grew several kinds of crops, including pineapples.” James D. Dole later started the Hawaiian Pineapple Company.

The next major event in Hawaii was the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. It took everyone totally by surprise – no one knew that the Japanese fleet was moving in, and they were now bombing. Shigeo Sakagawa, on of Kamejiro’s sons, was delivering a telegraph cable when it happened. The announcements on the radio that he heard at the house of one of his deliveries went as follows: “I repeat. This is not a military exercise.

Japanese planes are bombing Honolulu. I repeat. This is not a joke. This is war.” In truth, at 7:55 in the morning (Hawaiian time), on Sunday, December 7, 1941, “366 Japanese bombers and fighters struck at the American warships lying at their moorings at Pearl Harbour. Four of the American battleships were blown up, or sank where they lay at anchor.” Four battleships and eleven other ships were badly damaged or sunk.

The damage was phenomenal: 2330 Americans were dead or heavily wounded. The Japanese only lost 29 airplanes, five small submarines, and 64 men. One Japanese was captured by the Americans. “With Hawaii under martial law, the army and navy could do as they pleased. Japanese language radio programs were ordered off the air, and Japanese newspapers were forbidden to publish.” Both in the novel and in history lies the fact that many Japanese Americans were persecuted.

It is said that only one percent of the Japanese Americans were detained for security reasons. One of those, in the novel, was Kamejiro Sakagawa. He was taken because he refused citizenship (he still intended to return to Japan) and had worked with dynamite. Later on, however, Hoxworth Hale persuaded the authorities to let Kamejiro and other Japanese that he knew, go free. Many of the Japanese Americans, to prove their loyalty to America, joined the armed forces. At first they were not welcomed; later on, when they had won a great victory in Italy by saving 300 trapped soldiers from Texas, they won back their pride.

But it cost them over 800 men to save 300. The Sakagawa children proved to be heroes in the battle – two of them died in combat. History tells us that after the bombing, the ROTC units were activated. Over 300 Japanese Americans, though, were discharged without explanation. 150 of them wrote a complaint to Washington, and on June 5, 1300 Japanese Americans went to the mainland for training. They were stationed at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin, where many fights broke out when people called them Japs.

Two Japanese battalions joined forces and went to Italy to aid in the cause. They quickly built a good fighting reputation for themselves. There actually was a Texan regiment that needed saving and the Japanese battalion did so. When they returned, “President Harry Truman reviewed the men and attached the Seventh Presidential Citation to their colors. ‘You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice – and you have won,’ Truman said” The price for winning was 650 dead.” The sixth and final chapter of Hawaii, “The Golden Men”, deals with the characters in the novel who had made the most contributions to Hawaii, and were good, well rounded people.

Because there are many events in this final chapter that have no historical bearing, (and due to the lengthiness of this section – it is, after all, only an injustice to compare a thousand page novel to history in so few pages – I have chosen not to compare the events with the actual events in history. Conclusions Michener’s Hawaii gives a total history of Hawaii until just before statehood. Reading Hawaii gives a historical view of the islands; something other than the pomp and splendor most commonly seen on the popular travel guides. Hawaii gives a fictional account of the true story. Never before had I realized that so much transpired in the years that Hawaii was inhabited by Americans.

The pain and suffering of the immigrants, both Chinese and Japanese, was unknown to me. The novel cast a whole new light on the subject of the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii will probably last a long time as a work of literature. Lorrin A. Thurston, a grandson of the missionary Asa Thurston, condemned Jack Londons depiction of Hawaii because of the poor account of history.

He wrote that, of the impressions given, most of them are false. They are also given as facts. “Thurston charged London with the same general crimes which James Michener would be charged with after publication of Hawaii nearly a half a century later.” Even though, I feel that, with my research as a basis, Michener created a fairly accurate representation of Hawaii, given the understanding that it is a fictional novel. Hawaii serves in history possibly to educate those who read it on the subject of Hawaii. It is especially important because the novel shows history not from the general public’s point of view, but rather from the diverse ethnic groups that it is about.

The story is told through the natives, missionaries, Chinese, Japanese, and the large land holders. This total spectrum of the social class sheds light on all of the views in Hawaii. For this reason, Hawaii is very important in American history. If truly accurate in some areas that are difficult to research, Hawaii could even become part of history: A history of all of the nations involved.


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