In 1887, while Queen Kapiolani and Princess Liuokalani were in London attending Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, a secret group of largely white businessmen formed with the purpose of annexing Hawaii.
Known as the “Hawaiian Allegiance,” their aim was to protect the white community against the government.
With the support of an all-white citizens militia called the “Honolulu Rifles,” they planned a coup.
As a result, a revised constitution was drafted, stripping the monarchy of its sole power and placing it in the hands of the Legislative Assembly.
The revised constitution also introduced property, financial, and literacy qualifications for voting, effectively disenfranchising most Hawaiians.
In the Ahupuaa of Waipio on Oahu, there is a short street named Elau Place, which translates as “Tip or Point.” This week, in our weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment, we delve into the history of what is known as the Bayonet Constitution.
The name refers to the manner in which the king’s signature was obtained under duress, silencing the voices of thousands of native Hawaiians.
The Bayonet Constitution became synonymous with the coup orchestrated by the Hawaiian Allegiance, backed by the Honolulu Rifles.
By forcing King David Kalakaua to sign the revised constitution, the power of the monarchy was severely limited, and the rights of Hawaiians were curtailed.
Now you know the origins of the Bayonet Constitution, a pivotal moment in Hawaiian history that highlights the close ties between Hawaii and Great Britain.
Remember to pay attention to the given names of streets across the islands, as they often reveal fascinating stories and offer opportunities to learn about Hawaii’s rich heritage.