Hawaii, Provisional Government (1893 – 1894)

ALBUM – view my Provisional Govenment of Hawaii album

Fast Facts

Region: North America / Hawaii
Group: Hawaii
Classification: Revolutionary Government
Prior Regime: Kingdom of Hawaii
Key Dates:
  1893, Jan 14 – Coup led by American residents disposed Queen Lili’uokalani
  1893, Jan 16 – U.S. Marines land on Hawaii in support of the American coup
  1893, Jul 17 – Provisional government led by Sanford B. Dole took control of the government
  1894, Jul 4 – The Republic of Hawaii was officially declared with Sanford B. Dole as President
Following Regime: Republic of Hawaii
Scott Catalogue: (Hawaii) #54-77, 79
Pick Catalogue: none


US Marines in Hawaii during the coup. State of Hawaii Archives
The Provisional Government of Hawaii was formed after the monarchy which existed for 83 years, was overthrown by a group of prominent businessmen who lived on the islands. On 17 Jan, 1893, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Queen Lili’uokalani, was disposed in a coup d’état lead largely by American residents who were opposed to Lili’uokalini’s attempt to establish a new Constitution. The success of the coup was supported by the landing of US Marines, who came ashore at the request of the conspirators. The queen was imprisoned at Iolani Palace, under house arrest. On 17 Jul, 1893, Sanford B. Dole and his committee took control of the government and declared itself the Provisional Government of Hawaii, to rule until the anticipated annexation by the United States.

At the time of the overthrow of the kingdom, the annexation of the islands was supported by the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison. However, Harrison had lost the election in 1892, and was to be replaced by Grover Cleveland, who did not support annexation, and called for the return of the Monarchy in Hawaii. Fearing such a move, the Provisional Government formed a Constitutional Convention on 30 May, 1894. The Constitutional Convention drafted a constitution for a Republic, and the Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed on 4 July 1894, with Sanford B. Dole as its President.


As the provisional government was only expected to be a caretaker government for a short period before being annexed by the United States, it was decided that the Royal Portrait stamps would be overprinted as a stopgap measure. This was proposed as quickest and least expensive option, compared to designing and printing new stamps, and was agreed to by the provisional Cabinet.

The Royal issues were overprinted “Provisional GOVT 1893” in either red or black, depending on which gave the best contrast. 13 stamps were overprinted in red and 10 in black. Since Hawaiian stamps were quite popular with stamp collectors around the world, the post office widely publicized Hawaii’s decision to overprint the remaining portrait stamps, and that they would go on sale to the public on 20 May, 1893. Dealers, collectors and speculators from the United States and Europe flocked to Hawaii to attend the event and obtain stamps for their inventory. This created such crowds and long lines that for several days, regular Hawaiians were unable to buy postage stamps. There were at least 3 additional overprints, of the stamps, and they were available until 31 Dec, 1896 when the stamps were removed from sale, and remaining inventory destroyed.

When it became apparent that Hawaii was not going to annexed by the US as quickly as anticipated, Hawaii issued a set of five pictorial stamps on 28 Feb, 1894. These issues continued to be used, along with subsequent pictorial issues into the time of the declaration of the Republic on 4 Jul, 1894 and after Hawaii became a US possession in 1898. The stamps were removed from use and replaced by U.S. stamps on 14 Jun, 1900.


Banknotes of the monarchy and US dollars were in use on the islands.


Hawaii’s Monarchy Overthrown With U.S. Support, 120 Years Ago from History.com
Post Office in Paradise (wonderful resource on Hawaiian stamps)
Hawaiian Banknotes ATSnotes.com

This entry was posted in North America / Hawaii, Revolutions. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *