Kingdom of Hawai’i (1810 – 1893)

ALBUM – view my Kingdom of Hawai’i album

Fast Facts

Region: North America / Hawaii
Group: Hawaii
Classification: Kingdom
Prior Regime: Native tribal governments
Key Dates:
  1810 – Kingdom of Hawai’i formed under Kamehameha I
  1843, Nov 28 – Hawai’i formally recognized as an independent state by France and Britain
  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
Following Regime: Provisional Government of Hawaii
Scott Catalogue: (Hawaii) #1-52C,
Pick Catalogue: (Hawaii) #1-5


Queen Lydia Kamakaeha Liliuokalani, the last ruling Monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai'i
Queen Lydia Kamakaeha Liliuokalani, the last ruling Monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai’i

The Kingdom of Hawai’i was united under a single ruler, Kamehameha I, for the first time in 1810 with the help of foreign powers. From 1810 to 1893, the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi was ruled by two major dynastic families: the House of Kamehameha and the Kalākaua Dynasty. Over the decades, Hawai’i had a tumultuous relationship with many of the worlds powers as it was threatened and invaded by both France and Britain. However, on November 28, 1843, at the Court of London, the British and French Governments formally recognized Hawaiian independence. Hawaiʻi was thus the first non-European indigenous state to be admitted into the Family of Nations. The United States declined to join with France and the United Kingdom in this statement. President John Tyler had verbally recognized Hawaiian Independence, but it was not until 1849 that the United States formally recognized Hawai’i as a fellow nation.

In 1887, a constitution was drafted by Lorrin A. Thurston, Minister of Interior under King Kalākaua. The constitution, was ultimately “proclaimed” by the king after a meeting with 3,000 residents with an armed militia demanded he sign it or be deposed. The document created a constitutional monarchy like the United Kingdom’s, stripping the King of most of his personal authority, empowering the legislature and establishing a cabinet government. It has since become widely known as the “Bayonet Constitution” because of the threat of force used to gain Kalākaua’s cooperation.

On 17 January, 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 July 17, 1893, Sanford B. Dole and his committee took control of the government and declared itself the Provisional Government of Hawaii.


Postage stamps in Hawai’i were first issued in 1851. These stamps are often referred to as the “Missionary Issues” because they were primarily found on the correspondence of missionaries working in the Hawaiian Islands. Only a handful of these stamps remain today, and are amongst the greatest rarities of philately. In 1853, crude stamps with a portrait King Kamehameha III were issued.
On Aug 1, 1859, Hawaii initiated rates for local and inter-island mail, and numeral design stamps were issued for this purpose. Previously, mail sent within the kingdom was carried free of charge. In 1861, an additional set of stamps were issued, featuring King Kamehameha IV.

Criticized by the philatelic world, for having ugly stamps, Hawai’i issued a series of stamps beginning in 1864 featuring portraits of various members of the royal family. Several series of differing portraits were issued until 1891, and were in use until Queen Liliuokalani was deposed in 1893. These stamps were overprinted “Provisional GOVT. 1893” after the fall of the monarchy.


A series of banknotes of five denominations (10, 20, 50, 100, 500 dollars) were issued in 1880. These banknotes are extremely rare, and when at auction are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.


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

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