Republic of Hawaii (1894 – 1897)

ALBUM – view my Republic of Hawaii album

Fast Facts

Region: North America / Hawaii
Group: Hawaii
Classification: Puppet State
Prior Regime: Provisional Government of Hawaii
Key Dates:
  1893, Jul 17 – After a coup, the 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
  1897, Jul 7 – The Republic of Hawaii was annexed by the United States of America
Following Regime: United States Territory
Scott Catalogue: (Hawaii) #78, O1-O6
Pick Catalogue: (Hawaii) #6-15


President Sanford Dole, proclaiming the Republic of Hawaii at Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii, July 4, 1894.
After a coup, led by the business interests in Hawaii, Sanford B. Dole and his committee took control of the government on 17 Jul, 1893 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.

In March 1897, William McKinley succeeded Grover Cleveland as president of the United States, and he supported a different policy from the U.S. and agreed to a treaty of annexation but it failed in the Senate because petitions from the islands indicated lack of popular support and would be in violation of international law.

These attempts to annex Hawaii caused such a stir in the Pacific that Japan even dispatched warships to prevent the annexation. For the U.S., Hawaii was considered valuable territory in the Pacific to remain independent, especially with the growth of the Empire of Japan. In fact, Theodore Roosevelt, then assistant secretary of the Navy, authorized the use of force against a potential Japanese invasion, and put together war plans against Japan. The potential for conflict in 1897 caused Congress to enact the Newlands Resolution, which opponents consider illegal, to finalize the annexation of the islands which was approved on 4 July, 1898 and signed on 7 July by President McKinley. On 12 Aug 1898, a ceremony was held on the steps of Iolani Palace to signify the official transfer of Hawaiian sovereignty to the United States. A Territory government was formed, with Sanford Dole as the appointed Governor.


One definitive stamp and six official stamps were issued during the time of the Republic. The definitive, which was issued on 27 Oct 1894, was a 12 cent stamp, depicting the S.S. Arawa. The S.S. Arawa was a steamship, which at the time the stamp was issued, routinely stopped over at Hawaii in it’s Australia – Vancouver run. This was the only stamp issued which bore the name “Republic of Hawaii”.

Additionally a set of six official stamps were issued on 28 Jan 1897, when the prospect for annexation was failed to pass the Senate, and seemed a lost cause. According to “The central portrait features Lorrin Andrews Thurston, Hawaii’s former minister plenipotentiary who had antagonized President Cleveland by his aggressive pursuit of annexation. Placing Thurston’s portrait on the stamps communicated Hawaii’s resolve to win annexation.”

After annexation, an additional 3 pictorial stamps were issued until on 14 Jun, 1900, all Hawaiian stamps were removed from sale and destroyed.


In 1895, the Republic issued two series of banknotes. The denominations were 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars. The banknotes are coveted by collectors and feature various people and scenes of Hawaii.


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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