Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hawai‘i and the World before 1893

Coming from Germany and having lived on the US mainland for the past 13 years, one might get the impression that the modern history and development of Hawai‘i starts with the United States. For a history geek like me, it has been extremely enlightening to realize that this is not the case. In fact, the accomplishments of Hawai‘i before the coup d'etat of 1893 by the US are impressive to say the least.

I just finished reading my latest Hawai‘i-related book Hawai‘i and the German Speaking Peoples by Niklaus R. Schweizer. This books provides excellent insights into the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom. With my background it was particularly fascinating to learn more about the connection between Hawai‘i and German-speaking countries. As a German interested in history, you may be aware of Germany's brief colonial history (Africa, Pacific, China), but Hawai'i is not a country that registers in that context readily.

Among its many accomplishments, the following set of statistics (page 146) caught my eye:

In 1892 The Hawaiian Kingdom maintained 93 diplomatic missions and consular posts around the globe. 5 consulates were located in Germany (Bremen, Hamburg, Frankfurt/Main, Dresden, Karlsruhe).

Consulates also existed in Austria (1), Sweden and Norway (4), Denmark (1). 13 Consulates + 1 legation existed in Great Britain.

Hawai‘i was one of only 46 sovereign countries at that time in the world. In a video series below, Niklaus Schweizer also states that Hawai‘i was not only the first fully sovereign country (recognized by the western world) in the Pacific region, but also within all of Asia.

This was certainly not some back-water place far away from civilization in the 19th century. In fact the country went from “we don't have a script” to basically 100% literacy rates in just 50 years, modernized the country, built up institutions, all while enduring very large population losses due to western introduced deceases. I find that truly mind-blowing.

Please see the videos for more in-depths information.

Part I

Part II

Part III

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