A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.


Queen Lydia Liliuokalani

(Queen Laliuokalani was the first and only reigning Hawaiian queen and the last Hawaiian sovereign to govern the islands)

The following story angers me.  When we speak of Hawaii as our 50th state, we tend to forget about the people we 'stole' it from. 

Lydia was born September 2, 1838 on the island of Oahu; she was the third of ten children born to a high-ranking Hawaiian family.  When Lydia was four, her parents  sent her to the Royal School on Oahu, and there she learned English and studied music and the arts.  She was extremely talented in music and a noted musical composer. During her lifetime, she wrote more than 150 songs including "Aloha Oe" which is still sung in Hawaii today.

As a young woman, Lydia became a part of the royal court attending King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. She married John Owen Dominis in 1862.  He was Boston sea captain and himself an official in the Hawaiian government. They had no children, and according to her diaries, it was not a very happy marriage.  Then, when the king died, and his named heir refused the throne, the Hawaiian legislature elected Lydia's brother, David, to the throne of the island kingdom in 1874.  He became known as King Kalakuaua, and Lydia served as his regent.  Then, upon the death of her second brother, who had been the heir apparent, Lydia was named heir presumptive.  

Lydia spent the next 14 years of her life establishing her role as a leader.  During this time, she took an active part in organizing schools for Hawaiian youth.  And one time, when the king was away on a world trip, a smallpox epidemic broke out.  Lydia immediately took the reins and temporarily closed Hawaii's ports to prevent its spread. Her goal in life was to please her people and protect their interests.  This infuriated the sugar and pineapple growers, but endeared her to the Hawaiian people. 

When her brother, King Kalakaua died in January of 1891, Lydia ascended to the throne. She regretted the loss of power that the monarchy had suffered under the rule of her brother and tried to restore the traditional autocracy to the throne. Lydia was also deeply concerned with the common good of the people, and spent much of her life setting up charitable organizations devoted to education, health, and welfare.  Shortly after she assumed the throne, her husband died.  Lydia never remarried. 

Lydia opposed the renewed Reciprocity Treaty which had been signed by her brother.  This treaty granted privileged commercial concessions to the United States and ceding them to the Port of Pearl Harbor.  This was the beginning of her downfall for it alienated her from foreign businessmen who immediately tried to abrogate her authority.

Lydia fought bitterly against annexation of the islands by the United States, but eventually she was deposed by white foreign businessmen, and the Hawaiian throne was passed onto the United States and the rogues who had stolen it.  The so-called 'reformers' and their promises for democratic reform was soon revealed as a ploy to strip the Hawaiian peoples of their nation, but by that time, it was too late for Lydia to save them.  

Lydia lived out the remainder of her life in her royal palace in Honolulu...tending to her gardens and continuing her work for the improvement of conditions for the poor.  In 1917, Lydia died due to complications of a stroke. She a deeply loved and well-respected figure.  And, like other remarkable native leaders, she was forgotten by the Americans as they invaded more and more territory...marginalizing and exterminating any inhabitants they found.  Had her life been wasted? Had this queen been a weak monarch who allowed the United States to take over her country?  Certainly not, for as this woman ruled, she set an example for many to follow.  Her impact survives even today as Hawaii's motto still bears the words she once spoke: "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."


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