On July 7, 1898, President William McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution which annexed the Republic of Hawai’i and created the Territory of Hawai’i. The annexation gave the U.S. use of Hawai’i as a military base during The Spanish-American War.

In her book Islanders in the Empire, Joanna Poblete writes:

Wanting total legal control in the islands, an imperial complex of U.S. military, government, and business leaders overthrew Queen Lili’uokalani in 1893 and supported the annexation of Hawai’i in 1898. Anglo-American efforts to completely overtake and transform the previous way of life in Hawai’i were completed when the islands became a U.S. Territory in 1900. Territorial status turned more than forty thousand Native Hawaiians into U.S. citizens without their consent. With the importation of laborers and investors for the growing sugar industry, Native Hawaiians quickly became a minority percentage of the population with little control over the politics and economics of their islands, a status which continues today. The sugar industry and the recruitment of non-Hawaiian laborers to the islands furthered the colonization of Native Hawaiians, denying their rights to self-determination and dispossessing these native peoples of their land. (11)

That same year, The Treaty of Paris gave congress control over Puerto Rico and the Philippines as well. While Hawai’i eventually became a state in 1959, Puerto Rico and the Philippines remain U.S. Territories with ambiguous political-legal status.

Poblete’s book examines the interconnected experiences of Filipino and Puerto Rican laborers in Hawai’i, their differing political-legal statuses, and interaction with Hawai’ian government structures to gain a greater understanding of U.S. imperialism.

 

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