In the Kingdom of Hawai`i November 28 was an official holiday called Ka La Ku`oko`a, or Independence Day. This was the day in 1843 when England and France formally recognized Hawai`i's independence.

His Hawaiian Majesty King Kamehameha III deemed it prudent and necessary to dispatch a Hawaiian delegation to the United States and then to Europe with the power to negotiate treaties and to ultimately secure the recognition of Hawaiian Independence by the major powers of the world.

The Hawaiian delegation, while in the United States of America, secured the assurance of U.S. President Tyler on December 19, 1842 of its recognition of Hawaiian independence, and then proceeded to meet Sir George Simpson in Europe and secure formal recognition by Great Britain and France.

As a result of this recognition, the Hawaiian Kingdom entered into treaties with the major nations of the world and had established over ninety legations and consulates in multiple seaports and cities.

November 28 was thereafter established as an official national holiday to celebrate the recognition of Hawai`i's independence.

But in 1893, an illegal intervention into Hawai`i's affairs by the U.S. resulted in a "fake revolution" against the legitimate Hawaiian government, and a puppet oligarchy set itself up with its main purpose being Hawai`i's annexation to the United States.

Hawaiians protested and celebrated Ka La Ku`oko`a anyway, telling the story of the national heroes who had traveled to Europe to secure Hawai`i's recognition.

We celebrate
Ka La Ku`oko`a
- Hawaiian Independence Day to remember that Hawai`i was a fully recognized member of the world family of nations, and its independence is still intact under prolonged illegal occupation.

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Comment by Pono Kealoha on November 28, 2008 at 12:25pm
Please join us on Friday, Nov. 28 (La Kuokoa)

Haulelani for Kumu Lake, William Correa, Imiola Young
Please join us on Friday, Nov. 28 (La Kuokoa) at the ahu on Iolani Palace grounds. We will be honoring Kumu Keola Lake, William Correa, and Carl Imiola Young. Famiy and friends are encouraged to bring hookupu and to share thoughts about the lives of these men. Ceremony begins at 5 pm. Feel free to forward this notice to others.

For more info, call 284-3460 or email

Ka Wai Ola o OHA
November 2008

Independence Day, La Ku'oko'a: Nov. 28

By Keanu Sai / Special to Ka Wai Ola

In 1842, Kamehameha III had a "very strong desire that his Kingdom shall be formally acknowledged by the civilized nations of the world as a sovereign and independent State." To accomplish this, he appointed Timoteo Ha'alilio, William Richards and Sir George Simpson, a British subject, as joint ministers plenipotentiary on April 8, 1842. Shortly thereafter, Simpson left for England, via Alaska and Siberia, while Ha'alilio and Richards departed for the United States, via Mexico, on July 8, 1842.

After Ha'alilio and Richards secured President John Tyler's assurance of recognizing Hawaiian independence on Dec. 19, 1842, the delegation proceeded to meet Simpson in Europe. On March 17, 1843, King Louis-Philippe assures them of France's recognition of Hawaiian independence, and on April 1, 1843, Lord Aberdeen, on behalf of Queen Victoria, assured the Hawaiian delegation that "Her Majesty's Government was willing and had determined to recognize the independence of the Sandwich Islands under their present sovereign." Confirming these assurances, Great Britain and France formally recognized Hawaiian sovereignty on Nov. 28, 1843, by joint proclamation at the Court of London, and the United States followed on July 6, 1844, by letter of Secretary of State J.C. Calhoun. Nov. 28 was a national holiday celebrating Hawaiian Independence, La Ku'oko'a.

On May 16, 1854, Kamehameha III proclaimed the Hawaiian Kingdom to be a neutral State, and it was expressly stated in treaties with Sweden-Norway in 1852 and Spain in 1863. As an internationally recognized sovereign and neutral state, the Hawaiian Kingdom joined the Universal Postal Union on Jan. 1, 1882, (today an agency of the United Nations) maintained more than 90 legations (embassies) and consulates throughout the world, and entered into extensive diplomatic and treaty relations with Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Bremen, Chili, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hamburg, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Samoa, Spain, Sweden-Norway, Switzerland, the United States and Uruguay.

The year 1893 was to have been a festive year celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hawaiian independence. Instead, it was a year that the United States began to systematically violate Hawaiian sovereignty that resulted in the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian government and the prolonged occupation of the country since the Spanish-American War. Nevertheless, Nov. 28 was and still remains a national holiday.

Keanu Sai is completing his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, specializing in Public Law and International Relations. His dissertation is titled The American Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom: Beginning the Transition from Occupied to Restored State.

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