In the 1890s, the efforts of the Hawaiian people to preserve their national sovereignty and native heritage ran headlong into the unstoppable force of American expansionism. Throughout the 19th century, westerners – particularly Americans – came to dominate Hawaii’s economy and politics. When Queen Liliuokalani assumed the throne in 1891 and tried to reassert the power of the throne and the will of Native Hawaiians, she was deposed by a small group of American businessmen, with the support of the American diplomats and the U.S. Navy.
Although even President Cleveland challenged the legitimacy of this takeover, it did stand. To a nation poised to take its place as a world power, the control of Hawaii, strategically located to serve as a mid-Pacific naval installation, seemed crucial. In 1898, with a naval base firmly established at Pearl Harbor, the United States officially annexed Hawaii.
(Information excerpted from Stacey Bredhoff, American Originals [Seattle: The University of Washington Press, 2001], p. 68.)