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June 14: Attorney to the Hawaiian Queen

June 14, 2014
ly23Hawaii was declared a territory of the United States on this date in 1900, following an 1893 coup led by U.S. businessmen with the backing of the U.S. military against Queen Lili’uokalani and her government. The queen was represented in Washington, D.C. by Paul Neumann (1839-1901), a Jewish attorney and politician who worked with a firm that monopolized the refining of sugar from Hawaii. Born in Prussia in 1839, Neumann served as Hawaiian attorney general in the 1880s and early 1890s. Despite his connections to big business, he was opposed to the coup and to U.S. annexation, and he served as defense attorney for Lili’uokalani and other prisoners accused of treason in a military tribunal following their failed effort to restore the monarchy in 1895. (Facing five years of confinement in a room in the royal palace, and death sentences for her supporters, the queen formally abdicated in exchange for pardon for them all.) Neumann was the first attorney from Hawaii to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court, and headed the Hawaiian Bar Association before dying suddenly at age 62 in 1901. Queen Lili’uokalani lived until 1917, age 79. “I, Liliʻuokalani, by the Grace of God and under the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this Kingdom. That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America, whose Minister Plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the said Provisional Government. Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps loss of life, I do, under this protest, and impelled by said forces, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representative and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.” —Lili’uokalani, 1893