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Hawaii State History

It has been determined by anthropologists that the first people to inhabit the Hawaiian Islands arrived by canoe from the east. They were farmers and fishermen.

Related: Hawaii State Facts

Seal Of The State Of Hawaii

Each island was ruled by a different chief. One chief became powerful by the 1700s and ruled all the islands of Hawaii.


His name was Chief Kamehameha and he was named the first Hawaiian king.


Europeans Arrive

In 1778, Captain James Cook, a British explorer, was the first European to arrive on the Hawaiian Islands.

Captain Cook made many trips to the islands and was killed when a fight broke out between his men and the natives.

Cooks Landing At Botany Bay

Later, in 1820, missionaries were sent to the islands to teach the native people to speak English and to spread Christianity.

Whaling ships arrived about the same time as the missionaries. Whaling was a lucrative industry for the next fifty years.

The Europeans brought money, new ideas, and disease to the Hawaiian people. Many Hawaiians died as a result and their way of life and traditions changed.


Sugarcane, Pineapple, and Coffee

In the mid-1800s, sugarcane became an important crop and many U.S. businesses began making trade agreements with the Hawaiians.

Thousands of Chinese and Japanese people flocked to Hawaii to work on the sugarcane plantations.

Iles Sandwich

A man called James Dole purchased land on Oahu in the early 1900s and established the Hawaiian Pineapple Company.

After buying the entire island of Lanai, he built the largest pineapple plantation in the world.

Dole began bringing in foreign workers from China, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Puerto Rico, and even Portugal.

James Drummond Dole

Many Japanese laborers who worked the sugarcane plantations began growing small crops of coffee on the island of Kona.

The Depression of the 1930s caused the price of coffee to be so low that many farmers stopped growing coffee.

The prices rebounded after WWII and coffee became an important cash crop.


Hawaii Becomes a U.S. Territory

The Kingdom of Hawaii became a Republic in 1893. Five years later, Hawaii became a territory of the United States.

The United States began building military bases on various islands of Hawaii, including Pearl Harbor.

Flag Of Hawaii

World War II

When WWII began, the United States did not join the fighting in Europe or the fighting in East Asia when Japan began invading various countries.

All this changed when Japan suddenly and without warning bombed the U.S. ships in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The United States entered the war and sent troops, ships, and fighter jets to England to fight the Germans and to the eastern countries to fight the Japanese.

The USS Arizona

Hawaii – the 50th State

Hawaii became the 50th State of the United States in August of 1959.

Quiz Time!



How did the first people to inhabit Hawaii arrive and live on the islands?

Who was Captain Cook?

What did the whaling ships and crews bring to Hawaii?

What three crops have brought riches and foreigners to Hawaii?

Why did the United States decide to join the fighting in WWII?

Iolani Palace


The first people arrived in Hawaii by canoe.

Captain Cook was the first European to arrive in Hawaii in 1778.

They brought money, new ideas, and disease.


Sugarcane, coffee, and pineapple crops brought riches and foreigners to Hawaii.

The surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese made the U.S. decide to enter WWII.

US State History


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