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        The Bayonet Constitution

        In this video from American Experience, witness the events of 1887 that limited the power of Hawaiian King David Kalakaua. By then, most of the wealth of Hawai‘i was in the hands of the owners of sugar plantations, descendants of American missionaries who had come to the islands earlier in the century. A secret league of landowners, joined by an armed militia, forced the king to sign what he called "The Bayonet Constitution," making him a puppet ruler and giving them a greater say in the government. Soon afterward, Kalakaua had to sign a reciprocity agreement with the U.S. government, allowing the U.S. to establish a permanent naval base at Pearl Harbor.

        Additional materials related to the Overthrow can be found at the Bishop Museum's Hawai`i Alive.

        Contributor: Developed by WGBH Educational Foundation in collaboration with the Bishop Museum for the Hawai'i Alive project.

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