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Before Hawai‘i was unified under a single monarch, its islands were ruled by warring chiefs. In 1810, the islands were finally united under a chief considered to be the greatest of Hawai‘i’s monarchs—Kamehameha the Great. His reign marked the beginning of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i that lasted until its tragic overthrow in 1893 by American businessmen. Hawai‘i’s monarchs were tasked with shepherding in tumultuous change as the world began to encroach on the island kingdom. Visiting sailors, explorers, missionaries, traders, and whalers transformed Hawai‘i’s social, economic, political, cultural, and environmental future not only centrally but on the world-stage. As American economic, cultural, and military interests in the islands grew throughout the nineteenth century, the stage was set for a confrontation leading to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. A century later, Native Hawaiians remember their monarchs with reverence, recognizing the struggles of their chiefs to chart a wise path through the turbulent storms of disease, upheaval and change that had swept the islands of Hawai‘i. The Hawaiian Monarchy provides a narrative overview of each major monarch as they fought to protect Hawaiian sovereignty and its people, covering major events during their rule and the challenges they encountered.
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