Isn't there photographic evidence of the U.S. peacekeepers being aggressive?

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A picture can often say a thousand words, but when taken out of context, each one of those words may be incorrect. There are many images from the era of the Hawaiian Revolution which have been misinterpreted, particularly in terms of demonizing the U.S. peacekeepers who landed on January 16, 1893, the day before the overthrow of the queen.

In some cases, it is as simple as looking closer at the details of a picture, to realize the interpretation is incorrect. Other times, one can trace back to the source image, and see how it was purposefully mischaracterized. The following are several examples, along with explanations.

The Ominous Cannon


Claimed as proof of the aggressive stance of the U.S. military, with an ominous cannon in the lower left hand corner, this photo, taken from, was captioned:

Lili`uokalani is escorted by guards up the steps of the palace, where she was imprisoned after a cache of arms was found in her garden during the counterrevolution of 1895. (Hawai`i State Archives)

As you can plainly see from the image, the cannon in question is actually one of the palace defenses, pointing outward across the front of the palace steps, not ominously towards the palace. The queen confirms this in her book, stating:

Staring directly at us were the muzzles of two brass field pieces, which looked warlike and formidable as they pointed out toward the gate from their positions on the lower veranda.

It is also a picture from 1895, over a year after the U.S. peacekeepers returned to their ship by the order of Blount.

Mistaken Identities


This photo, taken from, mistakenly identifies the soldiers occupying Iolani Palance as U.S. troops.

The original photo from the University of Hawaii, clearly captions the photo as Provisional Government troops (the Honolulu Rifles).

Whoever made the switch between identifying these soliders as U.S., rather than Provisional Government troops, also renamed the image file from "troops2.gif" to "ustroops.jpg". It is unclear exactly who made the switch of the filename.



Although captioned by the Star Bulletin as a "menacing pose", one can clearly see here soldiers (allegedly U.S. peacekeepers) drilling off to the left of Aliiolani Hale, across the street from Iolani Palace.

Despite the "menace" presented, it is also worthy to note the civilians casually gathered in the photo as well.

It also seems from the photo that the U.S. flag is flying (note the alternating red-white stripes of the American flag, instead of the red-white-blue-red stripes of the Hawaiian flag) - if it was, then photo would actually date from after February 1, 1893, at which time a protectorate was declared by Stevens and the U.S. flag raised over Aliiolani Hale, not January 17, 1893 as claimed.

Another inconsistency with this photo is the uniforms involved.

The University of Hawaii has a photo of the U.S. peacekeepers from the Boston landing here:

You can see there is an inconsistency between the uniforms of the landed peacekeepers, with pants tucked into their boots, and the ones standing oustide of Aliiolani Hale, which seem to have completely different uniforms. It is possible that the troops changed uniforms overnight, but highly unlikely. It is more probable that this picture was mislabeled, seeing as their uniforms do match the Provisional Government troops shown here:

Peacekeepers by the U.S. Legation


This photo, taken from the U.S. Navy, was captioned:

Fine screen halftone reproduction of a photograph of the ship's landing force on duty at the Arlington Hotel, Honolulu, at the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, January 1893. Lieutenant Lucien Young, USN, commanded the detachment, and is presumably the officer at right. The original photograph is in the Archives of Hawaii. This halftone was published prior to about 1920.

The hotel in question is mostly likely the "Hawaiian Hotel" next to the U.S. Legation that you can see on this map:

Any further information regarding the exact location of the "Arlington Hotel" would be appreciated. Please email if you have any further information.