The last ruler of the Hawaiian monarchy, Lydia Paki Kamakaeha Liliuokalani (1838-1917) was born in Honolulu and learned to write music as a child. An accomplished musician, she played the piano, organ, ukulele, and guitar, and was an expert in sight-reading music.
"I was a studious girl," she explained. "Knowledge has been a passion with me during my whole life, one which has not lost its charm to the present day."
She became queen in 1891 after the death of her brother, David Kalakaua, and inherited a throne weakened by unrest. Many wanted U.S. annexation.
Liliuokalani tried, against impossible odds, to establish a new constitution, which restored power to the monarchy. In 1893, she was overthrown by a revolt of American businessmen who were led by Stanford Dole and helped by the U.S. Marines.
"I yield to the superior force of the United States," she explained. "To avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps loss of life."
In 1895, she was placed under house arrest for eight months at Iolani Palace for her alleged knowledge of a plot to restore the monarchy. While imprisoned, she found comfort in her music and wrote songs and celebrated the steadfast love of her heritage.
"The cause of Hawaii and independence is larger and dearer than the life of any man connected with it. Love of country is deep-seated in the breast of every Hawaiian, whatever his station," she once said.
E onipa`a...i ka `imi na`auao"
(Be steadfast in the seeking of knowledge).