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Where liberty dwells, there is my country [Benjamin Franklin]

04/07/2012

Happy Independence Day to our readers in Leftpondia, from the very old to the youngest most recent of Americans.

In celebration of our centuries of shared history and continuing alliance, this flag really is the state flag of Hawaii, and not a bad internet joke:

Captain James Cook’s arrival on Hawaii in 1778 was the islands’ first documented contact with Europeans. He named them the “Sandwich Islands” in honour of his sponsor John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich [Yes, before you ask, #4 was the inveterate gambler after whom the handy snack was named]. Cook published the islands’ location and reported the local name as Owyhee. The spelling is immortalised in Owyhee County, Idaho, so-named after three Hawaiian fur-trappers were killed there.

Cook visited the islands again in the following year. A minor squabble resulted into a ship’s boat being stolen, which rapidly escalated into a far more serious situation. Eventually, Cook abducted the King of Hawaii and held him ransom against the return of the boat. The King’s subjects fought back, with the result that Cook and four Marines were killed.

During the 19th century, Hawaii received many European visitors: explorers, traders and whalers who found the islands a convenient harbour for provisioning and repairs. The British influence, despite ‘our’ early bad behaviour, can be seen in the design of the state flag.

Hawaii is one of four states which were independent before becoming part of the USA, the others being Vermont, Texas and California. Hawaii and Texas even had brief international diplomatic recognition as sovereign nations.The Kingdom of Hawaii was sovereign from 1810 until 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown by resident American businessmen. It continued briefly as an independent republic until 1898, when it was annexed by the United States as a territory before becoming the youngest of the 50 states in 1959.

The lanai (verandah) of a charmingly rustic Hawaiian peasant dwelling 😉

“I can never suppose this country so far lost to all ideas of self-importance as to be willing to grant America independence; if that could ever be adopted I shall despair of this country being ever preserved from a state of inferiority and consequently falling into a very low class among the European States.” [George III there, demonstrating his celebrated powers of objective social and political analysis]

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