Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Formerly Independent Countries of the United States of America

The United States of America was designed to be a federal system comprising a union of independent states (countries) bonded together for the betterment of all members. Some states in the union were either European colonies before obtaining statehood or territorial status while others were American territories.

A few though were their own independent countries. These countries were either formed out of desire for freedom or an attempt at joining the United States.

Kingdom of Hawaii and the Republic of Hawaii
The Hawaiian Islands were united by King Kamehameha the Great in 1795. The kingdom consolidated power by moving the capital from the island of Hawaii to Honolulu, the main trade city, on Oahu Island in 1845.

The kingdom was respected by Western powers and treated with more recognition than any of the Amero-Indian powers. The United Kingdom and the United States competed for influence over the Polynesian monarchy cooperating with the kingdom on generous terms. Hawaii sought to appease both powers by having a flag with red, white, and blue stripes while donning a union jack.

The kingdom became solely westernized by the slow increase in power of the legislature and adaptation of western-style clothes by the ruling elite.

American dominance rose dramatically with an 1875 free trade treaty. This along with missionaries and American business men created an elite caste allied with the monarchy. When Queen Lili’uokalani sought to limit American influence with possible expulsion plans. Americans under the leadership of Sanford Dole led a coup in 1893. President Benjamin Harrison signed a treaty of annexation but the newly elected President Grover Cleveland opposed it as imperialism. It took five years of the Republic of Hawaii to be annexed. In the meantime the cosmopolitan nature of Hawaii showed itself in a pro-Monarchy uprising by the mixed-blood Robert William Wilcox and his joint Hawaiian, European, and Chinese army. When Hawaii became a territory Wilcox was elected to congress as a pro-independence statesmen but was succeeded by a former Hawaiian prince turned Republican politician.

Nationalism has simmered in Hawaii and been gaining strength in the last decade. The spelling of the state (Hawaii versus Hawai’i) and how American-Hawaiian historical relationship are taught in schools are the chief battlegrounds today. A bill currently exists in Congress which would treat native Hawaiians like Indians giving them reservation and tax privileges. The bill is highly controversial. Some view it a multicultural-historical justice effort while others see it as resurrecting racism.


State of Vermont
Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys spent the early years of the American Revolution fighting off loyalist forces from New York and New Hampshire. In 1777 the Republic of New Connecticut was declared. Many Vermont citizens favored union with the United States but New York and New Hampshire refused to release their claim to the state. Statehood was not achieved until 1791 when Vermont was peacefully annexed as a free state to balance out Kentucky’s entrance as a slave state.

Republic of Texas
As noted in an earlier post, the Republic of Texas was at first an effort by American and Mexican-Texans to restore liberal democracy to Mexico. It soon became an effort to remove Texas from Mexico.

Northern states opposed allowing Texas to join the Union because the high population of American Southerners demanded Texas be a slave state. For nine years the effort to annex Texas stalled. So in the meantime a republic was formed with on-again off-again tensions with Mexico. The treaty that annexed Texas allows it to spilt up into five different states as it sees fit. The fact that the Texas flag flies at the same level of the United States’ is not in the treaty… it happens because of ego.


Republic of California
1846 was a tense time in Mexican Northern California. American and European immigrant settlers were moving in and refusing to adopt Mexican culture. The Mexicans were sensing a repeat of Texas and plans of population control were discussed. American solider, pioneer, and future Republican presidential candidate John C. Fremont raised fears among the Americans of expulsion.

In the town of Sonoma Americans revolted and formed their own republic nicknamed the Bear Flag Republic because of its flag. Within thirty days the United States military arrived on scene and told the republic’s leaders about the state of war between the United States and Mexico. The republic voluntarily folded and entered into American domain.


The Overlooked Indians
The various Indian tribes had their pre-state political bodies. Some formed confederacies like the Iroquois. The Jesuits pushed for western-style Indian governments that would be annexed by the United States and treated like an equal. The Delaware Indians were the first Indian nation to sign a treaty with the United States and sought their own state. The Indian territory of now-day Oklahoma was a continuation of the “Indian state” ideal.

1 comment:

Goethe said...

I think Vermont was the first state to make slavery illegal.