JANUARY 30, 1875


In the mid-1800s, the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Islands was threatened by the imperial advances of Great Britain, France, and the United States.  Of particular interest to those powers was Hawaii’s burgeoning sugar industry.  With the American Civil War, prices for sugar in America (mostly produced in Louisiana) rose dramatically.  The Treaty of Reciprocity was a free-trade agreement between the United States and the Hawaiian kingdom that guaranteed a duty-free market for Hawaiian sugar in exchange for special economic privileges for the United States that were denied to other countries.  The treaty, however, would also help establish the groundwork for the Hawaiian Islands’ eventual annexation.  After several efforts, agreement was reached with King Kalākaua.  The Treaty entered into force on Sept. 9, 1876.  When the Treaty was renewed in 1887, the United States received exclusive rights to enter and establish a naval base at Pearl Harbor.

Source:  “Reciprocity Treaty of 1875,” Encyclopedia Brittanica.  Retrieved 12/11/2019, https://www.britannica.com/event/Reciprocity-Treaty-of-1875
Photo:  H. W. Bradley (died 1891) & William Rulofson (died 1878), San Francisco, 11/30/1874.  Public Domain.

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