On July 6, 1887, King David Kalakaua signed a new constitution for the Kingdom of Hawaii. Kalakaua was forced to sign the law at gunpoint, and the document is nicknamed the “Bayonet Constitution.”
 
The new constitution was written by a group of white businessmen and lawyers who wanted the kingdom to be part of the United States. This group, called the Hawaiian League, was supported by an armed militia called the Honolulu Rifles. Many members of the Hawaiian League were affiliated with Hawaii’s giant, lucrative sugar and pineapple plantations.
 
The new constitution reduced the power of the Hawaiian monarchy, placing most legal authority in the hands of the legislature. The constitution also changed voting rights in the kingdom. Only men of Hawaiian, American, and European ancestry who met certain financial requirements could vote. (This disenfranchised thousands of Asian voters, and opened voting to thousands of non-citizens.)
 
King Kalakaua was the last reigning Hawaiian monarch—the last to wield independent political power. The monarchy was completely overthrown in 1893, the U.S. annexed the kingdom in 1898, and Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state in 1959. 
affiliate
Verb

to associate or connect to something else.

ancestry
Noun

family (genealogical) or historical background.

annex
Verb

to add or incorporate land into an existing parcel, state, or nation.

authority
Noun

person or organization responsible for making decisions.

bayonet
Noun

knife-like tool that is attached to the muzzle (discharge point) of a gun.

citizen
Noun

member of a country, state, or town who shares responsibilities for the area and benefits from being a member.

constitution
Noun

system of ideas and general laws that guide a nation, state, or other organization.

disenfranchise
Verb

to take away certain rights, usually voting.

financial
Adjective

having to do with money.

Noun

type of government with a king or queen as its leader, or the land ruled by that king or queen.

legal
Adjective

allowed by law.

legislature
Noun

group of people, usually elected, who make and change laws.

lucrative
Adjective

profitable or money-making.

militia
Noun

group of armed, ordinary citizens who are called up for emergencies and are not full-time soldiers.

monarchy
Noun

system of government in which national power is invested in one person, usually a king or queen.

plantation
Noun

large estate or farm involving large landholdings and many workers.

reduce
Verb

to lower or lessen.

reign
Verb

to rule as a monarch.

requirement
Noun

something that is needed.

voting rights
Noun

issues surrounding the legal right and ability to campaign and cast a vote in political elections.

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