The Chinese Civilizational “Threat” and White Supremacy Construction in Hawaii before Annexation




Hawaii, Chinese immigration, Annexation, Civilization, White supremacy


Though Americans had been considering annexing Hawaii since as early as 1851, Hawaii’s conglomerate racial composition was always a hindrance. Obviously aware of Americans’ apprehension, Hawaiian whites, or haoles, took much care to construct themselves as the indisputably dominant race in the islands. One means to that end was inventing and heroically confronting a civilizational threat from the Chinese, the biggest group of foreigners in Hawaii from the 1876 reciprocity treaty to the mid-1890s. In so doing, haoles managed to show that whites could and did overcome formidable obstacles to achieve a flourishing of their race and institutions in the island nation. This maneuver debunked anti-annexation Americans’ logic and concurred with American annexationists’ emphasis on Hawaii’s whiteness and its precariousness in the final stage of annexation debates. It was therefore one part of the Hawaii-U.S. cross-border effort at incorporating the former into the latter.


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How to Cite

Zhang, T. (2023). The Chinese Civilizational “Threat” and White Supremacy Construction in Hawaii before Annexation. Culture &Amp; History Digital Journal, 12(1), e013.