DBQ – The Bayonet Constitution of 1887

Carefully read the following disputed passages -  Articles 26, 31, 48, 59, 60, 61, 62, and 84 were those to which the Hawaiians and the King greatly objected. Then, answer the questions at the end.

Constitution Kingdom of Hawai`i of 1887 (abridged)
WHEREAS, the Constitution of this Kingdom heretofore in force contains many provisions subversive of civil rights and incompatible with enlightened Constitutional Government:

And WHEREAS, it has become imperative in order to restore order and tranquility and the confidence necessary to a further maintenance of the present Government that a new Constitution should be at one promulgated:

NOW THEREFORE, I Kalakaua, King of the Hawaiian Islands, in my capacity as Sovereign of this Kingdom, and as the representative of the people hereunto by them duly authorized and empowered, do annul and abrogate the Constitution promulgated by Kamehameha the Fifth, on the 20th day of August, A.D. 1864, and do proclaim and promulgate this Constitution.

ARTICLE 1.  God hath endowed all men with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the right of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness. …

ARTICLE 26.  The King is the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, and of all other Military Forces of the Kingdom, by sea and land. But he shall never proclaim war without the consent of the Legislature; and no military or naval force shall be organized except by the authority of the Legislature …

ARTICLE 31.  The person of the King is inviolable and sacred. His Ministers are responsible. To the King and the Cabinet belongs the Executive power. All laws that have passed the Legislature, shall require His Majesty's signature in order to their validity, except as provided in Article 48 …

ARTICLE 48.  Every Bill which shall have passed the Legislature, shall, before it becomes law, be presented to the King. If he approve he shall sign it and it shall thereby become law, but, if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to the Legislature, which shall enter the objections at large on their journal and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration it shall be approved by a two-third vote of all the elective members of the Legislature it shall become a law. In all such cases the votes shall be determined by yeas and nays …

ARTICLE 59.  Every male resident of the Hawaiian Islands of Hawaiian, American or European birth or descent, who shall have attained the age of twenty years, and shall have paid his taxes, and shall have caused his name to be entered on the list of voters for Nobles for his District, shall be an elector of Nobles, and shall be entitled to vote at any election of Nobles, provided:

ARTICLE 60.  There shall be twenty-four Representatives of the People elected biennially, except those first elected under this Constitution, who shall serve until the general election for the year of our Lord 1890. The representation shall be based upon the principles of equality and shall be regulated and apportioned by the Legislature according to the population to be ascertained from time to time by the official census …

ARTICLE 61.  No person shall be eligible as a Representative of the people, unless he be a male subject of the Kingdom, who shall have arrived at the full age of twenty-one years; who shall know to read and write either the Hawaiian, English or some European language; who shall understand accounts; who shall have been domiciled in the Kingdom for at least three years, the last of which shall be the year immediately preceding his election; and who shall own real estate within the Kingdom of a clear value, over and above all encumbrances, of at least five hundred dollars; or who shall have an annual income of at least two hundred and fifty dollars, derived from any property or some lawful employment.

ARTICLE 62.  Every male resident of the Kingdom, of Hawaiian, American, or European birth or descent, who shall have taken an oath to support the Constitution and laws in the manner provided for electors of Nobles; who shall have paid his taxes; who shall have attained the age of twenty years; and shall have domiciled in the Kingdom for one year immediately preceding the election; and shall know how to read and write the Hawaiian, English or some European language, (if born since the year 1840) and shall have caused his name to be entered on the list of voters of his district as may be provided by law, shall be entitled to one vote for the Representative or Representatives of that district …

ARTICLE 82.  Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in the Legislature, and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of the members thereof, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be entered on its journal, with the yeas and nays taken thereon, and referred to the next Legislature; which proposed amendment or amendments shall be published for three months previous to the next election of Representatives and Nobles; and if in the next Legislature such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to by two-thirds of all the members of the Legislature, such amendment or amendments shall become part of the Constitution of this Kingdom.


  1. The Hawaiians were especially upset that their King’s powers were greatly diminished.  Which passages diminished the King’s powers?  How?

  2. The Hawaiians were also upset at the composition of the House of Nobles.  Which passages do you think were particularly upsetting?  How and why?

  3. The privilege of voting was also a point of contention for Hawaiians.  Which passages describe voting?  How and why do you think the Hawaiians were angry about these provisions?

  4. What do you believe were the major goals of the authors of the Bayonet Constitution?