It was a cool, gray day in New York City when a 17-year-old girl from Hawaii stepped onto a nondescript dock and made her plea to the world.
"Today, I, a poor weak girl with not one of my people with me and all these 'Hawaiian' statesmen against me, have strength to stand up for the rights of my people," said Princess Ka'iulaini.
"Even now, I can hear their wail in my heart, and it gives me strength and courage, and I am strong – strong in the faith of God, strong in the knowledge that I am right, strong in the strength of seventy million people who in this free land will hear my cry and will refuse to let their flag cover dishonor to mine," she continued.
It was Wednesday, March 1, 1893. A mere six weeks prior, on January 17, on the island of Oahu, Ka'iulaini's aunt, Queen Liliʻuokalani, had been overthrown in a bloodless coup d'état. Having just arrived from England, where she'd been going to school, the news shocked Hawaii's heir to the throne. By forces beyond her control, the stage had been set for the United States to annex the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1898.
"You here in New York know more about that then I do," she told a reporter from the New York Sun. "When I left England, the news we had received made it seem as if I had no home and no people. I must wait and see what had been done and is being done before I can say more…"