“Kaulana Na Pua,” (“Famous are the Flowers,” or “The Stone-Eating Song.”)

Download PDF

The Basics

Time Required

1-2 class periods

Subject Areas

AP US History

Emergence of Modern America, 1890-1930

Common Core Standards Addressed:

Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12


William D. Martin (2006)

The Lesson


This lesson attempts to explain how and why the United States abandoned a generally isolationist foreign policy and territorial expansion confined to the continental United States, resulting in the acquisition of territories around the globe and new strategic responsibilities that would define the United States as a world power in the 20th century.  Born in rebellion against the world’s most formidable imperial power, the Founding Fathers crafted a republican form of government that reflected disdain for the trappings of imperialism and an implicit faith in the right of the people for self-governance.  Yet, at the end of the 19th century the United States found itself ready to compete with the Old World powers for markets and geopolitical influence throughout the globe, particularly in the Caribbean, South America, and Asia.  While the Americans had been ready expansionists since establishing footholds on the North American continent, that expansion had been confined to the contiguous land areas and accomplished through diplomacy, demographic movements, and armed conflict, frequently bloody and ruthless, directed primarily at the Native Americans who resisted the inexorable movement of the American settlers.  But by the 1890s, this “frontier,” as Frederick Jackson Turner defined it, had closed, forcing the Americans to look abroad for new markets and areas of influence.

The 1890s witnessed major events that influenced its foreign policy: 1) the 1893 depression, the worst in the nation’s history, where it became clear that America’s prodigious industrial capacity required foreign markets in order to sell its surplus goods and maintain a high-level of employment; 2) the appearance among American political, intellectual, and military leaders of Social Darwinist notions that included a mix of ideas that included a firm belief in Anglo-Saxon superiority, a neo-Manifest Destiny sense of mission, and an unquestioned sense that democratic American values and institutions offered colonial peoples the means to liberty and self-governance; 3) the emergence of what diplomatic historian Walter Mead identifies as the Hamiltonian school of foreign policy, where the United States faced a new strategic reality that required it to maintain a two-ocean navy in order to protect its shipping lanes and defend its Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and to do this required territories throughout the globe whereby its fleet could replenish and repair.

By World War One, the United States had gained an empire, one that offered both opportunities but, more clearly, problems.  What rights and privileges should be provided to the newly acquired colonies?  Should the territories be annexed or offered independence?  What of matters of race, religion, and ethnicity?  Can the United States remain a republic while embarking on imperial conquest?  Can a republic hostile to standing armies accept the military necessity of defending an empire?  How these questions would be answered would largely define the role that the United States would take in the 20th century.

Guiding Questions

How do financial situations affect/impact American foreign policy?

What was Manifest Destiny?

Learning Objectives

  • to understand how domestic events shaped American foreign policy in the 1890s
  • to identify the principal arguments of Mahan, Strong, Kipling, Fiske, and Beveridge in shaping foreign policy
  • to connect the “new” Manifest Destiny with the territorial expansion of the 1840s
  • to identify the rationale and process by which Hawaii was annexed to the  United States
  • to define the concept of realpolitik and how it often conflicts with American ideals


Preparation Instructions


Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden”

Josiah Strong, “Anglo-Saxon Predominance”

Available at http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/protected/strong.htm


Ellen Pendergast, “Kaulana Na Pua,” (“Famous are the Flowers,” or “The Stone-Eating Song.”)

Political Cartoon:

Taylor, C.J. "Another Shotgun Wedding, with Neither Party Willing". Cartoon, color lithograph. Puck, v 42, n 1082. December 1, 1897. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Archives, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Drawer: Ills. Press 1-2, negative no. CP 103.858, slide no. XS 30.782.

Description: A woman (Hawai'i) and Uncle Sam are getting married, kneeling before the minister (McKinley) who is reading from a book entitled "Annexation Policy". The bride seems ready to bolt. Behind the couple stands Morgan (jingo) with a shotgun.

Lesson Activities


Students will arrive having discussed domestic political events of the 1890s, particularly the Panic of 1893 and the election of President McKinley in 1896.  The transition will be that the financial crisis had largely been solved by 1898 due to new gold discoveries, sound banking policies, and international recovery, thereby creating a demand for American products.  It will be emphasized that politicians and leading industrialists are committed to developing policies that will prevent reoccurring economic problems (including deadly and violent labor strikes).  Therefore, with recovery and strong Republican support for expanding American markets, foreign policy assumed a new importance at the national level.


Students will be expected to comprehend the Machiavellian world of international diplomacy and how that frequently conflicts with our most cherished values.  Morality, ideals, and interests often battle in shaping foreign policy.  Just as these three factors played critical roles in America’s annexation of Hawaii in 1898, they will have even broader implications as the United States is confronted with the Cuban insurrection and Spain’s ruthless attempt to suppress the rebels.


  • What role did the Berlin Conference play in America’s imperial quest?
  • How was Social Darwinism reflected in the foreign policy of the 1890s?
  • How did domestic events of the 1890s impact foreign policy?
  • How does the “new” Manifest Destiny compare to the old?
  • What is new about the foreign policy at the end of the 19th century?
  • How did the United States respond to alleged violations of the Monroe Doctrine by England and Germany in the 1890s?
  • Why did the United States consider Samoa geopolitically important?
  • What were Albert Thayer Mahan’s strategic arguments?
  • What were the American “interests” in Hawaii?
  • How did King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani respond to the pro-annexationist forces in Hawaii?
  • What did the protectionist tariff of 1893 affect the Hawaiian sugar industry?
  • What role did Loren Thurston, Sanford Dole, and John Stephens play in annexation?
  • Why did President Cleveland refuse to support annexation?
  • Why did President McKinley and the Republicans in Congress support annexation?
  • How is racism depicted in political cartoons of the era?


Extending the Lesson



Kaulana na pua a'o                                                                   Famous are the children of

Hawai'i                                                                                          Hawai'i

Kupa'a ma hope o ka 'aina                                                    Ever loyal to the land

Hiki mai ka 'elele o ka loko                                                  When the evil-hearted messenger

'ino                                                                                                  comes

Palapala 'anunu me ka                                                           With his greedy document of

pakaha.                                                                                          extortion.


Pane mai Hawai'i moku o Keawe.                                     Hawai'i, land of Keawe answers.

Kokua na Hono a'o Pi'ilani.                                                  Pi'ilani's bays help.

Kako'o mai Kaua'i o Mano,                                                   Mano's Kauai lends support

Pa'apu me ke one                                                                     And so do the sands of

Kakuhihewa.                                                                               Kakuhihewa.

'A'ole 'a'e kau'i ka pulima                                                     No one will fix a signature


Ma luna o ka pepa o ka 'enemi,                                           To the paper of the enemy

Ho'ohui 'aina ku'ai hewa,                                                      With its sin of annexation

I ka pono sivila a'o ke kanaka.                                            And sale of native civil rights.

'A'ole makou a'e minamina                                                 We do not value


I ka pu'ukala a ke                                                                      The government's sums of

aupuni.                                                                                           money.

Ua lawa makou i ka pohaku,                                                We are satisfied with the stones,

I ka 'Ai kamaha'o o ka 'aina.                                                Astonishing food of the land.

Ma hope makou o Lili'ulani                                                  We back Lili'ulani

A loa'a 'e ka pono a ka                                                            Who has won the rights of the

'aina.                                                                                               land.

(A kau hou 'ia e ke kalaunu)                                                (She will be crowned again)

Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana                                                  Tell the story

Ka po'e i aloha i ka                                                                    Of the people who love their





Copyright 2011-2013 Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh Library System