The History of Pearl Harbor Before the Attack

April 20, 2012
by Randy Miller

Polynesians have inhabited the Hawaiian Islands for centuries. Hawaii was discovered relatively late by Europeans. The first visit by westerners to the islands was in 1778 when the British Captain James Cook arrived.

The English ship Butterworth, under Captain William Brown, entered Honolulu Harbor in 1793. Captain Cook passed it on his famous voyage in 1778, but did not enter because there was coral at the entrance of the harbor. The coral rock was blasted away in 1902 and sand a rock was dredged to allow large vessels to enter the locks.

The violent interference with the harbor was said to upset the shark goddess Ka’ahupahau and Hawaiians soon predicted trouble. Many tragic incidents followed as work continued in Pearl Harbor.

In 1876, the Kingdom of Hawaii signed a reciprocity treaty with the United States of America, ceding control of Pearl Harbor to the US in exchange for duty-free exportation of raw sugar to the United States.

The Hawaiian Monarchy was overthrown in 1893 and Hawaii was annexed as a territory of the United States in 1898. This was a strategically important event for the United States because Pearl Harbor is in such an important strategic location in the Pacific Ocean.

In 1940, President Roosevelt ordered the Pacific Fleet to be moved to Pearl Harbor from California. Japanese strategists saw this as a threat. The governments of Japan and the US negotiated for peace, but it was unsuccessful and World War Two began when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.

Not only did the history of Pearl Harbor change drastically after the attack. The history of the entire world changed that day. Read More about the Pearl Harbor Attack


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