Based a sweeping re-evaluation of new and existing sources in three countries, Pacific Gibraltar is the first detailed account in a generation of Hawaiian annexation, the initial episode of U.S. overseas imperialism. The book clarifies murky episodes in the story of annexation, such as U.S.S. Boston's mysterious return to Honolulu just in time to land troops during the Hawaiian Revolution, President Cleveland's failed attempt to restore Queen Lili'uokalani, and the growing threat to the white rebel government from burgeoning Japanese immigration.
Though the U.S. annexed Hawai'i during the Spanish-American War of 1898, Hawaii was not a war spoil like the Philippines. Rather annexation was an old idea. It emerged not only from ideological and economic motives but above all from a quarter century of maturing appreciation for Hawaii's importance to defense of the west coast. When Tokyo’s push to secure voting rights for its nationals scared the white oligarchy into restricting the inflow of Japanese, triggering a nasty dispute between the two countries in early 1897, the U.S. rushed to protect the strategic isles. When Japan deployed warships to Honolulu and formally opposed annexation, even before the McKinley administration endorsed it, the U.S. completed the first war plans against Japan and authorized the Navy to use force against Japanese landing parties. The Japan-U.S. crisis of 1897 put annexation on the front burner and created the votes that would pass a joint resolution of annexation the following year.