When Hawaii was Russian

Hawaii became a U.S. state 52 years ago yesterday. One long-forgotten chapter in Hawaii's history is when the Russians tried to take control of the islands. Back in the early 1800s, Hawaii was a coveted port for whalers. So, in 1816, the Russians began building a fort on Oahu, hoping to control the islands. King Kamehameha I would have none of it, and forced them off the island without any bloodshed. But the Russians didn't go home. Instead, they tried to build their fort on nearby Kauai. When Kamehameha found out, he took more severe action—deporting the Russians to California. This ended Russia's plans in Hawaii, opening the door for the United States a few decades later.

(There's a terrific article about the statehood struggle of Hawaii (and the possibility of a 51st state) in yesterday's Buffalo News—written by Alexander Heffner.)

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