The island was later given back to the Hawaiian Monarchy and changed ownership several times before becoming the property of Dr Seth Porter Ford by marriage. Dr. Ford was a founding member of the Hawaiian Medical Association in 1856 and was renamed “Ford Island”.
In 1873 U.S. Major General John M Schofield surveyed Oahu for potential military stations and reported back to the Secretary of War recommending Pearl Harbor be acquired as he believed Ford Island would be excellent as a depot for naval vessels. In 1887 King David Kalakaua granted the U.S. exclusive rights to enter the “Pearl River Harbor” and the U.S. established a coaling and repair station at Ford Island. The U.S. improved the island and harbor in exchange for Hawaiian sugar to enter the U.S. duty-free.
In 1891 Dr. Ford’s son sold the land to Judge John Papa Li Estate. Papa Li was a native Hawaiian of noble lineage who had served under Kamehameha I, II, III, and IV. The island would be converted into a sugar plantation.
Kalakaua died in 1891 and within 2 years the Hawaiian Monarchy would be overthrown. The invasion of the Philippines by the U.S. during the 1898 Spanish-American War would use Pearl Harbor as its staging ground for invading the Philippines. This made the harbor an important Naval station in the Pacific for the United States. The establishment of a military foothold in the Pacific and Southeast Asia would lead the U.S. to annex Hawaii by 1900.
King David Kalakaua and Kingdom of Hawai’i Military Generals at Iolani Palace 1870s