At the beginning of the 1890’s, Hawaii found itself in a tug of war between native islanders, who wanted the islands to remain independent, and powerful sugar growers who wanted to join the United States. Queen Lili’uokalani ascended to the throne in 1891 and promptly enacted a series of measures designed to weaken the influence of the sugar growers. However, her mind was soon occupied by different matters: in August of 1892, a zombie plague that had begun among Chinese laborers in the sugar cane fields of Oahu spread to Honolulu. Wave after wave of zombies came staggering out of the jungle, forcing desperate islanders to board outrigger canoes and flee to neighboring islands.
Despite her fear of losing independence, the Queen had no choice but to ask the United States for help. A detachment of US troops arrived in the fall and quickly wrested control of the city from the zombies. But the surrounding countryside proved more difficult to clear, and more US soldiers were called in. The sugar growers took advantage of the chaos and panic by launching a coup, and the Queen was deposed. Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1898, but they did not become the 50th star on the American flag until August 21, 1959.
There has long been suspicion that the sugar growers let the plague go in order to destabilize the queen, a suspicion strengthened by the fact that the top growers left Hawaii shortly after the outbreak began. Whatever the case, Hawaii’s 1892 zombie outbreak killed just under 2000 people, making it the third-worst in U.S. history.