NHSC Ancient History To The Reciprocity Treaty

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Ancient History To The Reciprocity Treaty


The origin of the native settlers of the Hawaiian Islands has not been definitively determined. 1/ While "comparative ethnology, linguistics, and archaeology leave little doubt that Hawaiians were East Polynesian in origin," 2/ scholars do not agree on the origin, timing of the initial settlement, and the number of periods of migration.

Excavations on the island of Hawaii indicate to some that "the first significant settlement of the islands was by people with a cultural assemblage similar to that of archaic East Polynesia and that this settlement occurred sometime prior to A.D. 400." 3/ The island from whence these settlers originated, according to this scholar, has yet to be determined. Other scholars have concluded that: "Early dispersal [from the Marquesas Islands] to the Society Islands, Hawaii, and Easter Island probably took place between A.D. 650 and 800..." 4/ The population and culture of these early settlers developed "largely isolated from changes in other areas of Polynesia." 5/ There is, however, an oral tradition in Hawaii of a period of two-way voyaging between Hawaii and places to the south after this period of isolation. With the use of genealogies for time reckoning, "scholars have estimated that this voyaging would have occurred sometime between A.D. 950 and 1350 if it did in fact take place." 6/ This second migration is said to have had a significant impact on Hawaii, particularly in the area of new religious rites and symbols. 7/

After this period, again according to Hawaiian tradition, there was "no contact with other areas of Polynesia for some twenty generations prior to European contact," 8/ Throughout this period, meanwhile, the Hawaiians were developing complex social, cultural, and political systems.

Every aspect of Hawaiian life was carried out in accordance with deeply implanted religious beliefs. Important events in each individual's life were commemorated with prayers and feasts honoring the person and the family gods. Significant events in everyday life began and ended with appropriate rituals, including house building, canoe making, fishing, and farming. Gods were invoked for every purpose from warfare to sports tournaments. 9/

Besides the great gods of Hawaii (by the time of the missionaries there were four: Kane, Ku, Lono, and Kanaloa), there was an infinite number of subordinate gods descended from the family line of one or another of the major deities. These gods were worshiped by particular families or by those who pursued special occupations. All forms of nature were thought of as bodily manifestations of spirit forces. Some Hawaiians worshiped their gods in the form of images, while others worshiped without any concrete form. 10/

There was a kapu, or taboo, system that was closely intertwined with this religion, as well as with the governmental and social organization of Hawaii. The word kapu means a prohibition or restriction. The kapu system was used to regulate every aspect of ancient Hawaiian life of


all classes of society and, according to one historian, "insured the subordination of the lower to the higher." 11/ Another author explains the meaning of kapu as follows:

In its fundamental meaning

tapu [kapu] as a word was used primarily as an adjective and as such signified that which was psychically dangerous, hence restricted, forbidden, set apart, to be avoided, because: (a) divine, therefore requiring isolation for its own sake from both the common and the corrupt; (b) corrupt, hence dangerous to the common and the divine, therefore requiring isolation from both for their sakes. 12/

Everything associated with the gods was sacred and there were many kapu surrounding priests and anything else related to the gods. Chiefs were believed to be descended from the gods and were surrounded by a great number of kapu, depending on their rank and, hence, degree of sacredness. The best known of the kapu that affected all classes was the prohibition against men and women eating together. Women were also forbidden to eat certain foods such as pork, and certain types of bananas, coconuts, and fish. 13/

The social system of the islands consisted basically of the king, followed by the ali'i (chiefs) of various degrees, kahuna (priests/ advisors), and the maka'ainana (commoners). There was also a slave class, the kauwa, below the maka'ainana, but little is known about it. 14/ The king was regarded as sacred and held the power of life and death over his subjects. His executive duties included warfare, questions of state, and overseeing the performance of religious rites. 15/

The king and ali'i of the highest rank were protected by the strictest of kapu, in order to preserve their mana (divine power) and the beneficence of the gods, upon which the entire kingdom depended for its prosperity. Great care was taken to* secure noble offspring with the purest genealogy and thus ensure the continuation of the dynasty and the good favor of the gods. A suitable partner for a chief of the highest rank was his full-blooded sister. The child of such a union would be a "chief of the highest rank, a ninau pi'o, so sacred that all who came into his presence must prostrate themselves." 16/ For this reason, the genealogies of the kings were carefully preserved by their descendants to determine the purity of the bloodline of both partners. 17/

The political system of the islands consisted of small kingdoms under ali'i, with four main groupings: Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai. Competing ali'i waged wars against each other, and, as a result, boundaries advanced and retreated according to the ability and ambition of their sovereigns. 18/ There was much discussion in the comments received by the Commission about whether the ancient land system could be termed "feudal." 19/ Authors disagree on the subject. William Russ states that "a feudal regime prevailed," 20/ and describes the relationships among the various classes in feudal terms. Lawrence Fuchs says that: "The religious, family, and property systems of feudal Hawaii and feudal Europe were different, but there were many parallels between the two." 21/

Regardless of the term employed, written descriptions of the system are similar. The following is from Jon Chinen, a noted Hawaiian land expert, who does not use the word "feudal:"

When Kamehameha The Great brought all the Hawaiian Islands under his control at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, he simply followed the land system that had existed within the Islands from ancient
times. After selecting the choicest lands for his personal use, the king distributed the rest among his warrior chiefs, who had assisted in his conquests. These warrior chiefs, after retaining certain parcels of land for themselves, reallotted the remaining lands to the inferior chiefs, who in turn reallotted portions of their lands to their own followers. These reallotments of lands continued down the scale to the lowest tenants, the common farmers who actually tilled the soil.
All of these allotments of lands, from the warrior chiefs down to the commoners, were on a revocable basis. What the superior gave, he was able to take away at pleasure. Thus, there was no security of land ownership under the ancient Hawaiian land system. 22/

There is one significant difference between the Hawaiian land system and European feudal systems. The periodic upheavals that resulted in control of land passing to the conquering ali'i affected the latter much more than the commoners since: "the maka’ainana were the fixed residents of the land; the chiefs were the ones who moved from place to place." 23/ The maka’ainana could, if they were displeased with the way the chief treated them, move to the lands of another chief. They were bound to serve the chiefs, but not any particular chief. Malo reports that the "people made war against bad kings in old times" and overthrew chiefs who continually mistreated them. 24/

The Commission also received consents disputing the statement that the maka’ainana lived in an "intolerable" condition. 25/ Here again, authorities disagree. David Maio, a Hawaiian writing in the 1830's, was of the opinion that:

The condition of the common people was that of subjection to the chiefs, compelled to do their heavy tasks, burdened and oppressed, some even to death. The life of the people was one of patient endurance, of yielding to the chiefs to purchase their favor...It was the maka’ainana also who did all the work on the land; yet all they produced from the soil belonged to the chiefs. 26/

Liliuokalani (Hawaii's last monarch), on the other hand, had a very different view of the ancient system:

...it has been at times asserted by foreigners that the abundance of the chief was procured by the poverty of his followers. To any person at all familiar, either by experience or from trustworthy tradition, with the daily life of the Hawaiian people fifty years ago, nothing could be more incorrect than such assumption. The chief whose retainers were in poverty or want would have felt, not only their sufferings, but, further, his own disgrace. As was then customary with the Hawaiian chiefs, my father was surrounded by hundreds of his own people, all of whom looked to him, and never in vain, for sustenance. He lived in a large grass house surrounded by smaller ones, which were the homes of those the most closely connected with his service. There was food enough and to spare for every one. And this was equally true of all his people, however distant from his personal care. For the chief always appointed some man of ability as his agent or
overseer. This officer apportioned the lands to each Hawaiian, and on these allotments were raised the taro, the potatoes, the pigs, and the chickens which constituted the living of the family; even the forests, which furnished the material from which was made the tapa cloth, were apportioned to the women in like manner. It is true that no one of the common people could mortgage or sell his land, but the wisdom of this limitation is abundantly proved by the homeless condition of the Hawaiians at the present day. Rent, eviction of tenants, as understood in other lands, were unknown; but each retainer of any chief contributed in the productions of his holdings to the support of the chief's table. 27/

The early inhabitants of Hawaii developed an economic system that was, by necessity, self-sufficient. Hawaiians lived off the abundance of land and the sea, harvesting and catching only what they needed to satisfy their immediate needs. The basic land division of the islands for landholding purposes was the ahupua'a. The ideal u>ahupua'a</u> extended from the sea to the mountain. Within each ahupua'a, commoners engaged in the activities necessary to support themselves and the chiefs. The lowlands were used for cultivation of taro and bananas, the sea for fishing, and the forests in the mountains supplied bark for cloth and bird feathers for ornaments. 28/

In agriculture, a fairly sophisticated system of irrigation was developed to bring the large amounts of water necessary to grow taro to the dry lands. Periodically, droughts would occur, forcing the people to survive on roots and ferns.

The sea provided an important source of livelihood and sustenance. The Hawaiians were expert fishermen and skillful navigators. As with agriculture, strict kapu controlled the amount of fish caught and the seasons during which they could be caught, creating an efficient conservation scheme.

Other occupations necessary to supply the needs of the culture included house-builders, canoebuilders, and bird-catchers (who collected feathers for the magnificent Hawaiian capes, cloaks, and helmets). 29/


The long isolation of the Hawaiian islands ended with the arrival of Captain James Cook of the British Navy. Captain Cook was on his third exploratory voyage to the South Pacific, travelling from the Society Islands to the northwest coast of America, when he sighted Oahu and Kauai on January 18, 1778. He christened the island group the Sandwich Islands, in honor of his benefactor, the Earl of Sandwich.

On January 19, the two ships under Cook's command, the Resolution and the Discovery, landed on Kauai and traded bits of iron (precious on the islands) for foodstuffs. Thus began the trade between Hawaiians and ships stopping at the islands to rest and replenish that would continue for generations.

Cook and his crew were enthusiastically received by the natives. At first they were somewhat confused at the great respect and awe with which the natives, even the king and chiefs, beheld Captain Cook. When the two ships left Kauai and landed at Niihau, the natives were just as impresses with the ships and gust as interested in trading, especially for iron.


Cook continued his voyage north, searching for a sea passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. After eight months of a frustrating and unsuccessful search, Cook returned to winter in the islands that had been so friendly during his last stopover. The ships made stops at Maui and Hawaii where they were visited by the kings of those islands, each with their chiefs, bearing gifts for Captain Cook. Word had been received from Kauai and Niihau about the wonders of the ships and their occupants.

It was during this stopover that the ship's crew realized that the special treatment received by Captain Cook from the natives was more than just respect for a superior technology. In fact, Captain Cook was thought by the natives to be Lono, the god of the makahiki harvest and of agriculture. This mistaken identity is easily understood. The symbol for Lono that appeared on his banner "consisted of a tall pole and cross bar...decorated with large sheets of white kapa (or cloth)." 30/ The similarity to the rigging of a ship, which the natives had never seen before, must have been considered more than coincidental.

As the ships were leaving the island of Hawaii, the foremast of the Resolution was damaged. Cook returned to Kealakekua Bay on the Kona Coast of Hawaii to make the necessary repairs. While there, some altercation occurred between the natives and the crew of the ships. As a result, one of the ship's cutters was taken. Captain Cook went ashore on February 14, 1779, with the intention of holding the king, Kalaniopuu, hostage on his ship pending the return of the boat. When the natives advanced to protect the king, a battle broke out and Cook was slain.

How could Cook be killed by those who considered him a god? The timing of this last visit has an important bearing on the explanation. Mid- February is the end of the makahiki celebration, with which Lono was associated. During the makahiki, the image of Lono "was carried all around the island, stopping at the boundary of each district (ahupua'a) to receive the taxes." 31/ For warrior chiefs, the makahiki season, with its sports and other pastimes, was only a breathing space to gather strength for the important business of politics and dedicating state temples once again to the war god, Ku. So they were not overly impressed by the presence of Lono. Besides, by the end of this second visit one historian speculates that 32/ "chiefs and commoners alike had had time enough to see far more humanity than divinity among Cook's men." 33/ The same historian explains what happened in this way:

It was not the Hawaiians as a people who deified Cook, but the priests of Lono. It was not the Hawaiians as a people who killed him, but the chiefs and their fighting men, devotees of Ku, the war god, acting as protectors of their ruler, Kalaniopuu, against the incursions of a god who might very well not be a god, and whose period of ascendancy was in any case drawing to an end. Cook died in a distorted realization of the symbolic conflict that marked the close of the makahiki season. 34/

After the death of Cook, the Resolution and the Discovery departed and several years passed before


another ship stopped at the islands. After 1786, however, the fur trade began to develop along the northwest coast of America, and more and more ships came to stop at the islands.

The earliest American contact with the islands appears to be in 1789. In that year Captain Robert Gray, commanding a small Boston trading craft, the Columbia, stopped at the islands on his way to China. By 1800, the trans-Pacific fur trade was almost completely monopolized by New England ships, and the number of American craft stopping in Hawaii increased accordingly. 35/


The arrival of foreigners caused changes in the economy of Hawaii and accelerated political and social transformations already under way. For the natives, these changes were profound. One author writes:

Despite the unification of the islands, the period of Kamehameha's rule was, for the Hawaiian people, one of disintegration, owing to decimation from war, the infiltration of Western commercial practices, the avarice of the Chiefs and priests, the spread of haole diseases, and, perhaps most important, the breakdown of the Hawaiian religion. 36/

Political Unification--Kamehameha I

The last quarter of the eighteenth century found all the islands of the group caught in the midst of bitter civil wars. Rival chiefs fought each other to gain control of the entire group, a feat never before accomplished. The great King Kamehameha I finally succeeded in subduing all of the islands except Kauai and Niihau in 1796. The latter two islands were ceded without a battle in 1810. Even today it is a source of pride for the residents of Kauai that their island was not militarily conquered by Kamehameha.

Several reasons are given for the success of Kamehameha in the face of so many other failures to unite the islands. Among them are the presence of foreigners and their aid in the form of both guns and advice, and the feudalistic character of the Hawaiian society in which loyalties were not static. However, probably the most important reason was the personality and the ability of Kamehameha himself. 37/

At the conclusion of the civil wars, the islands prospered as commoners were free to return to agricultural pursuits. Kamehameha, as had all conquering kings before him, distributed his lands among the ali'i and maintained the basic social and kapu systems.

Economic Changes

The arrival of foreigners brought drastic changes in the economic and material system of the native inhabitants. In the first part of the nineteenth century, Hawaii developed from a basic subsistence economy into a trading center. New products were introduced and Hawaiians traded their produce to acquire them. Port areas like Honolulu on Oahu and Lahaina on Maui were built up to handle the trade.

At first, it was the fur trade that caused ships to winter and replenish in Hawaii on their way to and from the Orient. This economic phase was followed by the sandalwood trade from about 1810 to 1830. In the 1820's, the whaling industry replaced sandalwood as the chief commercial activity and reached its zenith from 1840 to 1860.


The growth of trade with foreigners, as the number of ships stopping at the islands increased, created a market economy alongside the traditional subsistence economy. Because the feudal character of the society continued for the natives, the ali'i made new demands on the maka'ainana to service this trade. The most extreme example of this occurred in the sandalwood trade. Hundreds of commoners were forced to gather the fragrant wood for the ali'i to trade with the foreigners. The results of this subjugation included the practical extinction of sandalwood, the neglect of agriculture, and the worsening of the health of the natives, already weakened from diseases introduced by the foreigners. 38/

The Kapu System Falls */

More important than the political and economic changes occurring in the first part of the 1800's was the religious and social significance of the breaking of the kapu system after the death of Kamehameha I in 1819. In that year his son, Liholiho, succeeded him to the throne as Kamehameha II. The new king would not rule alone, however. The dowager queen, Kaahumanu, became the kuhina nui (premier) and exercised substantial authority in running the government.

Although she exercised substantial power, Kaahumanu was still barred from exercising it to the fullest because of her sex. The kapu barring women from the luakini heiau, where one author states that political and religious decisions were made, were very strict. Therefore, soon after Kamehameha died, Kaahumanu began urging Liholiho to abolish the kapu system altogether. 39/

The new king hesitated at first, but he eventually acquiesced to the daring plan of the kuhina nui. The breaking of the kapu system, a truly revolutionary move, was symbolized by ai noa or "free eating"—the king eating with women, breaking the strict kapu against men and women eating together.

The erosion of belief by Hawaiians in the kapu system had begun years before. It is reported by some historians that Kaahumanu herself, along with numerous other women, had begun to break the onerous kapu against them years before. Despite the kapu forbidding it, women had been swimming out to the ships, risking death to do so. The existence of foreigners also served to weaken belief in the kapu system. The ali'i themselves "often had trouble deciding where kapu began and ended in connection with [foreigners]." 40/ Then again, the ali'i may have been convinced by the fact that foreigners did not observe kapu of "the ineffectiveness of the taboos, and, observing the superiority of haole cannon over Hawaiian clubs, of haole ships over native canoes,...began to doubt the power of their ancient gods." 41/

The decision to make such a radical departure from tradition was made by a "handful of chiefs. The commoners, as usual, followed where their ali'i led." 42/ Although they were probably relieved that the more onerous religious restrictions had been lifted, many did not abandon the old faith completely. When Liholiho ordered all the heiau (worship places) destroyed, some Hawaiians salvaged images of their gods. There was some resistance to the breaking of the kapu system on the part of ali'i who were champions of the gods, and a revolt broke out. However, the king succeeded in putting the revolt down in December 1819.

*/ See also chapter below, entitled "Native Hawaiian Religion," pages 232 to 234.


The elimination of the kapu did not change existing societal relations:

The fact that the chiefs had tested the patience of the gods did not cost them the support of the commoners;...The fall of the kapu...was an incomplete revolution. It left relations between chiefs and commoners more or less as they had been, but changed relations between chiefs, freeing each of them to try his skill at amassing and using political power in new ways. 43/

Arrival of Missionaries

The first group of American missionaries was sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, an interdenominational body whose members were primarily Presbyterian and Congregational. 44/ This first mission consisted of four Hawaiians who had been educated at the Foreign Mission School, two ordained ministers (Hiram Bingham of Vermont and Asa Thurston of Massachusetts), and several lay specialists (a farmer, a printer, two teachers, and a physician). The group was instructed to take a broad view of its mission, "to aim at nothing short of covering the islands with 'fruitful fields and pleasant dwellings, and schools and churches.'" 45/

The Hawaii that the missionaries saw when they arrived off the coast of the island of Hawaii on March 30, 1820, was much changed from the Hawaii first viewed by Captain Cook in 1778. The Hawaiian Islands and people had been irrevocably changed by contact with traders, explorers, and foreign residents. Demoralization was one result of this contact. The Hawaiian social order had been transformed-- kapu had been abolished, idols destroyed, and the authority of the priests was thrown in question. The timing of the arrival of the missionaries was auspicious. Acceptance was assured when the powerful kuhina nui, Kaahumanu, supported the missionary endeavor.

The austere New England missionaries introduced totally different mores into Hawaiian society, compounding the confusion and disruption resulting from the economic, political, and social changes discussed above. Two conflicting views are represented by Hawaiian and missionary thinking:

The Hawaiians believed life was to be lived here and now; the men from colder climes insisted that life on earth was merely preparation for everlasting life beyond. 46/ Even in this life, the Hawaiian was not usually trying to prove his virtue, or improve his status; to the New England missionaries, life was a continuous struggle for moral and material self-improvement to receive God's grace. To the Hawaiian, the sharing of food, hut, and woman came naturally; the New Englanders maintained a stern sense of privacy concerning property and person. Sex to Polynesians was pure joy; to these haole, a grim and burdensome necessity. Children born in or out of wedlock received the affection of the Hawaiians, to Bingham and his friends, bastards were conceived in sin. 47/

The role of the missionaries in Hawaii continues to be a complex and controversial issue. Many native Hawaiians still bear hostile feelings against these people who "stole their land." 48/ Indeed, the acquisitions of the missionaries and their descendants in Hawaii became extensive. When they first arrived, the missionaries were prohibited from owning any land. This policy was reversed m the 1840's to counteract the "homeward current" of missionaries who had been there for several years and felt it was time to return to the


United States to educate their children. 49/ The future impact of this was significant:

A strong and aggressive foreign element, mainly American, purloined political power from the Kanakas [natives], and made itself wealthy by entering business, trade, and commerce. Although most of them were no longer missionaries, they were called the "Missionary Party"—in derision--by the natives who saw themselves being progressively relegated to the rear. The numerically inferior, but culturally superior, Americans became not only the leading businessmen but also the chief politicians and governing officials. Royal officers after the 1850's seldom bore Hawaiian names. 50/

This domination continued into the twentieth century, particularly in business. Another author notes that: "By 1935, exactly one-third of the directors and officers of the forty-five sugar plantations and factors in Hawaii were direct descendants of or related by marriage to the original missionary families of the Islands." 51/

There is another side of this story, however. The missionaries did accomplish more than their own self-aggrandizement. For example, they "set up the first printing press west of the Rockies, developed the Hawaiian alphabet, established schools throughout the Islands, printed textbooks, translated the Bible into Hawaiian, and promoted constitutional government under the Kingdom." 52/ The primary goal of the missionaries was to preach and convert, but much time was spent in the beginning teaching and transcribing the Hawaiian language. Their success in education can be seen in the large number of Hawaiians enrolled in schools and the high literacy rates recorded. Whether or not this record of activity was of benefit to the native Hawaiians is difficult to say. Fuch states that:

The missionaries did have a tremendous impact, and by speeding the process of social change, they contributed to the psychological demoralization of the Hawaiians. The Hawaiian language, dance, and art were degraded. The land, property, political and religious systems were under constant attack ...[However,] [e]ven without the missionaries, it is unthinkable that Hawaiian culture and people could have withstood the sudden impact of Western civilization. Indeed, the missionaries often helped arrest some of the decay. 53/

The traders and explorers, who had come to consider the islands of Hawaii their personal paradise, did not appreciate the missionaries' zeal in teaching the natives traditional New England mores. As more natives, and particularly the ali'i, embraced the new faith, more forceful attempts were made to control the debauchery of the sailors by proscribing their activities. The kapu most detested by the sailors was the one placed on women to keep them from the ships. The conflict arising from this clash of desires resulted in the first formal laws of the kingdom, promulgated by the king (see below).

Sailors were not the only group with whom the missionaries did not see eye to eye. In 1827, French Catholic missionaries arrived at Honolulu. The Protestant missionaries eventually influenced the chiefs to expel the Catholic priests. Nevertheless, they persisted in their attempts to establish a mission. Native converts and priests alike continued to suffer persecution until 1839. This fact was one of the primary reasons that the Hawaiian government would have problems in its foreign relations with France for years to come.


Foreign Policy

With a growing foreign population, it became necessary for Hawaiian kings to construct a "foreign policy" for the first time. Kamehameha I considered himself and his kingdom to be under the protection of Great Britain, a view also held by the king's sucessor, Kamehameha II. As will be seen below, there developed among the great powers a continuous rivalry to assert their rights and influence in the island kingdom.

The king and his chiefs felt threatened by the riotous behavior of the sailors and the demands, mainly for land, of other foreigners. To solidify Hawaii's standing against these encroachments, it was felt that the backing of Great Britain was necessary. Therefore, Kamehameha II travelled to Great Britain to meet with King George V to discuss the possibility of a British protectorate for Hawaii. Unfortunately, a measles epidemic broke out in London and both Kamehameha II and his wife died of the disease in 1824. The meeting with King George never occurred.


The reign of Kamehameha III was the longest in Hawaiian history—from 1825 to 1854. Many changes occurred during this time: the establishment of a system of laws, and, eventually, a constitutional government; formal relationships with foreign governments; land reform; and commercial, social, and educational developments.

Creation of a System of Laws

Kauikeaouli, younger brother of Kanehameha II, was a minor when he succeeded to the throne of Hawaii after the death of his brother in London. The kingdom was still governed by the powerful Kaahumanu until her death in 1832.

The first laws appeared in the kingdom before the death of Kamehameha II, made necessary by the increasing problems involved with reconciling the newly-acquired Christian principles c the natives with the unruly behavior of the sailors in the port areas. The earliest printed laws were the "Notices" of 1822 on disturbing the peace. In 1827, three laws were adopted against murder, theft, and adultery.

During the regency of Kaahumanu, there had been a general tightening of laws and restrictions placed on both natives and foreigners. After her death in 1832, the missionaries worried that, without her powerful support, many of their gains in promoting what they considered a Christian nation would disintegrate. They were not wrong. The king, at eighteen, had no sympathy for the new religion. In his rebellion against the puritanical laws imposed during the regency of Kaahumanu, the king abrogated all laws except those against theft and murder. He embarked on a "kind of inventive guerrilla war on Christian morality." 54/ The commoners followed his example and the missionaries despaired as the moral laws they had worked so hard to have accepted were ignored.

One author attributes this attitude of the king to cultural and political reasons:

In the revival of the hula and ancient games we recognize elements of the racial culture struggling for expression after a long period of forced retirement. There was also during these two years (1833 and 1834) a protracted struggle between the king and the older chiefs resulting from the decision of the king to terminate
the regency and from what looks like an attempt on his part to regain for the crown as much as possible of the power which had gradually passed into the hands of the council of chiefs. 55/

The king's rebellion came to an end in June, 1834. 56/ At that time, Kamehameha III retired from actively governing the kingdom and allowed the new kuhina nui, his half-sister Kinau, and the chiefs to run the government, as they had before the death of Kaahumanu.

Meanwhile, the problems inherent in governing a foreign population that frequently called upon warships to back up their claims continued to plague the ruling chiefs. The majority of the claims against the government by foreigners dealt with land and property rights. Unfamiliar with Western property rights and laws, the chiefs decided that it would be necessary to establish more formal laws and government in the kingdom to answer these claims.

To begin this process, a request was made to the United States in 1836 by the chiefs for a teacher of economics and political science. When no suitable teacher could be found, William Richards, a missionary, became "chaplain, teacher and translator" to the king in 1838. 57/ This is the beginning of the formal involvement of missionaries in the government of the Hawaiian kingdom. During the 1840's more missionaries formally joined the king's cabinet: the physician Gerrit P. Judd; Lorrin Andrews, former principal of Lahainaluna; and Richard Armstrong, pastor of Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu. Missionaries who joined the government were required to break formal connection with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Other white men found their way into the government from diverse backgrounds: John Ricord became attorney general; William Little Lee became chief justice of the Hawaiian supreme court while still in his twenties; Robert C. Wyllie served as foreign minister for twenty years. The numbers and influence of these men in the government grew. By the end of 1844, there were fourteen white men working for the government. This number grew to forty-eight by 1851—twenty-five Americans, twenty-one Englishmen, one Frenchman, and one German. Each foreigner in the government had to sign an oath of allegiance to the king as a condition of employment. 58/

Once Richards began to advise the king and the chiefs, "it became clear that the government could not be remade to suit foreigners without bringing in revolutionary changes in the relationship between chiefs and commoners." 59/ As a first step in 1839 the king announced a policy of religious toleration (relieving pressure on the Catholics). In the same year, the king proclaimed the Declaration of Rights and Laws, a sort of civil code (called the "Hawaiian Magna Carta"). This document defined and secured for the first time the rights of the commoners who, prior to that time, had had no rights, but were subservient to the ali'i. This was the first result of the decision by the king and chiefs to codify the laws of the kingdom.

Prior to the Constitution of 1840, Hawaii's form of government was difficult to define because it was constantly changing. During the reign of Kamehameha I, it was a feudal aristocracy. During the reign of Kamehameha II and the minority of Kamehameha III, the importance of the office of the kuhina nui was enhanced and the chiefs began to encroach on the authority of the king. From their beginning as an advisory council, the chiefs eventually came to have legislative power. 60/


After deliberation by the chiefs and the king's advisors, a constitution was signed by the king and kuhina nui in 1840. The Constitution of 1840 put in writing for the first time a plan of the government and a description of the powers and duties of various officials within the government. In brief, the constitution provided that:

  • The king and the kuhina nui together wielded supreme executive authority.
  • Four governors, subject to the king and kuhina nui, would have charge of matters of government not assigned to other officials.
  • The lawmaking power was lodged in a legislative body consisting of two branches: a council of chiefs, including the king and kuhina nui (later called house of nobles), and a representative body chosen by the people.
  • A supreme court was created to be composed of the king, kuhina nui, and four other judges appointed by the lower branch of the legislature.

Three Organic Acts adopted from 1345 to 1847 elaborated on the constitution. They set up an administrative and judicial system of the Anglo-American type. The first act defined the organization of the executive branch. The second defined the functions of the five executive departments, including an article that established a Board of Commissioners to Quiet Land Titles. The third organized the judiciary.

Through these Organic Acts, the administrative and judicial systems developed more toward the Anglo-American style advocated by the foreigners holding positions in the government. As the number of these foreigners in the government increased, protests were made to the king by native Hawaiians. In 1845, a petition was sent to the king from Lahaina asking him to dismiss all naturalized foreigners he had appointed as officers of the kingdom. 61/ The petition was not acted upon.

At the same time, the land system was undergoing drastic changes from the previous system. The Great Mahele of 1848 divided land in the kingdom into two parts--land belonging to the king and land belonging to the konohiki, or chiefs. The next day, after the last mahele (division) with the konohiki, the king divided his land again m two parts with the larger part designated as "government" land under the control of the legislative council. The smaller part was known as the "Crown Lands" and belonged to the king. At about the same time, kuleana were awarded in fee simple to native Hawaiian tenants.*/

By 1851 the Constitution of 1840 was out of date, given the numerous developments in the government system since that time. A new constitution was approved by the legislature in 1852. The powers of Government were divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The king was declared the "Supreme Executive Magistrate," although his powers were somewhat limited by the kuhina nui. The privy council continued to play an important role. Ministers were appointed by the king, as were governors. Legislative power was vested in the king, the house of nobles, and the house of representatives, each with veto powers over the others.

*/ For a more complete explanation of the land system changes, see Part II, "Land Laws and Land Relationships."


In order to understand future constitutional activity of the kingdom, it is important here to point out the differences between constitutions of the Hawaiian Kingdom and of the United States. 62/ Unlike the system in the United States, the Hawaiian monarch was believed to have had the right to promulgate and abrogate constitutions, since the original constitution was granted by the king and not by "We the people." 63/ One Hawaiian writer states that: "By proposing the action of the constitution of 1852 the king set a precedent that he could, with the consent of the legislature, change the constitution." 64/

Relationships with Foreign Governments

These early years of the reign of Kamehameha III saw increasing problems with foreigners. The government, particularly its white members, struggled to achieve an aura of gravity that would command the respect of the foreigners m the islands. Calling upon warships to back up the claims of foreign citizenry continued unabated, however. The ability of the kingdom to survive on its own became increasingly questionable. David Malo wrote at this time that "such has always been the case with large countries, the small ones have been eaten up." Evil, he wrote, was at the door, ready to "come in and bite us." 65/ The treaties the king had already signed with foreign governments were disadvantageous to Hawaii and did little to protect the sovereignty of the kingdom.

Relations with the French were at a particularly low ebb. Besides the religious persecution of Catholics in Hawaii, the passage of an act in 1838 prohibiting importation and purchase of distilled liquors and imposing a duty of $l/gallon on imported wines was particularly irksome. The problem came to head in July 1839. The commander of a French frigate, Captain Laplace, threatened to use force if the king did not accede to several demands made by the French in Hawaii. To avoid bloodshed, the king signed a convention with the French (known as the "Laplace Convention") and announced a policy of religious toleration.

The convention the king was forced to sign contained two clauses that circumscribed the power of the king:

  • Frenchmen accused of "any crime whatever" would be judged by a jury composed of foreigners, proposed by the French consul; and
  • French merchandise was not to be prohibited nor pay a higher duty than 5 percent ad valorem. 66/

To prevent foreign governments from taking further advantage of Hawaii, the king and his council decided that more formal relationships should be established with foreign governments. To accomplish this, a delegation was sent by the Hawaiian Government in 1842 to negotiate for formal recognition and new treaties with the United States, Great Britain, and France, to replace the existing informal and disadvantageous conventions. The delegation was composed of Sir George Simpson (Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company), William Richards, and Timothy Haalilio (a Hawaiian in the Government).

The mission succeeded in the United States. The first formal recognition of Hawaii's independence was in the form of a document given to the Hawaiian envoys by U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster on December 30, 1842. The document stated that the United States was more interested in Hawaii than any other nation and that "no power ought either to take


possession of the islands as a conquest, or for the purpose of colonization, and that no power ought to seek for any undue control over the existing Government, or any exclusive privileges or preferences in matters of commerce." 67/ The document was sent to Great Britain and France and became known as the "Tyler Doctrine," after the then-President John Tyler.

Having successfully completed their negotiation in the United States, the king's representatives left for Europe to continue their quest for formal recognition. Before they could complete negotiations for recognition in Europe, however, the "Paulet Affair" intervened.

Lord Paulet, captain of the British frigate Carysfort, was sent to Honolulu to protect British interests as a result of complaints--mainly about land--by the acting British consul in Honolulu, Alexander Simpson. Paulet made demands on the Hawaiian government and threatened to fire upon Honolulu if they were not met.

To avoid conflict, the king made a provisional cession of the islands to Great Britain on February 25, 1843. Until the end of July, the Hawaiian Islands were under the British flag. When it was informed of what Paulet had done, the British Government disavowed Paulet's act and sent Rear Admiral Richard Thomas to restore Hawaiian sovereignty, which he did on July 31, 1843.

After this episode was resolved, the Hawaiian delegation continued their European negotiations. Finally, on November 11, 1843, a joint declaration was signed in London by which the Queen of Great Britain and the King of France recognized the independence of the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands. The United States refused to sign the declaration on the grounds that it was contrary to America's policy of avoiding entangling alliances. Instead, the United States stood by the Tyler Doctrine.

Despite this formal recognition of independence, inequitable treaties were still a problem for Hawaii. In 1844, the British presented the Hawaiian Government with a convention with objectionable articles similar to those of the Laplace Convention of 1839. The government signed the convention but wrote to the head of the British foreign office seeking modifications. New treaties were signed with Britain and France in 1846, still with objectionable articles on trade preferences and the composition of juries.

In the mid-1340's and 1850's Hawaii was finally able to achieve equitable treaties. In 1846 Hawaii signed a satisfactory treaty with Denmark that did not contain the restrictive clauses of the British and French treaties. Eventually, even Britain and the United States relaxed their discriminatory attitudes. By the 1840's, the articles of arrangement with the United States, which had first been negotiated in 1826, had ceased to be regarded as a valid treaty. A new treaty satisfactory to the Hawaiian Government was signed in 1849 and remained in effect until the annexation. The American treaty served as the basis for a new, more equitable treaty with Great Britain, signed in 1851. In turn, this treaty was the basis for treaties with Sweden and Norway in 1852.

Thus Hawaii progressed toward more equitable treaty relations. France was an exception, since it continued to insist upon articles objectionable to the Hawaiian Government. Moreover, most-favored-nation clauses enabled other nations to claim, the benefits of the restrictive clauses in the French treaty.

Trade and Annexation

Economic development in the late 1840's and early 1850's foreshadowed the dominant role the United States


would play in economic and political matters in Hawaii through the rest of the century. The latter years of the reign of Kamehameha III saw an increase in trade between Hawaii and the West Coast of the North American continent. The primary impetus was the acquisition of California and Oregon by the United States, the discovery of gold in California, and the subsequent influx of population requiring supplies more easily obtained from Hawaii than from the U.S. eastern seaboard.

This expansion of the United States to the Pacific engendered an "exuberant expansionism, " and convinced many that "it was the 'manifest destiny' of the United States to overspread the whole North American continent and the adjacent islands." 68/ Kuykendall notes that this expansionism would have a significant impact on Hawaii. Specifically, it gave birth in the United States to the idea that Hawaii should be annexed to the American Union, and aroused apprehension in Hawaii as to the possible effect of "this onflowing and seemingly resistless tide upon the destiny of the little island kingdom." 69/

The sugar industry progressed in Hawaii, stimulated by the new markets on the U.S. West Coast. One problem with this market, however, was the high U.S. tariff wall and the necessity to compete with low-cost sugars from Manila and China. Labor supply became a problem as the sugar industry grew concurrently with the decline in the native Hawaiian population. Approximately 200 Chinese contract laborers were brought in for the first time to alleviate the shortage during 1852.

Trade goods were not the only commodity some Hawaiians thought might he travelling between California and Hawaii. Rumors abounded that groups of filibusterers were poised in San Francisco ready to descend upon Hawaii and attempt to overthrow the government.

Other troubles at this time also put the political stability of the monarchy in doubt again. The French menaced once more, sending warships to Hawaii. Then a smallpox epidemic broke out. Partially as a result of the way the epidemic was handled, there was a political upheaval in 1853 and one of the king's ministers, Gerritt Judd, was dismissed.

During this upheaval the topic of annexation to the United States came to the fore. Some viewed annexation as "Manifest Destiny;" others considered it the means to ensure that the islands did not fall into the hands of Great Britain or France; everyone knew that the economy of the islands would benefit if the U.S. tariff on sugar could be eliminated. 70/

The king, beset by internal squabbles, annexationists, and external pressures, began to despair of the future. Secretly, he sent a proclamation to the United States Commissioner requesting assistance in case Hawaii were attacked. The proclamation said, in part, that the king and kuhina nui:

Hereby proclaim as our Royal will and pleasure, that all our Islands, and all our rights as sovereign over them, are from the date hereof, placed under the protection and safeguards of the United States of America until some arrangements can be made to place our said relations with France upon a footing compatible with my rights as an independent sovereign,...or if such arrangements should be found impracticable, then it is our wish and pleasure that the protection aforesaid under the United States of America be perpetual. 71/

The U.S. Commissioner and members of the king's government drew up a document setting forth alternative plans for the United States to save Hawaii from the danger of filibustering or threats from foreign governments. In order of preference, these were:

  • A joint protectorate by the United States, Great Britain, and France;
  • A protectorate under the United States and Great Britain;
  • A protectorate by the United States alone;
  • If no protectorate could be arranged, resignation of sovereignty to the United States. 72/

After communicating these developments to Washington, however, the United States Commissioner was informed by the U.S. Secretary of State that he was not to give countenance to "any idea or expectation that the islands will become annexed to the United States." 73/

All of these negotiations came to a halt without being resolved. Rumors of filibustering proved untrue, relations with France improved somewhat, and Kamehameha III died on December 15, 1854. His successor, Prince Alexander Liholiho, did not reopen the discussions and supporters of annexation in Hawaii gave up their agitation for the time being. However, interest had been piqued in the United States by these developments. Fear that France would take over the Hawaiian Islands had stimulated talk of annexation, particularly in California.


Politics and Sugar

Prince Alexander Liholiho, nephew and heir of Kamehameha III, ascended the throne as Kamehameha IV in December 1854. His reign lasted until his death in 1863. This Hawaiian monarch had very different ideas about relations with foreign governments, in general, and with the United States, in particular.

In the foreign realm, the policy of the government of Kamehameha IV consisted of three parts:

1) To substitute for the pending annexation project a treaty of reciprocity between the United States and Hawaii;
2) To get a satisfactory treaty with France and place the relations between the two countries on a cordial footing; and
3) To obtain a joint guarantee of Hawaii's independence by the great maritime powers, Great Britain, France, the United States, and possibly Russia, by means of a tripartite or quadripartite treaty. 74/

Of the three parts of this policy, only the second met with some success. A new treaty between Hawaii and France was ratified in 1858 and, although still not satisfactory, the treaty was "in some important respects an improvement over the old one." 75/

One of the first steps taken in pursuit of the foreign policy goals of Kamehameha IV was to break off all negotiations for annexation to the


United States. 76/ In general, the reign of Kamehameha IV marked the beginning of the turning away from American influence and toward a closer relationship with England. This relationship with symbolized by the introduction of the Anglican Church into Hawaii by the king and his wife, Queen Emma. 77/ The king and the chiefs feared that the great preponderance of American interests (particularly missionary interests) in Hawaii would lead to the overthrow of the monarchy, annexation, and the eventual extinction of the Hawaiian race. 78/ The close call with annexation in the waning years of the reign of Kamehameha III (which Alexander Liholiho had opposed, as prince and heir apparent) confirmed this suspicion.

Meanwhile, these years were years of economic transition. Whaling declined as the primary industry, while the sugar industry grew dramatically. After the California gold rush, the sugar industry went into a depression in Hawaii. However, the U.S. Civil War provided the necessary boost in the market to make Hawaiian sugar the primary export of the islands. Another factor in the increase in output at this time were improvements in mills, machinery, and production methods.

The plantation agency system developed to promote the industry. The system, which was set up by the larger business houses in Honolulu, provided capital to and served as centralized agents for individual plantations. The larger of these establishments would eventually consolidate into the "Big Five" sugar factors (agents).

The problem of labor supply became acute, sparred by the growth of the agriculture industry and the continued decline in the native population. 79/ More Chinese laborers were brought in, but this was not a popular policy, particularly among native Hawaiians. The first Japanese laborers were brought to Hawaii in 1368. In 1869, Hawaiians held meetings during which several resolutions were passed against further importation of Chinese contract labor and expressing the opinion that "the government should bring here the people—men, women and children—of a cognate race with ourselves, as laborers, and to increase the population of our group." 80/

In 1871, a treaty of friendship and commerce was concluded with Japan. The treaty contained provisions that "the Hawaiian Government expected to open the way for an extensive immigration of Japanese laborers to Hawaii." 81/ This goal was not reached until after many years of negotiation, however.

The continued growth of the sugar industry depended on the existence of an accessible market. For this reason, the question of annexation was still alive in the minds of sugar planters, who were most interested in getting out from under the heavy import duties imposed upon them by the U.S. Government. The Hawaiian Government proposed an alternative—a reciprocity treaty with the United States to permit U.S. and Hawaiian goods to be exchanged free of duty. An emissary was sent to Washington to negotiate such a treaty but it did not pass the U.S. Senate. The Hawaiian sugar industry was afforded some relief, however, when the U.S. tariff was lowered in 1859. In late 1866 the reciprocity treaty was once more brought forward, but it was again defeated in the U.S. Congress.

One of the reasons for the defeat of the treaty, according to Kuykendall, was the mission of Zephaniah S. Spalding. He was sent to Hawaii in late 1868 by U.S. Secretary of State Seward 82/ "to observe and report to Seward on the situation in the islands and the probable effect of the reciprocity treaty that was then pending in the Senate." 83/ According to Kuykendall, Spalding was "strongly opposed to the reciprocity treaty, and was in favor of annexation, which he thought would be hastened by rejection


of the treaty." 84/ Spalding's report probably had some, although not major, influence on the treaty's rejection by the U.S. Congress. 85/

Plight of the People

As a result of the constitutional developments described above, native Hawaiian men had the right to vote for the members of the kingdom's house of representatives. They did not, however, share in the growing prosperity of the kingdom.

The native population continued its precipitous decline. Liholiho singled out the problem of the decrease in the native population in his speech opening the legislature in 1855. He suggested a two-fold attack on the problem: reduction in loss caused by disease, and encouragement of Polynesian immigrants to reinforce and reinvigorate the Hawaiian stock. The latter plan was eventually accomplished through labor immigration, although it was not always to the satisfaction of the native Hawaiians, as noted above.

To improve the economic well-being of the native Hawaiians, efforts were made by Kings Kamehameha IV and V to interest them in the growing agricultural industry. Some native Hawaiians did grow potatoes, but the potato as a cash crop did not survive long. The Native Hawaiian Agricultural Society was set up in 1856, but it was not very successful in encouraging greater production from Hawaiians. Growing sugar required large-scale operations and was monopolized by Americans. The native Hawaiians did not share the white man's view of the future in terms of profit and loss, and the result was that the native population existed on the fringes of the impending economic boom.

Constitutional Change

On the death of Liholiho on November 30, 1863, his older brother (Prince Lot) succeeded to the throne as Kamehameha V. Unlike his predecessor, Kamehameha V did not take the oath to uphold the kingdom's constitution, promulgated in 1852.

Even during the reign of Liholiho, the king and his advisors had attempted to amend the Constitution of 1852. The most objectionable features of the latter included the existence of the office of the kuhina nui, the power of the privy council, universal male suffrage, and the absence of property qualifications for members of the House of Representatives.

King Kamehameha V believed that the Constitution of 1852 was far in advance of the needs of the people, and he called a convention to draft a new constitution. When the convention deadlocked on the question of property qualifications, the king adjourned the convention, abrogated the old constitution and promulgated a new one a week later. The principal changes embodied in the Constitution of 1864 were:

  • The office of kuhina nui was abolished;
  • The powers of the privy council were curtailed, while the administrative powers of the king and cabinet were strengthened;
  • The nobles and people's representatives would sit together as the legislative assembly; and
  • There would be property qualifications for the representatives and property and educational qualifications for voters.

As noted above, the power of the king to unilaterally abrogate the constitution was accepted by native Hawaiians. Of the action of Kamehameha V, Liliokalani says:

It has already been seen that the right of life and death was unchallenged; that whatever it may be in other countries, as late as an epoch thirty years in the past [i.e., mid-1860's] it belonged to the highest chief of the Hawaiian people...Let it be repeated: the promulgation of a new constitution, adapted to the needs of the times and the demands of the people, has been an indisputable prerogative of the Hawaiian monarchy. 86/

F. LUNALILO (1873-1874)

Kamehameha V died in December 1872 without naming a successor. On his deathbed he asked the High Chiefess Bernice Pauahi (Mrs. Charles R. Bishop) to be his successor, but she declined. As provided for in the constitution, the national legislature was responsible for choosing the new monarch. An informal popular vote was held and the result was a large majority for Lunalilo, a cousin of Kamehameha V (the other contender was David Kalakaua). The legislature confirmed the election.

The kingdom that Lunalilo took over was encountering severe economic difficulties. The islands' economy became more and more dependent upon the United States as the sugar industry continued to expand. The reciprocity treaty became more important with the serious financial depression in Hawaii in 1872. Talk of annexation surfaced, but the weight of public opinion, even among the haole population, was against it. The king and legislature submitted for U.S. review the idea of a reciprocity treaty in return for the cession of Pearl Harbor. Some of the king's advisors had told him that this would make passage of the treaty much more probable. There was a public outcry against such a scheme by the native population, however, and the latter proposal was withdrawn.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Government was ascertaining the military importance of the Hawaiian Islands in general and Pearl Harbor in particular. Early in 1873 Major General John M. Schofield, commander of the United States Army Military Division of the Pacific, and Brevet Brigadier General B. S. Alexander, a lieutenant colonel in the Corps of Engineers, arrived in Honolulu. 87/ Ostensibly on a vacation trip, the secret purpose of the men's visit was to report to U.S. Secretary of War W. W. Belknap on the "defensive capabilities of the different ports and their commercial facilities." 88/ The report, which was made public twenty years later, "emphasized the value of Pearl Harbor and discussed the means of making it available for naval and commercial purposes." 89/

In the political realm, Lunalilo did succeed in having some amendments to the Constitution of 1864 adopted, including the repeal of the property qualifications for voters. Other policies were not as popular, however. The continuing public health problem with leprosy resulted in strict enforcement of the law sending lepers to Molokai—in two years over 500 lepers were sent to facilities there that were already over-extended. This policy caused the government to lose much popular support.


Lunalilo died of pulmonary tuberculosis in February 1874 after barely a year on the throne. He became the first Hawaiian monarch to leave his property to a benevolent institution—the Lunalilo Home for poor, destitute, and infirm people of Hawaiian blood.

Since Lunalilo died without an heir, the legislature once again had to choose a king. David Kalakaua was elected after a campaign in which he was opposed by Queen Emma, the widow of Kamehameha IV. This election changed the line of succession from the Kamehameha line to the Kalakaua line.


King Kalakaua was in favor of a reciprocity treaty. Shortly after he assumed the throne, he travelled to the United States as a "good-will" ambassador to promote its passage. Some credit the eventual passage of the treaty to the favorable impression he made. Of this trip, Liliuokalani says:

Yielding to the wishes of those residents of his domain who were from American or missionary stock, my brother [Kalakaua] had organized the negotiation of a treaty of closer alliance or reciprocity with the United States...The result of this visit is well known. It secured that for which the planters had gained endorsement of the king, it resulted in the reciprocity treaty of January 30, 1875. 90/

Liliuokalani states that support for the treaty was not unanimous in Hawaii. Some protected that it would "put in peril the independence of our nation." 91/

The reciprocity treaty finally passed the U.S. Congress and was signed in nid-1875 without the clause on Pearl Harbor. It went into effect in 1876. The treaty was renewed in 1887 with a clause giving the U.S. Government exclusive right to use Pearl Harbor, and this treaty remained in effect until June 1890.

The 1876 treaty provided that unrefined sugar, rice, and almost all other Hawaiian products would be admitted to the United States free of duties. In return, a long list of American products and manufactured goods were admitted into Hawaii. The treaty also provided that, as long as it was in effect, Hawaii could not offer the same kind of treaty to any other nation.

The primary effect of the treaty was a tremendous upsurge in the sugar industry. Records show that in 1875, before the treaty was in effect, 25 million pounds of sugar were exported. By 1890, that amount had increased ten-fold--250 million pounds of sugar were exported. 92/

Since sugar cane requires large amounts of water, extensive irrigation was begun, with an assured market, more capital was available to make such improvements. The agency (or factor) system became more important, because it offered a centralized system to sell and ship crops, finance new ventures, and purchase equipment needed by plantations. With the growth in output, the need for labor also increased. More than 55,000 immigrant laborers were brought to Hawaii between 1877 and 1890. Approximately one-half of these were Chinese. Others were Japanese, Portuguese, and European. 93/

However, the most significant consequence of the reciprocity treaty was the development of powerful economic ties between Hawaii and the United States. These economic ties then intensified the political consequences of the treaty. Russ believes that:

The political consequences of this reciprocity agreement cannot be overestimated. When Hawaii was finally annexed in 1898, practically everybody
agreed that the first real step had been reciprocity, that is to say, economic annexation. 94/

The events that took place from 1875 to 1898, when Hawaii was annexed to the United States, are reviewed in Part II, "Diplomatic and Congressional History: From Monarchy to Statehood," below.




1/ This section on the origin of ancient Hawaiian settlers was revised as a result of suggestions for the use of additional sources by Violet Ku'ulei Ihara of the Bishop Museum, Honolulu.

2/ H. David Tuggle, "Hawaii", in The Prehistory of Polynesia, Jesse D. Jennings, editor (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1979), p. 189.

3/ Ibid.

4/ Yosihiko H. Sinoto, "The Marquesas," in The Prehistory of Polynesia, p. 131.

5/ Tuggle, p. 189.

6/ Ibid.

7/ Ibid.

8/ Ibid., p. 171.

9/ Donald Kilolani Mitchell, "Religious Beliefs and Practices," from Resource Units in Hawaiian Culture (Honolulu: The Kamehameha Schools, 1982), p. 1.

10/ Martha Warren Beckwith, Hawaiian Mythology (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1970), p. 81.

11/ Ralph S. Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume I, 1778-1854, Foundation and Transformation (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1968), p. 8. Hereinafter referred to as "Kuykendall Volume I."

12/ E. S. C. Handy, Polynesian Religion (Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 34, 1927), quoted in Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 8.

13/ Mitchell, p. 35. Elaboration of explanation of kapu system added a the suggestion of Violet Ku'ulei Ihara.

14/ Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 9. Change suggested by Violet Ku'ulei Ihara.

15/ The Commission received several comments from individuals on the issue of genealogy, royal succession, and differing claims to the former Hawaiian throne. (See, for example, comments by Rory Soares Toomey, Ralph L. Heidenreich, Victoria Mews, Beatrice Kulia-Ika-Nuu Anderson, and George T. H. Pai.) One comment notes that: "...it would be inappropriate for the [Native Hawaiians Study Commission] to attempt to resolve the issue of royal succession" (Beatrice Kulia-Ika-Nuu Anderson). The Commission agrees; it is outside the purview of the Commission's mandate to issue an authoritative statement on the differing claims to the former Hawaiian throne. The Commission's Report does not specifically address the issue of succession. Any statements that may seem incidentally to relate to this issue are hot meant to address or prejudice any current claims.

16/ David Malo, Hawaiian Antiquities (Moolelo Hawaii) (Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1951), p. 80.

17/ Ibid., p. 80.

18/ Thomas Marshall Spaulding, The Crown Lands of Hawaii, University of Hawaii Occasional Papers, No. 1 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, October 10, 1923), p. 3. This article was submitted as a comment and can be


found in the Appendix. A comment received from John J. Hall states that: "Boundaries never changed, even after contact. Ahupua'a remained stationary, only alii moved...If warfare was as extensive as historians report, the environment would show the effects and the literature does not support such a situation." The quotation from Spaulding refers to boundaries pertaining to land under a particular chief and not to boundary changes of particular ahupua'a.

19/ For example, Congressman Daniel Akaka says that the Commission's early history of Hawaii "relies far too heavily on a comparison with the feudal structure such as it existed in Europe during the Middle Ages." Comments by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs note that: "It is important to note that the concept of fee-simple ownership of the land was unknown to Hawaiians. The alii...did not own the land..., they merely managed the land and other resources." Haunani-Kay Trask states that calling the Hawaiian system feudal, "is a false rendering of the Hawaiian land tenure system which did not include the following feudal structures--obligatory military service; bondage to the land; ownership by the kings and chiefs." [Emphasis in the original.]

20/ William Adam Russ, Jr., The Hawaiian Revolution (1893-1894) (Gettysburg, Pa.: Times and News Publishing Co., 1959), p. 30.

21/ Lawrence H. Fuchs, Hawaii Pono: A Social History (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1961, p. 6.

22/ Jon J. Chinen, Original Land Titles in Hawaii (Honolulu: Jon J. en, 1961), p. 7.

23/ Malo, p. 88.

24/ Ibid, p. 85.

25/ See Draft Report of Findings, Native Hawaiians Study Commission, p. 107. Comments received from Haunani-Kay Trask, et al, state that: "Hawaiian commoners enjoyed more rights to the land in precontact Hawaii than under the private property system brought by the West." In another comment, Kawaipuna Prejean states that: "Our Alii was unlike the slave masters of Europe who expected the citizens of the soil to do all the work and keep the royalty in its opulence. The Chiefs of old, before falling victim to germ warfare deliberately introduced by the invaders to decimate the race, toiled in the earth with the Makaainana or citizens of the soil" (pp. 1-2). See also, Haunani-Kay Trask, "An Historical Over-view of Hawaii: Pre-Contact to the Present," a paper prepared at the direction of and funded by the Office of Hawaiians Affairs. This paper is reproduced in full in the Appendix of this Report.

26/ David Malo, quoted in Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 9.

27/ Liliuokalani, Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen (Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1964), p. 3.

28/ Chinen, Original Land Titles in Hawaii, p. 52. On various aspects of daily life, see also paper by Haunani-Kay Trask, "An Historical Over view of Hawaii."

29/ Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 9.

30/ Mitchell, p. 8.

31/ Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 8. Added as a result of comments received from Violet Ku'ulei Ihara. See also chapter below on "Native Hawaiian Religion," page 231.


32/ That the following quote is the author's speculation was pointed out by Violet Ku'ulei Ihara.

33/ Gavan Daws, Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands (New York: The MacHillan Company, 1968), p. 26.

34/ Ibid., p. 27.

35/ Merze Tate, The United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom: A Political History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965), p. 1.

36/ Fuchs, p. 7,

37/ Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 29.

38/ Ralph S. Kuykendall and A. Grove Day, Hawaii: A History, from Polynesian Kingdom to American Commonwealth (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1948), p. 43.

39/ Daws, p. 56.

40/ Ibid., p. 57.

41/ Fuchs, p. 9.

42/ Daws, p. 59.

43/ Ibid., pp. 59-60.

44/ Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 100.

45/ Daws, p. 62.

46/ It was pointed out in a comment from Violet Ku'ulei Ihara that, contrary to what this quotation implies, "Hawaiians did prepare for spiritual hereafter." See also, the chapter below on "Native Hawaiian Religion," page 227.

47/ Fuchs, p. 9.

48/ Comments from Haunani-Kay Trask, et al, state the following: "While it is true that the missionaries were prohibited from acquiring land while they were members of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, they in fact began to acquire land in enormous quantities after they left the mission. Here, the bias towards the missionaries is extreme in this section for two reasons: they are removed of responsibility for bringing diseases and cultural degradation that hastened the decline of Hawaiians, and they are elevated to the point of actually appearing as redeemers of the people. The facts, however, are otherwise. Missionaries are responsible for taking land, bringing death and disease, and for imposing a foreign religion which severed the Hawaiians' relationship to the earth. They are the harbingers of colonialism in Hawaii, and their descendants controlled most of the sugar plantations—the Big Five corporations of Castle and Cooke, Alexander and Baldwin, and C. Brewer all had missionary connections. Moreover, there needs to be a discussion of the role of missionary-descended individuals in the overthrow of the monarchy, and particularly in the creation and functioning of the Provisional Government."

The text of the report has been revised by the Commission in an attempt to address Trask's concerns. As to the missionaries "bringing death and disease," most authors place the blame for this on the foreigners who arrived in Hawaii prior to the missionaries. For example, Fuchs states that: "Between Cook's visit and the arrival of the first missionary band from New England, disease, war, and famine had taker. nearly half of the population...Until the arrival of nine missionary doctors forty-two years after Cook's discovery, the natives were without protection against the new diseases" (Fuchs, p. 13).

49/ Kuykendall and Day, p. 77.

50/ Russ, The Hawaiian Revolution, p. 3.


51/ Fuchs, p. 2 49.

52/ Ibid., p. 12.

53/ Ibid., pp. 12-13.

54/ Daws, p. 92. A fuller discussion of this period can be found in Daws, pp. 91-93, and Kuykendall, Volume I, pp. 133-136. This section was rewritten to correct the "Western bias" of the Draft Report noted by Congressman Daniel Akaka.

55/ Kuykendall, Volume I, pp. 134-135.

56/ Revised as a result of connects from Congressman Daniel Akaka.

57/ Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 154.

58/ Daws, p. 108.

59/ Ibid., p. 107.

60/ Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 157.

61/ Ibid., p. 259.

62/ Comment received from John M. Agard, submitting publication by Louis K. Agard, Jr., entitled The Sandalwood Trees; Politics and Hope.

63/ Ibid., p. 9.

64/ Ibid.

65/ Quoted in Daws, p. 111.

66/ Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 166.

67/ Ibid., p. 194.

68/ Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 383. Discussion of U.S. expansionism included as a result of comments by Haunani-Kay Trask, et al.

69/ Kuykendall, Volume I, pp. 383-384.

70/ Daws, p. 147.

71/ Kuykendall, Volume I, p. 402.

72/ Ibid., p. 403.

73/ Ibid., p. 406.

74/ Ralph S. Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume II, 1854-1874, Twenty Critical Years (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1966), p. 38. Hereinafter referred to as "Kuykendall, Volume II."

75/ Kuykendall, Volume II, p. 54.

76/ Ibid., p. 38.

77/ Kuykendall and Day, p. 105.

78/ Kuykendall, Volume II, p. 36.

79/ Comment by Louis Agard, p. 16, says that: "Contrary to many reports, native Hawaiians did not leave the field work. As late as 1869, several plantations employed all native Hawaiian labor. By 1870, while the native population was declining, there was a tremendous expansion of sugar production from two million to 20 million pounds annually. The demand for increased production and with it for increased labor, was so great that the labor had to come from outside the kingdom."

80/ Kuykendall, Volume II, p. 190.

81/ Ibid., p. 236. See also publication by Louis Agard, p. 15.

82/ Discussion of Spalding added at suggestion of comment by Alexander H. Raymond, who says: "...Secretary of State William H. Seward sent Secret Agent Z. S. Spalding to Hawaii with personal instructions to investigate


ways and means to acquire Hawaii through annexation...Using his inside knowledge of exactly how far the U.S. was willing to go in order to obtain sovereignty over the Native Kingdom, Mr. Spalding later became one of the richest plantation owners in Hawaii by speculating on sugar increases and purchasing land from bankrupt natives."

83/ Kuykendall, Volume II, p. 216.

84/ Ibid., p. 217.

85/ Ibid., p. 22 3. Kuykendall ascribes more importance to the correspondence of a Captain Reynolds, commanding officer of an American warship anchored off Hawaii during reciprocity discussions in the kingdom's legislature.

86/ Liliuokalani, pp. 20-21. See comment by Louis Agard, p. 9, where he says: "Based on the precedents, the small band of foreigners acting as the 'Committee of Safety' had no authority to intervene when Queen Liliuokalani proposed a new constitution which she later retracted."

87/ Discussion of Schofield mission inserted as a result of comment by Kawaipuna Prejean, p. 5.

88/ Belknap to Schofield, confidential, June 24, 1872, War Dept. Records, quoted in Kuykendall, Volume II, p. 248.

89/ Kuykendall, Volume II, p. 248. Kuykendall also speculates on the reasons for the mission at that particular time: "...the only obvious special circumstances that might have called it forth were the strained relations between the United States and Great Britain and the current interest of the United States in the development of steamship lines across the Pacific" (Ibid., p. 249, footnote).

90/ Liliuokalani's views on reciprocity added in response to a comment from Congressman Daniel Akaka that "it would be interesting to review and contrast the comments of Queen Liliuokalani regarding that Treaty and the motivation of the planters."

91/ Liliuokalani, p. 55.

92/ Kuykendall and Day, p. 152.

93/ Ibid., p. 156.

94/ Russ, The Hawaiian Revolution, p. 12.