Nhsc-v1-154

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nhsc-v1-154

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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

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