Nhsc-v1-164

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nhsc-v1-164

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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.
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