Monarchy In Hawaii - Part 2


In The Hawaiian Kingdom 1854-1873, Ralph Kuykendall wrote the following:

In ideas and tastes Kamehameha IV was more European than Hawaiian, and he was fully imbued with the aristocratic idea of the right and duty of the higher class to direct and govern the lower.....He took seriously the responsibilities of his high position and ardently desired to maintain the independence of Hawaii and to promote the welfare of his country.

PRINCE ALBERT Edward Kauikeouli Leiopapa Kamehameha, only child of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. His death at the age of four and a half years stunned and greatly saddened the Hawaiian people. He was the only child. 

It is frequently stated that Kamehameha IV was pro-British and anti-American. It is possible that too much has been made of this idea. It is no doubt true that he did dislike some American institutions and conditions.....It would probably be more accurate to describe the king's feelings as being anti-missionary rather than anti-American. Dr. G.P. Judd spoke of this in one of his letters, saying, "The King, educated by the Mission, most of all things dislikes the Mission. Having been compelled to be good when a boy, he is determined not to be good as a man. Driven out by morning prayer meeting, Wednesday evening meetings, monthly concert, Sabbath School, long sermons, and daily exhortations, his heart is hardened to a degree unknown to the heathen. Naturally he chooses associates whose feelings and practices are in union with his own."

Other factors influencing the predisposition of Alexander Liholiho to favour England can be traced to certain conditions and developments occurring during his reign. Of these Dr Kuykendall writes:

Conspicuous among such conditions and developments were the establishment of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser (1856) as spokesman for American interests, and its frequent sharp attacks upon governmental policy and upon members of the government... the marriage of the king to Miss Emma Rooke, whose feelings were strongly pro-British; the Civil War in the United States, which to many people seemed to demonstrate the failure of the American system; the startling contrast in education, social graves, and diplomatic finesse between the British representative in Hawaii and some of his American colleagues; the establishment of the Episcopal Church in Hawaii and the bitter religious controversy between it and the American missionaries.

The Advertiser had severely attacked Prince Lot for employing the services of hula dancers to entertain guests at his Moanalua retreat. David L. Gregg, the Catholic, American Commissioner, who later became Kamehameha IV's minister of finance, wrote about the party in his diary. Alexander had tenaciously resisted annexation to the United States when this was seriously threatened in the last year of the reign of Kamehameha III. Regarding this situation, Dr. Kuykendall writes:

Perhaps the decisive influence in settling the question was the position taken by Prince Alexander Liholiho. The prince was in his twentieth year. In the early part of 1852 (when he was eighteen) he had been made a member of the privy council, and immediately began to take an active and influential part in the deliberations of the council...his ability was unquestioned. He had a brilliant mind, was ambitious, and did not wish to see his country's independence sacrificed. It is well known that the King (Kamehameha III) deferred to Liholiho's desires and judgment as much as possible.

During the annexation crisis of 1854, Judge William Lee, negotiating for the Hawaiian government in Honolulu, had written Alexander in Honolulu is an absolute necessity. The Commissioner of the U.S. (David Gregg) and other American officers and citizens here, feel that you are humbugging them by your absence, and consequently are in a very unpleasant frame of mind.

PRINCESS VICTORIA KAMAMALU, sister of kings, Kamehameha IV and V. Her short life ended in heartbreak and scandal. She was a skilled poet in the ancient form of the mele kuauhau; the chants recounting historic events.

Alexander replied to Judge Lee from Kawaihae and denied the charge of "humbujgging." The letter reads in part:

My dear Judge Lee

Your kind note of the 6th inst. informing me of the state of mind in which the U.S. Commissioner and others are in, has duly come to my hand.....I have not the slightest doubt that the U.S. commissioner and many of the foreign residents in Honolulu would had the day which brought the T. (treaty) now under contemplation into effect, no matter the consequences, but it is for us, and all who are interested in the welfare of the native race, the native owners of the soil, to take precautions, as order that they may not be precipitated into a gulf from which, once in, they can never extricate themselves - and any delay which may be made, in order that the King and Chiefs may see their way clearly, is, I think, far from being a humbug.

Alas! the training at the Kula Keiki Alii his travels abroad, and his avid reading, served Alexander well. He could demonstrate his feelings and express thoughts with the finesse of a somewhat seasoned statesman even before he had become a fully matured man.

LOT KAPUAIWA, King Kamehameha V

Oddly enough, the American Commissioner, David L. Gregg who was negotiating on behalf of the United States during these annexations proceedings, was to become a close friend of Alexander Liholiho in later years. Gregg's unpublished diaries in the Archives of Hawaii give adequate testament to this fact. he also became Minister of Finance of the Hawaiian Kingdom after being replaced as American Commissioner in 1857, an office which he served until his resignation about five years later. Paul Emmert, the artist who has left beautiful sketches of early Honolulu; William Webster, the Scotch engineer; Charles Gordon Hopkins, uncle of the famed British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins; and John Owens Dominis, consort of Queen Liliuokalani, were intimate friends of Alexander Liholiho. His friendship with Henry A. Neilson, a New Yorker, who served for several years as the young king's private secretary, led to a tragic incident. This and the visit of Lady Franklin and Miss Cracroft to the islands, in 1862, have been well exposed in Dr. Alfons Korn's scholarly work, The Victorian Visitors/ Political and economic developments during Alexander Liholiho's nine year reign have been treated in great detail by Ralph Kuykendall in The Hawaiian Kingdom, Vol. II.

PRINCESS RUTH KEELIKOLANI, half-sister of Alexander, Lot, and Victoria. A woman of massive size. She refused to speak English and remained stubbornly traditional in point of view. Her vast landed estate was left to her cousin, the Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop.

It is perhaps fitting to give Queen Liliuokalani the last word in summing up the young king's other accomplishments. As children they had shared participation in the affairs of the Kula Keiki Alii, and in later life they were good friends. Liliuokalani wrote in her autobiography, Hawaii's Story:

Alexander Liholiho, known to history as Kamehameha IV, had all the characteristics of his race; and the strong passionate nature of the Kamehamehas is shown in his benevolent as in his less commendable acts. To him was due the introduction of the Anglican Mission. He personally translated the English prayer book (The Book of Common Prayer) into our language. He also founded the The Queen's Hospital...and both the foreign and domestic affairs of his government were ably administered.

KING LUNALILO, William Charles Lunalilo was the first Hawaiian monarch elected to this high office, although he qualified hands down from the stand-point of royal lineage. He ruled for little more than a year.

One can add that in establishing the Queen's Hospital, the king was completely assisted by his wife, Queen Emma. Liliuokalani's disregard of Emma in mention of any achievements of the king's in which Emma was jointly responsible may be the result of a long standing rancor which existed between the Kalakaua family and Emma originating at the time of Emma's betrothal to Alexander, and which reached a crisis when both Emma and Kalakaua sought election to the throne after the death of King Lunalilo. The diaries of David Gregg reveal interesting opinions of some of the members of the nobility at the time of their marriage. Alexander and Emma lost their only child, a son, when he was nearly five. A year and two months after, Kamehameha IV died suddenly in November, 1863. The visit of the Duke of Edinburgh in 1869 was perhaps the social triumph of Kamemeha V's reign--as Lady Franklin's and Sophia Cracroft's visit had been in the previous reign. Prince Alfred, second son and fourth child of Victoria and Albert of England, arrived in Honolulu aboard Her Majesty's warship, The Galatea. Honolulu turned from its usual state of smoldering melancholy and burst into gay holiday mood with the arrival of the British prince. Queen Liliuokalani captured the aristocratic flavour of the celebrations held in the prince's honor when she recalled these festivities in her autobiography. On one occasion she and her husband, Governor Dominis, were hosts to the visiting prince.

...I gave a grand luau at my Waikiki residence, to which were invited all those connected with the government, indeed, all the first families of the city, whether of native or foreign birth.

The prince drove out to Waikiki in the company of the British Consul and Mrs. Wodehouse and was observed by other guests, (who had streamed out to Liliuokalani's cottage to attend the (uau,) to be in command of the horses himself. Liliuokalani wrote:

The sailor Prince mounted the driver's box of the carriage and taking the reins, showed himself an expert in the management of horses... The Queen dowager, Kalama, widow of Kamehameha III, drove out to Waikiki in her own carriage of state, accompanied by her adopted son, Kanuiakea, and my sister, Miriam Likelike. ... The drivers of these carriages wore the royal feather shoulder capes, and the footmen were clad in like royal fashion. It was considered one of the grandest occasions in the history of those days, and all passed off as becoming the high birth and commanding position of our visitor. The guests were received with every mark of courtesy by my husband and by myself, as well as by His Majesty, Kamehameha V, who was one of the first arrivals.

No period in the history of Hawaiian monarchy was more fraught with internal difficulties than this one in the last years of its existence. King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, both long exposed to the bitter spectacle of the decline of native life and institutions, and both actively participant in the social and political life of the kingdom during their mature years, inherited the Pandora's box of troubles resulting from the ever increasing solidification of haole: namely American, power in the land of their birth.

KING KALAKAUA, David Laamea Kamanakaupuu Lumialani Kalakaua. A man of charm and intelligence who was used ruthlessly by some of his haole subjects.

By 1880 Hawaii had changed from a nation relatively under developed economically, as it was in the time of Kamehameha IV and V, into a land somewhat prosperous again with the growth of the sugar industry. After the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875, won to some extent with the help of recently elected King Kalakaua's appearance in Washington, D.C. to plead the cause of the planters, there was no major trade barrier in existence to impede the development of sugar productions...except, of course, an erratic native government. Non-native business men took an increasing part in conduct of the government in order to lessen the possibility of that happening. Planters and agency officers of alien stock sought high cabinet posts and carefully selected and supported men to fill positions in the Lwegislative Assembly. All went well until Kalakaua, lured by the schemes of itinerant foreigners, exercised autocratically the powers granted him in the Constitution of 1864. 

QUEEN KAPIOLANI, Consort in King Kalakaua. Her matrilineal line was from the great chiefs of Kauai. Through her father High Chief Kuhio, she was descended from the niau pio Keawe line of chiefs of the Big Island.

Writing in high revolutionary fervor of the days immediately following the dethronement of Queen Liliuokalani and seizure of the kingdom, Professor William D. Alexander remarked:

It is true that the germs of many evils of Kalakaua's reign may be traced to the reign of Kamehameha V. The reactionary policy of that monarch is well known. Under him the "recrudescence" of heathenism commenced, as evidenced by the Pagan orgies at the funeral of his sister. Victoria Kamamalu, in June, 1866, and his encouragement of lascivious hula hula dancers and the pernicious class of Kahunas or sorcerers. closely connected with this reaction was a growing jealousy and hatred of foreigners.

Mark twain had sent letters to his little newspaper in Sacramento, describing the "Pagan orgies" in such a way that considerable venom crept through his mawkish sentences intended, no doubt, to produce a humorous picture of Princess Kamamalu's burial. Outsider that he was, Twain lay the blame for the heathen spectacle at the feet of Bishop Staley and the Episcopal Church. They were, in Twin's vies, the king's Christian conscience, and as such they should have prevailed upon that monarch to direct the proceedings of his sister's burial in a fashion more acceptable to the foreign community. Twain's attitude reflects the contempt in which the native practices of any people who lived outside the pale of the Anglo-Saxon complex, were held. He knew his reading audience all too well when he fashioned his statements in the guise of ridicule, some of it assuming the same character as the "Hickey, Pokey, Winky Wum..." jewel, which was composed, they say, in honour of King Kalakaua.

QUEEN LILIUOKALANI, lYDIA Kamakaeha Dominis. A woman of strong character and extraordinary perseverance. The Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center is an enduring tribute to her foresight and concern for her people.

Actually, Twain's remarks concerning Victoria Kamamalu's burial captured some of the truth, but unfortunately he knew nothing of the underlying circumstances, or he might have been more charitable. Princess Kamamalu had turned away from Western influences after a humiliating scandal involving her love for a married white man. She had retreated to the ways of her ancestors, such as this was possible in the 1860's. Her brother, Kamehameha V, may have been paying his sister the final respect of recognizing the last despairing years of her life for what they were in allowing her burial rites to be celebrated somewhat in line with ancient tradition. On the other hand, the spontaneous kanikau (grief wailing) that began when news of her death spread through the city may have influenced the king to allow native subjects to show grief as they would in honoring the demise of this high ranking chiefess.

GOVERNOR JOHN OWEN DOMINIS, Prince Consort to Queen Liliuokalani. The son of a dashing sea captain of Yugoslav ancestry and a Boston bluestocking who were early haole settlers in Honolulu. Photograph owned by the Archives of Hawaii.

Twain's lengthy polemic concerning the burial of the Princess Kamamalu actually described the proceedings in a more detailed way than any other account that has come down to us in print. As a sociological document, it reflected certainly the "recrudescence" of native practices that Professor Alexander wrote about in 1893. So far as the Hawaiians were concerned, it can be seen as another thoughtless attack upon a people who at this stage were scarcely able to find a plausible reason for reproducing themselves, or staying alive. The long years of tension between the Hawaiians and white settlers had reached at last a crisis, the main causes of which can easily be traced. Kamehameha V had refused to take the oath of office as king in 1864 until the constitution of 1852 was revised to restore hereditary powers to the throne, and to establish property qualifications for the right to vote and to hold certain offices in the government. In time, the constitution under dispute was revoked. Professor Alexander made direct reference to the revised Constitution of 1864 when he wrote (in language quaintly suggesting a Marx or Eagle's tract) of the "reactionary policy of that Monarch."

Kamehameha V had refused to designate his successor at the time of his death. Though Prince William was generally accepted as the rightful heir to the throne, he insisted on an election, David Kalakaua being the only alii to challenge his claim. Lot Kamehameha had mumbled in his last hours that Lunalilo was not fit to rule. The drinking habits and bonhomie of the prince were well known in the community. Some of Lunalilo's partisans claimed there was a long established rivalry between him and his cousins over the matter of rank, and that this had determined Lot Kamehameha's deathbed refusal to name Lunalilo his successor. It was also said that this had been the basis for the Kamehamehas IV and V refusing their cousin a place in government-commensurate with his rank - during their reign. Lunalilo was elected king and ruled for a little more than a year, allowing the basic structure of the monarchy to remain as it was. There were no notable achievements connected with his brief rule. He too, refused to name a successor, and as a result the Queen Dowager Emma and David Kalakaua came forth as candidates for the throne.

PRINCESS VICTORIA KAWEKIU Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kaiulani Gleghorn. She lived in Europe as an exile for two years before she was finally granted permission to return in 1897 to her homeland by the victorious haoles who had destroyed Hawaiian sovereignty.

Queen Emma's strongly pro-British sympathies and her growing hatred for haoles (as has been revealed lately in some of her letters) made her an unsuitable candidate for one segment of the community. Among this faction it was strongly felt that she would be against seeking a reciprocity treaty with the United States because of her fear of annexation, and, if this happened, it would be a severe blow to the emerging sugar industry. The segment of the community: the moneyed and propertied nucleus, finally gave its support to David Kalakaua and pushed him on to victory. In his first years as king, Kalakaua and his supporters were at peace with one another. Later, as he developed a strong Hawaii-for-the-Hawaiians attitude and aligned himself with new allies who were emotionally conditioned to share or exploit these feelings, an ever widening breach began to split Kalakaua from his former supporters. In 1878 he used his power as king to further the business advantages of one of his newly won friends. In effecting this, the king dismissed an existing cabinet which had refused to grant Claus Spreckels a lease to water rights on the island of Maui, using monarchial powers granted him under the Constitution of 1864 in such a way that would have made Kamehameha V (a far more stable and realistic king) turn over on his grave.

Claus Spreckels, with his seat of operations based in California, was in fact an itinerant business rival of island born planters who had struggled for years to bring the sugar industry to a profitable level. somehow Spreckels had become a bosom friend of the Hawaiian king. Oral tradition abounds with stories concerning the poker games they played together. Kalakaua appointed a new cabinet immediately after his summary dismissal of the one that had been previously in office. The new cabinet granted Mr. Spreckels a lease to the water rights from sources to the northeast side of the island of Maui, which he could now use to irrigate the enormous fertile plain which ran from the Paia Coast (still called Sprekelsville) across the center of the island to Maalaia and Kihei Bays at the south. After this there was no peace between the throne and the business interests of the kingdom. An absolute monarchy and free enterprise were diametrically opposed, especially where the king was likely to be erratic and unpredictable in matters strongly affecting the economic life of the land. From this point on, the overthrow of the monarchy became "the handwriting on the wall."

PRINCE DAVID KAWANANAKOA, Nephew of Queen Kapiolani. After Princess Kaiulani, before the fall of the monarchy he was designated first successor to the Hawaiian throne.

Much has been said about the dealings of Claus Sprekels. Walter Murray Gibson, Celso Caesar Moreno, and others who pushed the monarchy and business leaders of the community into an interesting state of hostility. These men were looked upon as bold intruders, as starry-eyed visionaries and opportunists, whose roots among the foreign community did not go deep enough into the times immediately following the arrival of Captain cook for them to assume roles of leadership. If David Kalakaua failed to measure up as a statesman of substance and talent, he can certainly be seen as one of the most interesting figures of recent Polynesian history. He made a celebrated tour of the world, in 1881, meeting leaders of every nation he visited, incurring disfavour in one or two instances, but for the most part winning the interest and even the admiration of most people whom he met.

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, mother of he ill-fated Rudolph, registered disapproval of the Hawaiian king after listening to gossip concerning Kalakaua's behavior in a public restaurant in Vienna. The empress was absent from the capitol, somewhere in Hungary riding in a hunt meet, no doubt, (the great passion of her life) at the time of Kalakaua's visit there. The Princess Hohenlohe-Fugger, member of one of the leading Junker families of the old Hapsburg empire, makes reference to the same incident in her autobiography. The Glory of the Hapsburgs. It was a visit of King Chulalongkorn of Sam to Vienna, in 1897, which recalled to the Princess Fugger gossip she had picked up from the Emperor Franz Joseph's valet regarding the earlier visit of the Polynesian king. She wrote:

Let me mention in passing, that the Siamese King behaved rather peculiarly. While taking a drive with Emperor Franz Josef in a gala coach drawn by four horses, he continually spat out of the carriage window. during his morning toilet, the Emperor remarked to his valet--so the latter says--that even if the Siamese spat and did generally not behave properly, he was a good deal more decorous than Kalakaua I, the King of the Sandwich Islands. Although the latter had been received with all honors due to a sovereign, and should, therefore, if for no other reason, have observed a certain dignity, he had, by howling fearfully, disturbed the variety show at a public restaurant in the Prater, had taken off his uniform coat as soon as the dance begun, had promiscuously kissed the women and, finally, the lackeys had to take him, helplessly drunk, back to his hotel in the court-equipage.

Armstrong in his disrespectful book, Around the World with a King. Armstrong wrote:

The people gathered in the Prater, however, approved of the King's democratic manners, and when the band rendered the Hawaiian National Anthem they rose and uncovered. The press editorially spoke of the King as a good natured, enlightened, and liberal monarch, a suitable model for a European ruler.

Mr. Armstrong did not always feel so charitably disposed to the Hawaiian king. He took a moralizing attitude in attempting to satirize the king's tour of the world and made the only published account of this fascinating divertissement of Hawaiian monarchy a bore to read. If one can stomach some of the crudities of the author, the book can be read "sideways on" as a reasonably well detailed - though unreasonably dull -- account of Kalakaua's world tour. However, at achieves the distinction of reflecting the psychological effect of the tour of the world on the Hawaiian king who seemed to become increasingly aware as the journey progressed of his position in the world as monarch of even a small island kingdom.

PRINCE JONAH KUHIO Kalanianaole, younger brother of Prince David. The prince's friends and admirers called him "Cupid." For the dispossessed native owners of the soil, he valiantly tried to wrest a fair share of Hawaiian lands from the greedy oligarchy, composed mostly of foreigners of the new territorial government.

The new Iolani Palace was under construction at this time. Kalakaua had asked and been granted appropriations for construction of a new palace. Coronation ceremonies were held in the new edifice in 1883, and it was here for the remaining years of this rule that elegant state dinners and balls were held which would for decades fill the memories of old island residents with some of the more pleasant aspects of the last years of the Hawaiian monarchy. Kalakaua entertained on a lavish scale with full complement of liveried palace servants and an excellent chef. The king's formal affairs were given elaborate attention by one of the local newspapers. The German bandmaster, who was sent to Hawaii by Kaiser Wilhelm I in the reign of Kamehameha V, and his band of native musicians provided music for the gay, dancing guests of the Hawaiian king. Isobel Field, step-daughter of Robert Louis Stevenson, wrote nostalgically of the king's music in This Life I've Loved:

The plaintive, tender, Hawaiian airs were lovely, and the hulas which Mr. Berger set to music made good lively tunes for the polka and schottische. But it was when they put down their instruments and sang! Howe well I remember the silken swish of long trains, the sound of feet slipping over the ballroom floor in waltz time to the singing voices of the Royal Hawaiian Band!

Palace entertainments were placed in charge of the full time chamberlain, James Robertson, son of early British settlers, Judge and Mrs George M. Robertson. Handsomely printed invitations summoning guests to garden parties, dinners, balls, and receptions, were sent out to the leading citizens of the town. A group of well-born Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians, given military titles, functioned as the king's staff. In their expensive and elaborate uniforms these gentlemen-always present-added luster to royal affairs. They were actually a nucleus of the surviving nobility granted official status by virtue of duties they performed at court. It was the first time since John Young's offspring had passed from the scene that part-Hawaiian descendants of the old chiefs were assigned aristocratic roles to perform in the life of the kingdom. since their positions on the king's staff were somewhat honorary, these were young men of property and means whose white fathers or grandfathers had built up estates from successful business enterprises beginning with the prosperous days of whaling.

If it achieved nothing else, the king's staff handsomely embellished the social or storybook aspects of the last days of Hawaiian monarchy. The extraordinary beauty of their part-Hawaiian wives and daughters, some of them dressed by Worth of Paris, added a further touch of the exotic to the roles played out by these gentlemen. Accounts of the boathouse luaus, the picnics in Nuuanu or at Waikiki, the leisurely visits paid to other islands or to rural estates of ranches and the sumptuous hospitality offered, all send to give Kalakaua's time a hedonistic, carefree aura. Unfortunately very little of this aspect of David Kalakaua's times was written down. The people who participated in the social life of the king were not journal keepers or diarists, or good letter writers for that matter, unless, of course, some of these papers exist and have not yet found their way into the Archives. The king acquired the reputation of a bon vivant; in fact he was called by some The Merry Monarch. He was thought of as a gay, indefatigable, dedicated sybarite. Stevenson's observation is revealing. In a letter to Charles Baxter, dated February 8, 1888, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote:

I (am) so well that I do not know myself-sea bathing if you please, and what is far more dangerous, entertaining and being entertained by His Majesty here, who is a very fine intelligent fellow, but, O, Charles! what a crop for the drink! He carries it too like a mountain with a sparrow on its shoulders. We calculated five bottles of champagne in three hours and a half (afternoon), and the sovereign quite presentable, although perceptibly more dignified at the end...

Subsequent exposures to Kalakaua's hospitality led the great man of letters to write again of the Hawaiian king's bacchic propensities. In a second letter to Charles Baxter, dated March 8, Stevenson wrote:

...Kalakaua is a terrible companion; a bottle of fizz is like a glass of sherry to him; he thinks nothing of four or five or six in an afternoon as a whet for dinner. You should see a photograph of our party after an afternoon with H.R.M. My! what a crew!

An there are countless other stories that come down in hearsay accounts which add their particular flavor to the Kalakaua legend.

Kalakaua's intellectual interests led him to work on translation of the ancient myths and to sponsor work on the first written version of the Kumulipo: the Hawaiian chant of creation. He published with his co-author Oscar Daggett, American commissioner to Hawaii, Legends and Myths of Hawaii in 1888. In 1889 the first printed version of the Kumulipo appeared, which was the property of King Kalakaua. This version was printed from manuscript source worked up by one of the members of Kalakaua's household, a native scholar of Kona on the island of Hawaii. His name was Joseph Kukahi. The musical interests and talents of the Kalakaua family are well known. queen Liliuokalani has left a rather detailed statement of this fact in her autobiography. King Kalakaua composed the strongly royalist lyrics to Hawaii Ponoi and the words and music of those beautiful love songs, Imi A Miau Oe and Akahi Hoi.

In spite of crude insults heaped upon David Kalakaua to this day, it might well be said of him that he came close to being the first gentleman of the Pacific in his time. The opinion scandal, events surrounding the so-called "Bayonet Constitution" and the legislature of 1886, the saga of Walter Murray Gibson, the Kaimiloa fiasco and Kalakaua's dream of an oceanic empire, and the Wilcox revolt, will not be discussed in this paper. Each situation deserves separate study. Each is fraught with circumstances needing careful analysis. They have by no means been given detailed study and proper evaluation in Prof. Alexander's biased publication. King Kalakaua abusive use of powers, granted him under the terms of the 1964 constitution, gravely affected the future of monarch in Hawaii. Stripped of his dignity as king, intimidated to the point of becoming a mere puppet, he died in San Francisco barely able to whisper his last words into an Edison recording device. "Tell my people I tried..." he gasped and could say no more.

It was too late. Too late, for many reasons.

It remained for his sister, a brave though paakiki (stubborn) woman to suffer the final indignities that became to cruelly infused into the last days of Hawaiian monarchy. The immediate events leading to the dethronement of Queen Liliuokalani who inherited the throne directly from her brother David Kalakaua were a curious mixture of tragedy and comedy. In retrospect it is easy to see the comic aspects of the minister of a great democratic nation - a man who had all the makings of a boor, both officially and otherwise - frantically at work in complicity with a handful of enraged shopkeepers, enlisting the armed forces of the United States of America to help relieve a native queen of the rule of her small kingdom. Add to the comedy the picture of two confused and terrified ministers of the queen who went running to the enemy camp for advice" when the queen attempted with astounding naiveté to push forward her unconstitutional act of proclaiming a new constitution. Under the terms of the "Bayonet Constitution" - she once forced upon Kalakaua in 1887, the ruling monarch was not granted the authority to promote such a new body of laws. The tragic aspects, we see in the lot of the Hawaiian people, themselves. They had now lived for more than a hundred years in a state of great confusion - poor, ill-educated, badly adjusted to the new order, about to lose once and for all their single remaining source of morale: their pride in independence. For all her stubborn political naivete and faulty judgement in choosing supporters, the queen emerges a solemn figure of tragedy, the victim of a political and social process a century in the making.

Rivalry between the bourgeois enclave of whites, who controlled the economic life of the islands; and the Hawaiians, who held the political reins, had long been smouldering. Recent workings of the historic process had brought the state of rivalry to increasing intensity. Econimic growth had made the acquisition of wealth and property paramount among some whites. They had become an entrenched force in the life of the kingdom for two or more generations, controlling large areas of valuable land and certainly in control of most of the money that came into the kingdom. Their place in island life was fixed. They were in fact -- many of them -- keiki hanau a ka aina (children born of the land). Their entire life effort, their total identity was confined to Hawaii. Many of them were bilingual, speaking English and Hawaiian with equal facility, as was true also of many Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians who represented the opposition. The native whites knew no other home than Hawaii. They shared the life in paradise with tier aboriginal hosts, but were they as concerned as the Hawaiians that the ugly presence of racial, cultural, and political conflict would not lead the little kingdom someday into a bloody holocaust? 

The haole keiki hanau o ka aina had worked hard for his stake in Hawaii. From the patient deliberations of his antecedants in the times of Kamehamehas II and III to his own efforts in the 60's and 70's to pump life into the struggling sugar industry and to participate always in large degree in the government: it had all been hard work! The Hawaiians, on the other hand, were raw with the continuing sight of loss among themselves: loss through death, through despair, and the waning prestige of their culture. Loss, also, through an inability to accept the challenge of financial competition with people who were long conditioned to the profit motive. Some of the finest aspects of their Polynesian heritage predestined the Hawaiians to lose the race for economic supremacy. They were naively generous, predisposed from the first to be friendly to the whites who settled on their islands and lacked to a surprising degree the need to acquire status symbols -- except for the alii!

Added to these traits, they now refused to educate themselves along Western lines beyond the rudimentary level once opportunities for this learning were generally available in the kingdom. They turned away from reading and learning and assumed an anti-intellectual position Ine might safely generalize that, had the native men and women surrounding the queen in 1893 had more knowledge of political economy and business administration and a better understanding of democracy at the philosophical level, the Hawaiian throne would not have been subjected to the ignominious end to which it came. Education might also have helped Hawaiians of the late 19th century to recapture an image of their past, to Hawaiians of the late 19th century to recapture an image of their past, to have a pride in their indigenous roots, which would certainly have lent psychological strength to the cause of maintaining leadership in the affairs of their nation. Perhaps the kabana, the hula, the alii, the akua, had been too long subjected to the thunderous denunciation imposed by outsiders for Hawaiians to exhibit - publicly at any rate -- any respect for the ways of their ancestors.

The two groups stood at opposite poles in the struggle for power. Pride of independence, pride in keeping at least the illusion of rule in the land of their forefathers, kept Hawaiians fixed to their pole. A fierce desire to keep what had been acquired from long dedicated effort, a strong identification with their American roots, and an unfortunate conviction that native Hawaiians did not know what was good for them, gave the opposing side its raison d'etre. There is an impressive mass of documents extant which tell the story of the overthrow of Hawaiian monarchy. A number of journalists wrote their versions of the conflict, and since then any number of writers have made attempts to sum it up adding little in the way of luck, honest, objective analysis to what has already accrued in our understanding of the sad event. The most scholarly study to date is Julius Pratt's The Expansionists of 1898. Concerned primarily with the phenomenon of Manifest Destiny which became a political cause celebre in America at the end of the last century, Mr. Pratt skilfully connects the end of Hawaiian monarchy and the annexation of the islands with this philosophy of imperialism that so strongly motivated some American politicians of the 19th century.

In every attempt he makes to absolve John I. Stevens. American Minister to Hawaii, of collusion with the white revolutionists in effecting the queen's dethronement, Mr. Pratt is led back inevitably to the fact that, previous to this crisis, Minister Stevens had loudly and consistently exposed himself to be a disciple of the Manifest Destiny cause, which made him speak at every turn in favor of annexation of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States of America. He seldom bothered to disguise his chauvinistic attitudes. Actually it served to strengthen his convictions that native Hawaiian rule of the islands should come to an end. When the moment of truth arrived, Mr. Stevens was to eminently display his willingness to help topple the Hawaiian throne. His order for the landing of the United States Marines on January 16, 1893, is proof of this.

After his recall to the United States, Mr. Stevens offered testimony before the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations to clear himself of having shown deference to the white revolutionists in the dethronement of Queen Liliuokalani. He offered the lame excuse that, since the queen's government was dead after January 14th, he was obliged to accept the provisional government (magically produced by the committee of Safety after the appearance of American troops in the area of Palace Square!) as the authority representing law and order over the islands. In answer to this shabby piece of double talk, Mr. Pratt has written:

The Queen's government was not dead, as Stevens asserted. It was capable of coping with ordinary situations. It was not a strong or wise or coherent government, and it knew not which way to turn when confronted by a band of revolutionists who were seen to be enjoying confidential relations with the United States minister.

There is no need to go beyond this point to reconstruct the events of the last three days of existence of the Hawaiian monarchy. Not is it necessary to go beyond these to the times following when the president of the United States and a majority of the Congress were in favour of restoration of Queen Liliuokalani to her throne. The sordid attempts to defame the queen's good name and to further degrade the character of the Hawaiian people are a sad consequence of revolution. The war of propaganda waged in some of the leading American newspapers pushing for annexation was a shameful display of scandal-mongering journalism. The ancestry of the queen, her morals, and her religious beliefs were garnered from sources originating in the gutters of island gossip and publicized in such a way as to cause one to wonder if the underlying currents which brought an end to Hawaiian monarchy were not more racial in character than they were political. This was indicated in the accusations.

For better or for worse, monarchy had guided the fortunes of the Hawaiian people and foreign settlers for most of the years of the 19th century. The rule of the chiefs had given utopian advantages to the foreigner. Under his influence, laws and economic development spawned a new society in the land of Ku and Kane and Kanaloa. In the death throes of the ancient way of life, strange new forces had come into play which were ironically inimical to the best interests of the Hawaiian people. After that, it was left to the heirs of those involved in the bitter struggle of dethronement and annexation to live down the legacy of humiliation and guilt and hatred in order to find their places in the dynamic, multi-cultural emergence of the modern Hawaiian state.

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Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii

Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii - Part 2

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 (E-mail: jane@janeresture.com  -- Rev. 12th Oceobr 2009)

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