Connecting the Kingdom: Sailing Vessels in the Early Hawaiian Monarchy, 1790-1840

July 25, 2023 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Lyman Museum
276 Haili St. Hilo
HI 96720

“Vue du port Hanarourou.” Painting by Louis Choris, 1816; 1822 lithograph

Matinée Presentation:

Unknown to many, Kamehameha I began building dozens of his own Western-style ships in his own shipyards at Kawaihae and Kealakekua Bay between 1790 and the early 1800s, and King Kaumuali‘i constructed his own brig on Kaua‘i in the early 1800s.  UH-Hilo Professor Peter Mills has tracked down scattered accounts of local shipbuilding in the first half of the 19th century, and has also compiled information on foreign vessels that the chiefs acquired before 1840.  In his just-published, groundbreaking book introduced with this program, Dr. Mills brings a wealth of insight into the emergence of the Hawaiian nation-state from sources mostly ignored by colonial and post-colonial historians alike.  Examining how early Hawaiian chiefs appropriated Western sailing technology to help build their island nation, he presents the fascinating history of 60 Hawaiian-owned schooners, brigs, barks, and peleleu canoes.  While these vessels have often been dismissed as examples of chiefly folly, Dr. Mills highlights their significance in Hawai‘i’s rapidly evolving monarchy, and demonstrates how the monarchy’s own 19th-century sailing fleet brought about fundamental transformations of interisland tributary systems, alliance building, exchange systems, and emergent forms of indigenous capitalism.  This compelling presentation is a must-see on either of two occasions:  Monday evening, July 24, or the following afternoon, July 25.

Admission to these wonderful programs is free to Museum members, and $3.00 for nonmembers.  Please support the Museum by becoming a member, and enjoy all Saigo Series programs, all year round, at no charge!

Seating is limited; first come, first seated.

ON MONDAY EVENINGS ONLY, additional parking is available next door at Hilo Union School,

Kapiolani Street entrance; park, then walk through our green gate in the rock wall.

On Monday evenings, doors open at 6:30PM.  E komo mai!


Lyman Museum ~ 276 Haili St ~ Hilo, Hawai‘i ~ (808) 935-5021 ~ The nationally accredited and Smithsonian-affiliated Lyman Museum showcases the natural and cultural history of Hawai‘i to tell the story of its islands and its people.