Connecting the Kingdom: The Hawaiian Monarchy’s Sailing Vessels 1790-1840

July 19, 2021 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Lyman Museum
276 Haili St.
Hilo HI 96720

Hawaiian Vessel Kamehameha III flying the royal standard.
Watercolor by Alexander Adams, photo: Hawai‘i State Archives

Evening 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.  The histories of 60 named peleleu canoes, schooners, brigs, and barks will be discussed in his forthcoming book, Connecting the Kingdom: The Hawaiian Monarchy’s Sailing Vessels 1790-1840 (UH Press).  The chiefs’ foreign vessels have often been portrayed as wasteful folly due to the enormous quantities of sandalwood that were collected to pay for many of them. 

Dr. Mills explores the more pragmatic motivations behind the chiefs’ continued purchases and uses of these vessels.  He argues that ruling chiefs used foreign ships to intensify and expand tributary systems, alliance building, and exchange, and to better control the monarchy’s leverage in their engagement with foreign merchants.  This compelling presentation is a must-see on either of two occasions:  Monday evening, July 19, or the following afternoon, July 20.

Admission to these wonderful programs is free to Museum members, and $3.00 for nonmembers.  Owing to COVID-19 safety restrictions, masks that meet CDC guidelines must be worn and physical distancing observedTemperature checks will be made before you enter the Museum. Seating is therefore very limited; you must reserve your seat/s in advance by calling during business hours, and must check in at the front desk prior to the presentation.  Check-in begins at 6:30PM Monday evening, 2:30PM Tuesday afternoon.  First called, first reserved!  ON MONDAY EVENINGS ONLY, additional parking is available next door at Hilo Union School, Kapiolani St. entrance; park, then walk through our green gate in the rock wall.  E komo mai! 

Please support the Museum by becoming a member, and enjoy all Saigo Series programs, all year round, at no charge!