Hawaiian History Month: Kingdom Era (1810-1893)

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, in collaboration with the Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition, initiated the first Hawaiian History Month in 2020. The month marks Queen Liliʻūokalani’s birthday on September 2 and explores various aspects of Hawaiian history.

The rule of Kamehameha I began on the independent island of Hawaiʻi, before he and his warriors conquered the islands of Oʻahu, Maui, Molokai and Lānaʻi. In 1810, Kaumualiʻi, the chief of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau, acknowledged the authority of Kamehameha and for the first time the whole Hawaiian archipelago had a unified government, Ke Aupuni Hawai‘i. Kamehameha III created a constitutional government in 1843, the same year France and Britain officially recognized Hawaiʻi’s independence. Eight monarchs and two dynastic families, the House of Kamehameha and the House of Kalākaua, ruled the Kingdom during the period 1810 to 1893.

The following documents, preserved at the Lyman Museum, relate to topics of the Kingdom era. To learn more, the Archives is open for research by appointment: https://lymanmuseum.org/archives/.

Note: Hawaiian diacritical marks comprise just two symbols: the ʻokina (glottal stop) and the kahakō (macron). We use them with Hawaiian place names, but do not add them to proper names if a family or a company does not use them.

This photograph is from a painting of Kamehameha I dressed in Western clothes with a feather cloak. First made as cartes-de-visite or calling cards, photographic cards of celebrities and royalty remained a fad for collectors through the 19th century. P. J. Matthewson of Medina, New York sold or distributed this 2 ½ x 4-inch card.

The Kingdom government conducted periodic censuses beginning in the 1830s though others took place before that. In about 1500 C.E., Umi, chief of Hawaiʻi Island, was said to have conducted a census by gathering all his people near Hualālai and instructing everyone to deposit a stone on a pile representing their district. In the early 19th century, the kāhuna took a census in Wainiha Valley, Kauaʻi. They counted more than 2,000 people, sixty-five of whom called themselves Menehune.
Awai Akau was probably a Chinese immigrant first known as Tang Chow, which was Hawaiianized to Akau. He married Sarah Kaanapu Keka Nohoanu. Jonathan Austin (1830 –1892), a native of New York, was a veteran of the American Civil War, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Kalākaua and owner and president of Paukaa Sugar Company near Hilo.
The words Move! Excel The Highest! come from an ancient mele celebrating the strength of warriors. The booklet supported the ticket of four men to the legislature: Edward Kamakau Lilikalani (1852–1917), a Representative and Privy Council member; H.W. Lahilahi, a Representative; Walter Murray Gibson (1822–1888), a controversial figure in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and a government minister; and John A. Nahaku (1830–1887) a Representative, Tax Assessor, and an Assistant Judge.
The Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 was a free-trade agreement that gave special exchange privileges to the United States. The pamphlet by George S. Boutwell (1869–1873) argued against its repeal. Boutwell had served as Governor of Massachusetts, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and a legal councilor for the governments of Chile, Haiti, and Hawaiʻi. He and others founded the Anti-Imperialist League in 1898. The Boston group criticized American expansion.