Kamehameha V (1830-1872)

Prince Lot became Kamehameha V, when his brother Kamehameha IV died in 1863. The new King sought to perpetuate the Kingdom as independent, revise its constitution to increase royal power, and strengthen its economy and reputation. Prior to becoming monarch, Lot served in a variety of government positions in the House of Nobles, Ministry of the Interior, Privy Council, and the Supreme Court.

Kamehameha V respected Hawaiian culture and encouraged the revival of ancient practices such as hula, despite criticism. In 1865, the King established the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, a fraternal and benevolent organization to honor his grandfather. In 1869, he asked Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany to recommend a new band leader for the Royal Hawaiian Band. Heinrich Berger became one of its influential directors.

The Lyman Museum preserves a small group of papers related to aliʻi, the Hawaiian royalty. The Archives is open for research by appointment. Learn more at https://lymanmuseum.org/archives/research-collection/.

Lot Kapuāiwa Kalanikupuapaikalaninui Kalanimakua Ali‘iōlani inherited royal lineage. High Chiefess Kaho‘anokū Kīna‘u, a daughter of Kamehameha, gave birth to Prince Lot on December 11, 1830. His father, High Chief Mataio Kekūanao‘a, was a descendent of Oahu chiefs. Lot attended the Chief’s Children’s School with his cousins and siblings and prepared to be a leader. As a young man he traveled abroad with his brother Alexander Liholiho and their guardian Dr. Judd. The brothers visited the United States, Panama, Jamaica, and Europe.
In 1870, the King gave a speech to the legislature remembering his father, Mataio Kekūanao‘a, and describing government actions related to steam ship lines, treaties, immigration, justice, and education. Kamehameha V did not hold a public inauguration and refused to take an oath to the 1852 constitution because he thought it needed to be improved. He called for a constitutional convention of elected delegates in 1864 for the purpose of creating a new constitution, the Kingdom’s third.
On August 19, 1872, Kamehameha V wrote a letter to Rufus Lyman, then Lieutenant Governor of Hawaiʻi Island, about government business and his own health.
Kamehameha V died at the age of forty-two on December 11, 1872, his birthday. The citizens of the Kingdom deeply grieved his death. Mark Twain, who visited the Islands in 1866, reminisced about the legacy of the King: “He was a wise sovereign; he had seen something of the world; he was educated & accomplished, & he tried hard to do well by his people, & succeeded. There was no trivial royal nonsense about him; He dressed plainly, poked about Honolulu, night or day, on his old horse, unattended; he was popular, greatly respected, and even beloved.”