A Cultural History of Three
Traditional Hawaiian Sites on the
West Coast of Hawai'i Island

Overview of Hawaiian History

by Diane Lee Rhodes
(with some additions by Linda Wedel Greene)

  Chapter 5: Changes after the death of Kamehameha

A. Liholiho (Kamehameha II) Ascends the Throne

King Kamehameha became seriously ill in the spring of 1819. Upon the advice of the priests, the chiefs built several sacred houses for the god Ku-ka'ili-moku and called for a kapu. The native doctors at Kamehameha's bedside were joined by Don Francisco Marin, the Spaniard living on O'ahu, who had some medical knowledge, but none of their treatments were effective. King Kamehameha died on May 8,1819. The reign of King Kamehameha II began, as had his father's before him, cloaked in the traditional rituals of mourning. Liholiho left Kailua for Kawaihae to escape the defilement of death, returning when the priests had completed their prayers and had secretly buried the bones of their beloved former king.

As the crown prince, Liholiho had been taught the royal duties and responsibilities. So when he reappeared at Kailua he was appropriately garbed in splendid clothing, accompanied by his royal attendants. However, his power over the kingdom was not sovereign. Like his uncle before him, Kamehameha had made his son Liholiho the king and ruler, but had given his nephew Kekuaokalani custody of the war god Ku-ka'ili-moku. The new king's authority was diluted even further by the actions of Ka'ahumanu, the favorite wife of Kamehameha, who had quickly proclaimed herself kuhina-nui (regent). She presided over the ceremonies and informed the new king that "we two shall share the rule over the land," a statement that was not refuted by Liholiho.

Despite his training for the monarchy, Liholiho was ill-prepared for his new role. He had led a sheltered life of luxury, gaining "a reputation as a gambler and a playboy" who was fond of whiskey. Although trained as a warrior, he had never fought in battle, and he had never ruled a district or an island before, much less a kingdom. It was not long before the new king was faced with a major decision.

B. Overthrow of the Kapu System

     1. Traditional Religious System Kept Intact During Kamehameha's Reign

A major event in Hawaiian history occurred in 1819, shortly after the death of King Kamehameha, with the overthrow of the ancient kapu system. Indeed, E. G. Craighill Handy has gone so far as to refer to this as the "Hawaiian Cultural Revolution." During his reign, Kamehameha steadfastly adhered to the traditional social and religious customs of Hawaiian society that maintained the superiority and power of the chiefs and priests. Kamehameha, as other chiefs before him, regarded the kapu system as the central force stabilizing the political and social systems of the culture.

It has been suggested, however, that at times the king questioned the advisability of strict observance of the kapu and pondered thoughtfully the continuing performance of traditional religious practices. His continuing dialogue with a variety of European visitors and advisors and his awareness of subtle changes in the political and social environment of the islands undoubtedly prompted much soul-searching on this subject. But his upbringing in traditional ways strongly influenced his behavior, and he probably perceived more benefits than impediments to the smooth running of his government from continued adherence to the kapu system. It may also be that he was not wholly convinced that the only alternative suggested to him, Christianity, would provide his people with a better way of life. And so, as Hawaiian consul-general Manley Hopkins later stated

. . . to the end of his life, the King [Kamehameha] continued devotions to his idols. He was probably a very sceptical [sic] worshipper; but he looked upon the national religion as a great state instrument, which it was better on his part to support by his patron age.

While Kamehameha ruled, no resistance to the kapu system was allowed. Any persons brave enough to dare infractions of the rules, who were discovered, were summarily executed up until the time of his death. But as he lay dying, it is said, he suggested that his successor should give the question of continuing allegiance to the kapu system some thought, and that perhaps the system should be maintained only if he survived.

Even prior to the king's death, however, some Hawaiians, whose transgressions had not been discovered by the chiefs or priests, had defied the kapu without experiencing dire punishment from the gods. This must have provided food for thought. In addition, during Kamehameha's reign, skepticism of the religious system had grown on the part of the commoners. This resulted from several factors: the growing oppressiveness of the restrictions and of the tax burdens and military services required of the people; increasing interaction with foreigners, whose ridicule and disregard of the restrictions did not appear to bring them either misfortune or death; and some awareness of the abolition of a similar system in the Society Islands without ill effects.

     2. Kamehameha's Death Provides Opportunity for Religious Reform

It is not surprising then that Kamehameha's death in 1819 might precipitate a dramatic change in the social, political, and religious systems of the country. For although Kamehameha had continued the traditional ways of his ancestors, he had also opened the door to European influences. In fact, some Hawaiians, notably members of the ali'i, had already acquired many of the outward manners and accoutrements of European civilization during the final years of Kamehameha's reign.

Kamehameha II's unfortunate "fondness for drinking, carousing, general debauchery, and . . . unsatiable taste for Western trade goods taxed much of his ability to rule the kingdom." Ka'ahumanu, meanwhile, as mentioned, had stated that because of uncertainties as to Liholiho's abilities, her husband had placed her next in authority to oversee the government and act as guardian of the realm. In view of Liholiho's rather weak personality and the fact that he was content to be a follower rather than a leader, the strong-willed Ka'ahumanu would have little trouble in making changes she desired in the kingdom. One of these involved ending the kapu system. Aiding her in this endeavor were Keopuolani, the new king's mother and the highest-ranking chiefess of the ruling family; Kalanimoku, functioning as prime minister; and Hewahewa, the last high priest of the Pa'ao lineage.

On the morning after his father's death, Liholiho left Kailua, which had been defiled by death, for Kawaihae in Kohala, as was the custom. During his absence, as was also the custom, the population committed all kinds of excesses, breaking the kapu with impunity. Although the usual mourning ceremonies on the death of a king took place, no sacrifices occurred to provide the old king with companions in the next world. During this mourning period, the dead chief's bones were secreted in a cave, the traditional action that ritually disassociated the mandate to rule from the dead king so that his heir could re-establish it on his return to the area. After the requisite ten days of seclusion had passed, Liholiho returned to assume power, at which time he was also supposed to re-establish the kapu system, something he did not do. Instead he left again for Kawaihae in the Kohala district, where he took up residence until October, probably hoping to avoid having to make some important decisions concerning land redistribution, requests by the ali'i to share in the sandalwood trade, and whether or not to break the kapu, an action he knew Ka'ahumanu and others favored.

During the new king's absence, Ka'ahumanu had begun instigating for reform. Her motives and those of the small group of influential individuals who allied with her have been speculated upon for years. Ka'ahumanu was stubborn, ambitious, and no doubt tired of the restraints upon her sex. In addition, if serious political questions were considered within heiau, where spiritual power might influence decision making, she would have been unable to co-rule effectively because she could not enter those structures. Kalanimoku, who was not a high-ranking chief, would not be adversely affected by depriving others of their kapu prerogatives. (He and his brother Boki had been secretly baptized by a Roman Catholic chaplain on board the French ship L'Uranie captained by Louis de Freycinet while Liholiho was in residence at Kawaihae. It is not clear, however, whether either man completely understood the meaning of the ceremony.) Keopuolani, though of very high rank, was easily influenced by Ka'ahumanu. The high priest Hewahewa, who appears to have had nothing to gain by the overthrow of idolatry, is thought to have participated in the rebellion simply due to a deep personal conviction of the inconsistencies of the religious system of which he was head. In addition, there possibly existed some conflict and friction over status within the government between Kekuaokalani, keeper of Ku, and Hewahewa. It was Hewahewa's strong support that ensured the success of this endeavor.

     3. Liholiho Abolishes the Kapu System

Ultimately Ka'ahumanu advised Liholiho to return to Kailua, having already alerted him to the fact that she was ready to abolish the kapu system upon his return. Having been raised during the peaceful time of his father's rule over a united kingdom, the young heir had little training in either civil or military matters. In addition, being of a gentle, affectionate, and light-hearted disposition, he was averse to conflict over the matter despite his lingering feelings of loyalty to the old system under which he had been raised. He therefore reacted with mixed feelings to Ka'ahumanu's declaration. Realizing that he would soon be forced to make a decision, and uncertain as to the correct course he should take, Liholiho's return to Kailua was slow and filled with feasting, drinking, and dancing to delay events as long as possible.

The restriction against "free eating," the ability of men and women to eat the same foods at the same table, was one of the most significant aspects of the kapu system. As stated earlier in this report, certain items denied to women were either considered aspects of the male gods or were used as sacrificial offerings to them and therefore were kapu. Because it was considered highly symbolic of all the constraints on women, the eating kapu became the focal point of Ka'ahumanu's efforts to overthrow the system. Therefore, upon Liholiho's arrival in Kailua, approximately six months after the death of his father, a feast was prepared in welcome. It was attended by several foreigners as well as such trusted counselors as John Young. In accordance with native custom, separate tables were set up for the sexes. Young and several chiefs described the ensuing scene as the young king, who had been drinking fairly steadily in an attempt to settle his nerves, ordered his attendants to carry prohibited food to the women's table, at which he deliberately sat down to eat the public, symbolic act of ending the kapu system. Seeing that the influential dignitaries of the kingdom present appeared to approve this act, several chiefs followed the king's example. According to David Kalakaua, following this act of common eating,

an indescribable scene ensued. "The tabu is broken! the tabu is broken!" passed from lip to lip, swelling louder and louder as it went, until it reached beyond the pavilion. There it was taken up in shouts by the multitude, and was soon wafted on the winds to the remotest corners of Kona. Feasts were at once provided, and men and women ate together indiscriminately. . . . At the conclusion of the royal feast a still greater surprise bewildered the people. "We have made a bold beginning," said Hewahewa to the king. . . "but the gods and heiaus cannot survive the death of the tabu." "Then let them perish with it!" exclaimed Liholiho, now nerved to desperation at what he had done. "If the gods can punish, we have done too much already to hope for grace. They can but kill, and we will test their powers by inviting the full measure of their wrath."

No matter what the actual words, it was clear that Liholiho was prepared to go all the way. With the agreement of the high priest, Liholiho sent out orders to destroy the images and temples throughout the kingdom and to generally ignore all former kapu. Legend has it that, immediately resigning from his office of high priest, Hewahewa then set fire to the nearest heiau. Francisco de Paula Marin seems not to have fully appreciated the significance of this momentous time, noting in his journal on November 7, 1819, only that: "This day all the women ate pork and they burnt all the churches on the island." Lifting the kapu restrictions that protected the sanctity of the chiefs and priests somewhat eroded their separateness from the common people, while destruction of the temples and images removed many of the trappings of their status. Both actions, resulting in cessation of public rituals, worship, and sacrifices, accomplished dissolution of the priesthood as an organized body.

It would take one final action, however, to stabilize the new state of affairs. This involved Liholiho meeting on the field of battle his cousin Kekuaokalani, to whom Kamehameha had bequeathed, in addition to his war god Ku-ka'ili-moku, co-responsibility for the care of the gods, their temples, and the support of their worship. Kekuaokalani, who was next in line for the position of high chief after Hewahewa, and who took his charges from the late king seriously, assumed the responsibility of leading those who opposed the abolition of the kapu system. These included priests, some courtiers, and the traditional territorial chiefs of the middle rank.

Kekuaokalani demanded that Liholiho withdraw his edicts against the priesthood, which traditionalists believed should still be preserved; permit rebuilding of the temples; and dismiss both Kalanimoku and Ka'ahumanu. Kamehameha II refused. At a battle fought at Kuamo'o on the island of Hawai'i, the king's better-armed forces, led by Kalanimoku, not only defeated the last defenders of the Hawaiian gods, of their temples and priesthoods, and of the ancient organized religion, but also effectively weakened belief in the power of the gods and the inevitability of divine punishment for those who opposed them.

     4. Some Vestiges of Old Practices Remain

The Reverend Sheldon Dibble reported, with true missionary vigor and some exaggeration, that

The war having thus resulted in the entire overthrow of the idolatrous party, both chiefs and people united with one voice and in the strongest terms to reproach the folly and impotency of their former idol gods. . . . Their rage toward idols by which they had been so long enthralled and who had now failed them in the day of battle was unbounded. They began the work of destruction. Some of their idols they cast into the sea, some they burnt, and some they treated with contempt and used for fuel. They rushed to the temples and tore them to the ground.

According to Gilbert Mathison, visiting the islands about 1822, "so complete was the work of destruction, that, in the course of a few months, neither sacrifices nor religious observances of any sort were kept, or even thought of, by the inhabitants." The Reverend Daniel Tyerman, who departed from the London Missionary Society to visit various stations in the South Sea islands, China, India, and other places between 1821 and 1829, noted in 1822 that

Mr. Young informs us that though idolatry is abolished, yet the multitude of gods of wood and stone, formerly worshipped, have been rather hidden than extirpated, many of its inveterate abettors still hoping for a counter-revolution in their favor; a notion fostered by the priests, who have lost their occupation, but naturally exercise their subtle influence to recover it. Not a single image has been brought to us for sale, and the only one that we have obtained was a gift from the governor.

About this same time, however, Frederic Shoberl recounted that

the king and queen of Atooi [Kaua'i] . . . made a tour round the island of Owhyhee [Hawai'i], during which above a hundred idols were discovered at one place in caves situated among the mountains: these were all burned together; and many more were destroyed in other parts of the island during this tour. When idolatry was formally abolished in 1819, these images were concealed by those who were adverse to the change.

By 1826 the Missionary Herald reported that

There are still, in many places on the islands, multitudes who continue in rather a secret manner to worship their old false gods, but the number is every month growing less.

Frederick Debell Bennett spent time in Hawai'i in 1834 and 1835, where he noted that since the arrival of the missionaries,

religious and general education has advanced so rapidly over all the islands, that idolatrous ceremonies are totally obliterated, and the rising generation now regard a ruined morai, or a wooden deity, with the same traditionary interest that the British attach to their druidical remains.

In actuality, although destruction of temple structures and their adorning large-scale images were an obvious action that could be readily observed and monitored, the rapidity with which smaller images were destroyed is much less clear. The missionaries, who were closely watching these events, realized that

Where the idols were so very numerous, and there were so many household gods, it is not to be supposed that all would be destroyed at once. Though the burning was general, some idols would be clandestinely preserved.

One early writer looked back on this destructive activity with some regret. Constance Cumming lamented:

With all possible reverence for the great work so nobly accomplished by the early missionaries, it is certainly a matter much to be regretted that, in the wholesale sweeping away of idolatry, so many subjects deeply interesting to the ethnologist and the antiquarian should have been hopelessly swamped, and everything in any way bearing on the old system treated as being either so puerile as to be beneath contempt, or so evil as to be best forgotten with all speed.

Numerous household gods were not abandoned. Because they were viewed as family guardians, they continued to be venerated during the disintegration of other government-related trappings of the old religion. And certainly it was almost too much to expect that mere renunciation of these age-old traditions by the king and destruction of those physical structures connected with the ancient religious practices would immediately erase the training and mindset inculcated in the Hawaiians from childhood.

Stephenie Levin points out that although the formal state religion had been destroyed, certain non-institutionalized beliefs that were mystical in nature and that dealt with immediate needs in daily life continued to flourish. Most Hawaiians, in fact, maintained the belief that supernatural assistance could be obtained from gods lower in the pantheon, such as Pele, and from ancestral spirits.

William Davenport agrees, making it clear that Hawai'i was not totally lacking in religion until the arrival of the New England missionaries because beliefs in sorcery, the power of ancestral deities, and other aspects of the old religion, such as curing rituals, persisted. These had probably been the more important practices of their religion for most Hawaiians anyway, Davenport surmises, because worship of the primary gods had been mainly the privilege of the ali'i and the head of government.

     5. Discussion on the Overthrow of the Kapu System

The reasons for the overthrow of the kapu system by the Hawaiian people and the events leading to it have been a subject of speculation by scholars for many years and deserve some mention here. The whole question of voluntary culture change is certainly an intriguing one and has been explained through the years as a result of religious and social factors as well as political and economic motivations. The abolition of the kapu system in Hawai'i was an extraordinary action for two primary reasons. First, it was an abandonment of traditional religious practices with no specific thought of replacing them with another system. It was not a religious reformation instigated by foreign traders or missionaries as was the case with other isolated Polynesian societies being contacted by the Western world. And second, the movement was undertaken by those who appeared to have the most to lose; high-ranking officials sought to abolish an ideological system that legitimized their authority, even though there did not exist a strong demand among the people to do so.

Why did this religious revolution succeed? Why was resistance to the change so ineffectual? Primarily because the ruling monarch, influential officials, and the high priest those who had the most authority in the kingdom led the revolution. Also the timing of the change was an asset. It occurred at the end of an era and in the midst of general unrest caused by the death of a much-beloved king. In addition, at this particular phase in the development of the nation, Hawaiian society was receptive to new ideas and changes.

The Reverend William Ellis ventures that Liholiho's reasons for supporting the abolition of the kapu system included first, possibly some desire to better the condition of women in Hawaiian society, and second, a wish to lessen the power of the priests and the amount of resources channeled for their support. Certainly this was accomplished to some degree, because abolishing the organized religion effectively emasculated the hereditary priesthoods by reducing the need for their social and ritualistic functions to reinforce the existing political authority, thus effectively removing them as any kind of threat to the ruler. An unfortunate by-product of their loss of position, however, was decreased use of the skills, intellectual attainments, and special knowledge and abilities possessed by that class.

Was the abolition primarily a result of dissatisfaction with the system on the part of the two most powerful women in the kingdom Ka'ahumanu and Keopuolani who received the opportunity to exercise their influence at a time when faith in the old socio-economic system was weak? Or as Anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber has suggested, did the principle of "Cultural Fatigue" lead to this revolution, meaning that the over-elaboration of this traditional pattern of religious and political behavior finally resulted in a burdensome system with which the people became disillusioned and which they finally abandoned? This explanation downplays the influences exerted by changing social and physical environmental factors resulting from the new European influences impacting Hawaiian society, which others believe must have shaped its thinking to some degree.

Robert Redfield, for instance, stresses the importance of this culture contact and has suggested that the overthrow of the kapu system exemplified planned, conscious reform on the part of the Hawaiians as a result of the "unsettling impact" of Western customs and moral attitudes. He argues that the social strain and ideological incongruities presented by exposure to European civilization increased the probabilities of such a change in a culture that had shown in the past a proclivity to abandon gods who did not achieve for them what they wanted. This explanation, however, fails to address the social and political developments that had taken place in Hawaiian society during the previous years that enabled the change to take place so easily.

Several anthropologists have used sound arguments for both political and economic motivations. Malcolm Webb, for instance, questions whether personal desires, such as the preference of two women for more personal freedom, would be powerful enough to cause such a great change unless other factors were also at work undermining the traditional process. He also questioned how on this level one could explain the ready acquiescence of the king and the high priest, who stood to lose considerable status, or whether this would even adequately explain the motives of the royal women involved, who, because of their high rank, actually suffered less from the kapu system than the common women. Webb believes it doubtful such a drastic change would have occurred without foreign contact showing the availability of alternative systems. However, although the Hawaiians were probably struck by the fact that foreigners could violate kapu without harm, Webb believes the Hawaiians were not overly disturbed by this because they realized these people were not part of the same genealogical-ceremonial system.

Webb states that during the years preceding the overthrow of the old religion, rivalry among closely related members of ruling kin groups and the channeling of much of the country's resources to ritual rather than to the increase of foreign trade or as bonus payments for armies were the leading causes of the failure of the early Hawaiian chiefs to consolidate state power. By the time of the overthrow, however, an intense desire had grown on the part of the local chiefs for foreign goods, to such an extent that they were heavily in debt and needed to divert resources from other uses.

Webb's argument is that the abolition of the kapu system was linked to the ongoing, although probably unrealized, transformation of the Hawaiian culture from a tribal to a state entity. European trade goods, especially firearms, and the surplus wealth gained from their position in the center of the goods distribution network, had by this time enabled senior tribal chiefs to gain some measure of power. That power, independent of tribal tribute, enabled them to safeguard their new status by hiring and paying additional retainers. As the power of local chiefs increased in this manner, they had less need of a leadership system based on prestige, seniority, or rank-status within a kinship group. Their increased wealth and power gained from trade and military force lessened their need as well for the ritual requirements of the traditional system but increased their need for the freedom of action enabling fluidity within a changing social system. Elimination of the sacred nature of the socio-political system would also remove restrictions on the ruler in terms of the time devoted to ritual practices, his ability to move freely around his kingdom, and his ability to wage war without tedious ceremonials. Webb states that for all these reasons, "the downgrading of the traditional religious institutions should in fact be a very common or even typical occurrence during state formation and consolidation." The weakening of traditional religious constraints is especially likely to occur, Webb argues, whenever chieftainships, characterized by the extension of power through kinship and ritual ties, start to develop into states.

Webb believes, however, that Hawai'i was unique in that foreign missionaries did not influence the overthrow of the old religion. He points out the continuing worship of some gods and the veneration of royal tombs, such as Hale-o-Keawe, and suggests that if the missionaries had not arrived on the scene, some variation of traditional religious practices would have been instituted, controlled by the monarch, that did not interfere with the increasing power and efficiency of the government. In terms of timing of the abolition of the old religion, it occurred at a point when the older ideological system had become seriously inhibiting and when power adequate to replace it had arisen.

Webb characterizes Hawai'i in 1819 as illustrating the changeover from ritual to secular controls that usually accompanies the growth of state societies. The event comprised, he thinks, a "functionally necessary adjustment," similar to those that any culture would have to make at a certain stage of development in response to a specific problem in order to survive.

This does not detract from the importance of individual actions in the event, because the persons initiating changes would be suffering "status conflict or deprivation" within the current system. But, they could only be successful in their rebellion if the cultural situation also demanded the change. And possibly the people most likely to initiate such a change would be those of high rank, rather than oppressed commoners, who were less bound by traditional codes of behavior and freer to innovate and move toward needed cultural changes. Webb ends his discussion with the intriguing statement that it was not necessary that individuals such as Ka'ahumanu and her followers completely understand the full ramifications or the ultimate advantages of their actions before initiating innovative measures serving the survival needs of their society. Such acts, he states, "would be performed because when they were done things for some reason simply worked better." In other words, personal motivations may not be that important a consideration in the overthrow of the kapu system, for

the novelty-prone Hawaiian rulers certainly did not realise that they were part of "the process of inevitable political consolidation within a newly formed secondary state," but they must have had enough perspicacity to see that the old religious system, in supporting a social structure which worked against the new social reality, was somehow "wrong" and had to be changed to one which was more congruent with the new order. The motives of the innovators themselves may, of course, have been either cynical or pious . . . and the end product would surely have been the same.

William Davenport also cites economic and political reasons for the repudiation of the kapu system, and at the same time explains why members of the ali'i would naturally be the principal instigators of reform. It was the aristocratic class, he reasons, that had had the most contact with Europeans after Cook's discovery and thus had been subject to the strongest acculturative influences. In time they began to demand more and more imported goods, which led to the need for increasing commercial trade. As a consequence, they had to divert large amounts of labor from traditional subsistence activities to the procurement of sandalwood, the major trade item, straining the Hawaiian economy and a labor force that was already decreasing due to disease.

Therefore, in addition to simply wanting the increased power that would result from abolition of the old socio-political system, Davenport thinks the ali'i believed that the economic crisis necessitated freeing the culture from the burden of supporting the various priesthoods. Levin places little weight on this argument because, she states, it is difficult to determine how oppressive a burden the support of the priesthood was and whether the advantages gained would really have been worth repudiating an entire religious system.

Davenport's argument, in other words, also looks at the overthrow from a political perspective "as a deliberate political action of the legitimate government of the Hawaiian Islands." It was, as Webb surmises, a political act resulting from a political decision in response to stress. Ka'ahumanu, Webb believes, instigated the kapu violations as an "intuitive political response to preserve the regime that . . . she had helped to expand and consolidate" under Kamehameha I  She could clearly see that the traditional dual succession system handicapped the government by providing optional leaders who could easily rally opposing factions. By pressuring for a break in this tradition, she raised an issue sure to create factions in the population, but at a time when the opposition was not yet fully organized. The faster an encounter could be forced, she knew, the less opposition could be raised. Therefore she pushed the issue as quickly as she could after Kamehameha's death.

This argument states that the major goal of Ka'ahumanu at that time was to maintain the strength of the monarchy. Davenport points out that the priesthood had functioned as one of the most important checks against despotism; if a ruler alienated his priests, they could weaken his rule or cause his overthrow by interpreting divinations and auguries as adverse to his regime. If not supported by the priesthoods in ancient Hawai'i, a ruler often found himself in serious political trouble. To remove their status, therefore, would strengthen the power of the ruler, a huge gain worth the price of lowering the value of divine rank.

In addition, even the commoners had surely begun to realize, Davenport believes, that guns possessed as much ability to make things happen as did the gods. That fact was probably abundantly clear to Hewahewa, who had served as Kamehameha l's advisor in religious matters during his rise to power. Hewahewa might have sensed that the power of the priesthood would wane as the relationship of Hawai'i's monarchs with Europeans increased. At the same time Kalanimoku, as senior minister, war leader, and an intimate of the late king, could see that trade was vital to the maintenance of governmental power because it was the only way to gain guns and ships. Destruction of the organized priesthoods, which claimed a large segment of the labor and produce of the land, could only strengthen his regime both politically and economically. The interesting aspect of the event, Davenport points out, is that those who sought to change the system did it through the head of state, not in the form of a coup d'etat. The strategy, a successful one, was to reform from within in what amounted to a constitutional reform of traditional government.

Davenport also discusses the economic side of the overthrow. He believes the political crisis resulting in the change was a result of the government's stress from trying to pay for its unrestrained purchases of foreign goods. The commoners were kept so busy providing sandalwood for trade that they did not have enough time to cultivate food for their own needs. That affected not only their well-being, but also lessened the amount of tribute and taxes they were able to contribute to support the court and the priesthoods as well as the many religious rituals and military campaigns. This steadily deteriorating situation was forcing the central government to a decision to either renounce its commercial goals or reorganize the allocation of its resources. At the same time, the ali'i' s strict religious doctrine had been shaken by contact with Europeans. Therefore, there existed little opposition to an action that, in eliminating the priesthoods, would free the country's resources for other uses and also increase the political authority of the paramount chief and his followers. Despite the loss of some benefits heretofore prescribed by religious sanctions, the king could retain his power through armed force. As Webb suggests, Davenport believes the timing of the overthrow was all important. It took place during a period of instability, when the kapu was already being violated as part of the traditional mourning ritual for a beloved leader. Instead of reinstating the kapu, an action that would have reaffirmed its perceived value to the country, Liholiho joined the violators and thus ensured the system's destruction.

All things considered, Davenport agrees with Webb's evolutionary interpretation of events. He strongly believes the abolition of the kapu was a deliberate political response to political crisis caused by the growing power of the monarch and local chieftains and by an increase in commercial trade, and was further stimulated by growing religious doubts and the problems caused by a declining population. Those internal problems were intensified by continuing social and economic contact with Europeans. The government response to lower this stress level involved governmental reform that would enable reorganization of the admininstrative infrastructure to allow more efficient allocation of the country's economic resources.

John L. Fischer also believes the overthrow was successful because it was a smart political move and because it coincided with the popular sentiment at that time. He states his belief that prior to Kamehameha's unification of the islands, "sociocultural forces" were increasing the elaborateness of the state religion; after unification, there were forces at work to simplify it. However, he states, it usually was more typical for dissatisfied members of the general population to demand change than for the central government to initiate reform without pressure from the people, missionaries, or foreign governments. In most developing societies, he states, chiefs and high-ranking persons usually attempted to maintain the aboriginal religion and its authority- preserving sanctions. Hawai'i was different because of the political conditions and the political functions served by kapu and the native religion. Fischer thought the old religion's major purpose prior to Kamehameha's reign was to militarily and economically support local chieftainships, a function made unnecessary by unification of the islands. Whereas in earlier times, this had created a close relationship the local chiefs defending the people against enemies and organizing the production and distribution of resources, Fischer believes the abolition of the kapu system was a manifestation of a new alliance uniting the central government and the commoners against the local aristocracy.

An essential part of Fischer's argument is that class conflict had always existed between the local chiefs and commoners in aboriginal Hawai'i. One reason was the hardship of supplying labor and food to the chiefs, time-consuming tasks that put additional stress on the commoners and that depleted their own food supply. Contact with the West increased this stress by leading to the need for additional production by the people for trade purposes; in addition, unification of the islands had already resulted in an additional level of administrative hierarchy for the commoners to support. Added to this was conflict between the central government and its retinue and lower-ranking chiefs. Because of this, Fischer thinks it would only have been sound political strategy, to guarantee their continued authority, for the central government to attempt to ally itself more closely with the commoners; certainly one way to dramatically accomplish this would be by abolishing the kapu.

From another viewpoint, Stephenie Levin points out that the immediate period after Kamehameha l's death was one of unrest regarding land tenure rights, which traditionally on the death of a paramount ruler reverted to his successor, who redistributed them. Ka'ahumanu was a member of the ali'i group to whom Kamehameha had deeded land outright. She must have realized that the kapu system was adverse to the interests of her kin group in retaining these lands. As a member of the central government, she would also be averse to the kapu system because it threatened the continuance of her administration by implying that the right to rule could only be confirmed through religious ritual. Ka'ahumanu would have been astute enough to realize that secularizing the government and making succession hereditary would not only stabilize but increase the power and authority of the central government. In summary, Levin believes that certain members of the ruling ali'i, after the death of Kamehameha, probably feeling their position to be somewhat insecure, realized that the current political system, constrained by ancient religious tenets, was highly unstable. That explains why the movement arose and did not constitute an attempt to destroy a set of religious beliefs the people had already rejected, but was a specific attempt to consolidate and strengthen the political authority of the central government.

The reason for the kapu system's overthrow at this particular time was probably a result of all the conditions discussed, in varying degrees. Undoubtedly Western contact and growing desires on the part of the people for European amenities; the insecurities of the government the first monarchy to take office through hereditary succession; the far-reaching political and social implications of maintaining the kapu system; the disruption of the balance of power among local chiefs due to trading advantages; and the disturbance of personal relationships in and among the general population from exposure to Western goods and customs, all must have played a role. And because of this unrest, strong personalities in the forefront of the government at this time were able to assume a critical role in nudging the course of history.

     6. Effects of the Overthrow of the Kapu System

What were the affects of the overthrow of the kapu system? According to Marion Kelly,

The royal declaration outlawing the taboo system did not affect all Hawaiians in a like manner. For the most part it relieved the ali'i, and particularly the women, of certain oppressive conditions. Although the revolt against the declaration was not well supported, the people did not immediately abandon their religious practices nor their beliefs. Ancient religious rituals were set aside by the ali'i only, and the new religion that Christian missionaries brought was not welcomed by Hawaiians with opened arms.

In his introduction to Laura Judd's memoirs, Dale Morgan, in reflecting upon the consequences of the kapu abolition movement, opines that

Destruction of the kapu system made little difference in the power of the chiefs, and though the revolution greatly impaired the power of the priests, it did not destroy their power wholly. A more far-reaching effect was that the discontinuance of formal religious services left a certain vacuum in the nation's life, subtly damaging the social fabric, the sense of order that had shaped much of Hawaiian existence. . .

Scholars have enumerated many detrimental effects of the abolition of the kapu system on the Hawaiian population precipitated by the loss of order and regulation in society and of the ceremonial motivation and efficiency of organized labor. Psychological hardships became extremely significant for a people deprived of the support and leadership heretofore offered by customary ways of doing things.

Because kapu had directed every aspect of Hawaiian culture, their removal also affected every segment of daily life. Removing the underpinnings of traditional Hawaiian social and political culture led to a chaotic psychological trauma for the majority of Hawaiians who, subjected at the same time to such detrimental influences as rum, tobacco, and venereal disease, were assailed by feelings of doubt, fear, confusion, stress, and depression about the future.

Changes in land tenure and ownership rights, in the division of labor, in the types of services performed and the kinds of goods produced, in personal relationships, and in social stratification were many. For instance, the allotment of land changed with the further consolidation of the government. Although the former kahuna of the organized priesthoods were stripped of their powers, they kept their lands, becoming landed gentry like the rest of the ali'i. The withdrawal of the caste system tended to weaken kinship ties between the maka'ainana and the ali'i and removed distinctions between the kauwa and the maka'ainana, opening the way for integration of the classes. Ultimately the disintegration of old values and the traditional kinship systems led to the loss of the feeling of unity in families, which had been one of the keystones of ancient Hawaiian society.

As traditional values fell in esteem, so did the production of native implements, arts, and crafts and the accomplishment of other native industries as the focus of acquisition settled on more and more foreign items. As political rivalry and wars of succession ceased, commoners no longer regarded the king and other ali'i as leaders and an inspiration in war. The overthrow also affected the culture's subsistence and consumption patterns, specifically food and craft production, which were no longer tied to the social-political-religious system. Because the people no longer observed seasonal cycles marked by formal religious ceremonies, planting was less planned and more informal; the lack of kapu on fishing activities probably resulted in increased overfishing. Although agricultural festivals were no longer held, farmers and fishermen still had to pay taxes, not to bring bounty through the goodwill of the gods as in earlier times, but as impersonal payment to the central government.

The void left by abandonment of the age-old socio-religious system would be filled only partially by the teachings of Christianity. Members of the upper class of Hawaiian society would support the work of the New England missionaries upon their arrival and would, in turn, instruct the people to learn and obey the new teachings. Possibly because they were used to obeying edicts from above, or possibly because they were looking for a new direction in their spiritual and daily lives, many of the population took to the teachings of Christianity with little resistance. Even the missionaries, however, would have rough going in countering some of the more unwelcome attractions of the foreign trading ships and of a new visitor to Hawai'i's shores the whalers.

     7. Death of Kamehameha II

Despite this dramatic break with past traditions, some of Liholiho's actions were similar to those of rulers before him. He gathered around him young chiefs, children of warriors, and even commoners, making them members of his household. He collected taxes in the form of food and subsistence goods from the different islands of his kingdom. Like his father, Liholiho moved his residence several times in response to the need for his presence in an area. At one point he lived at Kawaihae and later, upon the advice of his cabinet, moved his principal residence from Kailua to Honolulu.

However, the short reign of King Kamehameha II was clouded by excesses in drinking and spending on luxury goods. One author writes that Liholiho

did not have to rule by ritual and he did not know how to rule by law, and so he ruled by whim, alternately despotic and delinquent. . . . Even a decent respect for his own position seemed to be beyond the king.

The king, queen, and their attendants visited London in 1824. In their absence, Ka'ahumanu acted as regent, imposing strict new moral rules on the islands. At about the same time, a revolt was instigated on Kaua'i by the son of the old chief Ka'umu'ali'i. Although the government put an end to the revolt, these events combined to further the missionary cause, while diminishing the power of the king.

King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamamalu died of measles in London in July 1824. A national council appointed his younger brother Kauikeaouli as king, and Ka'ahumanu continued as regent. The council also decreed that hereditary succession was now the law of the land.

C. Arrival of New Religion

     1. Missionaries Come to Hawai'i

The year 1819 was a critical turning point in the history of the Hawaiian Islands. As described, the death of Kamehameha and the abolition of the kapu system left the islands without a formal religion. Unaware of these events, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions that same year determined to send missionaries to Hawai'i to convert and "civilize" the people by introducing churches, schools, and the press.

Another new element was added to fuel the social, cultural, and economic turmoil in the islands as whalers began to arrive in increasing numbers looking for supplies, fuel, food, and water. This onslaught greatly increased demands for goods and services, a situation that commercial interests and foreign governments (largely British and American) were quick to capitalize upon. The missionary activity, expansionist ambitions, and commercial interests prevalent in the Hawaiian Islands in the early 1820s set the stage for a battle for control of the Hawaiian kingdom, a battle dominated for the first few decades by the American missionaries. They would influence Hawaiian politics, foreign relations, and economics for the next half century.

     2. Establishment of Mission Stations

By 1800 a number of young Hawaiians who had signed onto trading ships as sailors had found their way to New England. In 1816-17, the American Board of Christian Missions opened a Foreign Mission School at Cornwall, Connecticut, for young foreigners; seven of the original twelve students were Hawaiians. The success of these young scholars encouraged the board to send missionaries to the Sandwich Islands.

The first company of missionaries left Boston in October 1819 aboard the ship Thaddeus. After a turbulent eighteen-thousand-mile-voyage, they arrived at Kawaihae on the shores of Hawai'i at the end of March 1820. Upon their arrival they found that King Kamehameha was dead and the kapu system had been abolished. After lengthy consultation with his advisors, King Kamehameha II granted the missionaries permission to land. The newcomers felt they had a tremendous task ahead of them, for their charge from the American Board had been to

open your hearts wide and set your mark high. You are to aim at nothing short of covering these islands with fruitful fields and pleasant dwellings and schools and churches and of raising up the whole people to an elevated state of Christian civilization.

They quickly set about establishing mission stations. Reverend Asa Thurston; Mrs. Lucy Goodale Thurston; Thomas Holman, M.D.; and Mrs. Lucia Holman, accompanied by Hawaiian converts Thomas Hopu and William Kanui, were sent to Kailua to minister to the people of that district teaching them literature, the arts, and most importantly, Christianity ("training them for heaven"). Among their first pupils were the new king and his younger brother, two of his wives, and some other youths. The king was particularly interested in having Holman present to provide medical care for the royal family, and for a short time William Loomis ran a "family school" for Kalanimoku and his family at Kawaihae.

Although the king and his chiefs were gracious in receiving the missionaries, there were others especially among the foreign merchants who argued against their admission. Some of the foreigners residing on the islands were wary of the newcomers, fearing a loss of easy access to the governing chiefs and diminishing returns from their prosperous businesses that catered "to native vices." They warned the chief that the missionaries would ban polygamy, alcohol, and native religion. They also suggested that the arrival of English missionaries was imminent and argued that the missionaries intended to claim possession of the islands for themselves.

John Young generally supported the missionaries, helping them with translations, housing, and other matters. One of his sons was among the first pupils taught by the American missionaries at Kailua. According to the captain of the Thaddeus, Young suggested to the missionaries that the "Government of Great Britain might not be pleased with the settlement of American missionaries at the Sandwich Islands." Some of the chiefs even asked Young to write to the British to avoid any misunderstanding. Other foreigners living in the islands were not so supportive. Frenchman Jean Rives (who had close ties to King Kamehameha II) argued strongly that the missionaries should not be allowed to stay. (Rives was a Catholic who later requested that priests be sent to the islands.) In the end, the American missionaries were limited to a probationary one-year period, and only because of Ka'ahumanu's support.

Intrigued and repelled by traditional native customs, the missionaries quickly set about to "civilize" the Hawaiians. This involved imposition of a strict culture common to the New England ministers whose religion was "intolerant of religious and moral beliefs that were not in accord with their own." Idols that had been hidden when the kapu was broken were sought out and burned, It was later reported that around 1822,

Kamehameha's poison-god Kalaipahoa was burned at Hilo, and at Kailua, one hundred and two idols, collected from various hiding places, were consumed in one bonfire. Feasting, dancing, and revelry went together with the burning of idols.

Laws were enacted against gambling, drinking spirits, dancing the hula, breaking the Sabbath, polygamy, prostitution, and other acts the missionaries considered immoral.

Wary at first of the new religion, a number of the natives were won over following the conversion of several high-ranking women, including Keopuolani, Kapiolani, and Ka'ahumanu. The support of these women was crucial to the missionaries' success, because they were extremely influential. Keopuolani, who was the first convert in 1823, was the highest-born woman in the land and mother of the next two kings. Ka'ahumanu served as regent of the kingdom with power almost equal to that of the king. After her conversion, Ka'ahumanu worked zealously for the missionary cause. One early traveler suggested that because she had always expected "prompt and unquestioning obedience" from the commoners, she probably believed the moral attitudes of her people could easily be molded by government decree. Also, because traditionally there had been no division between religion and government, Ka'ahumanu's acceptance of the new religion gave it official sanction in the minds of the people.

Before long, churches were erected, and the native people, used to instruction from religious leaders, became active churchgoers. One factor explaining their receptivity to the new religion is that many older Hawaiians had died of warfare and disease during the previous years, precluding instruction of their descendants in the traditional ways. The native Hawaiians may also have accepted Christianity for another reason. A number of years prior to the arrival of the missionaries, a native prophet named Kalaikuahulu had predicted that the Hawaiian people would receive a message from Heaven "entirely different from anything they had known, and that the tabus of the country would be subverted."

The American missionaries actively discouraged activity by members of other religious groups, especially the Catholics. However, when the Reverend William Ellis of the London Missionary Society toured the islands in 1823, he was well received by the Americans. Ellis noted that there were eight areas suitable for mission stations on the island of Hawai'i. On the west coast,

Honannau [Honaunau], the frequent residence of former kings, where a depository of their bones, and many images of their gods, still remain, has a dense population waiting for Christian instruction. . . . Towaihae [Kawaihae] on the north-west, a considerable village, presents nearly equal claims.

The missionaries led a difficult life, isolated from each other by the great stream channels and mountains of Hawai'i. The missionaries' homes, and often their young children, were in New England, thousands of miles away. Several times a year, the missionary would tour his district, preaching and checking on the schools. Because of rough terrain and the lack of roads, each tour might require five or six weeks. However, the missionaries persisted, and over the next two decades they accomplished much of what they set out to do. By that time, New England Puritanism and Christian beliefs had largely replaced the kapu system in ordering the Hawaiians' lives.

During the early 1830s, missionary influence on Hawaiian life began a gradual decline, broken by a short period of revival (1837-40) when newly arrived evangelicals baptized hundreds of Hawaiian supplicants. Some of the missionary children, educated in the United States, later returned to the islands as missionaries or became active in politics and commerce there. As the islands gradually adopted Christianity, many of the missionary stations were closed or turned over to native Hawaiian leaders.

D. Literacy Increases

Education of the Hawaiians was a high priority among the missionaries. Their first pupils were the chiefs and their attendants and the native wives and the children of the foreign residents. At first lessons were taught in English, but soon the missionaries set about mastering the Hawaiian language. By the mid-1820s they had adopted an alphabet and reduced the spoken Hawaiian to the written word. They then began to print textbooks while continuing to translate religious materials, particularly the Bible, into Hawaiian so that the lessons could be taught to a larger audience. Once materials were printed in Hawaiian, the missionaries could teach reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion to the native populations. By 1824 the missionary teachers were trading copies of religious texts for basic food supplies, and by 1834 two newspapers were being published in Hawaiian.

Lahaina and Honolulu soon developed into important mission stations where religious tracts and newspapers were published in Hawaiian, augmenting and accelerating the literacy program for the islanders. Because Ka'ahumanu and several key chiefs supported the missionary cause, Christian conversions were accompanied by ever-increasing numbers of natives attending school at the urging of their leaders. However, school attendance was always affected by traditional activities. For example, entire families might be away from an area for a period of several weeks building a wall for one of the chiefs or searching for articles of tribute. The missionaries also accused foreigners "of no very virtuous character" of injuring the educational system by enticing the children away from school. On the other hand, the foreign schooling also drew the younger ali'i and maka'ainana away from traditional pursuits, accelerating the pace of acculturation.

After a time, some of the best educated Hawaiian students were assigned school districts of their own. The area chief furnished their housing, the schoolhouse, clothing, and food and was to ensure that all inhabitants attended school. As the pupils progressed, this process was repeated, and soon the majority of the population could read and write. According to one author, so many schools were established during this time that Hawaiians became one of the most literate peoples in the world. Festive examinations and exhibitions were held at selected places like Kailua on Hawai'i so that everyone could see the excellent progress the Hawaiian pupils had made.

By 1837 the northern district of Hawai'i could report 155 schools, with over 5,010 scholars and 10,000 books ranging in subject from the "Child's First Lessons" to the New Testament. The educational system produced many practical benefits as well. As the Hawaiians learned to read and write, they also learned that they were being exploited by the traders and sailors and were able to revalue their products accordingly. They also learned a number of useful new crafts. Although the Hawaiian school system fell upon hard times following the death of Ka'ahumanu, revitalization of missionary efforts coupled with legislative reforms led to additional emphasis on, and support for, education by 1850.

Levi Chamberlain, an American missionary, played a major role in the early development of Hawaiian schools. In addition to the missionary teachers, administrators actively supported the Hawaiian school system. One of these men, the Reverend William Richards, accepted a post with the Hawaiian government in 1838. He was responsible for the adoption of vocational training in the school curriculum and for the introduction of English as a medium of instruction. His common sense and compassion worked to further the educational system through legislation.

E. Changes in Government

Kamehameha II made few formal changes to the government of the islands following his father's death and the abolition of the kapu system. The land still belonged to the king, though held by the chiefs. Distinguished chiefs were appointed as governors over the different islands and districts, which still paid the king tribute. Commoners worked for a chief who in return supported them in their old age. Priests still enforced the laws and collected revenue for the king.

However, beneath this veneer of normalcy, the old type of government had begun to crumble. Liholiho was caught between two worlds. The Hawaiian people had begun to adopt Western mores, customs, and vices, and their traditional religious and moral precepts were breaking down. Because Liholiho did not know how to rule under the new system of law espoused by the missionaries, his decisions were often swayed by foreign friends with their own self-serving agendas.

Kamehameha II was ill-equipped to deal with these opposing forces. Forced to make choices, he tried to placate the missionaries while also accommodating the traders and merchants. Unfortunately, he dismissed many of his father's shrewdest advisors, depending instead upon foreign companions. Heavy drinking clouded many of his decisions. When he died in London in 1824, he left a troubled monarchy struggling to deal with the changes that had swept across the islands.

Between 1825 and 1840, changes in the Hawaiian government were largely influenced by foreign ideas and the American missionaries. Conversion of Hawaiians such as Keopuolani and Ka'ahumanu to Christianity swiftly paved the way for changes in the lives of ordinary Hawaiians. For example, Ka'ahumanu, once the favorite wife of Kamehameha, possessed more power and property than any other Hawaiian woman. Following her conversion to Christianity, she rigidly enforced many of the religious dictates of the missionaries among her people. During the 1820s, these dictates were established as laws, enforced by the missionaries but resisted strongly by the foreign traders and merchants. Boki, the royal guardian and tutor of the young king, challenged Ka'ahumanu's leadership, but was diverted from attempts to depose her and died on a sailing trip seeking sandalwood.

Following Ka'ahumamu's death, Hawaiian leaders attempted unsuccessfully to regain native Hawaiian control of the islands and return to the old ways. Foreigners, especially the American missionaries, continued to influence the Hawaiian government.

F. Development of a Hawaiian Constitution

By the 1830s there was a growing sentiment among the Hawaiians for more self determination. After two decades of Christian instruction, Hawaiian leaders "were forced to consider in earnest a fundamental reconstruction of the government of the kingdom."

As the numbers of influential foreigners in the community continued to increase, so did questions as to their rights to property and a place in the community. Imperialistic pressures from various foreign nations raised the question of Hawaiian independence, and the Hawaiians turned to the missionaries for guidance. After failing to secure teachers of the science of government from New England, the American Missionary Board released one of their members, William Richards, to aid and advise the Hawaiian government. Between 1839 and 1852, men like Richards, Gerritt P. Judd, R. Armstrong, R.C. Wyllie, Lorrin Andrews, William Lee, and John Ricord were joined by a group of well-educated Hawaiians in helping King Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III) formulate major changes in the Hawaiian government.

Over the next few years, the government announced a policy of religious toleration (1839), declared a policy of human rights for the king's subjects (the 1839 Hawaiian Magna Carta), placed elementary schools under the management of the government, and developed and adopted a national constitution (1840) that provided for a legislative system. A series of organic acts were passed. The first of these provided for appointment of an executive cabinet (administrative department heads). One of John Young's sons (Keoni Ana) had been the premier and now became Minister of the Interior. The other cabinet members were Euro-Americans with interests in Hawai'i. The executive cabinet joined the four governors of the islands to constitute a Privy Council, replacing the council of chiefs. Laws were passed to create a civil service and an independent judicial system. These documents began the separation of power into the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government, an idea new to the Hawaiian culture.

One of the most important changes was revision of the Hawaiian land tenure system. Foreigners using or holding Hawaiian lands were very anxious to secure title to them. Resident merchants saw future opportunities for large-scale agriculture and capital investments and viewed the land tenure system as a roadblock to progress.

By mid-century, the native autocracy had given way to a more liberalized form of government under the newly adopted democratic constitution. Unfortunately, the constitution (which was intended to help native Hawaiians) and the 1850 land law were all too often manipulated to the advantage of the fiercely competitive foreign business and commercial interests and land-hungry foreigners.

G. Changes in Food Production

During Kamehameha's reign, fertile soils, astute agricultural practices, and a stable population provided for a fairly healthy native economy one that could support both the maka'ainana and the large numbers of priests and chiefs. During the 1820s, as traders and chiefs alike demanded more goods, and as cities like Honolulu expanded, there were tremendous demands upon local farmers to produce increased supplies of food, wood, and water. Numerous vessels, sent by the government in Honolulu, came to the busy ports of Kailua and Kealakekua Bay on a monthly basis seeking provisions.

Some of the chiefs responded by planting more land to crops like sweet potatoes, melons, and taro, while European-operated gardens supplied other foods. By 1825 the Kona Coast was producing large quantities of food. Yet because of the abolition of the kapu system, there were fewer ways for chiefs to regulate production. Also these increased production demands occurred at the time of a general exodus of native peoples away from the small farming villages to the larger cities; continued sandalwood cutting was also drawing workers away from their farms. Several authors suggest that the influence of the foreign missionaries also affected food production. That is, many of the workers "were obliged to quit their work, and to repair to the nearest auxiliary [missionary] school so frequently during the day" that food production suffered. Missionary prohibitions against working on the Sabbath also reduced the amount of time and energy an individual farmer could give to the land. The missionaries, on the other hand, blamed the problem partially on foreigners whose "horses and cattle desolate the land and prevent cultivation, and the people are famished." They also suggested that the foreigners had neglected to teach the natives agricultural skills and that the moral decline during Liholiho's reign (fostered by the foreigners) had contributed to diminished taro production.

By 1830 many new varieties of produce were being cultivated across the islands. While taro, yams, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, plantain, bananas, fish, and mulberry trees (for kapa cloth) comprised the major food crops, fruits and vegetables introduced for trade had gradually found their way into native gardens. Cabbages, onions, pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers, beans, radishes, and melons had become abundant, but were cultivated "almost exclusively, for the refreshment of ships, and the tables of foreign residents." As a result, more and more land had to be developed to support new products. Yet the people had little incentive to produce more goods. Perhaps two-thirds of their produce had to be given to the chiefs, and any unauthorized increases in stock or plantings were likely to be taken in tax or tribute as well. Missionaries suggested that the commoners were so poor they seldom tasted meat, living almost exclusively on taro and salt.

By 1831 attempts were being made to develop large-scale farming operations to produce sugar, tobacco, coffee, cotton, spices, flax, hemp, and beef cattle. Fearing undue influence upon their parishioners, the missionaries steadfastly opposed the expansion of foreign commercial and agricultural interests in the islands. Instead they tried to help the native people by fostering a variety of commercial agricultural enterprises, including sugar mills, cloth making, and production of corn meal. These attempts were generally unsuccessful because of the lack of capital. In the end, the missionaries agreed to work with trader P.A. Brinsmade, who had religious leanings.

In 1835 or 1836, Brinsmade and partners William Ladd and William Hooper (operating as Ladd and Company) received support from the missionaries in obtaining a long-term lease from King Kamehameha III. This lease included cane land, a mill, water power, and road building privileges. As changes in land tenure and government occurred, other companies began to lease or acquire sizeable parcels of land for large-scale agricultural production.

By mid-century, major social, political, and economic changes had "caused the rapid demise of the traditional Hawaiian landscape." Shortly after that time, the whaling trade began to decline, lessening the demand for a variety of agricultural products. Specialized plantation agriculture was introduced, and Western tools, foreign indentured laborers, and new forms of land ownership and economic and agricultural practices began to replace traditional farming methods. The plantation system did not utilize the 'ohana-ahupua'a economic units in the traditional manner, encouraging instead the emigration of workers to the upland plantations or into cities.

H. Changes in Trade Patterns

     1. Sandalwood Trade

In America, the Panic of 1819 made it difficult for traders to obtain specie for the China trade. However, because the Hawaiian chiefs had become enamored of items of foreign manufacture, the islands provided an open market for goods like rum, clothing, cloth, and furnishings. Foreign traders shipped these goods to the islands, exchanging them for sandalwood, which continued to be in demand in the Canton ports. (Sandalwood was a desirable cash crop in Hawai'i because it could be harvested year round and did not have to be irrigated or cultivated.) Between about 1810 and 1820, the major item of Hawaiian trade was sandalwood; this trade continued at an accelerated rate following Kamehameha's death. Although Liholiho should have inherited all of Kamehameha's lands, the chiefs wanted the revenue from the sandalwood. By persuading the king to give them control of the royal sandalwood monopoly, they effectively removed any regulation of the harvest or sale of the wood.

Liholiho's taste for foreign luxury goods continued to grow, including such large and expensive items as schooners and brigs. Soon most of the Hawaiian royalty began to purchase goods on credit, against future sandalwood income, and the Hawaiian economy became overextended.

Part of this problem derived from the traditional cultural system, which had little provision for such credit arrangements. As Samuel Kamakau explains, the chiefs bought ships and turned their debts in to the king, and he in turn gave them to the government. The king's friends were among the worst offenders, declaring:

Let us run up the debt and make the chiefs and commoners work; they are no friends of ours, so let us get what we can while our lord is alive.

The increasing scarcity of the trees and the growing demands of the king and his chiefs for trade goods led to the harvesting of large quantities of immature timber, which brought lower prices. The royal domain was stripped of sandalwood to gratify the tastes of its upper class, encouraged by easy credit. The Hawaiians' huge sandalwood debt was renegotiated several times as merchant traders continued to charge inflated prices for trade goods, leading the king and the chiefs into owing more sandalwood than they could deliver. Eventually traders sought the aid of their individual governments in collecting these monies, but it was years before the Hawaiian national debt was retired. It is estimated that over 100,000 piculs (over 13 million pounds) of the fragrant lumber, worth more than a million dollars, was stripped from the mountains and hills of Hawai'i during the first thirty years of this trade. The unpaid debts contracted in the time of Kamehameha I and II (including interest) may have reached as high as $200,000, of which most was owed to American merchants. By the mid-1830s, supplies of sandalwood were virtually exhausted, and other commodities such as salt, coconut oil, and beef cattle had begun to take its place.

The sandalwood trade exacted a heavy price in human life and health and in ecological damage. In 1823 the Reverend William Ellis described the transport of sandalwood from the adjacent mountains to the beach at Kawaihae by "between two and three thousand men, carrying each from one to six pieces of sandalwood, according to their size and weight. It was generally tied on their backs by bands made of ti leaves."

     2. Effects on Society

Lacking food and suffering from an excessive workload, many laborers died, contributing to the general decline in the Hawaiian population. As the labor force was drawn away from the fields and fish ponds, less time and energy were devoted to subsistence crops. Society was turning to a market economy, and the new foreign trade articles and luxury goods quickly became necessities, particularly for Hawaiian leaders. Eventually this situation created a large negative trade balance. Changes in the patterns of trade resulted in a number of impacts upon the native culture. As the chiefs increasingly incurred debts for imported luxury goods, they imposed additional taxes and expectations for service upon their tenants. For example, in 1831, an additional tax of one picul (133.33 pounds) of sandalwood was levied on each individual. The wood was to be brought from the mountains and deposited with the authorities at Honolulu; those who failed to comply with this tax were fined a sum of four dollars. The Hawaiian historian David Malo wrote that the "chiefs seem to have left caring for the people . . . and [the people] are more oppressed at the present time than they ever were in ancient times." The raising of cash crops left less for the well-being of the individual tenant farmer, resulting in increased numbers of poor and homeless. The landholders also spent more and more time away from the land as they dealt with the foreign traders at Honolulu or other port cities. Thus, the power of the konohiki grew, again resulting in increased oppression of the commoners.

     3. Whaling Industry

The whaling industry had a major effect upon Hawaiian commerce and trade. As the Northwest fur trade decreased and sandalwood supplies and values dropped, the whaling industry began to fill the economic void. Frozen out of traditional hunting areas by the Europeans, American whaling ships began to sail farther and farther into the Pacific. In the autumn of 1819 the first whalers (the Balena [also known as the Bellina or Balaena] of New Bedford and the Equator of Nantucket) dropped anchor in the Hawaiian Islands. A year later, Captain Joseph Allen discovered large concentrations of sperm whales off the coast of Japan. His find was widely publicized in New England, setting off an exodus of whalers to this area. These ships might have sought provisions in Japan, except that Japanese ports were closed to foreign ships. So when Captain Allen befriended the missionaries at Honolulu and Lahaina, he helped establish these areas as the major ports of call for whalers.

Within a few years, dozens of whaling ships were calling at the Sandwich Islands. Because the islands were centrally located close to summer whaling in the north and winter hunting near the Equator they were a logical choice for the Pacific base of operations. The friendly natives and mild climate of the islands especially appealed to the whalers after their long voyages aboard cramped, dirty, evil-smelling ships. Twice a year (spring and fall) the northern Pacific whalers put ashore at Honolulu and Lahaina for up to three months at a time, taking on large quantities of fresh provisions, fruit, and vegetables. Supplies of clothing, sail, and other items were stocked for the ships' stores. Several hundred sailors from the ships went ashore during each visit, demanding additional supplies and entertainment.

The number of American whalers and trading ships in Hawai'i reached its zenith in the 1840s and 1850s. By that time many of the larger mercantile houses of the American East Coast were operating in the Pacific, and a whole range of service and commercial industries began to flourish in the major port towns to serve the whalers and traders. Many of these commercial agents and traders had purchased land at Honolulu and Lahaina with profits from the sandalwood trade. As that trade diminished, they turned their attention to the whalers. The traders purchased the whalers' bills of exchange and stored their whale oil. Because local supplies were inadequate to service the whaling ships, the traders imported goods from Boston and shipped whale oil and whalebone there in return. By 1831 stores belonging to the "several respectable American merchants" on O'ahu contained "all the necessary articles of American manufacture, the productions of the China market, wines, and almost every article of sea store."

The income from these retail outlets amounted to perhaps $100,000 per year. There were also numerous other businesses in Honolulu, including two hotels, two billiard rooms, and ten or twelve public houses selling spirits. Ships chandlers, shipyards, and warehouses took in large profits. The shipyards at Honolulu were especially important to the whalers, for there ships could unload their cargoes and be repaired and refitted for another six months of whaling. The whalers' voyages could be prolonged for as many as four years without having to return to home port.

The Hawaiian rulers made several abortive attempts to continue their monopoly on the sales of island products. For example, an 1823 order reserved the right of vegetable sales to the Hawaiian governor. But these trade restrictions were generally ineffectual because the agents and traders kept insisting on a free market and because local supplies were inadequate to meet the whalers' needs. Also, after 1824 foreign merchants largely controlled prices, making large profits and adding to the drain on the Hawaiian resources and native economy.

The 1840 discovery of another whaling ground off the coast of Siberia caused a dramatic increase in whaling ship visits to the island ports. Many of the firms established during that period continued in business into the twentieth century. The whaling industry had another aspect. Simpson suggests that, although the sandalwood trade enriched a few Yankee traders and some Hawaiian chiefs, whaling was "the first capitalistic venture which truly involved the Hawaiian people." Increased revenue came from fees and import duties charged on whale products. Many Hawaiians worked in the shipyards and warehouses. In addition, thousands of Hawaiians shipped out as seamen aboard the whaling ships, so many that the crews were often half Hawaiian. Many of these sailors, through death or emigration, failed to return to the islands, profoundly changing the face of Hawaiian society. The American Civil War, the discovery of petroleum, and the decimation of the whales ended the reign of the whalers in the Pacific by about 1876. Whaling had been "an economic force of awesome proportions in these Islands for more than forty years," enabling King Kamehameha III to finally pay off the national debts accumulated in earlier years.

     4. Honolulu Becomes Major Distribution Center

Not only foreigners stimulated trade. The island chiefs filled their houses with luxurious silk and velvet furnishings and clothing. Expensive cut glass and silver plate were purchased as presents for the king or for a favored wife. (Meanwhile, the missionaries, who could not afford the high prices charged by the merchants or by the chiefs, continued to rely upon gifts of food from their native parishioners or produce from their gardens. The alternative choice was even less palatable:

they had to suffer eating stale salt beef and pork and sea biscuit.) By the mid-1820s, Honolulu had become a major redistribution point, as imported goods and locally produced items were repackaged, stored, broken up, or sold, both for local consumption or to refurbish ships' stores. Trading establishments imported goods for the natives, collected vessel cargoes, and maintained a supply of ships' goods.

I. Conflicting Values and Foreign Relations

The first two decades after the arrival of the missionaries were a crucial period in Hawaiian history. Conflicting values and ambitions led to confrontations among the various factions the missionaries, the native leaders, the traders, the whalers, and the representatives of foreign governments.

The missionaries (and those Hawaiian leaders who had converted to Christianity) were affronted by the ongoing drunkenness and prostitution occurring at places such as Honolulu. And they were firmly convinced that the natives could not be successfully converted to Christianity unless their private lives underwent reform. So, despite instructions from the American Board to refrain from interfering in local political affairs, the missionaries sought to impose their own strict moral code on both the Hawaiians and foreigners and issued a number of commandments for the larger community. As one writer reports, the laws regarding the Sabbath were particularly onerous the natives "were not even allowed to smoke or cook any meals on Sunday." When criticized by the merchants, the missionaries suggested that because the traders' interests lay in making a profit, they were "only mildly concerned with the welfare of the Hawaiian people among whom they lived."

In turn, the traders were convinced that the presence of the missionaries, especially those at Honolulu, interfered with enterprise, private business, and profits. The whalers and traders especially resented attempts to restrict their lives especially when the rules forbade work on the Sabbath, drinking, or prostitution. They retaliated by attacking the missionaries, accusing them of meddling in the affairs of commerce and government. These two divergent viewpoints led to conflicts between the groups, and there was a great deal of competition for the support and favor of the Hawaiian leaders. Serious violence directed at the missionaries flared up several times in the mid-1820s and again in 1852.

At first, the Hawaiian government under Liholiho continued the policy established by Kamehameha, that is, its leaders regarded the British as the protectors of the Hawaiian kingdom. Once American missionaries began to influence the Hawaiian leaders, much of the British advantage was lost. At the same time, the British, American, and French consuls and naval officers opposed many of the commandments issued by the missionaries and came into conflict with the Hawaiian government by trying to expand and protect their own financial and political interests.

J. Great Mahele

Perhaps the most important of the reforms that the Hawaiian government undertook during the 1830s and 1840s was the Great Mahele, or division of lands. The Mahele provided a basis for modem land titles by changing the old feudal tenures to allodial (absolutely independent) modern land titles in the islands.

Following the death of Kamehameha, Kamehameha II reassigned a few properties to his intimate friends but failed to carry out the traditional redistribution of lands. Generally, he allowed current landholders to continue to occupy their land, possibly due to the combined influences of Ka'ahumanu and the landed interests of the chiefs. Gifts of land were also made by individual chiefs and by the king to foreigners, but with the tacit understanding that the gift could be revoked at any time.

Following Kamehameha II's death in London in 1824, the Hawaiian government faced increasing demands for land from island chiefs and from assertive foreign traders and merchants. Used to owning land in fee simple, foreigners had begun to object to the right of the king and his chiefs to dispense land at will and to evict foreigners as they pleased. Before 1820, most foreign residents were common sailors, men who conformed to native customs. After 1820, foreigners arriving in the Islands were often "men of higher status in life" who had little regard for native traditions and who "began to deal with their property like they would do in their homelands." For this reason, earlier disputes over moral laws and sandalwood debts gradually shifted to dissension over land and property rights.

The land tenure system with its self-sufficient ahupua'a and communal subsistence economy had, for a long time, worked well for the Hawaiians. Although the chiefs controlled the land and extracted food and labor from the commoners who farmed the soil, "everyone had rights of access and use to the resources of the land and the sea. . . . The people were sustained by a tradition of sharing and common use." The system reflected the islands' social stratification from the ruling chief down to the lowest commoner. Production and consumption patterns had been partially regulated through the kapu system. However, once that started to deteriorate, the subsistence economy was easily breached by foreign intervention, and the land tenure system became dysfunctional. The political division of labor among men and women, commoner and chief, was no longer sanctified, and ceremonies such as the Makahiki ceased to have much meaning within the political system. In a land ruled by one leader, the redistribution of land became irrelevant because a need no longer existed to periodically divide the chiefdom's territory.

The breakdown in the land tenure system began during the early trade with foreigners. At that time, the chiefs and priests controlled trade, while the commoner had to supply ever-increasing amounts of produce. The farmers' labor increased, not only to produce more food, but to help gather firewood, water, and sandalwood for the traders. Most early nineteenth-century Euro-American visitors held a simplistic view of Hawaii's land tenure system, complaining that it was backward and oppressive, resulting in "a nation of shirks." The missionaries also criticized the system and lobbied for changes, noting that its existence kept the people poor and "forbid cheerful industry." William Richards noted that the elder chiefs' objections to proposed land reform centered around loss of control over their subjects. Under pressure to change the system, Kamehameha III and his chiefs, assisted by their Euro-American advisors, reviewed national land tenure policy. To correct some of the problems plaguing the Hawaiian kingdom, they issued the Hawaiian Bill of Rights in 1839, followed shortly by the first constitution. That document acknowledged that

though all the land belonged to King Kamehameha I, "it was not his own private property. It belonged to the chiefs and people in common, of whom Kamehameha I was the head, and had management of the landed property.'" This was the first formal acknowledgement by the king that the common people had some form of ownership in the land, aside from an interest in the products of the soil.

Within five years a land commission (The Board of Commissioners To Quiet Land Titles) had been established to begin reform of the Hawaiian land system. The stated intent of the reform was to facilitate land acquisition by the poorer classes, allowing them to derive a "proper reward for their industry," and to encourage population growth. Eventually the chiefs and konohiki joined Kamehameha III in supporting the Great Mahele, beginning in the 1840s. The Mahele was an agreement on the "separation and identification of the relative rights of the king, the chiefs, and the konohikis" with regard to the lands within the Hawaiian Islands.

At first consideration, the Mahele would seem to have been the culmination of the sweeping cultural changes that occurred following the death of Kamehameha. However, one author notes that

long and undisturbed possession of their lands by chiefs was a preparation for the development of a sentiment favorable to permanent individual rights in land . . . and may be regarded as the seed germ of the system of land tenures which afterwards developed.

Suggesting that the idea of hereditary transmission of estates originated with Kamehameha, Dole notes that from about 1795 until 1839, there appears to have been a growing tendency to allow descent of lands from parent to child. Also, as land occupants became increasingly secure in their landholdings, there were more land transactions, both as gifts and sales.

The Great Mahele did not convey land, but established a land commission and provided the means whereby land claims could be presented to the commission and adjudged by them. The king, still concerned over foreign control of Hawaiian lands, then signed instruments that divided his land into two portions. One part, "the Crown Lands," he retained; the rest, "Government Lands," went to the chiefs and the people. The third act of the Great Mahele, commonly known as the Kuleana Act of 1850, enabled the Land Commission to award small parcels of land to commoners for subsistence purposes.

The Great Mahele was followed by legislation that allowed the sale of lands in fee simple to resident aliens and authorized the award of kuleana to commoners. Some say that the Great Mahele stands out in Hawaiian history as an extraordinary example of altruism, for the Hawaiian aristocracy peacefully relinquished many of their hereditary rights and privileges for the good of the people. Others point out that there existed a vast gulf between the provisions of the law and actual practice; that is, the laws and their administration proved inadequate to protect commoners rights, Indeed, all too often the laws

permitted and intensified the oppressive control over commoners either by chiefs or foreigners who quickly gained ownership and control over large tracts of land. . . . Basically, history shows that the chiefs prevailed.

As it became evident that the Great Mahele had not achieved its stated goals, government holdings were used to provide land for commoners. According to Kelly, this too was a failure, and only a few parcels were actually sold to Hawaiians. Many of the kuleana lands that commoners received in the 1850s were later lost. The list of reasons is lengthy: natives received lands that lacked firewood or were too rocky and poor to farm, a number of kuleana were sold by unscrupulous land agents before the farmers could get a survey, the land commissioners delayed getting notices to landholders, prices were out of reach for commoners, or foreigners evicted legitimate kuleana owners without due process.

K. Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

The reign of Kamehameha Ill ended in December 1854. Under his liberal guidance, Hawai'i had established constitutional government, a workable legislature, and executive and judicial branches, and had redefined personal and property rights. The Hawaiian government made a number of treaties and agreements with foreign nations during the years 1826 to 1839. In most of them, the Hawaiian government had little room for negotiation because demands "made by the military representatives of powerful nations" were usually backed "with threats of violence and the presence of warships." The French, British, and Americans all sent warships several times to protect their commercial interests, acquire special rights for their citizens in Hawai'i, collect sandalwood debts, and protest Hawaiian land tenure policy. In addition, each foreign nation tried to prevent the other from annexing Hawai'i. Negotiations began in 1854 to annex Hawai'i to the United States, but ended with the death of the king.

Kamehameha IV and V (1854-63 and 1863-72) were well-traveled and well-educated leaders whose policies were somewhat pro-British. Kamehameha IV and his queen, Emma, founded the Queen's Hospital and introduced the Episcopal Church into Hawai'i. In the early 1860s King Kamehameha V called and dismissed a constitutional convention and then proclaimed a new constitution in 1864.

By 1862, sharply diminished returns from the whaling industry made it clear that some new economic incentive was needed in the islands that product proved to be sugar. During the American Civil War, Hawai'i's exports of sugar "increased tenfold," establishing a new industry that continued into the twentieth century.

In 1863 the American Board of Missionaries ended four decades of work in the islands by transferring its work to the Hawaiian Board. By 1882, most of the original Hawaiian missionaries had died, and those who came later had left. The only remaining missionary stations were at Kohala, Waimea, and Hilo; the churches had been turned over to native Hawaiian pastors.

Following the death of Kamehameha V, the popular pro-American Lunalilo reigned for only a year before the kingdom was taken over by King Kalakaua, who ruled from 1874 to 1891. He helped bring about the reciprocity treaty with the United States in 1875. As extended in 1887, this treaty gave the United States the exclusive right to Pearl Harbor and allowed tariff-free exchange of certain items, especially Hawaiian sugar and molasses, for several American products. King Kalakaua also made a world tour the first by a Hawaiian monarch thereby catching the attention of world leaders. However, he increasingly leaned toward a return to many of the aspects of the old Hawaiian system, including the idea of divine right. A new constitution was promulgated in 1887, guaranteeing more responsible ministerial government.

Kalakaua's sister Lili'uokalani assumed office in 1891, but was deposed in 1893. Her opponents, mostly American residents in the islands, objected to her attempts to provide a more authoritarian government and reduce American influence. These Americans also sought annexation of the islands by the United States in order to end the prohibitive McKinley tariff of 1890, which had precipitated a severe depression. There were other underlying reasons behind the move for annexation. Honolulu's protected Pearl Harbor was needed as an American fueling station during the Spanish-American War. In addition, some Americans viewed the Hawaiian Islands as a logical steppingstone for United States manifest destiny in the Pacific.

Over the years, large landholders had acquired Hawaiian lands at the expense of the small native farmers. By 1867, seventy-two large private landholders and the government owned approximately 95.36 percent of the land in Hawai'i. Americans continued to heavily influence the course of Hawaiian industry. For example, American investors furnished approximately three quarters of the funds invested in the sugar industry and also managed the plantations. Hawaiian government lands continued to be sold until the Revolt of 1893 placed the remainder of the Crown Lands in the public domain.

By the late 1800s cattle ranches had grown up in the Kona District. Sugar, cattle, and pigs were major products. Japanese workers grew cotton, and there were several cotton gins in the area. After World War II, Kona became an important producer of coffee and macadamia nuts. Similar changes occurred in the Kohala District, which, with its good fishing and excellent soils, had supported a large population before Cook's arrival. With the advent of commercial plantations there, laborers and planters came from a number of countries to work in the mills and sugarcane fields, contributing to the growing cultural diversity of the area.


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