Oct 15, 2011

The Opium Trade in Hawai'i

File:Opium smoking.jpg

When the British began to trade with China, they found that the Chinese had little desire for British products. So Queen Victoria's Britain began to import opium into China. When the Chinese Emperor tried to stop the drug trade, the British declared war and ended up not only imposing the sale of opium on the Chinese but took Hong Kong as "compensation" for the war itself.

When Chinese migration began to come in massive numbers to Hawai'i beginning in the 1850s, British and American merchants began to sale opium.  Those selling opium included members of missionary families and many of the members of the "Honolulu Rifles" who in 1887 would impose the Bayonet Constitution.  In the Queen's autobiography, Hawai'i's Story by Hawai'i's Queen, she names three prominent opium dealers: William  Fessenden Allen (cousin of Charles Reed Bishop), Henry Waterhouse, and George Parks (p241). In fact, some of the "Big Five" may have used opium money to start their businesses. Charles Reed Bishop through his partnership with William Aldrich, a known opium and "assorted dry goods" merchant, engaged in opium trade as well.   However, by the 1860s, it was not merely Chinese who were buying opium, but it was also Native Hawaiians including some prominent ali'i.

The National Legislature of 1873 (which has the distinction of being a legislature that was opened by one king--King Lunalilo--and prorogued by another--King Kalākaua) made the sale of opium illegal except for medicinal purposes (Kuykendall, the Hawaiian Kingdom, Vol.3 p192). The reason for the latter exception on opium for medicinal purposes was that opium, specifically opium mixed with citrus in a pill form, was commonly used for the treatment of insomnia, sexual problems, and for relieving pain during and after surgery. However, it was highly addicting and despite the ban, opium was still sold in pharmacies and smuggled in. Kaho'olawe was a notorious opium smuggling hub for opium and alcohol in the 19th century and certain Christian missions (particularly on the islands of Hawai'i and Maui) accepted donations from known opium smugglers and dealers.    

During the short ministry of Cesar Moreno, the opium issue was resurrected. According to Kuykendall's Hawaiian Kingdom Volume 3:
Another subject in which Moreno was much interested, because of his Chinese connections, wasopium, the liberalization of Hawaii's strict laws on that subject, and a plan to make Honolulu the opium processing and distribution center for the whole Pacific area. Early in the session a bill was introduced to authorize the importation and sale of opium to Chinese only; two licenses were to be sold at an upset price of $60,000 each. On July 9 this bill was passed on its third reading. In the last week of July, Moreno's lobbying activities came to a climax. On the twenty-fourth, a bill was introduced to authorize the importation, manufacture, exportation, and sale of opium; there was to be one license, for two years, to Chinese only, at an upset price of $120,000. On the twenty-seventh, a motion was made to insert in the appropriation bill an item of $24,000 for a subsidy to the Chinese steamship company; it was defeated by a vote of 18 to 17. The next day a motion for reconsideration was adopted, and after a brief debate, the subsidy item was approved by a vote of 25 to 14.25 On this item, Minister of Finance Kaai deserted his ministerial colleagues. He had agreed to vote against it, but instead not only voted but spoke for the subsidy. Asked for an explanation, Kaai said he voted as he did at the direct command of the king, and he showed a letter from the king to justify his statement.26 Commenting on the legislature's reversal of its earlier decision, the Pacific Commercial Advertiser charged that the result was procured "by open and wholesale bribery," and said, "The indignation of the public at the part played by a certain impecunious adventurer in the case is great. . . . His boasted power to oust the Ministry, and his assumption of prescience in regard to Regal acts may satisfy his egotism, but will never enhance the brilliance of his fame, or add one tittle to his influence. He has been measured by a discriminating community, and their estimate of him is small . . . the public will be heartily glad at the opportunity to bid him an everlasting farewell."27 On July 30 the opium bill, which had been introduced six days before, came up for third reading and was passed.28 In regard to this action and the passage of the subsidy for the Chinese steamship company, the American minister wrote, "It was at once charged and not disputed that Mr. Moreno had secured these results by the use of money in the lobby," the money having been provided by certain Chinese merchants of Honolulu.29 To the credit of the king, he vetoed both of the opium bills here mentioned; but he signed a third bill which amended the existing law restricting the importation and sale of opium.30 (p210-211)
What Kuykendall does not discuss is that one of the major reasons why some had actually voted for the opium bill was because by legalizing the trade, it would take away income from certain prominent American and British businessmen similar to how Prohibition in the US made alcohol distributors ("bootleggers") quite wealthy.

In 1886, the National Legislature passed the "Opium Act of 1886" to legalize the sale, importation, and production of opium providing that it were to be licensed (therefore taxed) and Native Hawaiians and Japanese were forbidden from buying any of it. The King and the Cabinet would be responsible for the public auctioning of two licenses per year starting at a minimal bid of $40,000. A Chinese sugar planter and merchant, T. Aki, offered a "gift" of $75,000 to King Kalākaua in exchange for a successful bidding on one of the licenses. Kalākaua accepted $71,000 with the additional $4,000 to be paid after the license was given. When Kalākaua awarded the bid to someone else, Aki sued Kalākaua and won. When the public found out about this scandal, there was a huge uproar. Even the heir-apparent, Princess Lili'uokalani was shocked with her brother. The bribery case of Kalākaua along with the missteps in Samoa and the other spending projects of the King were the basic excuses that the "Hawaiian League" (which had no Native Hawaiians in it) would use in forming the "Honolulu Rifles" to impose the Bayonet Constitution. In the aftermath, a new "reform" Legislature was elected and the Opium Act of 1886 was scrapped. 

However, the topic of opium did not die there. In 1892, Opposition Representatives Kaunamano, Ashford, and White all submitted bills to legalize opium and during the Committee hearings, it came out that members of the police, the Hawaiian League, and others were secretly involved in and profiting from the opium trade (Kuykendall, Volume 3, p545-546).  With that revelation, a consolidated opium bill was passed before the closing of the Legislature of 1892 (which ended in 1893). American and British businessmen would accuse the Queen of having lax morals and the passage of the new Opium Act of 1892 would be one of the excuses  the Committee of 13 (formerly the Hawaiian League) would use to depose her.

According to the Queen, however, whatever her personal feelings were towards opium, she had no choice in signing the law because she no longer had the veto power due to the Bayonet Constitution. In Hawai'i's Story by Hawai'i's Queen, she explains:
I proposed to issue licenses for the importation and sale of opium. I did think it would be wise to adopt measures for restricting and controlling a trade which it is impossible to suppress. With a Chinese population of over twenty thousand persons, it is absolutely impossible to prevent smuggling, unlawful trade, bribery, corruption, and every abuse. There were more scandals connected with the opium traffic than I have the time to notice here. Some of the most prominent citizens have been connected with these affairs, and frauds have been unearthed even in the custom-house itself. The names of Mr. Parks, of Mr. W. F. Allen, and more recently of Mr. Henry Waterhouse, have been associated with some very questionable dealings in this drug; and it may be doubted whether the practice of hushing up such matters is favorable to good morals in any community. The Provisional Government seems to have had no scruples in the matter; for the sons of the missionaries exported a large quantity of confiscated opium, and sold it for fifty thousand dollars in British Columbia.

The British government has long since adopted license instead of prohibition, and the statute proposed among the final acts of my government was drawn from one in use in the British colonies; yet I have still to learn that there has been any proposition on the part of the pious people of London to dethrone Her Majesty Queen Victoria for issuing such licenses.(241)
The Queen also forgot to mention that her brother-in-law, Archibald Cleghorn, the custom house chief and governor of O'ahu was also implicated in the opium trade but that is another story.

Oct 12, 2011

Hawaiians in the P.G.

One of the topics that is often discouraged is the topic of Native Hawaiian collaboration with the  Protectorate Government (note: it should actually be called Protectorate not Provisional Government because the Provisional Government collapsed 15 days after its formation and was saved by US Minister John Stevens through his proclamation of the Protectorate Government) or P.G. and Republican governments. Hawaiian civic leaders, certain departments at UH-Manoa, and some sovereignty activists in general would prefer to not to discuss the role played by Native Hawaiians within the two de facto governments because: Firstly, many of the Hawaiian leadership today are related to those who collaborated against the Queen; Secondly, it removes the image that all Native Hawaiians were victims of the P.G. and the Republic; and, lastly, it shatters their idealized image that all Native Hawaiians are the same and therefore all Native Hawaiians heroically fought against the Dole regime.

Many did heroically fight against Dole and annexation but there are several unpleasant realities to that fact. Native Hawaiian resistance to the Dole regime was particularly strong in the rural areas and by the economically marginalized classes but among the upper class and urban areas, it was lax and in some cases collaborationist particularly in Honolulu.  Resistance was also very strong among the Chinese merchants, Japanese plantation workers, as well as liberal American and European residents. The evidence for this can be seen in the lists of arrests that were made in the aftermath of the Uprising of 1895.

On the flip side to this, the ones who were making the arrests throughout the P.G. and Republic eras were mostly Native Hawaiian policemen--all of whom were from the former Hawaiian Royal Constabulary--while the National Guard of the Republic were purposely composed of mostly illiterate Portuguese with a few Native Hawaiians officers who had previously served in the Royal Household Troop of the Queen. The 1895 Uprising actually failed because of Native Hawaiian spies under Captain Robert Waipa Parker. It was Parker's men who arrested Joseph Nawahi in December of 1894.  The Queen in her autobiography, Hawai'i's Story by Hawai'i's Queen, relates that Captain Parker was one of the ones who arrested her (p267). Another part-Hawaiian Charles B. Wilson, who was a member of one of the Queen's cabinets, was the one who asked the Queen to sign her abdication (p267) and was reporting back to Dole on the Queen's activities (including the secret newspaper clippings) (p291). Likewise, some of those who were arrested and tortured by the Republic of Hawai'i were not just Native Hawaiian leaders like Joseph Nawahi. But those arrested included several American journalists and Europeans who supported the Queen. According to many Chinese, the burning of Chinatown by Governor Stanford Dole years after the 1893 coup was his collective punishment on the Chinese because of their support of the Queen's government which shows you that Native Hawaiians were not the "only victims" but even many Chinese, British and Roman Catholics were also punished for their loyalty.  

A high ranking royalist who became a supporter of the P.G. and Republican government early on was Colonel Curtis 'Iaukea. 'Iaukea had been brought into the royal court under Kamehameha III and had served under King Kalākaua and Queen Lili'uokalani in diplomatic and administrative posts. Less than eight months after the January 17th coup, he was appointed as a Prison Inspector under Dole--the first of seven positions he would hold under the Dole regime. In his autobiography, By Royal Command, 'Iaukea makes it appear that he held only one position throughout the Dole regime and did so out of economic necessity (p197). This is actually untrue. As mentioned before he held no less than 7 appointments and received a salary for each position. One of his positions was as a sub-agent of Public Lands (read Crown Lands) and through his position, he acquired lands in Pearl Harbor (p198) and was responsible for selling Crown Lands. 

Colonel Curtis 'Iaukea was also the Secretary and Military Attache to Stanford Dole and went with Dole to Washington, D.C. to lobby for annexation with President McKinley in 1898. The year before that, in 1897, he was the secretary to Foreign Minister Samuel Damon and accompanied Damon to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in that year. He was therefore instrumental in putting a "Hawaiian face" to the Republic's propaganda machine in Europe and personally assured Queen Victoria that the Republic was a legitimate government. The Queen was so upset with 'Iaukea that she did not speak to him for 12 years (as noted in Curtis 'Iaukea's book, By Royal Command, p215). But by then, the Queen had to rely on 'Iaukea because of the intense mistrust she developed towards Prince Kuhio and other "royalists". 
A. Kunuiakea
But one of the early defectors to the P.G. side was actually Albert Kunuiakea, the illegitimate son of Kamehameha III. According to this oath of allegiance to the new government a week after the Queen was deposed and was later a member of the Constitution Convention and Legislaturer under the Republic. Before that, according to the Blount Report, pages 766-770, he was active in the imposition of the Bayonet Constitution of 1887.  He may have also coveted the presidency of the Republic of Hawai'i after Dole's term which was to end in 1900, though Dole favored 'Iaukea as his successor. His motives are of course very clear. Denied to the succession of the Crown because he was a bastard, Kunuiakea decided to try to become president of a new republic.  

The Constitutional Convention of 1894
Another interesting tidbit is the drafting of the Constitution of the Republic of Hawai'i. According to Curtis 'Iaukea in his autobiography, "By Royal Command":
Encouraged by the news brought by the Alameda that the United States Senate had 'arraigned President Cleveland for unconstitutional behavior' by his policy of interference in the internal affairs of Hawai'i and, at the same time mindful of the fact that Congress 'was fixed in its opposition to' the annexation treaty, President Dole decided a permanent form of government should be forthwith established...
The election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention had taken place in March, and convention held its first sitting on May 30th, 1894, in the court room of the Supreme Court, the former Ali'iolani Hale...The delegates consisted of 6 Native Hawaiians, 14 residents born of foreign parentage, 9 Americans, 3 British, 3 Portuguese, and 2 Germans....(p193-194)
There are several things interesting about that statement. First, it mentions that the US Senate had censored President Cleveland for the so-called "Lili'uokalani Assignment" and for "Black Week". "Black Week" and the censorship are topics that have not yet been tackled by "Kingdom groups". Second,  it mentions the word "elected". The electoral database according again to 'Iaukea was 4,000 person. These were the persons who not only swore allegiance to the new Republic but had lots of money because the property qualifications were very high for its day.  'Iaukea, Kunuiakea, and the Parkers were all electors under the Republic which meant they had money. Third, the mention of Native Hawaiians who were elected to the Convention which shows that some wealthy Native Hawaiians did indeed collaborate. Fourth, the mention of American, British, Portuguese and Germans. Its understood that this meant that those Americans, British, etc were still citizens of their own country but were given denizenship (temporary citizenship something akin to a Green Card in today's language). If they had been citizens, 'Iaukea would have included them as part of the "residents born of foreign parentage". In any normal country, non-citizens would not have been allowed to be elected much less as delegates to a Constitutional Convention. That alone tells you how unpopular the Republic was with the majority of the population and no matter what the opinions might have been of the 6 Native Hawaiian delegates, they would have been outvoted 3 to 1. It sorted reminds me of that story of the Kanaky helping an injured Frenchman only to have the Frenchman return with his friends and voting to kick out the Kanaky. But then again, the Republic of Hawai'i never claimed to be a democracy within Hawai'i since to do so would have been laughable. However, the Republic still worried about opposition and the final Constitution (which was submitted to the Convention ready to be signed similar to how the Japanese would write the constitutions for some of their puppet states thirty years later) had to be approved yet again by  Dole's Advisory Council.

After the approval of the Constitution, there were also several Native Hawaiians who were "elected" to the Legislature and several who served in diplomatic missions. One of them was of course 'Iaukea. The Queen in her trial had to make it a point to forgive those who had decided to work under the Republic because of monetary constraints but at the same time reminded them that they had to work for the future of Hawai'i. 

Now having said and proven that a minority of Native Hawaiians had actively participated in the government of Dole, this does not mean that Native Hawaiians approved of this during that time (as one can see from certain articles in the Ka Leo O ka Lahui. Nor does this make the P.G. and Republic a popularly supported government. Japan set up a number of "states" during WWII--most of these were recognized by other Axis powers and even by the Soviet Union (who had fought the Japanese). All of these puppet governments utilized the native leadership of the occupied area. In the case of the Japanese, they utilized the American historical precedence of California, Texas, and Hawai'i in establishing their "states", particularly Manchukuo (満洲国), in their deliberations in the League of Nations in 1933. The League of Nations through the Lytton Report (note: this is why its important for everyone to read world history very carefully and not just rely on lectures) determined that the "states" even though it had native politicians (Manchukuo even had the last Qing Emperor of China as its "head"), it lacked popular support and would not have been established in the first place without Japanese troops. The same situation would apply to Hawai'i as did Manchukuo.       
Japanese propaganda poster for Manchukuo from the late 1930s

But on another level, it also means that contrary to the idealized popular myth that all Native Hawaiians universally have the same values and sense of patriotism---then and now. That is why it is wrong to assume that simply because someone is Native Hawaiian, they have the same sense of aloha 'āina as another. Hawaiian culture, nationalism and patriotism are not genetically inherited or magically transmitted through kōkō. Some Native Hawaiians have absolutely no great affection for the land of their birth and only use their kōkō when its time to claim Hawaiian Homelands, for their Kamehameha Schools application for their son or daughter, or to make themselves a voice of the oppressed therefore empowering themselves through politics.  

Oct 10, 2011

Secularism, Kamehameha IV and Kalākaua

Throughout most of the 19th century, the Hawaiian Kingdom was not a secular government (aupuni kauhonua).  However, a secular (kauhonua) movement did begin during the reign of  Kamehameha III, as well as a few Hawaiian politicians (including the future King Kalākaua) who urged for laicism or a leaving affairs to the laity themselves--something that was discouraged by Kamehameha III who frequently appointed missionaries for every important government portfolio. Kamehameha IV can be credited as being one of the primary advocates of laicism, though he is best remembered for bringing the Anglican Church to Hawai'i. King Kalākaua on hand, can be credited for being instrumental in advocating for hard secularism within the Hawaiian government, which is why 'Iolani Palace never hosted a Christmas Party or any religious holiday during most of his reign. Hard secularism calls for no display of any religion in government offices and that the separation of Church and State be strictly maintained. Laicism and soft secularism normally call for all religions to be respected and that the government should not privilege one religion over the next but may make official references to a deity. Indonesia may be an example of a laicist or soft secularist nation while France is an example of more hard secularist country. Tonga meanwhile is not technically a secularist or laicist country.

During the reign of Kamehameha III, Hawai`i was not a secular society. The Calvinist version of the Christian religion played a heavy part in the development of laws and constitutions. Both Ka'ahumanu and Kamehameha III largely helped to impose Protestant practices on the Hawaiian population and would give sermons on salvation in their official capacity. Those that did not comply with the views of Ka'ahumanu and Kamehameha III were fined, imprisoned, harassed, and in some cases exiled and burned alive. Such was the case of many of the kahuna who were burned alive between the First Hawaiian Civil War (1819). Native Hawaiians regardless of their own religious convictions were forced to attend Church or else be fined.  One of the roles of the public school system in Hawai`i during that time was not only to teach reading, writing, and arithmetical but also obedience to the Christian God, to the Kamehameha Dynasty, and to the Western values. This was further re-enforced in the Penal Code which made it illegal to conduct any business on a Sunday. One of the personal names of Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli ("placed in the dark cloud"), could have been Kauikeauuli ("placed in the dark time") for the masses of Hawaiians. Despite the Act of Toleration, Hawaiian Roman Catholics and those of the Hawaiian indigenous religion were still be discriminated against. It is of little wonder that when Lord George Paulet seized control of Hawai`i in 1843 (which according to the British and Foreign State Papers, Volume 149, Part 3, page 1025, was actually largely due to the prejudicial actions of Minister Judd who among other reasons interfered in the trial of a Henry Skinner, a British subject and John Dominis, the father-in-law of the future Queen Lili'uokalani), there were many commoners who celebrated and the entire Fort Kamehameha in Honolulu (where Fort Street got its name) immediately gave their loyalty oaths to Lord Paulet. To the credit of Kamehameha III, when Hawaiian independence was restored he met every one of the soldiers of the Fort and forgave them without punishment acknowledging that he and his administration were not at times fair. This episode had a profound impact on the young Princes Alexander Liholiho Kamehameha and Lot Kapuaiwa Kamehameha as well as David Kaläkaua and the other children of the Chiefs' Childrens' School.

After the death of Kamehameha III, Kamehameha IV began to undo much of the work of his uncle who he deemed was too much of a "friend of the foreigners". This entailed removing Judd and the others from his cabinets and in establishing a new church. But in a very little written about episode in Hawaiian history, we have clearly the policies of Kamehameha IV in 1860 and the start of modern Hawaiian secularism. In 1860, the Japanese first embassy was making its way to Washington, D.C.  King Kamehameha IV was eager to conclude a Treaty of Friendship with Japan and so tasked his Foreign Minister R. C. Wylie to explain to the Japanese ambassador the nature of his government. Minister Wyllie wrote to Ambassador Lord Shinmi Masaoka on March 18th, a Sunday, the following:
"...His Majesty places them [all foreigners] all on the same friendly footing; and while he permits men of all religions to follow their own conscientious belief, he permits no priests of any religion to interfere in the political administration of His government."
The following Monday, Prince Lot Kapuaiwa Kamehameha in the Privy Council explained that the policy of his brother in regards to the Japanese was in accordance "with enlightened governments and....with ancient practices".  What the future Kamehameha V was probably referring to was the separation of the ali`i and the kahuna which symbolically had separated the government from religion until the time of Pa`ao (13th century) who made the ali`i paramount and justified it by the stories of Papa and Haumea and other mo`olelo.  Kamehameha IV saw no conflict in being religious while trying to keep the Church out of political affairs. In fact, in the same letter from Foreign Minister Wyllie to Lord Shinmi Masaoka, he states that:
"...when the Portuguese priests arrived, [the Emperor of Japan] was as liberal and kind to men of all religions as is the policy of King Kamehameha IV, and that their Imperial Majesties changed that policy and strictly prohibted the Roman Catholic religion, because some priests, the successors of Saint Francis Xavier, intermeddled in the political government of the Empire. If the priests did so, they did wrong, and violated the rules of their own Church...."
King Kamehameha IV therefore was an early advocate of laicism though he still enforced many of the laws he inherited from Kamehameha III because of the resistance of his kuhina nui and some of the higher tanking Christian Hawaiian ali'i themselves. Kamehameha V went further than his brother and began to bring back the hula (though privately), allowed the licensing of certain types of kahuna, as well as permitting the funeral of his sister to be conducted in the old Hawaiian pre-Christian manner. But in general, throughout the first half of the 19th century, laws based on Calvinist Christian values were codified into the emerging Hawaiian adaptation of the English Common Law system though theoretically Hawaiian practices were exempt unless they hampered health, sanitation (i.e. the excuse for banning kahuna la'au lapa'au), public morality (i.e. the banning of the hula) and political stability.

During the reign of Kalākaua, one saw the emergence of an assertive Hawaiian nationalism and a measure of kauhonua unknown until that time. During the King's coronation in 1883, he placed the Crown over his own head rather than having it placed by the presiding Anglican bishop. This symbolized ideas from the French revolution via Napoléon that it is the laity (non-clerics) that governs and man is the maker of his own destiny. He further went on to use national days as a way to re-introduce Hawaiian legends and began to celebrate Christian holidays private in his own household. While it was the custom of Kamehameha III to have the clergy sit in among the high chiefs in the front pews during the opening of the National Legislature, King Kalākaua only allowed up to two representatives of each religious organization to have reserved seating. As a sign of respect for what the King was trying to accomplish, the Anglican Church bishop normally would not attend the opening but would simply attend the reception afterwords. The King also tried--alas in vain--to remove religious references from the Penal and Civil Code particularly the ones involving the Sabbath. "...Better to keep a proper Sunday than a wrong Sabbath...." as the King wrote to his sister, Princess Likelike in 1881. He failed in amending these laws because of political events such as the 1887 Constitution which was supported by influential preachers and missionary children of what is now the United Churches of Christ had no issue with using the pulpit to preach political issues and to "damn" members who opposed their narrow view of Christianity-- as his sister, St. Damien, and Robert Louis Stevenson would all be victims to that same pulpit. 

Some thoughts on the Creation of a Hawaiian National History

Part 1

One of the major tasks of any nation is creating a national narrative or political history. A national narrative is important to nation-building since all nations are, in the words of Benedict Anderson, "imagined communities". A nation is an imagined community because its not possible to connect with everyone in a given at the same time. Instead, we connect with people through a series of images, senses, and stories that most accept as being "in common" with everyone else. Thus, for Americans they generally associate apple pie, hot dogs, the Mayflower, the Washington Monument, etc., as "being American". A part of that association is a collection of stories that are woven together to form a national narrative or history. Again, for Americans, normally their national narrative begins with the arrival of the Mayflower and now currently ends with President Obama.

For Hawaiians, its a bit trickier than Thanksgiving dinners and putting "Support Our Troops" stickers on the car. Native Hawaiians, as a people, have three narratives: a genealogical narrative; a regional political narrative; and a national political narrative. The genealogical narrative is based on a founding of a ruling clan and normally starts in the remote past during the time of , or with Kumuhonua, or with Maui, or through Papa and Wakea. The most well known is the Kumulipo. The problem with the genealogical history is that the reality its more of an idealized genealogy where story telling and oratory is more or as important as accurately naming ancestors. You will not find many Native Hawaiians who will claim to be a descendant of fishermen or farmers--who were always the majority of the population until disease and Kamehameha II wiped a huge chunk of them out. That in itself already shows that genealogical narratives tends to be class-oriented, personal and bias. The genealogical narrative then becomes not simply a re-telling of the names and deeds of ancestors, but it becomes a claim to power over other Native Hawaiians, and, in particular for some a bid for status. Not many Hawaiians realize that when Queen Lili'uokalani published her autobiography, people such as Robert Wilcox wrote long articles against the Queen's genealogical charts basically saying that she changed the paternity of some of her ancestors to make her line look more royal. In the 19th century, these genealogical narratives would also serve nationalistic purposes as a way to connect the Hawaiian people, the Hawaiian nation, and the ali'i as well as serving as a tool to re-enforce Hawaiian history, culture, identity and sovereignty in the face of Western colonialism.

In regards to regional narratives, people often forget that Hawai'i was divided into four main kingdoms--Hawai'i, Maui, O`ahu, and Kaua`i--for most of its history. Each of these kingdoms have their own version of events and their own political and cultural uniqueness. The old Kingdom of O'ahu for example had a series of elected kings and had female rulers. The Kingdom of Kaua'i retained a lot of old cultural elements that were mostly forgotten in other areas of Hawai'i which is one of the reasons why some of the oldest hula compositions comes from Kaua'i. It also be noted that at various times, Moloka`i, Ni`ihau, Ka`u, and other places were independent kingdoms unto themselves but were absorbed into one of the four kingdoms by the 1500s. With the rise of Kahekili and later Kamehameha two centuries later, these regional histories were displaced by the history of the conquering kingdom and then became "regional" histories.

As far as Hawaiian national narrative, technically speaking, the political history of the Hawaiian nation begins in 1810 when Kamehameha I officially becomes mö`ï of the four kingdoms because there was no unified nation before him (though Pili and Kahekili almost succeeded).  The writers such as Davida Malo, Samuel Kamakau, and others, during the reign of Kamehameha III, was that there was a conscious move to incorporate regional history, symbols, genealogical chants and personalities into a national narrative--things that would bind the "imagined community" together. This was done to help show foreign nations that Hawai`i had a very ancient history as well as to incorporate the displaced ali`i and commoners into this new Hawaiian nation. At the time of Malo and Kamakau, there were many among the masses of Native Hawaiians, kahuna (priests), and displaced ali`i who were frustrated with the Kamehameha regime. This was particularly true in the 1824 when Prince George Humehume Kaumuali`i of Kaua`i tried to restore the Kingdom of Kaua`i. He ultimately failed and the entire former royal court of Kaua`i were shipped to Lahaina then to Honolulu and made to serve in the Kamehameha household. During the surrender ceremonies of George Humehume Kaumuali`i at Pohukaina, the names of the four kingdoms of their great rulers--Hawai`i of Keawe, Maui of Pi`ilani, O'ahu of Kakuhihewa, and Kaua`i of Manokalanipö--were chanted into a single chant and since that time those lines have appeared in numerous Hawaiian songs. For some, that day marked the beginning of a single, politically unified and truly Hawaiian nation and is the psychological start for a national narrative. The revolt also served as a wake-up call for many of the elites in Honolulu to expedite building a national community. Shortly there after we begin to see the start of a public education system, standardized Hawaiian grammar, standardized Hawaiian spelling, the formation of the Chiefs' Children's School, a new constitution (which gave voting rights to the masses of Native Hawaiians and allowed them to participate in their own government), and a standardized religion--Christianity. It is also interesting to note that in the Constitution of 1840, it clearly describes the beginning of the Hawaiian national history in the following sentences:
14. Ka hoakaka ana i ke Ano o ka Noho o na'lii.
Eia ke ano o ka noho ana o na'lii a me ka hooponopono ana i ka aina. O Kamehameha I, oia ke poo o keia aupuni, a nona no na aina a pau mai Hawaii a Niihau, aole nae nona ponoi, no na kanaka no, a me na'lii, a o Kamehameha no ko lakou poo nana e olelo i ka aina. Nolaila, aohe mea pono mamua, aohe hoi mea pono i keia manawa ke hoolilo aku i kekahi lihi iki o keia mau aina me ka ae ole o ka mea ia ia ka olelo o ke aupuni. 
15. Eia ka poe nana ka olelo mai ia manawa mai, O Kamehameha II, o Kaahumanu I, a i keia wa hoi, o Kamehameha III. Na keia poe wale no e olelo o ke aupuni, a hiki i keia wa, a o na palapala a pau a lakou i kakau ai, oia wale no na palapala o ke aupuni.
16. E mau loa aku hoi ke aupuni ia Kamehameha III, a me kona hooilina aku. Eia hoi kona hooilina, o ka mea ana e olelo pu ai me na'lii i kona wa e ola a14. Ka hoakaka ana i ke Ano o ka Noho o na'lii.

Eia ke ano o ka noho ana o na'lii a me ka hooponopono ana i ka aina. O Kamehameha I, oia ke poo o keia aupuni, a nona no na aina a pau mai Hawaii a Niihau, aole nae nona ponoi, no na kanaka no, a me na'lii, a o Kamehameha no ko lakou poo nana e olelo i ka aina. Nolaila, aohe mea pono mamua, aohe hoi mea pono i keia manawa ke hoolilo aku i kekahi lihi iki o keia mau aina me ka ae ole o ka mea ia ia ka olelo o ke aupuni.

15. Eia ka poe nana ka olelo mai ia manawa mai, O Kamehameha II, o Kaahumanu I, a i keia wa hoi, o Kamehameha III. Na keia poe wale no e olelo o ke aupuni, a hiki i keia wa, a o na palapala a pau a lakou i kakau ai, oia wale no na palapala o ke aupuni.

16. E mau loa aku hoi ke aupuni ia Kamehameha III, a me kona hooilina aku. Eia hoi kona hooilina, o ka mea ana e olelo pu ai me na'lii i kona wa e ola ana, a i ole ia e olelo, alaila lilo ka olelo i na'lii wale no, a me ka poe i kohoia no, a i ole ia e olelo, alaila lilo ka olelo i na'lii wale no, a me ka poe i kohoia no hoi.
That is to say that the origin of the Hawaiian Kingdom is based on the Kamehameha I "...who was the head of the this government, from all the lands from Hawai'i to Ni`ihau, from one end to the other. However, the lands were not his own private property but were held for the people and for the chiefs...."and only the deeds and documents written by the successors and administrators as directed by Kamehameha I were valid. Again, we have the beginning of a Hawaiian national narrative not to mention the a process by which Kamehameha III was trying to re-gain control of his throne after the years with Kaomi and Nahi'ena'eina by excluding his other other half-siblings (remember Kamehameha I had over 14 recorded wives and dozens of other children).

A year later, King Kamehameha III, John Young, Timothy Haʻalilio, David Malo, Dwight Baldwin, William Richards, Sheldon Dibble, Samuel Kamakau and others would form the Hawaiian Royal Historical Society. In the words of Kamakau:
A society was started at Lahainaluna according to the desire of the teachers. As the people of Alebione (Albion) had their British history and read about the Saxons and William, so the Hawaiians should read their history...The King said he thought the history of all the islands should be preserved from first to last.
It should be noted that Kamehameha III was very keen on incorporating the "history of all the islands" as the memory of Kaua`i Revolt still lingered in his memory. There was also a need to have Hawaiian history textbooks for the recently implemented nation-wide public school system.

Oct 6, 2011

The Hawai'i State Capitol

The Hawai'i State Capitol: Hawaiian International or Modernist Colonial?

Architecture has long been used as a political tool. Ramses II built temples and statues of himself along the Egyptian border with Nubia (modern day Sudan) to emphasize Egyptian sovereignty and might. Alexander the Great, Augustus Caesar, Napoleon, and Hitler all used architecture as a way to legitimatize their regimes. In a colonial context, architecture is used to to showcase Western ideas of civilization and governance. The British were very fond of putting up Neo-classical administrative buildings in their colonies. The Spanish exported their Baroque style to their colonies all over Latin America.

According to the official state website,, the Hawai'i State Capitol was primarily designed by John Carl Warnecke along with other two architectural firms. John Carl Warnecke was the favorite architect of Jacqueline Kennedy who utilized him in a few of her projects in Washington, D.C.  The building design was built in the "Hawaiian International" modernist style, volcanic in form and to be rather large. When the Capitol was finished in 1969, it was the tallest building in downtown Honolulu. The color schemes of the House of Representative and Senate chambers are blue and red respectively and meant to symbolize the moon and sun. The white pillars are meant to symbolize the eight islands and are capped in the form of a palm tree. The moot around the capital is meant to represent the Pacific Ocean. Outside of the "official" explanation, is the State Capitol a modernist take on colonial architecture? Are there any undertones or subtexts to the architecture of the State Capitol?

In regards to the scale of the building, one can not help but notice how the capitol dominates 'Iolani Palace. This reminds me of another building built in the early 20th century.  When the Japanese took over Korea in 1910, the first thing they did (well, besides arresting the Korean Imperial Family and placing them under house arrest under the guise of a coup like another government did in 1893 which shows imperial powers do learn from each other) was design a new government building called the Japanese Imperial General Government Building (sometimes also referred to as the Seoul Executive Building).  They chose a modernist (for that time period) architect to design a building that would stand directly behind and tower over Gyeongbokgung Palace, the former official residence of the Korean monarchy. The Japanese specifically chose the location in order to give legitimacy to their rule by connecting it to Korea's past while at the
The Japanese Gen. Gov. Building dominating over Gyeongbokgung Palace
The Hawai'i State Capitol dominating over 'Iolani Palace
time the scale was meant to impress upon on-lookers that Japan dominates Korea's future. After Korea proclaimed its independence from Japan at the end of WWII, the Japanese General Government Building was divisive symbol for decades until it was finally demolished in the late 1990s.

The Hawai'i State Capitol also seems to be making the same message as the Japanese once did. Like the Japanese General Government Building, the Hawai'i State Capitol towers over what many consider to be governing center of the Hawaiian Kingdom (although factually speaking, the real governing center was Ali'iolani Hale not 'Iolani Palace, which was only an official residence among several other royal residences). It thus connects itself to Hawai'i's past by its proximity while its scale over the Palace suggests one of domination and abrogation.

In regards to the color scheme, officially the blue and red colors are supposed to represent the moon and sky. But it is is interesting to note that two two colors have long been associated with the Legislature since the time of the Republic of Hawai'i. During the Kingdom era, green was associated with the Legislature because of the color of the walls. When the Provisional Government took over, they moved into 'Iolani Palace and renamed it "the Executive Building" (well, after they began to sell off the furniture and loot the jewelry).  When they proclaimed themselves a republic, their constitution created a Senate and a House of Representatives.  The Senate met in the Throne Room of the Palace while the House met in the State Dining Room which is next to the Blue Room.  This was relatively easy since the House and Senate only consisted of 15 persons each.  When the Republic gave itself to the United States, the United States created a Territorial Government. Unlike during the time of the Republic, the new Legislature had to actually be elected and poor and middle class Hawaiians actually could vote. Due to the increased size of the House of Representatives, the House moved into the larger Throne Room (aka "The Red Chamber") while the Senate occupied both the State Dining Room and the Blue Room. Gradually the colors red and blue became associated with each chamber    
The Legislature int he 1950s
of the Legislature and it seems it was passed onto the State Capitol. From readings about Governor George Burns, Burns was aware of history and played an important role in the design of the Capitol. The Capitol was one of his pet projects. It seems likely that architect, who had visited Hawai'i, and/or the other architectural firms involved had discussed ideas with Burns and had seen 'Iolani Palace when it housed both the Legislature and the Governor's Office (which was in King Kalākaua's former bedroom).  So they likely drew inspiration for the colors from the Palace and perhaps unknowingly switched the associated the colors of each Legislative house to the time of the Republic of Hawai'i.  

This leaves one to wonder what the State Capitol really stands for. Is it a modern symbol of democracy as the Hawai'i State website claims or is it a modernist take on colonial architect meant to both connect the present regime back to its historical roots in the Republic while at the same time dominate over the very symbols of Hawaiian royal history (i.e. 'Iolani Palace and Ali'iolani Hale)?