King Kamehameha IV's Ascension Speech, 1855
King Kamehameha IV's Address on the occasion of taking the Oath prescribed by the Constitution. Extr. from Polynesian, published on Jan. 13, 1855:
I solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, to maintain the Constitution of the Kingdom whole and inviolate, and to govern in conformity with that and the laws.
Give ear Hawaii o Keawe! Maui o Kama! Oahu o Kuihewa! Kauai o Mano!
In the providence of God, and by the will of his late Majesty Kamehameha III., this day read in your hearing, I have been called to the high and responsible position of the Chief Ruler of this nation. I am deeply sensible of the importance and sacredness of the great trust committed to my hands, and in the discharge of this trust, I shall abide by the Constitution and laws which I have just sworn to maintain and support. It is not my wish to entertain you on the present occasion with pleasant promises for the future; but I trust that the close of my career will show that I have not been raised to the head of this nation to oppress and curse it, but on the contrary to cheer and bless it, and that when I come to my end, I may, like the beloved Chief whose funeral we yesterday celebrated, pass from earth amid the bitter lamentation of my people.
The good, the generous, the kind hearted Kamehameha is now no more. Our great Chief has fallen! But though dead he still lives. He lives in the hearts of his people! He lives in the liberal, the just, and the beneficent measures which it was always his pleasure to adopt. His monuments rise to greet us on every side. They may be seen in the church, in the school house, and the hall of justice; in the security of our persons and property; in the peace, the law, the order and general prosperity that prevail throughout the islands. He was the friend of the Makaainana, the father of his people, and so long as a Hawaiian lives his memory will be cherished!
By the death of Kamehameha III., the chain that carried us back to the ancient days of Kamehameha I. has been broken. He was the last child of that great Chieftain, but how unlike the father from whom he sprung. Kamehameha I. was born for the age in which he lived, the age of war and of conquest. Nobly did he fulfill the destiny for which he was created, that of reducing the islands from a state of anarchy and constant warfare to one of peace and unity under the rule of one king. With the accession of Kamehameha II. to the throne the tabus were broken, the wild orgies of heathenism abolished, the idols thrown drown, and in their place was set up the worship of the only living and true God. His was the era of the introduction of Christianity and all its peaceful influences. He was born to commence the great moral revolution which began with his reign, and he performed his cycle. The age of Kamehameha III. was that of progress and of liberty—of schools and of civilization. He gave us a Constitution and fixed laws; he secured the people in the title to their lands, and removed the last chain of oppression. He gave them a voice in his councils and in the making of the laws by which they are governed. He was a great national benefactor, and has left the impress of his mild and amiable disposition on the age for which he was born.
To-day we begin a new era. Let it be one of increased civilization—one of decided progress, industry, temperance, morality, and all those virtues which mark a nation's advance. This is beyond doubt a critical period in the history of our country, but I see no reason to despair. We have seen the tomb close over our Sovereign, but it does not bury our hopes. If we are united as one individual in seeking the peace, the prosperity and independence of our country, we shall not be overthrown. The importance of this unity is what I most wish to impress upon your minds. Let us be one and we shall not fall!
On my part I shall endeavor to give you a mild, and liberal government, but at the same time one sufficiently vigorous to maintain the laws, secure you in all your rights of persons and property, and not too feeble to withstand the assaults of faction. On your part I shall expect you to contribute your best endeavors to aid me in maintaining the Constitution, supporting the laws, and upholding our Independence.
A few remarks addressed on this occasion, to you, the foreign portion of the assembly present, may not be inappropriate.
You have all been witnesses this day to the solemn oath I have taken in the presence of Almighty God and this assembly, to preserve inviolate the Constitution. This is no idle ceremony. The Constitution which I have sworn to maintain has its foundation laid in the deep and immutable principles of Liberty, Justice and Equality, and by these, and none other, I hope to be guided in the administration of my Government. As the ruler of this people, I shall endeavor, with the blessing of God, to seek the welfare of my subjects, and at the same time to consult their wishes. In these endeavors I shall expect the hearty co-operation of all classes—foreigners as well as natives.
His Majesty Kamehameha III., now no more, was preeminently the friend of the foreigner; and I am happy in knowing he enjoyed your confidence and affection. He opened his heart and hand with a royal liberality, and gave till he had little to bestow and you but little to ask. In this respect I cannot hope to equal him, but though I may fall far behind I shall follow in his footsteps.
To be kind and generous to the foreigner, to trust and confide in him, is no new thing in the history of our race. It is an inheritance transmitted to us by our forefathers. The founder of our dynasty was ever glad to receive assistance and advice from foreigners. His successor, not deviating from the policy of his father, listened not only to the voice of a missionary, and turned with his people to the light of Christianity, but against the wishes of the nation left his native land to seek for advice and permanent protection at a foreign Court. Although he never returned alive, his visit shows plainly what were his feelings towards the people of foreign countries. I cannot fail to heed the example of my ancestors. I therefore say to the foreigner that he is welcome. He is welcome to our shores—welcome so long as he comes with the laudable motive of promoting his own interests and at the same time respecting those of his neighbor. But if he comes here with no more exalted motive than that of building up his own interests at the expense of the native—to seek our confidence only to betray it—with no higher ambition than that of overthrowing our Government, and introducing anarchy, confusion and bloodshed—then is he most unwelcome!
The duties we owe to each other are reciprocal. For my part I shall use my best endeavors, in humble reliance on the Great Ruler of all, to give you a just, liberal and satisfactory Government. At the same time I shall expect you in return to assist me in sustaining the Peace, the Law, the Order and the Independence of my Kingdom.
January 6th, 1855.