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Overview of Hawaiian Historyby Diane Lee Rhodes(with some

additions by Linda Wedel Greene)

A% Rei&n of #in& #a'eha'eha
(% Po)iti*a) "arfare in An*ient Hawai+i
Warfare was a familiar part of early Hawaiian life. Interludes of
peace were often broken by fierce battles to determine succession
to the office of ali'i-nui and to establish political boundaries.
Aspiring young chiefs practiced the arts of warfare with great
intensity. ypically! ha"ing defeated other chiefs to gain control
o"er one island! a ma#or chief and his warriors would then raid
and attempt to con$uer other islands. %eath of a reigning king
almost always meant war. &'( Large)scale political acti"ity and
territorial e*pansion by con$uest was characteristic of the decade
and a half following +aptain +ook,s arri"al.
It is ironic that +ook,s arri"al was thought to be the return of
Lono! the god of peace and plenty. -nce the Hawaiians disco"ered
+ook was not a god! warfare resumed among the four interrelated
chiefs who had split the island archipelago into four chiefdoms.
%uring the two decades following +ook,s "isit! intense ri"alry
among these intensified. .eginning in '/01! other foreign ships
called at the islands! introducing trade and new technology and
e*pertise to conduct warfare. &2( 3ituals and offerings to 4u! the
god of war! increasingly occupied the hearts and hands of the
populace! the warriors! and the priests. As the local economies
were drained by warfare! the chiefs of Hawai,i and 5aui began to
assume more power! for those islands had larger populations and
richer resource bases to draw upon.
.y the '/06s warfare had become institutionali7ed! with formal
rules and rituals. he ali'i built and consecrated luakini (state
temples) and conducted sacrifices! prayers! and ceremonies. Kahuna
were consulted to determine the best time to attack. he chiefs
ac$uired war e*perts who passed on their combat skills to young
warriors. Warfare skills were honed during athletic contests held
during the Makahiki festival, which! howe"er! marked a suspension
in actual warfare from -ctober to 8ebruary each year.
rading contributed to the increased warfare! which pre"iously
had! to a certain degree! been kept in check by limited weaponry
and by economics. 9nfortunately! as more foreign traders and
tra"elers came to the islands! the populace ac$uired powerful new
weapons of war whose killing power was far greater than the stones
and spears traditionally employed. &:( rading also brought new
sources of wealth with which to gain power and thus increased
ri"alry among the chiefs.
,% #a'eha'eha+s Rise to Power- (./01(0(2
4ing 4amehameha was one of the most striking figures in Hawaiian
history! a leader who united and ruled the islands during a time
of great cultural change.
Accounts "ary! but many authors think that 4amehameha (originally
named ;ai,ea) was born into a royal family in <orth 4ohala
sometime between '/=: and '/1'! possibly in <o"ember '/=0.
4amehameha,s mother was 4ekuiapoiwa! daughter of a 4ona chief. His
father was probably 4eoua! chief of 4ohala. &>( Legends link his
birth to storms and strange lights! acti"ities thought by
Hawaiians to herald the birth of a great chief.
.ecause of prognostications at his birth and threats from warring
clans! 4amehameha was taken away and hidden immediately after his
birth. He spent his early years secluded in Waipio! returning to
4ailua at the age of fi"e. He li"ed there with his parents until
his father,s death! then continued to recei"e special training
from 4ing 4alani,opu,u! his uncle. his training included skills
in games! warfare! oral history! na"igation! religious ceremonies!
and other information necessary to become an ali'i-'ai-moku (a
district chief).? &=( .y the time of +ook,s arri"al! 4amehameha
had become a superb warrior who already carried the scars of a
number of political and physical encounters.
he young warrior 4amehameha was described as a tall! strong! and
physically fearless man who ?mo"ed in an aura of "iolence.? &1(
4amehameha accompanied his uncle (4ing 4alani,opu,u) aboard the
Discovery, and history records that he conducted himself with
"alor during the battle in which +ook was killed. 8or his part in
the battle at 4ealakekua he achie"ed a certain le"el of notoriety!
which he paraded ?with an imperiousness that matched and e"en
e*ceeded his rank as a high chief.? &/(
4amehameha might ne"er ha"e become king e*cept for a twist of
fate. Within a year after +ook,s death! the elderly ali'i
4alani,opu,u! crippled by age and disease! called together his
retainers and di"ided his Hawaiian domain. His son 4iwala,o became
his political heir. o his nephew 4amehameha! the elderly ali'i
entrusted the war god 4u)ka,ili)moku. Although this pattern of
di"iding the succession of the chiefdom and the protectorate of
the god 4u was legendary! some authors suggest it was also
uncommon. &0( As the eldest son! a chief of high rank! and the
designated heir! 4iawala,o,s claim to the island of Hawai,i was
?clear and irrefutible.? &@( Howe"er! although 4amehameha was of
lower rank! and only a nephew of the late king! his possession of
the war god was a powerful incenti"e to political ambition. hus
the old chief,s legacy had effecti"ely ?split the political
decision)making power between indi"iduals of une$ual rank? and set
the stage for ci"il war among the chiefs of the island of Hawai,i.
Although 4iwala,o was senior to 4amehameha! the latter soon began
to challenge his authority. %uring the funeral for one of
4alani,opu,u,s chiefs! 4amehameha stepped in and performed one of
the rituals specifically reser"ed for 4iwala,o! an act that
constituted a great insult.
After 4alani,opu,u died! in '/02! 4iwala,o took his bones to the
royal burial house! Hale)o)4eawe! at Honaunau on the west coast of
Hawai,i Island. 4amehameha and other western coast chiefs gathered
nearby to drink and mourn his death. here are different "ersions
of the e"ents that followed. .ingham suggests that the old king
had already di"ided the lands of the island of Hawai,i! gi"ing his
son 4iwala,o the districts of 4a,u! ;una! and Hilo. 4amehameha was
to inherit the districts of 4ona! 4ohala! and Hamakua. It is not
clear whether 4iwala,o,s landing at Honaunau was to deify
4alani,opu,u,s bones or to attempt sei7ure of the district of
4ona. %aws suggests that 4amehameha and the other chiefs had
gathered at Honaunau to await the redistribution of land! which
usually occurred on the death of a chief! and to make hasty
alliances. When it appeared that 4amehameha and his allies were
not to recei"e what they considered their fair share! the battle
for power and property began. &''(
-"er the ne*t four years! numerous battles took place as well as a
great deal of #ockeying for position and pri"ilege. Alliances were
made and broken! but no one was able to gain a decisi"e ad"antage.
he rulers of Hawai,i had reached a stalemate. Writing a century
later! Ate"ens and -leson assert that 4amehameha spent the years
during this time impro"ing his lands and completing public works
before embarking on his ?career of con$uest.? &'2(
4amehameha,s superior forces had se"eral times won out o"er those
of other warriors. He took 4iwala,o,s daughter 4eopuolani capti"e
and made her one of his wi"esB he also took the child 4a,ahumanu
(once mentioned as a wife for 4iwala,o) and ?betrothed her to
himself.? &':( He thus firmly established himself as an e$ual
contender for control o"er the Hawaiian lands formerly ruled by
4alani,opu,u. C"entually 4iwala,o was killed in battle! but
control of the Island of Hawai,i remained di"ided. .y '/01 the old
chief 4ahekili! king of 5aui! had become the most powerful ali'i
in the islands! ruling -,ahu! 5aui! 5oloka,i! and Lana,i! and
controlling 4aua,i and <i,ihau through an agreement with his half)
brother 4a,eokulani.
In '/@6 4amehameha and his army! aided by Isaac %a"is and Dohn
Eoung! in"aded 5aui. he great chief 4ahekili was on -,ahu!
attempting to stem a re"olt there. 9sing cannon sal"aged from the
Fair American, 4amehameha,s warriors forced the 5aui army into
retreat! killing such a large number that the bodies dammed up a
stream. Howe"er! 4amehameha,s "ictory was short)li"ed! for one of
his enemies! his cousin 4eoua! chief of ;una and 4a,u! took
ad"antage of 4amehameha,s absence from Hawai,i to pillage and
destroy "illages on Hawai,i,s west coast.
3eturning to Hawai,i! 4amehameha fought 4eoua in two fierce
battles. 4amehameha then retired to the west coast of the island!
while 4eoua and his army mo"ed southward! losing some of their
group in a "olcanic steam blast.
his ci"il war! which ended in '/@6! was the last Hawaiian
military campaign to be fought with traditional weapons. In future
battles 4amehameha adopted Western technology! a factor that
probably accounted for much of his success. &'>( .ecause of
4amehameha,s presence at 4ealakekua .ay during the '/@6s! many of
the foreign trading ships stopped there. hus he was able to amass
large $uantities of firearms to use in battle against other
leaders. Howe"er! the new weapons were e*pensi"e and contributed
to large increases in the cost of warfare.
After almost a decade of fighting! 4amehameha had still not
con$uered all his enemies. Ao he heeded the ad"ice of a seer on
4aua,i and erected a great new heiau at ;u,ukohola in 4awaihae for
worship and for sacrifices to 4amehameha,s war god 4u. 4amehameha
hoped to thereby gain the spiritual power that would enable him to
con$uer the island. Aome say that the ri"al chief 4eoua was
in"ited to ;u,ukohola to negotiate peace! but instead was killed
and sacrificed on the heiau's altar. -thers suggest that he was
dispirited by the battles and was ?induced to surrender himself at
4awaihae? before being killed. &'=( His death made 4amehameha
ruler of the entire island of Hawai,i.
5eanwhile! 4ahekili decided to take the ad"antage while 4amehameha
was preoccupied with 4eoua and assembled an army F including a
foreign gunner! trained dogs! and a special group of ferociously
tattooed men known as pahupu'u. hey raided "illages and defiled
gra"es along the coasts of Hawai,i until challenged by 4amehameha.
he ensuing sea battle (.attle of the 3ed)5outhed Gun) was
indecisi"e! and 4ahekili withdrew safely to -,ahu.
Ahortly thereafter! the Cnglish merchant William .rown! captain of
the thirty)gun frigate Butterworth, disco"ered the harbor at
Honolulu. .rown $uickly made an agreement with 4ahekili. he chief
?ceded? the island of -,ahu (and perhaps 4aua,i) to .rown in
return for military aid. &'1( 4amehameha also recogni7ed the
efficacy of foreign aid and sought assistance from +aptain George
Gancou"er. Gancou"er! a dedicated ?man of empire!? con"inced
4amehameha to cede the island of Hawai,i to the .ritish who would
then help protect it. &'/( 4amehameha spent the ne*t three years
rebuilding the island,s economy and learning warfare from "isiting
9pon 4ahekili,s death in '/@>! the island of -,ahu went to his son
4alanikupule. His half)brother 4a,eokulani ruled o"er 4aua,i!
5aui! Lana,i! and 5oloka,i. he two went to war! each seeking to
control all the islands. After a series of battles on -,ahu and
hea"y bombardment from .rown,s ships! 4a,eokulani and most of his
men were killed. Cncouraged by the "ictory o"er his enemies!
4alanikupule decided to ac$uire Cnglish ships and military
hardware to aid in his attack on 4amehameha. 4alanikupule killed
.rown and abducted the remainder of his crew! but the .ritish
seamen were able to regain control and unceremoniously shipped
4alanikupule and his followers ashore in canoes.
3ecogni7ing his enemy,s "ulnerability! 4amehameha used his strong
army and his fleet of canoes and small ships to liberate 5aui and
5olaka,i from 4alanikupule,s control. 4amehameha,s ne*t target was
-,ahu. As he prepared for war! one of his former allies! a chief
named 4aiana! turned on him and #oined forces with 4alanikupule.
<e"ertheless! 4amehameha,s warriors o"erran -,ahu! killing both
ri"al chiefs. 4amehameha could now lay claim to the rich farmland
and fishponds of -,ahu! which would help support his final assault
on 4aua,i. &'0(
.y mid)'/@1! 4amehameha,s Cnglish carpenters had built a forty)ton
ship for him at Honolulu! and once again he e$uipped his warriors
for battle and ad"anced on 4aua,i. Howe"er bad weather forced him
to gi"e up his plans for in"asion. 5eanwhile yet another
challenger F <amakeha! 4aiana,s brother F led a bloody re"olt on
Hawai,i! depopulating the area and forcing 4amehameha to return to
Hawai,i to crush the uprising. 4amehameha used the ne*t few years
of peace to build a great armada of new war canoes and schooners
armed with cannonsB he also e$uipped his well)trained soldiers
with muskets. He sailed this armada to 5aui where he spent the
ne*t year in psychological warfare! sending threats to
4a,umu,ali,i! 4aua,i,s ruler. his pro"ed unsuccessful! so early
in '06> 4amehameha mo"ed his fleet to -,ahu and prepared for
combat. here his preparations for war were swiftly undone by an
epidemic! perhaps cholera or typhoid fe"er! that killed many of
his men.
8or se"eral more years he remained at -,ahu! reco"ering from this
defeat and! perhaps! pondering con$uest of 4aua,i. C*pecting an
attack from 4amehameha! 4a,umu,ali,i sought the help of a 3ussian
agent! %r. Georg Achaffer! in building a fort at the mouth of the
Waimea 3i"er and e*changed 4aua,i,s sandalwood for guns. Howe"er!
the anticipated battle ne"er came because an American trader
con"inced 4amehameha to reach a compromise with 4a,umu,ali,i.
4amehameha was acknowledged as so"ereign while 4a,umu,ali,i
continued to rule 4aua,i! with his son as hostage in Honolulu.
After nine years at -,ahu! 4amehameha made a lengthy tour of his
kingdom and finally settled at 4ailua)4ona! where he li"ed for the
ne*t se"en years. His rise to power had been based on in"asion! on
the use of superior force! and upon political machinations. His
successful con$uests! fueled by ?compelling forces operating
within Hawaiian society!? were also influenced by foreign
interests represented by men like +aptain Gancou"er. &'@(
3% Chan&es in Land Ten4re- !overn'ent- and Hierar*ha)
6a7 Land Ten4re
9pon unification of the Hawaiian kingdom in '0'6! 4amehameha set
about to consolidate his power base and instituted a number of
changes in go"ernment! land tenure! and the hierarchal structure
of society. his new go"ernment ser"ed 4amehameha,s political
needs and accommodated the economic demands of Western traders.
&26( According to one author! 4amehameha,s go"ernment drew upon
the best of the old ways while ?incorporating no"elty without
letting it become heresy or anarchy.? &2'(
4amehameha used se"eral different methods to disenfranchise his
enemies. He ordered the houses of defeated chiefs burned and
replaced ri"als with those he trusted. 8or e*ample! when forced to
lea"e -,ahu and return to Hawai,i to put down a re"olt! he left
-,ahu in the charge of his own men rather than in the hands of
local chiefs. His ad"isors were chosen for their loyalty to him as
well as for their skills. Aahlins and .arrHre suggest that the
Hawaiian kings ?looked with #ealousy on any chief who had a wife
of as high birth as his own.? &22( 8or this reason! all fi"e of
4amehameha,s wi"es were of high rank. .y choosing these women! he
eliminated the possibility of competition on the basis of rank
after his death.
;olitical unification of the islands allowed 4amehameha to
reorgani7e landholdings and pa"ed the way for later changes in
land tenure. 3ecogni7ing that control o"er resources was a ma#or
source of power! he began to make fundamental changes in the land
redistribution patterns. Le"in notes that ?prior to 4amehameha,s
unification! the pattern of redistribution was to gi"e sections of
contiguous lands to relati"es and retainers in traditionally held
family lands.? &2:( Howe"er 4amehameha broke this pattern.
3etaining the choicest parcels of land for himself and his
children! he then reapportioned the ?smaller tracts of land in
different mokus and on different islands to his kinsmen and
followers in accordance to their rank and ser"ice.? &2>( In
return! they
were to render public ser"ice in war or peace! and in raising a
re"enue. hese let out large portions of their di"isions to their
fa"orites or dependents! who were in like manner to render their
ser"ice! and bring the rentB and these employed culti"ators on
shares! who li"ed on the products which they di"ided! or shared
with their landlord! rendering ser"ice when re$uired! so long as
they chose to occupy the land. &2=(
-ften this re)distribution of lands was ?carried out with great
se"erity.? &21( As 4amehameha,s enemies were dispossessed of their
lands! they lost the cadre of commoners who had pro"ided their
economic support and their political power. he ali'i who had
formerly held tenure and administrati"e rights o"er large sections
of land now found themsel"es without any responsibility for
administration. hus
this new pattern of land redistribution entailed a differentiation
between land tenure and administrati"e duties and a concomitant
change in the administrati"e organi7ation. &2/(
In other words! the ali'i were separated from ?their traditional
source of power? and lost control o"er large contiguous sections
of land and o"er the maka'ainana, whom they ?"iewed as their
#unior kinsmen.? &20(
4amehameha re$uired his most influential ri"als to dwell near him
and to tra"el with him! making it easy to obser"e and thwart any
scheming. He scattered the friendly chiefs, landholdings o"er
se"eral islands. hese actions kept the ali'i away from their own
lands where they could amass men and resources to o"erthrow
4amehameha. &2@( ownsend suggested that the king also made it a
policy to change his residence occasionally! ?for where he is
known he will be popular.? &:6( .ecause he was the kingdom,s sole
ruler! the local chiefs also lost much of their former autonomy in
decision)making! and 4amehameha,s decisions became the law by
which people were go"erned.
hese changes helped break down traditional kinship ties between
the ali'i and the maka'ainana, leading to a sense of alienation
and loss of the feeling of mutual obligation. As a result! the
maka'ainana could be e*ploited through e*cessi"e ta*ation and!
later! as labor for the sandalwood industry. ?his marked a
beginning of a shift in the conception of social stratification
based on kinship to one which was less particularistic.? &:'(
6b7 !overn'ent 5tr4*t4re
4amehameha added se"eral new le"els of go"ernment within the
system. &:2( As an e*ample! he chose for his ad"isors fi"e
Hawaiian chiefs! who ser"ed as a ?council of state? whom he
consulted on important matters. &::( As these chiefs died! their
sons replaced them! but their influence grew less as 4amehameha
gradually assumed more power. he king chose as an e*ecuti"e
officer a young Hawaiian chief named 4alanimoku (or! as he later
chose to call himself! William ;itt). ;itt acted as treasurer!
prime minister! and ad"isor to the king.
4amehameha also appointed go"ernors ?of pro"en loyalty and
e*ecuti"e ability? for each island. &:>( his action was in accord
with the past Hawaiian tradition of installation of a go"ernor or
"iceroy to rule newly ac$uired territory. &:=( Howe"er! because of
the new type of land redistribution! the go"ernor was ?in effect
merely an administrator? whose ma#or responsibility was ta*
collection. &:1( At least two of these go"ernors F Isaac %a"is and
Dohn Eoung F were foreigners. hey reported directly to 4amehameha
and managed affairs in his absence. hey apprised him of unrest
anywhere in his kingdom and informed the chiefs of 4amehameha,s
wishes. Appointment of a go"ernor for each island remo"ed the
autonomy of the indi"idual chiefs! helped unify commerce and
communication! and protected 4amehameha,s own interests.
4amehameha promoted unity among the islands by strongly
encouraging traditional religious practices like the yearly
Makahiki feasts and the construction of heiau. He used the kapu
system as a religious framework to maintain control o"er his
sub#ects and as a means of controlling production and distribution
of goods! including trade with foreigners.
4amehameha continued to collect ta*es on a regular basis. Annual
ta*es were assessed by the king,s ta* agents and at first remained
fairly stable from year to year. here were also other common
rules that re$uired presents to the king! especially when he was
tra"elling. he indi"idual chiefs who were gi"en land now owed
4amehameha their political allegiance and had to share with him
the products and ser"ices they ac$uired from the commoners who
farmed the lands. As foreign trade and influence increased! so did
the ta*es! especially the odious re$uest to cut sandalwood.
Aometimes the lesser chiefs would ta* the people ?to a "ery
considerable e*tent in the name of the king! but without his
sanction.? &:/(
5oney from yearly tribute was used to promote increasingly
lucrati"e trade with foreigners! which resulted in a number of new
#obs! such as washing clothes for the sailors. 4amehameha le"ied
duties on these new businesses and also ta*ed the commerce between
the Hawaiian women and the sailors. In '0'0 he established high
harbor and pilot fees. &:0(
8% Forei&n Re)ations
As described earlier! after +ook,s "oyages! a number of different
nations recogni7ed the desirability of utili7ing the Aandwich
Islands as a ma#or port on their trading routes. he 3ussians!
Apanish! .ritish! and Americans all #oined in the lucrati"e fur
trade with +anton! using the islands as a refreshment stop and as
a place to obtain a source of labor. At first! foreign traders
ne"er knew what to e*pect when they dropped anchor at one of the
islands. Aome local chiefs had continued to attack shore parties
or rob shipsB others were e*ceedingly hospitable and helpful to
their guests. Aome of the captains circum"ented this situation by
using foreigners li"ing on the islands as middlemen to arrange for
safe transport of water and supplies out to the ships so the
seamen did not ha"e to go ashore. &:@(
As 4amehameha formali7ed relationships with foreigners and
skillfully encouraged their assistance and trade! he made the
process much safer. He was also able to control trade while
a"oiding foreign political entanglements or alliances. He did!
howe"er! build a special relationship with Great .ritain during
the early '066s! partly through his policy of ?cession.? &>6(
Great .ritain ne"er took ad"antage of this relationship! howe"er!
perhaps because of the distances in"ol"ed or because of her
preoccupation with other affairs! such as the War of '0'2.
4amehameha was a consummate politician. 9nder his rule! the
?position of the Hawaiian kingdom in the world political system
was managed with considerable skill.? &>'( He had to deal with the
Americans! the Cnglish! and the 3ussians who all sought to
coloni7e the islands! or at least to include them as a
protectorate. he Cnglish looked to the <orthwest and the ;acific
to supply new raw materials and markets for their e*panding
economy! while the Apanish had designs upon rich new trading
resources. 9nder the auspices of the 3ussian American +ompany! %r.
Georg Anton Achaffer attempted to gain 4amehameha,s fa"or while
in"ol"ing 4ing 4a,umu,ali,i of 4aua,i in a treasonous plot against
4amehameha. Achaffer erected a fort at Waimea! 4aua,i! and a
warehouse at Honolulu. C"entually Achaffer,s efforts to take o"er
the islands for 3ussia were thwarted! and peaceable "isits by two
other 3ussians! -tto "on 4ot7ebue and Gasilii Golo"nin! helped
repair the diplomatic damage.
4amehameha welcomed producti"e foreign immigrants! perhaps
offering them a gift of land or wi"es. Howe"er! he also encouraged
sailing ship captains to recruit from among the wastrels that had
#umped ship or had left penal colonies and were now s$uatters in
the islands.
/% ew Era in Hawaiian Co''er*e
a7 Hono)4)4 9e*o'es a $a:or Port
As mentioned pre"iously! the harbor at Honolulu (?8air Ha"en?) was
disco"ered in '/@2 or '/@: by the Cnglish captain and merchant
William .rown. A gun seller and fur trader! .rown had made se"eral
pre"ious trips to the islands before locating this spot. Although
at the time it was not well populated or fa"ored by the chiefs!
the Honolulu area had an e*cellent natural harbor! a na"igable
channel through the reef! and deep protected waters close to
shore. 5any mariners considered Honolulu harbor superior to those
on the other islands. &>2( Also! by heading directly into -,ahu!
traders could a"oid the treacherous calms near the southern point
of Hawai,i! thought by early na"igators to be caused by the
heights of 5auna Loa. &>:( Cn"isioning a prosperous future for the
port! .rown! as noted earlier! $uickly made an agreement with
4ahekili whereby the island of -,ahu was ?ceded? to him in return
for the promise of military assistance. Howe"er! .rown was killed
before he was able to reali7e his dreams for 8air Ha"en.
After .rown,s death! 4amehameha,s presence on -,ahu meant that
more and more of the traders called there. &>>( As its importance
as a trade center grew! Honolulu became a gathering place and
residence for foreign sailors! traders! and merchants. .y '06@ the
"illage of Honolulu had grown to se"eral hundred houses. he
king,s house! surrounded by a palisade! displayed the .ritish
colors and was arrayed with a battery of si*teen carriage guns
belonging to his ship. &>=( he Cnglish and American ships in
Honolulu harbor were flanked by those from Apain! 8rance! and
3ussia. At first 4amehameha super"ised trade from his home at the
nati"e "illage of Waikiki! but he mo"ed to Honolulu about '0'6.
4uykendall suggests that this mo"e may ha"e been prompted by ?the
foreigners, rende7"ous at Honolulu.? &>1( hus! foreign trade was
one of the ma#or influences in the rise of Honolulu at the e*pense
of other island harbors.
Also! by the turn of the century nati"e goods and produce had
become $uite e*pensi"e on Hawai,i! where ongoing warfare and large
numbers of traders seeking goods had raised prices. &>/( raders
were ad"ised to go to islands like -,ahu for better bargains. .y
this time -,ahu also had more land under culti"ation than did
other islands and could pro"ide a more ready supply of foodstuffs.
C$ually important! good water was a"ailable at Honolulu! whereas
at ports like 4ealakekua it had to be transported for some
When the 8rench cor"ette Uranie "isited -,ahu in '0'@! the
captain,s wife found -,ahu ?less wild? than the other islands!
surely a comment on the more Curopeani7ed nature of this new port.
&>0( 4amehameha encouraged a polyglot collection of traders and
e"en built houses for some of the ship,s captains who called
regularly at the islands. &>@(
As more ships called at Honolulu! the number of ser"ice industries
increased to meet demand. All along the shore de"elopments arose!
including a ropewalk! the king,s storehouse! and sheds for
blacksmithing and shipbuilding! many of these industries run by
nati"e Hawaiians. 3epairs to the ships could more easily be
accomplished at Honolulu than anywhere elsewhere in the islands.
b7 5anda)wood Trade
Although salt was an early island e*port! sandalwood was the first
ma#or item of e*ternal trade. At first the islands were "iewed
only as a place to rest and pro"ision ships! but soon traders
recogni7ed that an important natural resource F sandalwood F was
readily a"ailable. Ae"eral American traders sought sandalwood on
the islands in the early '/@6s! but +hinese importers re#ected the
har"est as inferior. .y '06= Hawaiian sandalwood had begun to
reach +anton! and by '06@ it was a regular trade commodity. &=(
he market for furs had begun to change by '0'6 F <orthwest +oast
sea otters were becoming scarce! and their purchase price had
increased. 8ur traders had had to broaden their purchases to
include other animal skins and were forced to ?work the year
round.? &='( At the same time! the glutted +anton market paid
lower prices for incoming pelts. hese traders disco"ered that
sandalwood was an easy way to rapidly increase their profit with
much less work. In '0'6 American merchants William H. %a"is!
<athan Winship! and Donathan Winship abandoned their fur trade
routes and reached an agreement with 4amehameha for a monopoly on
the sandalwood trade in e*change for a $uarter of the profits.
hese merchants took a con"oy of sandalwood ships to +hina in
'0'2! making a good profit on their sales. &=2( Howe"er! the War
of '0'2 $uickly ended their enterprise and the agreement with the
king. After the war other merchants assumed control of the
lucrati"e sandalwood trade. &=:(
After an aborti"e and costly attempt to enter the sandalwood trade
himself! 4ing 4amehameha was content to make it a royal monopoly.
&=>( He retained control of the sandalwood and the right to be
?agent of negotiation . . . when bartering with the traders!? but
relegated its collection to the ali'i, who were allowed to keep
?four parts by weight for e"ery ten collected.? &==( -nce
4amehameha became aware of the "alue of the trees to the traders!
he handled their har"est in a traditional way. He claimed the
trees as his own
by hea"y ta*ation! employed the people much in hunting out the
trees! felling them! and cleaning the wood! and bringing down on
their backs ship loads of it! from the mountains. &=1(
he younger trees were placed under a kapu, to be sa"ed for
4amehameha,s grandchildren. He organi7ed the cutting and transport
of the trees under his ?normal public works format.? &=/(
he sandalwood trade under 4amehameha had serious repercussions on
Hawaiian culture. he income from the sandalwood encouraged the
purchase of lu*ury goods and the transition to a cash economy! and
in numerous subtle ways helped to undermine the kapu system. It
became the main source of re"enue for the Hawaiian chiefs. After
the War of '0'2! this million)dollar)market allowed the Hawaiians
to purchase ships and munitionsB the king himself had ac$uired
more than thirty ships by '0'@. 4amehameha had clearly established
commercial trade and associated business "entures as the best
means of obtaining the lu*ury items and other goods that had
become so important to certain segments of Hawaiian society.