In the dawn hours of January 18, 1778 British explorer Captain James Cook first sighted the Hawaiian Islands. At the time of Cook’s arrival, the Hawaiian Islands were divided into four kingdoms: (1) the island of Hawaiʻi under the rule of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, who also had possession of the Hāna district of east Maui; (2) Maui (except the Hāna district,) Molokai, Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe, ruled by Kahekili; (3) Oʻahu, under the rule of Kahahana; and at (4) Kauai and Niʻihau, Kamakahelei was ruler.

After a month’s stay, Cook got under sail to resume his exploration of the Northern Pacific. Shortly after leaving Hawaiʻi Island, the foremast of the Resolution broke and the ships returned to Kealakekua Bay for repairs. On February 14, 1779, at Kealakekua Bay, some Hawaiians took one of Cook’s small boats. He attempted to take hostage the King of Hawaiʻi, Kalaniʻōpuʻu. The Hawaiians prevented this and Cook and some of his men were killed. Clerke took over the expedition and they left.

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Hawaiian Citizenship – It’s About Nationality, Not Race

“Nationality” means the legal bond between a person and a State and does not indicate the person’s ethnic origin. Everyone has the right to a nationality. (European Convention on Nationality) “(N)ot only the Hawaiian Statutes but the Law of Nations, grant to an individual born under the Sovereignty of this Kingdom, an inalienable right, to all of the rights and privileges of a subject.” The Hawaiian nation was overthrown … not the Hawaiian race (it was a constitutional monarchy, not race-limited.)

Yet, to date, apparently, the only people permitted to exercise their rights related to discussions on restoration, reparation, sovereignty, independence, etc related to the Hawaiian nation have been those of one race, the Native Hawaiians. Listening to the ongoing rhetoric, some seen to argue that only those of the Hawaiian race have rights and benefits of the Hawaiian kingdom (including claims to the ceded lands). The kingdom was not race based; all citizens (Native Hawaiians, born here or naturalized – and their descendants are Hawaiian nationals) and have “an inalienable right, to all of the rights and privileges of a subject.” Why aren’t all Hawaiian citizens included in the recognition and sovereignty discussions and decisions today?

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The Battle of Honolulu – 1826

The first visit to the Hawaiian Islands by the US Navy was in 1826 when the warship USS Dolphin came into port in Honolulu. Commanding the ship was Lieutenant John Percival (aka “Mad Jack” Percival.). Percival had been sent to the Pacific to bring the mutineers of a whaling ship to justice and to enforce the settlement of debts owed by Hawaiʻi’s ruling chiefs to American sandalwood dealers. As the ship sailed into Honolulu Bay, these objectives were not uppermost on the minds of the crew, however. The men of the Dolphin, like mariners then, had expectations of female companionship while in port.

They arrived on January 16, 1826; after making inquiries in the village they learned that, under the influence of the missionaries, the chiefs had not only forbidden the women to swim out to the ships, but had restricted the sale of alcohol. His men were outraged. Percival attempted to persuade the Queen to release her women. Sailors attempted to form a coalition to “knock off the tabu.” A mob formed; they knocked out seventy of the windows at Kalanimōku’s house, then the mob went on to the home of Hiram Bingham, the leader of the missionaries. The incident was quickly christened “The Battle of Honolulu.” Mad Jack’s actions were later renounced by the United States and resulted in the sending of an envoy to King Kamehameha III.

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These posts are part of a personal learning experience; I have been searching to learn more about the place I and my family were born, raised, and live (and love) – then, share what I have learned.

Because of my Planning work across the Islands, as well as previously serving as Director of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Officer and Deputy Managing Director for Hawaiʻi County, I have had the opportunity to see some places and deal with some issues that many others have not had, nor will have, the same opportunity.

So, I am sharing some insights, events and places with others. These informal historic summaries are presented for personal, non-commercial and/or educational purposes. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks, Peter.

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