The following is an address delivered on Founder’s Day at Kamehameha Schools by Charles R Bishop – published in Handicraft.
The trustees of the estate of the late Hon. Bernice Pauahi Bishop, deeming it proper to set apart a day in each year to be known as Founder’s Day, to be observed as a holiday by those connected with the Kamehameha Schools, and a day of remembrance of her who provided for the establishment of these schools, have chosen the anniversary of her birth, the 19th of December, for that purpose, and this is the first observance of the day.
If an institution is useful to mankind, then is the founder thereof worthy to be gratefully remembered. Kamehameha I by his skill and courage as a warrior, and his ability as a ruler, founded this nation.
Kamehameha II abolished the tabu and opened the way for Christianity and civilization to come in. Kamehameha III gave to the people their kuleana and a Constitutional Government, and thus laid the foundation for our independence as a nation.
Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma were the founders of the Queen’s Hospital. Kamehameha V was a patriotic and able sovereign, and Lunalilo was the founder of the Home which hears his name. All these should be held in honored remembrance by the Hawaiian people.
Bernice Pauahi Bishop, by founding the Kamehameha Schools, intended to establish institutions which should be of lasting benefit to her country; and also to honor the name Kamehameha, the most conspicuous name in Polynesian history, a name with which we associate ability, courage, patriotism and generosity.
The founder of these schools was a true Hawaiian. She knew the advantages of education and well directed industry. Industrious and skillful herself, she respected those qualities in others. Her heart was heavy, when she saw the rapid diminution of the Hawaiian people going on decade after decade, and felt that it was largely the result of their ignorance and carelessness.
She knew that these fair islands, which only a little more than a century ago held a population of her own race estimated at 300 000 or more would not be left without people; that whether the Hawaiians or not, men from the East and from the West would come in to occupy them: skilful, industrious, self-asserting men, looking mainly to their own interests.
The hope that there would have come a turning point, when, through enlightenment, the adoption of regular habits and Christian ways of living, the natives would not only hold their own in numbers, but would increase again like the people of other races, at times grew faint, and almost died out.
She foresaw that, in a few years the natives would cease to be much if any in the majority, and that they would have to compete with other nationalities in all the ways open to them for getting an honest living; and with no legal preferences for their protection, that their privileges, success and comfort, would depend upon their moral character, intelligence and industry.
And so, in order that her own people might have the opportunity for fitting themselves for such competition, and be able to hold their own in a manly and friendly way, without asking any favors which they were not likely to receive, these schools were provided for, in which Hawaiians have the preference, and which she hoped they would value and take the advantages of as fully as possible.
Could the founder of these schools have looked into the future and realized the scenes here before us this day, I am sure it would have excited new hopes in her breast, as it does in my own.
If the Hawaiians while continuing friendly and just toward all of those of other nationalities, are true to themselves, and take advantage of the opportunities which they have, and are governed by those sound principles and habits in which they have been instructed, and in which these youths now present are here being taught day by day both in precept and example, there is no reason why they should not from this time forth, increase in numbers, self-reliance and influence.
But on the other hand, if they are intemperate, wasteful of time, careless of health and indifferent as to character; and if they follow those evil examples, of which there are so many on every side, then, nothing can save them from a low position and loss of influence, in their own native-land, or perhaps from ultimate extinction as a race.
But let us be cheerful and hopeful for the best, and see to it that from these schools as well as from the other good schools – shall go out young men fitted and determined to take and maintain, a good standing in every honest industry or occupation in which they may engage.
These schools are to be permanent and to improve in methods as time goes on. They are intended for capable, industrious and well-behaved youths; and if Hawaiian boys of such character fail to come in, other boys will certainly take their places.
We look to those who may be trained in the Kamehameha Schools to honor the memory of the founder and the name of the schools by their good conduct, not only while in school, but in their mature lives as well.
So long as we are in the right, we may reasonably trust in God for his help; let us always try to be in the right.
© 2015 Hoʻokuleana LLC