Henry Alpheus Peirce Carter (also known as Henry Augustus Peirce Carter) was born in Honolulu August 7, 1837.
His father came from one of the old Massachusetts families, and had gone to Honolulu to engage in business, one of the first traders between the East Indies, Chinese ports and the Pacific Coast.
At about ten years old, young Carter was sent to the continent to be educated; for three or four years he attended school in Boston (all the formal education he ever had.)
When he was thirteen years old he went to San Francisco, and shortly afterward back to the Islands. He was office boy at C Brewer (he later became president of the firm.)
It was young Henry Carter who recognized that the commerce of Honolulu could not prosper until the Islands produced some commodity that could be used in exchange for merchandise which was imported and consumed here.
Hence, he persisted in accepting sugar agencies, believing that the sugar industry could but offer some permanent relief to the trying situation that then existed. (Nellist)
In 1862, Carter married Sybil Augusta Judd, a daughter of Dr. Gerrit P Judd of Honolulu (who came to the Islands in 1828 as a physician for the Missionaries and who later served the Kingdom.)
(The Carters had five children; one of them, George Robert Carter was appointed the 2nd Territorial Governor in the Islands.)
Carter brought Peter Cushman Jones into the business in 1871 as a junior partner, to eventually take over the operations while the sugar industry was growing.
For some years during his business life Carter had devoted considerable time to study of foreign affairs; with the expectation of someday becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs; when he gave up his business life, he was appointed.
Though born in the Islands and intensely loyal to his American parentage, he did not approve of the policy of annexation. At a public meeting in 1873, held at the old Hawaiian Hotel, this young merchant boldly challenged the wisdom of annexation but debated in a most winning manner in favor of reciprocity with the US.
He pointed out the past unsuccessful efforts in this direction and the reasons thereof, and urged the wisdom of slower but more certain growth of American sentiment in these Islands.
In 1876 he travelled to the US as one or the foreign legation; that year the first Reciprocity Treaty was negotiated. Immediately upon the establishment of the Reciprocity Treaty and the reduction of duties on certain commodities between the US and the Kingdom of Hawaii, a cry was raised over the advantage in trade that this new treaty gave to the Americans.
He then travelled to England, France and Germany to explain the treaty. (NY Times) Carter pointed out the treaty did not violate ‘favored nation’ clause of other treaties and that he negotiated similar treaties with others.
With a commodity for world markets and a treaty to benefit local growers, the development of the sugar industry caused the labor question to become acute, and in 1882 Carter was sent on a diplomatic mission to Portugal where he was successful in securing a new treaty regulating the Portuguese immigration to Hawaii.
On January 1, 1883, the Hawaiian Minister Resident at Washington, Judge Allen, died suddenly in the midst of a reception at the White House. In February, Carter was sent to Washington as his successor.
Carter’s efforts were successful in protecting the Reciprocity Treaty from various attacks, and finally in securing its definite renewal.
This renewal, which went into effect in 1887, carried for the first time the Pearl Harbor clause, by which the US was granted the use of a naval station at Pearl Harbor. This clause was the subject of much official correspondence between Mr. Carter and the secretary of State. (Nellist)
Carter served his country as Minister to the US for about 10-years. He was one of King Kalākaua’s closest advisers” and in all affairs of great moment to the kingdom his advice was carefully considered”. (Hawaiian Gazette, November 24, 1891)
“Henry Alpheus Peirce Carter was probably the ablest diplomat ever to serve the Hawaiian kingdom. … He was a man of great energy, of positive views and facility in the expression of them, with a self-confident and forceful manner that sometimes antagonized those who disagreed with him.”
“From 1875 until his death he spent most of his time abroad, as a diplomatic representative of the Hawaiian kingdom in the United States and Europe, where he became a familiar and much respected figure.” (Kuykendall) Carter died November 1, 1891, in New York.