Failing health for some months past made it seem advisable that King Kalākaua should seek to regain it by a voyage to the more bracing climate of California, and inspired with this hope, he left his kingdom in November last (1890.) The voyage and change of circumstances at first seemed to benefit him. (Privy Council)
“The United States steamer Charleston, with King Kalākaua, of Hawaii, on board, entered the harbor at 11 o’clock this morning. Colonel McFarlane, chamberlain to King Kalākaua, stated that the king visited California for the benefit of his health and eyesight, which is somewhat impaired.”
“The king would probably remain in California five or six weeks, and during that period would visit the southern part of the state, but would not go east. The king is accompanied only by Colonel McFarlane and a few servants.” (Los Angeles Herald, December 5, 1890)
“King Kalākaua left the Charleston in the Admiral’s barge late this afternoon, and a few minutes later arrived at the Clay-street wharf.”
“Great crowds of people surrounded the landing-place, and as the King left the barge he bowed right and left in acknowledgment of the cheers which were given by the spectators.”
“King Kalākaua immediately entered a carriage, drawn by four horses, and was driven to the Palace Hotel, where a reception was given him, which was attended by Governor Waterman, Mayor Pond, representatives of the commercial organizations, and a number of prominent citizens.” (Sacramento Daily Union, December 5, 1890)
On December 18, the Daily Alta California announced that local favorites from San Francisco and Oakland would be competing in the baseball game, which would be held December 20 at the Haight Street grounds, where the bleachers could seat 14,000 fans.
“His Royal Highness King Kalākaua has promised to be present, which in itself should insure the presence of a large gathering, as the King has not shown himself to the multitude since his arrival on these shores.” (Daily Alta, December 18, 1890) That Saturday turned out to be a beautiful sunny day.
The Haight Street grounds’ park band escorted the two teams, the All-Californians and the Picked Nine, from the clubhouse around the grandstand and bleachers. The bench of the Picked Nine was draped with the American flag, while that of the All-Californians displayed the Hawaiian colors.
The king and his party arrived at 2:15 pm. The band played ‘Hawaii Ponoʻi’ and the game began. Despite a triple by Picked Nine right fielder Ebright, the All-Californians won 12-8. The king did not stay for the whole game. He was a sick man suffering from kidney disease. (San Jose Mercury News)
Then, the sad news …
“The announcement yesterday of the death of King Kalākaua fell like a clap of thunder from the skies. Although we all knew that he was not a well man when he left here and that he had in his system a most insidious disease …”
“… yet the reports of the decided improvement in his health from the voyage over and the bracing climate of California deceived us as to his frail hold on life.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, January 30, 1891)
“He passed away at exactly 2:35 pm of Tuesday, January 20, 1891, and there were present at his bedside, on the right of His Majesty, Rev. J. Sanders Reed, Col. Macfarlane, and Admiral Brown; on the left Col. Baker, Kalua, and Kahikina …”
“… and at the foot of the bed Consul McKinley, Mrs. Swan, and Fleet Surgeon Woods. Grouped around were Lieut Dyer, Hon. CR. Bishop, Mr Godfrey Rhodes, Judge Hart, Senator GE Whitney, Mrs. McKinley, Mrs. Price, Mrs Reed, and the Hon Claus Spreckels.”
His body was returned to the Island on the USS Charleston …
“The sad duty of taking care of the remains and bringing them to the kingdom devolved on Admiral Brown, who was especially delegated by President Harrison to take the tidings of the monarch’s sudden decease to his beloved subjects.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, January 30, 1891)
“At 8:15 am yesterday the Diamond Head telephone announced the arrival of the USS Charleston, Admiral Brown, off Coco Head, with the American and Hawaiian flags at half mast. Half an hour later, the ship appeared off the harbor, dressed in mourning.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, January 30, 1891)
“The reign of our departed King was memorable as an era of remarkable and increasing prosperity. In the seventeen years of his reign, now closed, this nation has made rapid strides in its material industries, education, and the arts of civilization.”
“But death comes alike to King and Commoner, and the seventh Sovereign of Hawaii is gone to join the roll of the illustrious dead. We humbly bow to the Will of God.” (Privy Council)
“When the widowed Queen, Kapiʻolani, took leave of the American officers who had brought the body to its native land, she was much touched by the remark of Admiral Brown that he could never forget the musical beauty of the late King’s voice.”
“With the poetic fancy innate in all Hawaiians, she replied, ‘From henceforth, when you think of him, call him not Kalākaua, but say ‘him of the low, sweet voice.’”
“Kalākaua I was buried with great state on February 15th, 1891, another guest in that mausoleum which is so fast filling with the mortal remains of Hawaiian royalty. His sister Liliʻuokalani reigns in his stead, and follows worthily the best traditions of sovereignty, inspired doubtless by what she saw when in 1887 she was present at the Jubilee of our own gracious Queen.” (Gowen)