“Use no deception.
Be always pleasant and cheerful.
Try to make your teachers
and all around you happy.
Have a place for everything
and everything in its place.”
(His New Year’s Resolution at age 12)
He died on his 42nd birthday (December 11, 1830 – December 11, 1872.) He was given the Christian name Lot and the Hawaiian name Kapuāiwa, which means ‘mysterious kapu’ (taboo) or ‘the sacred one protected by supernatural powers.’ His full name was Lot Kapuāiwa Kalanimakua Aliʻiolani Kalani Kapuapaikalaninui. (ksbe)
His mother was Kīnaʻu, a daughter of Kamehameha I (she became the Kuhina nui, in 1832.) His father was Mataio Kekūanāoʻa, a descendent of the Chiefs of the Island of Oʻahu (he was governor of Oʻahu, as well as a member of the House of Nobles and the Privy Council.)
Lot was most often called Lot Kamehameha and that is how he signed his letters and other writings. (ksbe) He had three brothers and a sister.
They were, David Kamehameha, who was three years older; Moses Kekūāiwa, who was two years older; Alexander Liholiho, the future Kamehameha IV, who was four years younger, and Victoria Kamāmalu, the youngest of the children. (David died in 1835 at the age of seven. Moses was nineteen years old when he died in 1848.) (ksbe)
Lot Kapuāiwa was hānai to Chief Hoapili of Lahaina and Princess Nahiʻenaʻena (daughter of Kamehameha I and Keōpūolani; she was sister to Liholiho and Kauikeaouli (they were later Kamehameha II and III.))
At age 9, he entered the Chiefs’ Children’s School. The aliʻi wanted their children trained in Western, as well as Hawaiian traditions and Kamehameha III asked missionaries Amos and Juliette Cooke to teach the young royals; in 1848, at age 18, he ended his schooling there to work for the government.
Lot went to work in Honolulu Hale, a government office building on Merchant Street. There he kept record books and wrote or copied documents. Because he knew both English and Hawaiian he also translated government papers. (ksbe)
From the time they were children Lot and Pauahi were expected to marry each other. This had been planned by their parents. It had traditionally been the custom for chiefs to choose suitable mates for their aliʻi children.
When Pauahi was about sixteen years old, however, she fell in love with Charles Reed Bishop. Her parents, Konia and Paki, were not happy at the thought of her marrying a foreigner. Pauahi was not happy at the thought of marrying Lot. (ksbe)
In 1849, Lot and Alexander Liholiho (his brother) began their year-long trip to the United States and Europe. They returned to Hawaiʻi in September 1850, three months after Pauahi’s marriage to Mr. Bishop. Lot never married.
The brothers’ training as leaders continued. Kamehameha III saw to it that they had suitable work in government positions. Nineteen-year-old Lot was appointed a member of the House of Nobles.
It was much like being a senator in Hawaiʻi’s legislature today. Lot was also made general of a division in the Hawaiian kingdom’s army. (ksbe)
Kamehameha III died in 1854. Alexander Liholiho, his hānai son and chosen heir to the throne, became Kamehameha IV; Lot served as the Minister of Interior.
Kamehameha IV ruled for nine years. Lot ascended to the throne as Kamehameha V on November 30, 1863, on the death of his brother.
“He was a master in the beginning, & at the middle, & to the end. The Parliament was the “figure-head,” & it never was much else in his time. … He hated Parliaments, as being a rasping & useless incumbrance upon a king, but he allowed them to exist because as an obstruction they were more ornamental than rival.” (Twain)
“He surrounded himself with an obsequious royal Cabinet of American & other foreigners, & he dictated his measures to them &, through them, to his Parliament; & the latter institution opposed them respectfully, not to say apologetically, & passed them.” (Twain)
Kamehameha V modeled his leadership after that of his grandfather, Kamehameha I, believing that it was the right and duty of the chiefs to lead the common people. He refused to support the Constitution of 1852. By supporting the controversial Constitution of 1864, he expected to regain some of the powers lost by previous kings. (ksbe)
“He was not a fool. He was a wise sovereign; he had seen something of the world; he was educated & accomplished, & he tried hard to do well for his people, & succeeded. There was no rival nonsense about him; he dressed plainly, poked about Honolulu, night or day, on his old horse, unattended; he was popular, greatly respected, & even beloved.” (Twain)
In 1865, a bill to repeal the law making it a penal offense to sell or give intoxicating liquor to native Hawaiians was brought before the legislature. Strongly supported by some, Kamehameha surprised the supporters saying, “I will never sign the death warrant of my people.” The measure was defeated in the second reading. (Alexander)
Kamehameha V founded the Royal Order of Kamehameha on April 11, 1865 in commemoration of his grandfather, Kamehameha I. The stated purpose of the order was “to cultivate and develop, among our subjects, the feelings of honour and loyalty to our dynasty and its institutions ….” (Royal Order)
Hansen’s Disease was rapidly spreading on Oʻahu. The legislature passed “An Act to Prevent the Spread of Leprosy” in 1865, which King Kamehameha V approved – it called for the isolation and seclusion of leprous persons. The first shipment of lepers landed at Kalaupapa January 6, 1866, the beginning of segregation and banishment of lepers to the leper settlement.
The Kamehameha V Post Office (built in 1871, one of the oldest remaining public buildings in Hawaiʻi, and so named because it was built at the direction of Kamehameha V) was the first post office building in Hawaiʻi. (NPS) On February 19, 1872, Kamehameha V laid the cornerstone for Aliʻiolani Hale (now home to the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court.)
December 11, Lot Kapuāiwa celebrated the first Kamehameha Day in 1871 as a day to honor his grandfather; the first celebration fell on Lot’s birthday.
Because the weather was better in the summer, the decision was made to move the Kamehameha I celebration six months from the King Kamehameha V’s birthday (so it was moved to June 11 – the date has no direct significance to Kamehameha I.) The 1896 legislature declared it a national holiday. (Kamehameha Day continues to be celebrated on June 11.)
“On the 10th (of December, 1872,) (Liliʻuokalani and her husband) were summoned to the palace to attend the dying monarch; one by one other chiefs of the Hawaiian people, with a few of their trusted retainers, also arrived to be present at the final scene;…”
“… we spent that night watching in silence near the king’s bedside. The disease was pronounced by the medical men to be dropsy on the chest (hydrothorax, accumulation of fluid in the chest.”) (Liliʻuokalani)
“Although nearing the end, the mind of the king was still clear; and his thoughts, like our own, were evidently on the selection of a future ruler for the island kingdom …”
“… turning to Mrs. Bishop, he asked her to assume the reins of government and become queen at his death.” She declined. “… he relapsed into unconsciousness, and passed away without having named his successor to the throne.” (Liliʻuokalani) (Lunalilo was shortly after elected King of Hawaiʻi.)