At the same time that the Hawaiian Kingdom was addressing distribution of lands to the King, Chiefs and Maka‘āinana in the Great Māhele, they were also looking at land for the missionaries.
“Some conversation then took place on the expediency and policy of granting lands to Missionaries at a price cheaper than lands are disposed of to other parties.” (Privy Council Minutes, November 23, 1849)
Non-Hawaiians were not permitted to own lands until 1850. In that year certain missionaries made application to the Hawaiian Government for permission to purchase lands.
At its August 19, 1850 Privy Council meeting, “Mr Wyllie brought forward & read a report of a committee appointed on the 29th April & powers enlarged on the 24th June to report respecting lands applied for by Missionaries.” The report was received and it was Resolved that it be left by the cabinet to publish when they see fit. The ‘Report on Missionary Lands’ was published in the Polynesian on May 7, 1852.
In part, that report notes, “The missionaries who have received and applied for lands have neither received and applied for them, without offering what they conceived to be a fair consideration for them.”
“So far as their applications have been granted, your Majesty’s government have dealt with them precisely as they have dealt with other applicants for land, that is, they have accepted the price where they considered it fair, and they have raised it where they considered it unfair.”
“It will not be contended that missionaries, because they are missionaries, have not the same right to buy land in the same quantities and at the same price as those who are not missionaries.”
“The question occurs, have greater rights been allowed to the missionary applicants that to the non-missionary applicants. To solve this question satisfactorily, requires that the undersigned should give some statistics.”
After review of some comparative sales it was concluded “that the missionaries generally have had their lands on somewhat easier terms than those who are not missionaries, but the undersigned, allowing for probable difference of quality, would hesitate to say that they have had their lands as much as 50 cents per acre under the price that non-missionary applicants have had theirs. …”
“But, besides what is strictly due to them, injustice and in gratitude for large benefits conferred by them on your people, every consideration of sound policy, under the rapid decrease of the native population, is in favor of holding out inducements for them not to withdraw their children from these islands. “
“One of the undersigned strongly urged that consideration upon your majesty in Privy Council so far back as the 28th of May, 1847, recommending that a formal resolution should be passed, declaring the gratitude of the nation to the missionaries for the services they had performed, and making some provision for their children.”
“Your majesty’s late greatly lamented Minister of Public Instruction (and former missionary). Mr. Richards, with that disinterestedness which characterized him personally in all his worldly interests, was fearful that to moot such a question would throw obloquy upon the reverend body to which he had belonged, and hence to the day of his death, he abstained from moving it.”
“Neither has any missionary, or any one who had been connected with the mission, ever taken it up to this day; but the undersigned, who are neither missionaries, nor have ever been connected with them, hesitate not to declare to your majesty that it will remain, in all future history …”
“… a stain upon this Christian nation if the important services of the missionaries be not acknowledged in some unequivocal and substantial manner. This acknowledgment should not be a thing implied or secretly understood, but openly and publicly declared.” (RC Wyllie, Keoni Ana)
Privy Council Resolution for Discounted Price to Missionaries
“The undersigned would recommend that the following, or some similar resolutions, should be submitted to the Legislature.
“1. Resolved, That all Christian missionaries who have labored in the cause of religion and education in these islands, are eminently benefactors of the Hawaiian nation.”
“2. Resolved, That, as a bare acknowledgment of these services, every individual missionary who may have served eight years on the Islands, whether Protestant or Catholic, who does not already hold five hundred and sixty acres of land, shall be allowed to purchase land to that extent at a deduction of fifty cents on every acre from the price that could be obtained from lay purchasers …”
“… but that for all land beyond that quantity, he must pay the same price as the latter would pay; and that those who have served less than eight years be allowed to purchase land on the same terms as laymen, until the completion of the eight years, after which they are to be allowed the same favor as the others.”
“3. Resolved, That all Christian missionaries serving on these islands shall be exempt from the payment of duties on goods imported for their use in the proportion following, for every year, viz: on goods to the invoice value of one hundred dollars for every active member of the mission, excluding servants.”
“On goods to the value of thirty dollars for every child above two years of age. (Signed,) R.C Wyllie, Keoni Ana.” (Privy Council Chamber, August 19th, 1850.; Report on Missionary Lands; Polynesian, May 7, 1852)
Planning ahead … the Hawaiian Mission Bicentennial – Reflection and Rejuvenation – 1820 – 2020 – is approaching (it starts in about a year)
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