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A Statement of Values

“It may very truly be said that the story of the Hawaiian Mission is the ‘old, old story of Jesus and his love.’ Using the words of St. Paul, it may be said that the Love of Christ ‘constrained’ a certain number of men and women in New England and States near by to sail for a group of Islands in the far off Pacific …. From stories which they had heard the Missionaries expected, as one of them wrote, ‘sacrifice, trials, hardships and dangers.’”

“We do not say that there were no mistakes made, nor that the strict requirements of the Puritan representation of Christianity were not hard on a primitive people, nor that they did not lead to hypocrisy on the part of many, a hiding of their real lives that they might not be turned out of the Church. … But if the Hawaiians gained from the Americans, the descendants of the missionaries and other white residents gained much from the Hawaiians. They gained a forgiving spirit, a generous way of looking at faults, and a helpfulness to those in need. In no place in the world has there been more done for education, relief of distress … The story of the Hawaiian Mission has not passed into history – it is going on.” (Restarick, Episcopal Bishop, First American Bishop of Honolulu)

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Piece of Pahoehoe

Richard and Clarissa Armstrong were with the Fifth Company of American Protestant missionaries to the Islands. One of them was Samuel Chapman Armstrong. “More than 100 people from Hawai‘i fought on both sides of the Civil War. Arguably the most famous was the Union general Samuel C Armstrong.” (NY Times) In the Civil War, Armstrong led the 9th Regiment, United States Colored Troops (USCT) in late 1863, then the 8th US Colored Troops when its previous commander was disabled from wounds. Armstrong’s experiences with these regiments aroused his interest in the welfare of black Americans. When Armstrong was assigned to command the USCT, training was conducted at Camp Stanton near Benedict, Maryland. While stationed at Stanton, he established a school to educate the black soldiers, most of whom had no education as slaves. At the end of the war, Armstrong joined the Freedmen’s Bureau.

With the help of the American Missionary Association, he established the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute – now known as Hampton University – in Hampton, Virginia in 1868. The Institute was meant to be a place where black students could receive post-secondary education to become teachers, as well as training in useful job skills while paying for their education through manual labor. “‘Education for Life,’ (was) the constant theme of Armstrong’s teaching, essential though it be to secure to thousands of young men and women their self-support, is not an end in itself, but a means.” (Peabody) Samuel Chapman Armstrong died May 11, 1893. The Islands were at the grave of Armstrong … “At its head was set a huge fragment of volcanic rock, laboriously brought from his island-home in the Pacific, and at its foot a quartz boulder hewn from the Berkshire Hills, where he had been trained. … The monument is a witness of the character it commemorates, volcanic in temperament, granitic in persistency; a life of self-destructive energy, like a mountain on fire, but with the steadiness and strength of one who had lifted up his eyes to the hills and found help.”

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When the Pioneer Company of missionaries landed in the Islands they “presented his majesty an elegant copy of the Bible, furnished by the American Bible Society (intended for the conqueror), which we had the happiness to convey and deliver to his royal son.” “Two important points in the progress of the mission and of the nation were at this period regarded as of special interest and importance, and, in some sense, particularly related to each other-the entire translation of the Bible, printed, published, and open to the whole people and a code of laws based on the principles of civil liberty, and suited to a limited monarchy, and the moral and intellectual advance of the people. The former point was reached in 1839, and the latter in 1840.”

“God’s Word, the finishing sheet of which was struck May 10, 1839, has from the commencement of our mission been prominent in our teaching – prominent in all the schools, taught or superintended by our missionaries.” “The entrance of God’s Word giveth light. He has honored the nation that has nobly welcomed his Word to their families and to their schools. God has honored the rulers who have encouraged its general circulation and free perusal among the whole population.” “In this the Hawaiian chiefs made more progress during the first nineteen years of the labors of the missionaries than the rulers of Italy, Portugal, and Spain, have made in half as many centuries, with all the aid of bishops, cardinals, and popes.” (Hiram Bingham)

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Booze Cruise

A man-on-the-street impression is that the Pioneer Company of American Protestant missionaries hopped off the boat in 1820 and was promoted on the spot to $$1 (navy jargon for still smasher first class). Not so. There was a time “before the Temperance Movement engaged the loyalties of the missionaries in the Pacific.” It turns out, while the Pioneer Company of missionaries left the Long Wharf at Boston as scheduled, on October 23, 1819, they then lay at anchor in the Presidential Roads.

The next day, Captain Andrew Henri Blanchard, the Captain of the Thaddeus, “(O)n the passengers examining their stores, they found a short supply of that article at day light Capt. Blanchard went up to Boston at 11 am (October 24, 1819). Captain Blanchard returned from town with a supply of bread & spirits for the missionaries.” (James Hunnewell Log) While not necessarily a booze cruise, the missionaries continued to have their alcohol. Shortly after their arrival in the Islands, anchoring April 4, 1820 at Kailua Kona, they were soon ‘treated’ with glasses of wine … However, they shortly got on the bandwagon against liquor.

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Lāhainā Banyan Tree

By the time the Pioneer Company arrived (1820,) Kamehameha I had died (1819) and the centuries-old kapu system had been abolished, through the actions of King Kamehameha II (Liholiho, his son,) with encouragement by his father’s wives, Queens Kaʻahumanu and Keōpūolani (Liholiho’s mother.)) A few years later (1823) the Second Company arrived. The tenth ABCFM Company arrived in the Islands on September 24, 1842 on the Sarah Abagail from Boston. On board was Physician James William Smith (1810–1887) and wife Melicent Knapp Smith (1816–1891.)

Their son, William Owen Smith, born at Kōloa, Kauai, was educated at Rev David Dole’s school at Kōloa, later attending Punahou School in Honolulu; Smith left school to go to work on a sugar plantation for three years to learn the sugar industry, working in the boiling house in winter and in the fields in summer. Smith was Sheriff of Kauai for two years and Maui for two years. He later became a lawyer and state legislator. On April 24, 1873, while serving as Sheriff on Maui, WO Smith planted Lāhainā’s Indian Banyan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Protestant mission in Lāhainā.

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