Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives (Mission Houses) collaborated with Awaiaulu Foundation to digitize, transcribe, translate and annotate over 200-letters written by 33-Chiefs.
The letters, written between 1823 and 1887, are assembled from three different collections: the ABCFM Collection held by Harvard’s Houghton Library, the HEA Collection of the Hawaii Conference-United Church of Christ and the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society.
These letters provide insight into what the Ali‘i (Chiefs) were doing and thinking at the time, as well as demonstrate the close working relationship and collaboration between the aliʻi and the missionaries.
In this letter, Gideon La‘anui writes to affirm that Mr. Loomis and all the missionaries are blameless and that he is devoted to Jesus and the word of Jehovah.
Elisha Loomis was in the first missionary company in 1820 and became the first printer in Hawai‘i. Gideon Peleiōhōlani Laʻanui was a native of Waimea, Hawaiʻi who was partly raised in the court of Kamehameha I and married Nāmāhana, a sister of Kaʻahumanu. He was an early Christian convert and became an active member of the church, living in Waialua, Oʻahu.
“Oahu December 5 1826”
“Good will to you Mr. Loomis together with all the missionaries from Hawaii to Kauai.”
“These are my sentiments for you all. I do not know of you having done wrong. Not in the least have my eyes ever seen any thing blameable from the first even down to the present time.”
“Here is the fault concerning which the world is angry, the word of Jesus.”
“To the wicked it is an evil word, but to those who believe in Jesus, it is the mighty word of Jehovah. It is the good thing you have brought to us – the salvation of our souls – Jesus, he it is whom you have preached to us.”
“Our hearts have looked and beheld the real salvation, and the certain truth.”
“Then the eyes saw the wickedness crowded out by the entering in of the good.”
“Now the wickedness is without, because Jesus came to take upon himself our sins, and he gave also his body to be food for us, and his blood to be the means of cleansing away the evil of our hearts …”
“… and his powerful spirit to be that means of enlightening the mind, and his word to be that by which to become straight.”
“The sentiments for you is finished. Affection for you all.”
Here’s a link to the original letter, its transcription, translation and annotation:
On October 23, 1819, the Pioneer Company of American Protestant missionaries from the northeast US, led by Hiram Bingham, set sail on the Thaddeus for the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawai‘i.) They arrived in the Islands and anchored at Kailua-Kona on April 4, 1820.
Over the course of a little over 40-years (1820-1863 – the “Missionary Period”,) about 180-men and women in twelve Companies served in Hawaiʻi to carry out the mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in the Hawaiian Islands.
One of the earliest efforts of the missionaries, who arrived in 1820, was the identification and selection of important communities (generally near ports and aliʻi residences) as “stations” for the regional church and school centers across the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaiian Mission Houses’ Strategic Plan themes note that the collaboration between Native Hawaiians and American Protestant missionaries resulted in the
• The introduction of Christianity;
• The development of a written Hawaiian language and establishment of schools that resulted in widespread literacy;
• The promulgation of the concept of constitutional government;
• The combination of Hawaiian with Western medicine, and
• The evolution of a new and distinctive musical tradition (with harmony and choral singing).