Edmund R Butler “arrived at these Islands in the year 1813 from Boston Mass. Shortly afterwards Kamehameha 1st granted him a farm called Kawaiiki, near Honolulu, O‘ahu, in the district of Kapalama.”
“Afterwards in the year 1817, Kamehameha 1st further granted (Butler) a district of land on the Island of Maui, situated between the village of Lahaina and Lahainaluna called Pū‘ou.”
“(He has) continuously occupied these lands until this time, except some portion of the second named land at Lahaina, which was taken from him by the Donor, and conferred upon the seminary at Lahainaluna.”
“The first mentioned land called Kawaiiki, was again assured to the Claimant by his present Majesty (King Kamehameha III) in the year 1831.” (LCA-32 Testimony)
To help tell his story, the following are snippets of the diversity of Butler’s involvement and interests and his time in the Islands …
On August 17, 1818, Hipólito (Hypolite) Bouchard arrived on ‘La Argentina’ at Kealakekua Bay. He found the Argentine corvette ‘Chacabuco’ (‘Santa Rosa’) in the Bay and learned that the crew of the Santa Rosa had mutinied near Chile’s coast and headed to Hawaiʻi, where the crew had attempted to sell the vessel to the Hawaiian king.
King Kamehameha bought the ship (for “6000 piculs of sandal-wood and a number of casks of rum.”) Bouchard found things to trade (reportedly Bouchard gave Kamehameha the honorary title of colonel together with his own uniform, hat and saber (nava-org)) and he took charge of the Santa Rosa, which he had to partially rebuild.
During negotiations with King Kamehameha, he also signed and Kamehameha placed his mark on an agreement.
In part, the agreement set to “consign to Senor Don Eduardo Butler, resident of the Sandwich Islands, the offices of agent of my nation with full authority in national matters, political affairs, national commerce and in mailers of the Cabinets”.
It also noted, “… when ships from the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata arrive in that dominion that this gentleman (Butler) have authority, in company with Your Majesty Kamehameha, over all matters pertaining to the Government of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata … I beg Your Majesty to recognize Senor Don Eduardo as agent of the Government of the United Provinces”.
Reportedly, in the memoirs of Captain José María Piris Montevideo (member of the expedition) Bouchard asserts that Kamehameha signed a Treaty of Commerce, Peace and Friendship with Hipólito Bouchard, which recognized the independence of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata. (Some suggest this was that document.)
Edmund Butler briefly operated a tavern in Lahaina, Maui, as early as 1819. However, the governor of Maui, strict Christian Hoapili, curbed the sale of liquor on that island. (Hibbard)
Butler was present at the first printing by the American Protestant missionaries, “January 7, 1822 … A day of spiritual interest. Commenced the first printing ever done in the Sandwich Islands, the operators of the printing press having fitted up for the purpose one of the thatched houses built for us by the government.”
“Governor Cox (Ke’eaumoku, Governor of Maui), who seems to take as friendly an interest in our work as any of the chiefs, was present and assisted with his own hands in composing a line or two and in working off a few copies of the first lesson of Hawaiian syllables, having the composing stick put into his hands and being shown when to take and how to place the types and then to pull the lever.”
“Several gentlemen, also, were present, Captain Masters, Captain Henry, Mr. Hunnewell from America, and Mr. Butler, a resident of Maui, who also took an interest in this novel scene, while one of the highest chiefs of these islands aided in commencing the printing of his native tongue.” (Gulick)
In 1823, when the Second Company of missionaries arrived, and Taua, Reynolds, Stewart, Loomis and Betsey Stockton escorted the ailing Keōpūolani to Lāhainā, they noted …
“The settlement is far more beautiful than any place we have yet seen on the islands. The entire district, stretching nearly three miles along the sea-side, is covered with luxuriant groves …”
“… not only of the cocoa-nut, (the only tree we have before seen, except on the tops of the mountains,) but also of the bread-fruit and of the kou, a species of cordia, an ornamental tree, resembling, at a distance, a large and flourishing, full, round-topped apple-tree …”
“… while the banana plant, tapa, and sugar-cane, are abundant, and extend almost to the beach, on which a fine surf constantly rolls.”
“On coming to an anchor, Karaimoku (Kalanimōku) expressed his regret that there was no house at the disposal of himself or the queen, suitable for our accommodation: and wished us to procure a temporary residence with Mr. Butler, an American established here, till houses could be provided for us by Keōpūolani.”
“We were soon met by Keōua, the governor of Lāhainā, to whom I delivered a letter of introduction from his friend Laʻanui, at O‘ahu, and proceeded in search of the plantation of Mr. Butler.”
“We found his enclosure pleasantly situated about a quarter of a mile directly in rear of the landing-place, and were received by him in a kind and friendly manner.”
“When acquainted with our object in coming to Lahaina, he proffered every assistance in his power, and tendered his best house for the reception of our families.”
“His civility greatly prepossessed us in his favour, and made us almost forget that we were in the land of strangers.”
“He returned to the barge with us, to bring the ladies on shore; and early in the afternoon our whole number were comfortably and quietly settled in the midst of his luxuriant grounds.”
“The thick shade of the bread-fruit trees which surround his cottages – the rustling of the breeze through the bananas and the sugar-cane – the murmurs of the mountain streams encircling the yard – and the coolness and verdure of every spot around us …”
“… seemed, in contrast with our situation, during a six months’ voyage, and four weeks’ residence on the dreary plain of Honoruru, like the delights of an Eden …”
“… and caused our hearts to beat warmly with gratitude to the Almighty Being, who had brought us in safety to the scene of our future labours, and had at once provided us with so refreshing an asylum.” (CS Stewart)
“October 1823 was a dangerous time to be at O‘ahu. The king had been tricked into another drinking bout by American traders while he was at Lahaina in September.”
“As a result, some of his chiefs spread tales around Honolulu that all the white men would be expelled from the island. Then Liholiho and his chiefs took an extraordinary step: they stopped trading and refused to permit any of their people to trade.”
“A report circulated that the king and his chiefs would not pay their sandalwood debts. Talk of rebellion made the gossip rounds, and Edmund Butler, an American resident, warned the king on October 16 that ‘the gentlemen’ (meaning whites) were going to kill him.”
“Clearly, threats against him from members of the American trading community had reached the point where Liholiho needed to take bold, decisive action. It may not have been coincidence that on that same day Starbuck ordered the ship’s company to return from shore duty and put L’Aigle in shape for a long voyage.” (Corley)
Butler’s daughter, Hannah (Hana), was the first wife of James Campbell. In 1850, after several years in Tahiti, Campbell boarded a whaling ship which brought him to Lahaina, Maui. (CHS)
Campbell made a good living as a carpenter and made a fortune investing in sugar production and real estate investing after inheriting property from his first wife, Hannah, in 1858. (Roth) In 1860 James Campbell, with Henry Turton and James Dunbar, established the Pioneer Mill Company, which became the basis of Campbell’s fortune.