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Humehume Goes Home

King Kaumuali‘i of Kauai decided to send his son Humehume (George Prince) to America, at least, in part, to receive a formal education. George was about six years old when he boarded the Hazard that ultimately sailed into Providence, Rhode Island on June 30, 1805 after a year-and-a-half at sea. Humehume was “discovered” and taken under the wing of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). He was sent, along with Henry Ōpūkaha’ia and other Hawaiian youths, to be educated at the Foreign Mission School at Cornwall, Connecticut.

On October 23, 1819, the Pioneer Company of the American Protestant missionaries set sail on the Thaddeus for Hawai‘i – Humehume was with the missionaries; they finally arrived in Kailua-Kona on April 4, 1820. Then missionaries Ruggles and Whitney took Humehume home to Kauai. “May 3. Made Atooi at day-light this morning. … When we arrived at the house, Tamoree (Kaumuali‘i) and his Queen were reclining on a sofa; as soon as George entered the door, his father arose, clasped him in his arms, and pressed his nose to his son’s, after the manner of the country; both were unable to speak for some time. The scene was truly affecting, and I know not when I have wept more freely.”

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Princes to America

Most are aware that Humehume, some of Kauai’s King Kaumuali‘i was sent to America, at least, in part, to receive a formal education. Kaumuali‘i suggested he be called George (after King George of England) when he went abroad – he was about six when he left. He was not the only early prince who was sent to America.

It appears Kamehameha also sent Liholiho – as noted by Hopu, “Captain Brintnall of New Haven, Connecticut, in the year 1807, touched and tarried sometime in Owhyhee, one of the Sandwich Islands. Kummahamaah, the principal King of the Sandwich Islands, proposed that one of his sons, a youth about 12 years of age, should accompany Captain Brintnall to America, to receive an education.” Lots later, other princes traveled for education. In 1885, brothers Kūhiō, Koa and Edward schooled at St Matthew’s Hall in San Mateo, California. (Even Princess Kaʻiulani was set to boarding school in England in 1889 at the age of 13.)

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The Russians are Coming

The 1700s and 1800s were a time of imperial expansion and colonial occupation for many European nations, including Russia.
At this time, Russian America was governed by Count Baranoff. When he laid down the management of the Russian American Company, the dominion of the Czar in North America was at its greatest breadth. Its outposts were from St. Michael to Ross in California; from Sitka to Attu Island. For nearly 30 years he had been extending the limits of the possessions of his Imperial Master (Andrews)

Hawai‘i’s Russian story starts when three-masted Bering (sometimes spelled Behring) wrecked on the shores of Kaua‘i’s Waimea Bay early on the morning of January 31, 1815. The Behring had a load of seal skins/otter pelts bound for the Russian-American Trading Company in Sitka, Alaska. The ship’s cargo and the sailors’ possessions were confiscated by Kaua‘i’s ruler, Kaumuali‘i.
The Russian-American Company (the owner of the ship and its cargo) sent Bavarian Georg Anton Schäffer to the Hawaiian Islands to retrieve the cargo or seek appropriate payment. He was later forced to leave the Islands.

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Bass Viol

King Kaumuali‘i sent his son Humehume (George Prince) to America to be educated. Humehume, and Thomas Hopu, William Kanui and John Honoliʻi were four Hawaiian students from the Foreign Mission School that came with the missionaries in 1820. Humehume learned how to play the bass viol – (The bass viol (sometimes called the ‘church bass’) is similar to the cello, and is played while seated with the stringed instrument is between the legs.)

“In these sacred songs, George P Kaumualii assisted both by his voice and the bass-viol. They appeared attractive to native ears, as well as to the naturalized foreigner, who had seen better days.” “The father of George, we are told by the missionaries, was much pleased with the return of his son, and said “he must know a great deal, in order to play so skilfully.”

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Humehume’s Rebellion

Kauai’s King Kaumuali‘i died on May 26, 1824; his son was Humehume. Kaumuali‘i had previously sent Humehume to the continent for a Western education; he returned to Kauai with the Pioneer Company of missionaries in 1820. With the passing of the king, the islands of Kauai and Ni‘ihau – including all lands, ships, fortifications, munitions, and property – would be transferred to the commander-in-chief Kalanimōku for him to administer until Liholiho returned from England. Tension mounted throughout the islands following Kaumuali‘i’s death. Kalanimōku sailed to Kauai to proclaim the will of the dead chief and settle government affairs and land disputes.

A general uneasiness spread among Kauai chiefs who feared the loss of their lands and positions of leadership as a result of Kaumuali‘i’s death. The island’s ali‘i split into two factions: those who supported the authority of Liholiho against those who supported the interests of the Kauai chiefs. Seeking control, Humehume summoned his men to a council of war. Sometime after midnight (August 8, 1824) the Kauai men entered the fort undetected. Then … disaster. The intruders were discovered. Humehume and his surviving warriors made a hasty retreat. Humehume was eventually captured and imprisoned. The closing year and a half of Humehume’s life were spent in Honolulu under the custody of Kalanimōku. A victim of influenza, Humehume died on May 3, 1826, six years to the day of his return to Waimea, Kauai.

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