Today’s ‘Timeline Tuesday’ takes us through the 1880s – Kalākaua goes on his world tour, Matson acquires his first vessel, Pauahi dies, Bayonet Constitution and Pearl Harbor is leased by US Navy. We look at what was happening in Hawai‘i during this time period and what else was happening around the rest of the world.
By 1866, the need for a new courthouse government building was apparent. The old courthouse, completed in 1852, accommodated not only the judicial needs of the young nation, but also served as the reception hall for diplomatic ceremonies and official social functions. The legislature appropriated funds towards a new palace and a new government building. Delays ensued. Kamehameha V envisioned a civic center around the palace, and plans were made to purchase the Mililani premises on King Street.
“It is the intention of this Govt to build a new Royal Palace here”. The cornerstone was laid on February 19, 1872. Kamehameha V never saw the completion of the Government Building; nor did they build his new Palace. The Government Building officially opened by the Legislature on April 30, 1874. “‘Ali‘iolani House’ is the name by which the new Government house is to be hereafter known, by command of His Majesty (Kalākaua.)” The building is known as Ali‘iolani Hale; it is the former seat of government of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and the Republic of Hawaiʻi and now houses the Hawai‘i Supreme Court and Judiciary History Center of Hawai‘i.
On the January 20, 1881, King Kalākaua set out upon a tour around the world. After the king’s return he proposed a ten million dollar loan, chiefly for military purposes but (it was) met with no encouragement. He then published a pamphlet entitled ‘A Third Warning Voice,’ in which he urged the establishment of a large standing army. “The gist of the argument is that the Legislature should provide for an army of 521-men and ten staff officers, at a cost of $345,541. The salaries of the staff officers are to amount to $45,680.”
“We have been a warlike race for generations to generations back, and for nearly half a century we have enjoyed the blessings of peace and the imagination of our permanent security … there has been a clash of sentiments caused by divergent interest that the nation is at every moment to political strife, and the loss of its autonomy and independence.” “I will conclude by adding, that it is only in the Military profession and occupation that the life of the nation, of the dying Hawaiian and Aboriginal race can have hope for its continuance, perpetuation and maintenance.” (Robert H Baker)
Thomas and Jane (Wilson) Wright were from Durham, England. The parents never left England, some of the siblings moved to New Zealand and then to Honolulu. The elder Wright was a blacksmith, a trade followed for more than 150 years by members of the family. In the early 1880s, at least three of the boys (Thomas, William Wilson and Henry) came to the Islands. It was a time when folks rode horseback or were carried in a horse or mule drawn carriage, trolley or omnibus (the automobile didn’t make it to the Islands until 1890.)
Until the mid-1800s, to get around people walked, or rode horses or used personal carts/buggies. It wasn’t until 1868, that horse-drawn carts became the first public transit service. In 1888, the animal-powered tramcar service of Hawaiian Tramways ran track from downtown to Waikīkī. Wright brothers set up respective carriage and blacksmithing facilities in Honolulu – a son of William Wilson, George Frederick Wright, became the fifth person to serve as Mayor of Honolulu. (Mayor Wright Housing in Kalihi was named after him.)
King Kalākaua was the first ruling Monarch to tour of the world; in doing so, he made good on his motto, and motivation, proclaimed at his accession, ‘Hoʻoulu Lahui!’- (Increase the Nation!) In Japan, “On the day following their arrival, the royal party were escorted to the Imperial Theatre, Shintomiza. Twenty-eight carriages were required to take the train of Imperial Princes and Princesses, and high dignitaries, who formed the escort of His Majesty the King.”
“One thousand globe shaped lanterns were displayed in front of and around the theatre; and each one had the Imperial Japanese flag, and the Royal Hawaiian standard painted on them.” Following his trip, “King Kalākaua gave a grand ball at the royal palace Ball (in honor of the Prince and Princess Henri de Bourbon of Austria) …. The palace was beautifully decorated with festoons of Chinese lanterns, so thickly that it appeared to be almost covered with them.”