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 Laʻanui writes to Mr. and Mrs. Ruggles regarding cloth, expressing his affection to people there, and promoting faith in God.
The letter is addressed to Keiki. This is a name of endearment for Mr. Samuel Ruggles who arrived with the first company of missionaries.
Gideon Peleiōhōlani Laʻanui born in 1797, was a native of Waimea, Hawaiʻi who was partly raised in the court of Kamehameha I, and married Nāmāhana, a sister of Kaʻahumanu. After the arrival of the missionaries, he was an early convert and became an active member of the church, living in Waialua.
“May 29, 1827 Oahu”
“Greetings to you, Mr. and Mrs. Ruggles, and to all your retainers, as well as Kamahiainui and Haole.”
“Great affection to you all; may we all be saved through Jesus.”
“Here is my little message to you, Ruggles. Deliver my cloth. If it is with Maalo, then Kamahiainui should go get it, and once you see it, send it on one of your people’s ships, then document that and give it to Mr. Chamberlain.”
“Finished, that is all.”
“Relay my affectionate thoughts to the faithful men there and the faithful women there.”
“Let us all love God with great joy and with fear of God in our hearts for our many wrongdoings. That is my short message for you to tell them. It is done.”
“By Gideon Laanui”
Here’s a link to the original letter, its transcription, translation and annotation (scroll down):
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).