George Washington Pilipo was born February 22, 1828 in Holualoa North Kona on the Island of Hawaiʻi, one of eleven children (only two of whom however lived to majority.)
He attended the District School for several years, and in 1852 went to the Hilo Boarding School where he remained only a few months, entering Lahaina Seminary in 1853.
“He took the full course there graduating in 1857 with honor having won the affection and respect of both teachers and fellow pupils.” (Hawaiian Gazette, March 29, 1887)
Returning to Kona he opened an independent school which was maintained for a number of years. During this time however he acted as the efficient assistant pastor in the Kailua church of Reverend Asa Thurston.
In 1864, at the Evangelical Association for Hawaiʻi Island meeting in Waimea, Pilipo received his license. The next year he was ordained a minister.
“He was installed at Kailua over the old church where Father Thurston had labored from the landing of the missionaries in 1820 … Here Pilipo labored and preached acceptably and honored by all for six years, until he was called to, and accepted, the pastorate of Kaumakapili in Honolulu.” (Paris)
“(V)ery few know of the actual facts connected with the financial transactions there which left a stain upon his good name, fewer still are aware of his honorable attempt to make good any loss suffered through him. It is a fact however that he settled the whole matter with the church borne years ago. (Hawaiian Gazette, March 29, 1887)
“(H)e was unfortunate in entrusting church funds to persons who were unreliable. I believe he meant to be honest and has been greatly slandered.”
“He was noble and independent, a true Patriot and Christian … a fearless champion for temperance and unmoved by the threats, bribes or flattery of the Roman and Anglican churches, both of which sought to win him over to their faiths.” (Paris)
“Mr Pilipo’s reputation however rests mostly upon his political career. He was early elected a member of the Legislative Assembly and served continuously and with honor for sixteen years. He was a powerful and effective speaker.”
“Among a nation of born orators he excelled. He rarely failed to carry the hearts as well as the heads of his audiences in his utterances. From the first he has stood consistently on the side of what he considered Hawaiʻi’s best good.”
“He earned for himself the name of The Lion of North Kona.” (Hawaiian Gazette, March 29, 1887)
“He was the persistent foe of corruption and peculation in office. His voice was ever raised against measures calculated to injure Hawaii. His clear sight of the true character of measures proposed arrayed him against them whenever in his judgment they would tend to injure the people as a nation.”
On February 12, 1874, nine days after the death of King Lunalilo, an election was held between the repeat candidate David Kalākaua and Queen Emma, widow of King Kamehameha IV. Pilipo supported Emma – she lost.
However, in the legislature, “the last of the Emmaites” were reelected, including Pilipo (as well as Joseph Nawahi from Hilo and J Kauai from Kauai.) (Kanahele)
On July 11, 1882, a bill before the legislature called for conveyance of Crown Lands to Claus Spreckels in satisfaction of claims he may have. Pilipo declared that this was a “step toward destroying the independence” of Hawaiʻi. (Hawkins)
Pilipo opposed the bill and in a speech in the legislature he said, (1) “this is not a matter that will please the Hawaiian People,” (2) this issue “really has no business before this Assembly … (and) should be considered in the courts’ and …”
(3) “I think that taking crown lands away from the crown and giving them to another person is a step in destroying the independence of the country.” (The bill was later approved and signed into law by Kalakaua.) (Van Dyke)
King Kalakaua became so incensed by Pilipo’s critique of his government’s dealings with Spreckels that he personally intervened in the 1886 general election campaign to ensure that Pilipo was not reelected.
Kalakaua “received hundreds of cases of cheap gin, which he sent to every voting precinct to secure the election of his candidates to the Legislature. He went personally to one country district, with a company of soldiers (to campaign against) Kalakaua’s staunchest opponent in the Legislature.” (William Brewster Oleson; Congressional Record)
“In order to prevent Pilipo’s election, the King proceeded to his district of North Kona (and) took an active part in the canvass …. The King’s interference with the election nearly provoked a riot, which was averted by Pilipo’s strenuous exertions.” (US State Department)
“(Kalakaua) stationed soldiers with side arms in double rows at polling places, thus intimidating voters and pushing men out of line who were suspected of opposition to his schemes, thus forcibly preventing their voting.” (William Brewster Oleson; Congressional Record)
Pilipo was defeated by JK Nahale by 19-votes; Pilipo died March 25, 1887. (Hawkins) The image shows George Washington Pilipo.