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, Kalama writes to Mr. and Mrs. Cooke apologizing about a wrong that she has done in the past. Hakaleleponi Kapākūhaili Kalama was Kamehameha III’s wife.
Amos Starr Cooke and wife were members of the eighth company of missionaries, and were selected as the teachers of the Chiefs’ Children’s School in Honolulu.
In part, the letter notes:
“September 1, 1847”
“Greetings to you both, Mr. and Mrs. Cooke,”
“I am expressing my thoughts to the two of you about my seeing your invitation in the letter to the king on the 30th of this past August, to go to Loeau’s wedding tomorrow evening, and I was also invited by the letter to go as well.”
“It seems wrong to me that I go, for I have wronged you both and everyone there. Therefore, I am apologizing before the Lord for my wrongdoing towards him.”
“As for your inviting me to attend as well, I, the wrongdoer, shall oblige, and may you both forgive me for my wrong, as my apologies are sincere.”
“Yours truly, with gratitude Hazeleleponi”
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).
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