King Kaumuali‘i of Kauai decided to send his son Humehume (George Prince) to America, at least, in part, to receive a formal education. Kaumuali‘i provided Captain Rowan of the Hazard with, reportedly, about $7,000 to $8,000, an amount the king felt sufficient to cover the cost of his son’s passage and the expenses of his 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. Over the next few years he made his way to Worcester, Massachusetts.
Humehume eventually enlisted in the US Navy and was wounded during the War of 1812. After the war ended, he was again thrown upon the world and without any means of obtaining a livelihood, or any one to care for him, ragged, dirty, and in want, he was again enlisted, and employed as a servant to the purser of the Navy Yard in Charlestown.
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. (Warne)
On October 23, 1819, the Pioneer Company of the American Protestant missionaries set sail on the Thaddeus for Hawai‘i – (two Ordained Preachers, Hiram & Sybil Bingham and Asa and Lucy Thurston; two Teachers, Samuel & Mercy Whitney and Samuel & Mary Ruggles; a Doctor, Thomas & Lucia Holman; a Printer, Elisha & Maria Loomis; and a Farmer, Daniel Chamberlain (and his family.)
With the missionaries were four Hawaiian students from the Foreign Mission School, Thomas Hopu, William Kanui, John Honoliʻi and Humehume (son of Kauaʻi’s King Kaumuali‘i.) They arrived in Kailua-Kona on April 4, 1820.
After the Thaddeus departed, George remained in Kailua-Kona and took Betty Davis, the half-Hawaiian daughter of Isaac Davis, as his wife, or his “rib” as he described her. In a short time they rejoined the missionary party in Honolulu. (Spoehr)
Ruggles and Whitney take Humehume home to Kauai.
May 2, 1820 – The Thaddeus left the harbor, to touch at Atooi and proceed to the N.W. coast. Agreeably to our united views and the wishes of G.P.T., brothers Whitney and Ruggles sailed with him to introduce him and our business to his father, to interest the chiefs in our object, to survey the island of Atooi, and to return the first favorable opportunity. We made out a considerable present for George, of a variety of useful articles, besides the Bass viol which he took with him, for which he appeared grateful. He expressed a sense of obligation, and a desire to make some return for the kindness he had received. With tears he took an affectionate leave of us, being commended to the grace of an unchangable merciful God. May that grace make him a comfort to his father, a blessing to his country, an honor to his benefactors and an heir of final glory. And may the gracious blessing of him who sent out his disciples two and two rest on these our two brethren, and crown this important enterprize with such success as shall best promote his glory. (Thaddeus Journal)
(T)he brethren resolved, that as the Thaddeus was about to land George Tamoree at his native island, it would be useful for Messrs. Whitney and Ruggles to accompany him thither, with a view to make known to the king and people of Atooi the designs of the missionaries, and to explore that field of labor. Accordingly they sailed from Woahoo on the 2nd. of May, the property belonging to the mission having been first landed, and the various members of the family having obtained houses for their temporary residence. George was received by his father with the utmost joy and tenderness. King Tamoree had believed, for a considerable number of years, that his son was dead, notwithstanding he had received from sea-captains many assurances to the contrary. The strong affection which the return of a long-lost son would excite, may easily be conceived. The father was highly gratified, also, with the attainments, which George had made in useful knowledge, during his residence among a civilized people. These circumstances appeared very favor able to the introduction of missionaries into Atooi. Of this the king was very desirous, and earnestly intreated Messrs. Whitney and Ruggles to settle there; offering to support them entirely at his own expense, and as many others as would join them in their benevolent labors. He appeared very anxious to learn many of the principal facts, which relate to the history of the world, and the introduction of Christianity; and to wish that knowledge might be communicated to his subjects. Beside missionaries and school masters he wished to obtain several mechanics and a farmer, who might set an example of useful labor, and thus teach others. (12th Annual Meeting Report of the ABCFM, 1821)
Today brother Whitney and I have been called to leave our dear little number at Woahoo (Oahu) to accompany George P. Tamoree to his native Isle and to the bosom of his Father. It was to us trying to part from our dear brethren and sisters, and especially from the- dear companions of our bosom, not knowing when an opportunity would offer for us to return, as vessels rarly sail from Attooi (Kauai); to the windward Isles. But if duty has called, us to the separation, we trust that a gracious God will in his own time return us again to the embraces of our friends and permit us to rejoice together in his goodness. 0 that the Lord will go with us and be our preserver from sin and temptation, and our guide and director in all duty. If we are blessed as instruments of preparing the way for the introduction of the Gospel on that Island, we shall be compensated for all our trial & privation. We have a fine breeze which we expect will take us to Attooi (Kauai) in. 24 hours. – (Samuel Ruggles)
May 2. I have just taken leave of Mr. W who has embarked for Atooi to accompany George P Tamaree to the bosom of his friends. It is uncertain when he will return, as he knows of no conveyance back. It was the expectation of American friends, and the united opinion of the brethren, that George should not return alone to was father; accordingly brother R (Samuel Ruggles) and Mr. W (Whitney) were selected to go with him. Their chief and great object is to explore the island. May god bless them and much make them instruments of good to its wretched inhabitants. (Mercy Partridge Whitney Journal)
May 3, 1820
May. 3 – By one of the Kings schooners, Joseph Banks, Master, an intelligent young native who speaks English and is very friendly, we received a letter from Brother Thurston, informing us that the king had given them the use of a large cooking stove and furnished them with a comfortable supply of fresh provisions; that he had learned to read in words of two syllables; that he and Adams, and the chief women were much pleased, friendly and desirous to learn; that Dr. Holman has considerable to do as a physician in healing the sick … and that he is quite successful; and that Tamooi resides with the king and confines his attention to the instruction of the Regal family; that they were invited on the first day of the feast to dine at the King’s table spread under the shade of green trees; that on both days of the feast Reehoreeho behaved himself with great propriety and did not drink to his injury; that many thousand people collected at the time shouted and sung the great and good deeds performed by the late Ring and expected from his son and successor. Brother T. states also that ‘people come from all parts of Owhyhee to see us. Our house has been surrounded every day by 40 or 50 natives, men, women and children.’ Mrs. Thurston writes, ‘On these heathen shores, even during the great feast days, I have felt as safe as if I had been in any native land; – the natives appear inoffensive and friendly and as far as has fallen under my observation have uniformly conducted themselves with propriety.’ Thus flattering indeed are our prospects but He who loves to try his people knows what unexpected clouds may darken our way, and what thorns may yet infest our path. (Thaddeus Journal)
3rd. Made Attooi at daylight this morning. Like all the other Islands its first appearance was rude and. mountainous, but on approaching nearer, beautiful plains and fruitful vallies presented themselves to view, looking almost like the cultivated fields of America, while large groves of cocoanuts and bananas waved their tops as if to welcome us to their shores. Thought I while passing these pleasant fields, can this be one of the dark places of the earth which is filled with the habitation of cruelty? Has the sun of righteousness never yet shone upon it? Is it a fact that the immortal beings are shrouded in midnight darkness, without one minister of Christ to direct them to the city of refuge, the place of rest and glory? Alas, they are heathens.
Their mean and scanty dwellings and the appearance, of men, women, and children coming off to us naked, plainly bespeak that they are yet savages, ignorant of God and unacquainted with the precepts of the gospel. They have indeed thrown away their idols as worthless things unable to save them, but they have not heard of Jesus, no Christian has yet said to them, there is a God in heaven who made them and the world, nor pointed them to the Saviour, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. 0 thou God of nations, herd make Thyself known; here plant Thy cross, and possess this land.
At 11 o’clock came to anchor at Wimai (Waimea), opposite the fort. A canoe came off to us with several of the King’s men, one of whom could speak English. George had. kept himself concealed in the cabin until we told, him that one of his father’s favorite men was on board, and we thought best that his arrival should be made known to him. We then introduced him to the young prince; He embraced him and kissed him without saying a word and turned around, immediately went on deck, and into his canoe telling his companions, they must go on shore, for their young master had come. A salute of 21 guns was soon fired from the brig and returned from the fort.
Brother W., George, and myself, made preparations and came on shore on account of the surf. We were obliged to land, half a mile west of the King’s house. We were there met by a crowd of natives who would have obstructed our way entirely, had there not been men appointed to clear a passage for us, which they did by beating them off with clubs. When we arrived at the house, Tamoree 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. I know not when I have wept more freely.
When they had become a little composed, Tamoree spoke and said his heart was so joyful that he could not talk much till to-morrow, but discovering brother W. and myself, who had till then remained, unnoticed, he enquired who we were. George then introduced us to him as his friends who had come from America to accompany him home. The old gentleman then embraces us in the same manner as he had done his son, frequently putting his nose to ours and calling us his hicahne (aikane) or friends.
A supper was soon provided for us consisting of a couple of hogs baked, whole after the American manner, several fowls and a dog cooked after the style of the Island, together with potatoes, tarro, bananas, cocoanuts, and watermelons, brandy, gin, wines, &c. The table was set in good style; our supper was indeed excellent. A new house was assigned for brother W. and myself during our stay on the Island, a few rods from the King’s and several men to attend upon us. We shall now retire to rest after Rooking up to God with thanksgiving for mercies already received and humbly praying that a blessing may attend our visit to these heathens. Perhaps it will be the first Christian prayer that was ever offered to God on this Island. (Samuel Ruggles)
May 3, Yesterday brethren R and myself left Oʻahu in the brig Thaddeus to accompany George, Tamoree to his father king of Atooi. At 12 o’clock today we anchored in the Whyma-ah bay opposite the king’s house. It appeared that one of our signals, with which they were unacquainted had excited some alarm, four of the king’s men were sent off to enquire and the object of our ceremony.
One of those who could speak a little English was introduced to George; immediately they all jumped into the canoe and paddle off in the utmost hast saying we must go and tell his father. A salute of twenty one guns was fired from brig and answered by as many from the fort. Soon after Capt brother R & myself a company George to his father’s house.
The king and queen were sitting on a sofa by the door, surrounded by a large company of the principal man. The introduction was truly affecting. With an anxious heart and trembling arms the aged father rose to embrace his long lost son. Both were too much affected to speak. Silence for a few moments persuaded the whole, whilst the tears trickling down their sable cheeks spoke the feelings of nature.
After the agitation had a little subsided we were introduced to Tameree, as persons who had left our native country and had come to reside at the Islands for the purpose of instructing the natives. He then joined noses with us (the fashion of the country) and said it is good. I am glad to see you. A table was soon set in very grand stile and we were invited to sit down to dinner. In the eve a house was prepared for brethren R and myself, and we retired much pleasure with this present of usefulness. … the subject of having his people taught the word of God – come and live with us, says he, and I will build you a large church. My subjects shall keep the Sabbath, and we will learn to pray and saying to God. (Samuel Whitney Journal)
“May 4. This morning early, I went to the king’s house, and was met at the door by himself and the queen, who took me by each arm, led me in and seated me between them upon the sofa; and after having several times put their noses, to mine, the king inquired if it was true that I had lived with Hoomehoome (the real name of George) in America …”
“… and eat with him, and slept with him, saying his son had told him many things that he could not fully understand, and that I had been his friend a long time, and would stay here and instruct his people to read. “
“told him it was true, and that the good people of America who loved his son, and loved him and his people, had sent several men and women to instruct his people to read and work as they do in America.”
“When I told him this, he, with his wife, broke out in one voice, ‘miti, miti, nove loah aloha America;’ that is, ‘good, good, very great love for America;’ and then burst into tears. After a short time, he asked me how long I would be willing to stay and teach his island.”
“I told him I wished to spend my life here, and die here. He then embraced me again, and said, ‘kacke vo’u oe, mahkooah oe o-ou wihena o ou mahkooah oe,’ that is, ‘you my son, I you father, my wife you mother.’ I endeavoured to tell him something about God, but the subject was entirely new to him, and he could understand but little.”
“10th. This morning Tamoree sent for me — said his interpreter was going away to be gone several days, and he wished to say a few things to me before he went.”
“I want to know, says he, if you love Hoomehoome, if you love me, if you like to stay here and learn my people, I assured him that I loved his son and him and I wished to spend my life in doing them good, and not only I but Mr. Whitney, and all who came with us wished the same.”
“Hoomehoome tell me so, says he; he then shed tears freely and said, I love Hoomehoome; I love him very much more than my other children. I thought he was dead; I cry many times because I think he was dead.”
“Some Captains tell me he live in America, but I not believe; I say no, he dead, he no come back. But he live, he come again; my heart very glad. I want my son to help me; he speaks English, and can do my business.”
“But he is young; young men are sometimes wild they want advice. I want you stay here and help Hoomehoome, and when vessels come, you and Hoomehoome go on board and trade, so I make you chief.”
“I told him I wished not to be a chief, neither could I do any of his public business, but was willing to advise his son and assist him in every thing consistent with the object for which we came to his Island. He expressed some surprise when I told him I wished not to be a chief, but when I explained to him what we wished to do ; he appeared satisfied and pleased.”
“This afternoon the king sent to me and requested that I would come and read to him in his bible. I read the first chapter of Genesis and explained to him what I read as well as I could.”
“He listened with strict attention, frequently asking pertinent questions, and said I can’t understand it all; I want to know it ; you must learn my language fast, and then tell me all – No white man before, ever read to me and talk like you.” (Ruggles Journal)
Kapule, King Kaumuali‘i’s wife, dictated a letter to Nancy Ruggles’ mother – it was written down verbatim, and copied by herself in a plain legible manner.
“Dear Friend, Atooi, July 28, 1820”
“I am glad your daughter come here, I shall be her mother now, and she be my daughter. I be good to her; give her tappa; give her mat; give her plenty eat.”
“By and by your daughter speak Owhyhee; then she learn me how to read, and write, and sew; and talk of that Great Akooah, which the good people in America love.”
“I begin spell little: read come very hard, like stone. You very good, send your daughter great way to teach the heathen. I am very glad I can write you a short letter, and tell you that I be good to your daughter.”
“I send you my aloha, and tell you I am Your Friend, Charlotte Tapoolee, Queen of Atooi”