Anthony Lee Ahlo was born in 1876, in Honolulu (he was “Pake hapa-Hawaiʻi.”) His father Lee Ahlo (April 23, 1841- July 3, 1906) was born in Chong Lok near Canton, China, and came to Hawaiʻi in 1865.
His mother Lahela Kauhi Kehuokalani (April 22, 1852 – December 16, 1911) is reported to be a descendent of Kamehameha. (Anthony is also identified as Li Fang Ahlo and Lee Fong Ahlo, at various places and times.)
His father worked for seven years as a cook for Mr Lewers of Lewers & Cooke. He and Lahela were married June 22, 1872. In 1873, he started a small grocery at the corner of Maunakea and King Streets, in 1876 it moved to corner of Nuʻuanu and Chaplain Lane; he later expanded into rice planting/processing and general merchandising. (Krauss)
“(The mill) belonged to a man by the name of Lee Ahlo … (it) was near the Waikalua River, and there was a ditch and flume higher up the river that brought water from the river to the rice mill to make the water wheel go around, and that is where the rice mill got its power to clean the rice. The mill hulled the rice and it came out white. When it was still in the hull we called it paddy rice.”
“The river was near the rice mill and sometimes ulua and other large fish came up the river, following the water at high tide. They came into the ditches leading into the rice fields. Workmen netted them.” (Ching, History of Kāneʻohe)
His father died a very prominent merchant and had many friends. His estate was valued at $50,000 (about $1,500,000, today;) the inventory list includes $17,500 real property in Honolulu, $17,500 in Kāneʻohe, $3,000 in Waialua, $2,000 in personal property in Honolulu and $10,000 in Kāneʻohe. (Krauss)
Anthony Lee Ahlo graduated from Oʻahu College (Punahou) in 1897. He then was admitted at Trinity Hall, Cambridge University in 1898 and earned his BA in 1901 and MA 1911.
In 1901, Anthony married Gladys Fitzgerald. A reception, with over five hundred guests, being all the prominent society people of the city, was given by Mr. and Mrs. Lee Ahlo, in honor of their son and his young English wife, at their magnificent new residence off Liliha street, it “was a most brilliant and delightful affair.” (Honolulu Republican, October 20, 1901) Young Ahlo and his bride moved to Shanghai, China.
An article in the Maui news noted, “The Chinese government by imperial edict has requested Chinese residing in foreign countries to interest themselves in the matter of developing the mineral resources of China, and has pledged itself to grant the necessary rights, privileges and protection to those who desire to invest.”
It further noted, “China Waking Up. Mr. Anthony L Ahlo, an intelligent young Chinese, and by the way, a graduate of Cambridge, England is on Maui this week, and while here, is submitting an Investment for the purpose of developing the vast coal, copper and tin mines of the Chong Lock District in the province of Kwangtung (his father’s home town”.)
“Mr. Ahlo will proceed to China and secure the desired concessions. There is no question but what Chong Lock is a rich mineral district, and with the energy, ability and integrity of Mr. Ahlo back of the enterprise, there is no question but what the enterprise will prove successful and lay the foundation for vast fortunes for its promoters.” (Maui News, June 20, 1903)
Anthony was well-connected with the revolutionary movement that was underway in China. From 1894 to 1911, Sun Yat Sen traveled around the globe advocating revolution and soliciting funds for the cause. At first, he concentrated on China, but his continued need for money forced him elsewhere. Southeast Asia, Japan, Hawaii, Canada, the United States, and Europe all became familiar during his endless quest. (Damon)
However, movement by Chinese to and through the US was restricted. Sun needed a certificate to enter the United States at a time when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 would have otherwise blocked him. Although born in China, to allow movement through the States, Sun sought a birth certificate from Hawaiʻi.
Ahlo provided sworn testimony supporting Sun Yat Sen’s ʻEwa birthplace (signed by A. Ahlo on March 22, 1904.) In part, he swore, “I have lived in Hawaii for 41 years. Have known Dr Sen a Chinese person, and knew his parents – since about 1870. I owned a rice plantation at Waipahu at that time and went there after to give it my attention. The father and mother of Dr Sen lived at Wamano and I often stopped at their house – sometimes overnight.”
On March 14, 1904, while residing in Kula, Maui, Sun Yat-sen obtained a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth, issued by the Territory of Hawaiʻi, stating that “he was born in the Hawaiian Islands on the 24th day of November, A.D. 1870.”
A May 26, 1908 article in the Chinese Public Opinion, an English paper of Peking, noted, “We are pleased to note the appointment of Mr. AL Ahlo to a position as justice in the Supreme Court in Peking. This gentleman is one of the new generation and was educated at the University of Cambridge, England where he passed his degree with honors.”
“He has been for some time acting as legal adviser to the High Court of Justice and has been doing good work in this department. It is a noteworthy fact that he is the returned student who has been appointed to a position of any importance in the Judiciary of China.” (Hawaiian Gazette, June 26, 1908)
In a speech he noted, “The world has become accustomed to seeing China plodding contentedly in rough conservatism and has not noted the size of reawakened China. Everywhere in the empire there are abundant evidences of material progress, and educational, industrial and scientific institutions tell the tale of life and activity.”
“The old-time superstitions and customs which stood in the path of its development are now being rudely brushed aside, and today behold China, a nation throbbing with the thrill of a new era, an era of advancement in the cause of humanity!” (Congress of American Prison Association, 1910)
The revolutionary movement in China grew stronger and stronger. Revolution members staged many armed uprisings, culminating in the October 10, 1911 Wuhan (Wuchang) Uprising which succeeded in overthrowing the Manchu dynasty and established the Republic of China.
That date is now celebrated annually as the Republic of China’s national day, also known as the “Double Ten Day”. On December 29, 1911, Sun Yat-Sen was elected president and on January 1, 1912, he was officially inaugurated. After Sun’s death in March 1925, Chiang Kai-shek became the leader of the Kuomintang (KMT.)
The Republic of China governed mainland China; during the Chinese Civil War, the communists captured Beijing and later Nanjing. The communist party led People’s Republic of China was proclaimed on October 1, 1949.
Ahlo’s provided further support and participation in the new China did not end there. Ahlo drafted the constitution of the Chinese republic which was submitted to the national assembly. It follows partially the federal law of America and part of that of France. It provides for a national assembly to consist of two houses, called the council of the people and the council of the provinces. (San Francisco Call, May 19, 1912)
In the early-1920s he was Chinese consul in Samoa and then Borneo, before being a secretary of foreign affairs at Peking, and then subsequently an assistant commissioner of foreign affairs in Canton.
“Dr. Ahlo’s 12-months sojourn in Samoa has enabled him to study the Pacific. He sees it as the meeting ground of England, Japan, and America, all striving to gain supremacy.”
“The enormous trade possibilities of this romantic region, with peoples of diverse races, numbering 800,000,000, waiting to be exploited as factors in trade and ideas, call the colonizers and traders of the Great Powers, and right through the Pacific the fight for this supremacy is going quietly on.”
“Tariffs and other things are playing their part, but the suspicions and antagonisms engendered by this competition are reflected in the naval importance given to the Pacific. It is now talked of as the scene of the next great war.”
“’The spending of millions on armaments will inevitably result in bankruptcy,’ said the doctor, and, on account of the enormous cost.” (The Advocate, Tasmania, August 4, 1921) The image shows Lee Fong Aholo.