Prince Kūhiō was born in Kōloa on the island of Kauai on March 26, 1871. His father, Kahalepouli, was a high chief and the son of Kaumualiʻi, the last King of Kauai; his mother was Princess Kinoiki Kekaulike, sister of Queen Kapiʻolani (wife of King Kalākaua.) He had two brothers, David Kawananakoa and Edward Keliʻiahonui.
Orphaned after his father died in 1880 and mother in 1884, Prince Kūhiō was adopted by King David Kalākaua’s wife, Queen Kapi‘olani, who was his maternal aunt.
His early education was at the Royal School and Punahou. He studied four years at St. Mathews College of California. Later, he was a student at the Royal Agricultural College in England, finishing his formal education in a business college there.
Upon the assumption of the Kalākaua dynasty to the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom, a proclamation ending the Kamehameha Dynasty also declared Kūhiō a royal prince. King David Kalākaua, also Kūhiō’s uncle, then appointed him to a seat in the royal Cabinet administering the Department of the Interior. (Prince Kuhio Hawaiian Civic Club)
The overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and establishment of the Republic of Hawaiʻi brought about abrupt changes. Kūhiō was then about 21 years of age.
Two-years later, there was a counter-revolution attempting to reinstate Liliʻuokalani as Queen. Prince Kūhiō took part in the revolution. He was arrested and sentenced to imprisonment for a year. While he was in prison he became engaged to Elizabeth Kahanu Kaʻauwai and, after his release, married her on October 8, 1896.
In 1900, Robert Wilcox (an Independent) defeated Republican Samuel Parker and Democrat Prince David Kawānanakoa (Kūhiō’s older brother) as Hawaiʻi’s first delegate to Congress Wilcox ran for re-election, but Prince Kūhiō (a Republican) defeated him and served as Hawaiʻi’s delegate from 1903 until his death in 1922.
“Prince Kalanianaʻole was a prince indeed – a prince of good fellows and a man among men; a man of sterling sincerity and strong convictions – he always stood for what he deemed right-yielding to no weakness, and manly always.” (Congressional Record, 1923) Prince Kūhiō restored the Royal Order of Kamehameha I and established the Hawaiian Civic Club.
The Order of Kamehameha I was established on April 11, 1865 by King Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuāiwa) to honor the legacy of his grandfather, the unifier of the islands, Kamehameha the Great. The Order was reorganized by Prince Kūhiō in 1902.
The Hawaiian Civic Clubs were organized in 1918 and were formed to provide scholarship aid for the education of Hawaiian students; preserve and promote the Hawaiian heritage, traditions, language and culture; improve the conditions of the Hawaiian people and community at large; and perpetuate the values that dignify all human life.
Kūhiō was often called Ke Ali‘i Maka‘āinana (Prince of the People) and is well known for his efforts to preserve and strengthen the Hawaiian people.
“A pure-blooded Hawaiian, a member of a diminishing race, it was natural and greatly to his credit that he devoted much serious thought and energy to their rehabilitation – it was a work of love on his part.”
“He saw the tendency of his people to flock to the larger cities where their life in crowded tenements, learning the vices of the white man, was leading to racial extinction, and he devoted himself to getting them back to the land.” (Congressional Record)
“His efforts in this line culminated in the passage in 1921 by this Congress of the Hawaiian Homes Commission act, a measure to provide homesteads for native Hawaiians for an indefinite term at a nominal rental and for government loans to the settlers.”
“The Prince was made one of the commissioners and took great interest in the practical carrying out of his dream.” (Congressional Record)
“Kuhio on February 11 introduced a resolution in congress providing for statehood for Hawaiʻi under qualifications to be fixed by congress, and giving Hawaii half of the federal revenues derived from here for territory’s public works for a period of 20 years.” (Maui News, February 28, 1919)
This first bill in Congress calling for Hawaiʻi statehood didn’t pass. (After several other related bills by others, Hawaiʻi achieved statehood on August 21, 1959.)
“Prince Kalanianaole was an unusual man. There was much of the magnetic about him. He possessed a kindliness and a courtliness that instinctively attracted people to him and made him a most welcome guest at every gathering.”
“While his was the philosophy of optimism and he always looked with confidence toward the future, still it seemed to me that there was ever present the element of pathos in his fine character.” (Congressional Record)
“At Pualeilanl through the night of vigil, while the Prince was sitting in his armchair, himself knowing that death could not long be barred from entrance to his chamber, he sat with his face toward the open door facing Kalākaua Avenue …”
“… his lessening vision drinking in deeply of the green verdure across the way in what was formerly the great acres of his aunt the Queen Dowager Kapiʻolani, in whose home he had spent so many happy days of his boyhood and young manhood.”
“Sitting by his side was Princess Kalanianaʻole. She held his hand closely. The Prince smiled often as his eyes met those of his sweetheart Princess and he appeared to be hoping that her last view of him would be a memory of him still smiling.” (Congressional Record, 1923)
Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole Piʻikoi died on January 7, 1922 of heart disease. He was given the last state funeral for an Ali‘i; he is buried at Mauna ‘Ala, the Royal Mausoleum.
The territorial Legislature passed a resolution in 1949, establishing March 26 as a territorial holiday in honor of Prince Kūhiō; Prince Kūhiō Day continues as an official holiday in the State of Hawaiʻi. It is celebrated annually on March 26, to mark the birth of Prince Kūhiō.
“I shall simply cite some historical facts to show how conclusively and for how long a time the strategic value of Pearl Harbor and the Hawaiian Islands has been officially recognized by the Government of the United States.”
“Beginning in 1842, President Tyler gave notice to European nations that the United States would never consent to their occupying the Hawaiian Islands.”
“In 1851, when the French were threatening to occupy Hawaii, Daniel Webster, then Secretary of State, wrote: ‘I hope the French will not take possession of Hawaii; but if they do, they will be dislodged, if my advice is taken, if the whole power of the Government is required to do it.’”
“William L. Marcy, when Secretary of State, reiterated the declaration that Hawaii would not be permitted to fall into the hands of any European nation. Up to that time there was no menace of Hawaiian occupation by any nation other than European.”
“Almost a third of a century ago, when King Kalakaua was the reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the United States, by reciprocity treaty, obtained rights over the waters of Pearl Harbor. This was the first step toward carrying out the policy announced by President Tyler thirty-five years previously.”
“Coming down to the days of Blaine and McKinley, we find those, statesmen repeating the declarations of their predecessors.”
“By the time that President McKinley reached the White House, it had become apparent that the danger of the occupation of Hawaii by a foreign power had been shifted from European nations to those of the Orient.”
“Finally, ten years ago, when the unexpected events of the Spanish-American war thrust a new situation upon this nation, it became apparent that it was necessary for the United States to acquire the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Islands, both for the protection of the Pacific coast and in order to make it possible to maintain any naval base in the Far East.”
“But although this Government annexed the Hawaiian Islands for the particular value of their strategic location, they have permitted almost ten years to pass without turning a sod or laying one foundation stone toward the actual construction of a naval station at Pearl Harbor.”
“It is true that a magnificent site of over 600 acres of ground has been acquired for this purpose.”
“The 10 square miles of landlocked waters in Pearl Harbor could easily accommodate the combined fleets of this nation and of Great Britain, but that can never give shelter to a battle ship till docks are built and the channel approach is straightened.”
“The importance of Pearl Harbor as a naval and military base has been repeatedly urged by men able and experienced in military and naval science; among them Captain (now Admiral) AT Mahan, who pointed out with unanswerable arguments the commanding importance of Pearl Harbor as the key to the Pacific.”
“Gentlemen of the committee, this Government has for ten years neglected the safeguard of preparing a naval base in the mid-Pacific.”
“Our relations with other nations are such to-day that it would be inexcusable neglect of the responsibility of Congress to the nation to postpone the beginning of this work another year.”
“The Navy Department and the General Board are at last keenly awake to the urgent need of opening Pearl Harbor and building a dry dock there at once. Both these lines of work should be carried on together, and both should be provided for in this bill.”
“I would respectfully suggest that your committee invite Admiral Dewey or some member of the Naval Board to appear before you and state to you personally in an executive session some of their reasons for the urgency of work at Pearl Harbor, which they may not care to transmit to you in writing.”
“The development of Pearl Harbor is not a Hawaiian proposition; it is a national need. But as my nation gave over its sovereignty to this country ten years ago, we have a right to ask, and we do ask that adequate protection be provided for our islands, so that we could not be captured by a single hostile battle ship as could be done to-day.”
“Coast fortifications alone are not sufficient; there must be an operating base for war vessels as well as coast defenses, and the latter are useless without the former.”
“Hawaii should be defended for its own protection; but I repeat that it is far more important for the offensive and defensive plans of the nation as a whole.” (Prince Kūhiō Statement, Committee on Naval Affairs, January 29, 1908)
On July 10, 1902, Prince Kūhiō left the Home Rule Party and, a few months later, on September 1, 1902, joined the Republican Party; he was nominated as their candidate for Congress and, on November 4, 1902, won the election to serve as Hawai‘i’s delegate to Congress.
“Prince Kūhiō, accompanied by a half dozen personal friends and the quartet club which sang Republican songs during the campaign just closed, left for Lihue, Kauai (November 14) in a special steamer.”
“They will return Sunday morning (November 16) and will at once proceed to Pearl Harbor where the Prince will sail his yacht Princess in the races on that day.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, November 15, 1902)
“Prince Kūhiō arrived at 4 o’clock Sunday morning from Kauai, and after breakfast and dressing at his home started for the harbor.”
“The two young men who make the crew were on hand when Prince Kūhiō and his friend Judge Mahaulu drove to the boathouse. There was little time lost in getting the boat away and with the Prince at the helm it stood out to sea.”
“The Princess is a staunch third-rater, and nothing less than a heavy blow makes the crew which sails the little craft think for a moment of reefing down or running for the harbor.”
“When the trip was arranged for yesterday morning there was nothing to suggest that there was any danger for such a boat and the four sailed out gaily as ever before they inaugurated as cruise.”
“The canvas was full and the crew was keeping a close watch for squalls as the wind was gusty and the prospect that there might be such a blow outside that some reefing would have to be done.”
“The little boat went off to the south east when approaching the outside reef, and was way between the spar buoy and the ball buoy when Prince Cupid saw a squall coming down upon them.”
“He ordered the main sheet slackened and was himself getting ready to bring the boat into the wind, when with lightning rapidity, before anything could be done to prevent it …”
“… the winds hit the little boat and over it went carrying every one of the men in the craft with it. Luckily the crew was in windward and all escaped being fouled in the lines as the boat went broadside into the sea.”
“They made themselves as secure as possible on the topside of the sailer’s hull and clung there while each wave broke over them and threatened to wash them away.”
“The minutes lengthened, and though their halloos might easily have been heard on the (nearby) battleship, the wind setting in that direction, there was no sign given that any one on board had seen the accident or noted the men struggling in the water.”
“For more than an hour … Prince Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole and the three companions with whom he started to make the sail from the harbor to Pearl River …”
“… battled for their lives in the waves which swept over their heads and threatened each moment to wash them from the hull of the overturned boat, to which they clung. They were without the bell buoy and within three quarters of a mile of the battleship Oregon.”
“It was left for some young men on the galleries of the Myrtle Boat house to see, without a glass, the accident and the position of the sailors, and to rush an order to Young Brothers to send their fastest launch to the rescue.”
“This order was given in such time that the schooner and attending launch were just passing Young’s island when the little boat went out to assist the castaways.”
“When the men were reached they were all in fair shape though they felt the effects of the battering of the waves and were considerably exhausted by the strain upon them.”
“They were taken into the launch and a line passed to the yacht and she was towed to her anchorage off the club house. Last evening all the members of the party were in the best of shape.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, November 17, 1902)
“The Delegate elect, Prince Kūhiō, came pretty close to a fatal accident yesterday. Apart from the of a brilliant young Hawaiian, a fatal accident to the Prince have necessitated a fresh election …”
“… and the Territory having passed through one election struggle is not prepared to start out for another. The Prince belongs to the people now and his life and breath are matters of public importance.” (Hawaiian Star, November 17, 1902)
This wasn’t the only rescue of the time by Young Brothers, less than 2-weeks before, “The small island schooner Kauikeaouli … was just putting to sea with a cargo of general merchandise which had been taken from the disabled schooner Concord, which had to return from sea a few days ago after springing a leak.”
“It seems that the schooner had a fair wind and sailed away from the wharf, but would not steer. Her skipper thought this was because of her foul bottom, but a moment later the vessel swung over against the bow of the Alameda and had a small hole punched in her by one of the steamer’s anchors which was hanging half out of the water.”
“One of Young Brothers’ launches got hold of the schooner and took her bark to the wharf, where carpenters found the damage, to be light and easily repaired It during the day.”
“The captain of the schooner says that he had a shipsmith repair his steering gear, and that the wheel was put on in such a way that It steered the vessel in just the opposite direction from what was intended.” (Hawaiian Gazette, November 7, 1902)
The image shows the Young Brothers’ boathouse (center – structure with open house for boats on its left (1910), on what is now about where Piers 1 and 2 are, in the background is what is now Kaka‘ako Makai).
Most are aware that Humehume, some of Kauai’s King Kaumuali‘i was sent to America, at least, in part, to receive a formal education. Kaumualii suggested he be called George (after King George of England) when he went abroad. (Warne)
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 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)
“We thank Providence that I have fallen into the hands of Christians. I hope it will be provided so that I can go back to my country and do good among the people.” (Tamoree (Humehume;) Stauder)
Humehume left the Islands as a young child and spent years around English speakers; he lost the knowledge of speaking Hawaiian.
With this interaction with the Hawaiians at the school, He began “learning the Owhyhee language. This friend that lives here with me is a great benefit to me, for he can learn me the Owhyhee language. I can learn him the English language.” (Tamoree (Humehume;) Stauder)
Three years later, on October 23, 1819, the Thaddeus carried the Pioneer Company of American Protestant missionaries to Hawai‘i. There were seven American couples sent by the ABCFM to convert the Hawaiians to Christianity in this first company. With them were four Hawaiian, including Humehume. 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)
On May 3, 1820, Humehume returned to Kauai and was reunited with his father after many years apart. “At 11 o’clock came to anchor at Wimai 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, and then without saying a word, turned round and 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. … 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 on his son’s after the manner of the country; both were unable to speak for some time.”
“The scene was truly affecting, and I know not when I have wept more freely. When they had become a little more composed, Tamoree spoke and said his heart was so joyful that he could not talk much till to-morrow …” (Ruggles Journal)
He was not the only early prince who was sent to America. It appears Kamehameha also sent Liholiho – although his travels were not as extensive or as long as Humehume’s.
We learn of Liholiho’s travels through references by and about Ōpukahaia and Hopu. As noted by Hopu, “Captain Brintnall of New Haven, Connecticut, in the year 1807, touched and tarried sometime in Owhyhee, one of the Sandwich Islands.”
“Kummahamaah, the principal King of the Sandwich Islands, proposed that one of his sons, a youth about 12 years of age, should accompany Captain Brintnall to America, to receive an education.”
Liholiho was born in about 1797 in Hilo; so, in 1807, Hopu’s estimated age of Kamehameha’s son corresponds with the approximate age of Liholiho at the time.
Hopu further notes, “Two of us, Obookiah and myself, were selected to be the attendants of the young prince: and both of us were immediately received on board the ship. I, as a cabin boy, and Obookiah as a sailor.”
“Then Captain Brintnall made a voyage to the northwest coast of America, to take their seal skins, before he came to Owhyhee, and returned to the Sandwich Islands.”
“In our absence to the northwest coast of America, the King had changed his mind, because he feared that some evil would befall the prince, and he would never return to his father again: So that he stayed in Oahhoo, one of the Sandwich Islands.”
“Both of us, however, who were to have been the attendants of the young prince, having our expectations excited, and having a strong curiosity to see America, we both of us continued in the ship, expecting to return to our native island, by the first favorable opportunity, after gratifying our curiosity of seeing America.” (Hopu)
‘Ōpūkaha’ia does not go into as much detail about Liholiho, but he notes that after leaving the Islands, “We set out on our Journey towards the Seal Islands, on the NW part of America.”
“We continued on these islands during six months, then took our course towards Owhyhee. Two of my countrymen were with me in the ship. One of them concluded to stay at Owhyhee, and the other to proceed on the voyage.” (‘Ōpūkaha’ia)
Lots later, other princes traveled for education. In 1885, brothers Kūhiō, Koa and Edward schooled at St Matthew’s Hall in San Mateo, California. (Even Princess Kaʻiulani was sent to boarding school in England in 1889 at the age of 13.)