The older was born February 25, 1821 in Sandy Hill, New York (In 1910, the village’s name was changed to Hudson Falls.) Stone quarried from there was used to construct the Brooklyn Bridge (1883.)
The younger was born January 25, 1822 in Glens Falls, New York, about 3-miles away; his father was a toll collector who worked on a toll booth in the middle of the Hudson River. Glens Falls was later known as “Hometown USA,” a title given to it by Look Magazine in 1944.
Shortly after his brother was born (1824,) the younger’s mother becomes ill and died a few weeks later. Her older sister, Lucy, takes the two-year old to Fort Ann, New York to live with her awhile. Aunt Lucy keeps him for a few years, then sends him to live with his paternal grandfather, Jesse. (KSBE)
The younger didn’t have much schooling, attending Glens Falls Academy for 7th and 8th grades, his only years of formal schooling. After leaving school, he was a clerk for Nelson J Warren, the largest business in Warrensburgh, New York. He learns bartering, bookkeeping, taking inventory, maintenance and janitorial duties.
The older had formal education; he had been a law student at Harvard under US Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story and the renowned law teacher Samuel Greenleaf. (Silverman)
At about the age of 20 (in 1842,) the younger worked as a bookkeeper and head clerk for Charles Dewey in the Old Stone Store in Sandy Hill about 3 miles from Glens Falls.
It was here the two met.
Dewey was a brother-in-law of the older. Later, the older’s sister, Eliza, married the younger’s uncle, Linus.
The older suffered from recurring tuberculosis and sought a better place to live. The younger looked to broaden his horizons. In early 1846, they planned a trip to the Oregon Territory, the older seeking to practice law, the young to survey land.
The Oregon Territory stretched from the Pacific coast to the Rocky Mountains, encompassing the area including present-day Oregon, Washington, and most of British Columbia. Since the late-1600s the wilderness was hunted and trapped for furs (mostly sold in China in exchange for tea, silks, porcelain and other Chinese goods, which were then sold in Europe and the US.)
After acquiring the “Louisiana Purchase” in 1803, under the directive of President Thomas Jefferson, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the “Corps of Discovery Expedition” (1804–1806,) was the first transcontinental expedition to the Pacific coast undertaken by the US.
Later, Manifest Destiny was the widely held belief that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent. Journalist John L O’Sullivan wrote an article in 1839 and predicted a “divine destiny” for the United States.
By 1843, increased American immigration on the Oregon Trail to the Oregon Territory made of the border between the US and Canada an issue in Congress. On June 18, 1846, they voted on the 49-degree line as the border between Canada and the US.
Rather than walk, the two sailed on the ‘Henry,’ leaving February 23, 1846. After a long and stormy voyage – rather than continuing to Oregon Territory – the ‘Henry’ limped into Honolulu Harbor on October 12, 1846, needing extensive repairs.
While waiting there, the older was consulted by some American residents on a legal question. He caught the attention of officials in the Hawaiian kingdom and was recruited by Attorney General John Ricord and Dr Gerrit Judd, the Minister of Finance for Kamehameha III. Then 26 years old, he was only the second trained attorney in the Islands (after Ricord). (Dunn)
After some persuasion, he consented to stay, provided his friend could also be provided with employment. The younger first worked at Ladd & Company, a mercantile and trading establishment, then at the US Consulate in Honolulu.
They didn’t plan to go to Hawaiʻi, let alone stay there; but they did.
However, there was a time, the younger appeared to catch the gold fever and on January 6, 1849, he and others published, “Notice. The subscribers hereby give notice of their intention to depart from this kingdom, and request all persons having demands against them to present them for payment immediately.” (Polynesian, January 6, 1849)
The older encouraged and convinced the younger to stay. He did; in fact, in 1849, the younger became a naturalized citizen and signed an oath to “support the Constitution and Laws of the Hawaiian Islands”.
The two left lasting legacies in the Islands.
The older, William Little Lee, was the first Chief Justice of the Superior Court (1847-52) and then the Supreme Court (1852-57.) In 1851, he was elected to the Legislature and became Speaker of the House of Representatives. Among his efforts were the framing of the revised constitution of the kingdom, and the task of drafting criminal and civil codes for the kingdom. (Ellis)
Lee brought major areas of substantive Western law into the Hawaiian legal system by drafting legislation which was frequently passed without alteration.
The younger of the two, Charles Reed Bishop, was primarily a banker (he has been referred to as “Hawaiʻi’s First Banker.”) An astute financial businessman, he became one of the wealthiest men in the kingdom from banking, agriculture, real estate and other investments.
He met Bernice Pauahi while she was still a student at the Chiefs’ Children’s School (they probably met during the early half of 1847,) and despite the opposition of Pauahi’s parents who wanted her to marry Lot Kapuāiwa (later, Kamehameha V,) Bishop courted and married Pauahi in 1850.
Bishop’s industrious nature and good counsel in many fields were also highly valued by Hawaiian and foreign residents alike. He was made a lifetime member of the House of Nobles and appointed to the Privy Council.
He served Kings Kamehameha IV, Kamehameha V, Lunalilo and Kalākaua in a variety of positions such as: foreign minister; president of the board of education; and chairman of the legislative finance committee.
The image is the two friends and adventurers: William Little Lee (L) and Charles Reed Bishop (R) (1846.) (Lots of information here is from KSBE.)
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