ʻOkatoba 1: No ka Hopu ʻia ʻana o Kekahi Kanaka Kālepa ʻOpiuma aku ma Maui

October 1, 1887: Regarding the Capture of an Opium Dealer in Maui

In this letter, addressed to C.W. Ashford from Sam Chillingworth, Deputy Sheriff for Makawao, the capture of an unlicensed opium dealer is described with some interesting details. This letter was written a few months after the Bayonet Constitution was instituted, and shortly before a new law was passed reenacting the Prohibitory Act of 1874, as amended (Mokuna XX, Na Kanawai o ka Moi Kalakau i Kau ia e ka Hale Ahaolelo Kau Kanawai i ke Kau Ahaolelo Kuikawa, 1887).

The history of opium and its regulation during the Kingdom era in Hawaiʻi is fascinating. For those interested in learning more about this part of our history, please see the following article: Lily Lim-Chong and Harry V. Ball, “Opium and the Law: Hawaii, 1856-1900,” Chinese America: History & Perspectives – The Journal of the Chines Historical Society of America (San Francisco: Chinese Historical Society of America with UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 2010), pages 61-74.

Available in Attorney General Records 1887, October.

Makawao Maui Octr. 1st 1887

His Excellency
Clarence W. Ashford
Attorney General, Honolulu


I have to report a successful raid at Paia on the premises occupied by Wong Sam Quai, the unlicensed opium seller. I arrested Wong Sam Quai and his assistant, he was weighing opium when I entered the room. I secured a quantity of opium also twenty three empty tins evidently recently used for opium, also the book of account, marked on the outside corner, “Book of Opium Sales to Chinamen at Paia le[]” the entries being all in small items from 12 ½ c to 372 It was quite a difficult matter to catch the fellow as he disposed of the opium to his own ….