November 16, 1836: Return of Chapman’s Premises
On November 16, 1836, King Kauikeaouli wrote a letter agreeing to restore the premises of George Chapman. A copy of this letter and its transcription may be found below. The surprising history behind this short letter is tied to a controversial historical figure, Richard Charlton. See Richard MacAllan, Richard Charlton: A Reassessment, 30 Haw. J. Hist. 53 (1996) (available online).
In early January 1836, Chapman and Lawlor, two British merchants, were detained at the Honolulu fort and their property was seized over a disputed debt. According to Charlton’s account dated January 7, 1836, Chapman “was forcibly taken from his house . . . by a party of natives and taken to the fort–that his house was locked up by a person named Paki.” Furthermore, upon Chapman’s return to his home, “he found that several articles belonging to himself and others residing in his house had been stolen.” Charlton concludes his letter by requesting support, “As the representative of His Britannic Majesty at these islands, I have to request that your majesty will immediately have the offenders brought to justice, and punished for their unjustifiable conduct.” See FO&Ex 402-3, 1836 Jan -Mar. The foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston, responded to Charlton’s request to send a ship to investigate the detention of Chapman by Commander Edward Russell of the H.M.S. Actaeon. MacAllan, 30 Haw. J. Hist. 57. Instead of focusing on the release of Chapman and Lawlor, Russell instead secured an agreement at gunpoint which permitted British residents to settle on land obtained with the king’s consent. Id. A separate blog entry covers the Russell treaty.
As described in a letter dated November 16, 1836, Kauikeaouli agrees to restore the premises of Chapman in the same or not inferior state in which it was taken possession of. A transcription of this letter may be found below.
Ke olelo io aku nei owau o Kaukeaouli ka alii o ko Hawaii pae aina, ka mea nana i kakau i ka inoa malalo iho ma keia palapala, a ke hooia io no i ka olelo, e hoi hoi aku i ka pa o George Chapman e like me ka palapala a George Chapman laua me Williama Farani i kakau ai i ka la 1 o Ianuari 1836, e haawi hoi na ka mea i kauohaia e Farani ma ka hoakuai i ka la 1 o Ianuari 1837 e hiki mai la a mamua mai paha o ka hiki ana aku i ua la la: – penei ka ha awi ana – e like ai ka maikai me ia i ka manawa i laweiaʻi i kʻau olelo, aole e emi iho ka maikai.
Eia hoi keia Iʻau ka pono e kuai mua ai, ke makemake au e kuai lilo mai i ua pa la.
Oahu Novemaba 16th 1836
Ike i ke kakau-ana
O ka inoa
/s/ Richard Charlton