Novemaba 28: Lā Kūʻokoʻa

November 28, 1843: Independence Day

During the kingdom era, Lā Kūʻokoʻa, or Independence Day, was a former national holiday celebrated on November 28 to commemorate the signing of the Anglo-Franco Proclamation. This document recognized the independence and sovereignty of the Hawaiian nation by Great Britain and France. Two major historical events led to this proclamation.

Photo credit: Hawaiʻi State Archives. 30th Anniversary flyer celebrating Lā Kūʻokoa.

As explained in a previous blog posting, in 1839, Captain Laplace arrived in Hawaiʻi under orders to put an end to the persecution of Catholics in the Hawaiian Kingdom. This event, known as the Laplace Affair, resulted in Kauikeaouli being forced to issue the Edict of Toleration on July 17, 1839.  The kingdom paid $20,000 as compensation and as a guarantee of their “future conduct towards France.”

Kauikeaouli, anticipating future diplomatic issues with foreign nations, dispatched a delegation to the United States and Europe to secure recognition of Hawaiʻi’s sovereign independence. Unfortunately, while the delegation was away, Lord George Paulet, captain of HMS Carysfort arrived in Hawaiʻi, and acting without authority, unilaterally seized the kingdom.  On July 31, 1843, Rear Admiral Richard Thomas of the British Navy ended five months of occupation in Hawaiʻi. The national celebration of Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, or Sovereignty Restoration Day, was established to commemorate this momentous occasion. See previous blog postings: Iulai 31: “Mele Hoihouana,” Iulai 31: “Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea,” Iulai 31: “He Olelo Lokomaikai,” Iulai 29: “Leka a Peirce a me Brewer iā Kauikeaouli.”

A few months later, the British and French governments formally recognized the Hawaiian Kingdom’s independence in a joint declaration signed by Lord Aberdeen and the Comte de Saint-Aulare, representatives of Queen Victoria and King Louis-Phillippe.  A transcription of the English declaration is provided below.

Available in Foreign Office & Executive Chronological File, 1790 – 1849 1843 Nov 16, 23, 25, 28.

Declaration

Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and His Majesty, the King of the French, taking into consideration the existence in the Sandwich Islands of a Government capable of providing for the regularity of its relations with Foreign Nations, have thought it right to engage, reciprocally to consider the Sandwich Islands as an Independent State, and never to take possession neither directly or under the Title of Protectorate, or under any other form, of any part of the Teritory [sic] of which they are composed.

The undersigned, Her Britannic Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the Ambassador Extraordinary, of His Majesty, the King of the French, at the Court of London, being furnished with the necessary powers, hereby declare, in consequence, that their said Majesties take reciprocally that engagement.

In witness whereof, the undersigned have signed the present declaration and have affixed thereto the Seals of their Arms.

Done in duplicate, at London, the twentyeighth day of November, in the year of Our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and forty three.

Signed Aberdeen L.S.