August 20, 1864: Constitution Granted by King Kamehameha V
As explained in Chapter 1 of Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise, the 1864 Constitution was established amidst contentious circumstances. See Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, Historical Background, in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise at n. 138 (Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie et al. eds., 2015). Indeed, due to a dispute over universal male suffrage, the Kingdom was without a Constitution for a week:
When Alexander Liholiho, Kamehameha IV, took the throne in 1855, he felt that the Constitution of 1852 placed unacceptable limitations on his royal authority. Lot Kapuāiwa, Kamehameha V, who came to the throne in 1863, refused to take an oath to maintain the constitution. Instead, a constitutional convention was convened. When the convention became deadlocked over the question of universal male suffrage, which the king opposed, the convention was dissolved and the constitution abolished. For a week, Hawai‘i was without a constitution, until Kamehameha V signed the Constitution of 1864, which reasserted the monarch’s powers.
Below is a transcript for the first three paragraphs of the 1864 Constitution:
In Eleanor Nordyke and Y. Scott Matsumoto’s article, “The Japanese in Hawaii: A Historical and Demographic Perspective,” they explain that the growth of the sugar industry resulted in an increased demand for cheap labor (pg. 162-63). However, Western recruitment of Japanese contract laborers was not permitted until 1868, when Eugene Van Reed, “the Hawaiian consul general in Yokohama, solicited the first group of 148 Japanese immigrants (140 men, six women, and two children).” Id. at 163. This group was known as the Gannen Mono, the “First-Year People.” Id. Shortly thereafter, complaints were received alleging that the workers’ contracts had been violated, and that they had been subject to abuse and poor treatment.
Against this backdrop, a treaty between Hawaiʻi and Japan commenced. Negotiations took quite some time, but it was finally concluded on August 19, 1871. The introductory paragraph contained in the 1871 Treaty between Japan and Hawaiʻi states as follows: “WHEREAS, a Treaty of Amity and Commerce between His Majesty the King, and His Imperial Majesty the Tenno of Japan, was concluded at Yeddo, on the 19th day of August, 1871, which has been ratified by His Majesty the King, and His Imperial Majesty, the Tenno of Japan, and the ratifications duly exchanged . . . .”
Below are a few images related to the correspondence leading up to the conclusion of this treaty, including an envelope and seal addressed to “His Excellency John M. Kapena, His Hawaiian Majesty’s Minister for Foreign Affair[s].”
King Kalākaua along with his plenipotentiaries Elisha H. Allen and Henry A. P. Carter, visited Washington and successfully concluded negotiations to enter into a Convention with the United States on January 30, 1875. In sum, it established close economic and political relations between the two nations, “allowing certain products, including sugar, to be imported into the United States without a tariff and prohibiting the kingdom from allowing another nation similar privileges or any lease to Hawaiian harbors and ports.” See Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, Historical Background, in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise at n. 152 (Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie et al. eds., 2015).
The convention was set to take effect once duly ratified by both governments, and after it obtained Congressional approval. See Convention Between the United States and His Majesty the King of the Hawaiian Islands, 19 Stat. 625 (1875) (image below).
The enabling act for the treaty went into effect, and was signed by President Grant on August 15, 1876 (image below). Thus, it took a full year for the Reciprocity Treaty to go into effect.
August 14, 1843: Regarding the Appointment of Elia as Head Policeman
Below is an official letter authored by Kekūanāoʻa regarding his appointment of Elia Kuhia as “Luna kaiko” for “Honolulu uka.” Elia, along with his deputy police officers, were authorized to arrest those who violated laws. As such, all law breakers–aliʻi, kānaka, or foreigner–were subject to arrest by Elia and his subordinates. A transcription of this letter is below.
On August 12, 1898, the Republic of Hawai‘i ceded sovereignty of the islands to the United States under the terms of the Joint Resolution of Annexation. As part of this cession, the republic also conveyed title to Hawai‘i’s public lands to the United States. The public lands, which included Government and Crown Lands, were “estimated to amount to almost 1.8 million acres, with a value of at least $5.5 million.” See Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, Historical Background, in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise at n. 213 (Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie et al. eds., 2015). On this day, the Hawaiian flag was lowered and the United States flag was raised in its place.
August 8, 1839: Letter from J. Dudoit to Kauikeaouli
In the following letter from Jules Dudoit to Kauikeaouli, he raises some questions regarding the Laplace Treaty (to read more about this incident, please see this blog entry). Dudoit was the appointed consular agent for France. He was later conferred the title of Knight of the Legion of Honor, “one of the most coveted distinctions in the power of Napoleon to confer.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, July 28, 1866).
August 6, 1850: Granting to the Common People Allodial Titles
The Kuleana Act of August 6, 1850 is a foundational law relating to native tenant rights. It authorized the Land Commission to award fee-simple title to native tenants for their own plots of land or kuleana parcels. A kuleana parcel could originate from lands of the king, government, or chiefs. A portion of this law and a short transcription may be found below:
August 5, 1839: Instructions from Kauikeaouli and Kekāuluohi to Keaweamahi
In this letter dated August 5, 1839, certain instructions are directed to Emiri Keaweamahi, interim governor of Kauaʻi. The letter provides a fascinating look at governance, and the King’s concern that some makaʻāinana were being oppressed and mistreated. In the first paragraph, he and Kekāuluohi state that a father of three children should not be permitted to work on kōʻele labor days, and that he should cultivate for the children. The letter further instructs on the proper treatment of those who are weak and blind. The letter’s instructions provide in no uncertain terms the necessity of reading the laws. Below is a short excerpt from the two page letter, followed by a transcription.
Honolulu, Augate 5. 1839
Auhea oe e Emiri Keaweamahi, ke hoole aku nei au, a me ke Alii nui, i ka hele ana ona makua kane i a kolu keiki i na la koele o ke Alii, a me kona konohiki, aole lakou e hele i ka hana ia mau la; e mahiai oia na na keiki a laua, mai keakea wale aku ia mau makua, pelaaku ahiki i ka nui loa o na keiki, e like me ke kanawai.
Eia kekahi, o ka hele ana o ka poe nawaliwali, a me ka maka po i ua mau la koela la, a me ka hemo ana o ko lakou aina i keia manawa, a me ka hookaumaha wale aku i ka poe i manao e mahiai makahi i mahi oleia mamua; mai keakea wale ia lakou, o ka helehelu pinepine ole kekahi i ke kanawai o na konohiki, a me . . . .
As eloquently stated in Marie Alohalani Brown’s Facing the Spears of Change: The Life and Legacy of John Papa ʻĪʻī, the esteemed ʻĪʻī was born “in an age when highborn aliʻi were considered divine, when intrepid warriors performed feats that bordered on the superhuman, and when genealogy largely determined a Hawaiian’s lot in life.” Ioane Kaneiakama Papa ʻĪʻī estimated his birth as August 3, 1800. He first served in the household of Kamehameha I as an attendant in 1810. He later went on to become a prominent member of the Privy Council and the House of Nobles. He also served as superintendent of schools on Oʻahu, and treasurer for the Kingdom. On January 15, 1848, ʻĪʻī was named the second associate justice of the Hawaiʻi Superior Court. He then served as second associate justice of the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court from December 6, 1852 – February 16, 1864.
The image below comes from the State Archives card catalogue providing particular dates of interest relating to ʻĪʻī:
As part of the diplomacy leading up to the restoration of sovereignty in Hawaiʻi in 1843, a number of important historic legal documents needed to be carefully crafted, edited, and translated. These documents included, for example, the Declaration of Rear Admiral Thomas, the Articles agreed in conference between Kauikeaouli and Rear Admiral Thomas, and “He Olelo Lokomaikai” which was issued by Kauikeaouli and Kekāuluohi. Below is a copy of the first few paragraphs from a draft of “He Olelo Lokomaikai.”