King Alexander Liholiho died at the early age of 29 on November 30, 1863. He reigned as the fourth king of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi from January 11, 1855 to November 30, 1863. His father was Mataio Kekūanāoʻa, Royal Governor of Oʻahu and his mother was Elizabeth Kīnaʻu the Kuhina Nui or Prime Minister of the Kingdom. He was also the grandson of Kamehameha I. While he still quite young, Liholiho was adopted by King Kauikeaouli, the third ruling monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Unfortunately, Kamehameha IV died without a will. Thus, the legal status of the King’s lands were not judicially determined until 1864. His widow, Queen Emma claimed “her intestate share of one-half of the King’s Lands and rights of dower in the remaining half.” SeeMelody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, Historical Background, in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise 18 (Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie et al. eds., 2015). The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court determined that the King’s land should descend to the successors of the throne–not the heirs of the king. Estate of Kamehameha IV, 2 Haw. 715 (1864).
On September 10, 1859, King Alexander Liholiho shot his friend and personal secretary, Henry Neilson. The motive for this scandalous shooting? Liholiho had heard unfounded gossip that Neilson had engaged in improper relations with his wife, Queen Emma. After some time, Liholiho realized his grave error and determined that it was best to submit himself to a trial and abdicate the throne. It would appear, however, that the public was quick to denounce this proposed plan. As reported in one paper, “The Course which His Majesty has pursued . . . in seeking to make the utmost reparation in his power–the feelings of self-condemnation which have since possessed him–show him to be a MAN in every sense of the word . . . and worthy of the position he holds.” See Pacific Commercial Advertiser (pg. 2, Sept. 28, 1859). However, it was felt that Liholiho’s course of action would “create a deep feeling of regret in the bosom of everyone who cherishes the honor of our Sovereign Kamehameha, or desires the prosperity of his Kingdom.” Id. The article went on to state:
There is not a person in his realm who will not vehemently protest against his resigning his high and responsible position, or consent to his doing it . . . The interests of the kingdom–the interests of every subject or resident, demand that the King banish forever the idea from his mind, and maintain the position which the God of nations has decreed to him, and in which every subject will loyally support and defend him.
These sentiments were echoed by the Privy Council and House of Nobles. Indeed, as documented in the ministerial cabinet conference minutes dated September 27, 1859, the Privy Council strongly advised against abdication. Below are excerpts from the minutes, followed by a transcription.
September 23, 1876: Pardoning of Kepelino Kahōʻāliʻi
On September 23, 1876, the Privy Council met to recommend to his majesty, King Kalākaua, to pardon a number of prisoners. Of those prisoners listed for consideration was “Kahoalii,” who had been sentenced to death for treason. “Kahoalii,” formally known as Zepherin “Kepelino” Kahōʻāliʻi Keauokalani was a Native Hawaiian cultural historian famous for authoring Kepelino’s Traditions of Hawaii. Kepelino’s treason case was connected to Queen Emma and his support for her candidacy for the throne in the 1874 monarchical election against Kalākaua. Rioting immediately ensued. After the queen’s loss, Kepelino became involved in an unsuccessful plot to overthrow Kalākaua. Continue reading “Kepakemapa 23: Kalahala ʻana ʻo Kepelino Kahōʻāliʻi”
In the excerpt below, originally found in the Privy Council Minutes, a resolution was passed which granted the petition of Wm. Ryan for the remission of one half the fine imposed for keeping a victualing house without a license. It was granted on condition that he would pay for a license.
Prince Lot also questioned the appropriateness of introducing licenses for taverns and hotels, and adding a clause forbidding them to be turned into dance houses. A transcription of this page is contained below:
June 3, 1850: Regarding Treaties with Foreign Nations
On June 3, 1850, the Privy Council considered a number of issues related to foreign relations. Of some interest is the determination that if the French and English refused to make a new treaty similar to that made with the United States, notice would be given that the existing treaty would cease in one year.