Nov. 30 – Dek. 3: No ka Holo ʻana o Boki (Mahele 1)

November 30 – December 3, 1829:
Regarding Boki’s Expedition (Part 1)

Credits: Boki and Liliha, printed by C. Hullmandel; drawn on stone from the original painting by John Hayter, London, 1824 (National Library of New Zealand).

Boki (Kamāʻuleʻule) was a noted chief during the reigns of both King Kamehameha I and Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha II). As explained by Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, from 1825 to 1829, Boki was known as a formidable political and economic figure of singular importance in the Hawaiian Islands. M. Puakea Nogelmeier, Boki: The Challenges of a Ruling Chief 1 (n.d.) (unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa) (on file at Mānoa’s ScholarSpace).  Boki acted as a “counterpoint to the rapidly growing influence of American missionaries in Hawaiian government and society. His cultural conservatism, his ties to the British and his involvement in trade placed him in conflict with his fellow chiefs’ growing acceptance of puritan Christianity.” Id.

Boki was selected by Kamehameha in 1816 to serve as a royal governor of the island of Oʻahu.  Id. at 2. He was described as a chief of great ability, even-tempered (id.) and being the “boldest [amongst the chiefs] in his efforts at trade” (Id. at 13). However, Boki was also a reputed gambler who had purportedly incurred substantial debt. As such, he perhaps sought to redeem his fortunes by embarking on an expedition to search for sandalwood in the southwest Pacific. Boki announced the reasoning behind his departure as follows:

Ku mai la o Poki, hai mai la i kona manao, penei, “Auhea oukou e na hooikaika, e hoolohe mai oukou i koʻu manao. Ua ike oukou i koʻu hewa he nui, ua ku koʻu pilau mai Hawaii a Kauai, he nui koʻu hewa, aole na hai mai, naʻu no. Eia wau ke hele nei, aole nae wau e hele ana ma ke kolohe ma ka pono no. Ke hele nei wau no ka aie a ke aliʻi, aole he hele kolohe kaʻu.”

See Sheldon Dibble, Ka Mooolelo Hawaii 115 (1838). In this passage, Boki explained that he was embarking on this journey not for an unprincipled reason, but, rather, for an honorable purpose: to settle the chiefs’ debts.

Below is an agreement, dated November 30, 1829, that provides some details about this expedition. Boki, Kauikeaouli, and Captain Blakesley are listed as signatories. The contract specified that Blakesley would be paid $4,500 if the expedition was successful and nothing if it failed. The agreement directed Blakesley to take the culled sandalwood to Canton. A transcription of this agreement may be found below.

Available in Foreign Office and Executive, Chronological File, 402-3, 1790 – 1849 1829 Nov 30.

Oahu Nov. 30th 1829

To all whom it may concern be it known that S. Thomas Bleakesley [Blakesley] have by these presents agreed and do hereby agree to proceed to Certain Islands for Sandlewood[sic][.] King Kauikouli and Govornor[sic] Boki agree to allow me a remuneration of four thousand five hundred dollars, in the event of failure on my part, I hereby relinquish all claims to remuneration. Should however that I succeed on obtaining the object in pursuit I also bind myself to proceed to Canton in the same brig that I undertake to navigate for a compensation of the monthly wages that may be agreed on by the owner and master of said vessell[sic] and from there back to the Sandwich Islands[.] I do further bind my self and avow that Sandlewood may be [sat?] sufficient to render a profit to the undertakers.

Signed Sealed And
Delivered in
presents of
Eugene Sullivan(?)
J. Mitchener

/s/ Tamehameha 3rd

/s/ Governer[sic] Boki

/s/ Tho Blakesley