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King Kamehameha IV And Your Hawaii Vacation

by Fergy Ferguson

Kamehameha IV, the fourth monarch in the Kamehameha family dynasty, took the throne after his uncle Kamehameha III passed away in December 1854.  Kamehameha IV was born in 1834 with the Hawaiian name Alexander Iolani Liholiho Keawenui.  The name Liholiho was passed down from his great-uncle, Kamehameha II.  He was also the grandson of Kamehameha The Great.  In his early toddler years, he was adopted by his uncle, declared the the heir to the throne, and was raised as the crown prince of the kingdom.

More About Kamehameha II.

As a boy, he was educated at the Chiefs Childrens School in Honolulu where he developed his love for the flute and the piano.  At 14 he attended law school, and at 15, went on a government trip to England, The United States, and Panama.  Alexander was given more crucial royalty experience when he returned from his first voyage. He was commissioned to the House of Nobles and the Privy Council. He also studied foreign languages and European social norms during this time, and was sent on a diplomatic mission with his brother Lot, to tour the European continent. Alexander and his brother Lot were the most educated in the norms of Europe and the United States, and both would use their education to help them rule their kingdom wisely in the future.

When Kamehameha IV ascended to the throne in 1854, he was young, but well educated in his duties.  He decided that keeping the previous council that was held by Kamehameha III was in the best interest of continuity to the kingdom.  He was also aware that the population of Americans was increasing rapidly, and that they were beginning to exert a massive amount of economic and political pressure on the kingdom.  As King, he felt it was his duty to try and negotiate a treaty with The United States that would benefit both countries in trade and taxes.  When it was clear that a treaty with the US would not be forthcoming, he began to try and make the same deals with the British and European nations that called on the islands frequently.  He died before the deals could be made that would have stopped the inevitable annexation of Hawaii by The United States.

The Kamehameha Family Dynasty.

In 1856, he married Emma Rooke, his beloved queen. Queen Emma was the granddaughter of John Young, King Kamehameha The Great’s British friend and royal advisor. They had a child in 1958, but unfortunately Prince Albert died when he was four years old in 1962.  The king and queen’s greatest legacy was the establishment of The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.  They were concerned that the foreign ailments of influenza, and leprosy, were decimating the Hawaiian population.  When Alexander originally asked the legislature for funding for this health-care initiative, they refused, so he and Queen Emmas turned to local businessmen and merchants to fund their dream.  When it opened, Queen’s Medical Center, was considered one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the world, and still holds onto that moniker to this day.

With his special focus on health-care, it was ironic that Kamehameha IV died in 1863 of asthma that was uncontrollable in that day and age.  The young King died at the early age of 29, and was succeeded by his brother Lot, who took the name Kamehameha V.  Queen Emma stayed active in the push for Hawaiian native health-care causes and has one of the most revered summer palaces on Oahu.

My next post will explore the last monarch in the Kamehameha Family Dynasty.

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