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Queen Ka’ahumanu And Your Hawaii Vacation

by Fergy Ferguson

It is well known that Kamehameha The Great believed, and practiced the traditional ways of the Hawaiian religion.  He did banish some of the more brutal aspects of the traditional Kapu laws, such as human sacrifice, but he was slow to embrace many other changes that would come in the old Kapu system of laws.  As the family dynasty progressed, so did the eventual erosion of the Kapu system.  This was in many ways helpful to the Hawaiian people, allowing them to adapt and grow with the rapidly changing outside world.  When Kamehameha The Great passed away on his beloved Big Island of Hawaii in 1819, much of the old Hawaiian religion passed with him.

During Kamehameha The Great’s life and reign he married many wives, but his 13 year old Maui bride Ka’ahumanu, eventually become his favorite wife.  She was also the most powerful woman of the time.

When visiting the Hawaii, learn about “Hawaii Walks Of History”.

Queen Ka’ahumanu was known to encourage Kamehameha’s quest to unify the islands, and was instrumental in some of the decisions he made to further the beginning of erosion of the Kapu system of laws.  She was also one of the most politically astute wives with not only Kamehameha, but his advisers and regents.  Upon his death in 1819, she announced that he had wished that she share governance of the kingdom with Liholiho, Kamehameha’s 22 year old son and his chosen successor to the crown.  Amazingly, the council of advisers agreed and made her the kuhina nui, (prime minister) of the new ruler.  During the reigns of Liholiho, who took the name Kamehameha II, and Kamehameha III, she was a powerful force in changing the rules of Hawaiian society.

Among Queen Ka’ahumanu’s major accomplishments was the breaking of the Kapu law of women eating at the same table as the men.  She was often a champion of women’s rights and is fondly remembered because of it.  Queen Ka’ahumanu was also instrumental in keeping Kauai and Ni’ihau part the kingdom by marrying Kaumuali’i, the former King of Kauai, after Kamehameha The Great’s death.  She also married another son of the King of Kauai later to maintain the peace of the union of the islands.

Even though she appeared to be the “marrying kind”, she was also the first Queen to embrace and declare that Christianity was both good and just.  She was officially baptized in 1825, and presented the Hawaiian kingdom with its first set of laws based on the Ten Commandments.  These Christian values and laws eventually took hold, and hastened the further erosion of the old Kapu set of laws.

As a diplomat, Queen Ka’ahumanu excelled, and was instrumental in establishing favorable relations with the United States by negotiating treaties which were the basis of a free trade agreement.  The first treaty that was signed under the administration of President John Quincy Adams, actually was very popular with the chiefs as it cleared a debt with American traders they had built up.

Want to learn more about “The Kamehameha Family Dynasty”

The legacy of Queen Ka’ahumanu as one of the great rulers of Hawaii continues on in Hawaiian culture to this day.   As history shows, she was the most influential woman of her time.  Upon her death in 1832, she was originally laid to rest on the grounds of Iolani Palace, but was eventually moved to Royal Mausoleum in the Waiola Church Cemetary.  When you visit Oahu on your next Seattle to Hawaii vacation, I highly suggest you pay your respects to many of the early Hawaiian rulers at the Royal Mausoleum.

Over the next few weeks, we will continue to meet the Kamehameha Dynasty rulers, and learn of their contributions to the Hawaiian Islands, and your Hawaii vacation.

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