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Your Hawaii Vacation And King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaoli)

by Fergy Ferguson

There is a special place on the island of Hawaii at Keahou Bay.  It is here that a monument to Kamehameha III (Kauikeaoli) is preserved.  This monument is the stone where Kauikeaoli was brought to life.  The story behind his birth is another cultural tidbit about the longest reigning King of The Hawaiian islands.  Planning a Hawaii vacation and learning something about the culture is what often makes your Seattle to Hawaii vacation special.

The Kamehameha Family Dynasty

Kauikeaoli was born in 1813, and was the second son of Kamehameha the Great.  He was born to Kamehameha’s highest ranking wife of that time, Queen Keopuolani in the summer of 1813.  It is said that much of his youth was spent carousing and drinking.  This was made possible by the fact that the Kingdom was actually run, much like in his older brothers time as King, by the Queen Regent Ka’ahumanu.  As he matured, he eventually settled down and returned to the Christian ways.  He also became a capable and beloved ruler.

When Kamehameha III came into power, the native Hawaiian population had been ravaged by disease and was estimated to be just one third of the total population of Hawaiians at the time of Captain Cook’s landing.  During his reign, there was a series of epidemics that continue to wipe out the native population, which greatly disturbed the King, and would be the driving factor in his push to protect the rights of his people.  He would be schooled in western ways of finance and laws by former missionary William Richards.  It was because of his schooling, and his love of his people, that he was instrumental in bringing about many reforms to the government that would recognize the native Hawaiian populace.

More About King Kamehameha The Great

What Kauikeaoli considered his greatest gift to the Hawaiian people, or what has been termed as “The Great Mahele” of 1848, never really accomplished what his goal was.  The original intent was to come up with a way to redistribute the land between the government, king, nobles, and commoners.  Unfortunately, it did not work out the way he wanted it to, and led to foreigners being able to own land “fee simple” for the first time.  Because so many in his cabinet were Americans, they scooped up much of the land and the Hawaiian people were left out of much of the envisioned distribution.

As the longest running King in the Kamehameha line, Kauikeaoli faced many challenges to his kingdom.  In 1843, a British Captain attempted to force him to hand the Kingdom of Hawaii to the British Empire.  He quickly sent word to London, and the actions of the out of line captain were repented, and the Hawaii Kingdom was restored a few months later.  During this time of doubt, Kamehameha III stated “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness,” which eventually became Hawaii’s motto.  In 1849, the French lead an invasion of Honolulu, and caused much damage to the city after the King refused to turn the Kingdom over to them.

In addition to his defense of the Kingdom, Kauikeaoli formed the constitution in 1852, which subsequently lead to the unification of the court system and the whole political system became more liberalized.  In addition to all his good work, he initiated Treaty negotiation in 1854 to make Hawaii a state in the United States.  The treaty was never finalized due to King Kamehameha III’s death later in 1854.  He was succeeded by his nephew and adopted son Alexander ʻIolani Liholiho Keawenui, who was styled as King Kamehameha IV.

I will continue my series on the Kings of The Kamehameha Family Dynasty in my next post.

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