Home Up Kauai Again

Hawaii Home Hawaii Photographs Who Went? Day One Oahu Day Two Big Island Day Three Maui
Day Four Maui Day Five Big Island Day Six Kauai Day Seven Kauai 2007 Hawaii Cruise Photographs


Day Six -
Waimea Canyon on Kauai

Story written by Rick Archer



"They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot." - Joni Mitchell

Thanks to Captain Cook, the word had gotten out. Now everyone knew about Hawaii, the Jewel of the Pacific.  And soon everyone came courting. 

As I leafed through the history books, during the 1800s every great power took a run at Hawaii.  Great Britain, France, Russia, Japan, and of course the United States all came knocking at the door.  Since we already know who the winner was, I thought you would at least be interested to find out how it happened.

The Great King Kamehemeha had the amazing natural ability to keep the visitors at arms length, but his successors didn't seem to have his instincts.  They certainly did not do anywhere near as good a job of keeping the wolves at bay. 

Slowly but surely the wolves came closer... and closer.

However, in the end the Big Bad Wolf didn't knock the door down and conquer Hawaii by force.  Ultimately Hawaii was conquered from within.

The story of Hawaii has always played out like a Darwinian struggle.  First the Marquesasian people moved in.  Eight hundred years later the Tahitians came calling and completely devastated the native people, turning them into slaves.  In the 1800s it seemed like the same thing was happening all over again. 

Except that this time the conquest was all done in a civilized manner.  There was absolutely no bloodshed. But make no mistake about it - the same ruthlessness was still definitely present. 

It was sugar and spice, but not very nice.


The Kamehameha dynasty ran from 1795 till 1872.

Kamehameha I ruled from 1795 to 1819.  As I have
written, this was the man who united the islands.  After his death in 1819, the Hawaiian Islands were ruled by his successors through much of the 1800s.  Each of the next four "Roman Numeral" Kamehamehas did the best they could, but quite frankly Hawaii was headed towards very hard times. 

Kamehameha II ruled from 1819 to 1824.  Known as Liholiho,  was King Kamehameha's successor.  His major accomplishment was to transition the Hawaiian people away from pagan worship.  No more sacrificial altar, no more pagan gods, no more Pele.  Within six months after assuming the throne as Kamehameha II, the religious and political code of old Hawaii, collectively called the kapu system, was abolished. 

Liholiho not only ended the pagan beliefs and rituals, but in the process was able to give women equal rights in society for the first time.  By liberating the people from the crazy taboos of kapu, now for the first time women could actually be permitted to sit down and eat alongside their men! 

There is an interesting anecdote about how Liholiho got the courage to toss the pagan beliefs aside.  Apparently from infancy, Liholiho had observed that the visiting sea captains were able to break every taboo regarding Hawaiian women with total impunity.  The visiting men behaved very badly, yet they never seemed to get punished!  Why did Pele, the meanest goddess of all, take it so easy on these guys?

Meanwhile the women in his court were pressuring him to do something about these ridiculous taboos. 

So one night Liholiho decided to try an experiment.  He sat down with the women of his court for dinner and waited for the sky to fall in.  Not only did the roof hold and the volcano stay quiet, no one died from food poisoning either.  Very interesting, he thought.

Liholiho continued to eat meals with the women of the court including Queen
Kaahumanu.  Although she was not Liholiho's actual mother, Queen Kaahumanu was the most powerful woman in the kingdom.  As the widow of King Kamehameha, when she spoke, everyone listened.  It was at her insistence that Liholiho got the inspiration to consider abolishing the old customs.  Between the lines, it appeared Liholiho was more frightened of this woman than he was of the wrath of the mythical gods.  The Queen was a fire-breathing monster on this kapu issue!  If he didn't get rid of this kapu, he might soon be kaput.

Pretty soon Liholiho had worked up the courage to get rid of all the taboos.  Now, for example, the women could actually eat bananas for the first time!  That's right - the women were allowed to collect the bananas and cook the bananas, but they couldn't eat them.  The women were so happy at the changes, they celebrated raucously and went crazy... which is where the term 'going bananas' got its start  (I couldn't resist).

On a more serious note, it took a lot of guts to throw out principles that had been practiced for centuries.  Note for example how difficult it is to make similar accomplishments in certain Muslim countries.  Once people are convinced that God Allah Jehovah etc wants things a certain way, it isn't easy for mere mortals to make changes.  A lot of people have died over the centuries for reasons based on religious beliefs and superstitions. 

The wags would say that Liholiho met a force greater than God - Women - but all kidding aside, Liholiho deserved a lot of credit for setting aside the old ways of his people.

Liholiho seemed to have a lot of talent, but he only ruled for five years. 

His successor, Kamehameha III (1825-1854) was considered the best ruler of Kamehameha's descendants.  Known as Kauikeaouli, his reign of 30 years could hardly be considered a time of happiness in the kingdom.  When he ascended to the throne at age 11 in 1825, Hawaii's population was at 150,000 - perhaps one-third the size it had been upon Cook's arrival in 1778.  During his reign, a horrible smallpox epidemic (1852) reduced the population to half that size at 75,000.  The scourge of the Europeans was wreaking havoc with Hawaiian society.  A veritable Pandora's Box of plagues had been unleashed by the visitors.

At this point, the sandalwood economy had been replaced by whaling as the major industry.  Not only did the sailors absolutely terrify the natives with their drunken sprees, they had a nasty present to share.  In 1827 the American whaling ship "Wellington" introduced mosquitoes to Hawaii. The hadn't caught any whales, so their barrels were still full with water instead of fat. They dumped the mosquito infected water in a river and replaced theirs with fresh water.  In the process they unwittingly introduced the mosquito to Hawaii (and yes, to answer your question, the rats and cockroaches were already there thanks to James Cook).

So much for Paradise. The stupidity of human beings seems unfathomable at times! 

1827 was also the year the first Catholic missionaries arrived.  This was a pretty remarkable coincidence because just a couple years earlier Liholiho had abolished paganism.  But he hadn't replaced the old religion with a new system.  So the Catholic missionaries had a religious vacuum just waiting for them.  Liholiho's successor Kamehameha III did everything he could to help his people adjust to the new religion. 

Kamehameha III's major accomplishment was to introduce modern law into the society, including the first Constitution, the first legislature, and a declaration of the rights of citizens.

Perhaps Kamehameha III's most significant move was issuing the Great Mahele of 1848.  This edict was meant to redistributed land between the government, king, nobles, and commoners.  This act would allow common people to own the title to their land for the first time. In other words, the native people could now become landowners and establish a powerful legal foothold in society.

Unfortunately, no matter how noble the intent, this move ultimately backfired.  Apparently Kamehameha III forgot to send the email to the different islands.  Most commoners were either ignorant or totally unaware of this important program.  Therefore the little people lost out on the distribution process, aka the Big Land Grab. 

Even more ominous, foreigners were now allowed to own Hawaiian land for the very first time.  And unlike the Little People, they were completely aware of the long-reaching consequences of this edict.

Mind you, the Great King Kamehameha had aggressively resisted giving foreigners any control of Hawaiian land, making it clear that each and every foreigner was a 'visitor'.  Mind you, people were allowed to 'lease' their land and many foreigners did put down roots.  But King Kamehameha also made it clear those roots could be removed if he thought it wise to do so.  As a result, all foreigners tiptoed around the Great King Kamehameha like they were walking on hot volcano lava.

It was not instantaneous, but the Great Mahale of 1848 would change the course of history in Hawaii.  Surely Kamehameha turned over in his grave now that his successor had given away the farm. 

Kamehameha IV, aka Alexander Liholiho, ruled from 1854-1863.  The Whaling Era was nearly over.  Now thanks to the Great Mahale of 1848 passed by his predecessor, it was on his watch that the Sugar Industry began to take hold. 

Alexander Liholiho was no fool.  In fact, he appeared to be very talented.  He could definitely see what was happening. 
The king abhorred the increasing amount of influence that the Americans were enjoying in his kingdom and correctly feared that if left unchecked the United States might take over his nation.

As a result, the King sought to cultivate a stronger relationship with Britain as a way to balance the power of the Americans.  He also strived to find other ways to lessen Hawaii’s dependence on the U.S.  So what went wrong?

A tragedy intervened.  In
August, 1862, his only son threw a temper tantrum.  His annoyed father decided to cool him off by placing him under a cold water faucet. Shortly after the dousing, the child became sick with a high fever. Ten days, later, the prince was dead.  Overcome with grief and guilt, Kamehameha IV became a recluse and withdrew from public life.  A year later, on November 30, 1863, after years of suffering from nerve disorders and asthma, the king died unexpectedly.  He was only 29.  Since he left no direct heirs, it was up to his brother to take over.

Kamehameha V ruled from 1863-1872.  Also known as Lot Kapuiwa, other than some building projects, his reign appears to have been deeply unremarkable.  His only significant accomplishment was accomplishing nothing - he failed to produce an heir!

When Kamehameha V died in 1872,  the House of Kamehameha had come to its end.  The dynasty was over. 



Sugar and Pineapple were the backbones of the Hawaiian economy for over a century.  Many different crops were attempted (cotton, tobacco, corn, sisal, rubber, and silk among others), but failed to thrive. 

However it was discovered that sugar cane and pineapple were two crops that were perfectly suited to the Hawaiian climate and soil.  At one point Hawaii produced 75% of the entire world's sugar and pineapple production. 

Unfortunately the power vacuum created by Kamehameha V had dealt the people of Hawaii a cruel blow.  The next group of leaders were not very effective at all.  One by one,  they relaxed the hold of the Hawaii people on the reins of power. 

King Lunalilo was chosen by election in the legislature.  Two related issues occupied much of Lunalilo’s reign as king.  Hawaii’s growing sugar industry required a natural market to absorb its increasing production, and Lunalilo worked to give Hawaiian sugar unhindered and untaxed access to the American market.  At the same time, American use of Pearl Harbor on Oahu was openly considered in exchange for the reciprocity treaty. In April 1873, the American businessmen proposed the idea of ceding the harbor to the U.S.

Lunalilo, acting on the advice of his advisers, seemed ready to cede the land for the economical benefits of reciprocity. However, a vast majority of the native Hawaiians were deeply opposed to both moved.  A rising swell of opposition by Hawaiians forced him to reconsider. The king’s reputation was tarnished in the eyes of his people.

However, none of it mattered much.  Lunalilo had a serious drinking problem.  He lasted all of two years, dying in 1874 at the age 39. 

Next came King Kalakaua.  Since Lunalilo had appointed no successor either, it was time to elect a new King (since when are Kings elected?).  This time the Sugar interests helped elect Kalakaua to the Hawaiian throne over the British-leaning Queen Emma in February 1874Another election was held, and Kalakaua won handily over Queen Emma, widow of Kamehameha IV.

Supporters of the queen rioted.  Kalakaua was not popular with the people because he was incompetent and because he was seen as being in the pocket of the distrusted American businessmen.  Guess what?  The people were right on both accounts.

Kalakaua requested help from American warships in the harbor and the uprising was quelled.  Because of the ill feelings, however, the new king’s plans for a lavish celebration were put on hold

Despite the shaky start, Kalakaua was unfazed.  With his conscience unimpaired by any need to keep an eye on his kingdom, King Kalakaua earned the reputation as the Merry Monarch.  He ruled for the next twenty years, but preferred to spend most of his time playing and traveling abroad.  He had a passion for music, dancing, parties, and the finest food and drinks.

The king’s reign was also marked by tragedy, pain and dark clouds hovering over the Hawaiian kingdom.  It was on his watch that the Sugar Kings began to take total control. 

Knowing exactly who his backers were, Kalakaua's first contribution was to make business conditions better for his businessmen cronies. 
Kalakaua immediately sought a trade agreement with the United States that would make the production of sugar even more profitable than it already was.  In late 1874, Kalakaua sailed to the United States amid much fanfare. In Washington, he negotiated the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875, which eliminated the tariff on sugar and other Hawaiian products.

In addition, the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 included a provision that would allow the U.S. Government the opportunity to fortify or use Pearl Harbor as a naval base.  Taking note that 90% of all merchant ships coming and leaving Oahu were American, a US warship was assigned to patrol the Hawaiian waters at all time. 

The Sugar Men had what they wanted - closer economic ties with the United States and American muscle to watch their backs.

This Treaty paved the way for the Golden Age of the Sugar Plantations. As a result, Hawaii’s sugar industry boomed and the kingdom enjoyed a period of economic prosperity.  American businessmen began buying up all the land they could get their hands on to create more sugar crops.  Thanks in part to Kalakaua's frequent absence from the islands, over the next twenty years the sugar plantation owners dramatically increased their hold on Hawaiian real estate and politics.  They literally had their tentacles in every single corner of Hawaiian life.

Sugar was a very profitable crop. Someone once suggested sugar was more valuable than gold.  Sure enough, b
y the end of the 19th century, commoners and chiefs had sold, lost, or given up their lands, with foreigners and large estates owning most non-government lands.

Sugar soon brought a significant... and quite ominous... change to Hawaii.  Because much of the work on the sugar plantations was done by hand, the expansion of the sugar industry required a considerable increase in the labor force.

The native Hawaiian population had continued to decline throughout the 19th century, largely due to disease.  The numbers were around 75,000 in 1852.  Now by 1872 it had fallen to about 50,000.  In addition, many native Hawaiians were unwilling to work as laborers for white planters.  

At the time, there were only about 5,000 non-Hawaiians living in the islands.  That was about to change in a dramatic way.  This labor imbalance created a situation eerily similar to the United States' current immigration headache with Mexico.  Over the next few years, Hawaii saw an enormous influx of newcomers introduced into their society.

After the sugar trade treaty was signed in 1876, the Hawaiian government sought to alleviate the labor shortage by the large-scale recruiting of foreign workers. Initially, recruitment efforts centered on Chinese laborers; about 20,000 to 25,000, including about 8,000 Chinese from California, were brought to Hawaii on contract.  However, once their enlistment was over, the Chinese frequently showed more inclination to establish businesses of their own than to continue working on the plantations.  

Recruiting then concentrated on the Japanese; about 180,000 Japanese were brought to the islands between 1886, when Japan agreed by treaty to allow laborers to migrate to Hawaii, and 1908, when a United States-Japanese agreement brought the migration to an end.  When their contracts expired, most of the Japanese either returned home or migrated to the U.S. mainland, but about one-third chose to stay in the islands.

Meanwhile the growth of the sugar industry concentrated economic and political power in the hands of a few families, mostly white settlers and their descendants.  Many of these whites favored a closer relationship between Hawaii and the United States, in part to guarantee continued privileged access to the giant sugar market in the states.

Like the cattle barons of the Old West, it was about this time that the Sugar plantation owners basically started calling the shots.

In 1887 a secret organization called the Hawaiian League was formed.  Made up mostly with American businessmen, this group wanted to limit the monarch's authority or abolish the monarchy all together.  They also wanted to pursue an eventual annexation by The US.  This group had military backup in the form of a homegrown armed militia known as the Hawaiian Rifles.  

In July 1887, the Hawaiian League forcibly took control of the government and presented the king with a new constitution.  Called the Bayonet Constitution (for obvious reasons), Kalakaua had little choice but to sign it or face the Hawaiian Rifles.  The new constitution severely restricted his powers and signaled the end of the monarchy.  This nasty piece of legislation concentrated all voting power in the hands of the moneyed interests.  Hawaii had become an oligarchy run by the American businessmen.

The Merry Monarch was King in name only from that point on.  He mostly traveled for the final four years.  He died in San Francisco in 1891. 
His final words were, "Tell my people I tried."


Upon Kalakaua's death in 1891, his sister Queen Liliuokalani took over. 

Liliuokalani was appalled at all the power her useless brother had squandered away.  She took immediate steps to reinstate the power of the monarchy. 

Unfortunately u
nder the Bayonet Constitution her brother had signed, Liliuokalani wielded little power. Every move she made was blocked.  She formed a Cabinet three times.  Each time it was rejected by the Sugar-controlled Legislature. She drafted a strongly royalist constitution, but no one supported it either.  But her biggest mistake was making the rounds of foreign embassies in search of outside support.  What was she up to?

Liliuokalani was raising a lot of suspicion.  She was becoming a real pest!  Didn't she realize this was their Hawaii now! 

The sugar owners on the islands were well aware that other foreign powers were circling these waters.  Russia had built forts on Kauai.  France had attempted a military takeover.  England had an actual treaty dating back to Kamehameha I that said Hawaii was an English protectorate.  On one occasion England had occupied Hawaii militarily only to change its mind at the last minute and recall the troops.  Even Japan had threatened to take over Hawaii and had extracted an indemnity in the process.
Since Hawaii had absolutely no military force of its own, any country with a navy and a strong will could have taken it by force in the blink of an eyelash. 

The American businessmen decided they had had enough of the Queen's meddling in their affairs.  The Islands under American leadership had grown too modern, too valuable, and too important to allow the Queen to risk upsetting everything they had worked for. 

Even more irritating, the American government had recently removed the favored status of Hawaiian sugar.  Only if Hawaii became an American territory would their prosperity be renewed.  But it was obvious that Queen
Liliuokalani would never agree to this. 

The Hawaiian League decided she had to go.  It was time to make these islands their own!  They had the money, they had the power, and they had the incentive to make this happen.  They were sick and tired of this silly woman getting in their way.

The die was cast.  In 1893, Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown in a bloodless coup. 

On the afternoon of January 16, 1893, 162 sailors and Marines aboard the USS Boston in Honolulu Harbor came ashore under orders of neutrality. The real reason behind the presence of these troops, ostensibly to enforce neutrality and prevent violence, was to effectively make it impossible for the monarchy to protect itself.  It was a thinly-disguised military takeover.

Queen Liliuokalani was absolutely stunned.  She never saw this coming.  She was so busy trying to do what was right for her country that she was having trouble reading the writing on the wall.  In the process she failed to realized how badly her aggressive anti-American actions had irritated the American businessmen.

n January 17, 1893, pro-American forces overthrew the government and proclaimed a provisionist government with Sanford B. Dole (of Pineapple fame) as president.  Liliuokalani had no choice but to surrender her throne to "the superior military forces of the United States". 

Queen Liliuokalani decided her only chance was to use politics.  Her only hope was that the United States, like Great Britain earlier on in Hawaiian history, would restore Hawaii's sovereignty to the rightful holder.  She made a plea to the U.S. government for reinstatement.  Amazingly, a commission authorized by President Grover Cleveland indeed found the overthrow to be illegal.  It said that U.S. Minister Stevens and American military troops had acted inappropriately in support of those who carried out the overthrow.

On November 16, 1893 Cleveland proposed to return the throne back to her if she would grant amnesty to everyone responsible. She initially refused, and it was reported that she said she would have them beheaded - she denied that specific accusation, but admitted that she intended them to suffer the punishment of death.  She should have kept her mouth shut!

Furthermore Sanford B. Dole refused to accept the decision.  He just kept on ruling no matter what the President had ordered.

These two developments effectively neutralized Cleveland's order.  Now Congress got involved.  Congress responded to Cleveland's referral with another investigation.  Bad news - the Senate found all parties (including Minister Stevens) "not guilty" from any responsibility for the overthrow.  In other words, this time the overthrow was considered a legal act.

The Queen withdrew to her residence and urged her supporters to be patient and avoid bloodshed.  Nevertheless a fierce uprising was firmly squelched in January 1895.  Although the Queen denied playing a role in the attempted takeover, Liliuokalani was arrested. She was taken to a second-floor room at the Iolani Palace which would serve as her jail cell for nearly a year.

During her confinement, the queen wrote one of Hawaii’s most beloved songs, "Aloha Oe" ("Farewell to Thee").  Liliuokalani was pardoned a year later in October 1896.  In her remaining years, the deposed queen continued to fight in vain for the restoration of the Hawaiian kingdom.  However she refused to resort to violence.  She would not let anyone risk dying on her behalf.

For the next twenty years, she worked on behalf of the Hawaiian people to improve their lives any way she could. 
She died in 1917 at age 79.   Upon her death, Queen Liliuokalani was a much beloved figure in her homeland.  She wasn't much of a politician, but she was a very decent person.   Her death symbolized the end of an era.


The 1800s had been a very rough time for the native Hawaiians.  They had lost their original religion, disease had decimated their population and the constant flow of newcomers to their island made them feel like strangers in their own land.  Adding insult to injury, thanks to the secret organizations led by the American sugar and pineapple plantation owners, they no longer held any real power in their own land either.

The people may have been downtrodden, but the Sugar Barons were swift to take advantage of the fruits of their dirty work.  Now that they had complete control, at the turn of the century the plantation owners started to merge their businesses. 

The start of the 1900s saw the sugarcane plantations gain a new infusion of investment.  By getting rid of tariffs imposed on sugarcane producers by the United States, planters had more money to spend on equipment, land and labor. Increased capital resulted in increased production. After all the wheeling and dealing, 5 Companies emerged as the winners.  These Five kingdom-era corporations benefited from annexation, becoming multi-million dollar conglomerations overnight. 

The men who ran these companies totally dominated the islands for the next sixty years.  Since Hawaii was a territory, they were not under the thumb of the US government per se.  Therefore these five companies enjoyed practically total freedom in their manipulation of Hawaiian politics and economy. 

The companies did not compete with each other but rather cooperated to keep the prices on their goods and services high.  Their profits skyrocketed even more. Soon, the executives of the Big Five sat on each others' boards of directors.  With economic power came political power over Hawaii. The companies decided who got elected.  The companies lobbied in Washington as one. These Big Five corporations together became a single dominating force in Hawaii.

Left unchecked, these virtual oligarchies made some men very rich.  One man for example, Jim Dole the Pineapple King, became so wealthy he was able to purchase the entire island of Lanai!

Fortunately the wealth of the Big Five seemed to trickle down to the general populace as well.  Helped along by two new economies - coffee and tourism - the standard of living in Hawaii rose considerably throughout the Twentieth Century.

Oddly enough, it was the tragedy of Pearl Harbor in 1941 that helped break the stranglehold of the Big Five.  For the first time,
people on the U.S. mainland fully recognized the importance of Hawaii to the rest of the country.  As the people of Hawaii served faithfully and with patriotic zeal throughout World War II, people throughout the Lower 48 were genuinely impressed by the effort.

Using this newfound popularity and strategic value to great effect, it became only a matter of time before statehood was bestowed on Hawaii in 1959. 

The changes were immediate. Statehood restored citizenship rights to the native Hawaiians.  They began to have more political power now than at any time since the Great Mahale of 1848 from the previous century had started their path to ruin.

Furthermore, the decline of sugar and pineapple in the late Twentieth Century crippled the great economic hold of the Big Five.  The price of labor for sugarcane workers in Hawaii was the now highest in the world!  Right and left the sugar and pineapple plantations closed down to move operations to areas like Brazil and the Philippines where labor was cheap.  In the minds of many Hawaiians, good riddance.

Today Hawaii shines brightly again.  Although the native Hawaiians comprise only 16% of the population, they enjoy a status far greater than our own American Indians who suffered a similar fate in the 1800s. The Native Hawaiians are such a tightly knit group that they literally seem to have veto power over all businesses.  For example, while I was in Oahu, I read a story about a Wal-Mart project that was brought to an entire halt for weeks when some native bones were accidentally discovered! 

It is obvious the native Hawaiians are going to make sure that their ancestral homeland is protected from environmental abuse and exploitation.  They are educated, politically savvy, and deeply united in their efforts to make sure the Jewel of the Pacific stays that way from now on.

And you know what?  I am completely in their corner.  I want Hawaii preserved just as much as they do.  

Because, just in case you haven't figured it out by now, I am a big fan of Hawaii.

Tomorrow:  Day Seven - Kauai Again

Hawaii Home Hawaii Photographs Who Went? Day One Oahu Day Two Big Island Day Three Maui
Day Four Maui Day Five Big Island Day Six Kauai Day Seven Kauai 2007 Hawaii Cruise Photographs
SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ