I attended the unveiling and dedication of Ho‘ola‘a O King Kaumuali‘i, an eight-foot tall bronze statue of the last ruler of Kaua‘i.
The event took place at Paula‘ula, the traditional homesite of Kaumuali‘i the last king of Kaua‘i, on the grounds of the Russian Fort Elizabeth State Park in Waimea Kauai on Saturday, March 20, 2021.
Kaumuali‘i rejoiced in May 1820 at the return of his long-lost son Humehume (George Kaumuali‘i) who was returned to Kaua‘i from New England accompanying the Pioneer Company. The Kaua‘i king provided land and support for a missionary station at Waimea. He enjoyed reading a Bible with his name inscribed on its cover brought to him by the “Samuels,“ pioneer company missionaries Samuel Whitney and Samuel Ruggles.
I joined Aletha Kawelukawahinehololio‘olimaloa Goodwin Kaohi, a lifetime resident of Waimea and a direct descendant of Kaumuali‘i. Aletha worked with the Friends of King Kaumuali‘i organization for years to complete the project. The Legislature provided over $200,000 in funding to allow completion of the statue created by Kauai-based sculptor Siam Caglayan.
Over the years, I have assisted Aletha with writing and photographs for Kaua‘i history and Kalewina (the Native Hawaiian Congregational churches of Hawai‘i) projects.
Professor Peter Mills, head of the Anthropology Department at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, flew in for the event. Peter is the author of Hawaii’s Russian Adventure: A New Look at Old History from the UH Press, a book that provides a definitive account of how Kaumuali‘i and the people of Kaua‘i actually built the fort at Waimea, not a party from the Russian-American Company.
The American Antiquarian Society has accepted for inclusion of its collection a copy of my new book Preparing the Way – A Pictorial History for the Hawai‘i Mission Bicentennial 1820-2020. This pictorial history provides an illustrated narrative of the formation and sending of the pioneer Protestant missionary company sent to Hawai‘i from Boston by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1819.
The American Antiquarian Society library located in Worcester, Massachusetts dates back to the Early Republic days of the United States. The Society describes itself as: “Founded in 1812 by Revolutionary War patriot and printer Isaiah Thomas, the American Antiquarian Society is both a learned society and a major independent research library. The AAS library today houses the largest and most accessible collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, periodicals, music, and graphic arts material printed through 1876 in what is now the United States, as well as manuscripts and a substantial collection of secondary texts, bibliographies, and digital resources and reference works related to all aspects of American history and culture before the twentieth century.”
During a research visit in 2018 I discovered a book with perhaps the first mention of plans for an American Protestant mission to evangelize the Hawaiian Islands. In searching for unknown, obscure details about the Christian History of Hawai‘i, I will often begin with a general term like the key word “Obookiah” and see what publications show up. Through a search for “Samuel Mills” in the digital card catalog available within the AAS library an 1810 book titled A Collection of Letters on Missions turned up. A note within the card catalog notation showed the book was self-published at the Andover Theological Seminary by American Foreign Missions founder Samuel Mills Jr. and Adoniram Judson, who sailed from Salem, Massachusetts in 1812 as the leader of the first foreign Protestant mission sent from the shores of the young United States. In the rear section of the book the Sandwich Islands is mentioned. Henry ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia was in Andover with Samuel Mills at the time of the distribution of the book. One wonders if Henry helped his friend with the packing and shipping of the books, which were sold in advance by subscription to church congregations in New England to promote foreign missions. The book also gave one of the first notices of the formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, inspired in spring 1810 by a request from Mills, Judson and two other Andover students. That took place at Bradford, Massachusetts, about eight miles north of Andover.
The Rev. Samuel Damon (February 15, 1815 – February 7, 1885) of Hawai‘i joined the American Antiquarian Society in 1869. His ancestor Samuel Damon of Holden, Massachusetts in 1836 donated a corner of the property where the AAS is today located. The Rev. Damon served as the pastor of the American Seaman’s Friend Society chapel in Honolulu from 1841 to 1869 during the height of the American whaling ship era. He founded and published The Friend, a monthly newspaper He was the editor and publisher of The Friend, a monthly newspaper printed in Honolulu. The Friend was an outreach to the thousands of sailors who arrived in Hawai‘i each year during his life in Hawai‘i and included news of ship arrivals and departures and a wide variety of news about the Hawaiian Islands.
The story of Civil War veterans from Hawai‘i has been a passion for Nanette Napoleon. The Historic Hawai‘i Foundation has awarded Nanette for her efforts in preserving historic burial sites across Hawai‘i through the Hawai‘i Cemetery Research Project.
A highlight of her work is her collaboration with the Hawai‘i Civil War Roundtable in perpetuating the memory of Hawai‘i veterans who fought in the U.S. Civil War mostly for the northern Union, but also for the southern Confederacy.
Through their efforts a bronze memorial plaque commemorating the memory of the Hawai‘i Sons of the Civil War is now located along the Memorial Walk at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Puowaina (Punchbowl) in Honolulu.
In addition, a tombstone for J. R. Kealoha, a Native Hawaiian Civil War soldier now stands at his once unmarked grave in O‘ahu Cemetery. without a tombstone.
American missionary son Gen. Samuel Chapman Armstrong is the best known of Hawai‘i’s Civil War veterans. Chapman was born at Wailuku, Maui in 1839, the son of the Rev. Richard Armstrong of the Sandwich Islands Mission and his wife Clarissa Chapman Armstrong.
Upon graduation from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts – the site of the Haystack Prayer Meeting led in 1806 by Samuel Mills Jr. – Armstrong enlisted as an officer in the Union Army, following the lead of his older brother Richard. He is a notable Hawai‘i veteran for his heroic role in aiding in pushing back the famous Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, a turning point in a battle that some say decided the outcome of the Civil War. He rose to the rank of general following this action. In part due to his cross-culture youth spent in Hawai‘i, Armstrong was offered command of a company of black soldiers, the Colored Soldiers of the Civil War. Samuel’s sister Edith Armstrong Talbot wrote a well-written biography of her brother who went on to found the Hampton Institute in Virginia, a school for young freed slaves, following the Civil War. The training at Hampton was modeled on the Hilo Boarding School founded by missionary David Lyman in 1836.
Images are taken from The New England Magazine June 1892.
The pioneer Hawai‘i Mission company sailed aboard the brig Thaddeus, a ship known in its day as the Mayflower of the Pacific, departing for the Hawaiian Islands from the Long Wharf in Boston on October 23, 1819. This 163-day voyage taken around Cape Horn brought evangelical Christianity to Hawai‘i, changing the Islands forever.
The sending of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions company came at the request of Native Hawaiian scholar Henry ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia. Henry died of typhus fever at about the age of thirty at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut in February 1818. His dying wish was to return to Hawai‘i and to fulfill his plans to join with American missionaries in bringing the Gospel to the Hawaiian Islands.
Lyman Beecher presents a clear picture of the Pilgrim-Hawai‘i tie in his landmark sermon “The Memory of Our Fathers” given at Plymouth in November 1827. Beecher told the gathering, “If we look at our missionaries abroad [n.b. in Hawai‘i, Ceylon, Burma, elsewhere], and witness the smiles of heaven upon their efforts, our confidence, that it is the purpose of God to render our nation a blessing to the world, will be increased. In talents, and piety, and learning, and doctrine, and civil policy, they are the legitimate descendants of the Puritans.”
In the United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C. hangs a grand painting of the Pilgrim departure from Holland. Pilgrim leader William Bradford. In his book History of Plymouth Plantation, the first book written in New England, Bradford quoted their pastor John Robinson who declared a prophecy over the departing Pilgrims. Bradford, rather than seeing the Pilgrims as just fleeing the Old World for religious freedom, portrayed Robinson as sending off the Pilgrims as missionaries. Bradford emphasized this by quoting Robinson:
(They had) a great hope & inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for ye propagating & advancing ye gospel of ye kingdom of Christ in these remote parts of ye world; yea, though they should be but as stepping-stones unto others for ye performing of so great a work.
Grand plans to commemorate in April 2020 in Hawai‘i the arrival of the pioneer Mission Company, and in November 2020 in Plymouth, Massachusetts the arrival of the Pilgrims, have both been postponed due to the covid-19 epidemic.