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The Sandwich Islands (Hawaiian Island)

° The Hawaiian Archipelago ° Sandwich Islands ° Mark Twain in Hawaii ° Missionaries

Captain Cook in Hawaii

Captain Cook's primary goal was to determine whether there was a northwest passage above the North American continent.

Fine reproductions of Captain Cook are available by clicking the image.
Captain James Cook

Cook sailed around Africa and made stops at Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti on the way north. He named Christmas Island and passed by the Hawaiian islands, then sailed up the Alaskan coast.

Fine reproductions of Captain Cook are available by clicking the image.
Captain James Cook's Ship

Cook returned to the Hawaiian islands to replenish and repair his ships. He named this group of islands "The Sandwich Isles" after a friend and supporter, John Montague, the Earl of Sandwich. Searching for a safe harbor, Cook eventually moored in Kealakekua Bay on the Kona coast of the Big Island (now Hawaii). Cook’s arrival happened to coincide with a period when wars ceased and games were held to honor Lono.

Fine reproductions of Oatehite and Captain Cook are available by clicking the image.
Oatehite, from the Voyages of Captain Cook
Robert Isaak Cruikkshank

Thus, Cook was treated like a god, with natives lavishing him with gifts and holding ceremonies in his honor. After Cook and his crew departed, a storm damaged the Resolution, forcing a return to Kealakekua. Suddenly wary, the natives could not understand how a god could have allowed this to happen. Their respect for Cook waned, and relations between the Hawaiians and the foreigners grew tense. A misunderstanding led to a fierce battle, and Cook was killed by angry natives.

Fine reproductions of Oheitepha Bay are available by clicking the image.
View in Oheitepha Bay on the Island of Otaheita
Captain Cook's Last Voyage 1809
John Webber
Fine reproductions of Captain Cooks murder in the Sandwich Islands available by clicking the image.
Captain Cook Is Killed in Hawaii (Sandwich Islands)

Californian, September 9, 1848

The Gold Fever Abroad.

—At the date of departure of the last vessels from the Sandwich Islands and Oregon, the all absorbing topic was the gold mines of California. Two vessels, crowded with passengers, have already arrived from the former place, and others may be daily expected; and from the latter place, one vessel has arrived and three more are on their way.

In the Polynesian of July 15th, only three columns are devoted to "that which was at first regarded as dubious "but" has lately been confirmed, and all the restless spirits which the little Kingdom of Hawaii had collected from the four quarters of the world were on the qui vive for a start." By the operation of a law recently promulgated in the Sandwich Islands, no foreign resident can leave the kingdom without obtaining a passport and giving public notice by advertisement and handbills of his intention so to leave.

The Polynesian says:

"There has been a perfect rush upon our office for notices of intention to depart the kingdom during the past week. The mania has invaded our sanctum — our imp is in arms — and from present appearances, it is doubtful whether we shall be able to retain enough of the members of the 'art preservative of all arts,' to present our readers with a further record of events. Our printers think picking up type nothing compared to picking up gold; but they are sensible fellows, and we entertain hopes of pacifying them.

"The little city of Honolulu has probably never before witnessed such an excitement as the gold fever has created. Probably not less than 200 will leave for California in the course of two months, if passages can be procured. There will many mechanics and good citizens, doubtless, leave; but at the same time we shall rid the community of some whose presence is not particularly desirable. 'It's an ill wind that blows no good.' If we suffer the lost of some good citizens, we .-hall also get rid of many bad ones. We doubt not many will better their worldly condition; but it is impossible to foretell the final result.

Gold mines have never yet made a country prosperous or its inhabitants happy. The love of it arouses all the baser passions of man's nature, and we fear the gold regions of California will be the theatre of tragic events — the scene of bloodshed and strife. The sun never yet shone upon a more motley crowd than will be assembled there. We hope for the sake of humanity, peace and order will be preserved, but we confess We tremble for the result upon the morals of the people and the peace of the country. In the confusion which must prevail there for the next twelve months, the law will be powerless — rights will be disregarded — reason dethroned—and brute force will reign triumphant To the love of gold will be added the maddening influence of the intoxicating bowl. It is idle to speculate upon the result; time alone can show whether these discoveries will prove a blessing or a curse to the inhabitants of California."

As to the fears the editor of the Polynesian expresses, that "the gold region of California will be the theatre of tragic events, the scene of bloodshed and strife," we can assure him that they are perfectly groundless, though very natural at that distance. We can state from personal experience (and we take pleasure in doing so,) that, for number of people gathered together at one place, we never saw a more orderly and generally temperate population than may be found at either of the principal "diggings." The rights of individuals have never, to our knowledge, been infringed in single instance, and this, too, in a region where the only law was public opinion, and among men engaged in a pursuit which of all others, is most exciting—that of gold-hunting.

We know of but one instance where decorum was outraged — this was in the person of a negro, who insulted a white woman. The offender was promptly seized and a guard placed over him with loaded rifles with orders to shoot him if he attempted to escape. A court was formed, a jury impanelled and sworn, and the culprit brought before them and tried with all the order and regularity which might be supposed to characterise a regularly constituted court. Witnesses were examined, the defence heard, the jury charged, and a verdict returned of guilty. The prisoner was then sentenced to receive thirty-nine lashes on the bare back, which sentence was executed by the self-appointed sheriff with great apparent gusto. Three days provisions were given to the negro, with the warning that if he was seen again within three miles of the "diggins," a rifle ball would be the penalty. All this might sound rather strange to "ears polite," but when the circumstances are taken into consideration, it will be conceded that it was the voice of the people, in the absence of their regularly authorized agents, and, us a celebrated politician once remarked, the "second sober thought of the people is always right and never wrong."

That "gold mines have never yet made a country prosperous or its people happy," we readily admit, and the experiment with regard to California is in process of being tried. So far, we believe it has appeared that those of our citizens who have been successful in the gold mines, are very competent to bear prosperity — nothing "tragic" or of a nature calculated to make us "tremble" has yet transpired, and we can assure our friend of the Polynesian, that he may with perfect safety trust himself amongst the "motley crowd" at the California gold mines.

Daily Alta California, January 10, 1849
San Francisco, California

From the Sandwich Islands

By the arrival of the French frigate Poursevante, Admiral Tremelin, we have received advices from Honolulu to the 6th inst. The news is of importance, but we have only room for a summary of the strange events which have lately transpired there. M. Dillon, the French consul, has for some time been at loggerheads with the government upon the subject of Catholic rights and brandy.

About the 15th of August, the Poursevante and a war steamer arrived, when M. Dillon made certain demands upon the government, threatening them with "great guns," in case of non-compliance. The demands, as near as we can learn, were, 1st, a reduction of duties on brandies and liquors of one-half, and the return of one-half of all such duties as have been collected since 1846; 2d, the same rights to Catholics and their schools as are granted to Protestants; 3d. the repeal of a law which compels whaleships, importing liquor for sale, to pay port charges; 4, the remission of a fine imposed upon some captain of a whaleship. There were some minor demands relative to "redress" and "satisfaction" for indignities and insults offered to the "grand republic." These demands were made, and three days allowed for the government to comply or refuse. The King being absent, the Admiral waited until his return, when tie government refusing to comply with the demands, the French troops landed and took possession of the fort.

No resistance being offered, the gallant fellows spiked and threw from the ramparts the guns of the fort, destroyed the ammunition and public stores and took all the Hawaiian vessels that were in port. The Hawaiian flag was lowered, and the French hoisted, After the quiet possession of the fort for three days, the French abandoned it, and retired on board their vessels. The King's yacht, Kamehameha III, was manned with Frenchmen, and dispatched, it is supposed, to Valparaiso, the steamer sailed for Tahiti, and the Poursevante with M. Dillon and family, sailed for this place, where she arrived Tuesday evening. M. Dillon and family have taken passage for Panama in the steamer Oregon, from which place he goes to France, via New York. The British Consul General and the American Consul protested against the against the action of the French forces. The British Consul General offered his service as mediator, but was refused. It is uncertain what the result of all this will be; but the general impression is that M. Dillon has exceeded his powers, and that his acts will be denounced by his government. This belief is strengthened by his sudden departure, and his anxiety to be the first to represent the matter to his own government.

New York Daily Times, Saturday, September 10, 1858

Dates from the Sandwich Islands are to the 16th of July. Dramatic entertainments are given regularly at the Hawaiian Theatre. Messrs. Bing Ram, Simpson, Ranlowe and Mrs. Ray, are mentioned as part of the company. There are two volunteer companies in Honolulu: The First Hawaiian Guard and a Cavalry Corps. A lot was sold on Britannia Street for a church for $21,0000. The population of the Islands is supposed to be 84,165. Deaths during the past year, 4,320. Birth, 1,422 or nearly three deaths to a birth. The measles and whooping couch are supposed to have taken off 10,000 in 1847 and '48, and it is thought the small-pox will now take off 5,000 more. The natives are fast falling away. The fearful ravages of the small-pox have created great alarm in Honolulu; 1,670 cases have been reported, and 573 deaths. It is expected that the whaling fleet will not dare to touch at that place in the Fall. The report of the Board of Health, however, states the disease is diminishing in the city proper, though extending into the country. A great meeting of the foreign residents in favor of the dismissal of Messrs. G.P. Juno and Richard Armstrong, Ministers of Finance and Public Instruction, was to be held on the 20th of July.

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