A Celebration of Women Writers

"Chapters XXIX-XXXV." by Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii (1838-1917)
From: Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen (1898) by Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii (1838-1917)

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom



IT is necessary now to briefly review the events which had taken place in our absence of about three months abroad. We arrived in Honolulu on the twenty-sixth day of July, 1887. A conspiracy against the peace of the Hawaiian Kingdom had been taking shape since early spring. By the 15th of June, prior to our return, it had assumed a no less definite shape than the overthrow of the monarchy.

For many years our sovereigns had welcomed the advice of, and given full representations in their government and councils to, American residents who had cast in their lot with our people, and established industries on the Islands. As they became wealthy, and acquired titles to lands through the simplicity of our people and their ignorance of values and of the new land laws, their greed and their love of power proportionately increased; and schemes for aggrandizing themselves still further, or for avoiding the obligations which they had incurred to us, began to occupy their minds. So the mercantile element, as embodied in the Chamber of Commerce, the sugar planters, and the proprietors of the "missionary" stores, formed a distinct political party, called the "down-town" party, whose purpose was to minimize or entirely subvert other interests, and especially the prerogatives of the crown, which, based upon ancient custom and the authority of the island chiefs, were the sole guaranty of our nationality. Although settled among us, and drawing their wealth from our resources, they were alien to us in their customs and ideas respecting government, and desired above all things the extension of their power, and to carry out their own special plans of advancement, and to secure their own personal benefit. It may be true that they really believed us unfit to be trusted to administer the growing wealth of the Islands in a safe and proper way. But if we manifested any incompetency, it was in not foreseeing that they would be bound by no obligations, by honor, or by oath of allegiance, should an opportunity arise for seizing our country, and bringing it under the authority of the United States.

Kalakaua valued the commercial and industrial prosperity of his kingdom highly. He sought honestly to secure it for every class of people, alien or native, in his dominions, making it second only to the advancement of morals and education. If he believed in the divine right of kings, and the distinctions of hereditary nobility, it was not alone from the prejudices of birth and native custom, but because he was able to perceive that even the most enlightened nations of the earth have not as yet been able to replace them with a ruling class equally able, patriotic, or disinterested. I say this with all reverence for the form of government and the social order existing in the United States, whose workings have, for more than a century, excited the interest of the world; not the interest of the common people only, but of nobles, rulers, and kings. Kalakaua's highest and most earnest desire was to be a true sovereign, the chief servant of a happy, prosperous, and progressive people. He regarded himself as the responsible arbiter of clashing interests, and his own breast as the ordained meeting-place of the spears of political contention. He was rightly jealous of his prerogatives, because they were responsibilities which no civic body in his kingdom could safely undertake to administer. He freely gave his personal efforts to the securing of a reciprocity treaty with the United States, and sought the co-operation of that great and powerful nation, because he was persuaded it would enrich, or benefit, not one class, but, in a greater or less degree, all his subjects.

His interviews with General Grant, his investigations into the labor problems, which the success of the Hawaiian plantations demanded, were all means to the same end, – an increase of domestic prosperity. He succeeded, and the joy of the majority was great. The planters were elated, the merchants were encouraged, money flowed into their pockets, bankrupt firms became wealthy, sugar companies declared fabulous dividends; the prosperity for which my brother had so faithfully worked he most abundantly secured for his people, especially for those of foreign birth, or missionary ancestry, who had become permanent residents of Hawaii.

The king did not accomplish these things without some native opposition; although it was respectful and deferent to his decision, as the ideas and customs of our people require. Some foresaw that this treaty with the United States might become the entering wedge for the loss of our independence. What would be the consequences should the Islands acquire too great a commercial attraction, too large a foreign population and interests? would not these interests demand the protection of flag backed by a great military or naval power? But Kalakaua, aware that under the provisions of international law no nation could attack us without cause, and relying on the established policy of our great ally, the United States, fully assured that no colonial scheme would find acceptation there, boldly adventured upon the effort which so greatly increased the wealth and importance of his kingdom, – a wealth which has, however, owing to circumstances which he could not then foresee, and which none of his loyal counsellors even dreamed of, now gone almost wholly into the pockets of aliens and foes.

For years the "missionary party" had, by means of controlling the cabinets appointed by the king, kept itself in power. Its leaders were constantly intriguing to make the ministry their tool, or to have in its organization a power for carrying out their own special plans, and securing their own personal benefit. And now, without any provocation on the part of the king, having matured their plans in secret, the men of foreign birth rose one day en masse, called a public meeting, and forced the king, without any appeal to the suffrages of the people, to sign a constitution of their own preparation, a document which deprived the sovereign of all power, made him a mere tool in their hands, and practically took away the franchise from the Hawaiian race. This constitution was never in any way ratified, either by the people, or by their representatives, even after violence had procured the king's signature to it. Contrary entirely to the intent of the prior constitution drawn by a Hawaiian monarch (under which for twenty-three years the nation had been conducted to prosperity), this draft of 1887 took all power from the ruler, and meant that from that day the "missionary party" took the law into its own hands. 1

It may be asked, "Why did the king give them his signature?" I answer without hesitation, because he had discovered traitors among his most trusted friends, and knew not in whom he could trust; and because he had every assurance, short of actual demonstration, that the conspirators were ripe for revolution, and had taken measures to have him assassinated if he refused. His movements of late had been watched, and his steps dogged, as though he had been a fugitive from justice. Whenever he attempted to go out in the evening, either to call at the hotel, or visit any one of his friends' houses, he was conscious of the presence of enemies who were following stealthily on his track. But, happily, Providence watched over him, and thus he was guarded from personal harm.

He signed that constitution under absolute compulsion. Details of the conspiracy have come to me since from sources upon which I can rely, which lead to the conviction that but for the repugnance or timidity of one of the executive committee, since risen very high in the counsels of the so-called republic, he would have been assassinated 1. Then they had planned for the immediate abrogation of the monarchy, the declaration of a republic, and a proposal for annexation to be made to the United States. The constitution of the republic was actually framed and agreed upon; but the plot was not fully carried out – more moderate counsels prevailed. They therefore took the very constitution of which I have spoken, the one which had been drafted for a republic, hastily rewrote it so as to answer their ends, and forced Kalakaua to affix thereto his official signature.

It has been known ever since that day as "The Bayonet Constitution," and the name is well chosen; for the cruel treatment received by the king from the military companies, which had been organized by his enemies under other pretences, but really to give them the power of coercion, was the chief measure used to enforce his submission. They had illegally come out against him, bearing arms; and it is openly stated that they had prepared measures to be a law unto themselves 2. Whatever the faults of Mr. Gibson, so long prime minister of Kalakaua, he was an able man, and his only public crime was his loyalty to his king. And it was for this reason that he, and his son-in-law, Mr. Fred H. Hayselden of Lanai, were seized by a mob composed of the "missionary party" armed with rifles, and marched down the public streets to the wharves; not an atom of respect being shown to the gray hairs of the old man who had occupied for years the highest position in the king's cabinet. Who was the man, and where is he now, who knocked off the hat, and struck the loyal old man, as he silently accepted his changed position?

So these two citizens were forced along into a small structure on the wharf, where hung two ropes with nooses already prepared, and a man of widely known missionary ancestry, led the outcry, vociferating loudly and lustily, "Hang them! Hang them!" Could it be possible, I thought, that a son of one of my early instructors, the child of such a lovely and amiable Christian mother, could so far forget the spirit of that religion his parents taught, and be so carried away with political passion, as to be guilty of murder?

Yet he was not the only one, by any means, who seemed to have forgotten those principles of our Lord, to teach which their parents had come to our shores. For while this was going on in the city, another missionary boy rode out to the country residence of Mr. Gibson, at Kapiolani Park, and entering abruptly into the presence of his daughter, Mrs. Hayselden, threw a lasso over her head, as though the gentle woman had been a wild animal, and avowed his intention of dragging her into town. While he held her, those with him searched the house, hoping that they might discover arms or some other evidence by which Mr. Gibson and the members of his family could be convicted and hung, but they were disappointed. After subjecting her to this brutality, which she bore most bravely, the ruffians left her to await the return from Honolulu of her natural protectors. But, alas! instead of their presence, what sorrow was to be hers! She received news of the manner in which they had been treated, and how doubtful it was whether they would ever be allowed to meet again this side of the grave; for after keeping their victims some days in terror of life, on the fifth day of July, 1887, the two men, against whom no charge, political nor criminal, was ever made, were placed on board a sailing-vessel and landed at San Francisco. The treatment received was too much for the elder sufferer; and although the conspirators had not directly assassinated him, he died soon after. His son returned to Hawaii, and became sheriff of Lanai during my reign. He was one of the first persons selected for dismissal by the present government; he had taken no part in public manifestations, but was informed by the attorney-general, Mr. W. O. Smith, that he was removed from office, "simply because you are a friend of the queen."



TURNING from this narration of the events which had transpired before the return of the queen's party from abroad, I will resume the thread of my personal narrative from the moment of meeting with my brother. After exchanging a few words of salutation and family greeting, we left the queen to listen to her husband's account of what had taken place during their three months' separation and returned to our home, very glad indeed to be again settled at Washington Place.

There we found the good mother of my husband delighted to meet us, and filled with gratitude at our safe return. Her expressions of joy at once more meeting her son were but natural, for had he not always been devoted to her comfort? There was a little English lady who had been staying with Mrs. Dominis during our absence, and both my husband and I were glad to have the opportunity of expressing to her our sense of obligation for all she had done for his mother's needs while we were gone. She had been very attentive and considerate. Her name was Miss Davis, and she was a sister of Rector Davis of South Kona.

At this time, nearly a month after the revolution and change of constitution, everything seemed to settle down into quiet again; but appearance are deceptive, and "the devil never sleeps." So, having achieved so much of their desires, the conspirators worked day and night to keep the city in a ferment. Plans were made, and committees were formed; the extreme views of some of the members caused others, more scrupulous, to retire, and to say that they could not willingly consent to be tools in the hands of wicked men, instruments of evil to their fellows. So these committees were organized over and over again, without fixed purpose, without stability, until finally all other elements had withdrawn from connection with the conspirators, save a small number of agitators whose sole rallying-point was annexation to the United States.

During the session to the legislature for the year 1888, Mr. James I. Dowsett, Jr., a young man, came to my house at Muulaulani, Palama, to inform me that he had been commissioned by those members who belonged to the missionary party to inquire if I would accept the throne in case my brother should be dethroned. To my indignation at the proposition was added astonishment that the request should come from a mere boy eighteen years of age; and I responded at once to his remark by saying, with some emphasis, that such a proposal was not to be considered. My answer would be "No," and this final. He then, with an air of apology, added, that he hoped I would not be offended with him personally, because he had only been the bearer of the message. Then he volunteered the intimation that, since his errand had been unsuccessful, I might receive a repetition of the same proposition in the course of a few days. I then asked him what was the intention of the missionary party? what did they propose to do to my brother? how was he to be dethroned? were they going to murder him? To these interrogatories he replied that he knew nothing more about it, and bade me adieu.


But, in conformity with his words, about a week from that day my telephone was rung by Mr. W. R. Castle, who wished to know if I would be at home that morning; if so, he would like to call and see me on an important matter, and would arrive in about half an hour. He was told that I would see him, and at the appointed time he appeared. He indicated that our conference should be held in some place selected for its privacy, where we would not be overheard nor interrupted. I chose a side room, or corner, where I generally attended to my correspondence or did my literary work. But in a room adjoining there happened to be, at the moment of his visit, a party of girls who had met to consult on a little social matter, – the arrangements for a picnic. Just as soon as they heard me enter my writing-room, and recognized from the conversation that some one was with me, their voices hushed, and they remained as still as mice; and so listened to every word which passed between myself and Mr. Castle.

He announced to me that he had come to propose that I should accept the throne, to which I should at once ascend, and receive the support of the missionary party. I demanded of him how my brother could be dethroned. Did they mean harm to his person? He denied that there was any such intent, but declared that King Kalakaua must retire, and that I should assume his position as the reigning sovereign. Perhaps they imagined at this time that I would be a willing tool to carry out all of their projects. It was true that I was always an active member of all the associated plans for carrying on missionary works, and was never appealed to in vain by the missionaries to give money or sympathy to all that was to be done in the name of Christianity. Whatever was to be undertaken by their church, or by any of their societies, had received my hearty co-operation from my earliest womanhood. I was about the first one to whom they went for subscriptions, nor did they ever go empty away. I was a member of the Fort-street Benevolent Society, also of the Strangers' Friend Society; and at the very time of the landing of the United States troops to overthrow my government, was a member of the Woman's Board of Missions. In fact, I was concerned with the missionary party all my lifetime, in more measures of organized benevolent work than I have the space to mention here. Perhaps it was because I had gone hand in hand with them in all good works that they thought I would cast in my lot with them now for evil, – give my consent to their plans, so frankly avowed, of conspiracy for my brother's overthrow, and thus profit by their rebellion against his lawful authority. If so, they found themselves much mistaken. I allowed Mr. Castle to explain as fully as he pleased their designs, and then I told him with firmness and decision that I would have nothing to do with them in this matter. Seeing that I firmly declined the proposal, Mr. Castle retired; and as that was the last I heard about it, I infer that, having made their plots, they lacked the courage, or the heart, to put their plans into execution. I will do the missionary party the justice to state, that their confidence in my aid for every good word and work was not destroyed by my refusal to join in their conspiracies. About the time that the old Fort-street congregation was getting settled in their new and beautiful building, now called the Central Union Church, which is directly opposite my residence known as Washington Place, I received from my former instructor, Rev. E. G. Beckwith, a most flattering letter; and Mr. Charles Cook asked me to take a pew there at five hundred dollars a year. I was pleased to know that the reverend gentleman, who had known me throughout my whole life, – and at this time I was some years past my fiftieth birthday, – should entertain so favorable an opinion of his ancient pupil. Although I was at this time quite a regular attendant at the Kawaiahao church, yet I had this proposal of Mr. Cook under consideration. Just what I might have done I cannot now say; for the political events, which ultimately led to the overthrow of my government by his friends and his party, came upon me so thick and fast, that I had little time for the consideration of anything but the most important matters.

In the month of April, 1889, Mrs. Dominis became very ill; and one day the candle of life, which had been flickering in the socket, went gently out. But the troubled political atmosphere was such, that even my domestic sorrow was not respected.

For it had been proposed that the king should take a trip to San Francisco, in regard to some commercial matter. It was a new scheme; some novel proposal to be made for closer relations with the United States, by which, of course, the missionary party was to be benefited, and of the terms of which my long-suffering brother was to be the bearer and the promoter. On Sunday, when my husband's mother was borne up the Nuuanu Valley to her last resting-place, the cabinet, notwithstanding the sacredness of the day, was in session, making plans and discussing the means for the projected trip of His Majesty to America.

In the midst of our sorrow a message arrived directed to me. It was from Mr. Jonathan Austin, the Minster of Foreign Affairs, asking me if I would be one of a council of regency to take charge of the government during the expected absence of the king. I immediately sent my husband, Governor Dominis, to inform His Majesty and his cabinet that I would accept the regency, but only to be sole regent in the king's place and stead; that the cabinet had full power to act upon all measures relating to the administration of government; that were I one of a council of regency there would be no executive; and that this was the second time I had been obliged to state my position and decline such an arrangement. While my husband was delivering this message; the funeral ceremonies of his mother were suspended; and on his return the last sad rites of respect to her remains were rendered, and the procession wended its way up the valley to her place of burial.



AFTER all, the anticipated trip was never taken. I am at a loss to explain the causes of its failure, but I understood that there was some friction in the cabinet. That body was now the absolute monarch of the kingdom of the Hawaiian Islands. Its members, Messrs. Austin, Damon, C. W. Ashford, with L. A. Thurston as its chief, defied the king to his face, and openly insulted him in his own palace. In one of their official documents they use to him the following language: –

"The government in all its departments must be conducted by the cabinet. Your Majesty shall, in future, sign all documents and do all acts which, under the laws of the constitution, require the signature or act of the sovereign, when advised so to do by the cabinet, the cabinet being solely and absolutely responsible for any signature of any document or act so done or performed by their advice."

As His Majesty very naturally demurred to such construction of even their own constitution, the cabinet appealed to the supreme court, who to the number of five justices, the first named being Albert F. Judd, and the last Sanford B. Dole, very consistently with the public record of these gentlemen, declared that the king was wrong, and that all power was placed in the hands of the cabinet. It was by such acts as this that the missionary party sought to humiliate my brother in the estimation of his own people; so that it has well been said by those conversant with the history of these days, that His Majesty Kalakaua died in reality of a broken heart, – broken by the base ingratitude of the very persons whose fortunes he had made.

On the 10th of May, 1889, the Princess Kaiulani, being then in her fourteenth year, left Honolulu under the charge of Mrs. Thomas Rain Walker, wife of the British vice-counsul, for England. It was the intention of her father, Hon. A. S. Cleghorn, that she should remain abroad a short time for educational advantages; but owing to the changes which have taken place since her departure, she is still living with him in Europe.

In June, 1889, grand preparations were made for the celebration, on the eleventh, of Kamehameha Day. All who were interested in the races turned their steps in the direction of Kapiolani Park. Twelve o'clock was the hour appointed for the salutes to be fired, and all was to be done to make the day one of enjoyment. But a special invitation had been sent to me by the committee of the Sunday-school of the Congregational church to attend a picnic of the Sunday-school children, who were to assemble at the house and grounds of Mr. John Thomas Waterhouse, Jr., up the Nuuanu Valley; so after the salute, or soon after twelve, I left the gay company at Kapiolani Park, and with two lady companions went up to the picnic, where I found myself most cordially welcomed, and made the guest of honor of the pleasant occasion. Young and old seemed to be very much gratified that I had willingly excused myself from other scenes of social enjoyment, to be present at the reunion of these interesting classes of children; and as for myself, I enjoyed the company, as I always take pleasure with children and in educational gatherings.

In the early part of July, 1889, I made a trip to Kauai; but before speaking of this journey, on which I was absent about a fortnight, I find it is necessary to go back a little, and give an account of my connection with Mr. Robert W. Wilcox.

Mr. Wilcox, in early youth, was sent abroad by King Kalakaua to be educated for future service to the state. But the revolution of 1887 compelled the king to cut off his income; and so he was recalled, arriving at Honolulu about the date of our return from the Victorian Jubilee. During his absence, however, he had met and married an Italian lady, the Countess Sobrero; and the young wife accompanied him on his return. For a while they were domiciled at the Arlington Hotel; but their means were nearly exhausted, and the party in power resolved to do nothing for them. Aware of the facts, in pity for their situation I offered them quarters under my roof until they could provide for themselves.

They were very glad to accept my proposal, and I gave them comfortable rooms in the long building attached to the main house at my Palama residence. I tried to make it as pleasant for them as I could, and devoted my attention especially to the newly married wife. She was excessively homesick, and was constantly making efforts to get together money sufficient to enable them to leave the Islands. Through the kind assistance of Mr. F. A. Schaefer, the Italian consul, and a few others, after residing with me for two months, they were at last able to leave Honolulu, and reached the city of San Francisco. From thence I heard from her that they were comfortably settled, that she had found pupils in foreign languages, and that her husband had also secured employment as a surveyor of lands. But early in the year 1889 I received word from Mr. Wilcox that he was again making up his mind to come to Honolulu; that he intended to enter the political arena, and run as a candidate for the legislature.

I wrote him at once, using all my influence to dissuade him from the very thought of it, telling him plainly that he was far better off where he was. I trusted that he had listened to my advice, but what was my astonishment when he appeared at Honolulu. As the rooms formerly occupied by him and Mrs. Wilcox were not at that time used, and I was then living in Washington Place, I told him that he was welcome to go to Palama, and remain there until such time as he should be able to provide for himself elsewhere. I could not foresee that my kindness and hospitality to these persons in need would be used by suspicious parties to connect my name with a foolish and ill-organized attempt subsequently made by Mr. Wilcox to restore some part of the authority of which the missionary party had deprived the king. All unconscious of any such scheme, I started on my journey to visit friends in Kauai.

It was midsummer in 1889 when I arrived at the island of Kauai, and at first took up my residence with Governor Kanoa. He was one of the few chiefs of the olden times and earlier manners who had not yet passed away from earth. Although of lesser grade than some of those mentioned in these memoirs, yet he was conversant with all forms of his duty, and observant of that etiquette handed down from ancient days towards the chiefs of rank superior to his own. It was, therefore, natural to him to open his house to me, and to receive my suite with that generous hospitality and cordiality typical of the Hawaiian of high birth. After spending a few days at his estate, he provided horses and carriages for my party, and accompanied by his wife, a good Hawaiian lady, we proceeded to "Eleele," where I had received an invitation from a young couple to be their guest. From a brief but pleasant visit there, we went on to Waimea, and took up our abode with Mr. and Mrs. Levi Kauai. When it was known that the heir to the throne was at their house, many people of that district called, and during my stay we received numerous pleasant attentions. From here we made preparations for retracing our steps, but stopped on our return to visit at a pretty little estate, situated in a quiet valley just outside of Waimea, where resided Mrs. Gay and her daughters. Mr. Robinson and Mr. Francis Gay also made their home with this amiable lady. All of these had ever been noted for their patriotic attentions to any of the chiefs who from time to time visited the district. This reputation was ably sustained, and I retain the most pleasing recollections of their courtesy and kindness on this occasion. My regard for this family extended even one generation farther back, their grandmother, Mrs. Sinclair of the island of Niihau, being also one of my warm friends.

On this visit I made careful inquiries as to the success of Mr. Gay's efforts to raise the "Oo" bird on this island. This is a bird about the size of a robin, under whose wings may be found the choice yellow feathers used in the manufacture of cloaks or collars exclusively pertaining to the Hawaiian chiefs of high rank. It is not the mamo bird, from which also feather capes and cloaks are made.

I had succeeded in getting from Hawaii, the largest island, some specimens expressly for their island. Twenty pairs had been brought as far as the island of Oahu. Of these, three pairs originally were sent to Kauai, but on making inquiry I found that only one pair was now known to be living there. These seemed to be thriving. Perhaps one cause of their content was a shrub or bush of the mimosa family growing near to the house, which bore fragrant blossoms very similar to those of the lehua, from which, in its own native island, this bird sucks the honey on which it subsists. They are true Hawaiians; flowers are necessary for their very life. This single pair of birds kept near to the house, and were often seen on this fragrant mimosa-tree. Ten years have flown by since I had the pleasure of looking at them there; but it is to be trusted that they have been thriving, laying their eggs year by year, and have by this time a flourishing colony. There is a bird on Kauai very similar in some points to the Oo, but they have a white feather under the wing instead of the much-prized yellow tip from which the celebrated leis and cloaks are made.

After the parting with this agreeable family we turned our steps toward Niumalu, the residence of the governor; and having also exchanged with him our greetings and farewells, we took passage on the schooner James Makee for Honolulu. I arrived in due time, refreshed by the journey, and with my party also delighted with the manifestations of kindly interest and loyal love which we had received throughout our trip.



ON returning to Washington Place, greatly to my regret I found my husband suffering much from the attacks of his old enemy, the rheumatism. But he bore his sufferings patiently, and was pleased to know that I had had so pleasant a journey. On the day following my return, I went to my out-of-town residence at Palama, in order to look over my garden, in which I have never ceased to take a keen interest. After satisfying myself that the faithful old gardener had given everything proper care, I turned my attention toward the house itself, and found matters there also satisfactory.

I had finished my examinations, and was just on the point of leaving, when I heard steps on the front staircase; and knowing that some person was without, I advanced to the door, which I did not open, but drew down the grating, and met the gaze of a young man with haggard, anxious countenance. It was Mr. Robert W. Wilcox who was standing before me, trying with all his self-control to appear calm, but evidently much excited. He told me in a few words that he was ready to release the king from that hated thraldom under which he had been oppressed, and that measures had already been taken. I asked him at once if he had made mention of so important a matter to His Majesty. He replied that he had not.

I then charged him to do nothing unless with the full knowledge and consent of the king. To this he responded that he had counted the cost, and would most gladly lay down his life for my brother's sake. He then proceeded to inform me that it was on this very night that the step would be taken; that every preparation had been made, and the signal for decisive action would soon be given. This was the first intimation of any kind which had been brought to my knowledge of the initiation of the movement. At the time he was speaking with me I had not the least idea of the use which subsequent events proved had been made of my Palama residence, and my old gardener had been kept in equal ignorance. Our lack of suspicion is easily explained; for the entire building can be traversed when the shutters are kept closed, and no observer on the outside would be any the wiser, whatever his position. Knowing this as well as I, Mr. Wilcox and his associates had held their secret meetings there; and always observing due caution, their occupancy or manner of using the place was known only to themselves.

It turned out just as I had been warned by my visitor; and on the very night of the disclosure the outbreak occurred, and Mr. Wilcox made his unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the missionary party. The king that night was not at the palace, but at his boat-house. I was in Washington Place. As I have always been in the habit of rising early, I awoke at my usual time, and saw that my husband was quietly sleeping, and having a respite from his pain. I dressed without disturbing him, and strolled out into the garden, where I was in the habit of taking a morning walk before breakfasting.

I was not long there before I noticed that something unusual was transpiring. Members of the rifle companies were to be seen hastening from every direction; some of them fully dressed and carrying their arms in proper form, but some appeared to have left their homes in haste, so that they did not have the various parts of their uniform adjusted, but were dressing themselves as they ran past. They were all going in the direction of the armory on Punch-Bowl Street. Young Harry Auld, who was employed in the custom-house, went by while I stood near the gate to my grounds; and I asked him at once what was the meaning of the commotion at this early hour.

He informed me that Mr. Wilcox had taken possession of the palace, and was supported there by a company of soldiers. Naturally I connected this information with what I had heard the night before, and all became clear to me. Towards ten o'clock in the forenoon firing began, and soon shots went whizzing past our house. There were occasional outbursts of musketry throughout the day; but towards evening all became tranquil again, or nearly so. We heard that Mr. Wilcox had been deserted by his men, and had therefore surrendered. The rifle companies were stationed at the music hall opposite the palace; but their gallant commander kept out of harm's way at the Hawaiian Hotel, from whence he sent his orders by an orderly to his executive officer. Late in the afternoon Mr. Hay Wodehouse, and the purser of the steamer Australia, climbed onto the roof of the hotel stables to have their share of the fun, taking with them a small mortar or other contrivance for firing bombs. They discharged these missiles into the palace grounds, aiming at the bungalow with such effect as to shatter the furniture of the Princess Poomaikalani, and do much other damage. This was the time when Mr. Wilcox sent word to Colonel Ashford that he would lay down his arms; and being arrested for the useless riot, he was led to the station-house. His punishment was a moderate imprisonment, and it has been said that he was released from the consequences of his act because he had in his power certain persons who would have been much terrified had he been inclined to tell all he knew. However this may be, it is evident that out of gratitude he had perhaps some plans or purposes for being of service to my brother, because the king had tried in the past to do something for him. His enthusiasm was great, but was not supported by good judgment or proper discretion. His efforts failed; and indeed, it is not easy to see how under the circumstances it could have been otherwise.



I HAVE spoken of the pleasant Sunday-school picnic of the 11th of June, 1889. My entertainers, it seemed, were sufficiently gratified with my presence not to forget me in their next invitations; and the year following I was invited out to Punahou, where the Sunday-schools of all the Congregational societies were to assemble. I first drove out to Kapiolani Park to see the races. These went on finely. The assembled multitude cheered on the winning horse, the sweet strains of the band floated out on the air of the beautiful day, and the people seemed inspired by their surroundings to forget all their political troubles or their domestic necessities. After I heard the salute denoting the noon hour, again, as on the previous occasion, accompanied by two lady companions, I proceeded to the picnic at Punahou. For some reason as yet not explained, the assembled worthies of the Congregational church did not seem as cordial as they were a year earlier. However, I did not allow any to know that I noticed the change; and besides, there were many sincere friends present who treated me most hospitably and kindly. While engaged in conversation with some of these, Mr. Albert F. Judd, the chief justice, approached me, and inquired if I could descry a vessel which was making her way slowly out of the port and gaining an offing. I replied that I saw the one to which he referred. Then he went on to volunteer the information that on board that craft was Colonel Ashford, who had escaped from prison, and was secretly taking his departure.

A few days prior to this celebration, in one of those turns of the tide of politics by which the Ashfords have more than once found themselves in strange company, Mr. V. V. Ashford, on some charge of seditious conduct toward the governing party, found himself in prison.

I mention this as but one amongst many instances I might recall where those charged with political, or, indeed any other offence, have, for reasons best known to the missionary party, been allowed or even constrained to leave the Islands. Of some of these, nothing more has ever been heard.

The 18th of November of that same year was celebrated with much display and many congratulations as the birthday of His Majesty Kalakaua. During the afternoon a reception took place at the palace, in which the societies organized by the king, the queen, or by myself had a general reunion. These were the Hooulu Lahui, the Liliuokalani Educational Society, and the Naua Society, the last named under the special patronage of the king. After paying their respects to His Majesty and the queen, the whole company adjourned to the wharves. As usual there was a fine regatta, in which many pretty water-craft took part. We are always favored with fresh and regular breezes, and the little white-sailed yachts made a neat and inspiriting picture as they contested for the prizes. Those who won went home happy in their trophies of victory; those who did not had, at any rate, a delightful sail. The boat-houses were turned into places of entertainment, and fine lunches were given at that of the king as well as at many others. My riding society had been specially invited to take their refreshments at the boat-house of Dr. Trousseau.

As we were all gayly going to lunch after viewing the sport, general attention was attracted to a balloon which was at the moment ascending from the foot of Punch-Bowl Hill. Scarcely had the light globular object reached the upper currents of the atmosphere, when it was whirled away with fearful speed, for it was a very windy day. On watching the car under the balloon, we noticed that the man had cut himself adrift, and was descending from mid-air in a parachute. He was coming down bravely; but what was the horror of all of the spectators to observe that instead of landing on the wharf, or even in the port, he was being carried far out to sea, beyond the breakers, where the waters were alive with sharks. Steamers and boats were immediately got under way to effect his rescue, but he was never seen again. The balloon from which he had made his fatal leap also disappeared, and no trace of either was ever discovered. The poor man probably met his fate from the jaws of the monsters of the deep the moment he touched the water.

In the evening there was a grand display of fireworks, and a procession of the fire companies of the city. There was also a new organization which paraded this evening, called the "Sons of Hawaii," at whose head was Mr. John Cummins. It was to be reviewed by His Majesty Kalakaua. The men were mounted on the finest horses which could be found in the city, and were manly fellows and good riders. At eight in the evening Their Majesties, the king and queen, the members of the cabinet, with many who held office under the government, assembled in front of the palace to receive the organization.

I was not at that hour present, because I was making a tour of the city in order to inspect the decorations and see the fireworks. But just as I finished my drive, and entered the palace yard, the "Sons of Hawaii" came up the avenue with their horses on the full gallop, making a most inspiriting display. How well they sat their steeds, and how gracefully they rode! Each man held aloft a lighted torch, adding much to the effect of the cavalcade. They drew up in front of the king, and were most profound in their salutations. I paid particular attention to their behavior, because amongst them were a number of the missionary boys, who seemed to act as though they would outdo those of native birth in their manifestations of loyalty and respect. There was a sad interest to me afterwards in recalling this evening, because it was about the last celebration in which my brother made a public appearance.

The fatigues of this day, several sources of worry, and the responsibilities which I felt were approaching, brought on a slight fever; and for three weeks I was confined to my rooms, at times not leaving my sick-bed.

Three days before his departure the king came to see me, and told me of his intention to visit the United States. I did all I could to dissuade him from the journey. I reminded him of his failing health, and informed him that I was not in my usual vigor. Cold weather, too, to which he was unaccustomed, was fast approaching; and if anything should happen to him, how would I, with my feeble health, be able to meet the increasing burdens of my station. He replied that he would leave those behind who would look out for the government. His only errand at this moment was to notify me that I was to be appointed regent during his absence. He really did need change, after what he had borne in recent years; and this consideration doubtless entered into his resolution.

But the principal motive of his journey was to have an interview with Mr. H. A. P. Carter, the Hawaiian minister at Washington, in order to give him instructions in view of the McKinley Bill, which had just passed the American Congress, the influence of which was supposed to be dangerous to the interest of the foreign element at Honolulu, and destructive to the profits of the sugar planters. So the king went cheerfully and patiently to work for the cause of those who had been and were his enemies. He sacrificed himself in the interests of the very people who had done him so much wrong, and given him such constant suffering. With an ever-forgiving heart he forgot his own sorrows, set aside all feelings of animosity, and to the last breath of his life he did all that lay in his power for those who had abused and injured him.

If ever there was a man who was pure in spirit, if ever there was a mortal who had perfect charity, he was that man. In spite of all the revilings uttered against him, he never once opened his lips to speak against another, whomsoever it might be. And so my poor brother said good-by to us all, and bade farewell to his beautiful Islands, which he was never to look on again.

Just before he sailed I went to the palace. There he called together his cabinet, and addressing to the gentlemen a few pleasant words, he placed me in their charge, hoping for the best, and expressing the wish that under our care the burden of the government might be lighter than it had proved to him since he had been the reigning sovereign. At eleven o'clock he exchanged his last words with Queen Kapiolani and myself, and then hastened rapidly away to the wharf, where a boat from the United States man-of-war Charleston was in waiting to convey him on board that vessel. Crowds witnessed his departure, all the shipping was gay, the vessels saluted the out-going ship, a royal salute was fired, and he was gone.



THUS again began my regency. With only twenty-five soldiers to guard the palace, a feeling of uncertainty in the mercantile world, and many signs of domestic unrest, my husband thought it best for me to return to Washington Place every night; but each morning at nine o'clock I went to my official duties, and part of these was always the examination of some alarm or rumor which had come to the palace doors. Now it was the report of a secret meeting at some house up the Nuuanu Valley to debate upon an overthrow of my government, again the account of an assembling out on the plains for conspiracy. Often, even after I returned to my home, would come a telephonic message announcing that the palace was to be attacked, and the military must be called out.

On tracing these rumors, whenever there was any basis of truth in them, it was found that the agitation was always the work of that same clique who were never satisfied, always conspiring, always determined that they would either rule or ruin. Such men, having no covenant with their own consciences, suspicious even of their own shadows, in power or out of power, are always a menace to the peace of the community.

Nothing worthy of record transpired during the closing days of 1890, and the opening weeks of 1891, until in the city it was reported that the ship Charleston was in sight with yards cock-billed, in token of mourning. My ministers were assembled in the Blue Room of the palace; and as I entered I could see on each countenance apprehension of the fate which we feared must have befallen the king, and to which we soon gave expression in words. On the arrival of the Charleston in port, we were officially notified. One of the cabinet went to the wharf to inquire what plans were made for the reception of the king's remains.

He brought back word that at five o'clock of that afternoon the admiral himself would come to the palace at the head of the party which was to escort the body of the deceased sovereign. Not wishing to leave the palace, I immediately wrote to my husband, who was at home suffering from rheumatism, to inform him of all that had been brought to my knowledge. On learning of my brother's death, in spite of his indisposition he came at once to the palace, so as to be near me at this critical moment. I was so overcome by the death of my dear brother, so dazed with the suddenness of the news which had come upon us in a moment, that I hardly realized what was going on about me, nor did I at all appreciate for the moment my situation. Before I had time to collect myself, before my brother's remains were buried, a trap was sprung upon me by those who stood waiting as a wild beast watches for his prey.

The ministers, who were apparently of one mind with the justices of the supreme court, called together the members of the council, and when all had taken their seats, sent for me. I turned to Governor Dominis before entering the chamber, and inquired of him, "What is the object of this meeting?" He said that they had come together to witness my taking of the oath of office. I told him at once that I did not wish to take the oath just then, and asked why such proceedings could not be deferred until after my brother's funeral. He said that others had decided that I must take my official oath then and there.

Few persons have ever been placed without a word of warning in such a trying situation, and I doubt if there was any other woman in the city who could have borne with passable equanimity what I had to endure that day. I will scarcely limit the comparison to my sex; I doubt if many men could have passed successfully through such an ordeal. Ere I realized what was involved, I was compelled to take the oath to the constitution, the adoption of which had led to my brother's death.

After taking the oath of office administered to me by the chief justice, Albert Francis Judd, the meeting dissolved, and we adjourned to the Blue Room, where all the members of the privy council came to pay to me their mournful congratulations. Of these the chief justice was the first; and as he shook my hand he said to me, "Should any of the members of your cabinet propose anything to you, say yes;" and left me quite at a loss to know what his words might portend. But it soon became apparent. After the members of the privy council departed, the cabinet remained. Mr. Cummins, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that they wished to notify me that they would have to continue in office; and then went on with a lecture, or apology, which I could not understand, and the argument of which I do not believe he had quite mastered himself. Mr. Godfrey Brown, the Minister of Finance, came to his relief by offering the suggestion that no changes could be made in the cabinet except by the legislature. The only notice I took of their discussion was to say that I could not understand the necessity of mentioning the matter at all at such a moment. To this Mr. Petersen, the Attorney-General, rejoined that I ought to understand the situation and accept it. I replied that I had no intention of discussing situations or other political matters at all at this time, and I would defer all further notice of the matter until after the king's burial.


At five o'clock the afternoon of the 29th of January, 1891, the solemn procession began at the boat-landing, where the men from the Charleston had landed with the king's remains, and from whence they took up the line of their mournful march to Iolani Palace. It was a gloomy, cloudy afternoon. As they moved slowly up to the gates of the palace, there was a moment's pause; and just then a triple rainbow was seen to span with its arch the entire structure, stretching from one end to the other, and, as it were, embracing the palace. Crowds of people thronged in, respectfully following the king's remains, with hearts too full of grief to speak of the deceased sovereign even to each other. When the cortége arrived at the palace steps, the casket was placed on the shoulders of the stoutest and best-picked men of the ship, and borne to a bier in the centre of the Red Chamber, which had always been the royal reception-room, where it was to lie in state.

The kind-hearted and ever-friendly officer who commanded the Charleston, Admiral George Brown, paid his respects to the widowed queen, and then, in company with his officers, returned to his ship. He had taken my brother as a guest of honor to San Francisco; he had shown to him the greatest courtesy and the most unaffected kindness during the passage; then, after the final scene, to him had belonged the sad office of conveying the remains of his late companion back over the same route, a silent passenger going to his final resting-place. The Hawaiian people are always grateful for tokens of respect shown to their chiefs, so on the proposed departure of the Charleston there was a general wish for a day to be given to the contributions of tokens of friendship to the admiral. On the day set apart for this grand expression of gratitude, men, women, and children crowded on board, each bearing some memento of Aloha to the gallant sailor. These consisted of curiosities of all kinds, – old-fashioned spears, calabashes, shells, necklaces, and countless other articles of native use or manufacture, each telling its own little story of our people, recalling to whoever might see it in any part of the world some tender memory of Hawaii.



IN the meantime proper preparations were made for the funeral of His Majesty Kalakaua, than whom no king was ever more beloved by his people. The usual ceremonies were carried out as customary for the lying in state of a sovereign, or chief of the royal family. The casket was laid on a cloth of the royal feathers, which was spread over a table in the centre of the Red Chamber in the Iolani Palace, and guards were detailed for duty by day and by night. For this service twenty men are always selected, whose office it is to bear aloft the royal kahilis, which are never lowered during the course of the whole twenty-four hours. The attendants are divided into four watches of three hours each. Those relieving form a line, and take their positions as the stations are vacated by their predecessors, who, on resigning the plumes of state, return to their homes. The watchers are generally selected from men who can claim ancestry from the chiefs; of these there are quite a number still living, of well-known families, although now generally poor in worldly possessions. While in attendance at the side of the royal casket, some sang the death-wail or old-time mèlès or chants belonging solely to the family of the deceased chieftain; and in the meantime attendants of a younger race composed dirges which were more in accord with the lyrics of the present day. There was also detailed for my brother a guard of honor from the Masonic fraternity; two Masons always remained with the other watchers, and were relieved in a similar manner.

Three weeks constitute the period devoted to the obsequies before the burial, or the "lying in state," of the remains of a high chief of the Hawaiians. During this delay the cabinet and the privy council carried out the plans made for the details of the royal funeral. The death and burial of a sovereign is not a trivial matter in Hawaii. The people come from all parts of the islands to the funeral of the one whom they have known and loved as the head of the nation.

At last the morning for the final ceremonies arrived, and early in the day the sad exercises began with one of the most interesting and impressive ceremonies I ever witnessed. This was the honor rendered by the secret society of the Hale Naua to their head and founder. Prayers were offered, and they went through the different ceremonies, as is the custom with the Masonic or other similar fraternal organizations. The high priest, Mr. William Auld, officiated, two lay priests assisting during these parts of the ritual. Then entered twelve women with lighted candles in their hands; each one of these, bearing aloft her taper, offered a short prayer, the first words at the head, next at the shoulders, then at the elbows, then the hands, and so on to the thighs, the knees, the ankles, and the feet. There were six of the torch-bearers on each side; and after these forms they surrounded the remains, and all repeated in unison prayers appropriate to the burial of the dead. They then withdrew in the most solemn manner. This service, so far from being, as has been alleged, idolatrous, had no more suggestion of paganism than can be found in the Masonic or other worship. An excellent opportunity was given me to contrast the two on this occasion, and each seemed to me to be a most beautiful and impressive method of rendering honor to the memory of a deceased member.

At the hour appointed for the state services, each dignitary, according to his rank, took the place which had been indicated to him in the great Red Room. His Lordship the Bishop of Honolulu, wearing the robes of his office, then appeared, and began the service laid down in the Anglican ritual for the burial of the dead. At the proper time each person moved to the position which had been assigned for him in the procession which was to proceed from Iolani Palace to the royal mausoleum. And just at this point there was a slight hitch; for the diplomatic corps declared that their members should be first after the carriages of the royal family, while the members of the cabinet claimed this position of precedence for themselves. After a brief discussion over the question, it was finally settled that the cabinet might take the first position, the diplomatic corps following, and in this order the procession moved onward. On each side of the bier were the kahili bearers; and these plumes, some large, some small, of various colors, were borne aloft above the heads of the moving throng, who marched with slow step up the Nuuanu Valley towards the royal mausoleum. On arrival at Kawananakoa, the casket was placed in the centre of the tomb, and the final prayers were offered by the bishop and the clergy assisting his lordship, after which they retired. Then the Masonic brethren, embracing nearly all the members of the lodges in the city, who had marched in a body, filed in with slow and solemn step, and surrounded his bier. Clothed in the insignia of their order, they stood in saddest silence about the casket, on which was placed the regalia lately worn by my brother and their brother, and also a roll on which were the records of his rank as a Mason. Then the brethren marched around the casket, and each laid thereon a little sprig or branch of green pine as a final and personal token of his grief at parting with a brother Mason. When all had done this, they retired, leaving the members of the royal family alone with their grief in the silent recesses of the tomb. Lastly, the guns of the military escort gave the final salute to the departed, three volleys of musketry being successively fired above the grave; and the line of return was formed in proper order, the kahili bearers still waving aloft the plumes, those traditional accompaniments of royalty, and which now became the insignia of office appertaining to the former heir-apparent, who had now become the sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.



Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


[Page 181]

1 See Appendix A.

[Page 182]

1 Chosen among five conspirators by lot to murder Kalakaua, he became horrified, and refused to act.

2 See first part of Appendix B.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom