The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Hawaiian Islands
HAWAIIAN ISLANDS, or Sandwich Islands, the most northerly cluster of the Polynesian archipelago, constituting a kingdom, and consisting of 12 islands, in the North Pacific, between Mexico and China, extending about 360 m. in a curve from N. W. to S. E., between lat. 18° 55' and 22° 20' N., and lon. 154° 55' and 160° 15' W. Their names and areas, in order from S. E., are: Hawaii, 4,040 sq. m.; Maui, 603 sq. m.; Molokini, islet; Kahoolawe, 60 sq. m.; Lanai, 150 sq. m.; Molokai, 169 sq. m.; Oahu, 522 sq. m.; Kauai, 527 sq. m.; Lehua, islet; Niihau, 70 sq. m.; Kaula and Bird island, islets; total, about 6,100 sq. m., of which two thirds are included in the principal island, which gives its name to the group. The islands are of volcanic formation and mountainous, the fertile lands being mostly confined to the valleys and to a belt of alluvial soil at the shore. The uplands are better adapted to grazing than to tillage. The mountains, covered with dense forests, are not cultivable. The windward coasts, which receive the N. E. trade winds, intercept the rain, and are fertile, while the leeward parts of the same island may be almost rainless. On the windward side the mountains are densely wooded. The upper limit of vegetation is determined by the aspect. On the windward side of Mauna Kea the writer has observed mosses at a height of more than 12,000 ft.; on the leeward side of Mauna Loa vegetation ceases at 8,000 ft. Only seven of the islands are inhabited. Hawaii, the easternmost (formerly miscalled Owhyhee), is of a triangular shape, and is of the most recent formation; it consists of a sloping belt of coast land, a high central plateau, and three principal mountains: Mauna Kea, 13,953 ft.; Mauna Loa, an active volcano, 13,760 ft.; and Mauna Hualalai, 7,822 ft. In no part of the islands can one journey far without seeing extinct craters, generally overgrown with luxuriant vegetation. Many hundred square miles of Hawaii are covered with recent and barren lavas. Near the shore the natives cultivate sweet potatoes upon lavas that are hardly cooled, pulverizing the scoria and mixing with it a little vegetable mould. Earthquakes, generally slight, occur frequently upon Hawaii, but not so often upon the other islands. From June, 1833, to May 31, 1867, 173 shocks were recorded at Hilo. On April 2, 1868, five days before a great eruption from Mauna Loa, violent shocks occurred in the district of Kau, and a volcanic wave which followed the earthquake swept away the hamlets on the coast. Hawaii has two great active craters, Kilauea and Mauna Loa; the former is continually, the latter intermittently active. From the latter great eruptions took place in 1832, 1840, 1843, 1852, 1855, 1859, 1868, and 1873. The lava generally forces its way through the side of the mountain at a distance of several miles from the terminal crater, which is active at the same time. The eruptions of 1840, 1859, and 1868 made their way to the sea, adding somewhat to the area of the island. Those of 1843 and 1855 poured out respectively about 17,000,000,000 and 38,000,000,000 cubic feet of lava. That of 1859 ran 50 m. to the sea in eight days. Kilauea is the largest continually active crater in the world. It is situated upon the eastern part of Mauna Loa, at an elevation of 3,970 ft, and is a pit 8 m. in circumference and 1,000 ft. in depth. Its eruptions are commonly independent of those from the summit crater. The crater is easily descended, and the melted lava may be often dipped out upon the end of the traveller's staff. The principal town upon this island is Hilo, on the N. E. coast, which is rainy, fertile, and highly tropical in appearance. The leeward coasts of Hawaii are sterile and volcanic, overhung in many parts by a steep bleak mountain. Herds of wild cattle, descended from a stock introduced by Vancouver in 1793, roam in the mountain forests, where they are hunted for the sake of their horns and hides. Maui, the second island in size, is composed of two mountainous peninsulas connected by a low isthmus. Mauna Haleakala, on the eastern peninsula, is 10,200 ft. high, and has an extinct summit crater, the largest known, being 2,000 ft. deep and 27 m. in circumference. The principal town is Lahaina. Kauai, the third island in size, is the most uniformly tropical in character; it is fertile and abundantly watered. Oahu, the fourth, has fertile plains upon the N. and S. sides; the latter are the best cultivated, and are the most populous region in the whole group. The capital, Honolulu, is here situated. The highest peak on Oahu is 3,310 ft. high. Molokai, the fifth island in size, is mountainous, presenting a magnificent wall of precipices to the north; it is thinly inhabited, as are the yet smaller and lower islands, Lanai and Niihau. Kahoolawe, Molokini, Lehua, Kaula, and Bird island are uninhabited.—The Hawaiian islands have one excellent harbor, that of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. It is protected by a barrier of coral reef, has 21 ft. of water on the bar at low tide, and from 4 to 6 fathoms inside. It affords safe anchorage and great facilities for the discharging of cargoes, and is easy of access from all quarters and with all winds. Hilo, on the N. E. side of Hawaii, has a good natural harbor, protected seaward by a reef of coral and lava, and with from 3 to 8 fathoms of water. With proper wharves, this would be an excellent harbor. Lahaina, on the island of Maui, has an open roadstead with good anchorage. Kawaihai and Kealakeakua, on the W. side of Hawaii, and Waimea, Koloa, Nawiliwili, and Hanalei, on Kauai, have tolerable harbors.—The climate of the islands is healthful and remarkably equable, so much so that the Hawaiian language has no word to express the general idea of weather. Extreme heat is never known; the mean temperature of the year at Honolulu is 75° F., and the daily range seldom exceeds 15°. During 12 years the extremes of temperature in the shade were 53° and 90°. At Lahaina the range in 10 years was from 54° to 86°. June is the warmest month, and January the coldest and most rainy. A more bracing climate may be obtained by ascending the mountains; an hour's ride from Honolulu up the Nuuanu valley will give a lower temperature. Above Lahaina, at an elevation of 3,000 ft., the thermometer ranges from 40° to 75°; and at Waimea, on Hawaii, the average temperature is 64°. On the windward side of the islands the climate is rougher and the rainfall more abundant. Honolulu and Lahaina, from their genial climate, are particularly adapted for the residence of invalids. Much of the island scenery is extremely beautiful.—The indigenous fauna of the islands is small. It consists of swine, dogs, rats, a bat which flies by day, and domestic fowls, which appear to be native. Snipes, plovers, and wild ducks are found on all the islands. There are only a few species of singing birds; many species, however, have beautiful plumage. One of the birds, melithreptes Pacifica, has under each wing a small tuft of feathers of a golden yellow color and about an inch in length. The war cloak of Kamehameha I. was made of these rare feathers; it was 4 ft. long and 11½ wide at the bottom, and its formation is said to have occupied nine successive reigns. Many varieties of fish frequent the shores, and form a staple of diet with the natives. The indigenous flora numbers about 373 species, and many more have been introduced. The cocoanut, banana, breadfruit, pandanus, cordyline (ki), and taro or kalo (arum esculentum) are probably indigenous. The last forms the principal food of the natives. The productions of the islands are sugar, rice, coffee, cotton, sandal wood, tobacco, arrowroot, wheat, maize, tapioca, oranges, lemons, bananas, tamarinds, breadfruit, guavas, potatoes, yams, kalo, fungus, wool, hides, tallow, pulu (a fibre collected from the trunks of the tree fern), and ornamental woods. Neat cattle, sheep, goats, and hogs are raised.—The islands lie several hundred miles south of the commercial routes between San Francisco and Japan and China. They are a station for the English line of steamers from California to the Feejee islands and Australia, to which latter market the increasing trade of the South Pacific islands mainly goes. That of the Hawaiian islands is tending in the same direction. A considerable part of the sugar crop of 1873 went to Melbourne and Sydney, where the duty is low. The planters and foreign residents desire a reciprocity treaty with the United States, and in 1856, 1867, and 1869 unsuccessful attempts were made to negotiate one; and still more recently the Hawaiian government offered to cede the harbor of Pearl river, 6 m. from Honolulu, to the United States, as an inducement to grant such a treaty. As a naval station, the islands offer many advantages to any power that should eventually seek the control of the North Pacific. The commerce is at present chiefly with California; the value of that trade from 1853 to 1873, including freights, passage money, and cargo values inward and outward, exceeded $19,750,000. The American duties on Hawaiian sugar exported amount to $225,000, and on rice and other products $75,000, or $300,000 annually. The imports from the United States in 1873 exceeded $1,000,000; they consist chiefly of manufactured goods, lumber, shooks, cured meats, breadstuffs, and groceries. Sugar is the chief export; the amount sent to San Francisco increased from 282,000 lbs. in 1853 to 15,500,000 lbs. in 1872. The total export for 1873 was 23,129,101 lbs. Coffee and cotton are subject to destructive blights. The leading exports in 1873 were:
The total value of the exports in 1873 was $2,128,055; of the imports for the same year, $1,349,448. The number of merchant vessels arriving was 106, with a tonnage of 62,089. The number of cargoes invoiced at above $10,000 was 34, of which 28 arrived in American, 3 in British, and 3 in Hawaiian vessels. The whaling fleet has fallen off from 549 visits of ships in 1859 to 63 in 1873, it having sought other ports.—Up to the year 1839 the islands were governed as an absolute monarchy and upon feudal principles. In that year Kamehameha III. was induced to sign a bill of rights, and in 1840 and 1842 to grant constitutions by which he surrendered the absolute rule in favor of a vernment by the three estates of king, nobles, and people, with universal suffrage, a biennial parliament, and paid representatives. The constitution of 1842 and the civil and penal codes ere mainly prepared by Chief Justice William L. Lee, an American. Judge Lee rendered great services to the nation, especially in confirming to the common natives a third of the lands of the kingdom, which were formerly owned entirely by the king and chiefs. The new constitution remained in force until the accession of Kamehameha V., who abrogated it Aug. 13, 1864, and promulgated in its place a constitution imposing qualifications on suffrage and on eligibility to the legislature, and centralizing the government in the hands of the king. A voter must read and write, pay his taxes, and have an income of $75 a year. The executive power is the king, a privy council, of which the four governors of the larger islands are members, and four responsible ministers. The legislative power is the king and the parliament, composed of 14 nobles (of whom 6 are whites) and 28 representatives (of whom 7 are whites). Both classes discuss and vote together. The judiciary power is a supreme court, composed of a chief justice, who is also chancellor, and at least two judges, four district courts, and police and other tribunals. For 1870 and 1871 the entire income of the government was $912,000, or $456,000 per year. The salaries called for amount to half of the income; the king is paid $22,500 a year. Persons of foreign birth or parentage, chiefly Americans, occupy various positions under the government; and the constitution is modelled largely after that of the United States. It guarantees liberty of worship and of the press, free instruction, the right of assembly and of petition, trial by jury, and habeas corpus. There is no army or navy; the king has a body guard. In 1843 the Hawaiian kingdom was recognized as an independent sovereignty by France and England, and in 1844 by the United States.—The Hawaiians form one of the families of the brown Polynesian race (radically distinct from the Malay, and more akin to the Papuan, according to Wallace), a race which inhabits also the Marquesas, Tonga, Society, Friendly, and Samoan groups, as well as New Zealand. Their similarity of language is so great that the Hawaiian and the New Zealander, though separated by a distance of 5,000 m., can readily understand each other. The Hawaiian language is very pictorial and expressive, with a full vocabulary for all natural objects. Its primitive character is shown by the deficiency of abstract words and general terms; even generic terms, like insect, color, are wanting; at the same time it abounds in nice distinctions, and is exact in grammatical structure. The American missionaries employed but 12 letters in reducing it to writing, A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, W; and the number of different sounds is not greatly larger than this. As in all Polynesian languages, every word and syllable must end in a vowel. The ratio of vowel to consonantal sounds is nearly twice as great as in Italian. The Polynesian ear marks the slightest distinctions of vowel sound, but is dull in distinguishing consonants; b and p, d and t, are confounded; and in Hawaiian l is interchangeable with d, and t with k. The language contains no verb whatever to express either being, existence, possession, or duty.—The Hawaiians are of a tawny complexion, inclining to olive, without any shade of red; the hair is black or dark brown, glossy and wavy; they have large eyes, a somewhat flattened nose, and full lips. They are well made and active, and of good stature; the chiefs are often larger, and considerably exceed the average height of Europeans. Like other Polynesians, they are expert in swimming and in the use of canoes, by which their war expeditions were often carried on. They are good fishermen and horsemen, and make serviceable sailors in the whaling fleets. Their disposition is facile, yielding, and imitative; they are demonstrative and laughter-loving, and are capable of a fair degree of intellectual and moral elevation. Their songs or meles manifest genuine poetic feeling. In arithmetic, geometry, and music they show special aptitude. They are not naturally an industrious race, but they now cultivate the soil with considerable skill; they manufacture sugar, molasses, salt, and arrowroot, and work in iron and other metals. At the time of Cook's visits they had abandoned cannibalism, but were characterized by licentiousness and brutality, and living under the reign of terror imposed by the cruel tyranny of the tabu. Their character is not yet essentially civilized, although it has been much modified by education. The population of the islands is steadily decreasing. In 1779 it was roughly estimated by Cook at 400,000, which was doubtless a great exaggeration. An estimate in 1822 gave 142,000. Official censuses have since been made at different periods, which gave: in 1832, 130,313; in 1836, 108,579; in 1850, 84,165; in 1853, 73,138; in 1860, 69,800; in 1866, 62,959; in 1872, 56,899. In the 21 years from 1832 to 1853 the decrease was 44 per cent.; in the 19 years from 1853 to 1872 it was 22 per cent. This lessening rate of decrease, however, must be in part attributed to the increasing number of half-breeds and of foreigners. The number of foreigners upon the islands in 1850 was 1,962; in 1853, 2,119; in 1860, 2,716; in 1866, 4,194; in 1872, 5,366 (1,938 Chinese, 889 Americans, 619 English, 395 Portuguese, 234 Germans, and 88 French). There were 51,531 natives (2,487 half-breeds). The decrease of the aborigines is due to many causes, of which those now principally active may be traced to their contact with the whites. The main cause is that foreign diseases are extremely fatal to them. In 1853 the smallpox carried off 1,200 out of a population of 2,800 in Ewa, near Honolulu. Measles, influenza, and venereal diseases have been prevalent and fatal; licentiousness prevails in spite of missionary effort, and is a considerable check upon population. Diseases of the heart and lungs, dysentery, fevers, and leprosy are frequent. A hospital has been established of late years upon the W. part of Molokai for the seclusion of lepers. The discontinuance of ancient sports, the introduction of foreign dress, and the rapid change in the habits of the people, formerly in natural relation with their circumstances, have tended strongly in the same way. The introduction of clothes appears to have been especially fatal, the Hawaiian being utterly careless about precautions respecting dampness and ventilation. The pure native race seems destined to disappear, and the half-caste population is increasing rapidly. The marriages of the Chinese and Americans with the native women are usually fruitful of healthy children; but marriages between the natives are not prolific. Education has been diffused among the Hawaiians to an extent perhaps unexampled elsewhere. Of 8,931 children between the ages of 6 and 15, 8,287 were attending 245 schools of various grades in 1872. There is one teacher for every 27 children in the group, and scarcely a Hawaiian of proper age cannot read and write his own language. Comparatively little effort has been made to teach the natives English. The schools receive subsidies from the government, and are under its supervision. A number of newspapers, in Hawaiian and English, are sustained. The people maintain churches by voluntary effort, and are extremely liberal in their contributions for various religious objects. A large proportion of the inhabitants are communicants. There is however a tendency to subside into the habits and practices of barbarism, and the native superstitions are with difficulty kept in check. But life and property are as secure as anywhere in the world, and capital offences are extremely rare.—In 1820 the first missionaries from America arrived at the islands. There was no written language; the land was owned by the king and the chiefs, to whom the people were absolutely subject. But Kamehameha II. had just abolished idolatry, and he, and still more his successor, were friendly to the mission, which soon gained great success. The islands rapidly assumed the appearance of a civilized country. In 1822 the language was reduced to writing; and since that time more than 200 works, mostly educational and religious, have been published in Hawaiian. The total number of Protestant missionaries sent to the islands, clerical and lay, including their wives, is 156. The cost of the mission up to 1869 was $1,220,000. It has been formally discontinued, but a considerable number of the missionaries still remain, supported by their churches or engaged in business. The whole number of persons admitted to the Hawaiian Protestant churches up to 1873 inclusive was 67,792; and the total membership of the same churches in 1873 was 12,283. Several of the Protestant missionaries and their children have filled places in the government. In 1827 a French Catholic mission was established at Honolulu. In 1829 the Hawaiian government directed the priests to close their chapels; some of the proselytes were confined in irons, and Roman Catholic missionaries arriving afterward were not allowed to land. In 1839 the French government sent a frigate to Honolulu, and compelled Kamehameha III. to declare the Catholic religion free to all. The whole number of the Catholic population of the islands in 1872 was stated to be 23,000. An English Reformed Catholic mission was sent out in 1862, and met with favor from Kamehameha V., who was less in sympathy with the Protestant missionaries than his predecessor had been. An Anglican bishop of Hawaii was appointed, who remained till 1870. Since his return in that year to England the mission has attracted less interest, and its success has been small.—These islands were known to the Spaniards more than a century before their rediscovery by Capt. Cook in 1778, Hawaii being called Mesa. They first became generally known by the fate of Cook, who was killed by the natives, Feb. 14, 1779. He named the group the Sandwich islands, after Lord Sandwich, then first lord of the admiralty; but the name placed at the head of this article is that which is used at the islands. In 1795-'6 Kamehameha subjugated all of the islands except Kauai, which gave in its allegiance a few years later, and founded the line of kings which ruled the islands until the close of 1872. His successors assumed Kamehameha as a title, prefixing a special name. The dates of their death and succession are as follows: Kamehameha I., May 8, 1819; II. (Liholiho), July 14, 1824; III. (Kauikeaouli), Dec. 15, 1854; IV. (Alexander), Nov. 30, 1863; V. (Lot), Dec. 11, 1872. King Lot dying without leaving an heir or appointing a successor, and the line of Kamehameha I. being extinct, William Lunalilo, descendant of an old family of Hawaiian chiefs, was elected king Jan. 8, 1873. He died Feb. 3, 1874, without issue, and David Kalakaua, a high chief, was elected king in his place, by a parliament assembled Feb. 12, 1874, for that purpose.—A full list of works relating to the islands will be found in the “Hawaiian Club Papers” (Boston, 1868). Besides the works of the explorers Cook, Vancouver, Freycinet, Kotzebue, Byron, and Wilkes, and those of the missionary Ellis, the following are among the more important: Dibble, “History” (Lahainaluna, 1843); Jarves, “History” (Boston, 1843; enlarged, Honolulu, 1873); H. T. Cheever, “The Island World in the Pacific” (New York, 1851); Dana, “Coral Reefs and Islands” (New York, 1853), and “Geology of the U. S. Exploring Expedition” (Philadelphia, 1849); G. W. Bates, “Island Notes, by a Haolé” (New York, 1854); Andrews, “Grammar of the Hawaiian Language” (Honolulu, 1854), and “Dictionary” (1865); Hopkins, “Hawaii” (London, 1866); Mann, “Flora of the Hawaiian Islands” (Boston, 1868); Brigham, “Notes on Hawaiian Volcanoes” (Boston, 1868-'9); Bliss, “Paradise of the Pacific” (New York, 1873); Nordhoff, “Northern California, Oregon, and the Sandwich Islands” (1874). See also Coan on volcanoes in the “American Journal of Sciences” (1851-'73), and the “Missionary Herald ” (1819-74).