The 5 Most Important Dates in Hawaiian History

#100 in the Moʻolelo series and #2 on the Moʻolelo Channel on YouTube!

I always try to help my students remember things – one way is by selecting the most important facts and dates for each period of history. This is my personal view of which dates are most important and these are obviously debatable, so I’ve included an alternate 5 dates for those who may find this quite basic:


5. 1909 – Relatively unknown is that the date for land claims was extended for konohiki until a decade after annexation. This date shows that the deadline on land claims – held to be Feb 14, 1848 – was a soft one indeed. It also shows beyond doubt that the land tenure system established in the Kingdom was the same one in the Territory and State, a fact that suggests its architects knew what they were doing.

4. ca. 1350 – Kalaunuiohua nearly did what Kamehameha has become legendary for: uniting the islands. He conquered all the islands, but was captured on the shores of Kauaʻi – adding to Kauaʻi’s claim of being the only island never conquered militarily. He showed it could be done.

3. 1874 – the non-judicial foreclosure law may have contributed more to Hawaiian alienation from land than the Māhele/Kuleana Act or any other single event (see Robert Stauffer’s Kahana: How the Land was Lost). This was also the year Kalākaua defeated Queen Emma in the legislative election for monarch. One canʻt help wondering how history would have gone if the British-focused Emma had taken the throne.

2. 1783 – the conquest of Oʻahu by Kahekili showed his skill as a tactician and politician – his protege Kahahana (still a teenager at the time) was like a wedge which Kahekili could use to get a foothold on Oʻahu. Kamehameha later was able to conquer this large, unified area, rather than battling for each district or island.

1. 1835 – the founding of Ladd and Co. in Koloa, Kauaʻi began the sugar industry, and led to all the changes in Hawaiian government: the Bayonet constitution, overthrow, annexation and even statehood were all responses to tariffs on sugar. More broadly, the wealth generated symbolizes the rise of foreign dominance in Hawaiʻi which continues today.

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