Hawaiʻi in the 1920s

#117 in the Moʻolelo series

Hawaiians controlled the Territorial legislature from 1900 until the mid- to late-1920s. At the head of this Hawaiian-Republican alliance was Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, who for two decades championed the cause of Hawaiʻi sugar in Congress.

1920 – According to Honolulu Magazine, a publication chartered by King Kalākaua and originally known as Paradise of the Pacific:

The name Alaloa is the frontrunner for a new road on O‘ahu, until the Daughters of Hawai‘i object based on its meaning, “death trail.” It was named Kamehameha Highway instead.


1921 – Kūhiō finally achieves his raison dʻetre, his reason for being in Congress, with the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. As if his life’s purpose was over, he passed away the very next year.

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaʻole

1925 – Again, Honolulu Magazine tells us:

Rosalie Enos Keliinoi is elected to the House of Representatives in the Territory of Hawai‘i, making her the first woman in politics since the monarchy … Keliinoi is from Kaua‘i, which Paradise deems “appropriate,” as “this most northern of the archipelago’s principal isles has ever been the most independent.”

According to hawaiihistory.org, the 1920s in general:

 saw the blossoming of ocean liner travel to the Islands and the growth of tourism.


1927 –  hawaiihistory.org tells us of the heyday of inter island shipping:

Matson’s SS Malolo began regular service to Honolulu from the West Coast in 1927. The shipping company financed construction of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki which opened to great fanfare the same year. Along with the older Moana Hotel, the Royal catered to luxury travelers who came to enjoy Hawaii’s beaches and exotic culture.


1929 – The Great Depression struck Hawaiʻi, but the effects were not as severe (at least in terms of employment) as on the continent. The Depression is usually thought of as a phenomenon of the 1930s, but it began with the stock market crash of 1929, as I wrote in “Hawaiʻi During the Great Depression.”

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