An In-Depth Look at the Paulet Affair

#130 in the Moʻolelo series, this post is part of a larger effort to piece together the events surrounding Hawaiʻi’s independence, which are always more complicated than a brief account can describe, and which is bound to the Paulet affair. (Iʻm still working on translating the letters below).

Kuykendall gives the following account of the events leading up to the Paulet Affair, which all began with the British Consul (a level below Ambassador), Charlton, who complained of being deprived on land rights (land wasnʻt owned in Hawaiʻi before 1848, with very few exceptions):

On September 27, 1842, Consul Charlton sailed from Honolulu with the purpose, as he said, of proceeding to England to lay Statements before Her Majesty’s Government, in hopes that it will be the means of procuring justice for British Subjects residing at or trading to these (to Englishmen) interesting and beautiful Islands; and also to prevent the undue influence of the United States of America over the minds of the King and Chiefs.

One of his objects, as we learn from Alexander Simpson, was to thwart the efforts of Richards and Haalilio in England. It was the impression in Honolulu that he would endeavor to induce the British government to take forcible possession of the islands. As if to confirm this opinion, Charlton himself, on the coast of Mexico early in November, told Captain Doane of the ship Sarah and Abigail that he expected the English government to take possession of the Sandwich Islands. While on the coast he is said to have met and conversed with Lord George Paulet, commander of the British frigate Carysfort.

On the day previous to his sailing, Charlton wrote a letter, phrased in rather undiplomatic language, informing Kamehameha III of his intended departure and notifying the king that he had appointed Alexander Simpson to act as consul in his absence.24 The Hawaiian government, however, declined to recognize Simpson in the capacity of acting consul, a fact which, naturally enough, greatly incensed him.

Kuykendall, 1938, 211

Ka Nonanona printed a string of messages in February 1843 between Kamehameha III, his ministers and Lord George Paulet. One letter appraised Paulet of the work of Haʻalilio and William Richards and its potential impact on his threats to Hawaiʻi (of takeover):

Honolulu, Feberuari 18, 1843.
            Aloha oe, Rt. H. Haku, George Paulet, ke Kepena o H. B. M. Ship Carysfort.
          Ua loaa mai ia maua kau palapala a me na olelo e koi mai ana, a ke hai aku nei maua ia oe, e ka Haku ua hoolilo aku nei ke Lii ia Sir George Simpson a me William Richards i mau Luna Hooponopono a me na Elele Nui e hele aku i ke aupuni o Beritania Nui aia no ia laua ka Palapala e hiki ai ke hooponopono i na hihia a pau loa au i hoike mai nei e olelo aku i ke’Lii Wahine i ko makou aloha mau aku, a e imi pu me kona mau Luna Nui i mea e hoopaai ke aloha mawaena o kakou.
          O kekahi mau mea au i koi mai ai ia makou e hana e pilikia loa auanei ia makou ke aupuni nawaliwali no ke ku e i ke kanawai i hooholoia, e malu like ai na mea a pau, aka hoi, e hana no maua e like me kou manao, me ka hoopii nae, a e palapala koke i ka olelo e maopopo loa ai ko makou oiaio i na’lii o ke’Lii Wahine Beritania ma na Luna e hoounaia e hilinai ana ma ka pono Nui o ke’Lii o ke aupuni Nui i aoia makou e mahalo me ke aloha aku, malaila e loaa mai ai ka hoaponoia, ke kali nei maua i kau olelo hou ana mai.
Me ka manao mahalo, KAMEHAMEHA III. KEKAULUOHI.

Ka Nonanona,

In Ka Nonanona on July 4th, 1843, an article seemed to try to piece together the movements of Haʻalilio and Richards:

KA MERELANI—I ka la 1 o Iulai nei ku mai ka Merelani (Kialua) mai Mekiko (Mazetlan) mai, a lawe mai hoi i kekahi mau palapala no na lii a me na haole o Hawaii nei. Aole nae he mea hou i loaa mai ia makou ma keia Kialua; o na mea a kakou i lohe ai mamua, oia wale iho no. Aia no Mi. Rikeke laua o Haalilio ma Beritania a me Farani e hoikaika ana i ka laua hana: aole nae maopopo ka holo. Mamuli lohe hou kakou.

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