Kūʻokoʻa Home Rula: The Home Rule Party and the Early Territorial Period

#192 in the Moʻolelo series

In Waikiki is Kūhiō Beach Park, where there stands a statue of Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole. An heir to the Hawaiian throne and Republican politician, Kūhiō was the most prominent Hawaiian figure during the early Territorial period, a time when Hawaiians seemed to fade into the background in their own land. 

Statue of Prince Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, Kūhiō Beach Park, Waikīkī (source wikimedia commons)

During the Territorial years, 1900-1959, Hawai‘i saw some major political trends. In 1900, the Homerule Party (a Hawaiian party, called Kūʻokoʻa Home Rula in Hawaiian) briefly took power. From 1902 until about 1945, the Republican party (the old Reform party) was dominant through the Hawaiian-republican alliance. 1946 through 1959 saw the rise of the Democratic party — the party of the working class. 

 The Home Rule party was founded on June 6th, 1900 in the union of formerly opposing Hawaiian groups, Hui Aloha ʻĀina, and supporters of the Provisional Government. Liliʻuokalani addressed their convention, saying that despite the end of the monarchy, important work remained to be done for the Hawaiian people (Fuchs, 1961, 156-157).  The leader of the two “counter-revolutions,”* Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox won the special election for delegate to the US Congress over Democrat and former heir to the throne David Kawānanakoa (the brother of Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole), and former cabinet member Samuel Parker (Fuchs, 1961, 157). 

Prince David Kawānanakoa (source: wikimedia commons)

Wilcox received over 4000 votes, Parker received 3856, and Kawānanakoa, 1650 votes (Schmitt, 1977, 603). The Home Rule Party also won a majority of both houses of the Territorial legislature.

Delegate Robert William Kalanahiapo Wilcox, ca. 1900

 Fuchs (1961, 158-159) notes a secret meeting between Henry Perrine Baldwin, co-founder of Alexander and Baldwin, and Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole at the Pacific Club in Honolulu in which Kūhiō was approached to lead a new Hawaiian-Republican alliance. Kūhiō defeated Wilcox in the 1902 election, drawing support from a mixture of Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians (Fuchs, 1961, 160-161). Kuhio received 6628 votes, Wilcox received under 4700 votes (Schmitt, 1977, 603). The Home Rule party continued to run a candidate, Notley, every two years until 1910 (Schmitt, 1977, 603). The Home Rule party dissolved in 1912, leaving the Republicans in control (Bell, 1984, 46). Kūhiō won every election for delegate until his death in 1922. Another Hawaiian politician during this era was Joseph J. Fern, who was elected mayor of the City and County of Honolulu in 1908. He won re-election five times, serving as mayor (with one defeat) until the early 1920s (Schmitt, 1995, 144).

By Unknown author – Hawaii State Archives, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17252435

*Whether Wilcox’s actions constituted a counter-revolution, depends upon whether the overthrow is considered a revolution, and specifically, a successful revolution. The balance of evidence suggests that the overthrow was not a successful revolution, which means that Wilcox’s actions were not a counter-revolution (which suggests it was “extra legal,”) but merely legitimate resistance.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s