Governors of the Territory of Hawaiʻi

#193 in the Moʻolelo series

Sanford Ballard Dole: Not much needs to be said about Dole – he was the continuity in what seemed like a rapidly-changing series of governments between 1893 and 1900. Of the four governments in that period – Kingdom, Provisional Government, Republic and Territory – Dole was the head of three. One biography calls him “Hawaiʻi’s only President” – a dubious epithet. According to a famous teacher of mine, Dole was raised behind a 6-foot wall, so as not to consort with Hawaiian children and learn their ways. This was depicted in the film Hawaii based on James Michener’s book. While he may have been bred apart from his native contemporaries, he certainly thought of himself as “Hawaiian” (it seems he had a unique sense of the word, more than mere citizenship); in his journals he wrote the strange remark: “If I weren’t a Hawaiian, Iʻd be a Bostonian.”

Sanford Dole

George Robert Carter: tells us:

George Carter served in various territorial government posts, but his father had played a political role under the monarchy, serving as Hawaiian Minister to Washington, D.C. George was educated in Hawai`i and on the mainland at Phillips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts) and Yale University. After an early career in business, working for C. Brewer & Company, Hawaiian Trust Company, Hawaiian Fertilizer Company, Bank of Hawaii, Alexander & Baldwin and Mutual Telephone Company, Carter was elected to the Hawaiian Senate in 1901. In 1902, he met with President Theodore Roosevelt as an unofficial agent of the territorial government, forging a close lifelong friendship with the president. Roosevelt appointed Carter secretary of the territory later in 1902, then placed him in the governorship from 19031907. During Carter’s tenure, the territory’s five counties were established: O`ahu, Hawai`i, Maui (including Lana`i, Kaho`olawe and Moloka`i excepting Kalawao), Kaua`i (including Ni`ihau) and Kalawao (in 1909, O`ahu County became the City and County of Honolulu).

Walter Francis Frear: Born in California, Frear was the son of a reverend. He attended Punahou, Yale and Yale Law School and was a judge on the Hawaiian Kingdom Supreme Court, appointed by Liliʻuokalani. A Republican, he was later appointed Governor of the Territory in 1907. His name is now associated with buildings and research labs at Hawaiʻi Pacific University and Chminade.

Lucius Eugene Pinkham: The first Democratic Governor, Pinkham arrived in Hawaiʻi from Massachusetts the year before the overthrow. He worked on the Territorial Board of Health, despite having no degrees of any kind. He was appointed Governor by President Woodrow Wilson and was Governor at the time of Liliʻuokalani’s death. He is also credited (or perhaps blamed by some!) for developing tourism in Waikīkī.

Charles J. McCarthy: According to Genealogy Trails, Mcarthy:

was a member of the House of Nobles in 1890, supporter of Liliuokalani and ironically a captain in the pro-annexation Honolulu Rifles. He also was a territorial senator 1907-12 and treasurer 1912-14 before becoming chief executive. McCarthy believed Republicans were promoting immigrantion of Oriental laborers to manipulate Hawaii’s demographics to their advantage and served their own business interests, McCarthy was ardently anti-Asian … McCarthy … railed against the land policies of the Big Five and was the first governor to advocate statehood for Hawaii. Annoyed by the policies of his Democratic administration, McCarthy was gently nudged out of politics by Republicans.

Wallace Rider Farrington: Former editor of both the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser, Farrington was first elected Mayor of Honolulu, then appointed Governor in 1921. He is likely the best known of the Territorial Governors because of being “memorialized” in the naming of Farrington High School in Kalihi and Farrington Highway in Leeward Oʻahu.

Lawrence McCully Judd: The scion of the by then wealthy Judd clan, Lawrence Judd was Governor during the infamous Massie-Kahahawai case in 1931, and was not an innocent bystander. Pressure was put on him by the President to commute the sentences of the Massies and their accomplices, which he did in the most notorious way imaginable. See John Rosa’s book Local Story: the Massie-Kahahawai Case and Culture of History, or the blog post he wrote for me here.

Joseph Boyd Poindexter: Poindexter was Governor of sorts – after declaring martial law on December 7th, 1941, he had to share power with General Short, the military governor of the Territory of Hawaiʻi. An uneasy division of powers left little to the civilian Governor.

Ingram Macklin Stainback: Stainback took the reigns soon into martial law and eventually had his gubernatorial powers reinstated.

A conservative Democrat, Stainback, whose full powers were restored on April 13, 1944, played a significant role in the lifting of martial law in wartime Hawaii. Stainback believed Communists were plotting to take over the Hawaiian Islands. He also provided a genesis for Hawaii’s Democratic Revolution of 1954 by decrying the land monopolies in Hawaii and calling for land reform. Upon resigning his post on May 8, 1951, Stainback had served eight years, eight months and six days, the longest of any appointed governor up to that point.


Oren E. Long: Long was Governor for only two years. He was originally from Kansas and as a Territorial Senator, appeared on the game show What’s My Line?

Samuel Wilder King: The first Territorial Governor of Hawaiian ancestry, King was a Naval officer and later Territorial Delegate to Congress (Hawaiʻi had only a non-voting member of Congress during the Territory). He was active on the Statehood Commission and appointed Governor in 1953 by President Eisenhower. He married another part-Hawaiian Pauline Nawahineokalai Evans and his children are the former judge Samuel P. King and former UH Mānoa Hawaiian history Professor Pauline King.

William Quinn: Quinn was appointed Governor by President Eisenhower in 1957, and managed to beat Democratic leader John A. Burns in 1959. (This was partly because Burns had travelled to see his son, once a very premature baby, graduate from college, and was unable to campaign at the critical time). Quinn was a lawyer, a graduate of Harvard Law School and involved with Parker Ranch in Waimea, Hawaiʻi Island. He later became the President of Dole Pineapple. He died in 2006.

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