of the Hawaiian Islands
brief review of the early history of Hawaii was prepared in connection
with the compilation of a Catalog of Tsunamis in Hawaii initially
published by the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics of the University
of Hawaii, then as a report of the World Data Center A- Tsunami.
The completeness of the record of Hawaiian tsunamis and the reliability
of its information have depended upon the thorough research of
Hawaii's early history, archives at the Bishop Museum and accounts
of early missionaries)
The Hawaiian Islands are situated in the north central portion
of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is a chain of islands, which extends
over a distance of nearly two thousand miles. The main Hawaiian
group is comprised of eight islands: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai,
Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii. All of the islands are inhabited
with the exception of Kahoolawe. At some time in the past two
other islands in the chain, Nihoa and Necker, were occupied for
a short period by the Polynesians but have been uninhabited for
The early Hawaiians
were a branch of the great Polynesian family which at a yet undetermined
time in history, possibly as early as 1,000 A.D., occupied islands
in the Pacific Ocean. There is considerable speculation and disagreement
among ethnologists as to when the Polynesians came into the Pacific
and the routes they followed to reach the far-separated Island
groups. It is generally believed however that there were successive
arrivale of settlers, mainly from the Society Islands, extending
over some hundreds of years.
on the islands of Nihoa and Necker indicate that the people who
lived there were the earliest arrivals. During the 14th and 15th
centuries Tahitian Polynesians "rediscovered" the islands
and most of their immigration to Hawaii occurred during this
interval. For the next five to six hundred years,until the arrival
of Captain James Cook in 1778, the Hawaiians lived in almost
complete isolation from the rest of the world.
was in the last quarter of the 18 th century on January 18, 1778,
that a British expedition led by Captain James Cook, on a third
voyage in the Pacific, sighted the island of Oahu. He landed
at the village of Waimea on the island of Kauai on January 20.
The islands were named the Sandwich Islands by Cook and the name
persisted throughout the 19 th century. Many groups of traders
from Europe and Asia later visited the islands and stayed on
as permanent residents.
After the departure
of the British expedition on March 15, 1778 no foreigners visited
the islands until 1786. The development of the fur trade along
the northwest coast of America brought ships of many nations
into the North Pacific Ocean at the end of the 18 th century.
Four foreign ships visited the islands in 1786. Two of them were
connected with an English commercial enterprise. The other two
were French naval vessels under the command of the celebrated
explorer La Perouse. From then on not a single year passed without
one or more ships visiting the islands. Hawaii became a well-established
port of call by the vessels engaged in the fur trade and in the
general trade which was growing between Asia and the Americas.
consolidation of the entire island group into one kingdom occurred
during the forty years following the visits of Captain Cook.
King Kamehameha was the most outstanding of all the Hawalian
chiefs and he accomplished this feat starting in 1795. Under
the powerful leadership of Kamehameha agriculture was promoted,
industry was encouraged and law and order were enforced.
In 1814 Russians from
Alaska were sent to form a colony in the islands. Their ship
was wrecked at Waimea, Kaui. More Russians arrived on another
ahip the following year and remained in the islands until they
were expelled in 1817.
Early Map of the Sandwich
Islands (Hawaiian Islands)
The first New England
missionaries arrived in the islands via Cape Horn on the brig
"Thaddeus" on March 31, 1820. In later years, fourteen
other groups of missionaries of various denominations arrived
The Kingdom of Hawaii
feared claims of France and Britain and took steps in 1842 to
establish its status a a sovereign state and to negotiate treaties
with them. In 1843 the kingdom ran into some difficulties with
representatives of the British government who wanted to annex
the islands. The sovereignty of the kingdom was quickly restored
with France and Great Britain jointly recognizing the independence
of the Kingdom of Hawaii on November 29, 1843. The United States
had already recognized Hawaii's independence.
Agitation for annexation
of Hawaii by the United States began as early as 1853 and was
stimulated by the many industries that had developed in the islands
with American capital. Hawaii remained a monarchy until 1894
when the last of the monarchs, Queen Liliuokalani, was deposed
after much internal strife. A republic was proclaimed which was
modeled after that of the United States.
In 1898 negotiations
for the annexation of the islands by the United States were completed
and a resolution was signed by President McKinley on July 7.
A territorial form of government in Hawaii was established by
Congress in 1900 and Sanford Ballard Dole, who was president
of the Republic, was appointed the first governor of the Territory.
As early as 1935 Hawaii
was considered for statehood but World War II brought the movement
for statehood to a standstill. The attack on Pearl Harbor by
the Japanese on December 7, 1941 marked the beginning of World
War II for the United States. The war in the Pacific finally
ended on August 14, 1945. Statehood for Hawaii was approved on
March 11, 1959.