Kaʻahumanu (c. 1768 – June 5, 1832) ("the feathered mantle") was queen consort and acted as regent of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi as Kuhina Nui. She was the favorite wife of King Kamehameha I and also the most politically powerful, and continued to wield considerable power as co-ruler in the kingdom during reigns of his first two successors.
|Queen of the Hawaiian Islands|
Queen Ka'ahumanu of Hawaii.
|Queen consort of Hawaii|
|Predecessor||Vacant Last held by
|Kuhina Nui of the Hawaiian Islands|
|Tenure||May 20, 1819 – June 5, 1832|
In a cave near Hāna, Maui
June 5, 1832|
Mānoa Valley, near Honolulu, Oahu
|Burial||Royal Mausoleum at Mauna ʻAla|
|Issue||Kamehameha II (hānai)
David Kamehameha (hānai)
Theresa Owana Kaheiheimālie Rives (hānai)
Virginia Kahoa Kaʻahumanu Rives (hānai)
|Father||Keʻeaumoku II Pāpaʻiahiahi|
Kaahumanu was born in a cave called Puu Kauiki in Hāna on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. She was born on 17 March 1768. The present Kaahumanu Society celebrates the birthday of its namesake on March 17.:174 Her father was Keʻeaumoku Papaʻiahiahi, a fugitive aliʻi (noble) from the island of Hawaiʻi, and her mother was Nāmāhānaikaleleokalani, the wife of her half-brother the late king of Maui, Kamehameha Nui. From her mother she was related to many kings of Maui. From her father, she was the third cousin of Kamehameha I, both sharing the common ancestor, Princess Kalanikauleleiaiwi of the island of Hawaiʻi. She was named after her father’s rival, Kahekilinuiʻahumanu because it was from him that her father was fleeing at the time.
Her siblings include Governor John Adams Kuakini of Hawaii island, Queen Kalākua Kaheiheimālie,and Governor George Keʻeaumoku II of Maui. Her father became an advisor and friend to Kamehameha I, eventually becoming royal governor of Maui. He arranged for Kaʻahumanu to marry him when she was thirteen. Kamehameha had numerous wives but Kaʻahumanu would become a favorite and encouraged his war to unify the islands.
Kaʻahumanu was Kamehameha's favorite and his most powerful wife. Upon Kamehameha's death on May 5, 1819, Kaʻahumanu announced that late king had wished that she share governance over the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi with his 22-year-old son Liholiho, who took the name of Kamehameha II. The council of advisors agreed and created the post of kuhina nui for her, with a similar to co-regent or modern-day prime minister. Her power base grew and she ruled as Queen Regent during the reigns of both Kamehameha II and Kauikeaouli, who assumed the throne as Kamehameha III.
In some ways Kaʻahumanu was ahead of her time and championed the rights of native Hawaiian women, although this was to her own advantage. In what became known as the 'Ai Noa (free eating), Kaʻahumanu conspired with Keōpūolani, another of her late husband's wives who was also a Queen Regent during the reign of Kamehameha II, to eat at the same table with the young king, breaking a major kapu which should have resulted in her death, and changing the rules of Hawaiian society when her son refused to kill her.
Kaumualii of KauaiEdit
The island of Kauaʻi and its subject island Niʻihau had never been forcibly conquered by Kamehameha. After years of resistance they negotiated a bloodless surrender in the face of Kamehameha's armada. In 1810 the island's King, Kaumualiʻi, became a vassal to Kamehameha. When Kamehameha I died, Kamehameha II and Kaʻahumanu feared Kauaʻi would break away from the kingdom. To preserve the union they kidnapped Kaumualiʻi on October 9, 1821 and Kaʻahumanu married him by force. After Kaumualiʻi died in 1824, and a rebellion by Kaumualiʻi's son Humehume was put down, she married his other son Kealiʻiahonui.
In April 1824, Kaʻahumanu publicly acknowledged her embrace of Protestant Christianity and encouraged her subjects to be baptized into the faith. That same year, she presented Hawaiʻi with its first codified body of laws modeled after Christian ethics and values and the Ten Commandments. Kaʻahumanu was baptized on December 5, 1825 at the site where Kawaiahaʻo Church stands today. She took the name "Elizabeth".:278
Missionaries persuaded Kaʻahumanu that the Roman Catholic Church, which had established the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu, should be removed from the island nation. On July 7, 1827, she ordered the first Catholic missionaries to leave. In 1830, Kaʻahumanu signed legislation that forbade Catholic teachings and threatened to deport whoever broke the law.
In 1832, Kaʻahumanu visited Maui, and came to the site of what is now Kaʻahumanu Church, witnessing services being presided by Jonathan Smith Green. Upon seeing this, Queen Ka'ahumanu asked the Congregationalist mission to name the permanent church structure after her. However, this request was not honored until 1876 when Edward Bailey constructed the fourth and current structure on the site, naming it after the Queen.
Establishing American relationsEdit
Kaʻahumanu and King Kamehameha III negotiated the first treaty between the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and the United States in 1826, under the administration of President John Quincy Adams. The treaty assumed responsibility on behalf of native Hawaiians with debts to American traders and paid the bill with $150,000 worth of sandalwood; this won her the support of chiefs who owed money to the traders. The same document was also a free trade treaty, ensuring Americans had the right to enter all ports of Hawaiʻi to do business. Americans were also afforded the right to sue in Hawaiian courts and be protected by Hawaiian laws.
In 1827, after Kaʻahumanu returned from a tour of the windward islands, her health steadily declined. During her illness missionaries printed the first copy, bound in red leather with her name engraved in gold letters, of the New Testament in the Hawaiian language. She kept it with her until her death of intestinal illness, June 5, 1832 in the Mānoa Valley near Honolulu. Her funeral was held at Kawaiahaʻo Church, which she commissioned as the Westminster Abbey of Hawaiʻi. Services were presided by Hiram Bingham. She was laid to rest on ʻIolani Palace grounds but was later moved to the Royal Mausoleum. The large monument with her name in Waiola Church cemetery is actually the monument of Kaumualiʻi, who hoped to be buried beside her.
A portion of the Hawaii Belt Road, state highway 19, on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi is named in her honor. It connects the towns of Kailua-Kona and Kawaihae. Often referred to by locals as "the Queen K," it is used for the bicycle and running portions of the Ironman World Championship Triathlon. It also provides access to the Kona International Airport.
Kaʻahumanu Society, a Hawaiian civics club, was founded and named in her honor in 1864 to celebrate her legacy, serve the poor and sick and promote the importance of Hawaiian female leadership.
|Ancestors of Kaʻahumanu|
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|First||Queen Consort of the Hawaiian Islands
|Queen Dowager of the Hawaiian Islands
|Kuhina Nui of the Hawaiian Islands
May 20, 1819 – June 5, 1832
|Queen Regent of Hawaiʻi