Kamehameha III (born Kauikeaouli) (March 17, 1814 – December 15,
1854) was the third king of the
Kingdom of Hawaii
Kingdom of Hawaii from 1825 to 1854.
His full Hawaiian name was Keaweaweʻula
Kaleiopapa and then lengthened to Keaweaweʻula Kīwalaʻō
Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa Kalani Waiakua Kalanikau Iokikilo
ke kapu Kamehameha when he ascended the throne.
Under his reign Hawaii evolved from an absolute monarchy to a
constitutional monarchy with the signing of both the 1840
Constitution, which was the first Hawaiian Language Constitution, and
the 1852 Constitution. He was the longest reigning monarch in the
history of the Kingdom, ruling for 29 years and 192 days, although in
the early part of his reign he was under a regency by Queen
Kaʻahumanu and later by
Kaʻahumanu II. His goal was the careful
balancing of modernization by adopting Western ways, while keeping his
1 Early life
2.1 Marriage and children
2.3 Later years
3 Family tree
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Painting by Robert Dampier, 1825,
Honolulu Museum of Art
Kauikeaouli was born at Keauhou Bay, on Hawaiʻi island, the largest
island in the
Hawaiian Islands archipelago. He was the second son of
Kamehameha I and his highest ranking wife, Queen Keōpūolani,
born in Maui. Early historians suggested June or July 1814, but one
accepted date is August 11, 1813. Biographer P. Christiaan Klieger
cites 17 March 1814 as his birthday. He was of the highest kapu
lineage. Kauikeaouli was about 16 years younger than his brother
Liholiho, who ruled as
Kamehameha II starting in 1819. He was named
Kauikeaouli (placed in the dark clouds) Kaleiopapa Kuakamanolani
Mahinalani Kalaninuiwaiakua Keaweaweʻulaokalani (the red trail or the
roadway by which the god descends from heaven) after his maternal
grandfather Kīwalaʻō. He was promised to
Kuakini in hānai, but at
birth he appeared to be delivered stillborn,
Kuakini did not wish to
take him. But Chief Kaikioʻewa summoned his kaula (prophet) Kapihe
who declared the baby would live.:8 Kauikeaouli was cleansed, laid
on a rock, fanned, prayed over and sprinkled with water until he
breathed, moved and cried. The prayer of Kapihe was to
Kaʻōnohiokalā, "Child of God". The rock is preserved as a monument
at Keauhou Bay. He was given to Kaikioʻewa to raise.[citation
Kauikeaouli had a troubled childhood. He was torn between the Puritan
Christian guidelines imposed on the kingdom by the kuhina nui (Queen
Regent) who was his stepmother Kaʻahumanu, and the desires to honor
the old traditions. Under the influence of Oahu's then governor, Boki,
and a young Hawaiian-Tahitian priest named Kaomi, Kauikeaouli's
aikāne partner, he rebelled against his Christian teachings, created
the secret order of Hulumanu (Bird Feather), and named
co-ruler in place of Kīnaʻu. By 1835 he had returned to ways of the
Kamehameha III at the age of 18
When Kauikeaouli came to the throne, the native population numbered
about 150,000, which was already less than one third of the Hawaiian
population at the time of Captain Cook’s arrival to Hawaii in 1778.
During his reign, that number would be halved again, due to a series
Marriage and children
Kamehameha III and Queen
Kalama with his niece and nephews
Kamehameha III and Queen
Kalama with Albert Kūnuiākea
In ancient Hawaii, upper classes considered a marriage with a close
royal family member to be an excellent way to preserve pure
bloodlines. His brother Liholiho (King Kamehameha II) and his Queen
Kamāmalu were a half-sister and brother couple. He had loved his
sister Nāhiʻenaʻena and planned to marry her since childhood, but
the union was opposed by the missionaries due to their perceptions of
It was proposed in 1832 that Kamanele, the daughter of Governor John
Adams Kuakini, would be the most suitable in age, rank, and education
for his queen.
Kamanele died in 1834 before the wedding took
Kamehameha III chose to marry Kalama
Hakaleleponi Kapakuhaili, against the wishes of Kīnaʻu. Kalama's
father was Naihekukui. After his sister's death in late 1836, he
Kalama February 14, 1837 in a Christian ceremony. Kamehameha
Kalama had two children: Prince Keaweaweʻulaokalani I and
Prince Keaweaweʻulaokalani II who both died while infants. He and
his mistress Jane Lahilahi, a daughter of his father's advisor John
Young, had twin illegitimate sons: Kīwalaʻō, who Kamehameha
initially took to raise, died young, while the other twin Albert
Kūnuiākea survived and was later adopted by Kamehameha and his wife
Queen Kalama. Kūnuiākea lived to adulthood but died childless
In 1838, senior advisor
Hoapili convinced former missionary William
Richards to resign from the church and become a political advisor.
Richards (although he had no legal training himself) gave classes to
Kamehameha III and his councilors on the Western ideas of rule of law
and economics. Their first act was a declaration of human rights in
In 1839, under a French threat of war,
Roman Catholicism was legalized
in the Edict of Toleration and the first statutory law code was
established. He also enacted the Constitution of 1840, Hawaii's
first. This laid the groundwork for the establishment of judicial
and executive branches of government, and a system of land ownership
was implemented under the Mahele in 1848.
Over the next few years, he moved the capital from
Honolulu. In September 1840
Charles Wilkes arrived on the United
States Exploring Expedition.
Kamehameha III was happy to support the
explorers, and appointed missionary doctor
Gerrit P. Judd
Gerrit P. Judd to serve as
translator. Judd treated many of the sailors who suffered from
altitude sickness on their ascent of Mauna Loa. Wilkes vastly
underestimated the task, and did not leave until March 1841.
Alfred Thomas Agate
Alfred Thomas Agate from the United States Exploring
Expedition of 1838–1842 under Charles Wilkes
Main article: Paulet Affair (1843)
In February 1843, British Captain
Lord George Paulet
Lord George Paulet pressured
Kamehameha III into surrendering the Hawaiian kingdom to the British
Kamehameha III alerted London of the captain's rogue
actions which eventually restored the kingdom's independence. Less
than five months later, British Admiral Richard Thomas rejected
Paulet's actions and the kingdom was restored on July 31. It was at
the end of this period of uncertainty that the king uttered the phrase
that eventually became Hawaii’s motto: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i
ka Pono — "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."
July 31 was celebrated thereafter as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Sovereignty
Restoration Day, an official national holiday of the kingdom.
Later that year, on November 28, Britain and France officially
recognized the independence of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and that too
became a national holiday,
Lā Kūʻokoʻa — Independence Day.
Through the 1840s a formal legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom and
cabinet replaced the informal council of chiefs. The chiefs became the
House of Nobles, roughly modeled on the British House of Lords. Seven
elected representatives would be the start of democratic
government.:228 The cabinet consisted of a
Privy Council and five
powerful government ministers. Judd was appointed to the most powerful
post of Minister of Finance. Frontier lawyer
John Ricord was Attorney
Robert Crichton Wyllie
Robert Crichton Wyllie was Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Richards Minister of Public Instruction, and
Keoni Ana was Minister of
Kamehameha III also presided over formalization of the court system
and land titles. Cases such as those of Richard Charlton and Ladd
& Co. had prompted the incidents of 1843 and subsequent
Lorrin Andrews became a judge for foreign cases in 1845.
William Little Lee
William Little Lee (the first to actually graduate from law school)
became first Chief Justice.
A commission to Quiet Land Titles was formed on February 10, 1846.
This led to what is called the
Great Mahele of 1848 which
redistributed land between the government, king, nobles, and
commoners. Foreigners were allowed to own land fee simple in Hawaii
for the first time. Many commoners were unaware of the program and
lost out on the distribution. The domination of his cabinet by
Americans (balanced only by Scot Wyllie and half-Hawaiian Keoni Ana)
also discouraged the people. This was not the end of foreign conflicts
either. In 1849 admiral
Louis Tromelin led a French invasion of
Honolulu. The French sacked and looted the city after the king refused
his demands. In September 1849 Judd was sent with the heir apparent
Prince Alexander Liholiho and
Kamehameha V on a diplomatic mission.
They returned with a new treaty with the United States, but failed in
visits to London and Paris.
Constitution of 1852 and subsequent legislation continued to
liberalize politics. The court system was unified, instead of having
separate courts for Hawaiians and foreigners. Local Hawaiian
magistrates became Circuit Judges, and a Supreme Court was formed with
Lee, Andrews, and
John Papa ʻĪʻī
John Papa ʻĪʻī as members. Voting rules were
formalized and the role of the House of Representatives was
California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush brought increased trade, but also some
unwelcome visitors. Previously the long trips around
Cape Horn or from
Europe meant infected sailors were either recovered or buried at sea
by the time they arrived. The short voyage from California brought
several waves of diseases that decimated the native Hawaiians who had
no immunity. In the summer of 1853 an epidemic of smallpox caused
thousands of deaths, mostly on the island of Oʻahu. Judd, always at
odds with Wyllie, lost the backing of others who blamed him for not
containing the disease (or had other political reasons to want him out
of power). Judd was forced to resign on September 3, and was replaced
Elisha Hunt Allen
Elisha Hunt Allen as Minister of Finance.:415
Hawaii became a popular winter destination for frustrated prospectors
in the 1850s. Some were rumored to be filibusters hoping to profit
from a rebellion. One of the first was a group led by Samuel Brannan,
who did not find the popular support for an uprising that they
expected. By the end of 1853 the threats, whether real or imagined,
caused petitions for the king to consider annexation to the United
States. Wyllie and Lee convinced the king to insist that annexation
would only be acceptable if Hawaii became a U.S. state.
In 1852 a group of missionaries set out from Hawaii for the islands of
Micronesia. They carried with them a letter of introduction that bore
the official seal of King Kamehameha III, the then ruling monarch of
the Hawaiian Islands. This letter, originally written in Hawaiian and
addressed to the various rulers of the Pacific Islands, said in part:
“There are about to sail for your islands some teachers of the Most
High God, Jehovah, to make known unto you His Word for your eternal
salvation. . . . I commend these good teachers to your esteem and
friendship and exhort you to listen to their instructions. . . . I
advise you to throw away your idols, take the Lord Jehovah for your
God, worship and love Him and He will bless and save you.”
On May 16, 1854 King
Kamehameha III proclaimed the Hawaiian Kingdom
neutral in the
Crimean War in Europe. The present crises had
passed, but the king's health declined, often attributed to his
renewed drinking. The annexation question also did not go away. The
British minister William Miller and French representative Louis Emile
Perrin objected to the plan. New U.S. Commissioner David L. Gregg
received instructions from Secretary of State
William L. Marcy
William L. Marcy and
negotiated a treaty of annexation with Wyllie by August 1854. It was
never signed, and might not have been ratified by the Senate.
Although there was some support in the U.S., it would take 105
more years before full statehood of Hawaii.
Kamehameha III died on December 15, 1854. Author
Herman Melville in
Typee painted an unsympathetic portrait, although this is
widely seen as reflecting the racist views of the time.
Funeral of Kamehameha III
He was succeeded by his nephew and adopted son Alexander Liholiho, who
was styled as King Kamehameha IV.
Kamehameha III was reburied in the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii
known as Mauna ʻAla.
The access to his birthplace at
Keauhou Bay is via
Kamehameha III Road
from the north from Hawaii Belt Road, at 19°34′7″N
155°57′41″W / 19.56861°N 155.96139°W / 19.56861;
Kamehameha III Road) and Kaleiopapa Street from the
south at 19°33′31″N 155°57′41″W / 19.55861°N
155.96139°W / 19.55861; -155.96139 (Kaleiopapa Street).
His successor described his reign:
"The age of
Kamehameha III was that of progress and of liberty—of
schools and of civilization. He gave us a Constitution and fixed laws;
he secured the people in the title to their lands, and removed the
last chain of oppression. He gave them a voice in his councils and in
the making of the laws by which they are governed. He was a great
national benefactor, and has left the impress of his mild and amiable
disposition on the age for which he was born."
Kamehameha family tree
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Kekuʻiapoiwa II (w)
*Paternity is in question as daughter and mother both claim Kalaniopuu
as the father.
John William Pitt Kīnaʻu
Ancestors of Kamehameha III
Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku (= 23)
8. Keʻeaumoku Nui (= 28)
Kalanikauleleaiwi (= 21, 23)
Keōua Kalanikupuapaikalaninui (= 14)
9. Kamakaʻimoku (= 29)
2. Kamehameha I
20. Kauaua-a-Mahi alole loa o imiloa keia
Kalanikauleleaiwi (= 17,23)
5. Kekuʻiapoiwa II
Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku (= 16)
Kalanikauleleaiwi (= 17,21)
1. Kamehameha III
26. Kekaulike (= 30)
Kalola Pupuka-o-Honokawailani (= 15)
27. Kekuʻiapoiwa (= 31)
28. Keʻeaumoku Nui (= 8)
Keōua Kalanikupuapaikalaninui (= 4)
29. Kamakaʻimoku (= 9)
7. Kekuʻiapoiwa Liliha
30. Kekaulike (= 26)
Kalola Pupuka-o-Honokawailani (= 13)
31. Kekuʻiapoiwa (= 27)
List of bilateral treaties signed by the Kingdom of Hawaii
^ Roger G. Rose, Sheila Conant and Eric P. Kjellgren. "Hawaiian
standing kahili in the Bishop museum: An ethnological and biological
analysis". Journal of the Polynesian Society. Polynesian Society.
pp. 273–304. JSTOR 20706518. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
^ Naval Journal 1855, p. 249.
^ Gary T. Cummins (1973). "Kamehameha III's Birthplace: Kauikeaouli
Stone nomination form" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places.
U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
^ P. Christiaan Klieger,
Kamehameha III Green Arrow Press, San
^ Marjorie Sinclair (1971). "The Sacred Wife of Kamehameha I:
Keōpūolani". Hawaiian Journal of History. Hawaii Historical Society.
5: 3–23. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
^ Stanton, Karin (March 17, 2011). Honoring King
Kamehameha III in
Keauhou Hawaii 24/7. Retrieved 2011-08-15.
^ a b c Kamakau, Samuel (1992) . Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii
(Revised ed.). Honolulu:
Kamehameha Schools Press.
^ "Navigating Through Hawaiian and Pacific History with Adam
Keaweokaʻī Kīnaʻu: Kamehameha III's Forgotten Joint-Ruler?".
Hawaiianhistorian.blogspot.com. September 17, 2011. Retrieved December
^ Marjorie Sinclair (1969). "Princess Nahienaena". Hawaiian Journal of
History. Hawaii Historical Society. 3: 3–30. Retrieved
Hiram Bingham I
Hiram Bingham I (1855). A Residence of Twenty-One Years in the
Sandwich Islands. H. D. Goodwin. p. 428.
Kamehameha III (1861). Speeches of His Majesty Kamehameha IV: to the
Hawaiian Legislature. Government Press. p. 10.
^ P. Christiaan Klieger (1998). Moku'ula: Maui's sacred island.
Bishop Museum Press. p. 53.
^ Rose, Roger G. (1978). Symbols of Sovereignty: Feather Girdles of
Tahiti and Hawaiʻi. Honolulu: Department of Anthropology, Bernice P.
Bishop Museum. p. 39.
Kamehameha III -Hawaii History - Monarchs". www.hawaiihistory.org.
Kamehameha III - Hawaii History - Monarchs". www.hawaiihistory.org.
^ Roberta A. Sprague (1991). "Measuring the Mountain: the United
States Exploring Expedition on Mauna Loa, 1840–1841". Hawaiian
Journal of History. Hawaiian Historical Society, Honolulu. 25.
^ Dorothy Riconda (April 25, 1972). "Thomas Square nomination form"
(PDF). National Register of Historic Places. U.S. National Park
Service. Retrieved 2010-02-21.
^ "Lā Kūʻokoʻa: Events Leading to Independence Day, November 28,
1843". The Polynesian. XXI (3). November 2000. Retrieved
^ a b
Ralph Simpson Kuykendall
Ralph Simpson Kuykendall (1965) . Hawaiian Kingdom
1778–1854, foundation and transformation. 1. University of Hawaii
Press. ISBN 0-87022-431-X.
^ a b Jane L. Silverman (1982). "Imposition of a Western Judicial
System in the Hawaiian Monarchy". Hawaiian Journal of History. 16.
Hawaiian Historical Society, Honolulu. pp. 48–64.
^ "Land Titles, Quiet – Board of Commissioners to" (PDF). state
archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
^ a b William De Witt Alexander (1897). "Uncompleted treaty of
annexation of 1854". Papers of the Hawaiian Historical Society.
Hawaiian Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
^ The Missionary Herald. Board. 1852.
Ralph Simpson Kuykendall
Ralph Simpson Kuykendall (1953). Hawaiian Kingdom 1854–1874,
twenty critical years. 2. University of Hawaii Press.
^ George Washington Bates (1854). "Chapter XXXIII: Annexation of the
group". Sandwich island notes. Harper & Brothers, Publishers.
Herman Melville (1847). Typee. J. Murray. pp. 209–210.
^ Charles Memminger (March 8, 2007). "
Kamehameha III isn't King Street
Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
^ "King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha". Find a Grave. Retrieved October 16,
Kamehameha IV on January 11, 1855 speech quoted on page 427 of Ralph
Simpson Kuykendall 1965, reprinted from Polynesian on January 13,
"Letters from Polynesia: Funeral of Kamehameha III". Naval Journal.
27. American Seamen's Friend Society. 1855. pp. 249–251.
Cachola, Jean Iwata (1995). Kamehameha III: Kauikeaouli. Kamehameha
Schools Press. ISBN 0-87336-033-8.
Klieger, P. Christiaan (2015). Kamehameha III: He Moʻolelo No Ka
Moʻi Lokomaikaʻi. San Francisco: Green Arrow Press.
ISBN 978-0-97118-161-8. OCLC 945797248.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kamehameha III.
Kenneth R. Conklin (2004). "Kauikeaouli chose St. Patrick's Day to be
his official birthday". Retrieved 2010-03-01.
Kaiulani Kanoa-Martin (2007). "Traditional chant for Kauikeaouli".
Hawaiian Music and Hula Archives. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
King of Hawaiʻi
Monarchs of the Kingdom of Hawaii