King Kamehameha Day
State of Hawaii
Kamehameha the Great
King Kamehameha Day is a state holiday in Hawaii and celebrated on June 11. Hawaii is the only American state that had a monarchy.
King Kamehameha I, also called Kamehameha the Great, was born between 1740 and 1758. After his birth a priest
warned his grandfather, Chief Alapainui or Alapai, of the birth of a "rebel infant" who would be a slayer of chiefs. The
chief ordered all male infants to be killed, but priests hid Kamehameha in a cave.
Later Kamehameha was adopted by a childless couple. He was brought up in isolation; Kamehameha means "the very
lonely one." Upon the death of Alapainui, he became chief of the northern half of the island of Hawaii. In 1790 or 1791
he killed his rivals and became king of the entire island. The other Hawaiian islands were controlled by other kings, but
Kamehameha conquered and united them.
Kamehameha made many political marriages, as was customary, and ended up with over twenty wives. His wives didn't
all live with him, but he had a favorite, Kaahumanu, who was always with him.
Although the king didn't allow non-Hawaiians to interfere in island politics, he was accepting of foreigners and their
innovations, such as muskets and nails. During his reign Hawaii became an important center of the fur and sandalwood
trades. Kamehameha I died in 1819.
In 1883 a statue of King Kamehameha I was unveiled in Honolulu by King David Kalakaua. It was a duplicate; the
original, cast by Thomas Gould, had been lost at sea. It was eventually recovered and placed near Kamehameha's
birthplace. Another duplicate can be found in the Statuary Hall in Washington DC.
Jonathan Yorck - Hawaii