1820 (April 4th) SS Thaddeus arrives to Kailua-Kona with 1st wave of American Missionaries

These were institutions founded, staffed, and, initially, financially supported by American missionaries. Their goal was to make to Native Hawaiians literate in their own language in order to read the Bible. Later, local aliʻi (chiefs) took over responsibilities for building and supporting the schools who were increasingly being taught by Native teachers.

  • 1831 – Lāhainaluna
  • 1833 – O‘ahu Charity School
  • 1836 – Hilo Boarding School
  • 1840 – Punahou & Royal School
  • 1849 – Honolulu Town School (renamed from O‘ahu Charity School)
  • 1863 – St. Alban’s College (later ʻIolani College)
  • 1865 – Fort Street English Day School (renamed from Honolulu Town School)
  • 1885 – Kamehameha School for Boys
  • 1894 – Kamehameha School for Girls
  • 1895 – Honolulu High School (renamed from Ft. St. School)
engraving of lahainaluna seminary school
Lahainaluna Seminary, later Lahainaluna High School, c. 1830s Public domain, via Wikipedia Commons
O‘ahu Charity School engraving
O‘ahu Charity School, c. 1838 Public domain, via Wikipedia Commons
hilo boarding school horses
Hilo Boarding School, c. 1907 Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Punahou School campus engraving
Punahou School. Drawing by J. Moynet, based on a photo by H. Chase. Public domain, via Wikipedia Commons
royal school building engraving
Royal School, c. before 1875 Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
school aged boys sitting outside their classroom
Kamehameha School for Boys, 1902 Hawaii State Archives, Photograph Collection, PPWD-17-2-004
Women in dresses at Kamehameha School
Kamehameha School for Girls Hawaii State Archives, Photograph Collection, PPWD-17-2-006

A major step for creating national unity as the government took over the operations,
curriculum, and staffing of the nation’s schools. It also reflected the vision of a young
Kauikeaouli (King Kamehameha III, 1824-1854) early in his reign when he exclaimed:
“He aupuni palapala koʻu. O ke kanaka pono ʻoia koʻu kanaka.” (Mine is the nation of
education; the righteous person is my person (Pukui, 1983)

At 2 a.m. on July 6th, 1887, armed gunmen belonging to two all-White separatist groups, the Hawaiian League and Honolulu Riflemen, surrounded Mōʻī (king) David Kalākaua at gunpoint and demanded that he sign a new constitution written by Lorrin Andrews Thurston, a member of the League. This new document, never ratified by the legislature, installed members of their group into his cabinet, empowered the cabinet with decision-making authority over the mōʻī, disenfranchised three-fourths of Native Hawaiians and all Hawaiian citizens of Asian ancestry, and allowed foreign landowners the right to vote. advocates the overthrow of the monarchy and annexation by the U.S. Several members from both groups would go on to support the 1893 overthrow of Kalākaua’s sister, Liliʻuokalani, and lobby Congress for American annexation in 1898.

Kalākaua died in 1891 and was succeeded by his sister, Liliʻuokalani (1891-1893). She quickly proposed a new constitution that would restore executive power to the monarchy and extend voting rights for most Native Hawaiians. Her plans angered many of Hawaiʻi’s haole elite and, in response, they formed a 13-member Committee of Safety with the goal of overthrowing the monarchy and seeking annexation by the United States. On Jan. 17th, 1893, armed gunmen stormed ʻIolani Palace and forced the Queen to abdicate. The Committee of Safety soon established a White-minority provisional government (the Republic of Hawaii (1893-1898) headed by Sanford B. Dole, son of American missionaries. U.S. President Grover Cleveland opposed the provisional government and called for the queen to be restored to power, but Dole refused. In 1895, Hawaiian royalists led by Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox, a Native Hawaiian military officer, attempted a counter-coup against the republic but failed. Queen Liliʻuokalani was arrested for her alleged role in the plot and convicted of treason. Placed under house arrest, the queen agreed to formally abdicate and dissolve the monarchy believing the U.S. would soon intervene.

Hawaiian flag being removed
Removal of Hawaiian flag from ʻIolani Palace, 1898 Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This act was passed during the time of the White minority government (the Republic of Hawaii) and it established English as the only medium of instruction allowable in any school, public or private. This move by the White minority government was to garner support for U.S. annexation by demonstrating how English remained the language of the land. This year also marked the closure of the last three Hawaiian-language public schools on Oʻahu leaving only one left on Niʻihau.

1898 U.S. Annexation