Hawaiian Monarchs/Kamehameha I
Kamehameha I (c. 1758–May 8, 1819), united all the Hawaiian Islands together to form the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810.
No one is quite sure exactly what year Kamehameha was born. Hawaiians did not have a written language before the 1800s. Some say Kamehameha was born in 1758 because that is the year Halley’s comet was seen in Hawaii. According to a prophecy, a fiery light in the sky would come before the birth of a “killer of cheifs.” Alapa’i, the chief of the island of Hawai’i, heard about this prophecy and ordered the baby Kamehameha to be killed. Kamehameha’s parents, Chief Keōua and Chiefess Kekuʻiapoiwa, secretly gave him to a trusted friend Nae’ole to take care of him and keep him safe from Chief Alapa’i. Five years later, Chief Alapa’i decided that maybe Kamehameha would not kill him and invited him back to live with his family.
Unifying the Islands
When Kamehameha was 14, he overturned the Naha Stone. According to legend, only someone from the royal Naha family could move the stone. Whoever lifted the Naha Stone, would be the one to unite all of the Hawaiian Islands. Even though Kamehameha was not from the Naha family, he lifted and overturned the stone. Today, you can see the Naha Stone in front of the Hilo Public Library. From 1782 until 1810, Kamehameha fought many battles to conquer each of the Hawaiian islands. First, he defeated his cousin Kiwala’o and Chief Keawemaʻuhili who ruled the island of Hawai’i. Next, he defeated Chief Kalanikupule who ruled Maui and ‘Oahu. Kamehameha tried several times to attack Chief Kaumualiʻi of Kauai but was unsuccessful. Chief Kaumuali’i seeing there was no way to stop Kamehameha’s powerful army, offered to surrender Kauai and Ni’ihau.
Wives and Children
King Kamehameha had many wives. His favorite wife was Kaahumanu. Kaahumanu had no children of her own but she hanai adopted Kamehameha’s son Liholiho. Kaahumanu was a strong political figure and even when Liholiho became King Kamehameha II she became his regent. A regent is someone who rules for someone else who is too young to rule. Keōpūolani was Kamehameha’s highest ranking wife. She had at least three children. Liholiho and Kauikeaouli were her sons. They would become Kamehameha II and Kamehameha III. Nāhiʻenaʻena was her daughter. Her other children died when they were very young.
Kamehameha died on May 8, 1819. Following Hawaiian customs, his bones were hidden by two of his most trusted friends. Even today no one knows where his body was buried.
After Kamehameha died, Liholiho became King Kamehameha II.
- Wong and Rayson (1987). Hawaii's Royal History. Bess Press. ISBN 0935848487