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  • Incarcerating a Nation:The Arrest and Imprisonment of Political Prisoners by the Republic of Hawai'i, 1895
  • Ronald Williams Jr. (bio)

Aloha aku i kuu Moiwahine a me ka lahui a'u i aloha ai . . .

    E hoomau i ke kupaa no ke aloha i ka aina.

Give my aloha to my Queen and the nation/

    people that I have loved . . .

Continue to be steadfast in your love for the land.

—Iosepa Kaho'oluhi Nāwahīokalani'ōpu'u

The sound of gunfire erupted outside the Ka'alāwai, Waikīkī, home of Henry Bertlemann just after dusk on the evening of January 6, 1895. The German-Hawaiian building contractor was a Hawaiian Kingdom subject by birth and had been a staunch supporter of the [End Page 167] monarchy both prior to and following the January 1893 coup that deposed Mō'ī Wahine (Queen) Lili'uokalani. A significant number of royalists/loyalists1 had been preparing to launch an attempt to unseat the minority, white-led oligarchy now in power. Three nights before, on January 3, 1895, over 300 Winchester rifles, shipped from San Francisco, had been covertly landed and hidden in nearby caves. An attack on government sites in downtown Honolulu was imminent and rumor was that they would proceed that very night. Men mingled around the Bertlemann home. As tension built, with armed men coming and going, the rebel group was discovered by a Republic of Hawai'i patrol. Both sides opened fire and soon a Republic officer, Charles L. Carter, lay prone in the yard with two bullet wounds that would prove fatal.2 The rebels were surrounded and captured. Several skirmishes followed over the next ten days, before the last of the armed opposition surrendered or were captured.3 One hundred twenty-three men were taken into custody on the various battlefields and designated by the Republic as Prisoners of War (POW).

Over the next several weeks, the mass arrest of nearly 300 more men and women led a move that sought to break the back of the political resistance against the ruling oligarchy4 These later arrestees were designated by the Republic as "pio kalaiaina" (political prisoners)—the most famous being Her Majesty Queen Lili'uokalani.5 One hundred seventy-five of the political prisoners were charged with "treason," a crime punishable under the constitution of the Republic of Hawai'i by death.6 The majority of the remaining prisoners faced charges that included "conspiracy" and "misprison of treason."7 In March 1895, a military tribunal convened for the occassion, convicting 170 of the 175 prisoners charged with treason and sentencing six of these men to be "hung by the neck" until dead.8 The others received sentences that ranged from five to thirty-five years imprisonment at hard labor. Those convicted of lesser charges received sentences ranging from six months to six years imprisonment at hard labor.

The List

As part of a larger book project focused on the arrest, imprisonment, and legacy of those seized during and following the 1895 Kaua Kūloko, I have compiled the list offered below. Total arrests related [End Page 168] to the 1895 Kaua Kūloko number 406 on a summary list of statistics—without names—published by the government of the Republic of Hawai'i.9 Name lists have been published—most notably within the 1895 Hawaiian-language publication Kaua Kuloko from Thomas Spencer—but they are decidedly partial.10 In an effort to not leave any names behind, the attached list was compiled by accesing the voluminous government and private records created from the relevant events such as: Records of Prisoners Received and Discharged [O'ahu and Hilo Prisons], National Guard, Military Commission 1895; 1863–1916; Foreign Office & Executive, Insurrection of 1895; Attorney General Files, Republic of Hawaii; Records of Prisoner Descriptions, 1859–1915; Daily Record [O'ahu Prison]; Petitions for Pardons; and others. A complete listing of sources is offered with the endnotes.


JANUARY 6–MARCH 11, 1895

1. Aea, John

2. Aea, Joe

3. Ahia, Joseph

4. Ahia, William

5. Ai, Tommy

6. Aikike

7. Alapai

8. Alona

9. Analuhi, David

10. Andrade...


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pp. 167-176
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