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46 Chapter 2 The Criminalization of Leprosy in Hawai‘i “A prison fortified by nature.” —Travels in Hawaii, Robert Louis Stevenson Mo‘olelo Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III) had the longest reign of any monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i and oversaw some of the most significant and complex political changes of the nineteenth century. Ka‘ahumanu’s influence on him had been great, but upon her death on June 5, 1832, the eighteen-year-old Mō‘ī had the opportunity to assert his independence . Kauikeaouli codified and synthesized traditional law and Western concepts of governance in the Declaration of Rights of 1839 and the subsequent Constitution of 1840, wherein his government became a constitutional monarchy. The king’s efforts to maintain Hawai‘i’s independence were challenged more than once. In 1839, a French naval captain, Laplace, threatened war until Kauikeaouli met his demands to pay compensation for the deportation of Catholic priests and allow Catholics to freely worship . A few years later, in what has come to be known as “the Paulet affair,” a British commander forced the king to respond to a dispute over property claims made by some British residents in Hawai‘i. Under protest , Kauikeaouli yielded his sovereignty to Great Britain; Paulet raised the British flag and Hawai‘i was under British occupation. Five months later, on July 31, 1843, British rear admiral Richard Thomas arrived in the islands, condemned the actions of Paulet, removed the British flag, and restored the sovereignty of the kingdom. It is in this context that the Mō‘ī made the statement “ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina i ka pono” (the sovereignty of the land is maintained when there is justice) and the lāhui (nation) celebrated Ka Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea (Sovereignty Restoration Day). In the criminalization of leprosy in hawai‘i 47 the prior year, a Hawaiian delegation had been dispatched by the king to secure treaties with foreign nations. The Hawaiian emissaries secured the U.S. president’s recognition of Hawaiian independence on December 19, 1842; on November 28, 1843, at the Court of London, the Kingdom of Hawai‘i was recognized as an independent nation by the British and French governments and subsequently recognized as such by twenty other nations. Again the lāhui rejoiced and celebrated Lā Kuokoa (Independence Day), held annually on November 28th. In an effort to withstand further foreign pressures concerning sovereignty and the land, and to protect Kānaka Maoli rights, the Mō‘ī instituted the mahele (division, sharing) in 1848. The Hawaiian lands were to be divided into three shares—one for the Mō‘ī, which was further divided into government lands and crown lands (the king’s personal lands); another to the ali‘i; and the final to the maka‘āinana. The health of the lāhui was also of great concern to the Mō‘ī. Private hospitals had been established for foreigners as early as 1833, and foreign ships’ doctors were often called upon for medical care, mostly by foreign residents but sometimes by Kānaka Maoli. Kahuna lapa‘au (Native Hawaiian medical practitioners) were also sought to provide medical care, but the onslaught of foreign infections was challenging to all. Within the newspapers there were calls for local boards of health and governmentfinanced hospitals, and the politics of health (over issues such as prostitution ) were debated.1 A Board of Health was organized by King Kamehameha III on December 14, 1850, and the main focus of the board at that time was to protect the people’s health and to take appropriate measures to protect against epidemic diseases that were prevalent in the islands, cholera being the main concern. In 1851, Kauikeauoli called for revisions to the 1840 Constitution. Approved by both the House of Nobles and the House of Representatives , the Mō‘ī signed these revisions into law and the new constitution came into effect on December 6, 1852. Kauikeauoli named his hānai (adopted) son as successor to the office of the constitutional monarch, and following the death of Kamehameha III on December 15, 1854, Alexander Liholiho became King Kamehameha IV. Hawaiian culture and traditions were integrating with Western concepts, epidemic diseases were continuing to confront the population, and political challenges were everpresent. The sugar industry, which had begun with the first plantation at Koloa, Kaua‘i in 1835, was but part of larger efforts to develop the kingdom’s economy. Established in 1850 during Kauikeauoli ’s reign, the Hawaiian Agricultural Society encouraged agricul- 48 chapter 2 tural development...


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