Monday, March 26, 2012

Prince Kuhio Day

Today is Prince Kuhio Day.

This is a state holiday in honor of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole. It is celebrated annually on March 26, to mark the birth of Prince Kuhio— heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii, prince of the House of Kalakaua, and later territorial delegate to the United States Congress. As Delegate, Kuhio authored the first Hawaii Statehood bill in 1919. He also won passage of the Hawaiian Homes Act, creating the Hawaiian Homes Commission and setting aside 200,000 acres of land for Hawaiian homesteaders.

It is one of only two holidays in the United States dedicated to royalty, the other being Hawaii's King Kamehameha Day on June 11.

This morning over coffee I wanted to read up on Kuhio, if for nothing other than to pay homage to the man that gave me the day off of work.

Kuhio was an interesting character. In 1893 the overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii put in power a Provisional Government of Hawaii and latter a Republic of Hawaii. This overthrow was instigated by the Big Five or as Stuart McKenzie would say The Pentaverate, and no Colonel Sanders is not one of them. The Big Five was a group of English and American Businessmen who wanted more control over Hawaii. The new Republic of Hawaii no longer had room for monarchs.

In 1895 Kuhio went on to fight in the rebellion against the Republic but the rebels proved no match for the Republic. Kuhio was sentenced to a year in prison. He served his full sentence.

In 1898 the the United States annexed Hawaii and the Territory of Hawaii was formed.

Kuhio and his wife left Hawaiʻi upon his release from prison and traveled widely in Europe, where they were treated as visiting royalty. He traveled to Africa from 1899 to 1902 where he joined the British Army to fight in the Second Boer War.

Kuhio eventually returned from his self-imposed exile to take part in politics in post-annexation Hawaii. He became active in the Home Rule Party of Hawaii , which represented native Hawaiians and continued to fight for Hawaiian independence. A much smaller Democratic party, led by his brother David Kawananakoa, was less radical and also less powerful. The Republicans represented business interests including people who had originally overthrown the Monarchy.

In 1901 Kuhio switched parties and joined the Republicans. He was disillusioned with the lack of progress made by the Home Rule Party, and its control by "radicals". The Republicans eagerly accepted him into the fold. By endorsing the heir to the throne of the Hawaiian kingdom they gained significant support in local communities, and Kuhio was given a strong leadership position.

Kuhio was elected delegate to the U.S. Congress in a landslide victory for the Republicans, and helped establish a Republican hold on the legislature. He served from March 4, 1903 until his death, winning a total of ten elections. During this time he instituted local government at the county level, creating the county system still used today in Hawaiʻi. He staffed the civil service positions that resulted with Hawaiian appointees. In 1919, Kuhio introduced in Congress the first-ever Hawaii Statehood Act. It would be another 40 years before seeing fruition.

Kuhio died on January 7, 1922.

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