UNITED STATES HISTORY THROUGH FILM

Princess Ka段ulani


*Hawai段 was first settled by Polynesian people arriving by boat from other islands farther west in the Pacific.  Some may have come as early as 300 AD, although recent evidence suggests that most came in the mid-1200s.

 

*For centuries, each island was ruled by its own king and a small group of nobility who, although only about 2% of the population, officially owned almost all the land.

 

*In 1778, the great British explorer Captain James Cook, led an expedition to Hawai段, where he was greeted very warmly, perhaps even being taken for a visiting god.  In 1789 he returned, got into a fight with some of the native people, and was killed on the beach trying to escape.  The Hawai段ans still treated him with respect, handled his body as they would that of one of their own kings or great elders, removing the flesh from his bones and painting the bones red.  Some of his body was returned to his crew for burial at sea, but the bones themselves were kept in Hawai段 despite repeated requests over the years for their return to Britain.

 

*Between 1790 and 1810, the Hawaiian Islands were united into a single kingdom under King Kamehameha I (or the Great), who had started out as a ruler on the big island of Hawai段.  Hawai段 was ruled by his descendents (Kamehameha II-V) until Kamehameha V died in 1872 with no legitimate children.  The throne then passed to King David Kalākaua.

 

*American missionaries first went to the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1820.  Many of their descendents remained there, some as religious leaders but others operating sugar and pineapple plantations, along with other Americans and Europeans who went there to grow tropical crops.  Many of them also became involved in politics, as the Kings of Hawai段 sought the technical expertise and the outside connections that they could provide, as the Kings of Hawai段 tried to work with but also maintain their independence from Britain, the United States, and Japan (and maybe the French, who did briefly invade in 1849).

 

*In 1887, Americans and Europeans in Hawaii forced a new constitution (the Bayonet Constitution) on King David Kalakaua, which stripped the monarch of most of his powers and limited the rights of native Hawaiians (including restricting the vote to landowners, which excluded most native Hawaiians).  When the King died without children and his sister Lydia Lili置okalani became queen, she tried to regain political power for herself and equality for her people, but by now the planters were desperate.  The McKinley Tariff of 1890 had made it uneconomical for them to sell their products to the United States, and many wanted to be annexed to the United States.

 

*In 1893, a Committee of Safety overthrew Queen Lili置okalani with the help of a group of US Marines, and established a provisional government that sought annexation by the US.  At first, Benjamin Harrison seemed to favour it, but many Americans, including newly-inaugurated Grover Cleveland opposed it.  Instead, the Republic of Hawaii was created in 1894 under president Sanford Dole, although it was later annexed as the Territory of Hawaii under President McKinley in 1898.

 

--Introduce Princess Ka段ulani

 

     -Princess Ka段ulani was released in 2010, although it was originally titled Barbarian Princess (which was regarded as too insensitive) and was shown under that title at some film festivals in 2009.

 

-The main action begins in the year 1889 (and shows some events from 1887 taking place in 1889) and runs through 1898 in the last years of the Kingdom of Hawai段 and the time leading up to its annexation by the United States.  Most of the characters are real, although a few are fictional, as are some of the relationships depicted for dramatic effect.  It was filmed in both Hawai段 and England, primarily in or near the locations where most of the events show took place.

 

-Princess Ka段ulani (sometimes known by her English name Victoria Cleghorn) is the daughter of a lady of the Hawai段an royal family and a Scottish businessman who became involved in Hawai段an politics.

 

     -King David Kalakaua is Ka段ulani痴 uncle and the King of Hawaii.  He and his wife have no children of their own, so the next in line to rule Hawai段 is his sister.

 

     -Liliʻuokalani (sometimes known as Lydia) is Princess Ka段ulani痴 aunt, and becomes Queen of Hawai段 after King David Kalakaua痴 death in 1891.

 

     -Lorrin Thurston is an American newspaper editor, lawyer, politician, and businessman descended from missionaries.  He entered the Hawai段an legislature, where he wanted to promote moral reform (including temperance) and the business interests of the White population of Hawai段.  He was one of the main authors of the Bayonet Constitution, and served for a time in the cabinet of King David Kalakaua.  He later played a prominent role in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai段.

 

     -Sanford Dole is an American lawyer born in Hawai段 to missionary parents.  He was one of the authors of the Bayonet Constitution, and was named to the Supreme Court of Hawai段 by King David Kalakaua and later served in the Privy Council of Queen Liliʻuokalani, who was his friend.  He would eventually be the first president of the Republic of Hawai段.

 

     -Theophilus Davies is a friend of Ka段ulani father who also has significant business interests in Hawai段.  She goes to stay with his family in England to further her education and for her own safety.

 

     -Clive Davies is Theophilus Davies痴 son, and eventually becomes friends with Ka段ulani.

 

     -Show Princess Ka段ulani

 

-#4 shows the importance of whale bone and shells to Hawai段an culture, where both had spiritual significance.  A cross made of whale bone also shows how significant Christianity had become to most Hawai段ans by the late 1800s.

 

-#5 is partly correct.  Honolulu was lit up by electricity in a large ceremony which Princesses Lili置okalani and Ka段ulani attended, although Ka段ulani did not throw the switch herself:  it was thrown by W. A. Faulkner, the Superintendent of the Honolulu Electric Works, and it was done at the Electric Light Station, not the palace (which had been lit by electricity since 1886).  Furthermore, the lighting ceremony was not held in 1889, but on 24 March, 1888.

 

-#6 did not take place during the lighting ceremony, or in the same year at all.  Between 30 June and 6 July, 1887, a group of White business leaders and politicians with their own militia forced King David Kalākaua to sign a new constitution, nicknamed the Bayonet Constitution.  Lorrin Thurston was an important figure in force the Bayonet Constitution on the King, although Sanford Dole was one of the authors of the Constitution, too.

 

-#8 is true, although Ka段ulani also went to England to get an education.

 

-#9 Theophilus Davies was a friend of Ka段ulani痴 father who also has significant business interests in Hawai段, later inherited by his son Theophilus Clive Davies.  Their business became one of the largest in Hawai段, part of a group known as the Big Five that had enormous economic and political power in Hawai段.

 

-#14 refers to the creation of the Bayonet Constitution (but as if it happened several years after it really did).  Haole is a Native Hawai段an term that can mean anyone who is not a Native Hawai段an or Polynesian, although it usually refers specifically to White people.

 

-#15 was not unusual.  Many places (including the early United States) limited the right to vote to landowners, on the grounds that only they were economically independent enough to vote independently.  It also kept power in the hands of the existing elite, which was a bonus.  Very few native Hawai段ans owned land of their own, partly because their traditional society had placed almost all land in the hands of a small class of nobility and chiefs.

 

-#16 shows racism against Ka段ulani, of course, but also against the Irish, who were not considered to be quite white, either.  Indeed, the term that 鮮egro may be replacing here was often used for non-white (or otherwise non-English) people, such as Indians in British India, Arabs (who, during World War II, were called 壮and niggers by US troops stationed there), the Irish, and others.  Some French-speaking Canadians in the Canadian military were sometimes told by the English officers to 奏alk white.

 

-#17, #18, and #19 are true.  King David Kalākaua died in January, 1891, and, since he and his wife had no children, he was replaced by his sister, Lili置okalani and, since she and her husband had no children biological children (although she did have three adopted children), Ka段ulani would be her heir.

 

-#22 is true, and Queen Lili置okalani did try to regain power for herself and her people.

 

-#25, and all the romance between the Princess and Clive is fictional.  When she was very young, her uncle had tried to arrange a marriage between her and a Japanese Prince, but it was turned down.  In 1898, Ka段ulani announced her engagement to Prince David Kawānanakoa in an arranged marriage, but her early death prevented that ever happening.

 

-#28 may be true; Hawai段 certainly had one of the highest literacy rates in the world, reaching 90% by the late 1800s due to its promotion both by the Royal Family and by missionaries. 

 

-#29 is an exaggeration葉he actual royal family of Hawai段 could only be traced back a couple of centuries.

 

-#32 and #35 refer to the overthrow of the Hawai段an monarchy in January, 1893, with assistance from the U.S. Marines, who were called in by the U.S. Minister to Hawai段 after he was told that American lives and property were in danger.  Queen Lili置okalani was placed under house arrest in the ʻIolani Palace, and ultimately ordered her forces to stand down to avoid further loss of life.

 

-#33 and #34 partly true, but happened several years earlier, and later.  A native Hawai段an (who had also studied at the Italian Royal Military Academy in Turin) named Robert William Kalanihiapo Wilcox led a rebellion against the Bayonet Constitution in 1889, which failed, and another against the Republic of Hawai段 in 1895, which also failed, although Wilcox survived and eventually served as the Territory of Hawai段痴 first delegate to the United States Congress.

 

-#44 mentions something that came up often in newspaper reports about Princess Ka段ulani, which is that she had lighter skin than many people expected, and that was normally used as a point in her favour.

 

-#45 introduces Grover Cleveland, who was opposed to American imperialism and had convinced Congress not to annex Hawai段 right after the overthrow of the monarchy, and even proposed using the U.S. military to restore Lili置okalani to her throne, although that was never done.  However, Grover Cleveland was run for in 1896, due in part to his opposition to a major strike in 1894 and to his opposition to mint silver dollars during the Panic of 1893.  The next Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, would also oppose imperialism, but the people would elect a Republican who supported it.

 

-#47 is true.

 

-#51 is true:  Lili置okalani did hold a funeral for her Kingdom.

 

-#55 shows poi, a sort of pudding made from taro root.  It is sweet when served fresh, but can also be served fermented, when it resembles yoghourt.  It is traditionally eaten with the fingers, and its thickness is even measured as one-, two-, or three-fingered poi.

 

-#60 is a demand for the right to vote for all the people of Hawai段, and in the Territory of Hawai段 there were no official racial restrictions on voting (although residency requirements prevented some Japanese-, Filipino-, and European-Hawaiians from voting for a time, and at first only men could vote), and about two-thirds of voters were native Hawaiians.  One thing that delayed Hawaiian statehood for a long time, until 1959, was that many US politicians, especially from Southern states, were not comfortable allowing so many non-white voters to have a say in government and possibly even send non-white Congressmen and Senators to Washington預nd of the seven Senators to come from Hawai段, only two have been white, whereas three have been of Japanese ancestry, one of Chinese ancestry, and one Native Hawaiian.

 



This page last updated 27 February, 2020.
Powered by Hot Air