You may not realize it but their were many important dates in Hawaiian history that changed Hawaii from isolated islands to a kingdom to a territory and then to statehood. This is a compilation of historical events as well as dates important to genealogists.
The Hawaiian Island were populated long before James Cook made his appearance. Polynesian Navigator, Hawai’loa, is given credit for discovering the islands and it is said that they are named after him.
Hawaii developed its culture and way of life without intervention with the rest of the world for several centuries. Once Europeans began arriving things would change rapidly for better and worse.
This is a timeline of events after the arrival of James Cook. While it is not comprehensive, it highlights some of the events that laid the ground work for the sugar plantation era which brought our Portuguese ancestors to the islands.
Time Period 1795-1829
1778…..James Cook makes first contact with the Hawaiian people
1792…..Hawaii begins sandalwood importation to China
1795…..Kingdom of Hawaii officially established
1795…..Kamehameha I comes to power and rules until 1819
1802…..First commercial effort in sugar production when Wang Tze-Chun of China brings sugar processing equipment to Hawaii.
1810…..Unification of the Kingdom of Hawaii
1819…..Kamehameha II comes to power. He died in 1824 at the young age of 27.
1825…..Kamehameha III comes to power. His rule is the longer at 29 years.
Time Period 1830-1849
1832…..First sugar plantation opens in the island at Koloa set up by Ladd & Co. It struggles right from the start.
1839…..Hawaiian Bill of Rights passed (Called the 1839 Constitution of Hawaii)
1840…..Hawaii becomes a constitutional monarchy
1840…..1840 Constitution declares that the land belongs to the people. The Great Mahele apportions 1/3 of the land for the people of Hawaii.
1842…..First law requiring reporting of marriages and births
1843…..United States recognition of Hawaiian Independence
1843…..Sandalwood forests are depleted ending exports
1844…..Ladd & Co. goes out of business. The sugar plantation is taken over by Dr. Robert Wood. He renames it the Koloa Agriculture Company and turns it into a success.
1845…..Iolani Palace is built
1846…..First law requiring a license to marry
1847…..Legal adoptions recognized
1849…..France invades over religious rights for Catholics
Time Period 1850-1889
1850…..Hawaiians, under the Kuleana Act, are given 2 years to claim land. Most don’t since they didn’t really understand the concept of land ownership.
1850…..The Act of the Government of Masters and Servants is passed allowing for the migration of foreign laborers
1850…..The Alien Land Ownership Act is passed given foreigners the right to own land.
1852…..First group of Chinese field laborers are brought to Hawaii through a commission of the Royal Hawaiian Agricultural Commission
1855…..Kamehameha IV comes to power. He died in 1863 at the age of 29.
1859…..First law requiring the reporting of deaths
1860…..Population declines from 73,138 in 1852 to 69,000 in 1860
1863…..Kamehameha V comes to power. He died in 1872 at the age of 42
1865…..Act to prevent the spread of leprosy enacted; Molokai established
1869…..Japan bans emigration to Hawaii. Resumes in 1885.
1873…..Lunalilo comes to power. He only rules for a year.
1874…..Kalakaua comes to power.
1876…..Jason Perry recommends laborers from Madeira and Azores for plantations
1878…..Portuguese immigration to Hawaii begins
1885…..First contract laborers from Japan arrive
1888…..Cessation of first campaign to bring contract laborers from Portugal
Time Period 1890-1899
1891…..Lili’uokilani comes to power.
1893…..Revolution in Hawaii deposes Queen Liliuokalani
1894…..Hawaiian Republic recognized by U.S. government
1895…..All naturalizations ended. Resumed in 1901.
1896…..Responsibility for birth, death, and marriage registration given to Dept. of Health
1898…..Annexation to United States
1898…..All people who were citizens prior to annexation were declared citizens
Time Period The 1900s
1900…..Hawaii Organic Act enacted by US government. Defines citizenship rules and the territorial government.
1900…..Territory of Hawaii organized
1900…..Laborers who completed their contracts begin migrating to other islands and California
1901…..Naturalization petitions resume
1906…..Second campaign of Portuguese contract laborers begins
1906…..First Filipino contract laborers arrive
1913…..Complete cessation of Portuguese contract laborer immigration to Hawaii
1914…..From 1911-1914, approx. 2,000 Portuguese leave Hawaii for California
1917…..Queen Lili’uokalani dies at the age of 79.
1941…..Pearl Habor attacked. This ushers in US involvement in WWII.
1959…..Hawaii becomes the 50th state of the United States of America
© 2002-2016 Melody Lassalle
Revised 12 Sep 2016
The Hawaii Organic Act of 1900