Chapter 1, Section 1
In Progress

A New Constitution and the First Schools

During Kamehameha III’s reign, many foreigners came to the islands, often to get what they could for themselves in trade or in land and power. The countries of France, Great Britain, America, and Russia were all interested in having some control over Hawai‘i. For the first time, a king had to make laws to protect the islanders. In 1840, a new and more thorough constitution would be drawn up by Kamehameha III and his advisors. The new constitution began, “God has also bestowed certain rights alike on all men and all chiefs, and all people of all lands.” These words showed that equality for all people in the Hawaiian Islands was more important than ever. They also set up a way for the Hawaiian people to see themselves as compared with other people of other countries.

No matter what, though, for Kamehameha III the important thing was that Hawai‘i was for the Hawaiian people. A group of men was chosen to hold power along with the king and chiefs, something that had never been done before. A new title for the king, “ka mō‘ī,” was first used in print in 1832; it made clear the majesty of this office. A court with judges was formed to handle matters of law and taxes. Hawai‘i now stood among other nations around the world as having defined rights for its citizens.

Lahainaluna High School was founded in 1831 by the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions “to instruct young men of piety and promising talents.” David Malo attended school there and went on to become the first superintendent of schools. In 1839, a royal school for fifteen young people of high rank was founded by missionary Amos Cooke and his wife Juliette. It was called the Chiefs’ Children’s School and later the Royal School. Five of those who went to the school later became rulers in the islands. There were a number of schools for the Hawaiians, but it was not until 1841 that a school was built for missionary children—Punahou School in Honolulu.

Punahou Preparatory School Honolulu 1909 postcard
Punahou School
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