Early Connections to Great Britain and America
Emma Rooke, whom he would marry, was one of the most beautiful and well-liked young women in the islands. She and Kamehameha IV had gone to the Royal School together. He had always admired her because of her kind and gentle nature as well as her beauty. She came of prominent families of both haole and Hawaiian blood. She is thought by most to be the great-granddaughter of Keli‘imaika‘i, the younger brother of Kamehameha I. As a baby, she had been adopted by Dr. T. C. B. Rooke, a British doctor in Honolulu, and his wife, Grace, who was Emma’s aunt. The marriage between Emma Rooke and Alexander Liholiho was said to be the most elegant and glorious royal event the people of Hawai‘i had ever seen. The ceremony was done in Hawaiian and English.
Kamehameha IV and his brother, Prince Lota Kapuāiwa (known as Lot), had once visited America and Great Britain. Even though he admired Great Britain, he did not want that country to annex the islands. He wanted Hawai‘i to be independent of all countries and stand on its own. During his reign, Kamehameha IV became interested in the Church of England. He turned his interest from the missionaries of New England to the Anglican Church, which had more ceremony and tradition than the Protestant Church that was most present in Hawai‘i at that time. He even had their Book of Common Prayer translated into and printed in the Hawaiian language.
Kamehameha IV’s reign was during the time of the American Civil War. In August of 1861, Kamehameha IV signed a statement of neutrality, saying that Hawai‘i would not take sides in the war. The Americans in Hawai‘i had put pressure on the king for annexation to America. Already there was well- founded fear that American interests, including missionary interests, would lead to the overthrow of the monarchy and would not be best for the Hawaiian people.