Saturday, July 31, 2010

Today in History - Britannic Hawaii

Rear Admiral Richard Thomas
On February 25, 1843, the Kingdom of Hawaii was unofficially annexed by British Captain Lord George Paulet of the HMS Carysfort.

Following several unfortunate disputes between the Hawaiian government and the British Consul, Richard Charlton, Captain Paulet cited "alleged insults and malpractices against British subjects" as his justification for his actions.  Both the French Consul and the commander of the U.S. East India Squadron, Commodore Lawrence Kearny, aboard his flagship the USS Constellation, also issued formal protests regarding Paulet's decision.

After five months of British rule under a temporary commission Rear Admiral Richard Thomas sailed into Hawaii aboard his flagship the HMS Dublin to settle the issue on behalf of the Queen.  Immediately upon arriving in port, Thomas requested to see Hawaii's King Kamehameha III.  This resulted in an apology and a promise to restore the kingdom at once with the condition of
The protection of rights and privileges of British subjects in Hawaii and [the guarantee of]  perfect equality with other favored foreigners.
On the morning of July 31, 1843, as the population began to gather at Kulaokahua, a plot of land at the foot of Punchbowl in central Honolulu, a downpour threatened to sour the events planned for Hawaii's restoration.  But according to accounts of the day, at 9am the sky cleared and several companies of Royal Sailors and Marines lined up facing the sea, awaiting the arrival of Admiral Thomas and the king.  Upon their arrival, an artillery unit fired a 21-gun salute.  As the British flag lowered and the Hawaiian flag was raised, British and American warships, merchantmen and whalers fired salvos in honor of the occasion.

In the afternoon, Kawaihao church held a thanksgiving service whereby King Kamehameha III declared that the life of the land had been restored.  He stated, "Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina I ka Pono" or "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."  The phrase eventually became the motto for the State of Hawaii.

In 1850 the area where the ceremony occurred was renamed Thomas Square and became the first public park in Hawaii.  Aerial photos of the square reveal that it is designed in the shape of a Union Jack.

Courtesy of Google Earth

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