Eia Hawai‘i: Exhibit Two

He Huliau: Intersecting Worlds 1820 – 1825

The second exhibit of Eia Hawai‘i: 1819 – 1841 follows the journey of the Thaddeus and explores the first years in Hawai‘i after the arrival of the Pioneer Company of Protestant missionaries. After forty years of transformative adaptation to the growing traffic with Western explorers and traders, Liholiho (Kamehameha II), encouraged by his mother, Keōpūolani, and kuhina nui Ka‘ahumanu, had ended the ‘ai kapu, the religious and social system underlying Hawaiian institutions and structures. This opened the way for a new phase of “chiefly governance, authority, kapu and kānāwai (law).”1

Meanwhile, the brig Thaddeus was sailing toward the islands carrying evangelists eager to convert Hawaiians to their Protestant beliefs, intent on bringing light to the “heathen darkness.” These foreigners were different from others Hawaiians had known: they came intending to stay, they brought wives and children, and they intended to teach the population to read and write.

The missionaries also came with straitlaced New England morality, strict views on industriousness, and disdain for what they viewed as frivolity. They had a basic facility with the Hawaiian language but little understanding and, perhaps, consideration of the culture they were entering. The instructions delivered to the Pioneer Company by the ABCFM upon their departure explicitly forbade “all intermeddling with the political affairs and party concerns of the nation or people among whom you reside” and required “paying all proper respect to the powers that be.”2

The first encounter between missionaries and ali‘i, and the subsequent five years of interactions, set in place a collaboration in the Kingdom of Hawai‘i that helped to shape the trajectory of a nation.

The Exhibit Flow

The exhibit includes “The Journey,” a selection of journal entries describing the 164-day passage of the Thaddeus from Boston to Hawai‘i, and a timeline of events to note important occurrences, illustrate the interaction of Hawaiians and missionaries, and highlight other notable influences. They are geared to encourage such questions as “Why is this important?”, “Whose perspective is presented?” and “What else might I need to know?”

As you view this exhibit, consider that the primary sources from this early period are mainly written in English by Westerners. During this period, a written alphabet for ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i is developed and begins the flourishing Hawaiian writing of the later decades of the century. To seek a Hawaiian perspective on this time, sources written later are used. As noted Hawaiian historian, Kamakau, has noted, these later writings rely on an oral history which has been relayed through time. Can you imagine what it might have been like in 1820 – 1825?

Explore the timeline below that shows the chain of events from the journey of the Thaddeus to the end of the kapu.

  • The Journey

    The Journey

    On October 23, 1819, the Pioneer Company of fourteen Protestant missionaries, five of their children and four Hawaiian men sailed with Captain Blanchard and his crew from Boston on the Thaddeus.

  • First Impressions

    First Impressions

    Anchored in Kailua Bay, the passengers of the Thaddeus waited for permission to disembark, entertaining visits on board and making small excursions.

  • Permission to Remain

    Permission to Remain

    After a week, Liholiho conveyed his decision that the missionaries could remain in Hawai‘i for a year, though directed them to split up between Kailua-Kona and Honolulu.

  • Honolulu Station

    Honolulu Station

    The Thaddeus anchored outside Honolulu harbor and sent a delegation to meet with Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spanish Catholic who served as an interpreter for the government.

  • Life and Teaching in Kailua-Kona

    Life and Teaching in Kailua-Kona

    A grand feast was held to commemorate the death of Kamehameha and the missionaries were invited to participate.

  • Kaua‘i Station

    Kaua‘i Station

    Samuel Ruggles and Samuel Whitney accompanied George Prince Humehume home to Kaua‘i, where he was welcomed with great emotion by his father, King Kaumuali‘i.

  • First School in Honolulu

    First School in Honolulu

    After a month of teaching chiefs, men, women and children on a day-to-day basis, the missionary wives determined to organize a regular school for children.

  • Meeting Whalers

    Meeting Whalers

    On November 1, 1820, the Honolulu Mission hosted Captain Allen of Maro, from Nantucket, the first American whaling ship to enter Honolulu harbor.

  • Hoodahoodah


    Preparations in Honolulu to welcome the arrival of Liholiho included extended practice for a large hula performance with 270 dancers accompanied by musicians.

  • Baibala


    For these Protestant missionaries, the Bible and the ability to read it was fundamental to becoming a Christian.

  • The Printing Press

    The Printing Press

    The first page of print in Hawaiian was struck on the printing press, transported from Boston on the Thaddeus, and carefully reassembled and cleaned by printer Elisha Loomis.

  • Pīʻāpā


    The first page of a Hawaiian alphabet lesson signaled a transformation of the Hawaiian language from an oral tradition, recorded for over forty years in diverse phonetic English representations, toward a flourishing written practice.

  • Arrival of Rev. Ellis and the Tahitians

    Arrival of Rev. Ellis and the Tahitians

    The work of spreading Christianity got an unexpected boost when Rev. William Ellis landed in Hawai‘i in the spring of 1822, travelling from Tahiti en route to the Marquesas.

  • Sandalwood Trade Peaks

    Sandalwood Trade Peaks

    Fragrant sandalwood trees, or ‘iliahi, whose heartwood was used for incense and medicines, had long been abundant in the Hawaiian Islands.

  • Arrival of Second Company

    Arrival of Second Company

    Within two years, the Pioneer Company desperately needed help to achieve their mission: expanding literacy and converting the population.

  • Baptism of Keōpūolani

    Baptism of Keōpūolani

    Keōpūolani, mother of Liholiho and Kaiukeaouli, born with the kapu moe, was the highest ranking ali‘i, though she was instrumental in ending the ‘ai kapu.

  • Kaua‘i Rebellion

    Kaua‘i Rebellion

    King Kaumuali‘i of Kaua‘i had moved to Honolulu in 1822, reportedly kidnapped by Liholiho and married to Ka‘ahumanu.

  • Mission Stations (1820)

    Mission Stations (1820)

    View the interactive map of the islands of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i to see key Ali‘i and mission members during this time.

  • School for Commoners

    School for Commoners

    Missionaries, after arriving in 1820, quickly began teaching reading and writing. Instruction was initially in English, and limited to only the ali‘i, under orders of Liholiho.

  • Death of Liholiho and Kamāmalu

    Death of Liholiho and Kamāmalu

    Liholiho and his queen, Kamāmalu, sailed for England in November 1823, traveling with Boki and Liliha, James Young Kānehoa (son of John Young, the foreign advisor to Kamehameha I) and others, intending to meet with King George IV.

  • Liholiho’s Legacy

    Liholiho’s Legacy

    Liholiho, as Kamehameha II, is remembered for dismantling the kapu system and permitting the missionaries to stay in Hawai‘i.

  • Mission Stations (1825)

    Mission Stations (1825)

    View the interactive map of the islands of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i to see key Ali‘i and mission members during this time.


Research, Writing and Edits
Carlyn Tani, Cynthia Wessendorf

Exhibit Advisors and Contributors
Malia Ane, Bonnie Christensen, Kimo Keaulana, Marion Lyman-Mersereau, Dita Ramler-Reppun, Ke‘alohi Reppun, Lynette Roster

Exhibit Content Review
David Ball, Christopher Cook, Ted Demura-Devore, Emma McGuire, Pam Sakamoto, Erik Swanson, Denise Wong, Peter Young

Project Support
Kathy Nelson and Jim Scott for providing the opportunity for this project.
Noe Archambault and Mike Latham for their ongoing support.

Community Support
American Bible Society
Brook and Deena Parker of HawaiianAtArt in honor of Kame’e Parker ’18
Christopher Cook
Hawaii State Archives
Hawaiian Mission Houses Museum and Archives and Peter Young, President, Board of Trustees
Honolulu Museum of Arts
Iolani Palace
Mānoa Heritage Center
Mokuaikaua Church
Torringford Congregational Church
University of Hawaii at Mānoa Library
Williams College Museum of Art
Yale University Art Gallery

In honor of my kupuna, Mele Holokahiki, Pololū Valley, and Gerrit Parmele Judd, Third Company.
Laurel Bowers Husain

1 Arista, Noelani, The Kingdom and the Republic, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2019, p. 109.

2 “Instructions from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions,” Boston, 1819.

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