April 6, 1820 – First Impressions

He Huliau: Intersecting Worlds 1820 – 1825

View of Hilo, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in the 1820s, A Residence of Twenty-one Years in the Sandwich Islands by Hiram Bingham.

Anchored in Kailua Bay, the passengers of the Thaddeus waited for permission to disembark, entertaining visits on board and making small excursions. The presence of women and children on the Thaddeus was a curiosity for the Hawaiians, who were familiar with Western men after more than forty years of contact, but no white woman or child had come to Hawai‘i before. For the missionaries, their first views of Hawai‘i and Hawaiians were on March 30 as they neared Kawaihae. In Kailua-Kona, both parties were adjusting to the new arrival.

“April 6th, the king and family dined with us by invitation. They came off in a double canoe with waving kahilis and twenty rowers, ten on each side, and with a large retinue of attendants. The king was introduced to the first white women, and they to the first king, that each had ever seen. His dress on the occasion was a girdle, a green silk scarf put on under the left arm, brought up and knotted over the right shoulder, a chain of gold around his neck and over his chest, and a wreath of yellow feathers upon his head. We honored the king, but we loved the cultivated manhood of Kalanimoku. He was the only individual Hawaiian that appeared before us with a full civilized dress.”
— Lucy Thurston, Life and Times of Lucy G. Thurston, p. 34


“When the missionaries, men and women, came ashore at Kamakahonu and walked along the beach, the people came in crowds, men, women, and children, and exclaimed over the pretty faces of the white women, their deep-set eyes, their bonnets that jutted forward, and their long necks which won for them the name of “Long neck” (‘a‘i oeoe).”
— S.M. Kamakau, Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii (Revised Edition), p. 247


It is reported that the Queen of the Islands, herself, briefly clad, swam out to the vessel, and was much attracted by the nursing baby, and asked that as a pledge of good faith on the part of the ships’ company that the mother of the child would allow her to take the children on shore, promising to return the child in good order the following day. Naturally the mother demurred and retired for prayer. After a brief interval she returned, strengthened in the decision that it was God’s will. The old Queen swam to the shore with the baby but did not return for several days, but finally returned with the child and extended the hospitalities of the Islands.”
— H. St.Clair Hathaway, grandson of Daniel Chamberlain, in a letter dated October 6, 1916 documenting Chamberlain’s genealogy and story; reports are the child was Mary, age 8.


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