January 7, 1822 – The Printing Press

He Huliau: Intersecting Worlds 1820 – 1825

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. Creating written materials was core to the mission objectives, and the ABCFM selected Loomis and furnished the press to that end. Loomis, the next day, demonstrated the usefulness of the printed word, printing the king’s name for him to select a spelling, and then repeating the exercise for Governor Boki. 

The first page of a speller printed in September 1822.
“Gov. Cox [Ke‘eaumoku], who seems to take as friendly & lively an Interest in our work as any of the windward chiefs, … assisted with his own hands in composing a line or two, & in working off a few copies of the first lesson of Owhyhee syllables, having the composing stick put into his hands, & being shown when to take & how to place the types & then to pull the press. Several gentlemen … all took an interest in this novel scene, while one of the highest chiefs of these islands aided in commencing the printing of his native tongue.”
Journal of the Sandwich Island Mission


“Kamehameha II (Liholiho) almost immediately grasped the idea that the missionary printing press could help him meet the problem [of successfully imposing port charges on ships entering his harbor]. On March 9, 1822, Mr. Loomis printed a small hand-bill of ‘Port Regulations’, the first printed laws of the Kingdom of the Hawaiian Islands.”
W.D. Westervelt, “The Printing Press of the Mission Under Mr. Loomis,” Thrums Hawaiian Annual 1909, pp. 108-109


“Liholiho Kamehameha II had published a Notice by the missionary press on March 8, 1822, to masters of vessels informing them that any seamen found ‘riotous … would be detained.’ … The Notice was the first of its kind published to assert the right of ali‘i to restrict the movements of foreigners visiting the islands.”
— Noelani Arista, The Kingdom and the Republic: Sovereign Hawai‘i and the Early United States, p. 157


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