Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
SANDWICH ISLANDS. These islands are situated in the Pacific ocean, at an equal distance from the shores of America and Japan, between 19° and 22¼° of north latitude and 155° and 160° of Paris longitude. The archipelago is composed of fifteen islands, of which only seven are inhabited or inhabitable. Their names and respective area in square kilometres are as follows: Hawaii, 12,620, Maoui, 1,966; Oahu, 1,822; Molokai, 468; Kaouai, 2,010; Nihaou, 308; Kahoulai, 94. On a total area of 19,756 square kilometres, the number of inhabitants was, in 1872, 56,897, of which 40,044 were natives. Since 1798, the date of the discovery of these islands by Cook, their population has been constantly diminishing. It amounted at that time to at least 300,000; in 1823, Mr. Ellis found less than 150,000, of whom 85,000 were in the great island of Hawaii. The statements of subsequent censuses have shown still further diminutions: in 1832, the population was 130,313, in 1836, 108,579; in 1849, 84,163; in 1853, 71,019; in 1860, 67,979. These diminutions are attributed to the dissolute habits of the inhabitants. The introduction of civilization and Christianity has not yet succeeded in establishing the institution of the family there. Marriage exists only in name The children are, for the most part, brought up by persons other than by those who begot them. The children brought up by their parents are no better taken care of. The father scarcely able to exist, his protection is almost entirely lacking. The mother, desirous of preserving her charms, which nursing children might destroy, and especially her freedom, hastens to rid herself of her progeny. The children, born spite of attempts at abortion, are, notwithstanding all the severity of the criminal laws, regularly put to death during the first year after their birth. The practices of abortion and infanticide are common in all classes of society. In the lower classes, births are very numerous; but, despite the advantages and exemptions from taxes granted to families which have more than two children, it is rare to find a family which has more than one.
—The governmental and social system was for a long time a sort of feudal communism. The union of the islands under the sole rule of Kamehameha I in the beginning brought about no change in this state of affairs. The sovereign alone was proprietor of the land. It was not until 1848 that the right of possessing landed property was granted to individuals.
—In 1838 all power was concentrated in the hands of royalty. At that time Kamehameha III., yielding to the advice of American missionaries, made himself a constitutional king. The constitution of 1840, which created a chamber of nobles, composed of sixteen persons, five of whom were women, with the king for president, did not prove very successful. It was necessary to revise it in 1848, and to confide the executive power to a council of ministers, presided over by the minister of the interior. This new constitution, which recognized an order of nobility, has also been reformed. The two parts of the national representation were replaced by a privy council, composed of the king, the queen, the ministers, the governors of the four largest islands, the chancellor, the judges of the supreme court, and of eight elected members; but since that time the constitution of Aug. 4, 1864, doubled the number of the elected members of the privy council, eight of whom are chosen from among the natives, and eight from among foreigners. This parliament deliberates at will in the native or in the English language. . After the death of king Kamehameha V., the author of the constitution of 1872, a descendant, in the female line, of the chief of the dynasty of Lunalilo I. was elected king, not, as has been stated, by universal suffrage, but by a vote of parliament. (He only reigned two years.)
—The press plays a great part in the political system of the islands. The government is represented by the "Polynesian," a journal whose chief editor is appointed by the government, with the title of director of the press; the opposition, by the "Commercial Advertiser," the "Friend," and the "Star of the Pacific."
—Almost all public offices are in the hands of English or American naturalized Hawaiian subjects, The constitution of 1840 accorded freedom of conscience; no religion has succeeded in improving the population; the ministers of all religious sects are agreed in acknowledging that their flock is Christian only in name. Schools, however, are numerous.
—During 1859-60, the revenues amounted to $656,006, and the expenditures to $643,000. During 1870-72 the receipts amounted to $964,956, and the expenditures to $969,784. The customs figured in the receipts for $396,418, the domestic taxes for $98,983, the direct taxes for $215,962, the regalian rights, postoffice, renting of domains, etc., for $124,071. The national debt was estimated, in 1874, at $177,971.
—The soil is very fertile, and its present products would be sufficient to feed a population five times as large as that now occupying the islands. To the native nutritious plants have been added the cultivation of tobacco, indigo, potatoes and sugar cane. The exports, in 1860, amounted to more than $1,200,000; those of 1871, to $2,145,000, of which $1,403,000 were native products. Oils and whalebone, sugar, coffee, wool and peltry formed the principal articles of export. The imports represented an amount of more than $1,500,000. Six-tenths were furnished by the United States, and the other fourteenths by England, the Hanseatic cities, Sweden and Russia. The Sandwich islands are connected with all these countries and with France by commercial treaties. The independence of this archipelago was, in 1863, the object of a special recognition, in which the United States joined the following year.*102
Notes for this chapter
The Sandwich islands are also known as the Hawaiian islands, Hawaii being the largest of the group. The latest statistics give the population at 57,985, 5,916 of whom are Chinese and 4,561 whites. The capital is Honolulu, with a population (1878) of 14,114. The receipts of the state from April 1, 1876, to March 31, 1878, amounted to $1,151,713, and the expenditures to $1,110,472. The state debt on March 31, 1878, was $444,800. The standing army consists of only seventy-five men. There is a volunteer corps of 400 men.—M.
End of Notes
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