Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole

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An important figure in Hawaiian politics. Early proponent for Hawaii statehood and Hawaiian homesteading.

• General: Educational • General: History

Jonah Kuhio, Kalaniana'ole was born in Kauai on March 26th, 1872 in what is now known as Prince Kuhio Park and Birth Place. His parents were David Kahalepouli Pi?ikoi and Esther Kino'iki Kekaulike. Esther was the sister of Queen Kapiolani, and she had two other children who were Edward Keli'iahonui (who died in his teens) and David Kawananakoa. Since Queen Kapiolani had no children, her husband David Kalakaua adopted the brothers as princes into the Hawaiian royal family. Jonah was named after his grandfather, Kuhio Kalaniana'ole, who was a High Chief of Hilo.

Prince Jonah was educated at private schools in California and attended a business school in England. He married Chiefess Elizabeth Kahanu Ka'auwai but never had any children.

Hawaii was an independent republic with a monarchy when missionaries in the early 1800s from Europe and America began inhabiting the islands. Modern farming techniques served to increase Hawaii's export of agricultural goods such as sugar. In the late 1800s, sugar was Hawaii's largest exported commodity. In 1890, the United States congress imposed higher import tariffs for sugar from Hawaii. This adversely affected many American sugar growers in Hawaii. An economic depression spread across Hawaii, and sugar growers (mainly haole) understood that the tariff would go away if Hawaii was annexed to the United States. In 1893, the sugar farmers staged a rebellion against the monarchy, while appealing to the US for protection.

At the age of 24, Kuhio participated in protecting the Republic of Hawaii. When the rebellion failed, all of the rebels were captured and imprisoned. Jonah himself was sentenced to one year of prison while others were unfortunately charged with treason and sentenced to execution. He served his full sentence.

The U.S. Marines ultimately stormed Honolulu and raised the U.S. flag, thus ending the Republic of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Monarchy.

After serving his prison sentence, Prince Kuhio and his wife moved to Europe where they were treated as visiting royalty by Europeans. Prince Kuhio returned to Hawaii after his self-imposed exile, and entered the world of politics and joined the Home Rule Party of Hawaii, which was dedicated to re-instating Hawaii as an independent nation. Without success, he later was elected as a republican delegate to the U.S. Congress.

He served a prominent political role from 1903 until his death, winning ten congressional elections. During his tenure, he instituted a county system for Hawaii and a local government that is still used today.

In 1919, he introduced the The History of Hawaiian Statehood / Hawaii Admission Act, the first ever, which would come into fruition after his death, 40 years after he first proposed and introduced it. He also served on the first Hawaiian Homes Commission in 1921, which provided for the rehabilitation of the native Hawaiian people through a government-sponsored homesteading program. To this day, the government sponsored homesteading act remains an important initiative aiding native Hawaiians.

Prince Kuhio died a year later on January 7, 1922. His legacy is praised for his efforts to protect native Hawaiians after the overthrow of the monarchy. Today several beaches (like the famous Kuhio Beach Park @ Waikiki), streets, schools, and public places are named after him.

Hawaii celebrates Prince Kuhio with a state holiday on March 26th, his birthday, in what is called Prince Kuhio Day.