- The colorful history of the Hawaiian Islands, since their discovery in 1778 by the great British navigator Captain James Cook, falls naturally into three periods. During the first, Hawaii was a monarchy ruled by native kings and queens. Then came the perilous transition period when new leaders, after failing to secure annexation to the United States, set up a miniature republic. The third period began in 1898 when Hawaii by annexation became American territory.
The Hawaiian Kingdom, by Ralph S. Kuykendall, is the detailed story of the island monarchy. In the first volume, “Foundation and Transformation,” the author gives a brief sketch of old Hawaii before the coming of the Europeans, based on the known and accepted accounts of this early period. He then shows how the arrival of sea rovers, traders, soldiers of forture, whalers, scoundrels, missionaries, and statesmen transformed the native kingdom, and how the foundations of modern Hawaii were laid.
In the second volume, “Twenty Critical Years,” the author deals with the middle period of the kingdom’s history, when Hawaii was trying to insure her independence while world powers maneuvered for dominance in the Pacific. It was an important period with distinct and well-marked characteristics, but the noteworthy changes and advances which occurred have received less attention from students of history than they deserve. Much of the material is taken from manuscript sources and appears in print for the first time in the second volume.
The third and final volume of this distinguished trilogy, “The Kalakaua Dynasty,” covers the colorful reign of King Kalakaua, the Merry Monarch, and the brief and tragic rule of his successor, Queen Liliuokalani. This volume is enlivened by such controversial personages as Claus Spreckels, Walter Murray Gibson, and Celso Caesar Moreno. Through it runs the thread of the reciprocity treaty with the United States, its stimulating effect upon the island economy, and the far-reaching consequences of immigration from the Orient to supply plantation labor. The trilogy closes with the events leading to the downfall of the Hawaiian monarchy and the establishment of the Provisional Government in 1893.