Kauikeaouli was born on August 11, 1813 on the Big Island of Hawaii. He became king at age 11 when his older brother Liholiho died, who ruled as Kamehameha II. For 14 years of his reign Kauikeaouli was guided by Kaahumanu and Kina u. At age 25, he took on the responsibilities of kingship by himself as Kamehameha. (The Reign of Kamehameha Website) Kauikeaouli's reign of thirty years was filled with change and accomplishment. Kamehameha's reign would be a desirable time to live in because of the small population, religious freedom, and the equality for all Hawaiians.
One of the biggest changes was the decrease in population of the native Hawaiians. When Kauikeaouli became king in June 1825, the native population was about 150,000, which is half of the Hawaiian population at the time of Captain Cook's arrival in 1778. (Mrantz) Prior to 1778, Hawaiians had lived in isolation for a thousand years, practicing an ancient system of health and hygiene in perfect balance with the environment. During Kamehameha's reign, the small pox arrived, which decreased the population by half again.
(The Reign of Kamehameha Website) The reason why so many Hawaiians died was because they had no experience with contagious diseases and neither did their grandparents before them. When smallpox came they regarded it with curiosity rather than with fear. Few of the chiefs died, and not one of the member's of the Legislation had caught the disease even though they looked after the people and helped bury the dead. (Mrantz) Many believed God preserved those of the Royal family and protected the law makers. The small pox epidemic lasted for six months, and ended in the month of October. Ten thousand of the Hawaiian population are said to have died of the small pox disease.
(Kamakau) The religious situation in Hawaii had changed as well. In 1839, Kamehameha guaranteed religious freedom to the people of Hawaii. (The World of Royalty Website) Protestantism was no longer a state religion and it was also no longer strictly an American religion. Catholics and Mormons had finally established churches, and the Hawaiian churches came into its own form. The Hawaiian church had broken away from the American ministry and customs, and formed its own Native ministry. (Mrantz) Along with guaranteeing religious freedom, King Kamehameha was responsible for transforming the kingdom into a modern constitutional monarchy.
For the first time in their history, Hawaii's people were represented in their own government. Their constitution allowed them a House of Representatives and the right to elect their representatives. With all these changes, France, Great Britain and the United States had finally recognized Hawaii as an independent nation. (The World of Royalty Website) Kamehameha made all men free and equal.
There were no more slaves and no Hawaiian was born into a life of slavery. There were no more marks on the forehead to distinguish between free eaters or despised slaves. Most importantly all the tabus of the chiefs were done away with. Many kinds of tabus ran through a chief's veins. Many tabus belonged to the chiefs and gods, but it is only through the chiefs that these tabus were carried out. Although these tabus were abolished before the reign of Kamehameha II, they were all well fulfilled in Kamehameha's rule, whose tabu was greater than any king or chief that had ever lived.
(Kamakau) Kamehameha's reign of thirty years was the longest of any Hawaiian monarch, and one of the most desirable times to live in because of his many accomplishments. Despite the difficulties he faced, King Kamehameha somehow brought his kingdom through. He was beloved by the people of Hawaii and he gained the genuine respect of the foreigners. Before King Kamehameha's rule, the islands were going through a time of violence and lawlessness. Theft of foreign properties was common amongst the Hawaiians.
Widespread drunkenness, stealing and vandalism were also common, but this changed when Kauikeaouli ascended the throne. King Kamehameha's rule saw the dying of one culture but yet the successful birth of another.
Mrantz, Maxine. Hawaiian Monarchy. "Kamehameha". Aloha Graphics and Sales, Honolulu, 1974.
Kamakau, S.M. Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii (Revised Edition). The Kamehameha Schools Press. Honolulu, 1992.
The Reign of Kamehameha. 2003-2004.
Media-HI, Inc. 14 Apr. 2005.
The World of Royalty Website. 31 Jan. 2005.
14 Apr. 2005.