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Kaʻahumanu (born March 17, 1768 in Maui ; † May 5, 1832 , originally Elizabeth Kaʻahumanu) was the reigning queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii .

Her mother was Namahana, her father, Keʻeaumoku , was royal advisor to Kamehameha I , with whom she was married at the age of 13. Kamehameha had several wives, of whom Ka'ahumanu became his favorite wife, whom he compared to a Lehau flower and said of her, "she rides the waves like a bird and feels the heartbeat of the people". She was the one who encouraged him to wage the Hawai'i war of unification.

Commitment to women's rights

Ka'ahumanu was ahead of her time and advocated the rights of Hawaiian women. She fought against the taboos that were suppressing Hawaiian women. So she teamed up with Keopuolani, the queen under Kamehameha II: they ate together at the young king's table. In doing so, they broke the rules of local society. The people expected that the gods would punish them for this act, but the feared misfortune did not materialize. As a result, the people destroyed the temples of the powerless gods and turned from their beliefs.

Reigning Queen

Until her death on May 5, 1832, Ka'ahumanu insisted that the late king wanted her to rule with her 22-year-old son Liholiho, who took the name Kamehameha II . Parliament approved this and created the post of kuhina nui, prime minister . Her power increased and she eventually ruled under the title of "ruling queen" during the terms of Kamehameha II and Kauikeaouli, who took the throne as Kamehameha III. mounted.

Kaumualiʻi from Kauaʻi

When her husband died, Ka'ahumanu feared that the island of Kaua'i , never subdued by Kamehameha, would end its alliance with the kingdom. On October 9, 1821, Ka'ahumanu kidnapped the governor of Kaua'i, Kaumuali'i and forced him to marry her.


In April 1824, Ka'ahumanu made her acceptance of Protestant Christianity public and encouraged her subjects to be baptized into this belief . In the same year she passed the first laws based on Christian ethics and values. Ka'ahumanu was baptized on December 5, 1825 on the site where Kawaiaha'o Church now stands.

Missionaries ( congregationalists ) convinced Kaʻahumanu that the Roman Catholic Church should be removed from the island. On July 7, 1827, she ordered the departure of the first Catholic missionaries. In 1830 Ka'ahumanu signed a law against the spread of Catholic doctrine and under which anyone could be expelled who broke the law.

Consolidation of American relations

Ka'ahumanu, and not her son, the king, negotiated the first state treaty between Hawaii and the United States of America in 1826 under the direction of President John Quincy Adams . The contract included a US trader claiming $ 150,000 from the Hawaiians. The Hawaiians paid this debt with sandalwood .

This document was also a free trade agreement giving the Americans the right to navigate and trade in all ports. In addition, Americans were empowered to sue in Hawaiian courts and were protected by Hawaiian law.

The end of her reign

In 1827 Ka'ahumanu fell ill and her health deteriorated steadily until she died in 1832. In her honor, missionaries printed the New Testament in the Hawaiian language . Her funeral took place at Kawaiaha'o Church, which she considered to be the Westminster Abbey of Hawaii. The funeral service was developed by I. Hiram Bingham held. Her body was initially located near the 'Iolani Palace , but was later reburied in the Royal Mausoleum.

Web links

Commons : Kaʻahumanu  - collection of images, videos and audio files