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Out of Africa And On To Hawaii

The first Africans to arrive in Hawai'i were deckhands on merchant and whaling ships, and came from Cape Verde, the United States (African Americans), and the Caribbean (West Indian Americans).

These early Africans ended their maritime careers and settled in Hawai'i. A number of them were successful musicians, business men, and respected government officials.

One American-born African was Anthony D. Allen (1774–1835) an ex-slave. He came to Hawaii in 1810 as a whaler. He became a steward of Kamehameha I and within a decade came to own twelve houses and a farm, and run a boarding house, bowling alley and hospital.

The first two leaders of the Royal Hawaiian Band under Kamehameha III: Oliver and George Washington Hyatt (1815–1870) were also African-Americans. A former slave who accompanied the American Protestant missionaries to Hawaii, Betsey Stockton started the first mission school in Lahaina open to the common people. Prior to independence in 1975, many Cape Verdeans emigrated to Hawaii from drought-stricken Portuguese Cape Verde, formerly an overseas province of Portugal. Because these people arrived using their Portuguese passports, they were registered as Portuguese immigrants by the authorities. Following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the Hawaiian government became interested in the prospect of contracting freed slaves for labor in Hawaii. The thought of the four million slaves suddenly thrust onto the open market prompt Hawaiian Foreign Minister Robert Crichton Wyllie to write to a prominent friend in Boston, "We could perhaps admit with advantage to ourselves, say 20,000 freed Negroes, pay them the wages and give them the treatment of free men." Although nothing came out of it due to the inability of President Abraham Lincoln to enforce the law in the South.

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© 2023 by Maui Salt and Sage.
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