Article: Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day, An "Act of Grace"


For a while the Islands were under the rule of the British commission set up by Lord George Paulet. Queen Victoria, on learning these activities, immediately sent an envoy to the islands to restore sovereignty to its rightful rulers. Finally, Admiral Richard Thomas arrived in the Islands on July 26, 1843 to restore the kingdom to Kamehameha III.

Then, on July 31, 1843, Thomas declared the end of the Provisional Cession and recognized Kamehameha III as King of the Hawaiian Islands and the Islands to be independent and sovereign; the Hawaiian flag was raised.

This event is referred to as Ka La Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day, and it is celebrated each year in the approximate site of the 1843 ceremonies, Thomas Square.

“After five months of embarrassment and suffering under the misrule of the new powers the 31st of July opened a brighter scene”. (Bingham)

“On the 31st of July, a treaty of peace, providing for friendly intercourse between the Islanders and the subjects of Great Britain, was signed by the king of the Islands, Kamehameha, and the British admiral Thomas.”

“A parade of several hundred English marines appeared on the plain of Honolulu with their officers, their banners waving proudly, and their arms glittering in the sunbeams.”

“Admiral Thomas and the suspended king proceeded thither in a carriage, attended by the chiefs and a vast multitude of the people, who formed a line parallel with the troops.”

“The English standard bearers advanced towards his majesty, their flags bowed gracefully, and a broad, beautiful Hawaiian banner, exhibiting a crown and olive branch, was unfurled over the head of the king and his attending chieftains …”

“… which was saluted by the English troops with field pieces, then by the guns of the Carysfort, whose yards were manned in homage to the restored sovereign.”

“Then succeeded the roar of the guns of the fort, Punch-bowl Battery, the admiral’s ship, Dublin, the United States’ ship, Boston, and others. The day was a day of rejoicing and congratulations, enhanced by the issuing of the following edict:” (Bingham)

“He Olelo Lokomaikai Act of Grace”

“Accorded by His Majesty King Kamehameha III, by and with the advice of his Chiefs in Council, to all his Subjects upon the occasion of his resuming the reins of Government.”

“WHEREAS certain difficulties and apparent misunderstandings have recently arisen between Us and the Government of Great Britain, in the course of which some of our Subjects, subsequent to our Provisional Cession of the Sovereignty of the Islands to Great Britain …”

“… and up to the period when we resumed the exercise of our Kingly Power, have accepted office, and otherwise performed acts not so required to do by Us, or our duly constituted Authorities. And, whereas, certain persons have been imprisoned within the time abovementioned not by our Authority,”

“WE, anxious to express our Gratitude to God, and to give the fullest proof of our attachment to the English Nation, and to manifest our joy at the Restoration of our National Flag, hereby Proclaim,”

“First, That none of our Subjects shall be punished by our Authority, for any act committed by them or any of them to the injury of our Government between the 25th of February, 1843, and the date hereof.”

“Second, That all prisoners of every description, from Hawaiʻi to Niʻihau, be immediately discharged.”

“Third, All Government business will be suspended for ten days after this date, that all persons may be free to enjoy themselves in the festivities and rejoicings appropriate to the occasion.”

“Given at Honolulu, Oahu, Island of Oahu, this thirty-first day of July, 1843.”

“(Signed,) Kamehameha III (Signed,) Kekāuluohi”

“The king and chiefs repaired to the stone meetinghouse (Kawaiahaʻo Church) to offer public thanks for the singular interposition of Providence in favor of the nation. The king made a short address …”

“… stating that according to the hope expressed by him when he ceded the islands, ‘the life of the land’ had been restored to him; that now, they, the people of his islands, should look to him, and his rule over them should be exercised according to the constitution and laws.”

“This address was followed by the interpretation of the declaration of Admiral Thomas; after which, John Ii (a counsellor and orator) delivered an animated address suited to the joyful occasion.”

“He referred to the gloom which had shrouded the nation, and the despondency which had brooded over many minds, but which were now dispelled, and succeeded by hope, and joy, and brightening prospects.”

“He referred to the auspicious event of the restoration as of the LORD, who had been mindful of the nation in its low estate, and as demanding from all, gratitude and praise.”

“The sentiments of the 126th Psalm apparently inspired his heart: “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then said they among the heathen, ‘The Lord hath done great things for them.’”

“What a contrast between this scene and that of a human sacrifice in a heathen temple, which the orator of the day once saw offered by his prince, Liholiho, and his father!”

“It affords pleasure to add here, the testimony of the American Board, ‘that the whole deportment of Admiral Thomas, while at the islands, towards the king and his people, and the mission, was of the most courteous and honorable character; and his example, counsels, and influence will long be gratefully remembered.’”

“The king being restored to the free use of his sovereignty under the constitution, and once more regarding himself as the head of the people, took the lead again by example and influence, and by such means as were in his power, to favor the cause of temperance and order.” (Bingham)

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