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Kamehameha III (born Kauikeaouli), (11 August 1813–15 December,1854) was the King of Hawaii from 1824 to 1854. He was Hawaii's longest-reigning monarch. His full Hawaiian name was Keaweawe ula Kiwala o Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa and then lengthened to Keaweawe ula Kiwala o Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa Kalani Waiakua Kalanikau Iokikilo Kiwala o i ke kapu Kamehameha when he ascended the throne. He was Hawaii's first Christian king and it was under him that Hawaii transitioned from a secular Hawaiian monarchy to a Christian constitutional monarchy with the signing of not one but two of Hawaii's Constitutions in 1840 and 1852. He was the longest reigning monarch in the 99 years of history of the Kingdom, ruling for 29 years and 192 days, although in the early part of his reign he was under a regency by Queen Ka ahumanu and later by Ka ahumanu II.

Early life

Born on 11 August 1813 at Keauhou Baymarker, on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kauikeaouli was the second son of Kamehameha the Great and the high Chiefess Keopuolani of Maui. He was of the highest kapu (taboo) lineage. Kauikeaouli was 11 years younger than his brother Liholiho, who ruled as Kamehameha II. He was born Kauikeaouli (placed in the dark clouds) Kaleiopapa Kuakamanolani Mahinalani Kalaninuiwaiakua Keaweawe ulaokalani (the red trail or the roadway by which the god descends from heaven). He was delivered stillborn at birth but Kapihe, the kaula (prophet) of Chief Kaikio ewa was summoned and revived him declaring the baby "alive". Kauikeaouli was cleansed, laid on a consecrated place, fanned, prayed over and sprinkled with water until he breathed, moved and cried. The prayer of Kapihe was to Ka önohiokalä, "Child of God". Kamehameha III chose to celebrate his birthday on 17 March in honor of his admiration for St. Patrick of Irelandmarker.

Kauikeaouli had a troubled childhood. He was torn between the Christian guidelines imposed on the kingdom by the kuhina nui (prime minister) Ka ahumanu and the desires to return to the ways of old Hawaii. Under the influence of Oahu governor Boki, who owned a liquor store, Kauikeaouli turned to alcohol in a clear rejection of the Christian standards of morality.


Portrait of the young king, oil on canvas painting by Robert Dampier, 1825, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Kauikeaouli was only 11 when he ascended to the throne in 6 June 1825, 11 months after the death of Liholiho. For the next seven years, from 1824 to 1832, real political power was in the hands of his stern adoptive mother and regent, Queen Ka ahumanu. When Ka ahumanu died in 1832, she was replaced as regent by Kauikeaouli’s half-sister, Elisabeta Kina u, who took the title Ka ahumanu II. Kina u died when Kauikeaouli was only 25, and the young king found himself consumed by the burdens of kingship.

When Kauikeaouli came to the throne, the native population numbered about 150,000, which was already less one third of the Hawaiian population at the time of Captain Cook’s arrival to Hawaii in 1778. During his reign, that number would be halved again, due to a smallpox epidemic.

In 1839, under a French threat of war, Roman Catholicism was legalized in the Edict of Toleration and the first statutory law code was established. He also enacted the Constitution of 1840, Hawaii's first. Two years later, he moved the capital from Lahainamarker to Honolulumarker.

In 1843, a British commander named George Paulet pressured Kauikeaouli into surrendering the Hawaiian kingdom to the British crown, but Kamehameha III alerted Londonmarker of the captain's rogue actions which eventually restored the kingdom's independence. It was during this brief period of uncertainty that the king uttered the phrase that eventually became Hawaii’s motto: "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono"—"The life/sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness." Less than five months later, on 29 July, British Admiral Thomas rejected the commander’s actions and the kingdom was restored to Kauikeaouli. This date 28 November was celebrated thereafter as Ka La Ho'iho'i Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day, an official national holiday of the kingdom.

One of his most important acts was the Great Mahele of 1848 which redistributed land between the government, king, nobles, and commoners. Many commoners were unaware of the program and lost out on the distribution. Foreigners were also allowed to own land in Hawaii for the first time. In 1849, French admiral Louis Tromelin sacked and looted Honolulu after the king refused his demands. Kamehameha III's last major act was the Constitution of 1852 which greatly liberalized politics

On 16 May 1853 King Kamehameha III proclaimed the Hawaiian Kingdom neutral in the Crimean War in Europe.


Kauikeaouli married Kalama, a chiefess of no relation to him. Some previous Hawaiian kings and queens practiced incest in the royal court. His brother Liholiho and his half-sister Kamamalu were half-sister and brother couples. This practice was to preserve mana or spiritual power within the family. He had loved his sister Nahienaena but the union was opposed by the missionaries. After his sister's death, he married Kalama. He and Kalama had two children Prince Keaweawe ulaokalani I and Prince Keaweawe ulaokalani II who both died while infants. He and his mistress Jane Lahilahi, a daughter of John Young his father's advisor had twin illegitimate sons; Keoua, who died young, and Albert, who lived to adulthood.

Later years

As the years passed, Kauikeaouli found himself resigned to the changing landscape of Hawaii. His rebellious nature softened as his authority was compromised by outside influences. In 1854, he had his foreign minister, Robert Wyllie, "ascertain the views of the United States in relation to the annexation thereto of these Islands."

Kauikeaouli died on 17 December of that same year. He was 41.He was succeeded by his nephew and adopted son, Alexander Liholiho as Kamehameha IV.He was buried in the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaiimarker known as Mauna Ala.

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