KING KAMEHAMEHANot many people get to be called The Great, unless you have conquered some people and laid waste to their lands. Well, our Great State of Hawaii has just such a person that we honor on


King Who The What, you ask? Kamehameha the Great, that’s who, unifier of the Hawaiian Islands into the Kingdom of Hawaii, and founder of the House of Kamehameha.

Like most founders of royal dynasties, Kamehameha rose to power on the island of Hawaii in 1783 through subterfuge, dubious hereditary claims and murder. The first thing he noticed was that the islands of Maui, Oahu, Lanai, Molokai, Nihau, Kahoolawe and Kuaia were not under his command, a major irritant to a monarch.

Only problem was, those islands already had kings and armies, and weren’t enthusiastic about bending their knees to anyone named Kamehameha, great or otherwise. So, Kamehameha picked the two that were recovering from a war of succession, Maui and Oahu, and in 1795 sailed for their shores with 10,000 soldiers in 960 war canoes and took over.

It took him awhile to subdue the other islands, but by 1810 he managed to rule over the united Kingdom of Hawaii for 9 years until his death, and the islands have functioned as a single political unit ever since.

Kamehameha’s kingdom lasted until 1893, when it was overthrown by the Republic of Hawaii. That lasted only until Hawaii was annexed by the USA in 1898, and called the Territory of Hawaii on its way to becoming the 50th star on the American flag in 1959.

•Suggested Activities: Figuring out how to pronounce his full Hawaiian name: Kalani Paiʻea Wohi o Kaleikini Kealiʻikui Kamehameha o ʻIolani i Kaiwikapu kauʻi Ka Liholiho Kūnuiākea.

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