Hawaii Timeline

300 - 500 AD

First settlers arrive in Hawaii from the Marquesas. They sailed to Hawaii in huge (at the time) catamarans. Their reason for departure is unknown. It could be war, overpopulation, drought, or just a need for adventure. The sailed by the stars, the trade winds, the clouds, and a sixth sense. They average about the same distance a day as Cook did. Cook didn't discover the Hawaiian Islands, the Polynesians did a thousand years earlier.

around 1000 AD

Second wave of settlers from Tahiti arrive. They were very class conscious, and they developed the Kapu system, which was basically a long list of strict rules. Punishment was death by hanging, stoning,or clubbing. If the crime was great enough, the perpetrators family was killed as well. A few of the silliest were: It was kapu for your shadow to fall across the shadow of the ali'i (the class of nobles). It was kapu for women to eat pork or bananas. These may seem silly, but it helped keep order.

1500 - 1600 AD

This may be the first time whites have been on Hawaii. According to the tale, a few people left over from a shipwreck floated ashore. The age of the tale is correspondent with Spanish records of a ship lost at sea.

by 1700

By 1700, the Hawaiians had been isolated for a half of a century. They had lost contact with the Tahitians for so long that the had become nothing more than a myth. Their canoes were now used for fishing and inter-island traveling. They had forgotten how to explore. Communities grew into Kingdoms. The Hawaiians had stone age tools but not stone age minds. While it took other cultures 20000 years to evolve out of the stone age, it only took the Hawaiians 150 (once they had been introduced to the modern age after).

ca 1758

Kamehameha (Ka-mEha-mEha) is born on the island of Hawai'i.

January 19, 1778

Captain Cook lands on Kaua'i and trades with the locals for supplies. Normally, Cook could predict when they'd run into an island, but Hawaii took him by surprise. He was not actually exploring, but on his way to find the NW passage.

February 2, 1778

Cook leaves to find the NW passage.

November 27, 1778

The king of Maui boards the Discovery. Cook then spends 6 weeks maneuvering around the Islands to find a secure anchorage.

January 17, 1779

Cook lands on the big Island at Kealakekua Bay. There he is hailed as Lono.

February 4, 1779

Cook departs from Kealakekua. The locals began to be suspicious.

February 12, 1779

Cook returned to the Big Island because of bad weather. He is killed the next day. Most theories suggest that Cook was hailed as a god, but it is not necessary to go that far. It is probable that the Hawaiians thought he was a Lono for a bit, as there were signs pointing in that direction. Cooks death was started by a dingy that was stolen. He tried to kidnap the king to get it back, but the locals would have none of it. Cook was killed in the resulting battle. Cook counted on his firepower to intimidate the locals but the Hawaiians king was in danger, and they were not afraid.


First trading ship arrives at he Hawaiian Islands. All of the following ships are fur traders. The traders route was from England around Cape Horn to Alaska, then from Alaska to Canada to Hawaii. From Hawai to China and back to Hawaii. From Hawaii it's back around Cape Horn to England. .


The first American ship, the Columbia Reviva, arrives in Hawaii. This was also the ship that discovered the Columbia river, and the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe.


George Vancouver goes to Hawaii and become personal advisor to Kamehameha. He brings longhorn cattle to Hawaii.


Kamehameha consolidates his rule over the Big Island. He sets his sights for the rest of the chain.


First battle won using European cannons. Also first permanent white advisors to Kamehameha. John Young was the power behind the throne on the Big Island and Isaac Davis was the power behind the throne on Oahu.


All Hawaiian islands (except Kauai) are united into one kingdom


Sandalwood is found in the islands. Kamehameha turns into an industrialist and begins the collapse of the Kapu system


Horses are introduced. By the 1860s, horses were everywhere, and the Hawaiians had developed an obsession with horses. a walk to the beach became a ride to the beach


Half of the Hawaiian population is wiped out by the Black Plague or Cholera. This was the first time disease had made it to Hawaii.

March 30 1820

First Missionaries arrive in Hawaii. They are New England Congregationalists led by Hiram Bingham. NEC are very strict, event beyond the 10 commandments. They are very anti-indulgence. The new religion really took off, because the Hawaiian's were ready for it. Kamehameha II had abolished the Kapy system, upon insistence of the women of the court by eating with the women. Once that kapu was broken, all other rules also dissolved, including the belief in the gods.


The whaling industry takes off. The first resident physicians arrive in Hawaii. Hiram Bingham thought that three physicians was enough


First printed pages in the Hawaiian language. The new alphabet was invented by the missionaries, who designed it so that reading and writing it was very easy. The language had 5 vowels and 7 consonants. By 1850, the Hawaiians had really taken to the new language, and the spent hours and hours reading.


William Richard imposes Taboos on all contact between women and whaling crews. Kamehameha III begins his reign.


Kamehameha III reigns


The American whaling ship "Wellington" introduces mosquitos to Hawaii. They had had an unsuccessful trip, so their barrels were still full with water instead of fat. They dumped the mosquito infected water in a river and replaced theirs, so they unwittingly introduced the mosquito to Hawaii. First Catholic missionaries arrived.


Gerrit Judd arrives in Hawaii. He was the first physician alarmed by the rapidly shrinking population, and blamed it on the epidemics, not the natives. He also helped form the Hawaiian government.


First experiment in higher education: Lahainaluna Seminary. Population estimated at 130,000.


Kamehameha III invites 3 Mexicans to control the cattle introduced by Vancouver. The Islanders really took to the Mexican dress. Ka'ahumuna dies, she was Kamehameha I's first wife, and the power behind the throne.


Don Francisco de Paula Marin dies. He was on the top of the list of contributors to the Island Nursery. Most of the plant life you see now was introduced. Some of these are:

  • Orange

  • Almonds

  • Grapes

  • Coffee beans

  • Guava

  • Mangoes

  • Plums

  • Bougainvillea

  • Plumeria

  • Kiawe

Laying out of the public streets of Honolulu begins.


The first approved constitution is put into motion. It is a Legislative and judiciary government with a limited monarchy. It gave religious freedom to subjects, let commoners own their own land, and divided land between the King and chiefs. It was the transition from a Feudal Theocracy to a Constitutional Monarchy.


Flu, Measles, Diarrhea, and Whooping Cough come to Hawaii for the first time. Nearly every child born this year was killed, and whole families were wiped out.


Census by the missionaries. Population 70,000.


Smallpox hits Hawaii for the first time. Judd tries to curtail commercial prostitution. First foreign laborers come to Hawaii. They Were Cantonese and Didn't adopt to the plantation lifestyle


Kamehameha IV (Alexander LihoLiho) takes the throne. Nephew and adopted son of Kamehameha I. He traveled extensively, and was an anglophile. He married Queen Emma. He was not in favor of an American annexation. A small group of Raro Tongans come to Hawaii. This was an Isolated incident and the population still declined


The next batch of laborers arrive. They are also Cantonese, But this time there was a new immigration policy. Kamehameha IV noticed the declining population and wanted more Polynesians to immigrate.


he Queens Hospital in Honolulu is opened. First gas lights begin to illuminate Honolulu


The first case of Leprosy is diagnosed. Kamehameha IV dies. He had asthma. His younger brother, Prince Lot, became the king and took the name Kamehameha V. He was to be the last Kamehameha. He was liked by the people. He made improvements to the health services, immigration services, and public works. He distrusted the missionaries, just like his brother.


The constitution is revised. It gave more power to the monarch.


Sugar had replaced whaling as Hawaii's chief source of revenue by the end of the war. The Union had no access to Confederate sugar. This made Hawaii ideal, but on the flip side, Hawaiian economy became very dependent on this. This would lead to the military occupation of Pearl Harbor many years later. Around this time 522 Chinese immigrants arrive in Hawaii to work in the cane fields. It was hard work and the had primitive accommodations. After their 5 year contract, they set up a rice plantation and imported their own labor.


The first shipload of Lepers is sent to Kaluapapa on Molokai. Mark Twain visits the Hawaiian Islands. His 124 days marked the most important turning point in his life. He was incredibly enthusiastic about Hawaii.


Kamehameha V dies without an heir.


The one year reign of King Lunaliho. He was the cousin of Kamehameha V. The threat of an annexation by the USA was large. He rejected the 2nd constitution, and wanted the original constitution back. He wanted a Liberal Constitutional Monarchy. Father Damien arrived in Leper colony.

February 1873

The US use of Pearl Harbor is openly considered in exchange for the long desired reciprocity treaty that would allow Hawaiian sugar to enter the US duty free. Officially the US government was committed to Hawaii's independence, but unofficially, it had its own agendas.


Prince David Kalakua is hailed King. He was the child of two cultures. He was generous and sensitive, sophisticated, and intelligent. He set his heir right away, Lili'oukulani (his wife), who would be followed by Kapi'olani (his niece). By now the the population was less than 50000. He went to Washington D.C. to meet President Ulysses S. Grant for a treaty and a reaffirmation of Hawaii's independence. He got the Reciprocity Treaty in February 1876. This allowed Hawaiian grown sugar to enter the American market duty free.


A group of agriculturalist Germans arrive. They were well treated and brought their families.


Kalakua built the 'Iolani palace to show the world that Hawaii was a modern nation.

February 1883

Kalakua threw a lavish coronation party. He wore the yellow feathered cloak of Kamehameha I. He showed he was a patron of traditional Hawaiian culture.


22% of Hawaiian population is made of of Chinese. A law is passed to limit the number of Chinese in the country


180,000 Japanese come to work in the sugar and pineapple fields. They were farmers and peasants. They were also disappointed with the conditions. They set up their own churches, schools and organizations. They were also the first to organize a major strike. They demandad higher wages and better working and living conditions


The Hawaiian government is 2 million dollars in debt. The integrity of the government was openly questioned.


A secret organization called the Hawaiian Leage is formed. One faction wanted to limit the monarchs authority, they other wanted to abolish the monarchy all together and have an eventual annexation by The US. The latter faction was made up of mostly American businessmen. They had military backup in the form of three rifle companies from the Hawaiian Rifles.


The first legislative elections occur. Kalakua barely came out on top, but this was only a temporary victory. The future of the Hawaiian Kingdom is threatened by foreign businesses and governments. Duke Kahanamoka is born. He was a famed surfer. He won the gold medal at the Olympics for 100 meters freestyle (swimming) and was a sheriff in Honolulu. He was also the unofficial ambassador of the islands. He died in 1968.


Kalakua dies in San Francisco. Lili'oukulani is Queen. Ka'ioulani is next in line. Her mother was Kalakua's sister. Her father was a Scot name Archibald Cleghorn. She was well loved by the people. She was intelligent and introspective. She was good friend with Robert Louis Stevenson. She went to a boarding school in England and died in 1899.

The Belgian priest Father Damian contracted Leprosy. He work with the Lepers in Kaluapapa on Molokai. In 1866 Brother Button came to help out. Dutton didn't get Leprosy because he observed extreme cleanliness. He was patient and a good builder. Damien died in 1894, Dutton in 1931

Lili'oukulani is named the successor to Kalakua. She took an aggressive stance. She had a complex personality, and regal sense of self. She eliminated further opposition. To finally place herself in the hands of the conservative and respectable of the country seemed the only way to retain her throne.

January 13, 1893

Lili'uokulani appoints her own cabinet and proclaimed a new constitution that would restore royal perogatives. This causes a huge uproar.

January 16, 1893

American troops land to restore order.

January 17, 1893

America troops move into the palace ant take over. Lili'oukulani lost the throne. All of this happened because of the unauthorized support of John Stevens, an American businessman. The leaders of the annexation Club were recognized as the de facto rulers of Hawaii.

July 4, 1894

The republic of Hawaii is formed, led by President Dole.

January 7, 1895

The last attempt to restore the Hawaiian monarchy fails.

January 16, 1895

Lili'oukulani signs the abdication document. The republic is now the legitimate heir to the monarchy. The US president was unsuccessful in his opposition. He said " As I look back upon the fist steps in this miserable business, and I contemplate the means used to complete the outrage I am ashamed of the whole affair.

August 12, 1898

Hawaii is officially an American territory.

by 1900

The population is less than 30000.


5000 Puerto Ricans come to Hawaii. They left behind a country of war and poverty.


2500 Koreans come to Hawaii to work. They were the fastest and steadiest contract workers. They worked hard and respected their bosses


Over 7000 Philippines come to Hawaii. They thought life was a lot better in Hawaii. They were also hard workers.

All the immigrants that came to Hawaii altered the population mix and compromised Hawaii's future as an independent Polynesian kingdom.


Jack London visits Hawaii in his yacht "The Snark". He wrote extensively about Hawaii and used it as an inspiration for many of his stories. He also visited the Leper colony on Molokai.


Work begins on Pearl Harbor naval base and dry dock.

7 December,1941

US Enters WWII after attack on Pearl Harbour

January 1943

Japanese Americans were allowed to to volunteer for the army

14 August, 1945

V-J Day

1 April, 1946

Devastating Tsunami hits the windward shores of Hawaii. It was made by the biggest earthquake ever, a 9.5 on the Richter scale

12 March, 1959

Hawaii becomes the 50th state of the Union. Voters ratified 17 to 1 for the recommendation for statehood by the US congress

24 May, 1960

Tsunami from Hilo kills 57 people in Hilo

23 November, 1982

Hurricane 'Iwa hits Oahu and Kauai with 117 mph winds. Most destructive storm to hit in Hawaiian history


Visitors are more that 5 million this year. Tourism overtakes sugar and Pineapple as Hawaiis leading industry

1 December, 1986

John Waihe'e becomes first elected Hawaiian governor. He was a symbol of Hawaiian pride.


A health department survey reveals that 35.5% of the Hawaiian population is of mixed heritage. Slightly more than half were part Hawaiian Caucasians are 24%, Japanese 20.4%, Filipino 11.4%, and Chinese 4.7%

September 1992

Hurricane 'Iniki hits the islands, with devastating results for Kaua'i.