1839 – Anglo-French Proclamation

In order to understand the history of Hawaii, we first have to briefly familiarize ourselves with the history of Europe.

With the French Revolution in 1789, life, society, science and politics in Europe had changed drastically. Europe was on the move and on a global colonization tour to achieve world domination in Europe. Great Britain and France wanted to count themselves among the then world rulers of Spain, Portugal and Holland. Only these two countries have been at war for a while. Europe was in the early 19th century in the global expansion course and therefore undertook many expeditions. France grew immensely in Europe through Napoleon’s wars. In order to compete with France, Great Britain expanded its colonial empire, particularly across the Atlantic in Canada. Both powers caught fire in a race to explore and explore the new world, so they sent ships to discover new countries and establish new colonies. What was the circumnavigator, explorer and explorer James Cook for Great Britain, so it was for Captain Laplace for France. Laplace was the first European seafarer to head to and enter the island of Maui. James Cook was the first in Kauai and Hawaii. Cyrille Pierre Théodore Laplace (November 7, 1793 – December 24, 1875) became famous for his circumnavigation of the globe on board the ship La Favorite.

French frigate Favorite (1810)

After the death of King Kamehameha of the Hawaiian Islands, who he was the founder and first king, in 1819 Queen Regent Ka’ahumanu came to power, the powerful, newly converted Protestant widow of Kamehameha the Great. She publicly overthrew the strict hood system, which taboos governed all aspects of Hawaii’s Aboriginal life. The Protestant ministers of New England convinced the Queen to illegalize Catholicism in Hawaii. So she accepted the arrival of Protestant missionaries from New England, who taught Christianity as an alternative belief system.

Honorourou, Capitale d’Ouahou, vu du Mouillage / Today called Honolulu, Oahu.

On March 30, 1820, Hawaii saw the beginning of Christianity and the most influential religious group in Hawaii. The United States deployed seven pairs of missions, all of which were 14 Protestant missionaries, who arrived in Kawaihae and Kailua-Kona, Big Island, after a 164-day trip across the United States and the Pacific.

The Mission Station at Waimea, Kohala, probably mid 1800s. Print from a drawing by Edward Bailey. Bishop Museum Collection.

After the new policy came into force on December 24, 1831, the chiefs loyal to it forcibly deported the French Roman Catholic priests to the schooner „Waverly“ in the port of Honolulu. Indigenous Hawaiian Catholic converts have been arrested and detained. Most of these prisoners were released after the Protestant ministers beat them to reject Catholicism. The prejudice against the missionaries of the French Catholics remained the same under the rule of their successor, the Kuhina Nui Ka’ahumanu II.

Portrait of Artémise by François Roux

France was not pleased with the situation in Hawaii, with the persecution and unequal treatment of its Catholic missionaries, and therefore sent experienced captain Laplace to the Atlantic on behalf of the French crown to look to France’s right. In 1839, Captain Cyrille Pierre Théodore Laplace from the French frigate Artémise landed in Honolulu. He forced the Hawaiian government under King Kamehameha III to recognize the rights of the Catholics in his empire through the edict of tolerance. The Hawaiian government also had to pay the French $ 20,000 (today’s value about $ 551,400) in compensation. This event became known as the Laplace affair.

(The French Perspective on the Lapace Affair) – PDF

In Hawaii, missionaries converted the Hawaiian people to Christianity, developed the written form of Hawaiian, discouraged many Hawaiian cultural practices (meles, hula, and Hawaiian language were banned), introduced their western practices, and promoted the spread of English. One of the most powerful converts, Queen Kaahumanu, adopted Christianity, set it up for the rest of the kingdom, and banned Hawaiian religious practices.

King Kamehameha III expected further foreign interference in the Hawaiian territory after the Laplace affair and dispatched a diplomatic delegation to the United States and Europe to ensure recognition of Hawaii’s independence.

Lord George Paulet (1803–1879), He put Hawaii under military occupation for six months of 1843

Unfortunately, during the absence of the delegation, Lord George Paulet, captain of HMS Carysfort, came to Hawaii and unilaterally conquered the kingdom without acting on authority. On July 31, 1843, Rear Admiral Richard Thomas of the British Navy ended the five-month occupation in Hawaii. The national celebration of Lā Ho’iho’i Ea or the Day of Restoration of Sovereignty was launched to commemorate this important occasion.

La_Kuokoa o Hawaii Nei

A few months later, the British and French governments recognized the independence of the Hawaiian Kingdom in a joint declaration signed by Lord Aberdeen and the Comte de Saint-Aulare, representatives of Queen Victoria and King Louis-Phillippe.

Cyrille Pierre Théodore Laplace was instrumental in opening French trade in the Pacific and was active in founding the Hawaiian Catholic Church.

Kawaiahao Church in 1885 *Look towards Diamond Head there are no highrises in Waikiki!
Kawaiahao today – Oldest Church on Hawaii

The impact of the missionaries and their descendants, who became Hawaii’s political, business and cultural elites, was the driving force for Hawaii’s westernization.



Britische Weltreich größte Kolonialreich der Geschichte
Cyrille Pierre Théodore Laplace
Catholic Diocese of Honolulu
French frigate „Favorite“
French frigate „Artémise“
Campagne de circumnavigation de la frégate l’Artémise
Paulet Affaire
Lord George Paulet

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