Connecting the Kingdom: Sailing Vessels in the Early Hawaiian Monarchy, 1790-1840
Part One covers broad trends in Hawaiʻi’s changing maritime traditions, beginning with the evolution of Hawaiian archaic states in the precontact era. Mills argues that Indigenous trends towards political intensification under the predecessors to Kamehameha I set the stage for Kamehameha’s own rapid appropriation of Western sailing vessels. From the first procurement of a Western-style vessel in 1790 through the beginning of the constitutional monarchy in 1840, these vessels were part of a nuanced strategy that promoted a diverse revenue base for the monarchy and developed greater international parity in Hawaiʻi’s foreign diplomacy.
Part Two presents the histories of the sixty vessels owned by Hawaiian chiefs between 1790 and 1840, discussing their significance, origin, physical attributes, ownership, procurement, and purpose. Using newspapers and other concurrent sources, Mills uncovers little-known details of more than 2,000 voyages around and between the islands and to distant parts of the Pacific. His meticulous documentation of each ship’s itinerary is a valuable resource for tracking the movement of chiefs and commoners between islands as they engaged in the business of building a newly interconnected Hawaiian nation.
Part Three connects these previously neglected maritime stories with an expanding body of historical treatments of Hawaiian agency. Readers with enthusiasm for life in nineteenth-century Hawaiʻi will appreciate the entertaining and, at times, deeply moving glimpses into the daily lives of individuals in Hawaiʻi’s pluralistic port communities.
Softcover, 270 pp.
Peter R. Mills