Lincoln In Hawaiian Memory

On the grounds of the Ewa Plantation School just west of Honolulu stands a bronze statue of a young Abraham Lincoln with ax in hand, forearms rippling after splitting logs. Fifteen years before Hawaii became a state in 1959, school officials unveiled this statue, a symbol of Lincoln’s popularity in Hawaii during the American Civil War, when many Hawaiians enlisted in the Union Army and Navy despite the kingdom’s official neutrality. Read more »

Hawaii Territory

Long before it became a state, Hawaii enchanted Americans with a vision of tropical ease, languid music, and a steady throb of sensuality. That life disappeared on December 7, 1941, but vivid traces of it remain.

I was a young Army wife, on my way to our new posting. Through some happy quirk, the Army sent us to Hawaii, on the ocean liner Lurline . We sighted Diamond Head, and long before we docked, the scent of flowers and ferns reached the ship. Very soon I knew I never wanted to leave, and, except for short trips, I haven’t. I acquired some book learning in Hawaiian history and language. My son married into a large and interesting Hawaiian family.

 
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The Big Island On Foot

The Hawaii of centuries long past emerges from the landscapes crossed by its ancient trails

The past presses close to the surface on the island of Hawaii, the southernmost in the archipelago, the one they call the Big Island. In 1985, during the first of what would be many trips to this massive volcanic isle, I toured its wild northern coast in a tiny bubble of a helicopter. On what seemed a whim, but probably had to do with the calm clarity of the day, the pilot decided to swing out to sea and fly alongside the pali, a stretch of vertical cliffs that rise 2,000 feet above the surf.Read more »

1898 One Hundred Years Ago

The White Man’s Burden

When an armistice ended the Spanish-American War on August 12, the United States found itself with three major new territories obtained in three different ways. The first was Hawaii, annexed on July 7 with the President’s signature on a joint congressional resolution. The islands, controlled by a friendly American-installed government, had shown their value as a naval base, and in the exhilaration of impending victory over Spain, America took up a long-standing offer to absorb them.Read more »

My Life With The Lone Eagle

The trouble with having (and being) a hero

Charles A. Lindbergh, who vaulted to international fame seventy years ago this May by taking off alone one night and flying from New York to Paris in his single-engine monoplane, is buried in a small churchyard on the eastern end of the island of Maui in Hawaii. I learned this a few years ago in a conversation with a couple of tourists in the bar of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Oahu. Read more »

Hawaii: Our Most Foreign Place

Driving around the island of Hawaii, I got a strange feeling that I was driving through all of time.Read more »

Mark Twain In Paradise

He Never Got Hawaii out of His System

On Sunday morning, March 18, 1866, the steamer A jay. sailed into Honolulu Harbor while the bells of six different mission churches called the freshly converted faithful to worship. Among the passengers most eager to go ashore was a thirty-one-year-old knockabout journalist named Samuel Clemens, on assignment for the Sacramento Union . Mark Twain would later make the Mississippi immortal, but first Hawaii would make him famous.Read more »

“Mad Jack” And The Missionaries

The Pacific Ocean is vast and lonely. In the second decade of the nineteenth century, when the American whaling industry was expanding rapidly in that great sea and American merchant ships plied the lucrative China trade, they ventured in an area where no nation’s law extended. The United States naval force in the Pacific totalled at most three vessels, all well occupied in protecting American interests on the coasts of Peru and Chile in the midst of Bolivar’s revolution. Read more »

Niihau A Shoal Of Time

For a century Hawaii’s westernmost island has stubbornly resisted the tides of change

No man is an island, we know; and Islands themselves in our time have been steadily stripped of their isolation and their integrity, in the Pacific, the great ocean of atolls and archipelagoes, long waves beat on coral reels as they did when Melville came, and Cook, and the earliest Polynesian voyagers; but now there are jet contrails in the sky, and fallout from nuclear tests comes down impartially on palm tree and penthouse.

 
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The Enemies Of Empire

To the question of acquiring new territories overseas, and owning colonies, one group of Americans answered with a resounding “No!”

We know, to the hour and minute, when this country reached the point of no return on its way to becoming a world power.

 
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