Hawaiian by Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific

Hawaiian by Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific

Hawaiian by Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific

Hawaiian by Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific

Synopsis

Twelve companies of American missionaries were sent to the Hawaiian Islands between 1819 and 1848 with the goal of spreading American Christianity and New England values. By the 1850s American missionary families in the islands had birthed more than 250 white children, considered Hawaiian subjects by the indigenous monarchy and U.S. citizens by missionary parents. In Hawaiian by Birth Joy Schulz explores the tensions among the competing parental, cultural, and educational interests affecting these children and, in turn, the impact the children had on nineteenth-century U.S. foreign policy.


These children of white missionaries would eventually alienate themselves from the Hawaiian monarchy and indigenous population by securing disproportionate economic and political power. Their childhoods--complicated by both Hawaiian and American influences--led to significant political and international ramifications once the children reached adulthood. Almost none chose to follow their parents into the missionary profession, and many rejected the Christian faith. Almost all supported the annexation of Hawai'i despite their parents' hope that the islands would remain independent.


Whether the missionary children moved to the U.S. mainland, stayed in the islands, or traveled the world, they took with them a sense of racial privilege and cultural superiority. Schulz adds children's voices to the historical record with this first comprehensive study of the white children born in the Hawaiian Islands between 1820 and 1850 and their path toward political revolution.

Excerpt

Kauhua Ku, ka Lani, i-loli ka moku; Hookohi ke kua-koko o ka Lani; He kua-koko,
pu-koko I ka honua; He kua-koko kapu no ka Lani
. (Big with child is the Princess
Ku; the whole island suffers her whimsies; the pangs of labor are on her;
labor that stains the land with blood.)

Ancient Hawaiian mele

In 1819, when passenger travel across the Pacific Ocean was unfathomable to most Americans, seven couples and five children left New England and made the nearly six-month sea voyage around Cape Horn to the Hawaiian Islands, arriving in 1820. the young missionaries left behind their worldly possessions but took with them the prayers and financial support of the newly established American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). the missionaries were soon joined by others. Between 1819 and 1848 the abcfm launched roughly 150 missionaries across the Pacific Ocean to the Hawaiian Islands. As the first U.S. missionary organization with an international agenda, the abcfm hoped to evangelize the small, independent island kingdom according to Congregational and Presbyterian theology.

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