PU'UKOHOLA HEIAU NHS KALOKO-HONOKOHAU NHP
PU'UHONUA O HONAUNAU NHP
A Cultural History of Three Traditional Hawaiian Sites
on the West Coast of Hawai'i Island
Overview of Hawaiian History
CHANGES AFTER THE DEATH OF KAMEHAMEHA (continued)
H. Changes in Trade Patterns
1. Sandalwood Trade
In America, the Panic of 1819 made it difficult for traders to obtain specie for the China trade. However, because the Hawaiian chiefs had become enamored of items of foreign manufacture, the islands provided an open market for goods like rum, clothing, cloth, and furnishings.  Foreign traders shipped these goods to the islands, exchanging them for sandalwood, which continued to be in demand in the Canton ports. (Sandalwood was a desirable cash crop in Hawai'i because it could be harvested year round and did not have to be irrigated or cultivated.) Between about 1810 and 1820, the major item of Hawaiian trade was sandalwood; this trade continued at an accelerated rate following Kamehameha's death. Although Liholiho should have inherited all of Kamehameha's lands, the chiefs wanted the revenue from the sandalwood. By persuading the king to give them control of the royal sandalwood monopoly, they effectively removed any regulation of the harvest or sale of the wood.
Liholiho's taste for foreign luxury goods continued to grow, including such large and expensive items as schooners and brigs. Soon most of the Hawaiian royalty began to purchase goods on credit, against future sandalwood income, and the Hawaiian economy became overextended. 
Part of this problem derived from the traditional cultural system, which had little provision for such credit arrangements. As Samuel Kamakau explains, the chiefs bought ships and turned their debts in to the king, and he in turn gave them to the government. The king's friends were among the worst offenders, declaring:
Let us run up the debt and make the chiefs and commoners work; they are no friends of ours, so let us get what we can while our lord is alive. 
The increasing scarcity of the trees and the growing demands of the king and his chiefs for trade goods led to the harvesting of large quantities of immature timber, which brought lower prices. The royal domain was stripped of sandalwood to gratify the tastes of its upper class, encouraged by easy credit.  The Hawaiians' huge sandalwood debt was renegotiated several times as merchant traders continued to charge inflated prices for trade goods, leading the king and the chiefs into owing more sandalwood than they could deliver.  Eventually traders sought the aid of their individual governments in collecting these monies, but it was years before the Hawaiian national debt was retired.  It is estimated that over 100,000 piculs (over 13 million pounds) of the fragrant lumber, worth more than a million dollars, was stripped from the mountains and hills of Hawai'i during the first thirty years of this trade. The unpaid debts contracted in the time of Kamehameha I and II (including interest) may have reached as high as $200,000, of which most was owed to American merchants.  By the mid-1830s, supplies of sandalwood were virtually exhausted, and other commodities such as salt, coconut oil, and beef cattle had begun to take its place.
The sandalwood trade exacted a heavy price in human life and health and in ecological damage. In 1823 the Reverend William Ellis described the transport of sandalwood from the adjacent mountains to the beach at Kawaihae by "between two and three thousand men, carrying each from one to six pieces of sandalwood, according to their size and weight. It was generally tied on their backs by bands made of ti leaves." 
2. Effects on Society
Lacking food and suffering from an excessive workload, many laborers died, contributing to the general decline in the Hawaiian population. As the labor force was drawn away from the fields and fish ponds, less time and energy were devoted to subsistence crops. Society was turning to a market economy, and the new foreign trade articles and luxury goods quickly became necessities, particularly for Hawaiian leaders. Eventually this situation created a large negative trade balance. Changes in the patterns of trade resulted in a number of impacts upon the native culture. As the chiefs increasingly incurred debts for imported luxury goods, they imposed additional taxes and expectations for service upon their tenants. For example, in 1831, an additional tax of one picul (133.33 pounds) of sandalwood was levied on each individual. The wood was to be brought from the mountains and deposited with the authorities at Honolulu; those who failed to comply with this tax were fined a sum of four dollars.  The Hawaiian historian David Malo wrote that the "chiefs seem to have left caring for the people . . . and [the people] are more oppressed at the present time than they ever were in ancient times."  The raising of cash crops left less for the well-being of the individual tenant farmer, resulting in increased numbers of poor and homeless. The landholders also spent more and more time away from the land as they dealt with the foreign traders at Honolulu or other port cities. Thus, the power of the konohiki grew, again resulting in increased oppression of the commoners.
3. Whaling Industry
The whaling industry had a major effect upon Hawaiian commerce and trade. As the Northwest fur trade decreased and sandalwood supplies and values dropped, the whaling industry began to fill the economic void. Frozen out of traditional hunting areas by the Europeans, American whaling ships began to sail farther and farther into the Pacific. In the autumn of 1819 the first whalers (the Balena [also known as the Bellina or Balaena] of New Bedford and the Equator of Nantucket) dropped anchor in the Hawaiian Islands. A year later, Captain Joseph Allen discovered large concentrations of sperm whales off the coast of Japan. His find was widely publicized in New England, setting off an exodus of whalers to this area. These ships might have sought provisions in Japan, except that Japanese ports were closed to foreign ships. So when Captain Allen befriended the missionaries at Honolulu and Lahaina, he helped establish these areas as the major ports of call for whalers. 
Within a few years, dozens of whaling ships were calling at the Sandwich Islands. Because the islands were centrally located close to summer whaling in the north and winter hunting near the Equator they were a logical choice for the Pacific base of operations. The friendly natives and mild climate of the islands especially appealed to the whalers after their long voyages aboard cramped, dirty, evil-smelling ships.  Twice a year (spring and fall) the northern Pacific whalers put ashore at Honolulu and Lahaina for up to three months at a time, taking on large quantities of fresh provisions, fruit, and vegetables.  Supplies of clothing, sail, and other items were stocked for the ships' stores. Several hundred sailors from the ships went ashore during each visit, demanding additional supplies and entertainment.
The number of American whalers and trading ships in Hawai'i reached its zenith in the 1840s and 1850s. By that time many of the larger mercantile houses of the American East Coast were operating in the Pacific, and a whole range of service and commercial industries began to flourish in the major port towns to serve the whalers and traders. Many of these commercial agents and traders had purchased land at Honolulu and Lahaina with profits from the sandalwood trade. As that trade diminished, they turned their attention to the whalers. The traders purchased the whalers' bills of exchange and stored their whale oil. Because local supplies were inadequate to service the whaling ships, the traders imported goods from Boston and shipped whale oil and whalebone there in return.  By 1831 stores belonging to the "several respectable American merchants" on O'ahu contained "all the necessary articles of American manufacture, the productions of the China market, wines, and almost every article of sea store." 
The income from these retail outlets amounted to perhaps $100,000 per year.  There were also numerous other businesses in Honolulu, including two hotels, two billiard rooms, and ten or twelve public houses selling spirits. Ships chandlers, shipyards, and warehouses took in large profits. The shipyards at Honolulu were especially important to the whalers, for there ships could unload their cargoes and be repaired and refitted for another six months of whaling. The whalers' voyages could be prolonged for as many as four years without having to return to home port.
The Hawaiian rulers made several abortive attempts to continue their monopoly on the sales of island products. For example, an 1823 order reserved the right of vegetable sales to the Hawaiian governor. But these trade restrictions were generally ineffectual because the agents and traders kept insisting on a free market and because local supplies were inadequate to meet the whalers' needs.  Also, after 1824 foreign merchants largely controlled prices, making large profits and adding to the drain on the Hawaiian resources and native economy. 
The 1840 discovery of another whaling ground off the coast of Siberia caused a dramatic increase in whaling ship visits to the island ports. Many of the firms established during that period continued in business into the twentieth century. The whaling industry had another aspect. Simpson suggests that, although the sandalwood trade enriched a few Yankee traders and some Hawaiian chiefs, whaling was "the first capitalistic venture which truly involved the Hawaiian people."  Increased revenue came from fees and import duties charged on whale products. Many Hawaiians worked in the shipyards and warehouses. In addition, thousands of Hawaiians shipped out as seamen aboard the whaling ships, so many that the crews were often half Hawaiian. Many of these sailors, through death or emigration, failed to return to the islands, profoundly changing the face of Hawaiian society. The American Civil War, the discovery of petroleum, and the decimation of the whales ended the reign of the whalers in the Pacific by about 1876. Whaling had been "an economic force of awesome proportions in these Islands for more than forty years,"  enabling King Kamehameha III to finally pay off the national debts accumulated in earlier years.
4. Honolulu Becomes Major Distribution Center
Not only foreigners stimulated trade. The island chiefs filled their houses with luxurious silk and velvet furnishings and clothing. Expensive cut glass and silver plate were purchased as presents for the king or for a favored wife. (Meanwhile, the missionaries, who could not afford the high prices charged by the merchants or by the chiefs, continued to rely upon gifts of food from their native parishioners or produce from their gardens. The alternative choice was even less palatable:
they had to suffer eating stale salt beef and pork and sea biscuit.  ) By the mid-1820s, Honolulu had become a major redistribution point, as imported goods and locally produced items were repackaged, stored, broken up, or sold, both for local consumption or to refurbish ships' stores. Trading establishments imported goods for the natives, collected vessel cargoes, and maintained a supply of ships' goods. 
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