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Kamehameha II

Kamehameha II
This article is about the second King of Hawaii. For other kings of the same name, see King Kamehameha
(disambiguation). For other meanings of "Kamehameha", see Kamehameha (disambiguation).

Kamehameha II

King of the Hawaiian Islands (more...)


May 20, 1819 July 14, 1824


Kamehameha I


Kamehameha III

Kuhina Nui

Kaahumanu I



Full name
Kalani Kaleiaimoku o Kaiwikapu o Laamea i Kauikawekiu Ahilapalapa Kealii Kauinamoku o Kahekili Kalaninui i Mamao Iolani i
Ka Liholiho

House of Kamehameha


Kamehameha I




November 1797
Hilo, Hawaii


July 14, 1824 (aged 27)

London, England


May 11, 1825

Mauna Ala Royal Mausoleum


Kamehameha II (c. 1797 July 14, 1824) was the second king of the Kingdom of Hawaii. His birth name was
Liholiho and full name was Kalaninui kua Liholiho i ke kapu Iolani. It was lengthened to Kalani Kaleiaimoku o
Kaiwikapu o Laamea i Kauikawekiu Ahilapalapa Kealii Kauinamoku o Kahekili Kalaninui i Mamao Iolani i Ka
Liholiho when he took the throne.

Kamehameha II

Early life
He was born circa 1797 in Hilo, on the island of Hawaii, the eldest son of Kamehameha I and his highest-ranking
consort Queen Kepuolani. He was groomed to be heir to the throne from age five. It was originally planned that he
would be born at the Kkaniloko birth site on the island of Oahu but the Queen's sickness prevented travel.:12
Given in care to his father's trusted servant Hanapi, who took the child to rear him in the lands of Kalaoa in Hilo
Paliku, he was taken back, after five or six months, by his maternal grandmother Kekuiapoiwa Liliha because she
felt he was not getting the right diet. Kamehameha I, then, put him in the care of Queen Kaahumanu (another wife
of Kamehameha I), who was appointed as Liholiho's official guardian.:15
Jean Baptiste Rives, a Frenchman about his age, arrived on the islands in the early 19th century. Rives taught the
royal princes some English and French, becoming a close friend (aikne).:246247 Other companions included
Charles Kanaina, Kekanoa and Laanui.
He was named Iolani Liholiho. His first name meant "royal hawk" while his second and most referred name
Liholiho means something that is glowing, shining, the shining issue, reflecting the glory of the heavens. A later
interpretation said his name mean "dog of dogs" which arose from a mistake made by Russian explorer Otto von
Kotzebue in calling him "Lio-Lio" which later writers took as lio lio would mean "dog of dogs". Each version
disgard the vital "h" sound in his name, but the latter interpretation was widely accepted due the negative opinion of
the king as a pleasure-seeker.

Liholiho officially inherited the throne upon Kamehameha I's death in May 1819. However, Queen Kaahumanu had
no intention to give him actual leadership. When Liholiho sailed toward the shores of Kailua-Kona (the capital at the
time), she greeted him wearing Kamehameha's royal red cape, and she announced to the people on shore and to the
surprised Liholiho, "We two shall rule the land." Liholiho, young and inexperienced, had no other choice.
Kaahumanu became the first Kuhina Nui (co-regent) of Hawaii. He was forced to take on merely a ceremonial role;
administrative power was to be vested in Kaahumanu. He took the title "King Kamehameha II", but preferred to be
called Iolani, which means "heavenly (or royal) hawk".

Kamehameha II is best remembered for the 'Ai Noa, the breaking of the ancient kapu (taboo) system of religious
laws six months into his reign when he sat down with Kaahumanu and his mother Keopuolani and ate a meal
together. What followed was the disbanding of the social class of priest and the destruction of temples and images.
Kamehameha I had bequeathed his war god K-kaili-moku and his temples to his cousin Kekuaokalani.
Kekuaokalani demanded that Liholiho withdraw his edicts against the Hawaiian priesthood, permit rebuilding of the
temples, and dismiss both Kalanimk and Kaahumanu. Kamehameha II refused. At the battle of Kuamoo on the
island of Hawaii, the king's better-armed forces, led by Kalanimk, defeated the last defenders of the Hawaiian
gods, temples, and priesthoods of the ancient organized religion. The first Christian missionaries arrived only a few
months later in the Hawaiian Islands.
He never officially converted to Christianity because he refused to give up four of his five wives and his love of
alcohol. He (like his father) married several relatives of high rank, but he was the last Hawaiian king to practice
polygamy. His favorite wife was his half-sister Kammalu. Knau (Kammalu's full-blood sister) was his second
wife who would later remarry and become Kuhina Nui. Princess Kalani Pauahi was his niece by his half-brother
Pauli Kaleiok. She later remarried and gave birth to Princess Ruth Keeliklani. Kekuluohi was half-sister of
Kammalu and Knau through their mother Kaheiheimlie who was another of his father's wives. Princess
Kekaunohi was Liholiho's niece and granddaughter of Kamehameha I, and would later become royal governor of
the islands of Maui and Kauai.

Kamehameha II

He was known to be impulsive. For example, on November 16, 1820
he bought a Royal Yacht known as Cleopatra's Barge for 8000 piculs
of sandalwood (over a million pounds), estimated to be worth about
US$80,000 at the time. It had been sold a few years before for $15,400
by the Crowninshield family of Salem, Massachusetts. Kamehameha II
was quite proud of his ship; in the words of Charles Bullard, the agent
for the shipowner:
"If you want to know how Religion stands at the Islands I
can tell you All sects are tolerated but the King
worships the Barge."

The royal yacht Haaheo o Hawaii

He tried to gain favor with missionaries by offering free passage on the opulent ship, and regularly entertained
foreign visitors with their choice of alcoholic beverages. On April 18, 1822 it required a major overhaul because
most of the wood had rotted. He paid to have wood shipped in from the Pacific Northwest for repairs, and then
renamed his ship Haaheo o Hawaii ("Pride of Hawaii"). After re-launching May 10, 1823 it was wrecked less than
a year later.
In the summer of 1821, he was in a small boat intended for the Ewa beach, just west of Honolulu. A few nobles
such as Chiefess Kapiolani and Governor Boki were aboard, with about 30 men. He ordered the ship to instead cross
a dangerous channel all the way to the island of Kauai, despite having no compass, charts, nor provisions on board.
They somehow made it to Kauai. When they arrived, the local Chief Kaumualii did not fire his cannons on the
unarmed ship but welcomed the young king. The Royal Yacht was sent for, and the royal party entertained
themselves for over a month. Then one night after he invited Kaumualii on board, Kamehameha II abruptly ordered
the yacht to sail in the night. Upon returning to Honolulu, he had Kaumualii "marry" Kaahumanu and kept him
under house arrest in exile until his death.:138

Fatal visit to Great Britain

Another of his voyages would prove fatal. On April 16, 1822 English missionary
William Ellis arrived with a schooner Prince Regent of six guns to add to his
growing collection of ships. It was a gift from the King of Great Britain, and
Kamehameha II wrote to thank him, requesting closer diplomatic ties.:282 He
wanted to travel to London, but all his advisors including Kepolani and
Kaahumanu were opposed to the idea. After his mother Kepolani's death on
September 16, 1823, he made up his mind to go.
In November 1823 Kamehameha II and Queen Kammalu commissioned the
British whaling ship L'Aigle (French for "the Eagle") under Captain Valentine
Sketch in London just before his
Starbuck to carry them to London.[1] Going along were High Chief Boki and
wife High Chiefess Kuini Liliha, and other chiefs and retainers including
Manuia, Naihekukui, James Young Knehoa, Kekanoa, Kauluhaimalama,
Naaiweuweu, and Naukane who had already been to America (where he picked up the name John Coxe) and then
Since Ellis wanted to travel back to England anyway, he offered to be translator and guide, but Starbuck refused.
Somehow Rives talked his way on board instead as translator.
In February 1824 they arrived at Rio de Janeiro in newly independent Brazil where they met Emperor Pedro I. The
Emperor gave Kamehameha II a ceremonial sword, and in return was presented with a native Hawaiian feather cloak
made from rare tropical bird feathers which is now in the National Museum of Brazil.

Kamehameha II

They arrived on May 17, 1824 in Portsmouth, and the next day moved
into the Caledonian Hotel in London. Foreign Office Secretary George
Canning appointed Frederick Gerald Byng (17841871) to supervise
their visit. Byng was a Gentleman Usher, fifth son of John Byng, 5th
Viscount Torrington and friend of Beau Brummell, known more for his
gaudy fashions than diplomacy. Their arrival was met by the local
press with a mixture of curiosity and derision. They were not sure what
to call the king, spelling his "Liholiho" name various ways such as
"Rheo Rhio". Some made puns on the fact that Byng's nickname was
"Poodle" and in Hawaiian lio lio would mean "dog of dogs" and that
the British name of the kingdom was "Sandwich Islands". Byng made
sure they would have appropriate attire for all their public appearances.

In the royal box at London, 1824

On May 28 a reception with 200 guests including several Dukes was

held in their honor. They toured London, visiting Westminster Abbey, but he refused to enter because he did not
want to desecrate their burial place. In the words of Bill Mai'oho, the curator of the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii,
"Liholiho, King Kamehameha II, refused to step in there, because he wasnt blood-connected. These were the kings,
and he felt he had no right, to walk around their caskets. He didnt even step foot in there, he didnt want to desecrate
their burial places with his presence or his feet stepping in that area." They attended opera and ballet at Royal Opera
House in Covent Garden on May 31, and the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane on June 4 in the Royal Box. He and
Kammalu were an unusual sight to the British people who had seen few Native Hawaiians, moreover, Kammalu
was over six-feet tall. Several members of the court had portraits painted by the Hayter family.
King George IV finally scheduled a meeting for June 21, but it had to be delayed
as Kammalu became ill. The Hawaiian court had caught measles, to which they
had no immunity. They probably contracted the disease on their June 5 visit to
the Royal Military Asylum (now the Duke of York's Royal Military School).
Kammalu died on July 8, 1824. The grief-stricken Kamehameha II died six days
later on July 14, 1824.

Queen consort Kammalu at London

Vast crowds lined up when he was laid in state at the Caledonian Hotel on July
17. On July 18 the bodies were stored in the crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields
church where they awaited transportation back home. Boki took over lead of the
delegation and finally did have an audience with King George IV. Knehoa
(James Young), with superior English language skills conferred by his English
father John Young, was entrusted with the official letters of introduction and
served as new translator. Rives and Starbuck were accused of misspending the

royal treasury and departed.

In September 1824 the bodies returned to Hawaii on the enormous Royal Navy frigate HMSBlonde under the
command of Captain George Anson Byron.
The Blonde arrived back in Honolulu on May 6, 1825. Kalanimk had been notified of the deaths in a letter from
Rives, so Hawaiian royalty gathered at his house where the bodies were moved for the funeral. The marines and
crew from the ship made a formal procession, the ship's chaplain read an Anglican prayer, and an American
missionary was allowed to make a prayer in the Hawaiian language.:266 They were buried on the grounds of the
Iolani Palace in a coral house meant to be the Hawaiian version of the tombs Liholiho had seen in London. They
were eventually moved to the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii known as Mauna Ala. Kamehameha II was succeeded
by his younger brother Kauikeaouli, who became King Kamehameha III.

Kamehameha II

Family Tree
Kalanipuu (k)

Kalola (w)


Keua (k)



II (w)









(The Great)
(died 1819)




Kamehameha II





*Kamehameha I
saved Pauli after the
Battle of Mokuhai
and is said to have
claimed him as a son.
Whether that is of
natural or adopted
status is not known.





Queen Emma

Alexander Liholiho




Charles Reed

Kamehameha IV













Pauahi Laura Abner











John William



Pitt Knau




Kamehameha II

[1] Dunmore, John (1992); Who's Who in Pacific Navigation, Australia:Melbourne University Press, ISBN 0-522-84488-X, p 238

Further reading
Kamehameha II: Liholiho and the impact of change (
l=en). Kamehameha Schools Press. 2001. ISBN0-87336-049-4.

External links
Kamehameha II (Liholiho) 17971824 (
PageID=399) on web site
"Kamehameha II" ( Biography from Hawaii Royal Family
web site. Kealii Pubs. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
Hawaiian royalty
Kamehameha I

King of

Kamehameha III

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Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

File:King Kamehameha II, Bishop Museum, Unknown artist.jpg Source:,_Bishop_Museum,_Unknown_artist.jpg
License: Public Domain Contributors: unknown artist
File:Signature of Kamehameha II (Tamehameha).svg Source: License: Creative Commons
Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Contributors: derivative version: Angelus (talk)
File:Cleopatra's Barge 1818.jpg Source:'s_Barge_1818.jpg License: Public Domain Contributors: George Ropes
File:Kamehameha II in London.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: unknown sketch in London
File:Their Majesties King Rheo Rhio, Queen Tamehamalu, Madame Poke.jpg Source:,_Queen_Tamehamalu,_Madame_Poke.jpg License: Public Domain Contributors: J.W. Gear
File:Kamamalu 1824.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: credited to lithograph by John Hayter of London

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