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9 Things You Didn’t Know About Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole

Say Happy Birthday to a prince who could pass laws and throw punches.


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Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia 

Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole’s 146th birthday is this Sunday, March 26, with the state holiday observed on Monday. While you know he played an important role in Hawaiian history, we bet you didn’t know he was arrested at least twice, and these other fascinating facts.

 

1. HE WAS NAMED AFTER HIS GRANDFATHERS

Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole Pi‘ikoi got his name from his paternal grandfather Jonah Pi‘ikoi and maternal grandfather Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole. He was adopted by his aunt Queen Kapi‘olani (Kalaniana‘ole’s sister) after his parents died.

 

2. HE ESCAPED A DEATH SENTENCE

He served a year in prison for rebelling against the Republic of Hawai‘i in 1895. Some of his compatriots, Robert Wilcox and Charles Gulick, were sentenced to death for treason. (They were pardoned after serving time in prison.)

 

3. HE WAS THE LAST PRINCE OF HAWAI‘I ...

Queen Lili‘uokalani made Kūhiō and his brother David Kawānanakoa heirs presumptive to the throne, in case her heir apparent, her niece Victoria Ka‘iulani, died. Ka‘iulani passed away in 1899, then Kawānanakoa in 1908 and Lili‘uokalani in 1917, but there was no longer a monarchy for him to rule as king.

 

4. ... AND THE FIRST ROYAL IN U.S. CONGRESS

Kūhiō was the first Native Hawaiian and only royal-born delegate to U.S. Congress. He served as a Republican for 19 years, until his death in 1922. During his time, he introduced the first bill for Hawai‘i statehood (1919) and the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (1920). He also restored the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, established the first Hawaiian civic club, and got funds to construct Pearl Harbor and create Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

 

5. HE HAD A MEN’S CLUB

While serving in Congress, Kūhiō reportedly rented an apartment in Washington, D.C., which he decorated with hunting trophies from Africa. He called his men’s club the Bird’s Nest.

 

6. HE WAS A RENAISSANCE MAN

Kūhiō attended Royal School, ‘Iolani (where he earned the nickname “Prince Cupid”), Punahou, Saint Matthew’s School in California and Royal Agricultural College in England. He was also skilled at many sports, including football, wrestling, boxing, track, baseball, rowing and polo.

 

7. HE KNEW HOW TO THROW A PUNCH ...

In 1901, Kūhiō threw an American tourist to the ground and punched him in the face after he spat a racial slur at the prince and cut in line at the barber of the hotel in which he was staying in Montreal. The man purportedly said, “I didn’t know, Your Highness. I got all I deserved.”

 

8. ... AND HOW TO KICK

While in a café in Switzerland, Kūhiō was arrested for knocking down five university students, including Count von Furstenheim, who told the waiter to throw out that “black man.” Kūhiō kicked him and uppercut a few others, according to a story in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser.

 

9. HE FOUGHT A WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA

While visiting Africa, Kūhiō joined forces with the British Army in the Second Boer War. (They won.) 

 

READ MORE STORIES BY KATRINA VALCOURT 

 

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