Christian Missionaries in Hawaii

On March 30, 1820, Hawaii would witness the dawn of Christianity and the most influential religious group in Hawaii. After 164 days of traveling through the United States and sailing through the Pacific Ocean in the Thaddeus, fourteen missionaries (seven mission couples) would arrive in Hawaii, landing at Kawaihae and Kailua-Kona, Big Island. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions funded these missionaries, who were Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Dutch Reformists from New England.

Before their arrival, the kingdom was transforming: King Kamehameha I, the monarch who united the Hawaiian islands, died, and Liholiho (Kamehameha II) and Queen Kaahumanu co-ruled Hawaii. After reigning for six months, they ended the kapu system, leaving behind a religious void.

In Hawaii, the missionaries converted Hawaiian people to the Christian faith, developed the written form of Hawaiian, discouraged many Hawaiian cultural practices, introduced their Western practices, and encouraged the spread of English. One of the most powerful converts, Queen Kaahumanu, embraced Christianity, imposed it to the rest of the kingdom, and banned Hawaiian religious practices.

The missionaries' impact would continue through their descendents, who would become the political, business, and cultural elites of Hawaii and act as a driving force towards Hawaii's Westernization.

- Alice Kim

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Articles from Chronicling America

"Missionary Children: By S. E. Bishop Before the Cousins' Society"
The Hawaiian star., November 12, 1894, Image 3

"About Missionaries"
The Daily bulletin., August 21, 1888, Weekly Summary, Image 1

"Life of Dr. L. H. Gulick: Interesting Review of an Active Missionary Worker"
The Hawaiian gazette., October 18, 1895, Page 7, Image 7

"Missionary Rally"
Austin's Hawaiian weekly., June 24, 1899, Page 12, Image 12

"More Mormon Missions: Missionary Activity Here Is Renewed"
The Hawaiian star., February 09, 1900, Page FIVE, Image 5

"Adjourned Meeting of Cousins' Society: Present, Prospective and Past Conditions make Good Showing"
The Honolulu republican., June 02, 1901, Page TEN, Image 10

"The Native Protestant Churches of Hawaii"
The Pacific commercial advertiser., January 01, 1902, Page 41, Image 41

"Hawaiian Mission Childrens' Society Celebrates Its Golden Jubilee in Central Union"
The Hawaiian gazette., May 23, 1902, Image 1

"Missionary Land Grabbers"
The Independent., September 25, 1902, Image 1

"On the Trail of the American Missionary: Religious Romance of Transformed Hawaii"
Evening star., November 04, 1906, Sunday star, Page 8, Image 56

"Roll-call of 'Cousins' Will Show 20 Who Have Passed Away"
Honolulu star-bulletin., April 23, 1915, 3:30 Edition, Page FIVE, Image 5