Pre-1778: Around 600 A.D., the first settlers in Hawaii brought to the islands several varieties of sugarcane. The Native Hawaiians cultivated sugarcane, or kō in Hawaiian, and ate it as food and medicine. The Native Hawaiians chewed the cane stalk for its sweet juices and to maintain their teeth and gums. The juices from the sugarcane sweetened puddings made of taro, sweet potatoes, breadfruit, and bananas. Other parts of sugarcane plant were used, including the leaves for thatching, the flower stalks for game darts, and the charcoal for dying. Before European contact, the Native Hawaiians never produced sugar.
1778: European explorer Captain James Cook recorded in his journal, "We saw...a few trees about the villages; near which...we could observe several plantations of plantains and sugar-canes." With sugarcane, Captain Cook made beer, which his sailors reportedly did not enjoy.
1802: In Hawaii originally for the sandalwood trade, a Chinese man operated a sugar mill on the island of Lanai, with his stone mill and boilers. However, his enterprise failed, and he returned to China.
1825: John Wilkinson made the first attempt to mass produce sugar and cultivated 100 acres of sugar cane on Governor Boki's land at Manoa Valley. Shortly afterward his death, the operation lasted long enough only for one more harvest.
1835: William Hooper of Ladd & Co. started the first sugar plantation operated by foreigners in Kōloa, Kauai.
1838: During this time, Hawaii had twenty active sugar mills, with eighteen of them powered by water and two powered by animals.
1846-1874: Hawaiian sugar exports increased from 300,000 pounds in 1846 to 1,204,061 pounds in 1857, and 24,566,661 pounds in 1874. In 1861, the American Civil War caused the demand of sugar to skyrocket.
1875: Hawaii's Reciprocity Treaty with the United States was signed. This treaty allowed sugar and other products from Hawaii to be sold without a tariff in the United States. In return, the United States received land in the area of Pu'u Loa, later known as the Pearl Harbor naval base. As a result, Hawaii's sugar industry doubled its output after four years. From 1875 to 1880, in five years, Hawaii went from having 20 sugar plantations to 63.
1900: With the passage of the Hawaiian Organic Act, Hawaii became a territory of the United States, and the sugar industry in Hawaii grew even more. When American laws became effective in Hawaii, contract labor and the importation of contract laborers became illegal. A large number of Japanese workers move to the continental United States, since wages there were at least double the wages in Hawaii. Workers were now able to join labor unions and strike against their employers, and 20 strikes happened in Hawaii that year. As a result of the workers' increased bargaining power, the workers eventually received more fringe benefits, including housing, medical services, and recreation facilities.
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Articles From Chronicling America
"Settlement of the Strike Felt" and "Strikers Slow at Returning"
The Hawaiian gazette. (Honolulu [Oahu, Hawaii]) 1865-1918, August 06, 1909, Images 1 and 5
"A history of the progress of the sugar industry of Hawaii since the Reciprocity Treaty of 1876"
Evening bulletin. (Honolulu [Oahu, Hawaii) 1895-1912 - 1909-03-25 - edition 2
"The Sugar Industry of the Hawaiian Islands"
Evening bulletin. (Honolulu [Oahu, Hawaii) 1895-1912, November 30, 1901, Evening Bulletin Industrial Edition, Image 1
"Banner Sugar Output of the Hawaiian Islands"
Evening bulletin. (Honolulu [Oahu, Hawaii) 1895-1912, May 25, 1902, Image 9http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016413/1902-05-25/ed-1/seq-9/
"Exports and Imports of the Hawaiian Islands"
Evening bulletin. (Honolulu [Oahu, Hawaii) 1895-1912, November 30, 1901, Evening Bulletin Industrial Edition, Image 43http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016413/1901-11-30/ed-3/seq-43/
"Japanese Strike on Plantations"
The Honolulu Republican. (Honolulu, T.H.) 1900-1902, June 24, 1900, Image 1
"Strike Nipped in the Bud"
The Independent. (Honolulu, H.I.) 1895-1905, December 09, 1904, Image 3
"Thugs Active and Strike Food Short"
Evening bulletin. (Honolulu [Oahu, Hawaii) 1895-1912, May 26, 1909, 3:30 EDITION, Image 1, 4
"Strikebreakers by the Hundreds Caring for the Big Plantations"
The Hawaiian gazette. (Honolulu [Oahu, Hawaii]) 1865-1918, May 18, 1909, Image 1, 2, & 3