Imágenes de páginas

consumption of sandalwood, the American sandalwood traders, having obtained a cargo, were accustomed to convey it thither for a market, afterward investing the proceeds of their sales in teas, silks, and other products of the Orient. It is curious to note that for many years the greater number of American trading vessels which frequented the Hawaiian Islands were from Boston. Island people of this period were accustomed to speak of America as Boston and of Americans as Bostonians.

On January 23, 1803, the first horse which the natives of the Islands had ever seen was brought in a vessel from Boston. and power created mingled admiration and terror, and then a desire for more of these strange and useful animals. Several horses from the California coast (then a Spanish province) arrived in a vessel not long after ; and thus the Islands speedily became stocked, and the natives rapidly became expert horsemen.

To the trade in sandalwood was soon added that in pearls and pearl-shell, and it was chiefly by his traffic in these commodi

Its beauty ties that King Kamehameha acquired his wealth. In addition to the articles already mentioned the natives received as barter, cloths of American and English manufacture, in which they greatly delighted, and especially articles of iron. It will be remembered that the islanders at the coming of the white men were tempted by the nails and other small articles of iron which they saw about the ships, to commit theft and even murder in order to possess them. A boat belonging to a visiting vessel was stolen and broken up upon the beach solely for the sake of its nails and iron. Hardware in all its forms, therefore, became a frequent object of barter in return for articles far more desirable to the whites, but the commercial value of which the natives did not comprehend. It is narrated, for example, that King Kamehameha I was anxious to possess an anvil which he saw on board of a visiting ship. Desirous, probably, of having a little sport at the expense of the king and his people, the captain told him that it would be given to him upon condition that his divers should engage to bring it up from a depth of ten fathoms of water. To this the king eagerly assented; but, after the anvil had been rolled overboard, the divers discovered that the weight was so great that they were not able to bring it to the surface. The natives, however, were not to be foiled in their effort to secure so valuable a prize. A party of expert divers, occasionally coming to the surface for breath, succeeded in rolling the anvil along the sandy bottom for the distance of half a mile, where they finally brought it safe to shore.

The whale-fisheries of the United States which in the earlier part of this century formed an important part of the business of New England seaports, maintained a close connection with the Hawaiian Islands. The supply of whales was far greater in the Pacific than in the Atlantic Ocean; and vessels in great numbers from New Bedford, Nantucket, Provincetown, Edgartown, and other New England ports, frequently found it necessary to touch at the Islands for repairs or for fresh provisions and other supplies. As early as the year 1823 it was not uncommon to find from forty to sixty American whale-ships at anchor at one time in the harbor of Honolulu. From January 1, 1836, to the end of 1841, a period of six years, no fewer than three hundred and fifty-eight vessels hailing from American ports touched at this port. Of this number, fully four-fifths were whale-ships, the average expenditure of which on shore is said to have been not far from seven hundred dollars each. During this same time the English vessels arriving in port numbered eighty-two, and the French seven. These numbers are all exclusive of vessels of war. At Lahaina, Maui, the average number of American whale-ships annually in the same period was from thirty to fifty; and at other island ports, from twelve to twenty.

During the period mentioned the importations from the United States amounted to nearly, if not quite, one million dollars. The exports from the Islands during the same period were upward of five hundred thousand dollars in value. Large as the figures seem, even the enterprise of the Boston merchants who established, and for so long chiefly maintained, the commerce between

the United States and the Hawaiian Islands, could hardly have foreseen what magnitude it would attain in our own day.

In February, 1823, a Boston-owned vessel, the Paragon, set sail for a voyage to the Islands. The owner of the ship was Josiah Marshall, and the commander Captain William Cole. Two names were upon the passenger list: Thomas Crocker, who was going out as United States consul for the Hawaiian Islands, and Robert Elwell, the consular clerk.

The Paragon carried the frames of two schooners which were put together and launched at Honolulu. When finished, they were used for coasting among the Islands and gathering sandalwood. The second officer of the Paragon was John Dominis, a family name destined in years to come to attain prominence in the political affairs of the island kingdom. The son of John Dominis, John O. Dominis, in later years became the husband of a native princess, Lydia, who later in life ascended the throne under the name of Liliuokalani.

Another of the crew of the Paragon was Charles Brewer, a young man of Boston,

« AnteriorContinuar »