Queen Kaʻahumanu of Hawaii

A Biography


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About the Book

King Kamehameha the Great had 30 wives. Ka‘ahumanu (c.1768–1832) was his favorite. Descended from Oceanian voyagers, she grew up in a society completely isolated from the rest of the world, her life enmeshed in dynastic wars and constrained by an elaborate system of taboos. In 1778, she was shocked by the arrival of alien ships, followed by an influx of foreigners. In their wake came devastating epidemics.

Seizing power after the King’s death, Ka’ahumanu overturned those taboos and guided her nation through revolutionary change, crucial to the Hawaiian Islands’ unification. Through sicknesses, romances, infidelities, murders, rebellions, pardons, travels, missionary work, and more, her story challenges many beliefs about American history, Christianity, and gender. Further, it has implications for current debates about immigration, sexuality, and religious diversity.

Drawing on seldom-analyzed French and Russian sources, this biography covers neglected aspects of Ka’ahumanu’s life. The many spouses and lovers she and Kamehameha had, the roles played by Central Europeans, African-Americans, Catholics and Unitarians in her realm, and struggles with religious pluralism are all included.

About the Author(s)

Thomas W. Goodhue is a United Methodist clergyman who lives in New York City. He has published four books, including two about the pioneer fossil hunter Mary Anning, and a number of scholarly publications.

Bibliographic Details

Thomas W. Goodhue

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, glossary, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8498-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4517-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Key People 3
Chapter 1—Islands and Aliens 7
Chapter 2—Royal Romance 29
Chapter 3—Ka‘ahumanu Breaks the Rules 45
Chapter 4—Burning the Temples 64
Chapter 5—The Coming of a New God 73
Chapter 6—Reading, Writing and Religion 91
Chapter 7—The New Ka‘ahumanu 109
Chapter 8—New Rules, New Riots 132
Chapter 9—Law and Order, Church and State 147
Chapter 10—Going Where the Mansions Are Ready 167
Places to Visit 174
Glossary 179
Timeline 181
Explore Further 183
Chapter Notes 185
Bibliography 203
Index 221