Volume 75 1966 > Volume 75, No. 1 > High Chief Boki, by Gavan Daws, p 65 - 83
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A biographical study in early nineteenth century Hawaiian history 1

In the main Polynesian room of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum at Honolulu, among the spears and the canoes and the surfboards, there hangs a double portrait. A young Hawaiian chief appears, clad in the feather cape and crested warrior's helmet of the ancient age. Close to his side stands a native woman in traditional dress. A garment of kapa is thrown loosely over her body, exposing her left breast. She wears a heavy necklet of braided human hair with a whale-tooth pendant. As artist's subjects, the two Hawaiians are perfect to the point of banality: physically imposing, firm-fleshed, and richly handsome. They look out from the portrait with a dignity that is pleasant enough, if faintly sentimental.

It happens that the picture was painted in London in 1824. 2 The high chief Boki 3 and his wife Liliha are represented by John Hayter not - 66 as Noble Savages pure and simple, but as civilised primitives, exotics so far domesticated that they can be shown in typically English posture. For all their outlandish clothing, they are seen as man and wife, sedately conjugal, sitting for a conventional European family portrait.

Boki, governor of the island of Oahu, had sophistication thrust upon him. His residence at the busy port of Honolulu brought him in contact with great numbers of foreigners. Yet he was never quite at ease among haoles. His regime partook of the laxness and disorganisation that characterised Hawaiian affairs in the eighteen-twenties; and as an individual he was both attracted and repelled by the white man's world. He and his brother Kalanimoku were the first Hawaiian chiefs to be baptised Christians, but Boki's interest in the faith was merely formal. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Boki did not think it necessary to “legitimise” his marriage in a Christian ceremony; he lived with Liliha under the old dispensation. By the end of the twenties, he had become totally alienated from Christianity. In other ways, too, he retained a strong sense of his origins. He was a world traveller, a leading member of the entourage which accompanied Kamehameha II to England in 1823-1824. While in London, Boki attended the opera, the ballet, the theatre and the races, sat for John Hayter, and met King George IV. On his return to Honolulu he shone, urbane and courtly, in the dress uniform of a British major-general. He was able to make political capital from the unique prestige generated by his overseas excursion. Nonetheless, of all the high chiefs in his time Boki was the most reluctant to abandon traditional attitudes. Throughout his life, for example, his spoken English remained poor. Others learned to read and write; Boki could scarcely sign his name, and he preferred to employ interpreters and secretaries in the course of official business. His smile was a reminder of his cultural conservatism: he lacked four front teeth, knocked out in a demonstration of grief at the death of Kamehameha I in 1819.

A pronounced strain of nativism did not render Boki indifferent to the accumulation of wealth by western means. Using his position as governor of Oahu to conscript labour, he plunged into the sandalwood trade. Later, he speculated in local and foreign trade, sugar-making, tavern-keeping, and commercialised prostitution. None of these businesses except the last was profitable. In this respect, Boki's experience was Hawaii's in miniature. By 1829, both he and his country were deeply in debt to foreigners. Always a gambler, Boki made a desperate throw to redeem his fortunes by taking an expedition to the Southwest Pacific to search for sandalwood. His ship was never seen again.

Boki's flirtation with the harsh disciplines of western trade, politics, and religion, and his concurrent yearnings for the allurements of old Hawaii, made him a notable and pathetic transitional figure in the life of Honolulu and of the islands at large. For Hawaiians, the nineteenth century was filled with intimations of doom. Boki found himself caught up in alternating struggles, accommodations, and withdrawals, and his final collapse foreshadowed that of a good many of his people. During the eighteen-twenties he was pulled in so many directions that he could not commit himself to a consistent course of action. Quite early he began - 67 to dissolve his problems in drink; eventually he destroyed himself. One of his fellow chiefs expressed it very neatly, in the earthy Hawaiian idiom: Boki was a calabash of poi that fermented, turned sour, pushed off its cover, and overflowed. 4


Boki appeared at his best in the Hayter portrait of 1824; and his visit to England marked as well the high point of his political importance. He had begun his rise to prominence not long before, in the last years of the reign of the unifying king, Kamehameha I, who delegated authority on each major Hawaiian island to an appointed governor of high rank. Boki, a young noble descended from the eighteenth-century ruling house of Maui, 5 was chosen governor of Oahu. The second Kamehameha, Liholiho (r. 1819-1824), confirmed him in the post, and after the royal court moved from the island of Hawaii to Honolulu at the beginning of the eighteen-twenties, Boki became a close associate of the king, both as an official charged with carrying out royal instructions and as a congenial companion in the revels and roamings of the restless monarch.

Upon Liholiho's accession, the tight control of state affairs built up by Kamehameha I was relaxed. Boki's governorship reflected and accelerated this change. When the French navigator Louis de Freycinet visited Honolulu early in the new regime, he found the port a slack town and the governor a most un-Hayter-like figure, an Ignoble Savage: big, extremely fat, with horribly ulcerated legs, a kind of “inert mass” scarcely capable of moving itself about. Boki, complained Freycinet, would not leave his holiday games even to order firewood brought to the Uranie. 6 The sharp-tongued ship's artist Jacques Arago described Boki as a chronic gambler, drunk from morning to night, the tool of American merchants who plied him with wine and gave the other chiefs hatchets and muskets, and were thus free to trade on their own terms with the commoners. 7

When the first American Protestant missionaries arrived at Honolulu in mid-April, 1820, Boki received them amiably if not enthusiastically. 8 He had acquiesced in the breaking of the kapus late in 1819. 9 Now, together with other chiefs at Honolulu, he began a tedious and inconclusive study of the English language and the Holy Bible. The king and he were not conscientious pupils. By the latter part of 1823, when the volatile Liholiho decided that he wanted to go to London, a gap in learning and piety had become visible between the king and Boki on the one hand, and Kalanimoku and Kaahumanu on the other. The latter two, Boki's brother and first cousin respectively, had responded somewhat more quickly to missionary teaching. Such a cultural division was also potentially a political issue, because Kalanimoku, generally known as Billy Pitt, was prime minister of the kingdom, and Kaahumanu, an - 68 enormous woman, was the most influential of Hawaiians. She had been the favourite wife of Kamehameha I. After his death in 1819, she had encouraged the overthrow of the kapus, and as dowager queen she had retained and even increased her great prestige. The cleavage was anything but decisive, however, when Liholiho and Boki departed for London in November, 1823, leaving the kingdom in the care of Kalanimoku and Kaahumanu. Clearly, Boki was still a member of a new Establishment taking shape under the guidance of the American Congregationalists.

Less than two months after the royal suite arrived in England, the king and queen were dead, struck down by measles. On his deathbed Liholiho dictated a will, ratifying a verbal arrangement made before he sailed from the islands. The throne was to go to his younger brother, the small boy Kauikeaouli, under the protection of Kaahumanu and Kalanimoku. 10 Boki brought the bodies of the king and queen back to Hawaii on the British ship Blonde, commanded by Lord George Byron.

For a time, it appeared as if any incipient factionalism among the chiefs was submerged in common sorrow. On Oahu, where news of the deaths preceded the Blonde's arrival by two weeks, the chiefs reacted in a way which demonstrated their new Christian gravity. No trace remained of the old predisposition to fight over the spoils of the kingdom, not even a reminiscence of the instability that had attended Liholiho's accession six years earlier. 11 Instead, Kalanimoku ordered a two-week season of prayer. When the Blonde touched at Lahaina on Maui, its first Hawaiian port of call, Boki maintained enlightened calm in the face of traditional wailing and self-abasement by commoners who greeted him as he stepped ashore. 12 He prayed with the missionary William Richards, and then sent a message to Kalanimoku, asking him to forbid in advance all old-style irregularities at Honolulu. As Boki left Maui he exhorted the natives of Lahaina to regard the word of God and cast off all their heathenish practices. The next day, May 6, 1825, the Blonde anchored in the Honolulu roads and fired a fourteen-gun salute which was answered from the shore. The chiefs gathered at Kaahumanu's beachside house, and as Boki's party landed all gave way to great, though seemingly Christian, grief. After an emotional progress to Kaahumanu's home and thence to the missionary meeting-house at Kawaiahao, Boki spoke, very earnestly recommending the religion of the Bible, and manifesting a serious desire to observe it himself.

Sermons preached at Kawaiahao made special mention of Boki's safe return. 13 The commoners had been astonished at his metamorphosis, affecting to believe after listening to his pious speeches that someone else was in his skin. In fact, Boki had not abandoned his past mode of life completely under the stress of personal grief and new political responsibility. He invited a party from the Blonde to visit his lands at Waianae, in rural Oahu, and there twenty-five girls danced a hula for - 69 him, celebrating his fortunate homecoming. 14 Despite this lapse, the missionaries were very satisfied with the new, sober Boki. The officers of the Blonde concurred. They liked Boki, and they predicted a substantial future for him:

“This chief has brought from Europe ideas that will be most useful to his country. Convinced of the advantages and necessity of industry, he has resolved to set the examples of it on his own estate and in his own person. Instead of the indolent repose and enjoyments, in which like the greater number of chiefs, he formerly indulged, he now rises early, and goes to his fields where he superintends his workmen, instructing them in new and better methods of cultivation. He is active and constant in his duties, as governor of Oahu; and by his mildness and kindness to his dependents he has acquired the love of all the common people. His superior information and his good temper make him equally a favourite with the chiefs . . . .” 15

The lesson of the king's disastrous voyage was not lost upon the Hawaiians of Honolulu. Although Liholiho was buried by the Protestant missionaries, he had died outside the church. On the first Sabbath in June, 1825, a number of chiefs, among them Kaahumanu and Kalanimoku, stood at Kawaiahao and requested membership in the congregation. This moment of humility and submission was something that the missionaries had waited five years to see. Eager as the Protestants were to sport prestigious chiefs as communicants, they were not quick to accept the petitioners, who were placed on probation for six months. 16

As immediate proof of piety, the chiefs met late in June and resolved to outlaw vice, drunkenness, theft, and non-observance of the Sabbath. 17 In August, they decreed that all natives must attend worship, observe the Sabbath, and go to school. Gambling and adultery were also prohibited. 18 Soon, chiefs at Honolulu and Lahaina extended the ban on adultery to include the activities of women who followed the time-honoured Hawaiian custom of visiting foreign ships in the harbour. In the fall of 1825, as whalers returned from the North Pacific for the seasonal layover at Honolulu, the Christian “kapu” on adultery was put to the test. Sailors at Lahaina, frustrated in their search for women, rioted against the American missionary William Richards. Bands of angry seamen walked the streets of Honolulu, and the chiefs posted an armed guard to protect the missionaries. 19

Challenges to institutionalised virtue simply confirmed the chiefs in their rectitude. On December 4, 1825, several of them, including Kalanimoku and Kaahumanu, were admitted to membership of Kawaiahao Church. At the earliest opportunity, Kalanimoku asked the chiefs to assemble for a discussion of a projected legal code based upon the Ten Commandments. 20

The prospect of a moral law enforced with Genevan scrupulosity - 70 caused a great stir among non-missionary foreigners. The British consul, Richard Charlton, during his brief residence at Honolulu, had become the recognised leader of an anti-missionary faction, doing everything in his power to organise opposition to the Congregationalists in the hope that he might weaken their hold upon the chiefs and at the same time reduce American influence in the government of Hawaii. His wedge to split open the mission-government united front was Boki, whose temperament was much more mercurial than that of the mission-affiliated chiefs, and whose foreign experience and attachments were, after all, British.

When the matter came to a head, Charlton happened to be away on a visit to the Society Islands, but he had coached Boki well. At a meeting called by the chiefs and attended by many missionaries and foreigners, the native leaders of the Christian faction announced that they wished the law of God to bind all people. 21 Boki agreed, but said that the chiefs should wait to consult Charlton upon his return to Honolulu. Hiram Bingham, the leading missionary, encouraged the Christian chiefs, reminding them that the king of England had told Boki the Word of God was worthy of attention. The foreigners used Boki's English voyage as a weapon against theocracy—he had been to London, they said; he had seen how things were done there. Boki became quite agitated, and told the king he would not support him if the laws were established. Kauikeaouli, young and inexperienced, obviously had no idea what to do. Finally, he said that he was afraid, and that it would be best to defer the laws. Aided by Boki, the foreigners had carried their point.

The imbroglio soon became more tangled than ever. In January, 1826, the first American warship to visit the islands arrived: U.S.S. Dolphin, commanded by Lieutenant John “Mad Jack” Percival. 22 Under orders to arrest a party of mutineers at the Mulgrave Islands, Percival was also directed to investigate the matter of the Hawaiian chiefs' heavy indebtedness to American sandalwood dealers. He distinguished himself most during his lengthy stay at Honolulu by a vigorous advocacy of free trade in women.

Soon after Percival came ashore, he asked the chiefs to remove the kapu on women in favour of the Dolphin's crew. The chiefs conferred with the missionaries, and the missionaries quoted the Bible. Rebuffed, Percival employed rational argument: Lord Byron, so Percival claimed, had been allowed women (false, said the missionary Elisha Loomis). Then Percival tried bluster, telling Boki that he would tear down the missionaries' houses. Finally, he returned once more to argument by analogy: both the United States and Great Britain, he said, sanctioned a traffic in women. The chiefs remained unconvinced.

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On Sunday, February 26, as Hiram Bingham was preparing to hold afternoon services at Kalanimoku's stone house, a group of sailors from the Dolphin burst in, demanding women. Outside, a hundred more smashed windows with their clubs. Then they left to descend upon Bingham's house at Kawaiahao. Bingham, afraid for his wife and children, ran to his home, only to find that his wife had locked the door. The sailors caught him in his yard and surrounded him, flourishing clubs and knives. Some natives joined him, including the female chief Lydia Namahana. As Bingham lifted his umbrella to ward off a blow from a club, Namahana put up her arm to help him and was struck. At this the Hawaiians threw themselves upon the sailors, and in a few seconds knocked out several and seized and bound others. Bingham managed to get inside his house just as more sailors flung themselves at the door. Before the rioters could do more than break a window or two, Percival and his officers appeared and caned their men into silence.

That night Percival, having imprisoned a few of the ringleaders, made some muted apologies to the chiefs for the attack on the missionaries, but followed this with another demand that the kapu on women be abolished. Boki yielded, with the acquiescence of his relative, the fort commander Manuia. The missionaries could do very little. Their stated position was that the making and the enforcement of laws rested with the chiefs. As boatloads of women passed back and forth in the harbour, the Christians set aside a day to fast and pray that the judgment of God might be averted from Hawaii, and that Percival might see the light. The churchgoing chiefs for their part had not known what kinds of resistance were lawful. They put hundreds of men in arms on the night following the riot, and thenceforth guards patrolled the streets. By April 1, the chiefs were ready to override Boki and reimpose the kapu. A crier carried the word through the town, and from then on a gun was fired at nine o'clock each night to warn natives and sailors to clear the streets.

No more riots occurred. At a dinner for the chiefs, Percival read from the Bible a passage concerning Solomon, who was a wise man with a thousand wives; in private, he tried to induce a pretty half-caste girl to live with him. Finally, to the unbounded relief of the missionaries, the Dolphin sailed. Assessing their losses, which included the disbandment of two schools for native girls, the Protestants, white and native, reaffirmed what they had known for some time: that there was nothing but hostility all about them in the foreign community, and that it was vain to hope for aid from anyone outside the small mission circle.


During these months of turmoil, Boki's attitude toward the Protestant mission became ambivalent. In mid-1826, not long after his delinquency had permitted Percival to break the kapu on women at Honolulu, Boki was on Maui, earnestly conducting Christian worship at Kaanapali and investigating a report that the natives had been putting up kapa strips, symbol of the ancient god of husbandry. One night he called on William Richards at Lahaina, to ask about the duties of a Christian. Did the word of God forbid the selling of rum? Was a chief to be blamed, or was - 72 he accountable, for the bad practices of his people? Was it proper to kindle fires for cooking on the Sabbath? If a hog fell from a precipice and was killed, was it proper to dress it on the Sabbath? What was the great crime of the children of Israel, for which twenty-four thousand died of the plague? Did Moses do right in hanging up the heads of the people before the Lord at that time? Did Phinehas do right in putting to death the Midianitish woman and the Israelite that were presented to Moses? How did God command Moses to punish the breakers of the seventh commandment? Richards spent nearly two hours with Boki, who left declaring his intention of “observing the rules and precepts of the word of God, as far as he could become acquainted with them”. 23

Boki continued to be a regular churchgoer for some months. He had been baptised by a Catholic priest aboard Freycinet's Uranie at Honolulu in 1819, and had attended communion with the Anglican officers of the Blonde on his way home from England in 1825. Accordingly, he was privileged to take part in the Lord's Supper at Kawaiahao. 24 In September, 1826, he sided publicly with the Christian chiefs against resident foreigners who wanted the kapu on women lifted. 25 Just a few weeks later, however, a rumour reached the missionary Elisha Loomis that one of the chiefs was allowing women to board ships and was taxing the traffic in vice. Loomis questioned the young king. Kauikeaouli denied that he was involved, but pointed a finger at Boki. Loomis learned, too, that Boki owned a billiard room in town. These revelations filled Loomis with anger. 26

At Sunday service, the mission's secular agent, Levi Chamberlain, spoke against gambling, but reports persisted of Boki's gaming—and drinking. Loomis asked the Christian chiefs to admonish Boki for his scandalous conduct. A tremendous storm broke. Boki attacked the missionaries for presuming to dictate law in the islands. He refused them any such competence; the authority, he said, was all with the king. As for gambling, King George of England gambled, so did Prime Minister Canning, and so would he. Boki and King Kauikeaouli did not appear again at church for two weeks, but the missionaries were convinced that the cause of true morality enjoyed the support of most chiefs, including Boki's brother Kalanimoku. At least it was now clear where Boki stood. With characteristic Calvinist satisfaction at having identified a black sheep, Elisha Loomis wrote:

“We have long suspected Boki's professions of piety have little solid foundation. We are glad he has . . . come out boldly for it is best men should be ranged under their proper colors . . . We are glad Boki no longer labors in disguise.” 27

The tug-of-war over morals at Honolulu went on throughout 1826. Toward the end of the year, the mission regained some lost ground when a second American naval commander came to Honolulu. Thomas ap - 73 Catesby Jones of U.S.S. Peacock adjudicated a dispute between the Congregationalists and their mercantile-consular opponents. The two parties came together on December 8 in the no-man's-land of Boki's house. 28 Charlton acted as spokesman for the anti-missionary group. His criticisms were wide-ranging. He found fault with the chiefs, the people, and the schools, as well as with the missionaries themselves. Boki took no part; Charlton said this was because no chief dared speak against a missionary. The churchmen relied upon their alliance with the communicant chiefs. After a great deal of inconclusive discussion had been heard, Jones adjourned the meeting, having first expressed general approval of the mission venture.


If the mission had the backing of Captain Jones, its enemies had the king in pawn. Boki, and through him Richard Charlton, influenced the young Kauikeaouli far more than Bingham or the Christian chiefs could. In the battle over morals, the king emerged as a friend of men stigmatised by the church. Kaahumanu could not make Kauikeaouli obey her; Prime Minister Kalanimoku, the king's other official protector, was old and feeble. Encouraged by Boki, the king abandoned his studies in favour of traditional pastimes. In February, 1827, when the Englishman Frederick Beechey was at Honolulu, a three-day hula was held in honour of his visit, and the king went to all the performances, the first two of which were danced at Boki's sugar plantation in Manoa valley east of Honolulu. 29

The situation was complicated by the ill-health of Kalanimoku, who had become an exemplary Christian. The days were long gone since he, with aristocratic insouciance, had set fire to the village of Honolulu to smoke out an errant wife, 30 and, with heathen fecklessness some years later, had taken his brother Boki's wife. (To supply the deficiency, Boki had acquired Liliha from his nephew in the same peremptory manner) 31 Kalanimoku's riotousness had quickly changed to piety. In June, 1825, he was married in a Christian ceremony at Honolulu, and six months later he was among the first to be baptised at Kawaiahao (this superseded a Catholic baptism received in 1819 from the same priest who had baptised Boki). 32 Now, early in 1827, Kalanimoku was readying himself for a Christian death, while Boki drifted farther and farther from the church. Once there had been great affection between the brothers, but the new order of things had driven them apart; and when, after several tappings by foreign doctors, Kalanimoku realised that his dropsy was incurable, he went to the windward islands to die, telling William Richards at Lahaina he could no longer suffer Honolulu because of Boki's iniquity:

“I was one day very low and all the chiefs came to see me, After I revived a little, I perceived my brother was not there—I enquired for him when I was - 74 told that he was at his house in a fit of intoxication, feeble as I was I ordered my waggon brought to the door, and being removed into it I proceeded immediately to his house—I entered the door and looked—He saw me and said I am wicked. I answered, I have often heard of your intemperance but now I have seen—when I was supposed to be dying all the chiefs came to see me; but my only brother was not there. He said again, I am wicked. I answered, it is ended, I am about to leave you.” 33

Kalanimoku died in February, 1827. The news reached Honolulu on the weekend of Boki's hula for Frederick Beechey and the king. Some expected the prime minister's death to touch off a crisis, not only for the mission at Honolulu, but the nation at large: Boki might try to dislodge Kaahumanu from her regency, and turn his control of the king and the port into control of the kingdom. 34 Thus far, Boki had not tested his following among the faction-ridden foreign and native communities of Honolulu. His position was somewhat anomalous. The regency of the kingdom had been in the hands of Kalanimoku and Kaahumanu, and after these two chiefs joined the mission church, the Congregationalists tirelessly drew attention to the legitimacy of this happily pro-mission arrangement. 35 But in Hawaii, as in many other countries, legitimacy was not the whole story. In pre-European times, a man of broadly satisfactory descent might rise to a position of singular power by clever use of the Hawaiian equivalents of virtu and fortuna. The possibility still existed in the nineteenth century. Strictly speaking, Kamehameha I himself was just such an adventurer; and Kaahumanu, for her own non-Christian reasons (indeed, before the arrival of missionaries) had helped to destroy the kapu system, one of the great props of legitimacy. Boki, though he lived in the political shadow of his elder brother Kalanimoku, was of high lineage. His voyage to England had given him immense prestige. For a long time after his return, chiefs and commoners alike listened avidly and respectfully to his accounts of high life in London. On formal occasions, he donned his major-general's uniform, and he saw to it that his retainers were colourfully clad. He was generous with patronage, and with land, to the extent of giving away tracts to which he had no title. He and his free-living wife Liliha commanded a considerable following among the non-Christian natives of Honolulu. Most significant of all, Boki enjoyed the confidence and friendship of the young king. The two went everywhere together—to church when they felt like attending, on sandalwood-cutting expeditions, on sailing jaunts between the islands, up to the quiet retreat of Manoa valley, down to the grog-shops and billiard saloons of the waterfront. 36

Could Boki realise his potential strength? In the last weeks of Kalanimoku's life, Levi Chamberlain heard whispers of rebellion; 37 and Frederick Beechey, close to Boki and Richard Charlton during his visit in February, 1827, wrote that Boki was assembling men at the Honolulu - 75 fort. 38 Boki, however, proved unable to nerve himself sufficiently. A week after Kalanimoku's death the issue came into the open, and in a simple verbal confrontation the supremacy of Kaahumanu was reaffirmed. A question arose at a chiefs' meeting about a state visit to Hawaii. Boki wanted to go; Kaahumanu challenged him, and Boki replied:

“It is with you—if you wish to go—go, and take along the king and his sister it is with you to exercise authority. Kamehameha at his death committed his son to your charge and the kingdom to your care—and it was the wish of Kalanimoku that you should still have the charge. The mana is yours.” 39

Kaahumanu was determined to exercise her mana on behalf of Christian morality. In May, 1827, she charged Boki, Liliha and several members of the king's train with misconduct, intemperance, fornication, and adultery, and had them fined—just a few days after the facile Boki had told Levi Chamberlain that he wanted to turn to the pono (the good) and that the king had acquired a Christian teacher. 40


In July, 1827, French Catholic missionaries arrived at Honolulu, adding another disturbing element to the volatile local scene. The idea for a French mission dated from Liholiho's voyage to Great Britain in 1823-1824. 41 One of the king's travelling companions was Jean Rives, a Frenchman who had been Liholiho's childhood tutor, and who later became a “white chief” with several wives and large landholdings. Rives left the royal party in London and went to Paris to advocate a French settlement in the islands, where, Rives claimed, he was a person of great importance. The upshot was the despatch of a party of agriculturists and missionaries.

Rives was not at Honolulu to greet them. Returning from Europe, he had reached the California coast, where he learned that the death of Liholiho had cost him his privileged place in the islands. He never came back to Hawaii; thus the French were in a very uncertain situation. They landed without formal permission from Kaahumanu, who, in fact, tried to get rid of them immediately. She sent for Boki to enforce her re-embarkation order, but Boki was away in the country, and by the time he returned the ship that brought the Frenchmen had sailed, leaving them ashore.

Alone among the chiefs, Boki was friendly to the new arrivals. There is no reason to believe that he felt himself bound by his Catholic baptism of 1819. There is, however, good reason to think that he saw the Catholic mission as an instrument for disrupting the relations of the American Protestants with the Hawaiian government and thus advancing his own purposes. He arranged the use of houses for the newcomers and granted them land, attended Mass, and stood in the way of a systematic persecu- - 76 tion projected by Kaahumanu and tacitly countenanced by the Protestant mission. 42

Catholicism in its first few years remained a side issue. In the mean-time the controversy over morals returned to the centre of the stage. Following an incident in which the life of the Lahaina missionary William Richards was threatened by a choleric British ship-captain, the chiefs met once more at Honolulu to consider moral laws for the kingdom. 43 In December, 1827, they announced six prohibitions, drafted by Kaahumanu and scrutinised for Christian propriety by Hiram Bingham. The crimes proscribed were murder, theft, adultery, prostitution, gambling, and the sale of alcoholic spirits. Boki opposed actively the passage of any such laws. When it was suggested that Governor Kuakini of the island of Hawaii should carry the code to Great Britain for approval by King George, Boki said that the king would not see Kuakini, and that further-more King George had left lawmaking to the chiefs. Boki's obstructionism may be traced to the fact that he had something of a vested interest in all but the first two of the offensive activities. Richard Charlton also objected to the code. Finally, after more consultations, a crowd gathered in a coconut grove by the waterfront at Honolulu to hear a prayer by Hiram Bingham, the singing of a Hawaiian hymn, addresses by Boki and Kaahumanu, and the proclamation of only three laws—those against murder, theft, and adultery. The remaining three were to be subjected to further study, with the aid of handbills printed at the mission press.


The year 1828 was the most peaceful of the decade. No rioting sailors invaded the town and no serious contretemps occurred between missionaries and foreign residents. This was so partly because the moral laws of December, 1827, were simply ignored by Boki. Then too, the planned additions to the moral laws were delayed until 1829.

The disaffection of the king and Boki persisted, however, and as 1829 opened rumours were heard that Kaahumanu intended to poison Boki, unseat the king, and place a new ruler upon the throne. 44 Boki went about telling foreigners that the Christian chiefs were plotting a massacre of haoles. In April, it appeared as if Boki might be ready to make another attempt to overthrow Kaahumanu's regency. Hiram Bingham learned from a “respectable trader” that British Consul Richard Charlton, United States Commercial Agent John Coffin Jones, and others were talking of war, and that Boki would attack Kaahumanu when she came back from a voyage to windward.

Boki was, in fact, mustering men at Waikiki. Kaahumanu returned to Honolulu on April 8. With war seemingly imminent, Hiram Bingham stretched the missionary injunction against political interference (not for the first time), and met with Boki and the king at Boki's Blonde Hotel, a two-story wooden building named by Boki after the ship that had brought - 77 him home from England and later turned by him into a tavern, which, like all grog-shops owned by Boki, was a place where “noisy swine gathered . . . drunkenness and licentious indulgence became common, and people gathered . . . for hulas and filthy dances. Foreigners came there to find women and Kaahumanu and the missionaries were discussed there.” 45

In these unfriendly surroundings Bingham undertook to propitiate Boki, with great success. Once more Boki found himself unable to translate his inchoate ambitions into action, and Bingham left him willing enough to put aside the sword he had never really unsheathed. Boki promised to attend Christian instruction; the king, too, offered to take up his books again. That evening Bingham served tea to the subdued insurgents. The king invited Kaahumanu to join them. They sang hymns together; and a few days later Boki became a member of the Monday evening class for inquiry into the meaning of scripture. 46

After a mere ten days Boki fell into a severe dispute with his wife Liliha. A native teacher reconciled them. Boki reaffirmed his good intentions in May, when at the close of a Saturday service he went home with Bingham, saying he would call frequently to ascertain his Christian duties. 47 A fortnight later, Boki abandoned piety. Somewhere in his troubled mind he kept a vision of pre-European Hawaii. Its expression was hopelessly mixed with ambitions for power in a partly-westernised society, and so its manifestations were sometimes strange. Boki railed at Kaahumanu, for example, when in the name of Jesus she profaned the sacred burial place of the ancient kings at Hale-o-Keawe on Hawaii. Then, in June, he outraged Christian propriety by getting drunk and urging traditional incestuous royal marriage between the royal brother and sister, Kauikeaouli and the Princess Nahienaena. Evidently, Kaahumanu had arrogated to herself the privilege of making a match for King Kauikeaouli, and this infuriated Boki. Levi Chamberlain describes Boki's outburst:

“Three native schooners arrived from Lahaina this morning. The Princess [Nahienaena], Hoapiri wahine [wife of the governor of Maui], Kekaunohi [a female chief] and Kealiiahonui [the young husband of Kaahumanu] came with her. They were met by Boki who had been drinking; and he said to the Princess do you kill Kaahumanu & all her family & take your brother for a husband, or you will not be king of these islands Kaahumanu will set up Kamehameha. If you and your brother marry and have a child he will be the rightful heir to the kingdom. The princess replied, What you say is foolish.—Boki took her by the ear to pull her along saying what did you come down here for; did you come as a god to be worshipped?—He endeavoured to separate her from her attendants in order to retain her into the house alone with the king; but Kekaunuohi & Kealiiahonui remained with her while some of her attendants run off to inform Hoapili wahine—She however got out of the hands of the governor and went to the house of some of the other chiefs.” 48

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The king and the princess were, in fact, sleeping with each other, and had been ever since 1824, when Kauikeaouli was ten and Nahienaena seven. 49 The question of the royal marriage had been raised from time to time, and an incestuous union apparently had the approval of some of the chiefs in 1828 and 1829. The Protestant missionaries, confusing what was with what ought to have been, defended Nahienaena's “character” from the aspersions of foreigners, preferring to think of her as she appeared at the dedication of a new church building at Kawaiahao in July, 1829. At the inaugural service held in the huge thatch meeting-house, the king and the princess offered spontaneous prayers and joined in the singing of the Hundredth Psalm in Hawaiian, much to the gratification of the Protestants. Boki was there, very uncomfortable. He was in charge of public works on Oahu, and the building of the church must have been an ungrateful task. He assisted in carrying Kauikeaouli and Nahienaena to the ceremonies on a litter, but during the service he and Liliha sat apart from the other chiefs, restless and ill at ease. 50

By now, Boki was veering from pole to pole of society at Honolulu. In April a frustrated rebel, in June a drunken nativist, in July a surly celebrant at Kawaiahao (and also at an American dinner on July 4, where he refused to drink a toast to Kaahumanu), he was in September once more a seeker after immortality. He applied for admission to the poahe, a group of earnest native hopefuls required to abstain from every kind of vice and professing to seek as their greatest concern the salvation of the soul. Still, Boki did not give himself completely to the mission: he gathered at his house a number of skilled kahunas and began to practise traditional medicine, with its undertones of the black arts. 51

In August Kaahumanu, unquestionably supreme in politics, had informed Boki that the Catholic Mass was forbidden to Hawaiians. It was Boki's work as governor to enforce the prohibition, but he did not; and for another few months his passive support of the French was just sufficient to deter Kaahumanu from taking matters entirely into her own hands. 52 Systematic persecution of native Catholics as lawbreakers did not begin until Boki had left the islands for the last time. This happened quite soon.

On October 14, U.S.S. Vincennes, commanded by Captain W. C. B. Finch, anchored at Honolulu. In the course of his visit, Finch re-opened the issue of the sandalwood debts of the Hawaiian chiefs. Lieutenant John Percival and Captain Thomas ap Catesby Jones had attempted in 1826 to make arrangements for the liquidation of the debts, without much success. Earlier in the twenties, the chiefs had bought lavishly on credit offered by American traders—muskets, powder, wine and spirits, all kinds of fabrics, and (the height of conspicuous consumption) cut glass, expensive dinner services, billiard tables, frame houses, and sailing ships plain and fancy. The medium of exchange was sandalwood, harvested on the mountain slopes of the islands and sold to traders for shipment to - 79 Canton. The flush years of the trade were long past by 1825. By then most of the chiefs had acquired at least minimal discretion in their purchasing, and by then too the Hawaiian stands of sandalwood were almost exhausted.

The chiefs' debts were consolidated by Jones in 1826, but payments languished after a brief burst of activity. When Finch arrived in 1829, more than ten thousand piculs of sandalwood were still owed (a picul weighed 133 1/3 pounds, and was worth between seven and fourteen dollars, depending on the quality of the wood and the state of the market at Canton). The Honolulu merchants presented their claims to Finch at the end of October. Finch conferred with the chiefs, and at the beginning of November the king, Boki, and four others signed two notes, one for 4,700 piculs, representing part of the debt unpaid since 1826, the other for 2,165 piculs, an amount they owed for the purchase of a ship early in 1828. 53

The Vincennes agreements bound Boki, in particular, very tightly. He had taken personal responsibility for part of the debt assessed by Jones in 1826. For a year thereafter he had worked diligently to discharge his obligations, unassisted by his fellow chiefs. The debts had not been paid, and now the new schedule worked out by Finch committed him heavily once more in his official capacity as Governor of Oahu.

Boki's difficulties over sandalwood were compounded by his other financial troubles. In fact, a luxurious style of living and an addiction to gambling, linked with a series of commercial failures, left him fairly trapped. In the mid-twenties, he had planted some sugarcane in Manoa valley. After his haole manager died, Boki superintended the plantation himself, running a road into the valley and setting a hundred natives to work there at $2 a week. He built a mill, apparently with the idea that sugar might be sold in California, but by the end of 1827 it was clear that the scheme would not prosper. In 1828 he made an agreement with a group of foreigners. His partners constructed a still and began to make rum from molasses. Kaahumanu imposed a kapu upon its manufacture, and later ordered the cane torn up. The distillery continued to operate, using ki-root instead of molasses, but even this circumvention of Kaahumanu's kapu did not make the venture profitable. One of Boki's partners claimed he lost $7,000; Boki must have suffered too. 54

Boki had other business interests as well, but it is doubtful that he made money from any of them. 55 From 1827 on, he speculated in trade at Canton, Manila, Tahiti, and the Russian settlements in Alaska. With return cargoes, he traded at Honolulu. Boki's small dry goods stores could not compete with those of foreigners, and soon his shops were known among the natives as a'ienui—deep in debt. His biggest enterprise was the Blonde Hotel, scene of his confrontation with Bingham in 1829. Nothing is known of its finances, although in general grog-shops and houses of assignation enjoyed better prospects of survival than most businesses at Honolulu, the moral law notwithstanding.

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By the end of 1829, then, Boki might well have found the islands intolerable. He was tied to the uncongenial labour of the sandalwood debts; his trading voyages netted him little; his sugar plantation was finished; Kaahumanu was too powerful for him in politics; the mission chiefs, coached by Bingham, were implacably opposed to him; the Hawaiian past was slipping away; his marriage plans for the royal brother and sister would probably be thwarted. He was beaten at every turn.

By a stroke of seemingly happy coincidence, Boki discovered a way to free himself from his harsh constrictions. In the month of November, 1829, the same month in which he signed the Vincennes notes, a ship arrived from Port Jackson, New South Wales, with news of a rich sandalwood island far to the south-west—Erromanga, in the New Hebrides. Boki wasted no time. He signed contracts with foreigners to direct and navigate an expedition. 56 Within a few weeks, he recruited more than four hundred men. About two hundred and fifty, most of them armed with muskets, went aboard the Kamehameha; the Becket, under Manuia, Boki's fort commander at Honolulu, carried about one hundred and eighty, among them a hundred soldiers from Boki's following at Honolulu and Waianae. Not stopping even for the Sabbath, Boki's men loaded all kinds of supplies, including gunpowder for the armed force. A few days before he sailed, Boki spoke with mixed feelings at a church meeting: “Chiefs, teachers, relatives, and all those who have offered me help, listen to my thought. My sins are known to you, my stink has gone out from Hawaii to Kauai. My sins are many; I myself am responsible for them. I am going on account of the king's debt, not for idle pleasure. Pray God to guard me.” 57

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Boki went aboard the Kamehameha but did not sail immediately, because the Becket was not ready. The king, Liliha, and Boki's friends in Honolulu were perturbed and grief-stricken. Kekuanaoa and others made last-minute efforts to dissuade Boki from going, but to no avail. On December 3 the Becket, commanded by Boki's friend Manuia, finished loading and joined the Kamehameha. The ships fired cannon shots in salute, and stood away to the south.

Six months went by. Early in June, 1830, the brigantine Dhaulle came to Honolulu from the sandalwood islands via Canton, bringing news that the Kamehameha had not reached Erromanga. The Dhaulle had heard reports while in the New Hebrides that a severe gale had been blowing when the Kamehameha sailed from Rotuma to Erromanga, and that a small ship in the area had sighted pieces of wreckage on the open sea. In July, a schooner in port from the south confirmed this ominous information, adding that the Becket was returning alone via the Society Islands.

On the afternoon of August 3, 1830, the Becket dropped anchor at Honolulu. Horrifyingly, there were only twenty people on board—twelve natives and eight foreigners. All the rest were dead of a disease which struck on Erromanga. The Becket had arrived there from Rotuma, and Manuia had settled down to wait for the Kamehameha. Boki's ship did not appear. Instead, word reached Erromanga of the sighting of charred flotsam at sea. Manuia dispatched a boat to circle the island for signs of survivors. Nothing was found. The Becket stayed five weeks at Erromanga, but the sandalwood searchers, assisted by Rotuma natives, met with no success. The Erromangans were hostile, and there was bloodshed. Then sickness descended upon the ship. One hundred and eighty were dead before the Becket reached Rotuma again. Another twenty sick men were landed there. Manuia was among those who died, and his body, stitched into a tarpaulin, was brought home on the Becket for burial in Hawaii. Boki was heard of no more.

His disappearance was regarded by the Protestant missionaries as God's judgment upon a hardened sinner. Boki's expedition, formed for unworthy ends, had profaned the Sabbath in the course of its hasty loading. Without any doubt, it was the further sin of smoking in the gunpowder-filled hold that had brought about Boki's violent end. For the missionaries, the account was closed. The response of the common people of Honolulu was different: they wailed day and night for some time.

The affair had a strange aftermath. In 1831, a native from Waianae, Boki's old territory, hurried into Honolulu, shouting, “Boki is at Waianae! Boki is at Waianae with a warship!” The man was taken before the governor until the truth of his story could be tested. “The people were in an uproar, some frightened, some pleased,” wrote the native historian Kamakau. “The red dust rose in clouds from the plain of Kaiwi'ula as natives and foreigners started out on horseback for Waianae. The church party who had declared Boki a stinking spirit became like a blunted needle.” 58 But it was all hallucination. The man had dreamed it, and he was publicly whipped for the disturbance he had caused. Reality had dealt Boki false to the last.

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  • ABCFM LETTERS. Correspondence and journals of members of Sandwich Island Mission, addressed to American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. MSS in Houghton Library, Harvard; microfilm and xerox copies in Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library, Honolulu.
  • AH, FO & Ex. The major file of MS government documents in the Archives of Hawaii, arranged chronologically before the 1840s, and by date and subject thereafter.
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  • ARAGO, Jacques Etienne Victor, 1823. Narrative of a Voyage Round the World . . . 1817-1820. Part II. London, Treuttel & Wurtz.
  • BEECHEY, Frederick William, 1831. Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific . . . 1825-1828. Vol. II. London, Colburn & Bentley.
  • BINGHAM, Hiram, 1847. A Residence of Twenty-One Years in the Sandwich Islands . . . Hartford, Hezekiah Huntington.
  • BLUE, George Verne, 1933. “The Project for a French Settlement in the Hawaiian Islands, 1828-1842.” Pacific Historical Review, 2 : 85-99.
  • BPRO FO 58/4, 58/5. Correspondence between British Foreign Office and British Consul to the Sandwich Islands, MSS in British Public Record Office; microfilm copies in University of Hawaii Library, Honolulu.
  • BRADLEY, Harold Whitman, 1942. The American Frontier in Hawaii . . . Stanford, Stanford University.
  • CHAMBERLAIN, Levi. MS Journal in Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library, Honolulu.
  • CLARK, E. W. MS Journal in Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library, Honolulu.
  • FRANKENSTEIN, Alfred, 1963. “The Royal Visitors.” Oregon Historical Quarterly, 64 : 5-32.
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  • The Friend, 1/1/1877.
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  • GUTMANIS, June, 1963. “Tikhanov in Hawaii.” The Conch Shell: Bishop Museum News, 1 : 27-30.
  • HMCS Letters. MS letters between members of the Sandwich Island Mission, filed by author in Hawaiian Mission Children's Library, Honolulu.
  • II, John Papa, 1963. Fragments of Hawaiian History. Honolulu, Bishop Museum.
  • JONES, Thomas ap Catesby, 1826-1827. Report of the Peacock's Cruise to the Sandwich, Society and other Islands in the Pacific Ocean in the Years 1826 and 1827. MS in National Archives, Washington, D.C.; photostat copy in Kuykendall Collection, University of Hawaii Library, Honolulu.
  • JORE, Leonce, 1959. L'Ocean Pacifique au Temps de la Restauration et de la Monarchie de Juillet (1815-1848). Vol. II. Paris, Besson et Chantemerle.
  • KAMAKAU, Samuel M., 1961. Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii. Honolulu, Kamehameha Schools.
  • KUYKENDALL, Ralph S., 1929. “Some Early Commercial Adventurers of Hawaii.” Hawaiian Historical Society, Annual Report, 37 : 17-33.
  • — — 1938. The Hawaiian Kingdom, 1778-1854 . . . Honolulu, University of Hawaii.
  • LOOMIS, Elisha. MS Journal in Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library, Honolulu.
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  • MACRAE, James, 1922. With Lord Byron at the Sandwich Islands in 1825 . . . Honolulu, n.p.
  • MARIN, Francisco de Paula. MS Journal in Archives of Hawaii. The original is lost; what survives is a partial translation from Spanish to English, made by Robert Crichton Wyllie in mid-nineteenth century.
  • PAULDING, Hiram, 1831. Journal of a Cruise in the United States Schooner Dolphin . . . New York, Carvill.
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  • REYNOLDS, Stephen. MS Journal in Peabody Museum, Salem; microfilm copy in Hawaiian Mission Children's Society Library, Honolulu.
  • — — 1850. “Reminiscences of Hawaiian Agriculture.” Royal Hawaiian Agricultural Society, Transactions, 1 : 49-53.
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  • SHINEBERG, Dorothy, 1965. The Sandalwood Trade in the South-West Pacific. 1830-1865. University of Melbourne, Ph.D. Thesis.
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  • YZENDOORN, Reginald, 1927. History of the Catholic Mission in Hawaii. Honolulu, Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
1   I thank the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council of Honolulu and the Regents of the University of Hawaii for permission to publish this essay.
Like many Hawaiian chiefs of the early nineteenth century, Boki left no written records except a few ill-formed signatures at the foot of documents composed and penned by others. In reconstructing his life, I have had to rely entirely upon what was said of him by his literate contemporaries, almost all of whom were white men. The difficulties are obvious. I am under no illusions that I have “explained” Boki. However, since his doings were rather fully described week by week for ten years, his character may at least be observed in action. My work on Boki was begun precisely for the reason that he was a fugitive figure. Men who bequeathed great quantities of paper to posterity in Hawaii have naturally had preferential treatment from historians, and I thought it would be interesting, by contrast, to use those papers to find out as much as possible about a man who left no papers at all.
I have cited standard secondary sources on matters of general historical context. Otherwise, documentation is confined as strictly as possible to accounts of Boki written by men who knew him well, and who were eye-witnesses of the events they described, or who at least wrote down promptly what they heard from others. I have tried to keep footnotes to a responsible minimum: they should be regarded as illustrative, not exhaustive.
2   Frankenstein 1963 records the circumstances. The original portrait by John Hayter is lost, but lithograph copies were published in 1824. The Bishop Museum's picture is a reproduction of the lithograph. Gutmanis 1963 describes other portraits of Boki.
3   ABCFM Letters: William Richards to Rufus Anderson, 20/5/1828, comments on the unusual name “Boki.” “His original name was Ilio-punahele, that is, favorite dog. When the king [Kamehameha I] became acquainted with a large American dog named Boss, he immediately changed the name of the young chief from Ilio-punahele to Boss, which in native language is Boki, pronounced by 99/100 of the people Poki.”
4   Chamberlain Journal: 13/11/1826.
5   Bingham 1847:80; Kamakau 1961:256, 287.
6   Freycinet 1839: II, 545-548.
7   Arago 1823: II, 124-125.
8   Boki's relations with the Protestant mission may be followed day by day in Chamberlain Journal and Loomis Journal. He is mentioned in dozens of the ABCFM Letters. Bingham 1847: passim., offers the most complete single account of his activities in the early twenties.
9   Marin Journal: 7/11/1819.
10   Kuykendall 1938: 430-431.
11   British Consul Richard Charlton claimed that if Kalanimoku, then seriously ill, had died before the Blonde arrived, there would have been war; but Charlton was merely projecting the severe disturbances of his own personality upon the Honolulu scene. BPRO FO 58/4: Richard Charlton to George Canning, 10/6/1825.
12   Boki's return is described in detail in Chamberlain Journal: 6/5/1825; Loomis Journal: 6/5/1825; ABCFM Letters: Hiram Bingham and others to Jeremiah Evarts, 6/6/1825.
13   Chamberlain Journal: 8/5/1825.
14   Graham 1826: 142.
15   Graham 1826: 160-161.
16   ABCFM Letters: Hiram Bingham and others to Jeremiah Evarts, 6/6/1825; Loomis Journal: 6/6/1825; Chamberlain Journal: 6/6/1825.
17   Chamberlain Journal: 28/6/1825.
18   Chamberlain Journal: 17 - 20/8/1825.
19   Chamberlain Journal: 4/10/1825; Loomis Journal: 1 - 4/10/1825.
20   Chamberlain Journal: 4/12/1825; Reynolds Journal: 10/12/1825.
21   Events leading up to the confrontation, and accounts of the meeting of December 12, are recorded in Marin Journal 19 - 21/10, 12/11, 10 - 13/12/1825: Reynolds Journal: 8 - 29/10, 6 - 19/11, 12/12/1825; Chamberlain Journal: 7 - 29/10, 12/11, 1 - 22/12/1825; ABCFM Letters: Levi Chamberlain to Jeremiah Evarts, 10/12/1825.
22   The following account of Percival's visit was compiled from entries for relevant dates. January to April, 1826, in Loomis Journal; Chamberlain Journal; Reynolds Journal. See also ABCFM Letters: Levi Chamberlain to Jeremiah Evarts, 7/2, 11/9/1826, 22/2/1827, 10/4/1828, 13/8/1829. In ABCFM Letters is a translation of a letter by Boki, undated, but marked Received at Rooms, April 28, 1829, detailing conversations between Percival and Boki. Bingham 1847: 283-289, mentions that Percival was later courtmartialled. Almost a thousand pages of testimony about Percival's visit to Honolulu are collected in United States, Navy Department 1830.
23   ABCFM Letters: William Richards Journal: 11-23/6/1826.
24   Chamberlain Journal: 22/5/1825; ABCFM Letters: Hiram Bingham and others to Jeremiah Evarts, 6/6/1825.
25   Loomis Journal: 12/9/1826.
26   Loomis Journal: 9/10, 5-11/11/1826.
27   Loomis Journal: 13/11/1826. See also Chamberlain Journal: 3-13/11/1826.
28   Events of Jones' visit, and discussions at the meeting of December 8, are recorded in Jones 1826-1827; Loomis Journal: 8/10-23/12/1826; Chamberlain Journal: 28/9-14/12/1826; Reynolds Journal: 14/10-8/12/1826; AH, Private Collections, American Protestant Mission: Documents filed at 6/12/1826.
29   Beechey 1831:II, 107; Chamberlain Journal: 9 - 12/2/1827.
30   Kamakau 1961:197, 389.
31   Kamakau 1961:250.
32   Chamberlain Journal: 12/4/1825.
33   ABCFM Letters: William Richards to Jeremiah Evarts, 31/3/1827. See also Elisha Loomis to ABCFM, 7/8/1827.
34   ABCFM Letters: Levi Chamberlain to Jeremiah Evarts, 22/2/1827.
35   For a general discussion of the regency, see Kuykendall 1938: 430-434.
36   A good summary statement of Boki's special position is in Polynesian 22/8/1840.
37   Chamberlain Journal: 20/12/1826.
38   Beechey 1831:II, 110.
39   Chamberlain Journal: 13/2/1827.
40   Chamberlain Journal: 19/5, 23/5/1827.
41   The origins of the mission, and its reception at Honolulu, are well documented in Blue 1933; Bradley 1942: 184-185; Yzendoorn 1927: 28-31; Jore 1959: II, 13; Kuykendall 1938: 139-141.
42   Reynolds Journal: 30/7/1827; Suppliment [sic] to the Sandwich Island Mirror 15/1/1840.
43   The meeting and its aftermath are described in Reynolds Journal: 8-14/12/1827; Chamberlain Journal: 1-14/12/1827.
44   The troubled weeks that followed are recorded in Reynolds Journal: 1 - 21/4/1829; Chamberlain Journal: 4/4/1829; Clark Journal: 19/4/1829; Ii 1963:154-155.
45   Kamakau 1961:276.
46   Bingham 1847:342-343.
47   Chamberlain Journal: 23/4, 2 - 24/5/1829.
48   Chamberlain Journal: 9/6/1829.
49   Loomis Journal: 28/6/1824.
50   Stewart 1831:I, 192-202; Bingham 1847: 343-346; Chamberlain Journal: 3/7/1829; AH, Fo & Ex: William C. B. Finch to Kauikeaouli and the Chiefs 3/11/1829.
51   Kamakau 1961:291.
52   Reynolds Journal: 4/7, 9/8/1829; Chamberlain Journal:8 -10/8, 3/9/1829.
53   Bradley 1942:110-117.
54   Chamberlain Journal and Reynolds Journal contain frequent references to Boki's plantation between 1826 and 1830. See also Reynolds 1850:49-53; Sandwich Island Mirror 15/3/1840; Paulding 1831:220-223; Beechey 1831:II, 100; Macrae 1922:34-35.
55   His commercial career is well documented in Kuykendall 1929: 17-33.
56   The following account of Boki's expedition has been compiled from: Reynolds Journal: 1-7/12/1829, 11/7, 9/8/1830, 22-27/6/1831, 26/8/1835; Chamberlain Journal: 7/6, 11/7, 3-9/8/1830, 26/8/1835; Tinker Journal: 20-28/6/1831; HMCS Letters: Levi Chamberlain to Elisha Loomis, 29/11/1830, E. W. Clark to Secretary, 20/9/1830; ABCFM Letters: Jonathan Green to David Greene, 17/7/1830, Levi Chamberlain to David Greene, 26/8/1834; AH, FO & Ex: James Stephens to Kamehameha III, 30/3/1832; Ii 1963: 155-157; Kamakau 1961:305; Bingham 1847:361-362; The Friend 1/1/1877.
Why did Boki recruit so many men? Richard Charlton reported to the Foreign Office that Boki was going to take possession of some islands in the New Hebrides. BPRO FO 58/5: Richard Charlton to Aberdeen, 2/1/1830. A contract in AH, FO & Ex: 30/11/1829, signed by Boki and Kamehameha with Thomas Blakesly, talks about taking islands under protection. Boki himself, in sources cited above, makes some mention of not being able to return to Hawaii until a certain chief was dead (he meant Kaahumanu). Fairly clearly he had more on his mind than mere sandalwood. Shineberg 1965:30-33 brings together evidence which suggests strongly that Boki planned to colonise Erromanga and establish a trading post there.
What happened to him? No one knows; but in 1887 a man named Henry Poor, in Samoa on a mission for the Hawaiian monarchy, came across an old Hawaiian called John Kalama, who had been in Samoa for twenty years, and in conversation, Kalama mentioned a man named “John Boki.” This led Poor to ask if Kalama had ever heard of the original Boki. Kalama remembered him faintly, and a few days later he brought an old Samoan to Poor. This man was called Kauikeaouli (the name of Kamehameha III). He had lived, so he said, with an alii Hawaii (Hawaiian chief) named Boki, one of Kamehameha III's men, who had landed at Sapapilii on the Samoan island of Savaii with a ship and many Hawaiians, including his wife (Boki did not have Liliha with him). Boki had lived for years at Sapapilii, but he and his companions were now all dead, though several sons of Boki were still living. Poor wrote to the Hawaiian government, asking for money to cover an investigation; but his mission was recalled shortly afterwards, and nothing was done. AH, FO & Ex: Henry F. Poor to J. S. Webb, 20/3/1887. The whole story is unlikely. News of Boki's survival would surely have reached Hawaii between 1830 and 1887. Poor's letter is probably nothing more than a piece of buffoonery, characteristic of the gin-soaked Hawaiian embassy to Samoa in 1887.
57   Kamakau 1961:294.
58   Kamakau 1961:305.