No. 225.
Mr. Peirce to Mr. Fish.

No. 174.]

Sir: The sovereign of this kingdom, King Kamehameha V, died in this city this forenoon of apoplexy, the anniversary day of his birth, and at the age of 42 years.

The event occurring unexpectedly, and the fact known that the King refused to name a successor to the throne, have caused great excitement in the native and foreign community. Inclosed herewith is an extract from the Hawaiian Gazette of this date, announcing the demise of His late Majesty, and officially summoning the legislative assembly to meet on Wednesday, January 8, 1873. That body, by the 22d article of the constitution of the realm, is empowered in a case like the present “to elect by ballot some native alii (chief) of the kingdom as successor to the throne, and the successor so elected shall become a new stirp for a royal family.” As there will be several candidates before the assembly, from whom they are to choose one only of the number, for king, a fierce contest is likely to arise among the competitors, each backed by a strong party of retainers.

Whether those failing of election will take up arms against the successful one is problematical.

I am of opinion the former will acquiesce in the result of the action of the legislature. Owing to the republican sentiments instilled in the people by their missionary teachers from New England, through churches, schools, and books, no doubt exists that the mass of the natives would prefer an elective form of government to the present monarchical one. But whether, to obtain it, they would proceed so far as to resort to violence and revolution is very questionable.

* * * * * * *

In view of the critical condition of political affairs, and as a measure of precaution for the safety of persons and property of our citizens here in case of an outbreak, I strongly urge and request that a United States vessel of war be sent here from San Francisco as soon as possible, and that one shall hereafter be kept in these waters constantly, under a system of reliefs.

* * * * * * *

With respect, &c.,


[From the Hawaiian Gazette of Wednesday, December 11, 1872.]

The health of His Majesty has been failing for some time, and during the last night he experienced a very severe attack, from which, however, he rallied sufficiently to encourage the hopes of his attendants. But at 10 o’clock an unfavorable change took place, and at 20 minutes after 10 o’clock he breathed his last without suffering.


(The order summoning the legislative assembly is printed as an inclosure to Mr. Peirce’s No. 177, of January 10, 1873.)