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Of the dozens of internationally recognized nations and the far larger number of sub-national units that produced written constitutions during the rise of modern constitutionalism, the only indigenous participant was Hawai每i. And of the hundreds of constitutional documents included in this collection, only the four Hawaiian documents appear in an indigenous or non-European language and predate the multitude of constitutions found outside of Europe and the Americas today. Hawaiian constitutions are included in this collection because Hawai每i was recognized as an independent country by other nations.

Samuel M盲naiakalani Kamakau, respected as the greatest Hawaiian historian,[2] lived at the time these documents first appeared and wrote highly of them and the democratic constitutional monarchy that they established. Summing up their benefits, he concluded:

每O ka 每oi kelakela o ka p枚maika每i i h盲每awi 每ia ma ke aloha o ka M枚每茂 Kamehameha III. 每O ke kumuk盲n盲wai i kapa 每ia 每o 鈥淜al盲hikiola, 每o Kalanaola a 每o Kuapapanui.鈥 每O ka p枚maika每i k毛ia e hiki 每ole ai ke ho每on盲ueue 每ia. Aia n枚 na每e i ka mana每o o n盲 m枚每茂 ma hope. He kumuk盲n盲wai i hana 每ia e n盲 m枚每茂 ma ke aloha i n盲 maka每盲inana o ka 每盲ina nei.

每O k毛ia mau hana, 每o ia n盲 hana kaulana a ka M枚每茂 Kamehameha III i ho每okaulana 每ia, a he mau hana hiki 每ole ke 每盲ka每a; ua sila 每ia i loko o ka na每au o ka l盲hui holo每oko每a, a ua ho每opa每a 每ia a pa每a loa i ia hanauna aku, ia hanauna aku, a mau loa; ua lilo kona inoa i mea poni maika每i i ke po每o o ka l盲hui (Kamakau 1869; Kamakau 2001:331)

The greatest blessing, given through the deep affection of King Kamehameha III, is the constitution called 鈥淜al盲hikiola鈥 [the sun by which life comes], 鈥淜alanaola鈥 [buoyant life], and 鈥淜uapapanui鈥 [tranquil security of a unified government].[3] This is the blessing that cannot be shaken, although that has been the intent of some later kings.[4] It is a constitution created by the kings because of their deep affection for the citizens of this land.

These are the famous deeds of King Kamehameha III for which he received renown and which can never be overturned. They are written in the hearts of the whole nation and have been fixed there immovably for the generations to come, forever. His name has become a noble crown on the head of the nation (Lyon 2006).

Although no original manuscripts of any of these documents survive, the Hawaiian government carefully printed them at the time, and dedicated archivists have preserved and maintained them.[5] An unofficial, partial compilation was made by Lorrin Thurston in 1904. A central participant in events that led to the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian government and the subsequent annexation of the Islands to the United States, Thurston compiled the English versions of the constitutions of 1840 and 1852 (pp.1-9 and 155-168, respectively), among other government documents. He provided indices for both constitutions (pp. 291-294 and pp. 325-336, respectively) and included some, but not all, of the amendments to these and later constitutions (only one of the four amendments to the 1864 constitution and none to the 1852 or 1887 constitutions). No complete compilation of the documents existed until definitive editions were published in Ka Ho每oilina: Puke Pai 每脰lelo Hawai每i/The Legacy: Journal of Hawaiian Language Sources.[6]

This collection includes other U.S. state constitutions as translated into various languages to enable those states鈥 language minorities to understand the documents. Such is not the case here, where the Hawaiian constitutions were the primary texts with translations made into English. The majority of the population in the Islands at the time were Hawaiian-speaking, and most of the small minority of non-Hawaiians, if not fluent, were at least able to understand spoken and written Hawaiian. Today, the state of Hawai每i constitutionally recognizes Hawaiian and English as its official languages 鈥 the only state in the Union that so recognizes a non-English language, much less an indigenous one.[7] Not only are the Hawaiian language constitutions historically important, but Hawaiian is still used today (and is, in fact, enjoying a renaissance). Therefore the introduction, footnotes, and index are in both Hawaiian and English.

The 1839 Hawaiian constitution has survived with only an unofficial English translation from the time period and has been given little weight by historians. Some have considered it to be a declaration of rights, or the Hawaiian Magna Charta, but not a constitution (Kuykendall 1938: 159, 160). This view is supported by a revised (and weakened) version of the text that appeared within the official Hawaiian and English versions of the 1840 constitution. Yet the sole, official title of the 1839 document was 鈥淜umu Kanawai鈥 (today spelled Kumuk盲n盲wai; literally, fundamental law), the same title appearing on subsequent constitutions. As such, the document is included here. All Hawaiian constitutional amendments from the period prior to 1860 are included here. There were no failed amendments as defined in this collection.

The documents are reproduced using their original orthography, including the Hawaiian source orthography and archaic English which differ from the language鈥檚 contemporary standardized orthography. Spelling, capitalization, punctuation, italics, and parentheses follow the original, except where noted. In keeping with the style of this collection, a minimum of annotation has been included.

Hawai每i occupies a number of unique positions within this collection of documents associated with the rise of modern constitutionalism. Not the least of these positions was Hawai每i鈥檚 indigenous constitutional monarchy which held sovereignty over an area now within the United States and which was internationally recognized by the era鈥檚 great powers. The editorial team of this collection, including Horst Dippel, Miriam Leitner, and Ulrike Reinecke, are acknowledged and thanked for making these particular documents more readily accessible than they have been.

Select Bibliography

General Literature

Ka Hooilina, Puke Pai 每脰lelo Hawai每i / The Legacy: Journal of Hawaiian Language Sources, I:1 (March 2002), and I:2 (September 2002), Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press in association with University of Hawai每i Press.

Kamakau, Samuel M盲naiakalani, "Ka Moolelo Hawaii", Ke Au 每Oko每a, October 14, 1869.

Kamakau, Samuel M盲naiakalani, Ke Aupuni M枚每茂, Transliteration by Puakea Nogelmeier, Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press, 2001.

Kamakau, Samuel M盲naiakalani, Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii, Rev. Ed., Translation by Mary Kawena Pukui, Thomas Thrum, Lahilahi Webb, Emma Davidson Taylor, and John Wise, Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press, 1992.

Kuykendall, Ralph, "Constitutions of the Hawaiian Kingdom", Papers of the Hawaiian Historical Society No. 21 [1940], Honolulu.

Kuykendall, Ralph, The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume I: 1778-1854, Foundation and Transformation, Honolulu: University of Hawai每i Press, 1938.

Kuykendall, Ralph, The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume II: 1854-1874, Twenty Critical Years, Honolulu: University of Hawai每i Press, 1953.

Lyon, Kapali, Personal communication, 2006, Hilo, Hawai每i.

Osorio, Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwo每ole, Dismembering L盲hui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887, Honolulu: University of Hawai每i Press, 2002.

Thurston, Lorrin, The Fundamental Law of Hawaii, Honolulu: The Hawaiian Gazette Co., Ltd., 1904.

[1] Robert Stauffer is a lecturer in Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawai每i at M盲noa. This introduction was translated into Hawaiian by Kapali Lyon, an independent researcher, and edited by Kalena Silva, Director of Ka Haka 每Ula O Ke每elik枚lani College of Hawaiian Language, University of Hawai每i at Hilo.

[2] Lilikal盲 Kame每eleihiwa (Kamakau 1992: v).

[3] A related meaning of 鈥淜uapapanui鈥 is: 鈥淎 high chief who is a wise ruler and lives like a father to his people, never allowing them to know fear or distress, is spoken of as kuapapanui.鈥 (Kamakau 1992:429).

[4] This is perhaps an allusion to the extralegal constitution of 1864.

[5] Archives include the Hawai每i State Archives (formerly the Archives of Hawai每i), Susan Shaner, State Archivist; the Hawaiian Historical Society Library, Barbara Dunn, Administrative Director; and the Hawai每i Mission Children Society鈥檚 Collections, Kanani Reppun, Head Librarian.

[6] The complete compilation of constitutions and amendments was published in issues of the journal from 2002 to 2004.

[7] Nonofficial recognition exists for Spanish in New Mexico and for French in Louisiana.