Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Isaac Davis

It’s hard to tell the story of Isaac Davis without including John Young.  They arrived in Hawai‘i at the same time (on different boats) and they served Kamehameha I as co-advisors.  I’ll try to keep the focus on Davis, here (but remember, their roles in Hawai‘i are pretty much the same.)

Isaac Davis (c. 1758–1810) (Welch) arrived in Hawaii in 1790 as the sole survivor of the massacre of the crew of The Fair American.  He became one of the closest advisors to Kamehameha I. 

He and co-advisor John Young were instrumental in Kamehameha's military ventures and his eventual conquest and unification of the Hawaiian Islands. 

Davis became a respected translator and military advisor for Kamehameha.

Davis brought western military knowledge to Hawai‘i and played a big role during Hawaii's first contacts with the European powers.  His skill in gunnery, as well as the cannon from the Fair American, helped Kamehameha win many battles.

Isaac Davis resided entirely with Kamehameha (note that his home is near the King’s at Pākākā (see my post on March 15, 2012, noting the map of Honolulu in 1810.))

Davis had the King’s “most perfect confidence” and he attended to Kamehameha’s needs on all travels of business or pleasure – and ventured with him during times of war.

Davis earned Kamehameha’s “greatest respect and the highest degree of esteem and regard.”

He became one of the highest chiefs under Kamehameha the Great, and was Governor of Oʻahu during the early-1800s.  Isaac Davis had been one of Kamehameha's closest friends and advisors.

An observer noted in 1798 that, "On leaving Davis the king embraced him and cried like a child. Davis said he always did when he left him, for he was always apprehensive that he might leave him, although he had promised him he would never do it without giving him previous notice."

Davis was known among the Hawaiians as “Aikaka.”

Davis married twice. His blood survives to this day; the Davis family is reportedly the oldest foreign family in the Hawaiian Islands.

His daughter Betty married Humehume (George Prince Kaumuali‘i, the son of King Kaumuali‘i of Kauaʻi.)  His grandson was the second husband of Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani.

When Kamehameha sought to negotiate with King Kaumuali‘i of Kaua‘i, Kamehameha summoned Isaac Davis to escort Kaumuali‘i to O‘ahu.

At Pākākā (at Honolulu Harbor, in 1810,) it was agreed that Kaua‘i would join with the rest of the archipelago, but that Kaumuali‘i would continue to rule that island while acknowledging Kamehameha as his sovereign - reportedly, Isaac Davis assisted in the negotiations, on behalf of Kamehameha.

Several chiefs opposed this agreement and wished that Kaumuali‘i be put to death and plotted a secret plan to poison him.

Isaac Davis learned of the plot and warned Kaumuali‘i – then, Kaumuali‘i fled back to Kaua‘i.

Isaac Davis suddenly died in April, 1810.

Apparently, the poison that was intended for Kaumuali‘i was given to Davis.

When Isaac Davis died, it was a shock to Kamehameha and a “dark day” in the life of the king.

Davis was buried in Honolulu, in "The Cemetery for Foreigners"; however, the exact burial location is not known.

After his death, his friend and co-advisor to Kamehameha, John Young, looked after Davis' children. In addition, Young's will, dated 1834, stated: "I give and bequeath to be equally divided between my surviving children and the surviving children of my departed friend the late Isaac Davis of Milford in England, in such manner as it shall please His Magesty the King and his Chiefs."

The image is a memorial in O‘ahu Cemetery to Isaac Davis and his descendants.

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