William Charles Lunalilo was born on January 31, 1835 in an area known as Pohukaina (now part of Honolulu) to High Chiefess Miriam ‘Auhea Kekauluohi (Kuhina Nui, or Premier of the Hawaiian Kingdom and niece of Kamehameha I) and High Chief Charles Kanaʻina.
Lunalilo’s grandparents were Kalaʻimamahu (half-brother of Kamehameha I) and Kalākua (sister to Kaʻahumanu). His great grandfather was Keouakupupailaninui (father of Kamehameha I).
He was declared eligible to succeed by the royal decree of King Kamehameha III and was educated at the Chief’s Children’s School, and at age four, became one of its first students.
He was known as a scholar, a poet and a student with amazing memory for detail. From a very young age, he loved to write, with favorite subjects in school being literature and music.
As a young man, he was courteous and intelligent, generous and friendly. His close friends affectionately called him “Prince Bill”. His native people called him Lokomaikaʻi (“merciful, gracious, generous or benevolent”.)
In the Constitutional Convention of 1864, Lunalilo strongly supported both the cause of the people against unnecessary interference by any ruler and a more democratic government with two houses of the legislature, a House of Nobles and a House of Representatives. He wanted a constitution that favored the people and gave less power to the king.
Kamehameha V had not named a successor to the throne before he died on December 11, 1872. Lunalilo wanted his people to choose their next ruler in a democratic manner and requested a plebiscite to be held on New Year’s Day following the death of Kamehameha V.
He therefore noted, “Whereas, it is desirable that the wishes of the Hawaiian people be consulted as to a successor to the Throne, therefore, notwithstanding that according to the law of inheritance, I am the rightful heir to the Throne, in order to preserve peace, harmony and good order, I desire to submit the decision of my claim to the voice of the people.” (Lunalilo, December 16, 1872)
Prince David Kalākaua and others not in the Kamehameha lineage chose to run against Prince Lunalilo. The people on every island chose William Charles Lunalilo as King.
At noon on January 8, 1873, the Legislature met, as required by law, in the Courthouse to cast their official ballots of election of the next King. Lunalilo received all thirty-seven votes.
The coronation of Lunalilo took place at Kawaiahaʻo Church in a simple ceremony on January 9, 1873. He was to reign for one year and twenty-five days, succumbing to pulmonary tuberculosis on February 3, 1874.
As a proponent of democracy and more freedom of choice for his people, he did not name a successor before his death because he believed that the people should, again, choose their leader. His trait of “Lokomaikaʻi” followed him in death, because of his desire to do what was best for the people.
Upon his passing, the Royal Mausoleum was the temporary resting place for Lunalilo. By birthright, his remains could have remained there with the other Aliʻi, however, his desire was to be among his people, and in 1875 his remains were moved to their permanent resting place in a tomb built for him and his father, Kanaʻina, on the grounds of Kawaiahaʻo Church.
His estate included large landholdings on five major islands, consisting of 33 ahupuaʻa, nine ‘ili and more than a dozen home lots. His will established a perpetual trust under the administration of three trustees to be appointed by the justices of the Hawaiian Supreme Court.
Lunalilo was the first of the large landholding aliʻi to create a charitable trust for the benefit of his people.
The purpose of his trust was to build a home to accommodate the poor, destitute and inform people of Hawaiian (aboriginal) blood or extraction, with preference given to older people. The will charged the Trustees to sell all of the estate’s land and to build and maintain the home.
In 1879 the land for the first Lunalilo Home was granted to the estate by the Hawaiian government and consisted of 21 acres in Kewalo, near the present Roosevelt High School.
The construction of the first Lunalilo Home at that site was paid for by the sale of estate lands. The Home was completed in 1883 to provide care for 53 residents. An adjoining 39 acres for pasture and dairy was conveyed by the legislative action to the Estate in 1888.
After 44 years, the Home in Kewalo had deteriorated and became difficult and costly to maintain. The trustees located a new 20-acre site in Maunalua on the slopes of Koko Head.
The Maunalua site was purchased by the Brown family (John Ii Estate, Ltd.) and given as a gift to Lunalilo Home in memory of their mother Irene Ii Holloway, daughter of John Ii, who was a close friend of Lunalilo’s father.
With Court approval in 1927, the Kewalo/Makiki property was subdivided and sold and the proceeds used to purchase and renovate the buildings on the site to accommodate 56 residents.
Lunalilo Home temporarily ceased operations from 1997 through 2001 to undertake major renovations to its structure. Upon re-opening, it was licensed by the State Department of Health as an Adult Residential Care Home (ARCH) to accommodate 42 residents.
The image shows King Lunalilo in 1873. In addition, I have added other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
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