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Article 7: Utilizing situational analysis to demonstrate that American missionaries developed an education system in Hawaii during the nineteenth century that served Western interest.


The purpose of this article is to present an example of using research tools, involving multiple perspectives and situational analysis. Investigating the role of American missionaries in the spread of hegemony and colonization in the Kingdom of Hawaii between 1820 (the year the American missionaries arrived) and 1893 (the year Hawaiians lost their sovereignty) serves as the example for this study. Robert Berkhofer (1995) theorizes that any study that purports to tell the history of an indigenous people during the period of westernization needs to tell its story by relying on multiple perspectives. He explained, "This is necessary to counter the unified and usually omniscient viewpoint of traditional ways of doing history" (33).

In order to conduct research based upon multicultural perspectives, I chose to use the conceptual framework of situational analysis to demonstrate that education served the interests of Westerners, not Hawaiians. Primarily, the situational analysis of Robert Berkhofer (1969) provides the means to establish this intent. According to this analysis, the words of the social groups in the story provide a comparison to their actual deeds, yielding clues that explain motivation. Understanding the motivation of the missionaries helps explain whether their educational efforts met the expected and intended results and whether there were unanticipated consequences of their actions; ultimately, this reveals whose interest education served. Based upon the commitment of this study to presenting multiple perspectives, there are at least two groups to investigate--the missionaries and the Hawaiians. However, since this educational system was implemented over a sixty-three year period of time and involved at least two generations of missionaries, the missionaries as a group potentially yielded two differing responses. After all, the identity and the experiences of members of the original twelve companies of missionaries differed considerably from that of the second generation. It can be argued that first-generation missionaries were more devoted to the welfare of Hawaiians than their children, who were raised to fear contamination with the Natives, but that is not what I discover. In many ways, in their promotion of manual labor and manual training curriculum throughout their control over education, the missionaries pursued a consistent pattern of serving their own interests. The only deviations evolved from which "field" their metaphor was emphasizing at the time--religious, political, or economic.


Unlike the construction of the Hawaiian culture, the missionary one is complicated by membership in both an American culture and a subculture. Based upon the approach taken by Ronald Takaki in Iron Cages, this study assumes that American culture derives from treating American society as a total structure (Takaki 2000). Therefore, missionaries shared the same sets of concepts, images and ideas with other Americans of European descent, enabling them to interpret the world in roughly similar ways. This includes sharing similar attitudes towards a work ethic, the private ownership of property, a republican form of government, marriage and chastity, the role of women, and the separation of state and church. On the other hand, the missionaries were also a "recent convert of a revitalized version of Calvinism" (Wagner 1986, 3). As such, they represented a subculture of the converted, leading them to a more intense and fierce adherence to American values, beliefs, and attitudes to which other Americans only loosely adhered.


In incorporating both aspects of missionary culture, there are five components that impact the identity of the missionaries. The first component involves the evolution of the American Protestant missionaries' metaphor, "laboring in the field." The missionaries who served in Hawaii were recent converts of a vibrant theology and its metaphor guided the way they advanced this theology. The missionaries were the product of both a specific historical environment and a specific intellectual tradition. The result was the "laboring in the field" metaphor. Rufus Anderson (1862), President of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, best states the intent of this metaphor: the "field is the world" that must be "conquer[ed] for Christ" (6). "It is for him [the missionary] to sow and plant, and wait the movement of the heavens" (8). This metaphor grew out of Calvinist theology. Sandra Wagner (1986) purports that the Calvinist reform tradition had several basic features. The central precept was God's total and complete sovereignty. In this scheme, man was in a state of total depravity, but some were elected to salvation and others to damnation. Those who received salvation went through a gradual process of growth in grace begun at baptism and continuing throughout the individual's life, culminating in "disinterested benevolence," a state of being involving "sacrificing comfort, position, friends, country, even life itself, for the sake of duty" (Elsbree 1928, 26). It was the duty of Christians to either financially support or participate in "laboring in the field" to convert "heathens" to Christianity.


The second component was the development of the American Board of Commission for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). This organization provided the missionaries with the opportunity to go on their mission and established a guide for their labors. In the early nineteenth century, Calvinist theology found a home in the newly organized ABCFM. Like Calvinism, the formation of the ABCFM had historical and religious roots. Beginning during the American colonial era, the pioneer Protestant missionaries attempted to propagate the faith among Native Americans. Overall their efforts met with little success due to the land hunger of white settlers, the susceptibility of the Natives to diseases, the vices of the white man, and the inability of the Protestant missionaries to adapt their methods to the needs of Native Americans (Elsbree 1928). However, experiments educating Indian students using manual labor and classical education, teaching in English and the vernacular, and working with students in their villages or separate boarding schools helped prepare the missionaries for missions in the nineteenth century (Berkhofer 1965).


The third component involved connecting the missionaries to manual labor and manual training education. In many ways, they were the most involved group in the United States to adopt this form of education. Beginning with the introduction of manual labor and manual training as part of the education provided Native Americans by the missions of the ABCFM's to the training offered seminary candidates at the American Protestant theologies, the missionaries sent to Hawaii were very prepared to infuse this curriculum into the schools there (Berkhofer 1965).

Charles Bennett purports that the theological seminaries took the lead in this movement. The rise of the American Education Society in 1815 helped promote the use of manual labor among the theological seminaries (Bennett 1926). David Allmendinger explains the motivation for this move. This organization wanted to tap young men from lower class Protestant families to fill an increasing number of vacant pulpits (Allmendinger 1971). Manual labor was a means of support for these students at seminaries. Bennett (1926) relates that up until 1829, the most successful manual labor experiment was at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts; its voluntary program based upon mechanical labor became the model for other seminaries. In many other schools, it was largely agricultural and in the most successful schools, it was compulsory. Maine Wesleyan Seminary went one step further by uniting manual labor with academics. The purpose was to help three classes of young men: the "worthy poor" who wanted an education; the "idle well-to-do" who needed proper motives for industry to avoid dissipation; and the "especially talented" students who needed exercise for the good of their health. Other locations for theological seminaries that used manual labor included the following: Auburn, New York; Maryville, Tennes see; South Hadley, Massachusetts; Lane, Ohio; Bowdoin, Maine; and Middlebury, Vermont (Barlow 1967).


The fourth component involved the characteristics of the missionaries sent on the Sandwich Island mission. The term missionary when applied to the Sandwich Island mission refers to ordained ministers, men and women who were not ordained but served the mission, the ministers wives and children, and those men who resigned from the mission but stayed in Hawaii. Imbedded in this report are the New England roots of the missionaries and how they incorporated the values, attitudes, and beliefs of Americans in general. Bolstered by a theology, a metaphor, and an organization with a plan of action, the missionaries were prepared to convert "heathens" throughout the world. Wagner (1986) identified the missionary as a part of a subculture of the converted. Moreover, she claimed they were the most rigid converts, as demonstrated in their attitude towards sexual conduct and justice, and in their strict theological outlook that was not shared by other members of American society. As such, they served as the source of inspiration and example for others sharing their culture and subculture. The missionary believed that Christ was returning after the conversion of nonbelievers. But all men were the same in their need for grace, and love for the sinners dictated that efforts be made to convert them.

Patricia Grimshaw (1989) stated that both the men and women who were sent as missionaries to Hawaii were prepared for the work by education, work experience, a sense of a calling, and their adherence to American values. The men were well-educated graduates of a variety of institutions, predominately in New England. Congregationalists and Presbyterian by affiliation, their backgrounds were usually rural--often farming had been the family livelihood. They were from the middle class. Their lives were marked by an acquaintance with a variety of skills, hard work, self-denial, thrift, and personal initiative. Their education had been preceded by engagement in various kinds of work: the employment with charitable or religious concerns, traveling the northeast with tracts and Bibles to spread the missionary message, or the call to revival (Grimshaw 1989).

While male missionaries were more visible, female missionaries played a huge role in achieving the goals of mission activity in Hawaii. They were daughters of the Second Great Awakening and the ferment of reform that was spreading throughout the United States. They believed in the moral superiority of American society, "abounding in enthusiasm for transmit ting its spiritual formulations and cultural systems to those ignorant of its virtues" (Grimshaw 1989, xi). This was also a time of increasing industrialization and growth of capitalistic economy. Women's traditional labor patterns were altered. Single women flocked to mills and factories. Others sought employment in the expanding common schools and private academies. At the same time, according to Grimshaw, gender identification emerged associating men with public life and the women with the domestic arena: "the noble figure of the wife and mother, presented in idealistic form as giving moral and spiritual impetus to the family, not superseding the husband's proper authority, yet complementing his role, and influencing him always in an upright direction" (Grimshaw 1989, xiii). She suggests that the seemingly contradiction of single women who were employed was settled morally. Women's spiritual leadership would act as regeneration. In Hawaii, these women became effective agents for transmitting to Hawaiian girls and women both Christian beliefs and the notions of proper femininity and female behavior as defined within Protestant American culture (Grimshaw 1989, viii-ix).

These future missionary women were quick, efficient, and multitalented. Also from rural, middle-class backgrounds, they had employment skills, worked to fund their own education, and were not accustomed to leisure or easy living. Although their families could afford further education for them, they did not have the male privilege of extensive, full-time education for years, resulting in a formal qualification. Most secured their education at intervals, while supporting themselves by teaching, farm labor, or skilled trade (Grimshaw 1989). Education in the United States at the beginning of the nineteenth century was primarily triggered by the need of the new nation to train its members for a republican society. It was believed that women would have to be educated to understand domestic economy (Conway 1974). "The ultimate goal of all education was the attainment of fine ethical character. This ethical character was deemed the directing force in life, the basis of citizenship and of all activity" (Thompson 1947, 30).

These missionaries were products of the age following the American Revolution. According to Ronald Takaki (2000), this was an era in which moral asceticism was combined with republicanism. Whereas the fusion of Protestantism with republican theory led to bourgeois acquisitiveness and modern capitalism throughout the country, the missionaries professed to follow a vow of poverty. However, when they had the opportunity in Hawaii, this vow did not stop them from developing the nation's economic system. This was not a contradiction since citizenship in the republic meant that citizens were expected to have republican manners and morals, implying that the republican citizen had to struggle against the corruption and temptations of the world by following the values of indus try and thrift (Takaki 2000). The missionaries' mission of "laboring in the field" was the call to spread both Christianity and American civilization. "Civilizing" the Hawaiians meant transforming Hawaiian society into the one they had known in New England. As a consequence, installing the economic, social, and political institutions of New England was part of their goal.

The Hawaiian community was in a vulnerable stage of transition when the missionaries arrived in 1820. The missionaries believed that they could win "the spiritual allegiance, the hearts and minds, of the inhabitants" (Grimshaw 1989, xviii). Inspecting the biographies provided in Missionary Album (1969) led to this breakdown of the twelve companies of missionaries sent to Hawai'i between 1820 and 1844. Seventy-one women and sixty-six men for a total of 137 members served the Sandwich Island Mission (SIM). Thirty-seven were ordained ministers; fifty-nine were wives of the men; twenty-four were teachers (twelve were single women and the other twelve were husband and wives chosen for their ability to teach); four were administrators; and one was a farmer, two were mechanics, and four were printers. Between 1854 and 1894, the ABCFM sent five additional ministers as the need arose. The ABCFM ended the SIM in 1863 and the Hawaiian Evangelical Association (HEA) took over the labors of the mission; those missionaries who remained, along with their children, endeavored to apply their "laboring in the field" metaphor as they continued to convert Hawaiians to Christianity and also to an American culture. Terrance Barrow, in the introduction to Reverend Hiram Bingham's book (1847) on his residence in Hawaii, stated that the object of the mission was simply to convert the Hawaiian people to Christianity and to "civilize" them. "The bravery and good intentions of the early missionaries cannot be questioned. Unfortunately, their teaching was Calvinistic, 'be saved or burn' variety" (2). Nevertheless, researchers like Stueber (1964) and Wist (1937) concluded that the missionaries developed an attachment and affection for the Hawaiians. Blackman (1899) credited the missionaries with an even deeper commitment to the Hawaiians, stating that "without a doubt the missionaries were moved by mixed motives, but it was obviously a self-sacrificing rather than a self-seeking purpose which dominated their action" (77). He concluded that their motive was love. Mark Twain (1966) had a different point of view:

The Sandwich Islands missionaries are pious, hardworking; hard-praying; self-sacrificing; hospitable; devoted to the well-being of this people and the interests of Protestantism; bigoted; puritanical; slow; ignorant of all white human nature and natural ways of men, except the remnant of these things that are left in their own class or profession; old fogy-fifty years behind the age; uncharitable toward the weaknesses of the flesh; considering all short comings, faults, and failings in the light of crimes, and having no mercy and no foregiveness for such (Twain 1966, 4).

The Twain quote obviously portrays the missionaries differently as does the following summary by Gavan Daws (1968):
   The ministry was holy work, which set them apart from other men.
   They viewed their missionary kingdom as afloat in a sea of
   iniquity. The churches were islands of virtue in sinful villages.
   Within their congregations, a small proportion of its members were
   communicants. Mission house lots, where their Christian children
   could play, were fenced off from contact with natives and other
   haoles. In marriage, a preference for partners of good pious New
   England stock, in death, preference for burial in the separate
   plots of each churchyard (68).


The fifth component investigates the second-generation American missionaries. Because the definition of the term missionary in this study includes the children of missionaries, it is necessary to understand the identity of second-generation missionaries, especially in comparison to their parents. Thirty-five missionary couples remained their entire lives in Hawaii (Missionary Album 1969). Between them they raised 225 children in the Islands. In 1853, as the number of adult second-generation missionaries grew substantially, the Hawaiian Mission Children's Society (HMCS) was formed. Although membership was automatically offered to all children of the missionaries, it also included other haole (white people) who supported the "laboring in the field" metaphor (Hawaiian Mission 1882). Many of these second-generation missionaries would enter fields not related to mission activities, but through the HMCS, they were always able to have an impact. Those who were trained as ordained ministers or teachers were the missionaries primarily in charge of directing and operating the educational efforts of the mission through the HEA.

In many ways, the upbringing, education, and experiences of second-generation missionaries were very different from their parents. Because of their parents' fear of contamination from Hawaiian contact during the early years, they were raised separately from Hawaiians, children and adults alike. Both purposely and because of lack of contact, most did not learn to speak Hawaiian. Until Punahou School was established, missionary children were educated at home by their parents or sent away to the United States. This school was only for their children or the children of other haole, who would go through a screening process and be admitted if the family met the approval of the school's board of trustees. Stueber (1964) stated those who worked closely with the HMCS or HEA never endured the hardships nor expended the energy that develops an attachment or affection for Hawaiians. Dr. Rufus Anderson's address (1864a) to the initial meeting of the HEA in 1863 confirmed the fact that the second-generation missionaries were not as committed to Hawaiians as their parents' were:
   I have had some apprehension in respect to the missionary spirit
   among you--I mean, in its application to the native population. I
   thought I saw,--as the result of the very natural anxiety and care
   of your parents years ago, to prevent your learning the native
   language, even to keep you from hearing or speaking a word of it,
   lest your morals should suffer,--that you showed a sort of aversion
   to the people themselves, a shrinking from personal contact with
   them, a want of that sympathy with them which is essential to
   successful labors for their spiritual good (112-113).


Besides the public schools based upon common school curriculum, the educational history involving the missionaries included experimenting with five different curricula combinations for their special or private schools. In chronological order, the first missionary curriculum group was founded in 1837 at Lahainaluna High School; its curriculum was based upon a formal school and manual labor for males taught in the Hawaiian language (L. Andrews 1832; R. Andrews 1902; Annual Report 1835, 1837; Lecker 1938; Wist 1940). The second curriculum group established during the late 1830s included the Hilo Boys' Boarding School, Kohala Boys' Boarding School, and Waoli Boys' School; its curriculum was based upon common school and manual labor for males taught in the Hawaiian language (Damon 1927; Gordon 1936; Johnson 1846; Minutes of Hawaiian Evangelical Association 1854, 1857; Report of Waioli School 1861). The third curriculum group established during the late 1830s included Wailuku Female Seminary and Hilo Girls School; its curriculum was based upon common school and manual labor or females taught in the Hawaiian language (Annual Report 1840, 1858; Coan 1840; Dibble 1854; Holt 1961). The fourth curriculum group was established at the Royal School, which was founded in 1839 for the children of Hawaiian chiefs destined to become the future monarchs of the nation; its curriculum was based upon the coeducational formal school curriculum taught in the English language (Menton 1982; Odgers 1933). The final curriculum type was Punahou School, which was founded in 1842 as a school for the children of the missionaries; its curriculum was based upon coeducational formal school and manual labor taught in the English language (Alexander and Dodge 1941; Odgers 1933; Stueber 1964; Wist 1937).

By the 1840s, the missionaries were well on their way to accomplishing the mission they had been directed to follow by the ABCFM through the training of teachers at Lahainaluna High School and Hilo Boys' School, the training of the future leaders at the Royal School and Punahou School, and the on-going experiments with a practical education at most of the special schools. Although there were historically a variety of curricula being used, when sovereignty ended, the seeds of a manual labor curriculum, which had been planted in most of the special schools begun by or supported by the missionary faction, grew into a well-established curricular practice. By mid-century, the missionaries faced a variety of situations over the next forty years that were triggered both by challenges to their labors and competition with the Hawaiians' defense of their sovereignty that led to educational issues upon which to apply the theory of situational analysis.


There were four paramount educational issues that help determine the American missionaries' use of education to promote colonization and hegemony and the answer to the question: whose interest did education for Hawaiians serve? The four issues included the use of manual labor, female education, shifting from teaching in the vernacular to English language, and the use of manual training or industrial education.

In the theory of situational analysis, the coverage of the various interpretations and influences regarding these issues were reflected by the words spoken by these decision-makers. Juxtaposing these words with the actual educational actions taken in schools as manual labor, female education, shifting from the Hawaiian to English language, and the spread of manual training education during the latter years of sovereignty is the primary means to apply situational analysis in this study. Coupled with investigating the expected and intended results of these actions, situational analysis exposes the American missionaries as seeking to satisfy their interest over that of Hawaiians as the unanticipated consequences of their actions. Consequently, situational analysis guides this investigation by determining how closely the actions of the actors in this narrative match their words and whether the results were expected and intended or unanticipated.


Once the Western advisors, which mostly included missionaries, introduced the necessary political and economic changes to lead the Kingdom into its place alongside the modern nations of Europe and North America during the 1850s, it was obvious to both missionaries and the ali'i (chiefs) alike that most Hawaiians were not becoming independent landowners. Instead, many Hawaiians were impoverished as they were pushed off the land that they and their ancestors had lived on for generations. As the result of this situation, these leaders agreed that in order to help Hawaiians become self-sufficient, independent, and economically successful, they needed to be educated in the skills of agriculture and industry. This interest translated into both chiefs and missionaries encouraging the merits of manual labor even in government schools. While the commoners were to receive a rudimentary education and learn to labor, the alii were educated at Lahainaluna Seminary and the Royal School, schools training its members to be leaders in a modernized Kingdom based upon Western political economy (Alexander 1864; Minutes of Hawaiian Evangelical Association 1855, 1860; Stueber 1964).


After the 1850s, the only surviving missionary private schools devoted to educating Hawaiians were Hilo Boys' Boarding School, the Kohala Boys' Boarding School, and the Waioli Boys' School. By the mid-1870s, the two latter schools joined the public schools as English language schools. However, through the sponsorship of female seminaries beginning in the 1860s, the missionaries were able to increase their influence over the education of Hawaiians.

The espoused goal of missionary education for females was the "cult of true womanhood," which prepared wives for Hawaiian men, particularly those going into the ministry, training them in domestic arts, and inculcating the values, beliefs, and attitudes of New England so they would have influence over their husbands and children (Horowitz 1984; McClelland 1992; E. Thompson 1947; Welter 1966). The "cult of true womanhood" consisted of four related ideas:

First, there was a sharp distinction between home and the economic world that paralleled a perceived distinction between male and female nature. Second, the home was designated as the female's only sphere of influence. Third, women were considered morally superior to men. And finally, the role of the mother was idealized in terms of her attention to and sacrifice for husband and children. (McClelland 1992, 59)

After the 1870s, female seminaries in Hawaii began to switch from focusing on the "cult of true womanhood" to training Hawaiian females in some form of manual training education and teaching in the English language just at a time when the plantation economy required more industrial workers and more English speakers (E. Bond 1923; K. Bond 1954; Kawaiahao Seminary 1885).


Another concern was the move to replace instruction in the vernacular with English. All factions including Hawaiian, missionary and anti-missionary whites were involved with this issue. At first, the missionaries were adamant that teaching commoners in their own language was preferable to teaching them in English. Primarily, the missionaries began schools that taught in the vernacular because they believed that the students could be taught at a more rapid rate. After translating the Bible, they discovered how much better the words of the Bible sounded in the Hawaiian language. Many of the teachers at the private schools for Hawaiians were reluctant to abandon the Hawaiian language for this reason. It also became apparent that more advanced topics could be taught to Hawaiians from translations of American texts than could be accomplished if the students were taught entirely in the English language (Minutes of Hawaiian Evangelical Association 1854, 1861; Report of Waioli School 1860).

The majority of the non-missionary white community was strongly in favor of teaching in the English language. Prior to the 1850s, their strident voices attacked the missionaries for teaching in the vernacular. The critics of the missionaries contended that teaching in the vernacular enabled the missionaries to control the Hawaiians and ensure the success of their proselytizing mission. After the governmental and economic changes of the 1840s and 1850s, the missionary commitment to the Native language was challenged by the necessity of Hawaiians to communicate in English due to the increased demands of commercial centers, marriages between Hawaiian women and other races, and the increased size and influence of the English speaking foreign community (Stueber 1864). There were other practical reasons for the increase in English instruction among the schools of Hawaii. One reason was that as immigrant workers of other races began to increase after the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States, their children were required by law to attend the neighborhood school. Teaching in the English language as opposed to in the vernacular made more sense. From 1880 to 1894, non-Hawaiians increased from eight to thirty-six percent of the population (Schmitt 1968). A second reason was that the missionaries, in their private schools, would respond by switching to English instruction because their curriculum demanded it. As the private schools began to turn to manual train ing, English instruction became necessary to recruit teachers skilled enough to teach either the academic or manual training courses. After the late 1880s, the increased emphasis on manual training among the public schools would also require hiring more foreign teachers conversant in the English language and knowledgeable in the skills of manual training. By the end of sovereignty, the percent of English-speaking foreign teachers was nearly seventy percent of the teaching force at the private schools and nearly fifty percent at the government schools (Castle 1896).


In the 1880s, the manual training that Calvin Woodward and others were espousing in the United States made its way to Hawaii. This version of manual and industrial education was a more systematic form. The histories of manual training were predominately done by educators who took part in spreading this curricular practice in the United States (Comings 1915; Vaughn and Mays 1924; Woodward 1890). According to their interpretation, manual training was a form of curriculum based on providing manipulative experiences. It emphasized developing students through instruction based on handwork, and providing general industrial training to meet the rapidly changing demands brought on by industrialization (Struck 1930).

In part, this curriculum was intended to offer an alternative to the almost exclusively academic education common at this time in the United States. Woodward was particularly concerned that the usual method of education steered students away from employment requiring hard labor (Woodward 1890). Vaughn and May (1924) assert that teaching character is an important component of manual training. These historians propose that manual training schools provide real-life experiences and modify student conduct in accordance with predetermined aims and ideals.

After the Reciprocity Treaty, the missionaries shifted from the manual labor form of manual and industrial education to the manual training form. All the missionary female seminaries introduced industrial departments. Probably because they were incapable of making the transition, Kohala and Waioli Boys' School were released to join the other government English select schools. Meanwhile, Hilo Boys' Boarding School, the guiding light for manual training in Hawaii, re-organized itself to be more like the new manual training schools in the United States (Gordon 1936).


While the missionaries of both generations shared the same set of concepts, images and ideas, which enabled them to interpret the world in roughly similar ways, their generational differences were immediately revealed as the second generation began to assume power in the missionary organizations. Beginning in the 1860s, they began to attack the monarchy and even sided with efforts to annex the Islands to the United States (Castle 1960). There were also some members of the second-generation missionaries who found exception with a majority of their "cousins" (Gulick 1863).

Whether first- or second-generation, many missionaries throughout the nineteenth century wrote and spoke about the Hawaiians from a perspective that was mostly negative (Alexander 1891; Anderson 1864a; Ellis 1825). Drawing on the missionary accounts, many contemporary haole scholars reported this as well (Daws 1968; Kuykendall 1967; Wist 1940).

As the result of this interpretation of Hawaiian culture, Hawaiians were woefully represented. The ali'i were seen as despots who exploited the maka'ainana (the Hawaiian commoners). The latter was seen as lazy, shiftless, and unmotivated and unmoved by appeals to the Puritan work ethic. Moreover, missionary observers claimed that Hawaiian commoners cared little for children as seen by the common practice of infanticide (Anderson 1864b). The missionaries judged maka'ainana to be miserable because of their lack of possessions and the "hovels" where they lived (Annual Report 1832).

Acceptance of this interpretation of the identity of Hawaiians led missionaries and haole scholars to conclude that Christianity, Westernization, and even near extinction of the original inhabitants was good for Hawai'i (Wood 1996). In an effort to impress potential contributors to the mission, the men of the mission condemned all Hawaiian social formations and worked tirelessly to alter every aspect of Hawaiian society in their publications (Wagner 1986).

After the second-generation missionaries began to take over mission activities, their representation of Hawaiians helped justify the education system that they developed. Accordingly, they represented Hawaiian culture as disintegrating and in need of replacement. The ancient economic system of communal land management and aquaculture was said to be collapsing as it collided with the capitalist individualism of whalers and merchants, and later planters (Simpson 1993). Even as Hawaiians assimilated, they were represented as "still the lighthearted attractive people of old, dancing gaily to their doom, careless of fate, always smiling ... One thinks of them in their gay childishness and wonders if they were ever meant to be 'a people of steady habits'" (Armstrong 1884, 200). When the missionaries realized that Hawaiians could provide cheap labor for the emerging plantations, they rationalized the loss of land to haole and the general poverty of Hawaiians by representing them as capable of a better life if they chose (Christianity 1885).

Sometimes the reports of the two missionary generations were in conflict. While the first-generation missionaries exclaimed as early as the 1820s that the ancient culture was dead, the second-generation missionaries represented Hawaiians as backsliders. As late as 1890, an ally of the missionaries ranted about the difficulty of converting Hawaiians to Christianity "when so many signs of the ancient Hawaiian religion were still present" (Bicknell 1890, 66).

Missionaries estimated that "civilizing" Hawaiians was to take several generations. As a result, their representation of Hawaiians was presented as public record, repeatedly stated, year after year. As the second generation of missionaries (and sometimes even a third generation) took over the reins of mission activity, the negativity of the representation got stronger. In contrast to the actual Hawaiian identity, these missionary representations helped set the background for the social, political, economic, and educational forces that transformed Hawaii from a traditional society to a Kingdom and finally an American Territory.


There is very little written in English where Hawaiian voices evaluated whether their education met the expected results or had unanticipated consequences. Mataio Kekuanaoa, father of two Kings of the Hawaiian Kingdom, opposing the move towards English instruction was one such case. After Hawaiian language newspapers began to proliferate, there must have been others who echoed his concern about how switching to English jeopardized Hawaiian sovereignty as well as commenting on other educational issues. After all, most of the editors, men and women alike, were the products of the special schools where issues such as manual labor, female education, English instruction, and manual training were played out. Very little of the Hawaiian editors' words have been investigated by scholars who can read texts printed in the Hawaiian language, especially relating to educational issues. One exception is the opinion of Samuel Kamakau, a nineteenth-century Hawaiian intellectual. In an article on nineteenth-century Hawaiian intelligentsia gleaned from translating Hawaiian documents, Michael Chun (1993) revealed that Kamakau expressed the opinion that the educational system had not met the expectations of many Hawaiians. Because Kamakau's education at Lahainaluna Seminary had been heavily academic, Chun discovered that he later criticized such teaching by asking, "where is it leading" (17)? Kamakau noted how Hawaiians who had received a good scholarly education were still unemployed. His sentiments provide an interesting clue as to why manual training did not have any detractors when it arrived in Hawaii. He com plained that the education provided to Hawaiians was too theoretical and not practical enough--the same position Alatau T. Atkinson (1905), President of the Public Schools in early twentieth century, would express thirty years later. He cited situations whereby Western trained Natives were incapable of supporting their families because they no longer knew the ancient crafts and were unable to apply their academic education towards a livelihood. The editors of the Independent also indicated that some Hawaiians were not happy with the "old" Lahainaluna, a school that cost a lot of money for a formal education. This newspaper declared that the school was a failure and a waste of money. Harry S. Townsend, the progressive principal at the time of this editorial, came under special abuse for his effort to transform the school into a "university" for Hawaiians (Editorial 1895).

Kamakau and the editors of the Independent opposed an academic education because it was not practical. However, there were haole who thought Hawaiians were incapable of an academic education. Reverend William Oleson (1895) stated: "I do not think the higher education is suitable for [the Hawaiians]. I do not think they are fit for it, and having obtained it, they cannot make a right use of it" (506-07). A granddaughter of missionaries to Hawaii, Kathryn McLeod (1904), held similar beliefs: "Take again the fact that academic education has not yet taught the Hawaiian to reason for himself, or manual training induced in him habits of thrift, industry or prudent forethought" (8). On the contrary, Reverend Douglas P. Birnie (1904), the pastor of Union Church in Honolulu, analyzed the experiments in the schools and judged Hawaiians capable of intellectual advancement. But believing that Hawaiians "lack the inclination and capacity for clear independent thinking," he concluded that they "as a race are children, and should be so treated if the best results are to be obtained" (120). Others believed that the reason many Hawaiians were not adjusting to modern society was the lack of schools of the caliber of the missionary schools. They believed that manual education should have started sooner.


Whether the missionaries judged Hawaiians incapable of intellectual development or thought they needed more generations to develop into fully "civilized" beings, the curriculum that was deemed the best path for education to follow was manual labor, focus on private female education, teaching in the English language, and using a manual training curriculum. In general, manual training especially was evaluated as successful in meeting missionary expectations. Small as the evidence is, it does point out that Hawaiians were also more in favor of manual training than the impractical nature of a purely academic education. However, it was also clear to Hawaiians that after sovereignty was overthrown, even with skills obtained from manual training, they were relegated to secondary positions in their own land. Making the best of this situation, one can say that as manual training spread, especially in the 1890s, this form of curriculum also met the expectations of Hawaiians because it at least enabled them to acquire training for the better paying skilled jobs.

The imposition of American hegemony occurred because underlying the collaboration between missionaries who wanted to transform Hawaii into a Christian civilization and the Hawaiian chiefs who wanted to preserve the Kingdom's sovereignty was a contradiction. Both missionaries and Hawaiians needed to be considered partners for this collaboration to lead to the success of both parties' goals. In the early years of the missionaries' development of an educational system as well as the transformation of the political system and economic structure both goals were achieved and there was a semblance of partnership. Increasingly, especially as a second generation of missionaries came into power, missionaries and other whites began to exert a more overt superiority over Hawaiians.


This study is important because it re-opens the debate over the value of education when the recipients are from a non-white cultural group. Other studies, which investigate education in the United States regarding the education of Native Americans and African Americans, have concluded that education did not serve the interests of the students; instead, the dominant class had their interests served. Even though the educational situation for Hawaiians seems so much like that for Native Americans and blacks, most historians of Hawaiian education conclude that the missionaries were self-sacrificing in providing an education that served the interests of Hawaiians. This study demonstrates that in terms of whose interests were served, this was not the case, and in fact, education for Hawaiians was very much like what it was for Native Americans and blacks. Drawing this conclusion and making this connection helps to join the history of Hawaiians with Native Americans and blacks. It is important to demonstrate that America's racial policies involved common practices across culturally diverse groups.

Carl Beyer

Ashford University


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Author:Beyer, Carl
Publication:American Educational History Journal
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1U9HI
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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