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Kamehameha III born at Keauhou

Kamehameha III’s birthplace

At the head of Keauhou Bay is a stone commemorating the birthplace of Kauikeaouli, later called Kamehameha III. On March 17, 1814, Keopuolani, the highest-ranking wife of Kamehameha I, gave birth to her second son near this place, which at the time was surrounded by a well-populated village.

Kauikeaouli was crowned Kamehameha III at the age of 11 after his older brother, Liholiho, died of measles in England. His reign (1825-1854) turned out to be the longest in the history of the Hawaiian monarchy and spanned years of tumultuous social, political and economic change. Tragically, during his reign, he watched half of his Hawaiian subjects die of foreign diseases.

At the request of his mother, one of the first Hawaiian converts to Christianity, Kauikeaouli began his education at the hands of Protestant missionaries at the age of 6. After his mother’s death in 1823, he continued his studies and, eventually, as king, inspired a virtual educational revolution in the islands. He signed Hawaii’s first written constitution and instituted sweeping changes in the traditional pattern of land ownership in 1848. These new land laws, collectively known as “The Great Mahele” (The Great Division), allowed Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians to purchase Hawaiian lands for the first time. He is also fondly remembered as the originator of what later became the state’s motto, “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono (The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness).”

Copyright 1998 Kona Historical Society. Reprinted by permission.