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the Hawaiian Spectator, 1838; one by David Malo, the native historian, Hawaiian Spectator, 1839; and another by Rev. S. E. Bishop read before the Social Science Association of Honolulu in 1888.
As the causes of this decrease have varied at different times, I shall deal with them during two separate periods, taking 1820, the year of the arrival of the missionaries, as the dividing line.
In the first period, from the discovery of Cook to the arrival of the missionaries, the decrease was not so great as the figures just given would indicate. The estimate of King is now universally conceded to have been too high; 300,000 would have been more correct. When Vancouver returned in 1792, the natives did not gather around the ships in such numbers as formerly, partly because white men had somewhat ceased to be objects of curiosity, and partly because Vancouver, refusing to sell firearms, was not favorably received. Hence the difference in population seemed to him to be greater than it really was.
Nevertheless, the decrease during the first period must have been excessive. The chief causes were three: infanticide, war, and pestilence.
1. Among every people, whether savage or civilized, infanticide to a greater or less extent has always existed—some small communities, perhaps, for short periods, excepted. But among the Hawaiians it became a social custom, for the following rea
In former times the Polynesian race inhabited many small islands in the Pacific. Living in a state of nature, in a congenial climate, they were a vigorous people, peaceable, and practically free from disease. They soon stocked their island homes. The only alternatives then before them-being destitute of metals or the physical conditions of progress — were famine, inter-tribal warfare, or limitation of births. The first meant extinction. The second was tried, with greater or less
And the third was generally adopted as the method best suited to the temperament of the people and to the conditions of their existence. It became a social institution, essential, in that state of society, to race-preservation.
It might be supposed, perhaps, that after the settlement in Hawaii infanticide would cease, on these islands, as being no
longer necessary. But it must be remembered that the immigrants had the new land to subdue, that they had very inferior tools — and no possible way, from their own resources, of acquiring better ones—and that they had a most oppressive system of government. Consequently the majority of the people would still find that life was by no means easy. Moreover, infanticide was now a long-established custom. It probably ceased among
a the chiefs at this time, for they could get the means of subsistence without difficulty. But among the lower classes, while its frequency might diminish, it would not be likely to disappear entirely.
The missionaries have usually estimated that among the common people about two-thirds of all the children were put to death, either before or after birth. But again it should be noted that when the missionaries landed society was in an abnormal, if not degenerate, state. The islanders had just emerged from the Kamehameha wars. Many thousands of the inhabitants had been killed by the weapons supplied by traders from Christian countries. Conquest was followed by confiscation. And war had brought forth its natural children - poverty, vice, and misery. It is not to be supposed that in the normal state of Hawaiian society infanticide was practiced to anything like the extent represented by the missionaries. Cook does not seem to have been aware of its existence; and regarding parental love he testifies: “It was pleasing to observe with what affection the women managed their infants, and with what alacrity the men contributed their assistance to such a tender office." The fact that infanticide was practiced is perhaps a proof of the fertility, peaceableness, and healthiness of the people, rather than of their indolence or wantonness.
2. In early times wars were evidently not frequent in Hawaii, or else not severe. The natives in disposition were extremely mild, like the climate in which they lived. Besides, they had practically no destructive weapons. But Cook's seamen taught them the effectiveness of firearms and the superiority of civilized warfare to savage. Always quick to learn, so far as they had opportunities, the Hawaiians soon adopted the new mode of
fighting. Then their wars became bloody, and helped materially to diminish the population.
3. Knowledge, like that acquired in the Garden of Eden, has ever been of two kinds, good and evil. In like manner, civilization has always carried death as well as enlightenment to primitive peoples. Besides useful metals and domestic animals, pestilence soon found entrance to the “ Paradise of the Pacific." In what way this species of Satan on several occasions gained admittance, we are not fully informed. Rev. J. G. Paton, in his autobiography, tells how in 1860 pestilence was introduced to one of the islands of the New Hebrides. Three ship captains, after putting on shore at different ports of Tanna four young men ill with measles, invited a chief, Kapuku, on board one of the vessels, promising to give him a present. They then confined him for twenty-four hours, without food, in the hold among measles-stricken patients, after which they put him on shore with the disease as the only present. This gift was as fatal to the Tannese as was the wooden horse to the Trojans. “The measles thus introduced spread fearfully, and decimated the population of the island. In some villages men, women, and children were stricken down together, and none could give food or water to the sick or bury the dead.” There is little doubt that pestilence has, at times, found entrance to Hawaii in a somewhat similar manner, and for a similar purpose—"to sweep (the inhabitants] away and let white men occupy the soil.” In 1804 an epidemic, commonly thought to have been the plague, was brought to the islands by foreigners — though in what particular manner is not now known. An epidemic when it makes its first appearance in a community is most fatal, owing partly to the susceptibility of the people and partly to their inexperience in treating it. Concerning this one David Malo related : “In the reign of Kamehameha, from the time I was born until I was nine years old, the pestilence visited the Hawaiian Islands, and the majority of the people from Hawaii to Niihau died.”
Under pestilence may be included venereal disease, because of its ravages and the rapidity with which it spread when first introduced. It was unknown among the natives until 1778. Captain Cook commanded that "all female visitants should be excluded from both the ships," in order that "he might prevent, if possible, the importation of a dangerous disease into this island,” which he knew some of his men then “labored under." But Cook was received as the long-expected and venerated god Lono; and the natives were enraptured on seeing the ships contain large quantities of iron-a metal they had already learned to prize more highly than silver or gold, from some small pieces that had drifted ashore haphazard on wreckage. A council having been held to determine how to obtain iron, it was decided that the best method would be to propitiate the "god." The Hawaiians offered the best of everything they had —"hogs, vegetables, kapa, and women;" and, according to all native accounts, Cook himself accepted as his companion for the night the daughter of the highest chiefess on the island. It was a costly sacrifice to the self-interested worshipers. Within a year the disease imparted by the guests to their too hospitable entertainers had spread from one end of the group to the other. Malo's statement regarding the plague of 1804 may be exaggerated, but there is no question that throughout this period pestilence and disease decimated the population.
During the second period, from 1820 to the present time, two of the causes above mentioned—infanticide and war-may be said to have been inoperative. The few revolutions and rebellions that have taken place were almost bloodless; and infanticide, owing to the disappearance of the economic ground for it, as well as to the teaching of the missionaries, has practically ceased. Some new causes, however, have arisen.
. From 1820, or even earlier, to almost the present time, the decrease of the Hawaiian people has come about through the twofold
process of a small number of births and a large number of deaths in proportion to population. Thus, according to Jarves, in 1839, on the island of Kauai, with a population of 8,853 (8,754?), including 3,070 adult women, there were only 65 women who had three or more children each; and in 1840, in the district of Ewa, Oahu, with a population of 2,792, there were 132 deaths, but only 61 births.
1. In an article in the Hawaiian Spectator, 1838, Rev. A. Bishop stated that “more than half who enter the marriage state do not bear children," and that "perhaps not one in four of the families now existing have children of their own alive." These assertions, although doubtless exaggerated, must be regarded as having a foundation in fact. Unfruitfulness prevailed, at least to a limited extent, previous to 1820, and seems to have increased for some time after that date. Its cause is unknown. Licentiousness is not a satisfactory explanation. Promiscuity along with disease will account for it only in part. It may be said of course that, under certain conditions, a low birth-rate is in accordance with a general law of life -- applicable to plants and animals as well as to human beings: that when living organisms change, beyond a certain degree, their conditions and habits of life, their powers of reproduction deteriorate. Why this should be perhaps no reason can be given, except the very general one —which after all explains nothing—that the lack of adjustment which arises between the individual and its environment, consequent on its rapid transition from a natural to an artificial, or from a less artificial to a more artificial, mode of life, affects prejudicially its reproductive powers. The Hawaiians in a very few years came in contact with civilization at almost every point, and they were apt pupils. They took everything offered. In fact, it might be said that they adopted too quickly civilization, such as was presented to them. Thus the chiefs, that class of the people who first came under the influence of civilization and accepted it most fully, were the ones who became childless soonest, and who disappeared most rapidly.
2. The causes of the large death-rate are in brief two-vice and disease. For both of these, people of Christian nations are largely to blame. In 1839 Malo stated that licentiousness was one of the chief causes of the decrease of population. Disease arising from this vice, he asserted, "has become prevalent among the people, and even children, and all the people of the islands are miserably diseased; . . . . Foreigners have lent their whole influence to make the Hawaiian Islands one great brothel." This statement is borne out by the facts. In 1826 Lieutenant John