Native Hawaiian Veterans: George Humehume

 Image may contain: one or more people

George Humehume Kaumuali’i was born in the late 1790s with the name Humehume. His father was King Kaumualiʻi, the ruler of the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau. He was also the granduncle of Queen Kapi’olani. In January 1804 the American trading ship Hazard arrived at Kauaʻi. King Kaumualiʻi paid Captain James Rowan of the American trading ship Hazard to take his son aboard, ostensibly to get an education in America. The ship crossed the Pacific to China, then to Indonesia, India, Africa and to New England. Humehume thus became one of the first documented Native Hawaiians to travel around the world. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was assigned to the USS Wasp during the War of 1812. The Wasp left port in May 1814, and over the next two months was involved in several naval battles in the English Channel. In a June 28 battle with the HMS Reindeer he was injured, and came ashore in L’Orient, France.

He returned and was given a medical discharge. On June 21, 1815, he was able to re-enlist in the U.S. Navy, and sailed to the Mediterranean on the USS Enterprise fighting in the Second Barbary War. His service records show the name “George Prince”. The U.S. Navy at this point claimed that George had not been properly discharged, so proposed sending him to West Point Military Academy. He was encouraged to do so by prominent American politicians of the era. The missionaries thought it would be helpful to them if he went, but George did not want to go to West Point. George’s letter to his father was published, and when Samuel Cotting read it, he wanted to cash in on the celebrity by claiming he was owed money for the boy’s care. George, basking in the attention, wrote a furious letter complaining about Cotting’s treatment. Among the insults: “If I am worthy of the title of a Prince I am not going to be trodden under foot by such a dirty scoundrel as you are.”. On May 1, 1817 the Foreign Mission School at Cornwall, Connecticut opened its first term with George and the other Hawaiians as students. By the next term there were twelve students including Indians from Bengal and Calcutta, and a native American Indian. Humehume eventually returned back to Hawai’i with the first batch of Calvinist missionaries in 1820 and helped to convert Kaua’i to Christianity.

In 1824, he rebelled against King Kamehameha II and tried to make Kaua’i independent again but failed. This was the last major rebellion by Hawaiians against the new unified Hawaiian Kingdom. After some months, Humehume was captured and brought into exile to Honolulu. Other members of the Kaua’i royal family were also brought into exile on O’ahu and were encouraged to marry into pro-Kamehameha II Maui and Hawai’i ali’i. He died of influenza on May 3, 1826 and was buried in an unmarked grave

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: