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Queen Ka'ahumanu Essay

803 words - 4 pages

Queen Ka’ahumanu was one of the most important women in Hawaiian history, as well as one of the most powerful queens. With her determination and strong influence, she managed to forever alter the foundations of Hawaii’s kingdom and overthrow the traditional ancient religion.
Queen Ka’ahumanu was born on March 17, 1768 in a cave called Pu’u Kauki in Hāna on the island of Maui. Her father was Ke’eaumoku Papa’iahiahi, a fugitive noble from the island of Hawai’i. Her mother was Nāmāhānaikaleleokalani. On her mother’s side, she was related to many kings of Maui. On her father’s side, she was King Kamehameha I’s third cousin. Ka’ahumanu was named after her father’s rival, Kahekilinui’ahumanu because he was the cause of her father fleeing at the time. Her father was an advisor and close friend to King Kamehameha I, and ended up being the royal governor of Maui. When Ka'ahumanu was thirteen years old, her father arranged for her to marry Kamehameha I. He had a total of twenty-two wives, but assured Ka’ahumanu that she was his favorite.
Queen Ka’ahumanu was also his most powerful wife. When the King died on May 5, 1819, he left Ka'ahumanu a share of the governance over the islands. On the morning of Kamehameha I’s death, a few chiefs advised Ka’ahumanu to do away with the kapu system, but she thought it was too soon to act. The kapu system was the ancient Hawaiian set of laws and regulations that forbid many acts. Kapus were strictly enforced, and breaking one often led to immediate death. One of the main causes of the Hawaiians beginning to question the kapu system was seeing the foreigners break the kapus with no consequences. Ka’ahumanu had also secretly broken the kapu multiple times with no consequences. Two weeks following Kamehameha’s death, his twenty-two year old son, Liholiho, was crowned Kamehameha II, and Ka’ahumanu became the kuhina nui, or co-regent. Although Liholiho was higher up, he enjoyed things such as drinking, gaming, and entertainment, meaning Ka’ahumanu was the real power in the duo. Ka’ahumanu partnered up with Keopuolani, Liholiho’s mother, and they agreed that the system should be broken. Shortly after he was crowned, Ka’ahumanu suggested the kapu system be abolished. Liholiho remained silent and did not give his...

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