Kamehameha, the name of a line of sovereigns of the Hawaiian islands. I. Called Nui (the Great), born in 1753, died at Kailua, on the island of Hawaii, May 8,1819. He was the son of Keoua, a powerful chief among the different leaders of tribes who governed the islands in the early part of the 18th century. He was at first ruler of the western part of Hawaii, and conceiving the idea of a united government, he conquered the remainder of that island, and ultimately the whole group, the last island submitting to him in 1809. Having established his authority in 1796, he adopted liberal measures, such as the partial abolition of the tabu system and of human sacrifices, the introduction of many reforms, and the encouragement of agriculture and commerce. Some of these measures were owing to the suggestions of Vancouver, the explorer, who gained the king's friendship and exercised great influence over him. II. Son of the preceding, called Iolani or Liholiho, born on Hawaii in 1797, died in London, July 14, 1825. When he came to the throne the old native religion and customs were fast giving way before foreign ideas and innovations; and the American missionaries, who arrived in the islands March 31, 1820, met with immediate success.
During the early part of his reign he completed the abolition of the tabu and of idolatry, accorded many privileges to the missionaries, and encouraged their endeavor to educate the people. On Nov. 27, 1823, Kamehameha, who had long desired to visit foreign countries, sailed for England with his queen Kamehamalu and suite. They received much attention in London, and met with a cordial recep'tion from George IV. As they were about to return, however, several members of the party were attacked by a malignant form of measles, to which both the king and queen succumbed. Their bodies were carried to the islands by H. M. S. Blonde, arriving at Honolulu May 6, 1825. Kamehameha II. not having appointed a successor, a council of chiefs elected his younger brother to the vacant throne. III. Called Kauikeaouli, brother of the preceding, born March 17, 1814, died in Honolulu, Dec. 15, 1854. From his accession, June 6, 1825, he reigned under the regency of Kaahumanu, queen dowager of Kamehameha I. She died in 1832, and in the early part of 1833 he assumed full control of the kingdom. He granted a liberal constitution to his subjects, and greatly encouraged the advancement of education and civilization among them. During his reign, however, the Roman Catholic missionaries were banished from the islands.
He suffered greatly from the efforts made by officers of several foreign powers, especially by the English Capt. Belcher and the French admiral du Petit - Thouars, to intimidate him, and force him to consent to measures favorable to their own nationalities; but he successfully resisted their attempts. IV. Son of Kekuanaoa, governor of Oahu, and adopted son of the preceding under the name of Alexander Liholiho, born Feb. 9, 1834, died in Honolulu, Nov. 30, 1863. In 1850 he visited Europe with his elder brother, afterward Kamehameha V.; and soon after his return he succeeded to the throne (1854). In 1856 he married Emma, the daughter of a high native chief by an English woman, and the adopted daughter of an English physician at the islands, Dr. Rooke. Both the king and queen had thus enjoyed the benefit of a good education by Americans, and were of much greater refinement and broader culture than their predecessors. A son was born to them May 20, 1858, but he died when but four years old. In a fit of intoxication the king wounded one of his companions by a pistol shot. Remorse for this act, and grief at the death of his son, hastened the progress of his last illness. Du-ing his later years he translated the "Book of Common Prayer " into Hawaiian, omitting the Athanasian creed.
V. Called Lot, elder brother of the preceding, born Dec. 11, 1830, died in Honolulu, Dec. 11,1872. Succeeding his brother in 1863, he made great changes in the affairs of the kingdom. In 1864 he set aside the constitution given by Kamehameha III., and proclaimed instead of it a more absolute one, which was accepted only after much parliamentary opposition. His reign was prosperous, but comparatively uneventful. He died unmarried, and the direct line of the Kamehamehas ended with him. He failed to nominate a successor, as provided by the constitution; and after his death Prince Lunalilo, of a high family of native chiefs, was elected to succeed him.