Real gentlemen from a hundred years ago, 1915.


A while ago while some Hawaiian Youths were in Washington and riding an electric car, some haole women boarded the car, and not one of haole men near where those haole women were gave their seat to any of the women. When the Keiki Hawaii saw these Ladies standing, that is when these Hawaiian Youths stood and gave their seats to these white women. The women accepted the kindness of the Hawaiians. These Hawaiian Boys then heard one of the Haole reading a newspaper ridicule them, saying:

“They are probably some foreigners, giving their seats to those women.” It was like he was calling them “country bumpkins.” When S. L. Desha Jr., heard these words of the Haole reading the paper, as he spoke disparagingly of this action by the Hawaiian Boys, that was when he spoke without hesitation to that Haole, perhaps because he was with his fellow Hawaiians.

“We are not that foreign to the ways of America. We are American citizens from Hawaii. The American Missionaries arrived in Hawaii and taught our Ancestors to obey the Word of God, and also taught us that it was honorable and the way of a “Real Gentleman” to give respect to Ladies and to give the seat you are sitting upon to a Lady of the weaker sex, without regard to her station, whether she is rich or poor. In the land of our birth, Hawaiians are always seen giving their seats to women on electric cars, and her ethnicity is not given any regard; whether the woman is Japanese, or if the woman is Chinese, or if the woman is of our own People, or if she is a Lady of your people; Hawaiians are always prepared to give the seat they are sitting on to a woman without looking at her Ethnicity, and because of what we were taught, that is why we gave our place to those Ladies, and it is something we are not ashamed of.”

When the Haole who spoke the words of ridicule heard this, he put his newspaper right up to his face and had no words of response to this little Hawaiian from Hawaii, as if he was extremely ashamed of the words he spoke.

When they arrived at the stop where the haole women got off, each of them came and shook hands with the Hawaiian Boys, and gave their Thanks to the people from the land of Hawaii, and one of the Ladies said: “O Young Hawaiian Gentlemen, accept our feelings of great Appreciation; your actions and the fearless words of this Young Hawaiian Gentleman will be something that teaches the Gentlemen of our land here on what a ‘Real Gentleman’ is.”

(Hoku o Hawaii, 12/23/1915, p. 2)


Ka Hoku o Hawaii, Buke 10, Helu 29, Aoao 2. Dekemaba 23, 1915.


4 thoughts on “Real gentlemen from a hundred years ago, 1915.

  1. Mahalo nui for your blog. I just found it online. Stephen Langhern Desha Jr. was my grandfather. My mother, Mary Kaakopua Desha, is still living in Hilo and I will be sure to have her read this when I visit her next month. Malama pono, Stephanie

  2. In case it’s not evident, the “electric car” or “car” in this case is a streetcar, not an automobile. We no longer use the word “car” in this old-fashioned way.

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