The Hawaiian flag in British waters, 1853.

A Maritime Novelty.—The arrival of the Hawaiian brig Magdalia, Capt. Taber, exhibited quite a Fourth of July novelty in our harbor. It was the first time that the royal flag of the far-off kingdom in the Pacific had ever been displayed in these waters, and a very good-looking flag it is, blending the main features of the American, British, and French national colors. The union is a mixture of St. George’s cross with some other devices which we do not understand, and look at a casual view almost identical with that of the British flag, while the body of the Kanaka ensign shows eight stripes, alternately of white, blue, and red; and, as it flung its folds to the breeze it seemed an appropriate emblem of independence, and a fitting accompaniment of our own rejoicings on the glorious day we were celebrating.

The Magdalia is a fine vessel of two hundred and seventy-seven tons burden, and appears to be of Dutch origin, though she was owned by subjects of his Hawaiian Majesty until purchased by Captain Chester, of this city, and sent home with a cargo of oil, still sailing under Kanaka color.

When Cook first landed on Owhyee, some seventy or eighty years ago, how little did he think that a vessel almost as large as his own, and owned by the natives would navigate the waters of a large and independent nation, then a mere colonial dependence of his country! How strange it would have seemed to the first devoted Christian Missionaries from the United States to have been told that in less than half a century those benighted pagans would become proprietors of a respectable commercial marine, and send large vessels under a Sandwich Island flag into our own harbors!—New London Chron.

(Weekly National Intelligencer, 7/23/1853, p. 1)


Weekly National Intelligencer, Number 636, Page 1. July 23, 1853.

3 thoughts on “The Hawaiian flag in British waters, 1853.

  1. not that you would know this, but just in case::where do you suppose the design of the red/yellow/green ‘national’ flag, popular today, comes from? i asked the person who designed it once many years ago and was told, then, that a description of that flag was found in the state archives, but i’ve not seen any evidence, myself.

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