Notice calling for help to bury the dead, 1853.


WHEREAS, much difficulty is found in procuring aid to bury the dead, the Royal Commissioners of the Public Health hereby give notice that all able-bodied men, if recovered from the Small Pox, or already completely exposed thereto, are liable to be called on by them, by their Sub-Commissioners, by the Police, or by any of their agents, to render assistance in burying the dead, without remuneration. Any person so called on, refusing to assist, shall be liable to a fine, not exceeding 25 dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding six months.

The Commissioners likewise give notice that they have authorized the destruction of dogs in Honolulu and vicinity, wherever in the estimation of the Police they are liable to convey and communicate the Small Pox.


July 18, 1853.

As the above notice has elicited considerable animadversion, we have made some inquiry into its object and necessity, and are informed that the necessity for its enactment arose from the fact that in some cases, at a distance from the town, the Marshal and members of the police who are humanely and most laboriously employed in attending the sick and burying the dead, found it impossible to procure the necessary assistance. Men who had been nursed, attended medically and cured, have refused to assist in burying their neighbors who have died. The Honolulu police were fully engaged in town, and could not be despatched two or three miles away to perform the duty. Human nature cannot endure such excessive labor. To meet such cases of extremity, a measure was adopted, extreme, to be sure, under ordinary circumstances; but one deemed absolutely essential to the health of the several localities. Dead bodies could not be allowed to remain unburied, and if neither persuasion nor the offer of pay could procure the necessary assistance, we ask a reasonable community what other means could be employed to perform a work, as much a dictate of humanity, as essential to the health of the living?

[Let’s think about how our actions today will affect the whole archipelago, and not just ourselves.]

(Polynesian, 7/23/1853, p. 2)


The Polynesian, Volume 10, Number 11, Page 2. July 23, 1853.


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