History of the Hawaiian Flag. 1880.

In Thrum’s Hawaiian Almanac and Annual for 1880, pp. 24–26, appears this article:


We exceedingly regret to report an unsuccessful search for the History of the present Flag of these Islands, the time of its adoption and the parties interested in its formation; but after diligent inquiries and research through volumes of voyages, histories, periodicals and manuscript journals during the past three years, we have to acknowledge the main fact lost in oblivion, while references thereto in various voyages and histories are confusing and contradictory.

There is a general idea and belief among many of our old residents that the present Hawaiian Flag was made by the late Capt. Alexander Adams before his voyage to China in the brig “Kaahumana, [Kaahumanu]” in 1817, and was by him first flown, not only in the Chinese waters, but on the coast of California. Others again have the impression that a flag was brought from China by him; but we can gather no information corroborative as to who was authorized in Chinese waters to design a flag for this, even small kingdom, though the description given viz: a St. George and St. Andrew’s cross in the corner filled in with blue, with field consisting of red and white stripes, shows almost virtually the East India Flag. Refering to Capt. Adams’ Journal we find the following mention only, that touches upon the points in question: ” April, 1816, The King of these Islands having a strong passion to purchase the brig, (‘Forrester,’ of London) and expressing the same, myself and Capt. Ebbetts was accordingly deputed to treat with him, but he would not purchase her without I would enter his service as her commander. I resultingly acquiesced, the brig being given up to him at Kealakekua, and called by him Kaahumanu * * *. I was accordingly honored on taking command with the Flag of his Majesty and a salute of 11 guns.”

This certainly refutes the general belief that the flag was made by Capt. Adams, as his own narrative shows a flag to have been here before him ; but
whether the present one or some other we cannot gather, for it is evident that there have been more than one. In another portion of his journal is an allusion to a flag—but also without description—that has no doubt given rise to the idea of his making the flag; where at Waimea, Kauai, at which port he had touched from Honolulu for supplies, en route for China, he notes: “Mch. 12, 1817, * * * Gave the King our ensign to hoist in lieu of the Russian, who said it was on account of his having no other.”

It is to be borne in mind that the allusion here is to the king of Kauai, and not Kamehameha, as Kauai was under its own King till 1821, and his possession of a Russian flag while the principal town was occupied by a Russian colony was not strange.

Finding these theories of Capt. Adams’ authorship exploded by his own writings, search was made in other directions with the following result. Vancouver, in his last visit, (1793) when he assured Kamehameha of England’s friendship and protection, gave him an English flag, which we find by Archibald Campbell, in his “Voyage round the World, 1806-1812,” arriving at these Islands Dec. 1808, that the English colors were used, for he says: “The King’s residence, built close upon the shore, and surrounded by a palisade upon the land side, was distinguished by the British colors.”

Jarvis [Jarves] states, (pp. 96) describing the period of about 1816, speaks of the flag, as somewhat similiar to the present, viz: “English Union, with seven alternated red, white and blue stripes.” This however is not coroborated by Lord Byron, in his “Voyage of the Blonde,” in 1825, in which he describes the flag as follows: “On all days of ceremony the Sandwich flag is hoisted on the forts; it has seven white and red stripes with a Union Jack in the corner.” (P. 121.)

This is almost the East India flag before described, and confuses the searcher after truth as to when the several changes took place. If Jarvis is correct in the flag he describes, and he certainly was in a position to know whereof he wrote, it is a grave error in the recorder of the “Voyage of the Blonde” to give so different a one nine years later. The present flag has eight stripes representing the Islands of the group-white, red and blue, with Union Jack in the corner. Capt. Hunt, who was here in the Baselisk [Basilisk] in 1845, is said to have changed the relative position of the colors of the stripes by placing the white on top instead of at the bottom, though there is a possibility of this being the time of adding the eighth stripe, Jarvis and Byron mentioning only seven. Capt. Hunt is also accredited with designing the Royal Standard now in use.

We leave the above subject as here recorded, trusting it will meet the eye of some one whose knowledge and memory will be freshened thereby to account the true history of the Hawaiian Flag, its origin, and parties interested in its formation.

[The original of this article is downloadable here at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s EVOLS page! This publication is very useful for many random facts about Hawaii at the time. If you have not seen it before, you should go check it out!!]

History of the Hawaiian Flag. 1879.

Question on the Flag.—The Hawaiian Flag; when was it first made? Where? Who was the King? Who were the ones who thought about and helped in its making? Which flags was it made like? In other words, it was made following which flags? If there is someone who knows, please answer the “Kuokoa,” so that Hawaii’s great desire is fulfilled.

[This is an interesting question, considering that 17 years earlier, the Kuokoa (1/1/1862) ran an article on the history of the Hawaiian flag along with a color image of the flag!

The history was rerun again nine years later on 1/7/1871 (also with a color image of the flag).]

(Kuokoa, 3/22/1879, p. 2)

He Ninau Hae.

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XVIII, Helu 12, Aoao 2. Maraki 22, 1879.

More on the lowering of the flag, 1898.


Being that in time that news reported of earlier will come, about the raising of the American Flag above Hawaii, from the authority of the Republic of America; and in regard to this, word is being sent out to my beloved nation of Patriots.


To all Patriots, we pray [ke Ka o ia aku nei? ke Kalo ia aku nei?] that you will not visit nor approach the area where the American Flag will be raised; let everyone remain at their own Home, kneel and look to the almighty one to ask for his help for the Hawaiian Nation, Land, and Kingdom.

All heads and leaders of the men’s and women’s Ahahui Aloha Aina [Hawaiian Patriotic League] and Hui Kalaiaina [Hawaiian Political Association], are directed to heed this as well.



*Mataio (Matthew) 13:9.

(Aloha Aina, 8/6/1898, p. 4)


Ke Aloha Aina, Buke IV, Helu 32, Aoao 4. Augate 6, 1898.

More on Hawaiians and the lowering of the flag, 1898.


Apparent Difference of Opinion Among Native Hawaiians.

Consultations Being Held—Preparations for Presenting Views Before the Commissioners.

The proposed Hawaiian political society spoken of in the Bulletin a few days ago has not yet completed all arrangements for organization but in a few days some definite action may be looked for.

The men at the head of the movement look upon it as most vital that a committee of representative Hawaiians be appointed to present the views of the Hawaiian people before the Commission that is soon to investigate matters in Hawaii preparatory to the framing of laws for her government.

Messrs. Ka-ne and Poepoe, two of the leaders in the movement referred to above, are at present consulting with various prominent Hawaiians on the matter of the lowering of the Hawaiian flag. They have agreed that it would be the correct thing to have a native born Hawaiian lower the flag for the last time, and they name Prince Albert Kunuiakea as the one, who should be selected to do this. Should he not consent, Judge Kalua is named as second choice. At any rate, the Government will be consulted in regard to the matter.

On the other hand there are natives who think that such a proceeding would be distinctly inappropriate and not at all in accordance with the feelings of the mass of native Hawaiians who would refuse point blank to take any part whatsoever in the lowering of the Hawaiian flag or raising of the American.

[This is one of the articles in the English newspapers of the day, on the subject of having a Hawaiian be the one to lower the flag.]

(Evening Bulletin, 8/5/1898, p. 1)


Evening Bulletin, Volume V, Number 982, Page 1. August 5, 1898.

Hawaiians and the lowering of the flag, 1898.


There is much talk going around these days about this disturbing subject, that some native Hawaiians are being asked to carry out this deed when the time comes, that being the 12th of this month.

The kanaka Hawaii maoli who agrees to do this vile act, betraying the Beloved Flag of his homeland, should think carefully, and set his eyes upon the Beautiful Hawaiian Flag as the wafts of breeze softly unfurls the Hawaiian Flag upon its throne, that being top of the flag pole, before he rushes to carry out the traitorous orders of the cowards who are full of evil.

Let us leave to the American haole and the American descendants the carrying out of this act, so that the consequences fall on the haole and not on the Hawaiians.

Remember this: “It is not upon the chief priests of the Jews of those days past that befell the bitter end for their pushing Judas Iscariot to betray the Lord Jesus. But the horrible end fell upon Judas for that deed of the chief priests, and not upon them. It was Judas’ bowels that gushed out, and not that of the people who urged him on.

This will be the same, O Beloved Hawaiian people, and the haole is taking by force from you Beloved Hawaii.

Leave it to the haole to take down the Beloved Flag of Hawaii.

Edward Kekoa.

(Aloha Aina, 8/13/1893, p. 2)


Ke Aloha Aina, Buke IV, Helu 33, Aoao 2. Augate 13, 1898.

Beautiful flag story, 1893.


On Thursday afternoon of this last week, Hon. C. W. Ashford raised a Hawaiian Flag hand sewn by some Hawaiian Ladies, whose length was 21 feet and width was perhaps 10 feet.

Before the raising of this flag upon a new Flag Pole built ___ feet tall, his children were called, whose ages are between ___ and ___, to name this Flag Pole and the Flag; when they were asked: What is the name of this Flag Pole and this Flag? They answered together, “Lanatila [Victory];” it was then that the beautiful Flag of Hawaii rose and fluttered in the beloved soft gentle breeze of the motherland; that Flag waves continuously upon this Flag Pole everyday. These are true Hawaiians who have done this first, it is in the uplands of Kalihi past Kamehameha School.

(Leo o ka Lahui, 5/1/1893, p. 3)


Ka Leo o ka Lahui, Buke II, Helu 695, Aoao 3. Mei 1, 1893.

Another on the flag, 1893.


In the history of Hawaii nei, from when the Royal Standard of her Rulers first fluttered until 10 oʻclock in the morning of Wednesday, January 18, 1893, it was the first time that the famed beautiful flag was lowered because of a foreign power, and not under the power of the Ruler of the land. For at that hour, the Queen, Liliuokalani, left her throne as was agreed to in Her Protest Proclamation, and the rooms of Iolani Palace are cold without the warmth of the only high chief left from ancient times; it is as if her walls are grieving at the disappearance of that cordial voice of greeting, and her soft carpeting cries, lonely without the rustling of royal footsteps. Aloha! Aloha to you, O Iolani of the sacred kapu—our tears do flow along with yours; however—deeds carried out by man can be resolved by God.

(Hawaii Holomua, 1/19/1893, p. 2)


Hawaii Holomua, Buke III, Helu 142, Aoao 2. Ianuari 19, 1893.

Another article on the lowering of the Hawaiian flag from Iolani Palace, 1893.

The royal standard was lowered from the flag pole of the Palace this past Wednesday, and it is not known when it will be raised again, and the former Queen, Liliuokalani, returned to her home in Waikiki to live.

(Kuokoa, 1/21/1893, p. 2)

Ua huki ia ka hae kalaunu...

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke XXXII, Helu 3, Aoao 2. Ianuari 21, 1893.

More on the flag, 1893.

[Found under: “News of the Day”]

According to the last news we received, there is a desire to raise the American flag above the Palace, and the government buildings, and up the other flag poles of the nation, however, there are some high-ranking officials from other nations who are protesting it vehemently; and that is how they barely remain.

(Leo o ka Lahui, 1/19/1893, p. 2)

Ma ka lono i loaa hope...

Ka Leo o ka Lahui, Buke II, Helu 625, Aoao 2. Ianuari 19, 1893.

More on the flag from Iolani Palace, 2011.

After putting up the article from 1918 about the search for the flag from the Palace earlier this week, I went to the Archives just to see.


4′ x 12′
Marked on hoists: Royal Hawaiian Islands.
Royal Crest on a gold field. Badly burnt and repaired,
June 1940.

This flag is said to be Queen Liliuokalani’s Royal Standard that was lowered from Iolani Palace on January 17, 1893 by Captain John Good, N. G. H.

Source: Transferred from West Point Museum, Sept. 26, 1978 and received by Gov. George Ariyoshi, Oct. 3, 1978. Transfer arranged by John W. Bryan, Sr. (grandson of Capt. John Good) who originally donated the flag to West Point Museum, in June 1925.

See Correspondence file for further info.

Hawaii State Archives card catalogue

from Archives, 12/9/2011