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Hawaii History - King Kamehameha the Great

History is rich with influential figures that helped to shape the world. From Ben Franklin to Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi and Mother Theresa, there are countless people that have impacted day-to-day events all over the world, and their legend grows with each passing day. Hawaiian history is no different, and the legendary figures from the past continue to have an impact of Hawaii today, none more so than King Kamehameha the Great.

In the earliest days of the Hawaiian Islands, way before Hawaii was admitted as the 50th state admitted to the United States of America, Hawaii was its own kingdom. And even before that, each island was its own, with its own King that operated the island independently. The legendary King Kamehameha changed that, unifying the islands under one rule, his, and bringing together the islands as one.

Known to be the greatest ruler in Hawaiian history, King Kamehameha the Great  is larger than life both literally and figuratively. Born on the island of Hawaii, his size was one of his greatest assets, standing 7 feet tall and weighing more than 300 pounds. Though this is nearly impossible to verify, the most accurate proof is his feather cape, which is on display at the Bishop Museum. With its size, and the fact chiefs did not allow their cape to touch the ground, the evidence exists and the legend of his size holds true.

Kamehameha’s legend begins at birth when he was ordered to be executed by the ruler of Hawaii Island, Alapainui, after a priest warned that the child would eventually overthrow the chief. Kamehameha’s mother sent her son to the mountains of Kohala where a relative hid and protected the child for 5 years. At that point, for reasons that are still unknown, Alapainui welcomed the child to live in his house, where his training began.

Known for his brilliance, Kamehameha was a natural leader, forming an elite group of warriors, known as the Kipuupuu warriors, fighting many important battles in Hawaiian history. The unification of the islands are the greatest of these battles, bringing together the island chain under one ruler, with King Kamehameha the first king in the history of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

With Kamehameha leading the way, the Hawaiian Islands modernized in many ways, namely by adopting a legal system and becoming a key trading post in the Pacific., Trade was promoted with other countries, mostly with European countries and the United States and the Hawaiian flag was created by Kamehameha, combining the flags of the USA and the United Kingdom to create the flag that is still used as the state flag.

Though each king and queen is significant to Hawaiian history, King Kamehameha the Great is its most important figure, and his influence is felt all around the Hawaiian Islands. He is honored with a state holiday every June 11, with ceremonies taking place throughout the islands. The biggest celebration of his life is at the Honolulu statue, with parades and impressive lei draping ceremony highlighting the day. And his legend will continue to grow and his impact be known throughout the world, with the recent announcement that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be playing the great king in an upcoming movie depicting the life and history of King Kamehameha the Great. Though a release date has not been announced, this is sure to be a blockbuster and will bring the importance of King Kamehameha to the big screen.

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