Missionaries in Hawai'i

Missionaries in Hawai'i: The Lives of Peter and Fanny Gulick, 17971883

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 248
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    Missionaries in Hawai'i
    Book Description:

    Ever since Protestant missionaries from the United States first reached Hawai‘i in 1820, they have inspired conflicting passions. In evangelical circles, the missionaries are praised for christianizing Hawai‘i, transforming Hawaiian into a written language, and inoculating the islanders against smallpox. But this celebratory assessment is rejected by modernday Hawaiian nationalists, who excoriate the missionaries as advance agents of U.S. imperialism. In this biography of pioneer missionaries Peter and Fanny Gulick, Clifford Putney offers a balanced view of their contributions. He says the nationalists are right to credit the missionaries with drawing Hawai‘i into America’s political orbit, but argues that the missionary enterprise helped in some ways to preserve key elements of Hawaiian culture. Based primarily on letters, journals, and other archival materials, Putney’s book provides readers with a detailed portrait of the lives of Peter and Fanny Gulick. Inspired by America’s Second Great Awakening to spread the Gospel overseas, the Gulicks voyaged to Hawai‘i in 1828 and lived there for the next fortysix years, actively proselytizing and working to change the islands. On Kaua‘i, they helped to ensure the success of Hawai‘i’s first sugar plantation and acquainted Hawaiians with inventions such as the wagon. On Moloka‘i (later the site of a leper colony) the couple struggled merely to survive. And on O‘ahu, they took up ranching and helped to found Punahou School, the alma mater of President Barack Obama. While laboring in Hawai‘i, the Gulicks interacted with kings, queens, and other historically important figures, and Putney chronicles those relationships. He also explores issues of race and gender, and sheds new light on the democratization of government, the spread of capitalism, and the privatization of land. From these last two developments, a number of missionaries grew immensely rich, but the Gulicks did not, and neither did their descendants. A group that includes influential missionaries, educators, and physical fitness experts, the descendants of Peter and Fanny have had numerous books written about them, but Putney is the first to write extensively about the progenitors of the Gulick clan.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-034-5
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. 1-11)

    Of all the reform-minded families in American history, few were more active than the Gulicks. A large clan of Dutch origin, the Gulicks (pronounced Gyew-licks) are probably best known in the United States today as the founders of the Camp Fire Girls. But the family used to be known mainly for their Protestant missionary work, which they did for a remarkably long time. Other American families did missionary work for generations, but only the Riggses of Turkey and the Scudders of India evangelized overseas for roughly as long as the Gulicks, who proselytized in foreign countries from the 1820s to...

    (pp. 12-34)

    For most of their history, the native inhabitants of Hawai‘i lived in a relatively isolated state, but this began to change when the English explorer Captain James Cook “discovered” the Sandwich Islands, as he called them, in 1778. Other Westerners soon made their way to the islands, and they brought guns, some of which ended up in the hands of a powerful Hawaiian chief, the future King Kamehameha I. The first absolute ruler of Hawai‘i, the king used guns to unite most of the islands in 1795, and for the next two de cades he helped to transform Hawai‘i into...

  6. 2 WAI-MEA
    (pp. 35-53)

    When the Gulicks moved to Wai-mea, Kaua‘i, they encountered thousands of Hawaiians in the area (whose population was 3,883 in 1833). They also found the village to be “a hot, dry, red, dusty, and desolate place,” because it was shut off by the mountains of Kaua‘i from moisture-bearing trade winds. Without those winds, Wai-mea struck the Gulicks’ son Orramel as “the driest place I have been.” Yet it did have some fresh water, most of which came from the Wai-mea River.¹

    Graced with broad banks that Orramel described as “very beautiful and fertile,” the Wai-mea River attracted Europe an explorers...

  7. 3 KŌ-LOA
    (pp. 54-76)

    Described by the Gulicks’ son Luther as “one of the pleasantest localities on those diamond-isles” of Hawai‘i, the village of Kō-loa, Kaua‘i, was well known for its sugarcane. Brought to Hawai‘i by the islands’ first settlers around 800 A.D., sugarcane grew naturally in Kō-loa (which means “Great Cane”), because the village received plenty of rainfall. It also boasted “fields and hills of perennial verdure,” which enchanted Luther’s brother John. He described Kō-loa as unforgettable, because it was linked in his mind with “the swell of the sea, the songs of the birds, the freshness and quiet of the shaded glens...

  8. 4 MOLOKA‘I
    (pp. 77-85)

    When the Gulicks arrived in the village of Ka-lua-‘aha in 1843, they found it much different from their former station, Kō-loa. There commerce flourished and freshwater was plentiful. But neither of those things abounded in Ka-lua-‘aha, which was the only station of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) on the rugged, mountainous island of Moloka‘i.¹

    Destined eventually to become the site of the world’s most infamous leper colony, Moloka‘i was not easily accessible. To reach it, travelers from Honolulu took a schooner to Maui, and from there they traveled by canoe across thirteen miles of shark-infested ocean...

  9. 5 WAI-A-LUA
    (pp. 86-115)

    Throughout their stay in the Wai-a-lua district of O‘ahu, the Gulicks lived in the country, but their house was only a third of a mile “as a bird flies” from the village of Hale-‘iwa, which was on the south side of the Anahulu River. On the north side of the river was the Gulicks’ land, where the family lived from 1846 to 1856. During that time, they enjoyed the “very pleasant” location, from which they had a “full view” of the Wai-‘anae Mountains. These struck Peter as less impressive than the Hoary Head Mountains in Kaua‘i, but he conceded that...

  10. Illlustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. 6 HONOLULU
    (pp. 116-144)

    The Gulicks moved to the outskirts of Honolulu, Hawai‘i’s capital, in 1856, and they lived there for the next eighteen years. During that time, Honolulu expanded rapidly, and today it encompasses the site where the Gulicks built their house. When the house was built, however, it lay two miles outside of Honolulu in an area called Makiki, which was separated from the capital by the Kalaokahua Plain. The plain was “desolate, almost naked” in 1856, but Peter predicted that it would soon be covered by the inhabitants of Honolulu, because he could see the community growing. “It is getting to...

  12. 7 JAPAN
    (pp. 145-152)

    When Peter and Fanny moved to the empire of Japan in 1874, they fully expected to die there, and they thought that death would come very shortly. But Peter lived in Japan for three years, and Fanny lived there for nine years. For most of that time, she lived on Kobe Hill in the city of Kobe, but initially she and Peter lived in Osaka, which was one of Japan’s “treaty ports.” Unlike other places in Japan, treaty ports such as Osaka and Kobe did not exclude Westerners, who started to live in Japan after the United States forcibly persuaded...

    (pp. 153-162)

    Peter and Fanny Gulick were a remarkable couple, and they led historically important lives. At first they seemed destined to live prosaically in the United States, but they got caught up in the reformatory fervor of the Second Great Awakening, which inspired them to become Christian missionaries. As such they proselytized for nearly five decades in Hawai‘i, where in spite of their chronic health problems they managed to farm, raise a large family, and assist in the creation of numerous churches and schools.

    Through the institutions they helped to create, the Gulicks exerted a great deal of influence in Hawai‘i,...

    (pp. 163-164)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 165-198)
    (pp. 199-208)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 209-218)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-220)