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Kamehameha IV, King of Hawaii

(1834-1863), Reigned 1854-63

Sitter in 1 portrait
Born in Honolulu on the island of O'ahu as Alexander Liholiho, he was the son of Kekuanaoa, High Chief Mataio Kiuanao'a, Governor of Oahu, and Princess Elizabeth Kina'u, a female chief who had served as Kuhina Nui (Prime Minister). Alexander Lholiho, grandson of the first monarch of the islands, Kamehameha I, was adopted as a toddler by his uncle Kamehameha III who decreed him heir to the throne and raised him like a prince. The young prince's education was governed by Protestant missionaries. To prepare him for his future role as King, he toured the United States, England and France in 1849. He was crowned King Kamehameha IV in 1855 after the death of Kamehameha III. One year after he took Emma Rooke as his Queen. The King and Queen strongly opposed the annexation of their kingdom by the United States and strove to protect and provide for their subjects. They were responsible for introducing a number of social and economic reforms to improve island life including building the Queen's Hospital in Honolulu in 1860. They expanded Hawaii's commercial interests by establishing the first chamber of commerce and developed good foreign relations with other nations to counteract the increasing dominance of the United States. They worked worked tirelessly to control the influence that other nations had on island life, in an attempt to preserve Hawaiian island culture. The death of their only child Prince Albert Edward Kauikeaouli had a devastating effect on the King who withdrew from public life in 1862 to mourn his young son. The King died of chronic asthma the following year. He was buried next to his son at Mauna Ala.

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Kamehameha IV, King of Hawaii, by Richard James Lane, printed by  M & N Hanhart - NPG D22063

Kamehameha IV, King of Hawaii

by Richard James Lane, printed by M & N Hanhart
lithograph, 1861
NPG D22063

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