Lot 58 of 221:
1849 Hawaii Letter by an anti-missionary British merchant who visited Gold Rush California  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$840
$1,500 - $2,500

Letter by anti-missionary British-Hawaiian 49er who acquired Sacramento land from John Sutter and later befriended King Kamehameha

George S.[eymour] Kenway

Waimea, Hawaii


Oct. 11, 1849


Autograph Letter Signed. Waimea, Hawaii, Oct. 11, 1849. 4pp. to [William Gates] Dunlap, [Honolulu], merchant and brother of the Governor of Maine.

Kenway had just returned from a 3 month trip to Gold Rush California (“a great country and a great thing for this country”)  – where he settled John Sutter’s debts to a Hawaiian merchant by taking valuable Sacramento land in trade, and made a lucrative business arrangement with Peter Burnett, Sutter's business agent soon to be the new state’s first Governor. Having sympathy for the “kanakas…white and black”, he felt only contempt for “The Brethren”, “pious Polynesian” missionaries; he details the ulterior political motives of those like Gerrit Judd, first Hawaiian envoy to England, who manipulated the Royal family for their own ends, and lampoons the French who had invaded Honolulu during his absence – Consul Dillon who “pull’d the kings nose” and “Admiral Trombone” (Tromelin) who  had “s__t in the Governor’s pet calabash”.  Kenway himself became a close friend of future King Kamehameha.  Colorful, witty and cynical writing by a Forty-Niner and Hawaiian pioneer.

A 30 year-old sheep-raising merchant who had become an Hawaiian subject, Kenway was known to the Islands’ western residents as a brilliant writer of biting prose. An example from this long letter: “Judd will make a capital Ambassador – his cool Yankee manner…nibbling his little bit of Honeydew will be very piquant at the Court of St. James – and the old fellow has some very diplomatic lines too scrawled about that swart face of his. I wouldn’t say much for his taste tho’ in taking with him Prince Alexander as a specimen of the blood royal of Polynesia. That youth isn’t one to extort much homage but rather – ‘You the Sam’s son, You rascal! You be damn’d!’ Pre-haps Judd has his own reasons for taking the royal pain into the regions of coughs, colds and cholera…”

Ironically, Kenway would became a close friend of the teenaged Prince he ridiculed here before Alexander ascended to the throne in 1855 as Kamehameha IV – and died prematurely of asthma at age 29.

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