The Life and Times of Kamehameha presents a century-old series of articles by William Drake Westervelt, published in English language periodicals between 1903 and 1925. It reveals familial and diplomatic relationships among the chiefs of the various islands and districts. Fierce battles, pivotal moments, and political maneuvers paved the way for Kamehameha’s consolidated rule of all the islands of Hawaii. The events described in this text open a window, not only into ancient Hawaii, but also into the early years of the twentieth century. Illustrations by Dietrich Varez depict Kamehameha’s legendary feats, mythological figures, and the lifestyle and activities in ancient times.
Born under a stormy sky in Kohala, on the island of Hawaii, an infant chief was whisked away and raised in seclusion. No one is sure of the exact year of his birth, but it is known he arrived amid prophecies of greatness and change. Diligently trained in warrior arts, alii protocol, and priestly rituals, he became known as Kamehameha, the Lonely One. Legendary warrior and kingdom builder, he was a brilliant strategist and a shrewd negotiator, a man of vision and wisdom. Uniquely positioned by heredity, grooming, and timing, he united war-torn lands, created codified laws, established trade with foreigners, and brought a time of peaceful prosperity to aswiftly changing society. The founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kamehameha I died on May 8, 1819, in Kailua-Kona, leaving behind a unified realm and an extraordinary legacy.
William Drake Westervelt (December 26, 1849–March 9, 1939) was born in Oberlin Ohio and began his life a long way from the tropic isles that would come to inspire his writing in later years. After receiving B.A. and B.D. degrees from Oberlin College, Westervelt served as pastor of several churches before coming to Hawaii to preach and evaluate ABCFM (American Board of Foreign Missions) for the Boston headquarters. Through diligent study and research, Westervelt became an authority on the history, legends and culture of Hawaii. His vivid and descriptive writing helped popularize Hawaiian history and folklore among English readers.