JARVES, James Jackson (editor)
The Polynesian, 1844-45 : 21 issues of the weekly Honolulu newspaper, official organ of the Hawaiian Government.
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands : J. J. Jarves, 1844-45. Twenty-one individual issues, folio newspaper (460 x 300 mm), bifolium format; disbound; text in English and Hawaiian; most issues with some water staining (not affecting legibility of the print), otherwise well preserved; accompanied by the near-contemporary marbled papered board covers (now detached, chipped and heavily worn) which originally housed the group, bearing the mid-19th century ownership inscriptions of Jessie and Lillian Jewitt of Boston, Massachusetts.
A substantial group of original issues from the first two years of the Second Series of this important Hawaiian weekly newspaper, all containing news reports on current events in Hawaii, the wider Pacific and North America, commercial advertisements, and public and private notices.
‘The four-to-eight page Polynesian was published weekly in Honolulu in English and some Hawaiian from June 6, 1840 to December 11, 1841 (first series), and again from May 18, 1844 to February 6, 1864 (second series). James Jackson Jarves ran the first series with a combination of mission support, advertising, and subscriptions. However, the paper was not profitable, and he shut it down after only two and a half years. Jarves reestablished the paper under the same title in May 1844. Two months later, the Polynesian became the “Official Journal of the Hawaiian Government” and remained so until 1861, with Charles E. Hitchcock, Edwin O. Hall, Charles G. Hopkins, and Abraham Fornander as subsequent editors. The Polynesian was the leading paper on O’ahu in the mid-1800s.
A commercial enterprise aimed at Honolulu’s foreign (mostly American) residents, the Polynesian’s first series held “Pro bono publico” (for the public good) as its first principle and claimed to be open to all opinions–as long as they were of “an elevated character, avoiding scurrility . . . or any thing [sic] tending to excite without improving the community.” The paper was among the first in the islands to feature puff pieces, which were essentially free advertisements posing as articles and promoting products or industries featured in adjoining paid advertisements.
In 1844, Jarves revived the Polynesian with the hope of building it into a financially viable enterprise. In the first issue of this second series, he presented the Polynesian as an independent, impartial paper aimed at foreign residents. Soon after, however, King Kamehameha III commissioned the Polynesian as the official voice of the kingdom, keeping Jarves on as printer and editor. Thereafter it served as the principal vehicle for publishing all enacted laws and criminal codes as well as the policies of Kamehameha III and his successor, King Kamehameha IV. The paper continued to feature local and international news, business and shipping news, police reports, editorials, and fiction. Its size depended on the amount of newsprint available at the time.
Although government sponsored, the Polynesian was ideologically an American haven. Jarves’s ethnocentrism ran through his journalism, and he was not afraid to use editorials to influence public opinion. Jarves upheld Western culture as superior and discounted the Hawaiian language as not worth preserving. He promoted Christianity, agriculture, and commerce; endorsed English as the language of instruction in schools; advocated for the institution of private land ownership–the event known as the Great Mahele–as the key to “preserving” the native Hawaiian population; and encouraged the creation of an American-style constitution for Hawai’i. Between government sponsorship and Jarves’s editorializing, the Polynesianexemplified the many conflicts, contradictions, and tensions that characterized Hawai’i during this period.
In 1848 Jarves left Hawai’i, leaving printer Charles E. Hitchcock to become the editor of the paper. Abraham Fornander, editor of the Weekly Argus from 1852 to1853, and the New Era & Weekly Argusfrom 1853 to1855, later edited the Polynesian, then purchased it in 1861 and continued to publish it till its demise in 1864.’ (University of Hawaii at Manoa)
The present group contains the following issues:
June 29, 1844. News and commentary on the Franco-Tahitian war.
August 3, 1844. First-hand account on Mexican finances by Robert Crichton Wyllie, later Secretary of War under Kamehameha III.
August 31, 1844. News from Oregon.
September 7, 1844. The newspaper’s American correspondent reports from New Bedford on Mormons and Millerites.
October 12, 1844. Two shipwreck accounts.
November 30, 1844. Changes in Mexican policies affecting whalers in California.
December 14, 1844. News from China.
December 21, 1844. Disastrous earthquake in Waimea.
December 28, 1844. Robert Crichton Wyllie on education in Hawaii.
January 12, 1845. Faith healer and medium at Kawela; letters to Kamehameha III and the king of France Louis-Philippe from Queen Pomare of Tahiti.
January 18, 1845. French missionary accuses magistrate in Ewa of intolerance; the attorney-general of Hawaii responds.
February 8, 1845. Excursion to Mauna Loa, part 1.
February 22, 1845. Excursion to Mauna Loa, part 3.
March 1, 1845. Excursion to Mauna Loa, part 4; remarks on Oregon.
March 8, 1845. Excursion to Mauna Loa, part 5; remarks on Oregon.
March 15, 1845. Remarks on Oregon; Chinese pirates attack American schooner.
March 22, 1845. Coverage of the court case of James Gray, an American citizen, plaintiff in appeal vs. The Hawaiian Government.
March 29, 1845. Unanticipated arrival in Honolulu of the corpse of Timoteo Kamalehua Ha’alilio, Hawaii’s first diplomat, who had died of tuberculosis on his return voyage from Hawaii’s first mission to Europe and America.
April 5, 1845. Continued coverage of the court case of James Gray.
April 12, 1845. Letter of condolence to King Kamehameha III from 41 US residents of Hawaii on death of Ha’alilio.
April 19, 1845. “The Last of the Cannibals, a Legend of Mangea, an Island adjacent to the Samoa Group”, by M. E. Bowler.