Measles, as we all know, is one illness that almost every child has experienced before getting to adulthood. Measles is believed to be caused by a very dangerous virus known to kill over 100, 000 people a year, most of whom are young children below the age of five.
For those of you who believe that measles is a modern- day fad, the joke is on you because this deadly disease has been around for a very long time, and history tells us that this deadly virus was responsible for the destruction of the Hawaiian monarchy; how that happened and when it happened is all that we will learn.
How Measles Helped Destroy The Hawaiian Monarchy
The graves of many English noblemen interred in London’ s St. Martin- in- the- Fields church were no surprise to the people of London to see, as Nobel men were buried around the church.
But in many years of seeing Nobel men laid to rest, the Feild’ s church had never seen a pair of graves quite like this, and these graves were only used as brief resting quarters for the famous Kamehameha II and his queen Kamamalu until the right time came for them to be exhumed and taken to their native land, where they would finally be laid to rest. And that said time was in the month of July 1824, the day when the late Hawaiian king and his queen were about to be exhumed and loaded onto a ship bound for their native Sandwich Islands.
But before then, while they were alive, the royals’ every move had been closely scrutinized by the press just days before, from Kamamalu’ s provocative cigar consumption to Kamehameha’ s visit to the city’ s zoo and puppet theater.
The fascination was well- founded. The Hawaiian king and queen were not only despised by George IV’ s court, but they were also the most talked- about couple in London before they died.
They were now dead, the victims of measles they had contracted during a visit to the Royal Military Asylum, an orphanage for the children of military parents that was notorious for its outbreaks of juvenile ailments.
The Deaths Of The Kings
The deaths of Hawaii’ s kings due to measles were reported to be tragic and foreshadowed future tragedy, as When the measles arrived in the Hawaiian islands in 1848, it was believed to have set off a chain of epidemics that ravaged the monarchy and left them in a really terrible state.
Hawaiians have been believed to have lived in isolation for a long time until they eventually met the Europeans, who by far helped and allowed their culture and population to thrive, and it is believed that their demise was exacerbated by their isolation.
When epidemics of measles, smallpox, and other diseases struck the Hawaiian Islands, they threatened to wipe out the entire Native Hawaiian population during the 19th and early 20th centuries, disrupting the island’ s culture and lives.
Hawaii kept contact with England and had been in contact with Europeans for nearly half a century up until the time Kamehameha II and his queen, Kamamalu, left for England in the year 1824.
Europeans have been known to explore and raid Hawaiian islands. We are all aware of one of their most famous explorers, Captain James Cook, who explored the islands in 1778.
Even though Cook was later killed by one of the chief’ s attendants after attempting to kidnap Kalanipuu, who ruled over the island of Hawaii in punishment for the theft of one of his boats, the Hawaiian culture evolved after Cook’ s arrival, and lots of Native Hawaiians were exposed to many systems of warfare and administration through sporadic interaction with Europeans.
Using European- style warfare, Kamehameha I conquered and united all of the Hawaiian islands in 1810. Hawaii’ s structure was altered as a result of European interaction, and it also brought with it a slew of new diseases, including séxually transmitted illnesses like syphilis and gonorrhea, which were introduced by Cook’ s crew.
Due to their island setting, Native Hawaiians lacked immunity to infectious diseases like these, and they spread swiftly. A ” plague” that struck the island in 1803 did the same. The pandemic, which was thought to be yellow fever or a related disease, killed up to 175, 000 people, halving the island’ s pre- contact population.
In the meantime, Kamehameha I’ s dynasty prospered, and in 1819, he died, and his first- born son ascended to the throne. Kamehameha II, known for his impulsiveness, was enthralled by the foreign missionaries who had begun to arrive on the islands.
Against his court’ s advice, he set sail for England in 1823 with Kamamalu, his favorite of his five wives, with the intention of thanking George IV for sending him a ship.
The visit was unexpected, and the monarch’ s arrival in London caused quite a stir as the strange couple’ s appearance and behavior piqued the interest of English watchers, who followed their every step with curiosity.
Despite the fact that the guests fascinated the populace, George IV refused to see them. As if I’ d sat at the table with such a couple of cursed creatures, ” he thought, and this was no surprise thing for the world to witness as the British had always had a skewed view of Hawaiian islanders and were constantly in the habit of looking down on Native Hawaiians’ religion and thought them to be illiterate and vulgar.
In disappointment, the Monarch went back, and right after Kamahameha II and Kamamalu had died, the king agreed to receive the Hawaiian delegation and review it.
King George’ s Acceptance And Aftermath
Though George IV promised to safeguard Hawaii from attack from the outside, he was still unable to protect the islands from the illnesses that followed. Missionaries and ship crews that came brought measles and pertussis to the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1848, this time killing a fourth of the Hawaiian population.
But this was just the start of more to come. Native Hawaiians were devastated by wave after wave of infectious sickness that kept hitting them, and because Native Hawaiians had never been exposed to these diseases, even seemingly harmless ailments made them more vulnerable.
The historians Robert C. Schmitt and Eleanor C. Nordyke wrote, ” The condition of the Hawaiian islands got so bad that even a relatively slight sickness could have catastrophic or fatal repercussions for the unprotected native people. ” They further claimed that the outbreaks were aggravated by climate, geography, and poor medical treatment, which, when you think about it, is true.
Honolulu Magazine quoted historian David Stannard as saying, ” Hawaiians were incredibly strong and vigorous people who lived in a bubble, a kind of bubble that was a paradise in many respects. They also lived in ignorance of other illnesses, and that was why when they were faced with a foreign illness, they didn’ t know how to handle it.
The Hansen’ s illness, also known as leprosy at that time, was yet another disease the Hawaiians had to battle with. It was another sickness that wrecked havoc on Native Hawaiians, and Native Hawaiians were disproportionately impacted. It got to the point that those affected by Hansen’ s disease were shunned and forced to live in isolated leper colonies.https://www.youtube.com/embed/XK2MBnw6RlY?autoplay=1&controls=1
In addition, Herman points out that public fears about leprosy were utilized to portray Native Hawaiians as dirty and ill- mannered, just as affluent American interests sought to remove the Hawaiian monarchy from power.
Native Hawaiians have much higher rates of s*xually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and TB than any other ethnic group. Also, despite the obstacles that they dealt with in the past, the Native Hawaiian population continues to grow, and this is believed to be due to rising reproductive rates. Hawaii is expected to have more than 500, 000 Native Hawaiians by 2060.
Thanks for reading.