It is one of only two holidays in the United States dedicated to royalty, the other being Hawai‘i's King Kamehameha Day June 11.
Born on March 26, 1871 Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole was prince of the reigning House of Kalakaua when the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in 1893.
Prince Kuhio was raised in Koloa on the island of Kauai, and attended the Royal School on Oahu, originally called the Chief’s Children School. He studied for four years at St. Matthew’s College in California, the royal Agricultural College in England, and then eventually graduated from a business school also in England.
Upon the assumption of the Kalakaua dynasty to the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1884, a proclamation ending the Kamehameha Dynasty also declared Kuhio a royal prince. King David Kalakaua, also Kuhio’s uncle, then appointed him to a seat in the royal Cabinet administering the Department of the Interior. However, American businessmen overthrew the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893. A year later, Kuhio and brother Kawananakoa joined other native Hawaiians in an attempt to restore the monarchy. The attempt was unsuccessful, and Prince Kuhio was sentenced to a year in prison while others were executed for treason against the republic. After getting out of prison, Kuhio left Hawaii and traveled in South Africa for a few years, vowing never to return to a Hawaii that appeared inhospitable to Hawaiians. During his time away from home, he joined the British Army to fight in the Boer War.
After returning home, Hawaii had already been annexed as territory of the United States. Had the Hawaiian monarchy continued, Prince Kuhio probably would have become King of Hawaii upon the death of Queen Liliuokalani. Instead, he was elected as Hawaii’s congressional delegate for 10 consecutive terms.
Kuhio was often called Ke Ali’i Makaainana (Prince of People), and is well known for his efforts to preserve and strengthen the Hawaiian people. While a delegate of Congress, he spearheaded the effort in the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act that provides lands for native Hawaiians to homestead. Prince Kuhio was also known for restoring the Royal Order of Kamehameha I and establishing the Hawaiian Civic Club.
Prince Kuhio served in congress from 1903 till his death in 1922. His body was laid to rest with the rest of his royal family at the Royal Mausoleum in Nuuanu on Oahu.