Lorrin A. Thurston

Lorrin Andrews Thurston (July 31, 1858 – May 11, 1931) was an American lawyer, politician, and businessman born and raised in the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. The grandson of two of the first Christian missionaries to Hawaii, Thurston played a prominent role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom that replaced Queen Liliʻuokalani with the Republic of Hawaii, dominated by American interests. He published the Pacific Commercial Advertiser (a forerunner of the present-day Honolulu Star-Advertiser), and owned other enterprises. From 1906 to 1916 he and friends lobbied with national politicians to create a National Park to preserve the Hawaiian Volcanoes.

Lorrin Andrews Thurston
Lorrin A. Thurston, 1892
BornJuly 31, 1858
DiedMay 11, 1931 (aged 72)
NationalityKingdom of Hawaii
United States
OccupationLawyer, Politician, Businessman
Spouse(s)Margaret Clarissa Shipman
Harriet Potter
ChildrenRobert Shipman Thurston
Margaret Carter Thurston
Lorrin Potter Thurston
Parent(s)Asa Goodale Thurston
Sarah Andrews
Lorrin A Thurston 1888 signature

Family life

He was born on July 31, 1858, in Honolulu, Hawaii.[1] His father was Asa Goodale Thurston and mother Sarah Andrews.[2] On his father's side he was grandson of Asa and Lucy Goodale Thurston, who were in the first company of American Christian Missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands in 1820.[3] On his mother's side, he was also the grandson of another early missionary, Lorrin Andrews. His father was speaker of the house of representatives of the Kingdom of Hawaii but died when Lorrin was only a year and a half old in December 1859. He then moved to Maui with his mother.[2]

He was fluent in the Hawaiian language and gave himself the Hawaiian nickname Kakina.[4] In 1872, he attended Punahou School, then known as Oahu College, where he played baseball with the sons of Alexander Cartwright (who invented the modern game). He was expelled shortly before graduation.[5] After working as a translator for a law firm and clerk at the Wailuku Sugar Company, he attended law school at Columbia University. He returned to Honolulu in 1881 and became partners in a law firm with William Owen Smith.[4]

He married Margaret Clarissa Shipman (daughter of missionary William Cornelius Shipman (1824–1861) from Hilo, Hawaii and brother of businessman William Herbert Shipman) in February 1884. They had a son Robert Shipman Thurston on February 1, 1888. Margaret died in childbirth on May 5, 1891 (as did the infant).[5] On April 5, 1894, Lorrin Thurston married Harriet Potter of Saint Joseph, Michigan. They had a daughter Margaret Charter (the mother of Thurston Twigg-Smith) in 1895, and a son Lorrin Potter Thurston in 1900.[6] Lorrin Andrews Thurston died on May 11, 1931. In 1919, Robert Thurston married Evelyn M. Scott, and Margaret Charter married William Twigg-Smith.


Lorrin Thurston was influential in both the political arena and the business world of Hawaii.


He followed his father and became a member of the legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1886. Thurston inherited the conservative thinking of the missionaries, which put him at odds with Hawaiian royalty as well as immigrants such as Greek hotelier George Lycurgus who enjoyed lifestyles filled with gambling and liquor.[7] The Missionary Party would change its name to the Reform Party in 1887, as it grew to include business owners. In July 1887 Thurston authored what is called the "Bayonet Constitution" because it was imposed under threat by the Honolulu Rifle Company militia. It limited the executive power of the monarch King Kalākaua. Thurston became the powerful Interior Minister, with Englishman William Lowthian Green as minister of finance, as the old cabinet of Walter M. Gibson was ousted.[8] Voting rights and membership of the legislature were based on property ownership, resulting in effective control by wealthy Americans and Europeans. He served in the cabinet until June 17, 1890 when he was replaced by Charles N. Spencer.[9]

Queen Liliʻuokalani became monarch in 1891 and tried to recover power with a new constitution. In 1892 Thurston led the Annexation Club, later adopting the more dramatic title Committee of Safety, which planned for making Hawaii a territory of the United States. In 1893 the Committee of Safety was supported by the U.S. Military in an overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and the resulting Provisional Government of Hawaii was controlled by Thurston's committee. Thurston headed the commission sent to Washington, D.C. to negotiate with Benjamin Harrison for American annexation. Liliʻuokalani and Crown Princess Victoria Kaʻiulani also traveled to Washington and made it clear the new government did not have the support of the majority of the Hawaiian population. As news spread of the force used, the proposed treaty met opposition and was not ratified. A century later in the Apology Resolution of 1993, the U.S. Congress apologized for the involvement of the United States Marine Corps in the overthrow, and the controversy continues to modern times.

In March 1893 Grover Cleveland became president, and disavowed the treaty. Thurston helped draft another constitution, and the Republic of Hawaiʻi was declared on July 4, 1894. He appointed Sanford B. Dole to the office of President of the Republic. A series of attempted revolts called the Wilcox rebellions were defeated during this period. In 1897 William McKinley became president and Thurston's commission again lobbied for annexation. The Spanish–American War in April 1898 increased American interest in the Pacific, due to battles in the Philippines.[10] By July 1898 the annexation formed the Territory of Hawaii and Thurston retired from political office to run his business affairs.


Lorrin A. Thurston, 1916
Thurston circa 1916

In 1898 he purchased the Pacific Commercial Advertiser newspaper (forerunner of the present-day Honolulu Advertiser).[11] As principal owner and publisher after 1900, he promoted the sugar and pineapple industries. He headed the Hawaiian Promotion Committee (which evolved into the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau), but his conservative values objected to the hula which he called "suggestive" and "indecent".[5] His fortunes rose considerably as a result of the 1898 annexation by the United States, since it removed all duties from shipments to the largest market. Thurston is credited with promoting the development of Hawaiʻi's sugarcane plantations and railroads and bringing the first electric street cars to Honolulu. Following World War I he called for government restrictions on Japanese-language schools, legislation that was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Thurston put out a special edition to support the fight to ban billboards in Hawaiʻi. He worked with Wallace Rider Farrington and Alexander Hume Ford to hold a world conference of newspaper editors.[11]

He was also a volcano enthusiast, starting in his childhood exploring Haleakalā on Maui. He would act as an informal tour guide for visitors to the summit, and used oral history to estimate the time of its last eruption.[1] In 1891, he bought and expanded the Volcano House hotel at the rim of the active Kīlauea volcano on the island of Hawaiʻi.[12] Thurston commissioned a cyclorama of Kīlauea which he displayed in his travels to the mainland, including the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894 in San Francisco.[13]

Jaggar and Thurston at Kilauea
Thurston (center) at the volcano in 1917

Thurston eventually made peace with George Lycurgus, who had been an insurgent against Thurston's government, and sold him the Volcano House in 1902. He also became friends with early volcanologist Dr. Thomas Jaggar in 1909 and raised money to fund the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in 1912. He used his newspaper to promote the national park idea and convinced the territorial legislature to fund a group of congressmen to visit Haleakalā and Kīlauea in 1907. The trip included a dinner cooked over active lava vents. He hosted a visit by the Secretary of the Interior James Rudolph Garfield in 1908, and another congressional visit in 1909. He convinced Governor Walter F. Frear to introduce a resolution supporting the idea, and formed a survey team to propose exact boundaries. His newspaper printed endorsements of the park by President Theodore Roosevelt (a classmate at Columbia), conservationist John Muir, and powerful Senator Henry Cabot Lodge.[1] In 1913 he explored a lava tube in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park that is named after him.[14] The park was finally formed in 1916.

He added a preface and published a second edition of his grandmother's book on early missionary life in May 1921.[15] His memoirs were published in a limited edition (along with those of Sanford Dole) after his death in 1931 by his newspaper.[16]

The newspaper business was run by his son Lorrin Potter Thurston, whose policy of using the term "Jap" during World War II pleased the military, but not local readers of Japanese descent. After the war readership declined, until its hostile take-over in 1962 by Lorrin's grandson Thurston Twigg-Smith who changed to a more moderate editorial line. In 1992 it was sold to Gannett Company as the next generation of the family had no interest in running the paper.[11] Twigg-Smith wrote a book about the overthrow and the role of his grandfather in 1998, and criticizing the modern Hawaiian Sovereignty movement.[17] In 1966, a chapel at Punahou School designed by Vladimir Ossipoff was named after Robert Shipman Thurston, Jr. of the class of 1941 who disappeared in World War II.[18]


Thurston's legacy is preserved throughout the islands. On Oahu, the Thurston name serves as a marker in many places, including a street named after Thurston in the Punchbowl neighborhood and the Thurston Memorial Chapel on the Punahou Campus.[19] Others include Thurston Lava Tube at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.

In the 2009 film Princess Kaiulani, Thurston was portrayed by Barry Pepper.[20]

Family tree


  1. ^ a b c "Thurston, Father of Hawaii National Park". Hawaii Nature Notes. National Park Service. 5 (2). 1953.
  2. ^ a b Brown Thurston (1892). Thurston genealogies (2nd ed.). Portland, Maine. p. 288.
  3. ^ Sereno Edwards Bishop (1916). Reminiscences of Old Hawaii. ISBN 1-104-37410-2.
  4. ^ a b Stephen Kinzer (2006). Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. Times Books. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-8050-7861-9.
  5. ^ a b c George Chaplin (1998). Presstime in paradise: The Life and Times of the Honolulu Advertiser, 1856–1995. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 111–130. ISBN 978-0-8248-2032-9.
  6. ^ Darlene E. Kelley. "Historical Collections of Hawai'i". USGenWeb Archives.
  7. ^ Helen G. Chapin (1981). "The Queen's "Greek Artillery Fire": Greek Royalists in the Hawaiian Revolution and Counterrevolution". Hawaiian Journal of History. 15. hdl:10524/422.
  8. ^ "Appointment of a New Cabinet!". Hawaiian Gazette. Honolulu. July 5, 1887. p. 4. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  9. ^ "Interior, Minister of: office record" (PDF). state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  10. ^ Albertine Loomis (1979). "The Summer of 1898". Hawaiian Journal of History. 13. hdl:10524/212.
  11. ^ a b c Bob Krauss. "Advertiser boasts a storied history". Honolulu Advertiser official web site. Retrieved 2009-07-11.
  12. ^ "The Volcano House". Hawaii Nature Notes. National Park Service. 5 (2). 1953.
  13. ^ Ralph S. Kuykendall (1967). Hawaiian Kingdom 1874–1893: the Kalakaua Dynasty. University of Hawaii Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-87022-433-1.
  14. ^ "Thurston Lava Tube". Hawaii Volcanoes National Park official web site. Retrieved 2009-07-11.
  15. ^ Lucy Goodale Thurston (1872). Life and Times of Mrs. Lucy G. Thurston: Wife of Rev. Asa Thurston, Pioneer Missionary to the Sandwich Islands. second edition 1921, reprinted by Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4325-4547-5.
  16. ^ Lorrin Andrews Thurston; Sanford Ballard Dole; Andrew Farrell (1936). Memoirs of the Hawaiian revolution. 1. Advertiser publishing Co., Ltd. Honolulu.
  17. ^ Twigg-Smith, Thurston (1998). Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do the Facts Matter?. Honolulu: Goodale Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9662945-0-7. OCLC 39090004.
  18. ^ "Thurston Memorial Chapel". Punahou School web site. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2010.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-04-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ Princess Kaiulani on IMDb
  21. ^ "TC LIB: Rev. Lorrin Andrews - Missionary to Hawaii". www.tc-lib.org. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  22. ^ Clark, John R. K. (1985). Beaches of the Big Island. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824809768.
  23. ^ Chaplin, George (1998). Presstime in Paradise: The Life and Times of The Honolulu Advertiser, 1856-1995. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824820329.
  24. ^ Nakaso, Dan (2016-07-16). "Former Honolulu Advertiser publisher Twigg-Smith dies". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2019-10-16.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Luther Aholo
Kingdom of Hawaii Minister of Interior
July 1887 – June 1890
Succeeded by
Charles N. Spencer
1887 Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom

The 1887 Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom was a document prepared by anti-monarchists to strip the Hawaiian monarchy of much of its authority, initiating a transfer of power to American, European and native Hawaiian elites. It became known as the Bayonet Constitution for the use of intimidation by the armed militia which forced King Kalākaua to sign it or be deposed.

Asa and Lucy Goodale Thurston

Asa Thurston (October 12, 1787 – March 11, 1868) and Lucy Goodale Thurston (October 29, 1795 – October 13, 1876) were in the first company of American Christian missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands.

Charles Crane

Charles Spencer Crane (January 4, 1869 – September 13, 1958) was a businessman and politician in Hawaii.

Charles Nichols Spencer

Charles Nichols Spencer (1837 – March 6, 1893) was the Ministrer of Finance for the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. He was one of Kalākaua's Cabinet Ministers at the time of the king's January 20, 1891 death, and the longest hold-over into Liliʻuokalani's Cabinet Ministers, serving June 17, 1890 – Sept 12, 1892.

Committee of Safety (Hawaii)

The Committee of Safety, formally the Citizen's Committee of Public Safety, was a 13-member group of the Annexation Club. The group was composed of mostly Hawaiian subjects and American citizens who were members of the Missionary Party, as well as foreign residents in the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi that planned and carried out the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi on January 17, 1893. The goal of this group was to achieve annexation of Hawaiʻi by the United States. The new independent Republic of Hawaiʻi government was thwarted in this goal by the administration of President Grover Cleveland, and it was not until 1898 that the United States Congress approved a joint resolution of annexation creating the U.S. Territory of Hawaiʻi.

John L. Stevens

John Leavitt Stevens (August 1, 1820 – February 8, 1895) was the United States Minister to the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 when he was accused of conspiring to overthrow Queen Liliuokalani in association with the Committee of Safety, led by Lorrin A. Thurston and Sanford B. Dole – the first Americans attempting to overthrow a foreign government under the auspices of a United States government officer. John L. Stevens, journalist, author, minister, newspaper publisher and diplomat, was also a Maine State Senator who was a founder of the Republican Party in Maine.

Juliana Walanika

Juliana Walanika (September 21, 1846 – September 6, 1931) was a court musician and favorite of King Kalākaua and Queen Liliuokalani, the last rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was known as the "Manoa Nightingale" or "Hawaii's Nightingale". She was also known as "Julia Walanika" or "Julian Walanika".

Lorrin Andrews

Lorrin Andrews (April 29, 1795 – September 29, 1868) was an early American missionary to Hawaii and judge. He opened the first post-secondary school for Hawaiians called Lahainaluna Seminary, prepared a Hawaiian dictionary and several works on the literature and antiquities of the Hawaiians. His students published the first newspaper, and were involved in the first case of counterfeiting currency in Hawaii. He later served as a judge and became a member of Hawaii's first Supreme Court.

Luther Aholo

Luther Aholo (c. 1833 – March 16, 1888) was a politician who served many political posts in the Kingdom of Hawaii. He served multiple terms as a legislator from Maui and Minister of the Interior from 1886 to 1887. Considered one of the leading Hawaiian politicians of his generation, his skills as an orator were compared to those of the Ancient Greek statesman Solon.

Nathaniel Bright Emerson

Nathaniel Bright Emerson (July 1, 1839 Waialua, Oahu – July 16, 1915, at sea) was a medical physician and author of Hawaiian mythology. He was the son of Protestant missionaries John S. Emerson and Ursula Newell Emerson, and father of artist Arthur Webster Emerson.

He attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and served in the First Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, during which he was wounded three times. After graduating from Williams in 1865, he studied at Harvard and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, from which he graduated in 1869. This was followed by work at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. In New York, Emerson was associated with Willard Parker, a surgeon, as student and assistant. For several years he was also clinical assistant to Dr. Seguin, professor of nervous diseases at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He served as a doctor in New York until 1878, after which he relocated to Hawaii.

Emerson was an historian and writer of Hawaiian mythology. One of his efforts was the translation into English of David Malo's work on Hawaiian lore and customs. In 1909, the Bureau of American Ethnology published his book, Unwritten Literature of Hawaii, and his last work, Pele and Hiiaka, was published in 1915.

Emerson has been criticized by Hawaiian royalists and historians for being a founding member of the Hawaiian League of 1887, which authored the Bayonet Constitution forced on King Kalākaua, under threat of death. An original copy of the 1887 constitution in the Hawaii State Archives, once owned by William Owen Smith, contains a side notes written by Smith listing Emerson as one of the main contributors to the constitution alongside Smith, Sanford B. Dole and Lorrin A. Thurston. He was also criticized for testifying in Washington, D.C. in support of the annexation of Hawaii.

Persis Goodale Thurston Taylor

Persis Goodale Thurston Taylor (1821–1906) was a painter and sketch artist who was born in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on September 28, 1821.

Provisional Government of Hawaii

The Provisional Government of Hawaii, abbreviated "P.G.", was proclaimed after the coup d'état on January 17, 1893, by the 13-member Committee of Safety under the leadership of its chairman Henry E. Cooper and former judge Sanford B. Dole as the designated President of Hawaii. It replaced the Kingdom of Hawaii after the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani as a provisional government until the Republic of Hawaii was established on July 4, 1894.

Republic of Hawaii

The Republic of Hawaiʻi was a short-lived one-party state in Hawaiʻi between July 4, 1894, when the Provisional Government of Hawaii had ended, and August 12, 1898, when it became annexed by the United States as an organized incorporated territory of the United States. In 1893, U.S. Minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens and white native-born subjects of the Kingdom of Hawaii overthrew Queen Liliʻuokalani after she rejected the 1887 Bayonet Constitution which was forced on Hawaii. The perpetrators intended for Hawaii to be annexed by the United States but President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat opposed to imperialism, refused. A new constitution was subsequently written while Hawaii was being prepared for annexation.

While leaders of the republic such as Sanford B. Dole and Lorrin A. Thurston were native-born subjects of the Hawaiian Islands and spoke the Hawaiian language, they had strong financial, political, and family ties to the United States. They intended the Republic to become a territory of the United States. Dole was a former member of the Royal Legislature from Koloa, Kauai, and Justice of the Kingdom's Supreme Court, and he appointed Thurston—who had served as Minister of Interior under King Kalākaua—to lead a lobbying effort in Washington, D.C. to secure Hawaii's annexation by the United States. The issue of overseas imperialism was controversial in the United States due to its colonial origins, but rising jingoism during the Spanish–American War led to anti-imperialism’s decline. The day before the end of the war, Hawaii was annexed under Republican President William McKinley. The Territory of Hawaii was formally established as part of the U.S. on June 14, 1900.

The Blount Report "first provided evidence that officially identified the United States' complicity in the lawless overthrow of the lawful, peaceful government of Hawaii." American officials immediately recognized the new government and U.S. Marines were sent by the US Ambassador to aid in the overthrow. The Queen's supporters charged the Marines' presence frightened the Queen and thus enabled the revolution. Blount concluded that the United States had carried out unauthorized partisan activities, including the landing of U.S. Marines under a false or exaggerated pretext, to support the anti-royalist conspirators; that these actions were instrumental to the success of the revolution; and that the revolution was carried out against the wishes of a majority of the population of Hawaii.

SS Laura Bridgman

SS Laura Bridgman was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. She was named after Laura Bridgman, the first deaf-blind American child to gain a significant education in the English language.

SS Lunsford Richardson

SS Lunsford Richardson was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. She was named after Lunsford Richardson, a pharmacist and founder of the Vick Chemical Company.

Sereno Edwards Bishop

Sereno Edwards Bishop (February 7, 1827 – March 23, 1909) was a scientist, Presbyterian minister and publisher. He was an avid proponent of the United States annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, and aligned himself with the political faction who overthrew the monarchy under Liliuokalani.

The Honolulu Advertiser

The Honolulu Advertiser was a daily newspaper published in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the time publication ceased on June 6, 2010, it was the largest daily newspaper in the American state of Hawaii. It published daily with special Sunday and Internet editions. The Honolulu Advertiser was the parent publisher of Island Weekly, Navy News, Army Weekly, Ka Nupepa People, West Oahu People, Leeward People, East Oahu People, Windward People, Metro Honolulu People, and Honolulu People small, community-based newspapers for the public.

The Honolulu Advertiser has had a succession of owners since it began publishing in 1856 under the name the Pacific Commercial Advertiser. On February 25, 2010, Black Press, which owned the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, purchased The Honolulu Advertiser from Gannett Pacific Corporation, which acquired the Advertiser in 1992 after it had sold the Star-Bulletin to another publisher that later sold it to Black Press in 2000. On May 3, 2010, a new company set up by Black Press, HA Management, took over operations of Advertiser and merged it with the Star-Bulletin on June 7, 2010, to form the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Thurston Twigg-Smith

Thurston Twigg-Smith (August 17, 1921 – July 16, 2016) was an American businessman and philanthropist from Hawaii.

Wilcox rebellions

The Wilcox Rebellions were an armed rebellion in 1888, a revolt in 1889, and a counter-revolution in 1895, led by Robert William Wilcox against the promulgation of the Bayonet Constitution in 1888 and 1889, and against the overthrow of the monarchy in 1895. He was considered a royalist and dedicated to the monarchy of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Wilcox's revolts were part of the Hawaiian Rebellions.

Thurston Hawaii family tree
Asa Thurston
Lucy Goodale
Lorrin Andrews
Mary Wilson[21]
William Cornelius Shipman
Persis Goodale Thurston Taylor
Asa Goodale Thurston
Sarah Andrews
William Herbert Shipman
Margaret Clarissa
Lorrin A. Thurston
Harriet Potter[23]
William Twigg-Smith
Margaret Carter Thurston
Lorrin Potter Thurston
Thurston Twigg-Smith

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