Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
Published August 18, 2020 in response to a falsehood circulated during commemorations of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage. Will be updated if needed as events unfold.
August 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. TV documentary films, magazine articles and newspaper commentaries are celebrating the centennial throughout the U.S. In Hawaii, as often happens with U.S. national holidays, Hawaiian sovereignty activists try to grab publicity by latching onto those events and asserting claims about Hawaii's history which may be twisted or completely false.
A Hawaiian sovereignty monthly TV hour-long program called "First Friday" was founded about 20 years ago by sisters, ethnic Hawaiian attorney Mililani Trask and Professor Haunani-Kay Trask, accompanied by Haunani-Kay's longtime live-in lover, Caucasian, Professor David Stannard. After a few years Stannard was removed as co-host, probably because as a "haole" it is politically incorrect for him to assert opinions about what "Native Hawaiians" should do. His role is to support but never to lead.
The program for June 5, 2020, episode #120, was entitled "Powerful Hawaiian Women in History". The featured guest was "social justice" activist Gloria Borland, interviewed for the entire hour by now-regular hostess Manu Ka'iama. A video remains available for a while "on demand" on the Olelo TV website where the video can be seen at
During the interview Gloria Borland touts a film she is producing whose title is "Hawaii Women Voted." Yes indeed! That's the title of the film, and it's FALSE. The film has its own website at
The front page of that website says:
About the Film
Three high school girls, Christine, Imiloa and Malia, are registering to vote for the first time. They hear a rumor, women in Hawaii had the right to vote before women on the continental United States. The overthrow took away women's rights. Is this true? The friends decide to investigate. Imiloa interviews leading Hawaiian historians and uncovers a treasure-trove of new findings not yet disclosed to the public. This documentary film is about her discovery. ... This year, Americans will celebrate the centennial of women suffrage. Hawaii has a proud, unique, and complicated history of women suffrage that deserves to be acknowledged.
The website then displays photos and brief descriptions of powerful women leaders in the Kingdom of Hawaii, and says women in the Kingdom had many legal rights which women in the U.S. did not have, such as property ownership. But there's no further information provided about alleged voting rights of women. Odd, since the title of the film and website is "Hawaii Women Voted."
In response to seeing the TV program I did some research on the internet to find a phone number for Gloria Borland, and left a polite message on her answering machine alerting her to the falsehood and providing my phone number; but she never returned the call. I also found an email address and sent an email which never bounced, but was never acknowledged. Borland is apparently a typical leftwing social justice activist, arrogant and unresponsive when presented with facts contrary to her propaganda.
Full text of that email to Borland is included in another email sent to another activist, Rosemarie Muller, on August 18. The Muller email, including the Borland email inside of it, is copied in full below.
On August 17, 2020 Rosemarie Muller, President of the League of Women Voters of Hawaii County, had a commentary published in the Kona newspaper West Hawaii Today. In the second paragraph she stated the falsehood that women were voters in the Kingdom. I tracked down her email address, and sent her a detailed email including a copy of the email I had previously sent to Gloria Borland which provides proof that women were not voters in the Kingdom.
PROOF THAT WOMEN WERE NOT VOTERS IN THE KINGDOM OF HAWAII IS PROVIDED BY QUOTATIONS FROM THE KINGDOM CONSTITUTIONS OF 1852, 1864, AND 1887 WHICH ARE INCLUDED IN THE EMAIL(S) BELOW.
[email address redacted]
Rosemarie Muller, President
League of Women Voters of Hawaii County
August 18, 2020
Aloha President Muller,
I'm writing to let you know about an error of fact in the second paragraph in your commentary "Celebrate and build on heritage of women’s suffrage movement" in West Hawaii Today, dated August 17, 2020.
The error is in this sentence: "Hawaii’s ratification in 1920 of the voting right for women was simply an endorsement of practices dating back to the Hawaiian Kingdom when women voted and held governing power in the 19th century, long before the United States."
It's true that women held governing power in the Kingdom of Hawaii, including dowager Queen Ka'ahumanu as regent and co-ruler with boy-kings Kamehameha II and Kamehameha III, Princess Ruth Ke'elikolani as Governor of Hawaii Island, and reigning Queen Lili'uokalani.
But it is FALSE to say that women voted. Women never had voting rights during the Kingdom. They had to wait until annexation to the U.S. and the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. Irrefutable proof is provided below, consisting of quotations from the Kingdom Constitutions of 1852, 1864, and 1887 requiring that only men could vote.
Hawaiian sovereignty activists and their fellow travelers love to say that the Kingdom was far superior than the U.S. in many ways, including the fact that slavery was prohibited in the Kingdom before it was abolished in the U.S., and the fact that Iolani Palace had electricity before the White House. Sometimes they get carried away with unfounded enthusiasm or propaganda. For example, social justice activist Gloria Borland announced in the Hawaiian sovereignty TV show "First Friday" on June 5 that she was producing a film celebrating the history of powerful women in the Kingdom of Hawaii. I managed to find a phone number and email address for her, and warned her about the falsehood and why it is important to safeguard her credibility by not asserting the falsehood anymore. I have copied that email below, which includes the quotes from the Kingdom Constitutions. Apparently my warning was successful, because the film touted by Ms. Borland has apparently not yet made an appearance and the false assertion about women voting has not yet been stated on PBS Hawaii.
Please do not spread the falsehood anymore, and correct it whenever you see others spreading it.
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
[email address redacted]
Aloha Gloria Borland,
I watched the "First Friday" TV show on June 5, and listened to you describe a film you are producing to coincide with the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote in the U.S. Your film will celebrate the history of powerful women in the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Unfortunately, your film and your publicity also contain a major falsehood which will destroy the credibility of all the other things you say. In fact, the webpage touting the film has a URL which displays the falsehood very clearly:
True: A woman was reigning monarch in the Kingdom of Hawaii. True: Women were high-chiefs and Governors of various islands, and regent co-rulers with Kings.
FALSE: Women had the right to vote in the Kingdom. See proof of falsity below.
FALSE: Women had the right to vote in Hawaii before they had the right to vote in the USA. Following the revolution of 1893 which overthrew the monarchy, the Republic governed the continuing independent nation of Hawaii under a new Constitution and laws which followed the Kingdom's precedent that only men could vote. There was no change to that during the first 20 years of the Territory, until the U.S. Constitutional amendment allowing women to vote became the law in Hawaii.
It is false to say that women had the right to vote in Hawaii before they had the right to vote in the USA. I warn you to remove any such statements or implications from the movie or its accompanying news releases or school curriculum guides.
When a judge gives instructions to a jury, those instructions say that jurors have a right to assess the credibility of the witnesses; and if a juror concludes that any particular witness has said something that is false, then the juror may choose to conclude that everything that witness said is false or at least unreliable.
Please -- we do not need another falsehood about Hawaii's history, despite your wish that it were true and despite how helpful it would be as propaganda to promote Hawaiian sovereignty.
Below you will find the relevant articles from the Constitutions of the Hawaiian Kingdom that clearly specify that ONLY MALES had the right to vote. I am confident that if you go to the archives and look up the voter registration records from the Kingdom, or the pollbook records of who actually voted (although I have not done the detailed research but encourage you to do so), you will find that there was NEVER any woman who voted for either branch of the legislature (Nobles or Representatives). I am also confident that you will see that there was never any female member of either chamber of the legislature (even though before 1864 the King personally appointed all the Nobles and theoretically could have named a female Noble if he had considered it appropriate).
Constitution of 1840 (The first written Constitution in the history of Hawaii, proclaimed by Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III), had the purpose of proving to other nations that Hawaii was a Constitutional monarchy with rule of law. It is very brief and vague; says nothing about gender of Nobles or Representatives).
Constitution of 1852 (Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III realized his Constitution needed a lot more detail, so he proclaimed a new one). Nobles were appointed by the King, so voting was not an issue for that chamber.
Every male subject of His Majesty, whether native or naturalized, and every denizen of the Kingdom, who shall have paid his taxes, who shall have attained the full age of twenty years, and who shall have resided in the Kingdom for one year immediately preceding the time of election, shall be entitled to one vote for the representative or representatives, of the district in which he may have resided three months next preceding the day of election; provided that no insane person, nor any person who shall at any time have been convicted of any infamous crime, within this Kingdom, unless he shall have been pardoned by the King, and by the terms of such pardon been restored to all the rights of a subject, shall be allowed to vote.
Constitution of 1864 (Lota Kamehameha V demanded the legislature approve the new Constitution he proposed; and when the legislature refused, he dismissed them and then unilaterally proclaimed it). Nobles were appointed by the King, so voting was not an issue for that chamber.
No person shall be eligible for a Representative of the People, who is insane or an idiot; nor unless he be a male subject of the Kingdom, who shall have arrived at the full age of Twenty-One years--who shall know how to read and write-- who shall understand accounts--and shall have been domiciled in the Kingdom for at least three years, the last of which shall be the year immediately preceding his election; and who shall own Real Estate, within the Kingdom, of a clear value, over and above all incumbrances, of at least Five Hundred Dollars; or who shall have an annual income of at least Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars; derived from any property, or some lawful employment.
Constitution of 1887 (Kalakaua. Also known as the "Bayonet Constitution" because a coup by an armed militia forced the King to sign it or else the militia would put an end to the monarchy).
ARTICLE 59. [Only men can vote for Nobles]
Every male resident of the Hawaiian Islands of Hawaiian, American or European birth or descent, who shall have attained the age of twenty years, and shall have paid his taxes, and shall have caused his name to be entered on the list of voters for Nobles for his District, shall be an elector of Nobles, and shall be entitled to vote at any election of Nobles, provided:
First: That he shall have resided in the country not less than three years, and in the district in which he offers to vote, not less than three months immediately preceding the election at which he offers to vote;
Second: That he shall own and be possessed, in his own right, of taxable property in this country of the value of not less than three thousand dollars over and above all encumbrances, or shall have actually received an income of not less than six hundred dollars during the year next preceding his registration for such election;
Third: That he shall be able to read and comprehend an ordinary newspaper printed in either the Hawaiian, English or some European language:
Fourth: That he shall have taken an oath to support the Constitution and laws, such oath to be administered by any person authorized to administer oaths, or by an Inspector of Elections;
Privided, however, that the requirements of a three years residence and of ability to read and comprehend an ordinary newspaper, printed in the Hawaiian, English or some European language, shall not apply to persons residing in the Kingdom at the time of the promulgation of this Constitution, if they shall register and vote at the first election which shall be held under this Constitution.
There shall be twenty-four Representatives of the People elected biennially, except those first elected under this Constitution, who shall serve until the general election for the year of our Lord 1890. The representation shall be based upon the principles of equality and shall be regulated and apportioned by the Legislature according to the population to be ascertained from time to time by the official census. But until such apportionment by the Legislature, the apportionment now established by law shall remain in force, with the following exceptions, namely: there shall be but two Representatives for the Districts of Hilo and Puna on the Island of Hawai'i, but one for the districts of Lahaina and Kaanapali on the Island of Mau'i, and but on for the Districts of Koolauloa and Waialua on the Island of O'ahu.
ARTICLE 61. [Only men can serve as Representatives]
No person shall be eligible as a Representative of the people, unless he be a male subject of the Kingdom, who shall have arrived at the full age of twenty-one years; who shall know to read and write either the Hawaiian, English or some European language; who shall understand accounts; who shall have been domiciled in the Kingdom for at least three years, the last of which shall be the year immediately preceding his election; and who shall own real estate within the Kingdom of a clear value, over and above all encumbrances, of at least five hundred dollars; or who shall have an annual income of at least two hundred and fifty dollars, derived from any property or some lawful employment.
ARTICLE 62. [Only men can vote for Representatives]
Every male resident of the Kingdom, of Hawaiian, American, or European birth or descent, who shall have taken an oath to support the Constitution and laws in the manner provided for electors of Nobles; who shall have paid his taxes; who shall have attained the age of twenty years; and shall have domiciled in the Kingdom for one year immediately preceding the election; and shall know how to read and write the Hawaiian, English or some European language (if born since the year 1840), and shall have caused his name to be entered on the list of voters of his district as may be provided by law, shall be entitled to one vote for the Representative or Representatives of that district; provided, however that the requirements of being domiciled in the Kingdom for one year immediately preceding the election, and of knowing how to read and write either the Hawaiian, English or some European language, shall not apply to persons residing in this Kingdom at the time of the promulgation of the Constitution, if they shall register and vote at the first election which shall be held under this Constitution.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
46-255 Kahuhipa St. Apt. 1205
Kane'ohe, HI 96744-6083
tel (808) 247-7942
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