Sanford Ballard Dole -- His Political Biography

LIST OF SECTIONS ON THIS POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY WEBPAGE (scroll down to see them in the order listed)



3. ELIZABETH NAPOLEON LOW, AND THE CONNECTION FROM SANFORD B. DOLE TO NAINOA THOMPSON (Captain of Hokule'a Voyaging Canoe, Trustee of the University of Hawai'i, and Trustee of Kamehameha Schools)



See also: Dole's 160th Birthday April 23, 2004 -- Newspaper publications, responses, rebuttals (also of interest to journalism students as a case study in how different newspapers edit and handle the same content differently)



Sanford B. Dole was native-born at Punahou School, April 23, 1844. He spent eleven of his most formative years (ages 11-22) growing up Hawaiian-style, at Koloa, Kaua'i, where he became expert at konane (somewhat similar to checkers) and pahia (a special form of diving). After attending Williams College (Massachusetts) he became a lawyer, and included plantation laborers among his pro bono clients. He adopted a native girl (perhaps his biological child), whose descendants are Hawaiian community leaders today. His ties to Koloa remained strong, and he was elected to the Kingdom legislature 1884-86 from Koloa.

In 1887 he led the revolution that forced King Kalakaua to accept a new Constitution reducing him to a mere figurehead. Later that year Kalakaua appointed him to the Kingdom's Supreme Court. In 1893 Justice Dole honorably resigned his judgeship before the final revolution on January 17. He then led the Provisional Government afterward. He tried to rush a treaty of annexation through the U.S. Senate during the six remaining weeks while Harrison was still U.S. President (through March 3, in those days), but was unsuccessful because of the time it took to send a document to Washington by ship and train, and because of the slowness of the Senate. Immediately after taking power on March 4, 1893, the new U.S. President Grover Cleveland withdrew the proposed treaty of annexation, and on March 11 he sent a personal envoy to Hawai'i to conduct a one-sided secret "investigation" of the revolution. Following Mr. Blount's report, President Cleveland "ordered" Dole to undo the revolution and reinstate the Queen. President Dole wrote a blistering, lengthy letter of refusal, thereby confirming that Hawai'i remained an independent nation and not a puppet regime, even while desiring annexation. President Dole then helped form the Republic of Hawai'i and was its only President through four more years as an independent nation, recognized by all the nations who had previously recognized the Kingdom. His strong leadership allowed the Republic of Hawai'i to defy the U.S. President and to crush the attempted counter-revolution of 1895 which made use of rifles and bombs the U.S. permitted to be smuggled in to Robert Wilcox.

When U.S. President McKinley came into office in 1897, President Dole led renewed negotiations for annexation. The Republic of Hawai'i offered a treaty of annexation, which the U.S. accepted by joint resolution in 1898. Dole drove a hard bargain, in which the U.S. paid off the accumulated national debt of the Kingdom and Republic (paying more than the market value of the ceded lands at that time). Dole also successfully demanded that although the public lands of Hawai'i would be ceded to U.S. control, those lands would not become part of the U.S. land inventory but would be held as a public trust for the benefit of all the residents of Hawai'i. Dole wrote the Organic Act whereby annexation was implemented. In 1900, he became Hawai'i's first Territorial Governor. In 1903 he became presiding judge of the U.S. District Court for Hawai'i where he served for 12 years until retiring at age 72. Following ten more years of charitable works, he died in 1926.

Dole and Lili'uokalani were friends. He protected her safety and civil rights during the 1893 revolution. Unlike the monarchs beheaded and shot during the French and Russian revolutions, Lilu'uokalani was allowed to simply walk a block from the Palace to her private home and live there unmolested. Rifles and bombs in her flower bed during the Wilcox revolt (1895) earned her a genteel "imprisonment" in a huge private room at'Iolani Palace (with full-time servant, and sewing and writing supplies). After a few months President Dole pardoned her, allowing her to speak, write, and travel freely. She was allowed to organize a petition drive opposing the Republic's most cherished goal of annexation, and she was allowed to go to Washington D.C. and lobby Congress against annexation.

Regarding Dole's personal relationship with Lili'uokalani, Ethel M. Damon, on page 370 of her book "Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii" says: "Judge Frear, who, as the President's choice for Hawaii's third governor, had closed his term of office as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, once remarked that Judge Dole would frequently oppose people on violently controversial topics without losing their friendship. This had been particularly true in the case of the queen, for after annexation Mr. Dole always attended public receptions at her home, Washington Place, and Judge Frear knew that the kindliest feelings existed between the two who had been Hawaii's chief executives in a time of political crisis."

Sanford B. Dole was Hawai'i's longest-ruling chief executive at'Iolani Palace (1893-1903), where his firm hand guided Hawai'i peacefully through a decade of extraordinarily turbulent times. His spirit remains there, and his statue belongs there. April 23, 2004 is his 160th birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. President!



Born on April 23, 1844 at Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawai'i. His father Daniel Dole arrived in Hawai'i in 1841, in the Ninth Company of American Missionaries. Daniel Dole was the founder and first principal of Punahou School. Daniel had two boys: George was the elder and Sanford was the younger brother.

Although neither his father nor his mother had ever been naturalized as Hawaiian subjects, Sanford was born as a Hawaiian subject and thus never needed to become naturalized in order to vote or hold official positions in the government of the Kingdom.

Sanford's mother Emily Dole died four days after his birth. Sanford was raised by Hawaiian nurses, who sang and chanted to him in Hawaiian. Thus, Sanford Dole later said of himself, "I am of American blood but Hawaiian milk."

In 1846, Daniel Dole married a missionary widow Charlotte Knapp, who thus became Sanford's step-mother. But she was in poor health, and Sanford's Hawaiian nurses and his Hawaiian playmates exercised more influence over him than his stepmother.

August of 1855, the Dole family moved to Koloa, Kaua'i. Daniel Dole became the pastor of the Koloa congregation, and also established a school there. Daniel wanted Sanford to become a minister. Koloa was very quiet place for Sanford to grow up, from age 11-22, compared to hectic Honolulu. Sanford's friends and playmates were natives. He learned Hawaiian games; was expert at konane (Hawaiian checkers) and pahia (a specially vigorous form of Hawaiian diving).

In 1866 Sanford Dole entered Williams College in Massachusetts, granted standing as a Junior, to study for the ministry because of his father's wish. He was chosen as president of his class. Later that year he switched to the study of law. In 1868 he passed the Massachusetts bar exam, practiced law briefly in Suffolk County (Boston), and then returned to Honolulu as a lawyer.

He led a lively life in Honolulu, attended many formal parties, involved in a number of clubs and organizations. He was elected president of the YMCA and of the Hawaiian Mission Children's Society. During this time, his law practice continued to grow.

In 1873 Sanford married Anna Prentice Cate (1842-1918) But her health was not good and steadily declined. By mid-1870s she was a semi-invalid.

In 1879 he accepted a half-Hawaiian, Lizzie Napoleon, age 13, as his hanai daughter and to be a companion and helper to his wife. It was rumored that Lizzie was actually his biological daughter by a native woman who was a member of the royal court (see below for extensive additional information).

In 1884 Sanford Dole was elected to the Kingdom Legislature from a district on Kaua'i (the great majority of the voters, of course, were natives). When Lot Kamehameha V died without naming an heir, the Legislature voted to elect a new King. Dole was a supporter of Lunalilo against Kalakaua. After the death of Lunalilo (who reigned for only one year), Kalakaua became Hawaii's king in a bitterly-fought contest against dowager Queen Emma (Kamehameha IV's widow) that resulted in a riot when the results were announced. Dole was opposed to Kalakaua's abuses of power and extravagent lifestyle. He and Lorrin Thurston established the Committee of Thirteen, seeking to drastically limit the King's power.

Late June and early July 1887, a mass meeting of 3,000 men of all ethnicities decided not to overthrow Kalakaua but to force the King to accept a new Constitution reducing the King to a mere figurehead. The Constitution was written in a few days and the King signed it July 6 when the Committee of Thirteen presented it to him with the threat that he would be deposed if he did not sign it. No foreign troops were involved in this revolution.

December, 1887 the Cabinet nominated Sanford Dole to become a Justice of the Supreme Court, and King Kalakaua reluctantly confirmed his appointment.

July, 1889 an armed group of royalists under the command of Robert Wilcox briefly took control of the Palace grounds in an attenpted counter-revolution, but they were quickly defeated by the Honolulu Rifles. Sanford Dole served as a rifleman in the skirmishes.

January, 1893: Sanford Dole honorably resigned as Justice of the Supreme Court, before accepting the urgent request of the Committee of Thirteen to become President of the Provisional Government following the overthrow of the monarchy.

President Dole helped to draft a Treaty of Annexation to be sent quickly to Washington before the end of Republican President Harrison's term in office. However, the treaty arrived without enough time for the Senate to approve it before Democrat Grover Cleveland took office. President Cleveland immediately withdrew the treaty from the Senate, and sent Mr. Blount to Hawai'i to write a one-sided report siding with Cleveland's friend Lili'uokalani. In December, 1893, under instructions from President Cleveland, U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary Albert S. Willis sent a letter to President Dole demanding that the Provisional Government be disbanded and the ex-queen be reinstated on the throne. President Dole refused. See full text of The Willis letter at:
and the full text of President Dole's refusal at:

July 4, 1894: Following a Constitutional Convention (boycotted by the royalists but attended by many ethnic Hawaiians who were pro-annexation), the Republic of Hawai'i is proclaimed, with Sanford B. Dole as President.

1897: Democrat Grover Cleveland leaves office, and Republican William McKinley becomes President. The Republic of Hawai'i drafts a new Treaty of Annexation and sends it to Washington. At first the Senate fails to muster a 2/3 vote to ratify it. But then a few months later, in 1898, the Spanish American War begins and Congress passes a joint resolution to accept the proposal for annexation (including a vote of 42-21 in the Senate [2/3] and nearly 3/4 of the House). The Annexation is made official by an exchange of documents on the steps of'Iolani Palace in August, 1898. The agreed terms, negotiated by Sanford Dole, include the ceding of control of the Crown and Government lands of the Kingdom and Republic to the U.S. with the provision that the ceded lands be held in trust for the benefit of all Hawai'i's people; and payment by the U.S. of all the accumulated deficits of the Kingdom and the Republic for a sum of money larger than the market value of the ceded lands at that time.

1898-2000 Sanford Dole leads the Hawaiian team negotiating the language of the Organic Act under which Annexation will be implemented and the Territorial government will operate.

1901 Sanford Dole led a fundraising campaign to commission a statue of President McKinley; and he personally unveiled that statue where it stands today on the campus of McKinley High School in Honolulu. President McKinley's statue is holding a book whose cover is entitled: "Treaty of Annexation."

1900-1903 Sanford Dole serves as Governor of the Territory of Hawai'i.

1903 1916 Sanford Dole serves as Presiding Judge of the U.S. District Court for Hawai'i until age 72. Thereafter he does community service on behalf of charitable organizations.

1917 Ex-queen Lili'uokalani dies.

1918 Sanford's wife Anna Cate dies.

1921 Lizzie Napoleon Low dies

June 9, 1926 Sanford B. Dole dies in Honolulu at age 82, following a series of strokes that left him debilitated. He was cremated, and his ashes buried in the Kawaiaha'o Church Cemetery.


3. ELIZABETH NAPOLEON LOW, AND THE CONNECTION FROM SANFORD B. DOLE TO NAINOA THOMPSON (Captain of Hokule'a Voyaging Canoe, Trustee of the University of Hawai'i, and Trustee of Kamehameha Schools)

The following information is based on the two main biographies of Sanford B. Dole, by Ethel M. Damon and Helena G. Allen (see bibliography).

There is no doubt that Sanford Dole is a great-great-grandfather of Nainoa Thompson by hanai. And it seems likely that the relationship is also biological. Here is the connection.

In 1879, a 13-year-old light-skinned native girl named Elizabeth Napoleon was hanai'd by Sanford Dole, to be a companion and helper to Dole's semi-invalid wife Anna, who was childless. The girl was always called Lizzie, but also had a nickname Puiki. Lizzie's mother was Pamaho'a, an ali'i, younger cousin of Kana'ina (Lunalilo's father). Pamaho'a was active in the royal court, and brought Sanford into that group when Sanford was a young man. Lizzie's purported father was a Tahitian man named Napoleon, supposedly a descendant of the renegade brother of Napoleon the Great who had escaped to Tahiti. Lizzie at age 6 suddenly started showing up at the Sunday School classes Sanford was teaching, having been sent there by Pamaho'a (although Pamaho'a's numerous other children never attended). After 7 years of getting to know her, Sanford hana'd her at age 13. Throughout Anna's life, Anna always resented the presence of Lizzie in the household, possibly suggesting Anna may have been aware that Lizzie was Sanford's daughter with Pamaho'a. Certainly there were persistent rumors of a biological connection throughout Lizzie's life, and her deep devotion to Sanford seems to be far more extensive than most hanai relationships. Sanford's departure for Williams College in 1866 would have happened not long after Pamaho'a gave birth to Lizzie in 1865.

Lizzie married Ebenezer Low (1864-1954). He was the grandson of John Parker (Parker Ranch). She gave her first child, born Sept. 30, 1888 the name Sanford Ballard Dole Low. But that child died in 1889. Her next child was a girl named Annabelle Dole Low (1890-1969). Another girl was Elizabeth (Clorinda) Low (1895-1986). Later, Lizzie gave birth to her last child, a boy, whom she once again named Sanford Ballard Dole Low (1905-1964).

Clorinda married Charles (Charlie) Lucas. Their daughter Laura Lucas married Myron "Pinkie" Thompson; and that marriage produced Nainoa Thompson.

Hawaiian activists don't like to talk about Sanford Dole -- especially activists who may be descended from him. Nainoa Thompson, for example, as a trustee of Kamehameha Schools has made many impassioned speeches in defense of the school's racially exclusionary admissions policy. In 2003 a court challenge to that policy was brought by a haole boy whose mother had been hanai'd into an ethnic Hawaiian family. The boy was admitted to the school because he met all the requirements and because his mother wrote on the boy's application that the boy's mother is Hawaiian. The activists including Nainoa Thompson hastened to claim the mother lied on the application, and that hanai never conveyed either property rights or rights to claim a geneological relationship. Dole is also troubling to activists who like to claim that the purpose of the sovereignty movement is not to seek racial power but to preserve Hawaiian culture, or to preserve a Hawaiian nationality. Sanford B. Dole was a native-born Hawaiian, spoke Hawaiian fluently, was raised on the breast milk of a Hawaiian, grew up playing with natives and mastering native games and sports, and eventually became ruling chief of an independent Hawaiian nation. Sanford Dole was Hawaiian in every way, except that he lacked the magic blood with seems to be the one and only factor that the sovereignty activists truly recognize as both necessary and sufficient to establish who is Hawaiian.



There is a tradition in Hawai'i that public schools named after important historical figures make a strong effort to celebrate their lives and to educate the children about them. The school named after Sanford B. Dole is a "middle school" (intermediate school or junior high school) located in Kalihi, Honolulu, O'ahu, across the street from a welfare housing complex.

The school's formal name is "Governor Sanford Ballard Dole Middle School" which ignores the fact that people are generally remembered by the highest title they held during their lifetimes -- in this case, it should be "President Sanford Ballard Dole Middle School."

While schools named after Lili'uokalani, Kuhio, or Ka'ahumanu have big celebrations focused on their namesakes, Dole Middle School has done nothing for many years.

A large painting of Sanford Dole formerly graced the main office, but went missing for two years when the frame needed repairs. The picture has finally been put back in its place of honor after numerous inquiries from this author regarding its whereabouts.

Here are the contents of the biography/school-naming webpage. The URL was updated after the school's name was changed from the older "intermediate school" to the more modern-sounding "middle school," giving the bureaucrats some work to change all the stationery and to update to the new URL:

Sanford Ballard Dole was the first governor of the Territory of Hawaii. The Territory of Hawaii was formed after the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani. Governor Dole was a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu. The school which, today, bears his name, Dole Intermediate, is located in Kalihi Valley on the island of Oahu. Below is a speech that was delivered at the opening ceremonies of our school in 1956 which details more of Governor Dole's life.

When our school was named SANFORD BALLARD DOLE lNTERMEDlATE SCHOOL by the Commissioners of Public lnstruction, three people were to help us become better acquainted with the person whose name now graces the top of our administration building. They are Miss Emily Warriner of the Hawaiian Historical Society; Mrs. Clorinda Lucas, Director of Pupil Guidance in the DPI; and Miss Damon. All three knew Mr. Dole well, and it was Mrs. Lucas who introduced us to the other sources. We shall be forever grateful for the information and help given us during our beginning years by these gracious ladies. Significantly enough, Miss Damon has dedicated her book "TO THE YOUTH OF MANY RACES, WHO, CLEAR-EYED WILL MEET HAWAII'S CHALLENGE TODAY, TOMORROW AND BEYOND. " Mr. Dole's father, Daniel was the first principal of Punahou School and also the person who started what was to become Koloa School on Kauai.

"On the site occupied by the present public school was a thatch-roofed house with clapboard sides. Here the new Dole school opened, in a-thicket of indigo bushes, with a clearing to the road in front where the boys played a bat-and-ball game called wicket. The schoolhouse was a simple one without a ceiling, all the rafters in the interior exposed where not covered by blackboards around the sides." This was in 1855, coincidentally one hundred years before another school in Hawaii was to bear the Dole name .

Daniel and Emily Ballard Dole had two sons, George and Sanford. "Emily Dole lived but four days after the birth of Sanford, her second child, on April 23, 1844, and at the breast of an affectionate Hawaiian foster mother he gained, perhaps'his first intimate Hawaiian heritage. Two years later the missionary widow, Charlotte Knapp, became his stepmother, and their lifelong devotion began.

Tall and athletic (6ft. 2in. ), Sanford lived the typical life of a Punahou boy, with its hard study, manual labor, mountain-climbing, shell collection, horseback riding and swimming. Adept at konane, Hawaiian checkers-he mastered even the difficult Hawaiian diving called pahia. "He read the Bible daily and was "inevitably called Sanballat; the name of the Samaritan overlord who vigorously opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem's fortifications by returned Babylonian captives under Nehemiah. As there were no girls in the family, Sanford also helped his mother with the dishes and sweeping, when needed; even if he did not enjoy doing them.

After finishing college and returning to Hawaii, Sanford Dole went into law practice; taught Sunday School at Kaumakapili Church and then at Kawaiahao Church; gave expression to his independent views in an anonymously edited periodical called "The Punch Bowl" in which he persistently fought the contract labor law, especially the clause permitting the transfer of a laborer from one employer to another regardless of his wishes. Mr. Dole was the first president of the YMCA. In 1901, Mr. Dole was instrumental in helping to raise funds for the statue of President McKinley that stands in front of McKinley High School; and was chosen to unveil it. He was remembered by his Williams College classmates "chiefly as a mighty swimmer, runner, climber, walker and fighter."

He revisited Williams College in 1917, fifty years after his graduation, and returned with Clorinda (Jessamine) Low, Lizzie's daughter, who graduated that year from Smith College. Clorinda is now Mrs. Lucas, and her mother "Lizzie" had been almost like a daughter to the Sanford Doles' who had no children of their own.

Mr. Dole believed in eventual statehood for Hawaii, but only on the basis of an educated citizenry. On June 14, 1900 Sanford Ballard Dole was inaugurated first Governor of the new Territory of Hawaii. His inaugural speech was "an eloquent alignment of facts, responsibilities - dangers even - coupled with more than one plea that Hawaii's citizens might measure up to the dignity of their new American heritage including the hope of statehood, and the confidence reposed in them."

To those who knew him well there is still the echo of his footsteps passing up and down Emma Street though the land of his home there now houses a community church and a school for Chinese. And his orchard in Pauoa Valley has passed by will to the family of the faithful Chinese friend who farmed it for him. And to the 355 children of Kalihi Intermediate School, recently named the Sanford Ballard Dole lntermediate, Mr. Dole was a living person in their dramatic skit prepared for his birthday April 23, 1956.



On October 3, 2002 a special event was held in Ali'iolani Hale, in the old Hawai'i Supreme Court room, for a panel discussion about the life of Sanford B. Dole. Panelists were Alfred L. Castle, historian and President of the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation; Tom Coffman, author, media producer, and recipient of the Hawai'i Writers Award; David C. Farmer, attorney, actor, and former Executive Director of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts; David Hanlon, historian and Director of Pacific Island Studies at the University of Hawai'i Manoa; and Laura Thompson, grand-daughter of Dole's hanai (and perhaps biological) daughter Lizzie Napoleon.

An eight page booklet was distributed containing essays by some of the panelists. The booklet can be downloaded in pdf format by clicking here:
and it might also be obtainable directly from the biography project's webpage by clicking here:

This panel presentation was the final one in a series of five biography panels, where the previous four were all devoted to political leftists or to ethnic Hawaiian historical figures who are darlings of the sovereignty activists (including Kumu Hula Maiki Aiu Lake, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole, and Princess Ruth Ke'elikolani). It was to be expected that Sanford Dole would be treated more like a villain than like a hero; and indeed, Coffman and Hanlon performed according to expectations. Mr. Castle did provide some defense for Dole during the oral presentations and question period, and Mr. Farmer's written and oral presentations were surprisingly well balanced. A few activists in the crowd tried to trash Sanford Dole, but a couple of the panelists actually defended him!

Mr. Hanlon's essay was entirely devoted to "colonialism in the Pacific" and had almost no information about Sanford Dole. The presence of that essay was a clear attempt to denigrate the memory of Sanford Dole by implying that he was merely a tool of an American colonialist policy of manifest destiny and white man's burden. Tom Coffman's written material was brief, but his oral presentation was predictable in view of his book and propaganda film "A Nation Within." Even Alfred Castle, a descendant of revolutionary leader J.B. Castle, caved in to political correctness by saying that "Dole, in the name of the Republic, was instrumental in creating an oligarchy that would do much to repress the Hawaiian culture."

Following the question period, the elderly Laura Thompson was taken aback by a quietly asked semi-private question whether she believes she is Sanford Dole's biological great-grand-daughter. She seemed affronted, and said she doesn't know and does not really care.


Here is some material published in the 8-page biography booklet mentioned above, which appears to come from Tom Coffman's book "A Nation Within." It is interesting becauise it discusses Lizzie, and also focuses on Sanford Dole's need for rest and recuperation in September 1893 following the tumultuous events of earlier that year.

"In September [1893 ], Sanford Dole fell ill and retreated from his government position to live with a Hawaiian family on the island of Hawai'i. The image of Dole as president had been perfect for Thurston's ends, at least in part because of Dole's relationships with Hawaiians. Now Dole was sick, perhaps in part because of the stress resulting from his relationships with Hawaiians. The story begins with a Hawaiian woman named Pamaho'a, who had a large number of children, one of whom was named Puiki, or -- as she was to be known subsequently -- Lizzie. At the age of six, Lizzie appeared in Sanford's Sunday School class. When she was thirteen, Sanford asked Pamaho'a if he could adopt her as "a friend and companion" (in [Ethel] Damon's words) for his wife, Anna, who often was in frail health. Pamaho'a would not agree to a Western adoption but did agree to a Hawaiian hanai relationship. Although Lizzie frequently ran away from Sanford and Anna's house, each time Sanford would find her at Pamaho'a's and patiently explain to her why she was cared for and needed.... By the time Dole first worked with Thurston, Lizzie was reaching adulthood. By the time of the overthrow of the crown she was married to a part-Hawaiian rancher on Hawai'i Island, Eben Low. Sanford's wife, Anna, was uncomfortable with the relationship, but she nonetheless wrote Sanford a letter in care of Lizzie and Eben Low's house in Kohala, Hawai'i, instructing him, "Get strong and well, Sanford not use your head at all." Anna told her friends that Sanford was suffering from overwork. He also was described as "seriously ill with'brain fever.'" Lili'uokalani said he was suffering from an attack of conscience. When he recovered sufficiently to go out, he went hunting rather than return to Honolulu. With a party that prominently included Hawaiians, he rode up the east slope of Mauna Kea, the enormous peak that dominates northern Hawai'i. He described riding through groves of native trees and seeing native bird species, such as the'i'iwi, with their orange-red bodies and black wings, about which he had written in his earlier life with scholarly assuredness. "All our cooking was done at the fireplace," Dole wrote, "and we had good appetites for the good food. ... I went on one cattle hunt -- unsuccessfully, but shot a number of wild hogs and some plover." In Honolulu, a protege of Dole, Francis Hatch, who held the title of vice president, served in Dole's place. It was a period of standoff between the royalist Hawaiians and the Provisional Government, and finally in mid-October Dole returned to his job as president, after an absence of more than six weeks. (Nation Within 146-47)


The biography booklet also includes the following short bibliography:

There is of course an overwhelming amount of material, in English and in Hawaiian, on the history of Hawai'i from 1844 to 1926 [Dole's lifespan], ranging from nineteenth century newspapers to videos and websites. The following texts are English-language starting points, chosen either because Dole is their primary focus, or because they discuss him at length as part of their historical treatment, or because they were written by Dole himself ...

Allen, Helena G. Sanford Ballard Dole:Hawai'i's Only President 1844 -1926. Glendale: Arthur H. Clark,1988.

Castle, Alfred L. "Advice for Hawaii: The Dole-Burgess Letters. "Hawaiian Journal of History 15 (1981): 24 -30.

Castle, Alfred L. Review of Sanford Ballard Dole, by Helena G.Allen. Hawaiian Journal of History 23 (1989): 259 -62.

Castle, Alfred L. "US Commercial Policy and Hawai'i, 1890 1894. "Hawaiian Journal of History 33 (1999): 69 -82.

Coffman,Tom. Nation Within: The Story of America's Annexation of the Nation of Hawai'i. Honolulu: EPICenter, 1998.

Dole, Sanford Ballard. Memoirs of the Hawaiian Revolution. Honolulu: Advertiser Publishing,1936.

Damon, Ethel M. Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii. Palo Alto: Hawaiian Historical Society,1957.

Thurston, Lorrin P. Memoirs of the Hawaiian Revolution. Honolulu: Advertiser Publishing, 1936.


To conclude this biographical material about Sanford Dole, here is the article by David C. Farmer that was published in the booklet accompanying the panel discussion. Footnotes are indicated with slashes; thus /6 is footnote number 6. For the essay in pdf, see pages 2-4 in:

by David C. Farmer


Sanford B.Dole's legal legacy is far less significant than his historical role as a politician, diplo- mat, and statesman. He served five years as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and was the Territory's first federal district judge for two six-year terms. However, his continuing influence as a jurist pales in comparison to the dramatic impact of his political roles in the revolutions of 1887 and 1893 and the ultimate annexation of Hawai'i. /1

Educational Background

For a man of his considerable intellectual achievements and historical importance, Dole's formal secondary and college education was relatively brief. He attended Oahu College --now Punahou School, where his father served as the first principal --for only one year before taking on a succession of odd jobs. At twenty-two, he entered Williams College without having to take an entrance examination, and studied only one year, taking junior-and senior-level courses. /2 He studied law in a Boston law firm for the next year, passing the Suffolk County bar and returning to Hawai'i in 1868.

Practicing lawyer

A practicing attorney in Honolulu for almost twenty years, Dole was known for his outspoken criticism of the kingdom's immigrant contract labor system. /3 Fluent in Hawaiian, he represented many native Hawaiians. /4

Political Career

His political career began as a member of the Hawaiian League reformer group in the Legislature, where he served two terms. /5 His second term ended October 16, 1886, when the session adjourned. The next year the Hawaiian League held a mass meeting that led to King Kalakaua's forced acceptance of a new Cabinet on July 1. The new Cabinet in turn forced a new Constitution on the King on July 7, without the consent or ratification of the Legislature. The new Constitution became known as the Bayonet Constitution. /6

Supreme Court Justice

Because of the death of Justice Abraham Fornander in November 1887, the King reluctantly appointed Dole as the fourth associate justice in December. However, a special legislative session the same year had reduced the number of justices from five to three, effective December 31,1887. Kalakaua, therefore, expected that the terms of both Dole and Justice Richard Bickerton would expire. The following year the three remaining justices declared the legislative act an unconstitutional infringement on the judiciary, leaving Dole and Bickerton in office. /7 Dole's role on the bench was that of an outspoken dissenter who opposed the majority's tendency to look the other way in the face of the King's unchecked actions. /8 For example,the court held that, under the new Constitution, only executive acts, not the King's veto power, required Cabinet approval. /9 Dole vigorously dissented, arguing that the purpose of the new Constitution was "to attach responsibility to power in every case," and that the King's powers of every kind be checked. Because of continuing uncertainty about its authority, the Cabinet asked the court for an advisory opinion when Kalakaua refused in August 1889 to accept the Cabinet's statement of principles as to its powers and responsibilities. /10 A unanimous court held the principles were in accord with the Constitution. /11 The pendulum soon swung back when the court's majority held that Minister of Finance Samuel Damon could not withhold payment to the King's Chamberlin on the ground that the Cabinet did not approve the Chamberlin's appointment, because service to the King was strictly personal. /12 Dole's stinging dissent criticized the King for habitually ignoring the authority of the Constitution that was the only limited source of his powers. Dole also expressed his more liberal dissenting views in contract labor cases. The majority, for example, upheld the validity of the assignment of a Japanese laborer contract from the Board of Immigration to Hilo Sugar Company. /13 Dole argued such contracts should not be enforceable because, upon assignment, they are no longer contracts between the original parties. Moreover, they reduce a human being to chattel, create a form of involuntary servitude, and violate the constitutional protection that guarantees the freedom to choose one's own employer. /14

Federal Court Bench

Dole's last service on the bench was his two terms as the Territory of Hawai'i's district court judge. /15 Although additional judges joined him to assist with the docket, /16 Dole authored most of the decisions contained in the approximately 1,900 pages of the three volumes of court reports covering his tenure on the federal bench. /17 Most were criminal and admiralty cases, /18 but Dole also decided immigration, customs, bankruptcy, equity ,eminent domain, and adverse possession cases. No less than seven reported decisions between 1911 and 1913 dealt with the condemnation of Fort Street properties to construct the first federal building. Ultimately, of course, the properties were not condemned, in favor of the Merchant and Richards Streets location. Although well known in his later years as a liberal on behalf of many causes, /19 he rejected a constitutional challenge to the Territory's leprosy law that allowed the Health Department to require Kalaupapa patients to work as part of their therapy. /20

The Bottom Line

Diplomat, politician, statesman: Sanford Dole's place in Hawai'i's history is assured. Selected President of both the Provisional Government after Lili'uokalani's overthrow in 1893, and of the Republic of Hawai'i, /21 he also served as the first Territorial Governor from 1900 to 1903. As a jurist, however, his legacy is less secure. Although a few nineteenth century supreme court decisions are occasionally cited for continuing principles of jurisprudence, Dole's ringing dissents in constitutional interpretation cases and his liberal contract labor law decisions are no longer relevant to twentieth century legal or social realities. Similarly, although his federal court decisions deal with more stable law --especially admiralty and maritime law -- they are not often cited, and their precedential value is marginal at best. /22 However, as one of the leaders of the 1887 revolution that resulted in the Bayonet Constitution, and of the annexation movement that paved the way for the Organic Act, Dole's legal and political influence and accomplishments --whether viewed today with favor or disfavor --remain seminal.


1. The basic facts about Dole's life are found in his own Memoirs of the Hawaiian Revolution, and in the biographies by Helena G.Allen, Sanford Ballard Dole:Hawaii's Only President, and Ethel M.Damon, Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii, with an Analysis of Justice Dole's Legal Opinions (for more information, see the bibliography on the bottom). Dole's opinions as an associate justice appear in Hawai`i Supreme Court Reports, Volumes 7 and 8 (1888 92), and his opinions as the first Hawai'i federal district court judge in United States District Court of Hawai'i Reports, Volumes 2, 3, and 4 (1903 1915).

2. Located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams was not unlike many other New England colleges where the classical curriculum and a moral atmosphere served as the basis for training young men for professional life. The college turned out its share of clergymen, doctors, lawyers, and teachers, serving the needs of Western Massachusetts and surrounding communities in New York and Vermont. Although it aspired to be a place to which "young gentlemen from every part of the Union" resorted, the reality was otherwise when Dole attended. Nathaniel Hawthorne, attending the commencement exercises in 1838, observed in his notebook that he saw "Country graduates --rough, brown-featured, schoolmaster-looking....A rough hewn, heavy set of fellows from the hills and woods in this neighborhood; unpolished bumpkins, who had grown up as farmer-boys." The Hawai'i connection was the American Foreign Mission Movement, which brought Dole's parents to Hawai'i as missionaries, and which traces its roots at Williams to 1806.

3. Dole wrote anonymously in issues of "The Punch Bowl," which he edited, as well as under his own name in pieces published in The Pacific Commercial Advertiser.

4. Dole was recognized for his ability to speak, read, and write Hawaiian. Besides serving as a translator for legal matters and at public meetings, he translated a number of Hawaiian works, including Samuel Kamakau's accounts of Polynesian voyaging (see Nation Within 145).

5. In 1884 and 1886.

6. As a result of these irregularities, some argue that the Constitution of 1864 and the Session laws of the Legislature enacted since October 16,1886, still remain in full force and have legal effect in the Hawaiian Kingdom until today. See,e.g.,

7. The King v.Testa, 7 Haw.201 (1888) (Judd,C.J.and McCully and Preston,J.J.).

8. Dole's critical views of the King's behavior were well established by the time he became a justice, evidenced not only by his membership in the Hawaiian League and his participation in its activities, but also by his little-known comic operas --Vacuum. A Farce in Three Acts. Written by S.B. Dole During the Reign of Kalakaua, and The Grand Duke of Gynbergdrinkenstein --which poke fun at what he considered the corruption and incompetence that Kalakaua allowed to flourish around him. See, e.g., (Honolulu,1886). Both plays show Dole's contempt for and suspicion about how Kalakaua handled financial matters, as well as what Dole took to be Kalakaua's vanity and over-inflated sense of self-importance. For an extended discussion of Dole's comic operas, see Michael G.Vann's article, "Contesting Cultures and Defying Dependency: Migration,Nationalism,and Identity in Late 19th Century Hawaii" (The Stanford Humanities Review 5.2 [1997 ]:146 73; also available at

9. Everett v.Baker,7 Haw.229 (1888).

10. In re Authority of the Cabinet, 7 Haw.783 (1889).

11. "There can be no dual government. There can be no authority without responsibility. The King is without responsibility. The Constitution confers the responsibility of government upon the Cabinet; they, therefore, have the authority. " 784.

12. Macfarlane v.Damon, 8 Haw.19 (1889).

13. Hilo Sugar Co.v.Mioshi,8 Haw.201 (1891). The Organic Act ultimately repealed these laws.

14. Chong Chum v.Kohala Sugar Co.,8 Haw.425 (1892). Dole, sitting as a circuit court judge, had considered the impact of an 1890 Act that restricted Chinese nationals to working as agricultural workers for a limited time,and that required an employer to deduct one-quarter of any wages until the return fare to China was accumulated. Chong Chum had contracted with the sugar company to work, but before being allowed to disembark the ship, he was required to sign a contract agreeing to the Act's requirements or face immediate return on a ship not provisioned for the return --and thus face probable death. Chong Chum signed and then sued on constitutional grounds. Dole declared the entire Act unconstitutional. On appeal, the majority held only the Act's section withholding wages was unconstitutional. In a terse one-sentence opinion, Dole simply said: "I agree with the conclusions of the Court, under the reasoning of the decision appealed from."

15. From November 18,1903, to November 18, 1909, and from November 18, 1909, to December 16,1915. In 1900, President William McKinley established the District Court for the Territory of Hawaii, which had the jurisdiction of other federal district courts and whose decisions could be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. With statehood, the territorial United States District Court became an Article III court, and Hawaii became a federal judicial district with two district judges, the Honorable Martin Pence and the Honorable C. Nils Tavares.

16. George W.Woodruff (6/16/09 12/31/09), Alexander G.M.Robertson (1/25/10 3/9/11), and Charles F.Clemons (from 3/9/11).

17. From U.S.v.Miyamura,2 Rpt.1 (1903) (criminal case) to Inter-Island Steam Navigation Co.v.Schooner Halcyon,4 Rpt.640 (1915) (admiralty).

18. Admiralty courts handled cases involving seamen and high sea vessels: seamen's wages,smuggling,piracy,prize (the confiscation of enemy ships and their cargo during wartime), shipwrecks, salvage, insurance, freight and passenger contracts, bottomry (using a ship as collateral), and contracts between merchants and mariners. However, it also had civil and criminal jurisdiction over anyone having any connection to maritime transactions, including shipbuilders and dockworkers.

19. For example, he supported efforts to disseminate birth control, and refused to accept the invitation of a mainland bar association with a policy that refused admission to Negroes.

20. In re Mikala Kaipu, 2 Rpt.215 (1904) (finding no involuntary servitude).

21. Some sources have incorrectly claimed that Dole maintains the singular distinction of having been the only American to serve as the chief executive of an independent foreign nation. Although the son of American citizens, Dole was born a subject of the Kingdom of Hawai'i, and was not an American subject. The only candidate for that distinction is Sam Houston, who was born an American citizen in Virginia in 1793, and served two terms as the President of the Republic of Texas.

22. Indeed, some early decisions of the federal district court, while perhaps correct at the time, were embarrassing even when decided. See, e.g., In re Ocampo, 4 U.S.D.C.Haw.770 (1916), which held that Filipinos were not eligible for naturalization under existing immigration and naturalization law.


You may now

See information about Dole's 160th Birthday April 23, 2004 -- Newspaper publications, responses, rebuttals (also of interest to journalism students as a case study in how different newspapers edit and handle the same content differently)