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Timeline / Defining Rights and Responsibilities / 1859: Queen’s Hospital established to protect ‘Hawaiian race’

1859: Queen’s Hospital established to protect ‘Hawaiian race’

King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma are concerned about the decline of the Native Hawaiian population from 300,000 at the time of Kamehameha I, to 70,000 in 1855. When the queen’s personal physician states publicly, “the only means of prolonging the existence of the Hawaiian race is by bringing them ... medical aid,” the monarchs respond by opening Queen’s Hospital to provide free service to low-income Hawaiians.

Even though Native Hawaiians donate money to help establish Queen’s Hospital, many are reluctant to give up treatment by Native Hawaiian healers, known as kahuna.

Native Rights

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Queen Emma, ca. 1850 to 1871

Courtesy Hawai‘i State Archives

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King Kamehameha IV

Courtesy Hawai‘i State Archives

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Queen’s Hospital, 1890

Courtesy Hawai‘i State Archives