AUGUST 23, 1888


Under Hawai’i’s 1840 Constitution, the islands of Hawai’i, Maui, O’ahu, and Kaua’i were administered by governors nominated by the island chiefs and approved by the King.  There were no gender restrictions upon who could serve as a governor.  Ruth Keʻelikōlani was the first female governor serving in that role for the island of Hawai’i from 1855 to 1874.  As of August 1888, Ululani Lewai Peleiōhōlani Baker and Lanihua were Hawaiian high chiefesses.  Baker was Governess of the island of Hawai’i; Lanihua Governess of Kaua’i and Nihuan.  Following the Bayonet Constitution of 1887, the decision was made to abolish the office of governor.  While the act abolished the office irrespective of gender, the true aim was to remove women from government as the justification was that women were unqualified to appoint the police forces for the islands.  When the post of governor was reestablished in January 1891, during the brief reestablishment of the monarchy, women were barred from the post.

Source:  Colin Newbury, "Patronage and Bureaucracy in the Hawaiian Kingdom, 1840–1893," Wayback Machine: Pacific Studies. vol. 24, Issues ½, March/June 2001.  Retrieved 7/11/2019,
Photo:  Author unknown.  Date:  Pre-1902.  Subject:  Ululani Lewai Peleiōhōlani Baker (1858-1902).  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.

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