OCTOBER 16, 1884


Bernice Pauahi Pākī, last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I, was born on December 19, 1831, in Honolulu.  Receiving a Western education at the Royal School, she excelled in academics and became a devout Christian.  After marrying, Pauahi led several charitable organizations aiding sick travelers and providing clothing for the poor.  An accomplished contralto singer and pianist, she conducted the works of Haydn and Verdi with the Amateur Musical Society.  In 1872, at his deathbed, King Kamehameha V offered her the throne, but she declined.  In 1883, Ruth Keʻelikolani—governess of the Islands—died, leaving nearly 353,000 acres to Bernice.  In sum, Bernice owned about 9 percent of the Hawaiian landmass.  In her will, she bequeathed most of her estate for creating what became the Kamehameha Schools, giving preference to “Hawaiians of pure or part aboriginal blood.” Bernice died in Honolulu.  Today the schools have campuses on Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui, educating nearly 7,000 children annually. 

Source:  Mithun Selvaratnam, “Bernice Pauahi Bishop,” Philanthropy Hall of Fame.  Retrieved 7/16/2019, https://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/almanac/people/hall-of-fame/detail/bernice-pauahi-bishop
Charcoal sketch:  J. Ewing, photo reproduction by J. J. Williams (1853-1926).  Date:  Unknown.  Public Domain in the US:  Pre-1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.    

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