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Hawaii State Motto

Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono Language:Hawaiian
Translation:The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness Adoption:1959

State mottoes may be said to reflect the character and beliefs of the citizens of the state, or more accurately, the citizens of the state when they were adopted. State mottoes can help us gain insight into the history of a state. [What is a motto? ]

Adoption of the Hawaii State Motto

Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono has been a motto of Hawaii for over 160 years. It is generally claimed that it became the motto of the Kingdom of Hawaii when King Kamehameha III spoke the words on July 31, 1843. This was the day that sovereignty was restored to Hawaii by proclamation of Queen Victoria following a five-month-long rogue British occupation.

On May 1, 1959, Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono was adopted as the official motto of the State of Hawaii by Joint Resolution No. 4 of the 30th Territorial Legislature.

About the Hawaii State Motto

It is said that the words that later became the motto of the State of Hawaii were first spoken by Queen Ke'opuolani in 1825 as she was baptized into the Christian faith.

Kamehameha III
Kamehameha III

However, the Hawaii motto as such, Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono, is generally attributed to King Kamehameha III who presided over the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1825 until his death in 1854. This son of Kamehameha the Great was born Kauikeaouli at Keauhou, North Kona and assumed the position of Kamehameha III when his older brother, Kamehameha II, died in England in 1824.

Kamehameha III, educated as a traditional Hawaiian chief and in the ways of Westerners by Protestant missionaries, presided over many important occurrences in the kingdom. He began to modernize the laws that had governed the islands for over a thousand years and he introduced the first Hawaii Constitution in 1840. He also presided over the division of lands between the king and the chiefs in 1848. Prior to this time, all land belonged to the king.

In the 1840's the French and British were very interested in expanding their empires and were anxious to lay claim to Hawaii. On February 10, 1843, Lord Paulet of the Royal Navy sailed into Honolulu harbor and captured the town. Intense negotiations followed. Rev. Dr. Gerrit Judd, a close friend of the King's, wrote an appeal to the British government and recruited an American merchant to carry the letter to England. Eventually, Admiral Richard D. Thomas arrived from England with a proclamation from Queen Victoria disapproving Lord's Paulet's actions, and on July 31, 1843, the Hawaiian flag was again raised over Hawaii. From the steps of Kawaiaha'o Church, Dr. Judd read the proclamation. King Kamehameha III proclaimed, "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono."

The Hawaii motto, Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono, first appeared in a political context on the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Hawaii (1810-1894) that was adopted in May, 1845. In 1894, the Republic of Hawaii was established. The motto was included on the official seal of the Republic, designed by Viggo Jacobsen in 1895. That seal was a modified version of the royal coat of arms of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

In 1900, Hawaii was annexed as a U.S. Territory and as in the earlier transition of government, the motto was included on the Hawaiian Territorial Seal. Today the motto is still included on the State Seal of Hawaii.

The Hawaiian motto is declared in the Preamble and in Article XV, Section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii and in the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

The Hawaii Constitution

The following information is excerpted from the Constitution of the State of Hawaii, Article 15, Section 5.

The Hawaii Revised Statutes

The following information is excerpted from the Hawaii Revised Statutes, Volume 1, Chapter 5, Section 5-9.

Additional Information

State Motto List: List of all of the state mottoes.

State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002

State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: A Study based on historical documents giving the origin and significance of the state names, nicknames, mottoes, seals, flowers, birds, songs, and descriptive comments on the capitol buildings and on some of the leading state histories, Revised Edition - George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938 (Reprint Services Corp. 1971)


Source: The Constitution of the State of Hawaii, (http://www.hawaii.gov/lrb/con/), March 13, 2005
Source: The Hawaii Revised Statutes, (http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/docs/docs.asp?press1=docs), March 13, 2005
Source: State of Hawaii Web Site, (http://www.hawaii.gov/about/symbolsandmonuments.htm), March 13, 2005
Source: Merriam-Webster Online, (http://www.m-w.com/), March 3, 2005
Source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide, Third Edition - Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Greenwood Press, 2002
Source: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols: Revised Edition (Reprint)- George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938

 

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