History in Oahu

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Oahu's history began several million years ago with the volcanic formation of the island. It is thought that the first people, a group of Polynesians from Marquesas, settled in Hawaii some time between 600 and 750 AD. A second group of Polynesians, this time from the Society Islands, followed around 1100 AD. During this time a network of kingdoms was set up among the islands with power given predominantly to the high chief, and successively to the chiefs, high priest, priests, and craftsmen. Commoners were kept separate. Oahu existed within this caste system of Hawaii for over 1000 years.

In 1778 the first western contacts reached Oahu. The English Captain James Cook landed on Oahu and was initially taken to be the God of Harvest. A year later he was killed in a battle with the natives. Hawaii suffered from this contact, as many diseases from the west were introduced to the islanders.

The separate kingdoms of Hawaii were soon to be united with Oahu as the center of power. Kamehameha challenged his royal cousin and gained power of his kingdom. In 1795 he extended that power to Oahu, and the rest of the separate kingdoms relinquished power to him. Kamehameha ruled from Oahu for most of his reign, lasting from 1782 to 1819, with the seat of power shifting at the end of his reign.

In 1850 his grandson, Kamehameha III, moved the capital back to Oahu. Then in 1859 Kamehameha IV and his wife, Emma Rooke, founded The Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu to help fight disease on the islands. Soon after the Iolani Palace was erected. It remains on Oahu today and is a popular tourist destination.

During this time sugar plantations had been introduced to Oahu, with the first one built around 1835. As a result of increased production in the 1950's, workers from Asia had to be brought in. This eventually resulted in Chinatown being constructed in Honolulu in 1880, making it the oldest Chinatown in the United States of America. While the sugar plantations are no longer in operation, you can tour a few of the areas that were preserved.

In 1900 Hawaii became a US territory, and Oahu became vitally important within Hawaii. Pearl Harbor was a strategically important naval base for the USA. On December 7, 1941, it was attacked by the Japanese, thus bringing both Hawaii and the US into the World War II. Finally, in 1959 Hawaii was named as the 50th American state with Honolulu as its capital.

August 01, 2009 new by tiffanymparker

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