Charles Warren Stoddard

The sunbathers and surfriders ride their canoes over the surf at Waikiki beach. The rainbows fill the island airs. Princess Ruth throws live piglets, bottles of gin, and tobacco into the Kilauea Volcano lava to stop it.

As the United States expanded into the Pacific Ocean, Charles Warren Stoddard (1843-1909) was among the writers who introduced the Pacific to Americans. Known for his South Seas tales, the American author and journalist described the sights and sounds of Hawaii after his 1864 visit.

At Molokai, the Californian writer got to know Father Damien, who cared for the people with leprosy exiled to Kalaupapa. According to his obituary by Stoddard, Father Damien attended “faithfully and fearlessly to the wants of his people.”

In a Hawaiian feast, Stoddard ate baked dog, limpet (presumably opihi), fresh, raw fish, and crushed kukui nut. He described getting a lomi lomi massage at the beach to the “murmurs of the reef”:

“… before the skillful and magnetic hands of the manipulator are folded every nerve in the body is seized with an intense little spasm of recognition and lies happy.”

Stoddard also described the old theatre that stood on the corner of Alakea and Hotel Streets:

“in the midst of a beautiful garden stood a quaint, old-fashioned building; but for its surroundings I might easily have mistaken it for a primative, puritanical, New England village meeting house…”

The theatre had a “really elegant-looking audience,” and Native Hawaiian women sold bananas and peanuts in the garden below, which the flaming torches illuminated at night. Eventually a Masonic temple replaced the theatre.

A storyteller, Stoddard told the tale of Kane-pihi, “the man fish”:

“A gentle savage, whose childhood had been passed upon the shore of the least civilized of the islands of the group, his unconventional life had scarcely fitted him for anything so confining as a pavement or a trim garden spot, hedged or fenced about in individual exclusiveness.”

Stoddard wrote books about Hawaii: A Trip to Hawaii (1885), Hawaiian Life (1894), and Father Damien, a Sketch (1903). In the first book, he says,

“The Hawaiian Islands have been called the gems of the Pacific, and it is true, that those who have once visited them, bring away a memory as flattering as it is unfading, of the most romantic island Kingdom in the world, a solitary group in a serene sea, where the summer is fragrant and perpetual.”

– Alice Kim

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within 5 words: Charles Warren Stoddard

Articles on Chronicling America

“Father Damien Dead: The Famous Leper Priest Goes to His Long Home–Sketch of His Life by Charles Warren Stoddard”
The Hawaiian gazette., April 23, 1889, Page 7, Image 7
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025121/1889-04-23/ed-1/seq-7/

“Love Life in a Lanai: The Charmes of Hawaiian Existence”
The Hawaiian star., September 02, 1893, Page 5, Image 5
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015415/1893-09-02/ed-1/seq-5/

“Stoddard Tells of the Hawaiians Isles”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., March 22, 1906, Page 6, Image 6
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047084/1906-03-22/ed-1/seq-6/

“Charles Warren Stoddard”
The Pacific commercial advertiser., May 15, 1909, Page 2, Image 2
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047084/1909-05-15/ed-1/seq-2/

“Charles Warren Stoddard”
The Honolulu times., February 01, 1910, Page 6, Image 6
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85047211/1910-02-01/ed-1/seq-6/

“The Old Drama in Honolulu”
The Hawaiian star., March 16, 1912, SECOND EDITION, THIRD SECTION, Image 17
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015415/1912-03-16/ed-1/seq-17/

“On the Reef—Kane-pihi,  the Man Fish”
The Hawaiian star., March 23, 1912, SECOND EDITION, THIRD SECTION, Image 17
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015415/1912-03-23/ed-1/seq-17/

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One Comment on “Charles Warren Stoddard”

  1. […] As the United States expanded into the Pacific region, Charles Warren Stoddard (1843-1909) was among the writers who introduced the Pacific to Americans. Known for his South Seas tales, the American author and journalist described the sights and sounds of Hawaii after his 1864 visit. … Read the rest of the story […]


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