Queen Kapiolani in U.S. Newspapers

During her 1887 visit to the White House, Hawaiian Queen Kapiolani became the first queen to ever visit Washington D.C.
Spectators gathered wherever Kapiolani went to see her, and newspapers gave extensive coverage of her.

Despite being raised to understand English, Queen Kapiolani refused to speak any language but Hawaiian and took Princess Liliuokalani along to the United States as a translator. Newspapers note that Kapiolani spoke English “clumsily.”

Regarding a press conference, The Stark County Democrat says, “The queen speaks nothing but her native tongue, and is thus safe from the interviewer.”

As with the Hawaiian monarch on those days, the media often described her as “dusky.”

When Kapiolani stopped by Salt Lake City, Utah, the Salt Lake Evening Democrat describes her as “an agreeable and womanly looking Queen, with the characteristic features of her race.”

The next day, The Salt Lake Herald describes the “Dusky sovereign” as having “a great deal of quiet dignity in her air, especially when she is receiving the homage of those around her, and the carriage of her head is the most queenly thing about her.” The newspaper also says that Kapiolani’s smile makes her look “so pleasant” that smiling “almost makes her look pretty,” so she smiles a lot.

Noting her “mulatto” complexion and the “Egyptian cast of feature,” the Columbian says that even though Kapiolani ruled only a small kingdom and had brown skin, “royalty of the highest degree could not have deported itself with more becoming lady-like grace than she exhibited during her visit to Washington.”

The Washington Critic describes Kapiolani’s features as “pleasant,” “agreeable,” and “intelligent” and says the “woman of liberal education” did all that she could to relieve the suffering of those with leprosy.

The Salt Lake Herald describes Kapiolani physically as “well-preserved, stout and healthy, and looks much younger.”

The newspaper says Kapiolani makes an “excellent impression” wherever she goes, describes her as an “educated, amiable and Christian woman,” and portrays her as benevolent and charitable:

“… she is loved for her kindly words and her liberal beneficence. The gentle and sympathetic expression of her countenance is the just index to her admirable character.”

According to The Salt Lake Herald, as Kapiolani did not have children, she dedicated money and time to making girls with leprosy happy. Kapiolani even secured procurement from the government for the construction and endowment of the Kapiolani Home for Leper Girls.

The Salt Lake Herald says, “With the narration of her good deeds the most that can be said of the good Queen is said.”

– Alice Kim


“King Kalakaua’s Wife: Queen Kapiolani Arrives at our National Capital”
The Stark County Democrat, May 5, 1887, Image 1

“The Queen Received: Her Majesty Kapiolani and Suite Arrive at the Depot and Are Given an Ovation”
Salt Lake evening Democrat, April 29, 1887, Image 4

“The Island Queen: The Dusky Sovereign Royally Received” – Queen Kapiolani
The Salt Lake herald, April 30, 1887, Page 8

“Washington Letter”
The Columbian, May 13, 1887, Image 2

“The Visit of Royalty: Queen Kapiolani Received by the President”
The Washington critic, May 4, 1887, Image 1

“An Interesting Guest: Queen Kapiolani, Wife of the King of Hawaii”
The Salt Lake herald, May 22, 1887, Image 9


2 Comments on “Queen Kapiolani in U.S. Newspapers”

  1. […] of the last reigning Hawaiian monarchs, Kapiolani refused to speak anything but Hawaiian. While she was able to understand and speak English from her childhood education, Liliuokalani […]

  2. […] 2, 1895 — Princess Virginia Kapooloku Poomaikelani passed away at age 56. A younger sister of Queen Kapiolani, Princess Poomaikelani served as one of Queen Emma’s trusted ladies-in-waiting for years and […]

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