The Pacific Commercial Advertiser Against Hula

Have a problem with hula? If so, then you’d agree with the editorials in The Pacific Commercial Advertiser (PCA) in its first few decades.

The founder and editor of PCA, Henry Whitney, hated hula and complained about it in the pages of PCA. His and other critics of hula provided information to scholars studying hula. Ironically, these critics preserved the knowledge of the practice they detested.

You can find the negative editorials in the links below.

– Alice Kim

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Newspaper – Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Keyword – Hula


“… the licentious songs and disgusting orgies of the hula were exhibited, to inflame the passions of the young and prepare them early for such acts as … are known the world over as the Hawaiian’s besetting sin.”

“Is Hawaii Returning to Idolatry?”
Pacific commercial advertiser, August 19, 1858, Image 2

“The fairest girls were selected and trained, and in their wild, denuded state, with only clothing and ornaments as custom allowed, appeared before the spectators. Around the dancing mats, headed by the teacher, sat, cross legged, a row of ten or twelve drummers, each with his hula calabash. The dance consisted of gestures and posturings indicative of licentious acts, accompanied with music and often with the most vulgar and unchaste songs which the tongue is capable of uttering. In these songs, from which the refined and chaste turn with disgust, consisted the chief attractiveness of hula.”

“It is seen everywhere that the hula prevails; and, so far as it operates on the rising generation, this practice has a ruinous influence.”

(Untitled editorial presumably by Henry Whitney)
Pacific commercial advertiser, April 21, 1859, Image 2

“… the ancient hula is almost entirely unknown at present. But were there no license provided for, we would soon witness in every part of the country a repetition of the disgusting orgies that were formerly so common.”

“Hulahulas and Beer Shops”
Pacific commercial advertiser, March 19, 1870, Image 2

“… [Hula] remains … a miserable relic of barbarianism, the preservation of which and its encouragement by the chiefs is unfavorable to the growth of pure morals among the people. I was therefore surprised and grieved to see on Saturday afternoon last a considerable collection of natives at the residence of Queen Dowager Emma, and on enquiry to be told that there was a hula going on there.”

Pacific commercial advertiser, May 9, 1874, Image 2

“Prince Leleiohoku … spoke of the hula as one of the evils that he would like to see banished from the land. Both Gov. Kipi and the Hon. Simon K. Kaai, who followed the Prince, spoke in the same strain, and characterized the hula as demoralizing to the youth of both sexes, but more particularly the young females, who learn these ancient dances to get money for their worthless male relatives–instead of being at school, or occupied in some useful employment.”

“A Visit to a Hawaiian Goddess–the Prince’s Opinion of the Hula”
Pacific commercial advertiser, November 7, 1874, Image 3

“The Rev. Sereno E. Bishop preached a sermon last Sunday evening … [He said,] ‘Even the decrepit paganism of the land having lifted up its leprous visage to greet him with the bestialities of the hula hula.'”

“The Rev. Sereno E. Bishop preached…”
Pacific commercial advertiser, November 12, 1881, Image 2

“A Hula Stopped”
Pacific commercial advertiser, January 15, 1859, Image 2

“Results of the Hulas” (blaming hula for lack of taro crops and laziness), 5th column
Pacific commercial advertiser, May 26, 1859, Image 2