knitted brows

Ke'eaumoku II

George Cox Kahekili Keeaumoku II 1784 - 1824 was a brother of Queen Kaahumanu, Queen Kalakua Kaheiheimaile and Governor Kuakini. He was a convert to Christianity and Governor of Maui.


He was born probably in 1784. His parents were Keeaumoku Papaiahiahi, a fugitive alii or noble from the Big Island, and Namahana'i'Kaleleokalani, the wife of her half-brother the late king of Maui, Kamehameha Nui. From his mother he was member of the noble house of Maui being relative of many of the kings of Maui. His father had been a counsellor and supporter of Kamehameha the Great during his early years. He, being the eldest son of Ke'eaumoku succeed his father as a counsellor to Kamehameha during the last years of his compain. He was appointed governor of Maui and its adjacent island of Molokai, Lanai and Kaho'olawe by Kamehameha I, his father was the previous governor. The Governors had replace the former Alii Aimoku of all of the island save Kauai. He served as Commander and Admiral of the King's Fleet and fought in the Battle of Nu'uanu alongside Isaac Davis.

His reputation for extracting as much taz as the commoners could bear led to his nickname Puu Nui (Great Pile). The name refers to the rotting piles of excess goods outside his storehouses. In the true Hawaiian double entendre, the name also accurately described his physique. In person and disposition he resembleed Kaahumanu more than any other member of his family. He was among the first to house the Protestant missionaries that had arrive from Boston prior in 1820. He attend all public worship and collected together the people by ringing a large bell. He establish a school for the improvement of his people. On his arm was tattooed George Cox, from a time when he and his brothers all decided to impress foreign traders by taking British names. He took the name Cox, after the first British sea captain to befriend him, and George after King George IV. But he was more commonly referred to as Governor Cox by the foreigners. He was a man of great influence and fluent in English. He was considered a friend of the European and American traders. The first printing was done in a grass-roofed hut in Honolulu at the site that is now Kawaiahao Church. The lever to begin the printing process was pulled by Ke‘eaumoku himself. This first printing was the beginning of the Mission Press, which eventually printed millions of pages, many in the Hawaiian language. In 1823, the Hale Pa‘i, or Printing Office, is constructed of coral blocks.

Matheson in his "Narrative of a Visit to Brazil, Chili Peru and the Sandwich Islands in the years 1821 and 1822" gives the following a visit which he paid to Keeaumoku II:

"August 5.

This morning I went to Cox, iintending to purchase some goats I expected to find him, as usual, either sleeping, or smoking, or drinking, or busy trafficking like myself. The door of his hut was half open, and I was about to enter unceremoniously, when a scene, too striking ever to be forgotten, and which would require the hand of a master painter to do it justice suddenly arrested my attention."

"About a dozen natives, of both sexes, were seated in a circle on the matted floor of the apartment, and, in the midst of them, sat John Honoree the Hawaiian catechist. All eyes were bent upon him; and the variously expressive features of each individual marked the degree of interest which had been excited in his mind. So absorbed, indeed, were they in the business which had assemnled them, that my abrupt appearance at the door, created for some time neither interruption nor remark. The speaker held in his hand the Gospel of St. John, as published at Tahiti, and was endeavouring, by signs and familiar illustrations, to render its contents easy of comprehension. His simple yet energetic manner added weight to his opinion, and proved that he spoke, from personal conviction, the sincere and unpremeditated language of the heart."

" The Chief himself stood in the back ground, a little apart from the rest, leaning upon the shoulder of an attendant. A gleam of light suddenly fell upon his countenance, and disclosed features on which wonder, anxiety, and seriousness, were imprinted in the storngest characters. He wore no other dress than the malo round his waist; but his tall athletic form, and dignified demeanour, marked at one glance his rank and superiority over all around. One hand was raised instinctively to his head, in apensive attitude; his knitted brows bespoke intense thought, and his piercing eyes were fixed upon the speaker, with an inquiring, penetrating look, as much as to say, 'Can what you say be really true?' I gazed for some moments with mute astonishment, turning my regards from one to the other, and dreading to intrude upon the privacy of persons so usefully employed. At last, the chief turned round, and motioned with his hand, in a dignified manner, for me to withdraw. I did so; but carried away in my heart the remembrance of a scene, to which the place, the people and the occasion, united in attaching a peculiar interest."

" I learned, afterwards, that Cox had promised to build a school house, and present it to the missionaries for their use. A donation, which, considering his acknowledged love of money, affords no mean proof that his inquiries into the truth of the new religion had not been altogether fruitless."

Illness and Death

He later fell ill and suffered frequent attacks of disease which he experienced in the last years of his life. The illness which immediately preceded his dissolution was painful, and somewhat protracted. At first some of the chiefs believed him to be suffering from sorcery, but afterwards they entertainde more rational notions. He was brought to the island of O'ahu because of his illness. It was there William Ellis, a missionary, visited him daily and sometimes observe him praying. He wished to be baptized on his deathbed. It was thought proper to decline, or he and the Hawaiians would think there was a saving efficacy connect to that Christian rite or that it would secure the soul's acceptance with God. He died at Honolulu, Oahu on the 23rd of March, 1824. His brother Kuakini had his body ship back to Kailua Kona. He desposited in the basement of his house and where the chiefs gather to mourn of his death and where the Reverend Thurston and Bishop attended prayers for him. He was the first husband of Grace Kamaikui the foster mother of Emma Rooke who was married to him at a tender age.


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