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Constitution of 1864

Although Kamehameha IV had been unhappy with the Constitution of 1852, he did not alter it during his reign. On assuming the throne, his brother Kamehameha V, however, refused to take the oath to uphold the constitution and made revisions to the document one of his first goals. He opposed universal suffrage, preferring property qualifications for both voters and members of the House of Representatives. He also felt "the prerogatives of the Crown ought to be more carefully protected... and that the influences of the Crown ought to be seen pervading every function of power."

Kamehameha V called a convention to enact a new constitution, but even from the outset it was clear its members - the king, the 15 nobles and 26 elected delegates - did not see eye to eye on a number of issues. There was little disagreement over a literacy requirement for voters, but most delegates refused to add a property qualification, while the king and nobles remained adamantly in its favor.

Stymied by the deadlock, Kamehameha V dissolved the convention and announced the suspension of the Constitution of 1852. The king and his close advisors spent the next week drafting a new document. This third constitution went into effect August 20, 1864, when Kamemahema V signed it and took the oath to uphold it.

The Constitution of 1864 abolished universal suffrage and established both literacy and property qualifications for voting. It also restored a measure of royal power by stipulating that the monarch did not have to seek advice and counsel from the nobles and by making the cabinet directly subject to the king.

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