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Kalakaua elected king

After Lunalilo's untimely death, another election amongst legislators was held in 1874, this time pitting David Kalakaua against Queen Dowager Emma. Kalakaua won by a large majority, but Emma's supporters instigated a riot that had to be quelled by American and British marines.

Though Kalakaua was not related to the Kamehameha line, his father, Kapaakea, was great grandson of Kame'eiamoku, one of Kamehameha I's generals and close advisors. On his mother's side, Kalakaua was related to other Kona chiefs. Educated at the Royal School, Kalakaua held positions in the government under Kamehameha IV and served 13 years in the legislature.

One of Kalakaua's first actions as king was to take a tour of all the islands. He also traveled to Washington - the first monarch ever to visit the United States - and secured a reciprocity trade treaty. Business interests wanting more control forced Kalakaua to sign the "Bayonet Constitution" in 1887, reducing his power to that of a figurehead.

In 1881, Kalakaua took a world tour and visited other heads of state. In Hawai'i, he rebuilt 'Iolani Palace and equipped it with electric lights, the first palace in the world to have electricity. In 1883, nine years after his election, he crowned himself and Queen Kapi'olani in an official coronation ceremony. In 1886, the Merrie Monarch's Jubilee marked Kalakaua's 50th birthday with a two-week party that included parades, fireworks, hula performances, and a public luau. Kalakaua sent his wife and sister to London the next year as his representatives at Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

After a bruising legislative session in 1890, Kalakaua sailed to San Francisco hoping to rest and restore his health. He died there in January 1891 at the San Francisco Palace Hotel.

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