Older brother to Kamehameha IV, Lot ascended to the throne as Kamehameha V at age 33. Having served under his brother as Minister of Interior and Minister of Finance, he came to the throne better prepared from an administrative standpoint than any previous king. In addition to his first trip abroad, he traveled to California and British Columbia in 1850
. He promoted the cattle industry in Hawai`i, served as president of the graziers' association, and founded Moloka`i Ranch.
|"There was no trivial royal nonsense about him... He dressed plainly, poked about Honolulu, night or day, on his old horse, unattended; he was popular, greatly respected, and even beloved."|
Kamehameha V took steps to strengthen the executive office, writing a new constitution in 1864
that freed the king from the restraints of a privy council and kuhina nui. Wanting to protect the health and well-being of native Hawaiians, he refused to legalize hard liquor and limited activities that would further erode the traditional agricultural lifestyle.
Kamehameha V remained a lifelong bachelor. He named his sister Victoria Kamamalu his heir, but did not name another successor when she died in 1866
. An hour before his death in 1872
, he asked Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, to take the throne but she declined. With no successor named, the constitution dictated an election to name the next monarch.
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