Tammeamea King of Hawaii and the King of the Solor Islands

Tammeamea King of Hawaii costume.

Tammeamea King of Hawaii, the Sandwich Islands. Naba Leba king of Solor.

Tammeamea King of Hawaii, the Sandwich Islands. Naba Leba king of Solor.

Artist: Nicholas Martin Petit (1777-1804)

The Solor Archipelago is an Indonesian archipelago and part of the Lesser Sunda Islands to the east of the Malay Archipelago.

TAMMEAMEA or TAMAHAMA king of the Sandwich isles in the Pacific ocean was one of those individuals who are destined to produce a great effect on the state of society around them. He belonged to the race of the native chiefs and at the death of captain Cook in 1780 he had arrived at manhood but he had no concern in that event. Tirrioboo the king of Hawaii the largest of the Sandwich islands having offended his principal officers he was put to death and Tammeamea was chosen to succeed him. He soon showed extraordinary talents for his situation and it was part of his policy to encourage the settlement European mariners and others in his dominions. When captain Vancouver visited Hawaii Tammeamea put himself under the protection of that officer as the representative of the king of Great Britain and as the price of his submission he was assisted in building a fine vessel which afforded a model for the construction of several more. Tarmmeamea thus formed a fleet with which he conquered the adjoining islands and traded to China. He subsequently erected a fort on the island of Oahoo and obtained from the Russians some artillery while by encouraging the trading of his subjects with navigators he added to his own wealth and importance as well as that of his people This enterprising monarch died in March 1819. Rhio Rhio the son and successor of Tammeamea having made a visit to England together with his queen in 1824 both their majesties died in London after a few months residence in consequence of a disease arising from change of climate and habits of life. (Source: The Popular Encyclopedia: Being a General Dictionary of Arts …, Volume 6)

Death of Tammeamea king of the Sandwich Islands.

Accounts from Petropawlowsk in Kamtschatka of the 10th Nov 1819, received by way of Saint Petersburg, give the following particulars of the death of Tammeamea, king of the Sandwich Islands, which event took place in the month of March of the same year. The statement is derived from the reports of American vessels.
“Before the death of the King, an extraordinary phenomenon took place: within the space of three hours, the water of the ocean rose and fell on the coasts of the Sandwich islands for a space of six feet, with such a regularity and calmness that the ships in the harbor, and the villages situated near the coast, suffered not the least injury. The inhabitants of Owaihi looked upon this as an omen of their Sovereign’s approaching death. In the mean time his Majesty had collected round his death bed all the chiefs of the islands submitted to his power; and he made them promise religiously to maintain all the useful establishments founded by him, “which we,” he said “owe to the white people that have come to live among us.” These he requested to be respected before all others; that their property should be held sacred, and those rights and privileges be preserved to the white visitors, which they had enjoyed during his reign. Hereupon he appointed one of his sons, named Rio Rio, to be his successor. This youth, of about twenty years old, has been brought up in the European manner, and is said to speak English tolerably well. According to the custom of the country, Tammeamea made all the present chiefs take the oath of allegiance to this newly appointed sovereign, and recommended him, on account of his youth, to the care of his consort, by which act he made her the temporary and virtual regent of all his possessions. A few hours after, this remarkable prince expired. By the law of these islanders, the acknowledged successor is obliged to leave the spot, and even the island, where the sovereign died. But the bold and ambitious young Rio Kio said to his friends on his departure from Owaihi, “Since my father has thought me worthy to reign in preference to my brothers I shall suffer no other power over me: and after the expiration of the time, I declare to you, I shall either return as actual king or never return alive.” The chiefs, who had remained at Owaihi, were engaged in military exercise, and the whole island was filled with warriors, mostly armed in the European style. Even foreign ships in the harbour were obliged to arm themselves.
This was the critical situation of these remote islands, when the American ship left them. They are, however, of opinion, that young Rio Rio, supported by a numerous party, and even by the American ships that are there, will, although not without bloodshed succeed to the throne. The property found after the death of the King, and which he had acquired in trading with the Europeans, amounted to half a million of Spanish piasters in cash, and the same value in goods, besides several well fitted merchantmen. An immense fortune for a chief, who, in 1795, during Vancouver’s residence near these islands, exchanged, in common with his subjects, bananas and figs, for the English old nails. He then assisted the sailors in filling the water casks, and fitting the iron hoops to the casks, in which he showed much skill. And this barbarian died twenty four years after, a well informed and powerful prince, master of the whole Sandwich Archipelago. (Source Google books: Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 7. 1820)

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