It's funny to think about a Hawaiian king riding a railroad, but there he was: On January 1, 1875, King Kalakaua, the last king of Hawaii, pulled into Boston. Twelve years later he'd sign, at gunpoint, a new constitution that gave away most of his monarchal power. But when he arrived in Boston, he still had kingly business to discuss.
According to a recent blog post by the Massachusetts Historical Society, King Kalakaua- otherwise known as the Merrie Monarch- had come to Boston to try and convince New Englanders to ease their support of sugar tariffs, which were blocking one of Hawaii's biggest exports. The highlight of Kalakaua's visit was a lavish banquet at Revere House on January 2. The feast began with oysters and also included turtle soup, sweetbreads a la Santa Cruz, an undoubtedly potent concoction known as Roman Punch, and a large array of pastries and desserts. The whole fete cost more than $3000, and whatever was said amid all the merrymaking worked for Kalakaua: A few months later he signed the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875, and Hawaiian sugar was allowed into the United States, levy-free.
Image of King Kalakaua via Wikimedia Commons
Image of banquet menu courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
The author is solely responsible for the content.
Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.