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King in formal military regalia in page center. Surrounding the figure are 4 scenes from his life. Bottom half of the print features a palace with a man greeting guests

King David Kalākaua (1836–1891)

Born in Honolulu and raised in the court of King Kamehameha III, David Kalākaua was elected king of Hawai‘i in 1874. His reign was marked by the political and economic rise of white foreigners, including the descendants of the New England missionaries who had arrived in the 1820s. Straddling the worlds of Kānaka Maoli, or Native Hawaiians, and the increasingly powerful Anglo- Americans in Hawai‘i, Kalākaua cultivated inter- national diplomatic relations to strengthen his kingdom. 

This broadside documents Kalākaua’s trip to Washington, D.C., shortly after he assumed the throne. With this visit, Kalākaua met with President Ulysses S. Grant and laid the groundwork for a treaty of reciprocity that would allow Anglo-American sugar planters in Hawai‘i to export their product to the United States without tariffs. Approved a year later, the treaty fostered the boom of the Hawaiian sugar industry. Subsequently, the archipelago’s thriving economy heightened its overall appeal for U.S. annexation.

Unidentified artist, after Bradley & Rulofson
36 × 23.6 cm (14 3/16 × 9 5/16 in.)
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; purchased through generous contributions to the Victor Proetz Memorial Fund