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Kingdom of Hawai`i Constitutions: 1840 - 1852 - 1864 - 1893

King Kalakaua was forced to sign the "Bayonet Constitution" in 1887, sharply curtailing his powers and diminishing the Native Hawaiians' voice in government. For more historical background, see the article Overthrow of the Monarchy. Some point out today that this constitution was never ratified properly by the House of Nobles, and thus was never legally valid, and that the Constitution of 1864 is the last valid Constitution of the Kingdom, and the basis for restoration today.

Hawaiian Kingdom Constitution of 1887

Granted by Kalakaua Rex., July 6, 1887

WHEREAS, the Constitution of this Kingdom heretofore in force contains many provisions subversive of civil rights and incompatible with enlightened Constitutional Government:

And WHEREAS, it has become imperative in order to restore order and tranquility and the confidence necessary to a further maintenance of the present Government that a new Constitution should be at one promulgated:

NOW THEREFORE, I Kalakaua, King of the Hawaiian Islands, in my capacity as Sovereign of this Kingdom, and as the representative of the people hereunto by them duly authorized and empowered, do annul and abrogate the Constitution promulgated by Kamehameha the Fifth, on the 20th day of August, A.D. 1864, and do proclaim and promulgate this Constitution.


God hath endowed all men with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the right of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.


All men are free to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences; but this sacred privilege hereby secured, shall not be so construed as to justify acts of licentiousness, or practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the Kingdom.


All men may freely speak, write, and Publish their sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right, and no law shall be enacted to restrain the liberty of speech, or of the press.


All men shall have the right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble, without arms, to consult upon the common good, and to petition the King or Legislature for redress of grievances.


The privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus belongs to all men, and shall not be suspended, unless by the King, when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety shall require its suspension.


No person shall be subject to punishment for any offense, except on due and legal conviction thereof, in a Court having jurisdiction of the case.


No person shall be held to answer for any crime or offense, (except in cases of impeachment, or for offenses within the jurisdiction of a Police or District Justice, or in summary proceedings for contempt), unless upon indictment, fully and plainly describing such crime or offense, and shall have the right to meet the witnesses who are produced against him face to face; to produce against him, and to be fully heard in his own defense. In all cases in which the right of trial by Jury has been heretofore used, it shall be held inviolable forever, except in actions of debt or assumpsit in which the amount claimed is less than Fifty Dollars.


No person shall be required to answer again for an offense, of which he has been duly convicted, or of which he has been duly acquitted.


No person shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.


No person shall sit as a judge or juror, in any case in which his relative, by affinity, or by consanguinity within the third degree, is interested, either as plaintiff or defendant, or in the issue of which the said judge or juror, may have, either directly or through such relative, any pecuniary interest.


Involuntary servitude, except for crime, is forever prohibited in this Kingdom. Whenever a slave shall enter Hawaiian Territory, he shall be free.


Every person has the right to be secure from all unreasonable searches and seizures of his person, his house, his papers, and effects; and no warrants shall issue, except on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


The Government is conducted for the common good, and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men.


Each member of society has a right to be protected in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property, according to law; and, therefore, he shall be obliged to contribute his proportional share to the expense of this protection, and to give his personal services, or an equivalent when necessary. Private property may be taken for public use, but only upon due process of law and just compensation.


No subsidy, duty, or tax, of any description, shall be established or levied without the consent of the Legislature; nor shall any money be drawn from the Public Treasury without such consent, except when between the sessions of the Legislature, the emergencies of war, invasion, rebellion, pestilence, or other public disaster shall arise, and then not without the occurrence of all the Cabinet, and of the whole Privy Council; and the Minister of Finance shall render a detailed account of such expenditure to the Legislature.


No retrospective laws shall ever be enacted.


The Military shall always be subject to the laws of the land; and no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by the Legislature.


Every Elector shall be privileged from arrest on election days, during his attendance at election, and in going to and returning therefrom, except in case of treason, felony, or breach of the peace.


No elector shall be so obliged to perform military duty, on the day of election, as to prevent his voting; except in time of war, or public danger.


The Supreme Power of the Kingdom in its exercise, is divided into the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial; these shall always be preserved distinct, and no Executive or Judicial officer, or any contractor, or employee of the Government, or any person in the receipt of salary or emolument from the Government, shall be eligible to election to the Legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom, or to hold the position of an elective member of the same. And no member of the Legislature shall, during the time for which he is elected, be appointed to any civil office under the Government, except that of a member of the Cabinet.


The Government of this Kingdom is that of a Constitutional Monarchy, under His Majesty Kalakaua, His Heirs and Successors.


The Crown is hereby permanently confirmed to His Majesty Kalakaua, and to the Heirs of His body lawfully begotten, and to their lawful Descendants in a direct line; failing whom, the Crown shall descend to Her Royal Highness the Princess Liliuokalani, and the heirs of her body, lawfully begotten, and their lawful descendants in direct a line. The Succession shall be to the senior male child, and to the heirs of his body; failing a male child, the succession, shall be to the senior female child, and to the heirs of her body. In case there is no heir as above provided, the successor shall be the person whom the Sovereign shall appoint with the consent of the Nobles, and publicly proclaim during the Sovereign's life; but should there be no such appointed and proclamation, and the Throne should become vacant, then the Cabinet, immediately after the occurring of such vacancy, shall cause a meeting of the Legislature, who shall elect by ballot some native Alii of the Kingdom as Successor to the Throne; and the Successor so elected shall become a new Stirps for the Royal Family; and the Succession from the Sovereign thus elected, shall be regulated by the same law as the present Royal Family of Hawaii.


It shall not be lawful for any member of the Royal Family of Hawaii who may by Law succeed to the Throne, to contract Marriage without the consent of the Reigning Sovereign. Every Marriage so contracted shall be void,, and the person so contracting a Marriage, may, by the proclamation of the Reigning Sovereign, be declared to have forfeited His or Her right to the Throne, and after such Proclamation, the Right of Succession shall vest in the next Heir as though such offender were dead.


His Majesty Kalakaua, will, and his Successors shall take the following oath: I solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God, to maintain the Constitution of the Kingdom whole and inviolate, and to govern in conformity therewith.


No person shall ever sit upon the Throne, who has been convicted of any infamous crime, or who is insane, or an idiot.


The King is the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, and of all other Military Forces of the Kingdom, by sea and land. But he shall never proclaim war without the consent of the Legislature; and no military or naval force shall be organized except by the authority of the Legislature.


The King, by and with the advice of his Privy Council, and with the consent of the Cabinet, has the power to grant reprieves and pardons, after conviction, for all offenses, except in case of impeachment


The King convenes the Legislature at the seat of Government, or at a different place, if that should become insecure from an enemy or any dangerous disorder, and prorogues the same; and in any great emergency he may, with the advice of the Privy Council, convene the Legislature in extraordinary session.


The King has the power to make Treaties. Treaties involving changes in the Tariff or in any law of the Kingdom, shall be referred for approval to the Legislature. The King appoints Public Ministers who shall be commissioned, accredited, and instructed agreeably to the usage and law of Nations.


It is the King's Prerogative to receive and acknowledge Public Ministers; to inform the Legislature by Royal Message, from time to time, of the state of the Kingdom; and to recommend to its consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.


The person of the King is inviolable and sacred. His Ministers are responsible. To the King and the Cabinet belongs the Executive power. All laws that have passed the Legislature, shall require His Majesty's signature in order to their validity, except as provided in Article 48.


Whenever, upon the decease of the Reigning Sovereign, the Heir shall be less than eighteen years of age, the Royal Power shall be exercised by a Regent or Council of Regency, as hereinafter provided.


It shall be lawful for the King at any time when he may about to absent himself from the kingdom, to appoint a Regent or Council of Regency, who shall administer the Government in His name; and likewise the King may, by His last Will and Testament, appoint a Regent or Council of Regency to administer the Government during the minority of any Heir to the Throne; and should a Sovereign decease, leaving a minor Heir, and having made no last Will and Testament, the Cabinet at the time of such decease shall be a Council of Regency, until the Legislature, which shall be called immediately, be assembled, and the Legislature immediately that it is assembled shall proceed to choose by ballot, a Regent or Council of Regency, who shall administer the Government in the name of the King, and exercise all the powers which are constitutionally vested in the King, until such Heir shall have attained the age of eighteen years, which age is declared to be the legal majority of such Sovereign.


The King is Sovereign of all the Chiefs and of all the people.


All Titles of Honor, Orders, and other distinctions, emanate from the King.


The King coins money and regulates the currency, by law.


The King, in case of invasion or rebellion, can place the whole Kingdom, or any part of it, under martial law.


The National Ensign shall not be changed, except by Act of the Legislature.


The King cannot be sued or held to account in any court or tribunal of the Kingdom.


There shall continue to be a good Council of State, for advising the King in all matters for the good of the State, wherein He may require its advice, which Council shall be called the King's Privy Council of State, and the members thereof shall be appointed by the King, to hold office during His Majesty's pleasure, and which Council shall have and exercise only such powers as are given to it by the Constitution.


The Cabinet shall consist of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Finance, and the Attorney General, and they shall be His Majesty's special advisors in the executive affairs of the Kingdom; and they shall be ex-officio members of His Majesty's Privy Council of State. They shall be appointed and commissioned by the King and shall be removed by him, only upon a vote of want of confidence passed by a majority of all the elective members of the Legislature or upon conviction of felony, and shall be subject to impeachment. No act of the King shall have any effect unless it be countersigned by a member of the Cabinet, who by that signature makes himself responsible.


Each member of the Cabinet shall keep an office at the seat of Government, and shall be accountable for the conduct of his deputies and clerks. The Cabinet hold seats ex-officio, in the Legislature, with the right to vote, except on a question of want of confidence in them.


The Minister of Finance shall present to the Legislature in the name of the Government, on the first day of each Biennial Session, the Financial Budget, in the Hawaiian and English languages.


The Legislature power of the Kingdom is vested in the King and the Legislature, which shall consist of the Nobles and Representatives sitting together.


The Legislative Body shall be styled the Legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and shall assemble, biennially, in the month of May. The first regular session shall be held in the year of our Lord Eighteen Hundred and Eighty-eight.


Every member of the Legislature shall take the following oath: I solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will faithfully support the Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and conscientiously and impartially discharge my duties as a member of the Legislature.


The Legislature has full power and authority to amend the Constitution as hereinafter provided; and from time to time to make all manner of wholesome laws, not repugnant to the Constitution.


Every Bill which shall have passed the Legislature, shall, before it becomes law, be presented to the King. If he approve he shall sign it and it shall thereby become law, but, if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to the Legislature, which shall enter the objections at large on their journal and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration it shall be approved by a two-third vote of all the elective members of the Legislature it shall become a law. In all such cases the votes shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the journal of the Legislature. If any Bill shall not be returned by the King within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Legislature by their adjournment prevents its return, in which case it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Legislature by their adjournment prevents its return, in which case it shall not be a law.


The Legislature shall be the judge of the qualifications of its own members, except as may hereafter be provided by law, and a majority shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as the Legislature may provide.


The Legislature shall choose its own officers and determine the Rules of its own proceedings.


The Legislature shall have authority to punish by imprisonment, not exceeding thirty days, every person, not a member, who shall be guilty of disrespect to the Legislature by any disorderly or contemptuous behavior in its presence; or who, during the time of its sitting, shall publish any false report of its proceedings, or insulting comments upon the same; or who shall threaten harm to the body or estate of any of its members for any thing said or done in the Legislature; or who shall assault any of them therefor, or who shall assault or arrest any witness, or other person ordered to attend the Legislature, on his way going or returning; or who shall rescue any person arrested by order of the Legislature.


The Legislature may punish its own members for disorderly behavior.


The Legislature shall keep a journal of its proceedings; and the yeas and nays of the members, on any question, shall, at the desire of one-fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.


The members of the Legislature shall, in all cases, except treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the Sessions of the Legislature, and in going to and returning from the same; provided such privilege as to going and returning shall not cover a period of over twenty days; and they shall not be held to answer for any speech or debate made in the Legislature, in an Court or place whatsoever.


The Representative shall receive for their services a compensation to be determined by law, and paid out of the Public Treasury, but no increase of compensation shall take effect during he biennial term in which it shall have been made,; and no law shall be passed increasing the compensation of Representitives beyond the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars each for each biennial term.


A Noble shall be a subject of the Kingdom, who shall have attained the age of twenty-five years and resided in the Kingdom three years, and shall be the owner of taxable property in this Kingdom of the value of three thousand dollars over and above all encumbrances, or iin receipt of an income of not less than six hundred dollars per annum.


The Nobles shall be a Court, with full and sole authority to hear and determine all impeachments made by the Representatives, as a Grand Inquest of the Kingdom, against any officers of the Kingdom, for misconduct or mal-administration of its offices; but previous to trial of any impeachment the Nobles shall be respectively sworn, truly and impartially to try and determine the charge in question, according to the evidence and law. Their judgment, however, shall not extend further than to removal from office and disqualification to hold or enjoy and place of honor, trust, or profit, under this Government; but the party so convicted shall be, nevertheless, liable to the indictment, trial, judgment and punishment according to the laws of the land.


Twenty-four Nobles shall be elected as follows: Six from the Island of Hawai'i', six from the Islands of Mau'i, Moloka'i and Lana'i; nine from the Island of O'ahu; and three from the Islands of Kaua'i and Ni'ihau. At the first election held under this Constitution, the Nobles shall be elected to serve until the general election to the Legislature for the year of our Lord 1890, at which election, and thereafter, the Nobles shall be elected at the same time and places as the Representatives. At the election for the year of our Lord 1890, one-third of the Nobles from each of the divisions aforesaid, shall be elected for two years, and one-third for four years, and one-third for six years, and the electors shall ballot for them for such terms, respectively; and at all subsequent general elections they shall elected for six years. The Nobles shall serve without pay.


Every male resident of the Hawaiian Islands of Hawaiian, American or European birth or descent, who shall have attained the age of twenty years, and shall have paid his taxes, and shall have caused his name to be entered on the list of voters for Nobles for his District, shall be an elector of Nobles, and shall be entitled to vote at any election of Nobles, provided:

Privided, however, that the requirements of a three years residence and of ability to read and comprehend an ordinary newspaper, printed in the Hawaiian, English or some European language, shall not apply to persons residing in the Kingdom at the time of the promulgation of this Constitution, if they shall register and vote at the first election which shall be held under this Constitution.


There shall be twenty-four Representatives of the People elected biennially, except those first elected under this Constitution, who shall serve until the general election for the year of our Lord 1890. The representation shall be based upon the principles of equality and shall be regulated and apportioned by the Legislature according to the population to be ascertained from time to time by the official census. But until such apportionment by the Legislature, the apportionment now established by law shall remain in force, with the following exceptions, namely: there shall be but two Representatives for the Districts of Hilo and Puna on the Island of Hawai'i, but one for the districts of Lahaina and Kaanapali on the Island of Mau'i, and but on for the Districts of Koolauloa and Waialua on the Island of O'ahu.


No person shall be eligible as a Representative of the people, unless he be a male subject of the Kingdom, who shall have arrived at the full age of twenty-one years; who shall know to read and write either the Hawaiian, English or some European language; who shall understand accounts; who shall have been domiciled in the Kingdom for at least three years, the last of which shall be the year immediately preceding his election; and who shall own real estate within the Kingdom of a clear value, over and above all encumbrances, of at least five hundred dollars; or who shall have an annual income of at least two hundred and fifty dollars, derived from any property or some lawful employment.


Every male resident of the Kingdom, of Hawaiian, American, or European birth or descent, who shall have taken an oath to support the Constitution and laws in the manner provided for electors of Nobles; who shall have paid his taxes; who shall have attained the age of twenty years; and shall have domiciled in the Kingdom for one year immediately preceding the election; and shall know how to read and write the Hawaiian, English or some European language (if born since the year 1840), and shall have caused his name to be entered on the list of voters of his district as may be provided by law, shall be entitled to one vote for the Representative or Representatives of that district; provided, however that the requirements of being domiciled in the Kingdom for one year immediately preceding the election, and of knowing how to read and write either the Hawaiian, English or some European language, shall not apply to persons residing in this Kingdom at the time of the promulgation of the Constitution, if they shall register and vote at the first election which shall be held under this Constitution.


No person shall sit as a Noble or Representative in the Legislature unless elected under and in conformity with the provisions of this Constitution. The property or income qualification of the Representatives, or Nobles, and of Electors of Nobles, may be increased by law; and a property or income qualification of Electors of Representatives may be created and altered by law.


The Judicial Power of the Kingdom shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Legislature may from time to time establish.

ARTICLE 65. The Supreme

Court shall consist of a Chief Justice, and not less than two Associate Justices, any of whom may hold the Court. The Justices of the Supreme Court shall hold their offices during good behavior, subject to removal upon impeachment, and shall at stated times receive for their services a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office. Provided, however, that any Judge of the Supreme Court or any other Court of Record may be removed from office, on resolution passed by two-thirds of all members of the Legislature, for good cause shown to the satisfaction of the King. The Judge against whom the Legislature may be about to proceed, shall receive notice thereof, accompanied by a copy of the causes alleged for his removal, at least ten days before the day on which the Legislature shall act thereon. He shall be heard before the Legislature.


The judicial Power shall be divided among the Supreme Court and the several inferior Courts of the Kingdom, ins such manner as the Legislature may, from time to time, prescribe, and the tenure of office in the inferior Courts of the Kingdom shall be such as may be defined by the law creating them.


The Judicial Power shall extend to all cases in law and equity, arising under the Constitution and laws of this Kingdom, the Treaties made, or which shall be made under their authority, to all cases affecting Public Ministers and Consuls, and to all cases of Admiralty and Maritime jurisdiction.


The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall be the Chancellor of the Kingdom, he shall be ex officio President of the Nobles in all cases of impeachment, unless when impeached himself; and shall exercise such jurisdiction in equity or other cases as the law may confer upon him; his decisions being subject, however, to the revision of the Supreme Court on appeal. Should the Chief Justice ever be impeached, some person specially commissioned by the King shall be President of the Court of Impeachment during such trial.


The decisions of the Supreme Court, when made by a majority of the Justices thereof, shall be final and conclusive upon all parties.


The King, His Cabinet, and the Legislature shall have authority to require the opinions of the Justices of the Supreme Court, upon the important questions of law, and upon solemn occasions.


The King appoints the Justices of the Supreme Court, and all other Judges of Courts of Record. Their salaries are fixed by law.


No judge or Magistrate shall sit alone on an appeal or new trial, in any case on which he may have given a previous judgment.


The following persons shall not be permitted to register for voting, to vote, or to hold office under any department of the Government, or to sit in the Legislature, namely: Any person who is insane or an idiot, or any person who shall have been convicted of any of the following named offenses, viz: Arson, Barratry, Bribery, Burglary, Counterfeiting, Embezzlement, Felonious Branding of Cattle, Forgery, Gross Cheat, Incest, Kidnapping, Larceny, Malicious Burning, Manslaughter in the First Degree, Murder, Perjury, Rape, Robbery, Sodomy, Treason, Subornation of Perjury, and Malfeasance in Office, unless he shall have been pardoned by the King and restored to his Civil Rights, and by the express terms of his pardon declared to be eligible to offices of Trust, Honor and Profit.


No officer of this government shall hold any office, or receive any salary from any other Government or Power whatever.


The Legislature votes the Appropriations biennally, after due consideration of the revenue and expenditure for the two preceding years, and the estimates of the revenue and expenditure of the two succeeding years, which shall be submitted to them by the Minister of Finance.


The enacting style in making and passing all Acts and Laws shall be, "Be it enacted by the King, and the Legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom".


to avoid improper influences which may result from intermixing in one and the same Act, such things as have no proper relation to each other, every law shall embrace but one object and that shall be expressed in the title.


Wherever by this Constitution any Act is to be done or performed by the King or the Sovereign, it shall unless otherwise expressed, mean that such Act shall be done and performed by the Sovereign by and with the advice and consent of the Cabinet.


All laws now in force in this Kingdom, shall continue and remain in full effect, until altered or repealed by the Legislature; such parts only excepted as are repugnant to this Constitution. All laws heretofore enacted or that may hereafter be enacted, which are contrary to this Constitution, shall be null and void.


The Cabinet shall have power to make and publish all necessary rules and regulations for holding of any election or elections under this Constitution, prior to the passage by the Legislature of appropriate laws for such purpose, and to provide for administering to officials, subjects and residents the oath to support this Constitution.

The first election hereunder shall be held within ninety days after the promulgation of this Constitution, and the Legislature then elected may be convened at Honolulu upon the call of the Cabinet Council, in extraordinary session at such time as the Cabinet Council may deem necessary, thirty days notice thereof being previously given.


This Constitution shall be in force from the 7th day of July, A.D. 1887, but that there may be no failure of justice, or inconvenience to the Kingdom, from any change, all officers of this Kingdom, at the time this Constitution shall take effect, shall have, hold, and exercise all the power to them granted. Such officers shall take an oath to support this Constitution, within sixty days as after the promulgation thereof.


Any amendment or amendments to this Consitution may be proposed in the Legislature, and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of the members thereof, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be entered on its journal, with the yeas and nays taken thereon, and referred to the next Legislature; which proposed amendment or amendments shall be published for three months previous to the next election of Representatives and Nobles; and if in the next Legislature such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to by two-thirds of all the members of the Legislature, such amendment or amendments shall become part of the Constitution of this Kingdom.

By the King:

W.L. Green, Minister of Finance.

Honolulu,   }      Oahu.   }  ss
I, Kalakaua, King of the Hawaiian Islands, in the presence of Almighty God, do solemnly swear to maintain this Constitution whole and inviolate, and to govern in conformity therewith.
Subscribed and sworn to before me this sixth day of July, A.D. 1887.
A.F. Judd,
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Chancellor of the Kingdom

Kingdom of Hawai`i Constitutions: 1840 - 1852 - 1864 - 1893
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