Wednesday, September 22, 1999

100 Who Made A Difference

Star Sanford Ballard Dole Star

Star-Bulletin file photo
Sanford B. Dole, far left, served as the first governor of the
territory from June 1900 to 1903. Historians viewed Dole
as an open-minded independent thinker. He died June 9, 1926.

Leader shaped
Hawaii’s history

Star-Bulletin staff


AS a young attorney in 19th-century Hawaii, Sanford Ballard Dole spoke out for workers when labor had no voice.

An open-minded independent thinker, Dole was the popular choice of annexation movement leaders to lead the Republic of Hawaii, serving as president from 1894-1900.

Historians note that diplomacy was Dole's most outstanding characteristic, especially during the early days of the Republic.

Author and educator Helen Chapin, former president of the Hawaiian Historical Society and vice president emeritus of Hawaii Pacific University, described Dole as a "Teflon leader."

"He was among the conspirators that engineered the overthrow," said Chapin, author of "Shaping History: The Role of Newspapers in Hawaii." "But remarkably, Dole kept his hands clean.

"A lot of things associated with the other conspirators who overthrew the queen didn't stick on him. He was acceptable to a lot of people and I think his image was that of a respectable, decent guy."

Dole reconciled with Queen Liliuokalani and in her book, "Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii," Hawaiian historian Ethel M. Damon wrote that "the kindliest feelings existed between the two."

Damon wrote that Dole wanted to prevail upon Liliuokalani to retire and appoint her young niece, Princess Kaiulani, as regent with a selected commission to direct and advise her.

But after first declining, Dole accepted leadership of the movement "as the will of the majority."

In his book, "Memoirs of the Hawaiian Revolution," Lorrin A. Thurston says, "To the outside world and largely to insiders as well, Sanford Ballard Dole was the revolution.

"His mere participation as its leader disarmed and neutralized opposition."

His parents -- Daniel and Emily Dole -- were missionaries from Maine who came to Hawaii in 1840. Daniel Dole was in charge of Punahou School.

Sanford, their second child, was born in Honolulu on April 23, 1844. His mother, the former Emily Ballard, died four days after giving birth.

A Hawaiian foster mother cared for him until Daniel Dole married Charlotte Knapp, a missionary widow, two years after the death of his wife.

Tall and athletic, Dole ignored his father's plea to enter the ministry and pursued a career in law after graduating from Williams College.

Dole found purpose and inspiration in religion but could not conform to creed and dogma, wrote Damon.

After returning to Hawaii, Dole began expressing his views about contract labor law in a newspaper called "The Punch Bowl."

Dole was appointed the first governor of the territory and served from June 1900 to 1903. He died June 9, 1926.

"He was influential, a shaper of history in Hawaii," Chapin said.

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