Saturday, October 23, 1999

100 Who Made A Difference

Star Henry P. Baldwin Star

Star-Bulletin file photo
Henry P. Baldwin lost an arm in a sugar mill accident.

‘Big Five’ member
overcame disability

By Treena Shapiro
Special to the Star-Bulletin


HENRY Perrine Baldwin developed Maui with one hand.

Born in 1842 in Lahaina, Baldwin ended up managing a rice plantation after graduating from Punahou School. He then moved to sugar cane, working for his brother, Dwight Baldwin Jr., in Lahaina.

Later, he headed the Waihee Plantation under Samuel T. Alexander, who became his business partner in 1869, when they founded what would become the "Big Five" company Alexander & Baldwin. A year later, Baldwin wed Alexander's sister, Emily.

Alexander & Baldwin's first business venture was a small sugar plantation. Baldwin's determination to make it a success cost him an arm during a mill accident in 1876. The accident, though, only fueled his ambition.

"You have handicapped me for life. Now I am going to make you support me," he said.

Baldwin's disability motivated others as Alexander & Baldwin sought to bring water to Maui, via the Hamakua-Haiku irrigation ditch. The project almost halted when workmen reached a gorge in Maliko and refused to lower themselves down a cliff.

But Baldwin, still recovering from his injury, lowered himself with a rope, shaming the men into following him. To encourage the workers, Baldwin returned each day to descend the cliffs.

The success of the irrigation ditch ensured the company's success, even after Alexander moved to California in 1883. In 1889, the firm established the Hawaiian Sugar Co. on Kauai, and in 1902, took over the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. in Puunene, Maui. The firm also operated a fleet of ships, first the American-Hawaiian line steamers, then the Matson Navigation Co. freighters.

Baldwin served in the Legislature from 1887 to 1903. He died in 1911.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin