HAWAIIAN REFORESTATION PROGRAM FOUNDATION

Excellent article on the suffering imposed upon the commoners by ali’i during the sandalwood trade.

The kingdom was passed on to Kamehameha III along with a huge debt of $500,000 owed to the American traders. The pressure on the king was great. In December 1826, the kingdom’s first written law, a sandalwood tax, stated that every man was required to deliver one-half picul of sandalwood to the governor of the district to which he belonged, or to pay, in lieu thereof, four Spanish dollars, on or before September 1, 1827. Every woman 13 years and older was required to hand weave a 12 foot by 6 foot mat, or a quantity of tapa cloth of equal value. All the taxes collected were applied to the kingdom’s sandalwood debts. Again commoners were forced to abandon their crops, and food shortages plagued the islands. The accessible sandalwood was all gone, making it more difficult to locate trees with adequate heartwood to meet the new tax requirements.

Unjust demands caused so much toil for the commoners, carrying the heavy wood down the mountain trail, that they pulled up the young sandalwood trees, so that their children would not be forced to live the same life.

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