The Hawaiian Don Flowing...

11:06 03.09.2019 • Vladimir Orlov , Professor, Department of Applied International Analysis, MGIMO

In 1816-1817, the flag of the Russian Empire flew over the westernmost of the Hawaiian Islands - Kauai. The Don River, previously known as Hanapepe, appeared on the map of the island. Three Russian fortresses - Elisaveta, Alexander and Barclay - were erected at key strategic points of the island: at the mouth of the Waimea River in the south and at the picturesque Khanalei Bay in the north.

At present, looking back on the time two centuries ago, we won’t even see the ruins of two or these three fortresses: a luxury hotel has taken the place of “Alexander” Fortress. But the fort of Elizabeth, which has been restored, seems to be the only reminder of the history of “Russian Hawaii”. Also, the Museum of Kauai houses a section devoted to the “Russian chapter” in the history of the island and exhibits the flag of the Russian-American Company (RAC), which was played its own part in the history of the island.

In fact, the archives feature a colorful, though brief, history of a period when Russia could – just through becoming the owner of Kauai - "have locked" its possessions within the northern Pacific Ocean, from Kamchatka to Alaska and Fort Ross, thereby turning this territory into "Russian Lake". The archives also provide an explanation why Emperor Alexander I decided that such an option would run counter to Russia's interests.

The history of Russian Hawaii is a kind of cocktail made of a mixture of romantic sea voyages, accurate calculation of trade gains, strategic planning and sheer adventurism, a blend of mind-boggling ambitions of individual players who put everything at stake and of a policy of legitimism that cooled their heads, a story of lone travelers and of an emperor backing away at the slightest suggestion of a risk. The history of the Russian flag hoisted on Kauai is also the history of a geopolitical game in the Pacific Ocean, where Russia "played" a risky game with the fledgling United States, hoping to channel the rivalry into a partnership, while the British shadow invariably loomed in the distance, and where the final recipient of the products that accounted for Kauai’s “tug-of-war” was China, which back then had not yet been affected by European powers.

But we will tell the story in chronological order.



Russians’ encounter with the Hawaiian Islands occurred in June 1804, when the ships "Nadezhda" and "Neva" under the command of I.F. Kruzenshtern and Y.F. Lisyansky called at the archipelago during their round-the-world voayge. The participants in the expedition shared valuable observations about the state of the local economy, the customs and traditions of the islanders, and provided the Curiosity Chamber in St. Petersburg with numerous exhibits[1].

The commander of the Neva sloop, Y.F. Lisyansky, also met the king of the island of Kauai, named Kaumualia. Lisyansky presented the king with a “flanel blanket and many other bric-a-bracs” but the king was interested in protecting himself from his rival, the Hawaiian king Kameamea. According to the clerk of the RAC N.I. Korobitsyn, he even found it possible for the island “to come under the Russian jurisdiction”[2]. In the fall of 1808, the Neva arrived at Hawaii again to find out more about these islands. The official correspondence of those years contains discussions of the options for agricultural development of Hawaii by the Russians, with the possibility of purchasing or even capturing the lands, with proposals to send two dozen Russians and about the same number to defend them along with one gun[3], it was proposed to accompany the Russian arrival on the islands by dispatching two warships[4]. However, none of those plans approached implementation. Simultaneously, the “Boston captains”, who had their own designs for the independent Kingdom of Hawaii, spread rumors about treacherous Russians who were planning to seize the archipelago [5].

In January 1815, the Bering ship sent to Hawaii by RAC chief A.A. Baranov to purchase food sank off the coast of Kauai. Laid ashore, the vessel, along with the cargo, was, as the captain claimed, captured by the local king Kaumualia and the islanders. The chief of the RAC estimated the losses at 100 thousand rubles but rejected the idea of sending an armed expedition to Kauai. On reflection, he opted for a peaceful settlement. To this end, he sent a mission led by Dr. Georg * (* In some sources, “Egor” is indicated instead of “Georg.”) Anton Schaeffer.



In those years, the “Napoleon of Polynesia”, Hawaiian King Kameamea ** (** In the Russian documents of the first quarter of the 19th century - “King Toome-Ome-o,” or “Tomi-Omi”), fought to overcome the fragmentation of the archipelago to unite it under his rule. The bone in the throat of Kameamea was the Hawaii ruler Kaumualia * (* In the Russian documents of the first quarter of the XIX century - "King Tomari"). Kameamea carried out two assaults on the island of Kauai and the adjoining island of Niihau, but was never able to subdue them. While the treeless, waterless Niihau presented little interest to him, Kauai, rich in valuable timber, especially sandalwood, and fertile lands, was a juicy morsel for his Hawaiian empire. Realizing that he could no longer hold out against the enemy, Kaumualia conceded in 1810.

Having arrived on the island of Oahu in Honolulu, where his enemy’s palace was located, he met Kameamea and told him that as “a gift of the meeting he would present him with the land of Kauai, its leaders, its adults and children, its mountains and waters, everything above and everything below, and himself, - all for you”[6]. Thus, he agreed to become a vassal king (“alii nui” in Hawaiian) [7].

The latter is crucial for understanding the international legal circumstances of the case. A number of Russian and American historians of those years were lost for comments as to how to relate to Kaumualia - as an independent ruler who had full sovereignty over Kauai and, accordingly, had all the authority to conclude interstate treaties, or as a separatist princelet who wanted, with the help of external forces, to invade neighboring islands and overthrow the influential Kameamea [8].

However, in 1810, Kauai did not become part of the Hawaiian Empire, which Kameamea had been trying to build. To begin with, Kameamea, according to the records, did not accept a gift under coercion: “I will not accept your land. Go back and rule. But when my young heir comes to you, welcome him with honors”. Probably, Kameamea suspected that without an armed intervention, Kauai would remain independent, no matter what Kaumualia promised him. There is also a version that in Honolulu they had been plotting an attempt on Kaumualia’s life. The plan was to poison him, of which he learned from foreigners, so he fled to safety in his own domain.[9] Was there an agreement between the two kings or not? One thing is certain: at the time the Russians arrived on the island, Kauai remained de facto independent, Kaumuali continued to rule his "isolated kingdom", located in the westernmost part of Hawaii, as if in the back of beyond. The conflict, as they would describe it now, was labeled “frozen”.

The Russians appeared on Kauai at a critical moment for Kaumualia. Napoleon had suffered a defeat. The Anglo-American war over. The British had strength to spare and could go for Pacific invasions * (* Although James Cook landed on Kauai in January 1778, the British did not lay claims on Kauai, which was known to Russia.). The Americans too had now the opportunity to direct their attention to the Russian-American Company [10]. Sandalwood prices which had plunged before soared again, along with interest in Kauai from outside players. In these conditions, Kaumualia decided to stake on Russia.



Georg Schaeffer was sent to Kauai with a financial and economic mission: to receive compensation for damages inflicted in the marauding of property. As compensation, Russians expected to get sandalwood, which had to be prepared by the time the Russian ships arrived. Under favorable conditions, Schaeffer was also to secure trade privileges and a monopoly on the export of sandalwood, similar to the one the Americans used to have. Baranov sent gifts, a silver medal and a personal letter addressed not to the king of Kauai, but to his rival, Kameamea, in which he raised the issue of compensation for losses in connection with the seizure of the Bering and confirmed Schaeffer's authority to act as a representative of the company.

In his letter, Baranovsaid that Russian America and Hawaii are geographically closest and therefore, they are particularly interested in establishing friendly relations. At the same time, at the end of the letter there was a hidden threat to take, with the consent of Kameamea, measures against Kaumualia if the latter refused to satisfy the fair demands presented to him [11]. In case all peaceful means were exhausted, Kaumualia was to be given a lesson in the form of military force as a kind of "warning", preferably, avoiding loss of life. And if they won, in this “fortunate outcome” A.A. Baranov recommended that “that island of Atuvai should be taken under control in the name of His Highness the Russian Emperor to come under his rule and to be part of his empire”[12].

This serves as a clear sign that the head of the Russian-American Company expressed intention to gain a foothold in Hawaii and maintain presence there for a long time. However, Russian sources do not confirm that Baranov had instructions from the capital to this effect. According to Nikolai Bolkhovitinov, Baranov "acted ... at his own peril and risk, counting on the old rule that the winner is not judged"[13]. Stepping ashore together with Schaeffer were two “Creoles”, as Russians called children born from mixed marriages of Russians and indigenous inhabitants of Russian America - primarily the Aleuts. One of the two Creoles was Baranov’s son, named Antipater [14].

Once on Kauai, Schaeffer did not run into any resistance on the part of the king or local residents, which would require the use of military force. On the contrary, Kaumualia "received him ... in the friendliest of manner." “However, he appeared confused,” - Schaeffer wrote in his diary, “and the confusion, as it was later revealed, came from ... the hostile behavior of North American skippers.”[15] This topic has yet to be analyzed. In the meantime, counting on alliance with the Russians, Kaumuali promised Schaeffer written acts "to pay for the property stolen from the company with sandalwood and incense trees; to trade with Russians only, to give the company the land of an entire province as, to allow to establish factories where necessary.”[16]

Dr. Schaeffer was mesmerized by the island and its breathtaking scenery: “This province is abundant in beautiful rivulets rich in fish, in fields and mountains, and the location is fascinating by itself, the soil is more than suitable for planting grapes, cotton paper, sugarcane, of which he planted quite a few by laying out gardens for many tender fruits. Garden yields convinced Schaeffer about the great benefits that this place and all islands in general can bring to Russia ”[17]; “Atuvai abounds in life essentials: salt and a great variety of fish; sea saigas, pearls and pearl shells are caught on them”[18] ... “There are no poisonous reptiles, nor any predatory animals that pose a danger to humans”[19].

Kauai is known as a "garden island." Today, looking at the “postcard” landscapes of Kauai, from Waimea Canyon and the Hanalei Valley to the coast of Napali, captured in dozens of Hollywood films (for example, Jurassic Park), you can easily understand why Dr. Schaeffer felt dizzy at the sight of this pearl of Polynesia. As Tarsaidze ironically observes, “Schaeffer decided that he had been given the chance to become an island empire.”[20] However, judging by his diaries, Schaeffer examined only an insignificant part of the island - the one that was the most suitable for building fortifications, for farming and for port construction: the south-western and northern parts of the island. The energetic doctor did not get into the depth of the island, to Alakai - the site of the highest mountain swamps in the world, where vegetation resembles the Russian tundra and which is home to the main sanctuaries of the Hawaiians [21].



Having a practical mind, Dr. Schaeffer not only managed the agricultural sector but also established close relations with the king of Kaumualia. They turned out to be namesakes. The fact is that in his early days, while still a crown prince, Kaumualia met with Englishman George Vancouver, who arrived to have a look at Hawaii for the British Empire. After that meeting, Kaumualia took the name “George” (Georg) - either in honor of the King of England, or in honor of Vancouver himself; and he also began to address his son, Humehum, as George [22].

“Given the favorable disposition of King Tomari [Kaumualia], Dr. Schaeffer built several houses for a trading post and established gardens on Atuvai [Kauai] with the help of the islanders provided by the king in the Wegmea [Waimea] Valley. The king also gave him a stone structure for the store; by his orders, the elders of the province, in which Gunnari [Khanalei] Harbor is located, solemnly passed it to Schaeffer with 30 families inhabiting it. Having examined the harbor, the Wagmea [Waimea] River, the lakes and the entire location, he laid three fortresses on three hills, naming one Aleksandrovskaya, one Elisavetinskaya and a third by the name of Barclay.”[23]

Alexander and Barclay were earthen forts, while the Elizabeth Fortress (named after Emperor Alexander I’s wife), made of stone and lava briquettes, was a thoroughly-built structure, testifying to the fact that the builders had used the technology of European fortifications.

In March 1816, two well-armed Russian ships - Kodiak and Otkrytie – arrived at the Hawaiian Islands.

More events followed. Kaumualia presents Schaeffer with the most fascinating and fertile part of the island - the northern valley of Hanalei, overlooking a scenic bay, which he dubbed “Shaeffer Bay” or “Sheffertal” * at the suggestion of the king himself (as we see in the image of Schaeffer) (* According to another account, the king did not gift the valley to Schaeffer, but exchanged it for a ship - an expense that Schaeffer was to have written in the RAC ledger book). The full-flowing Hanapepe River was renamed  Don [24]. The local chieftains were given Russian names - for example, there appeared a Hawaiian Prince known by the name of “Platov”.

In the spring of 1816, the relations hit a new high. According to Schaeffer, the king “wished to forever throw himself to the patronage of his Majesty the Russian Emperor, and this he solemnly demonstrated in full view of his people, having acquired for this purpose the Russian flag, which he managed to secure for himself from the Otkrytie and which he hoisted at his home. He also obtained a Russian naval officer’s attire and put it on himself. [...] The King vowed allegiance to His Majesty, publicly swearing an oath of loyalty, laying his right hand on the Gospel and the Cross.” [25] This happened on May 21, 1816, and this was when the following document was signed:

"Act signed by King Tomari of two Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands on assuming Russian citizenship, May 21, 1816

His Majesty Tomari Tae-evich, King of the Sandwich Islands located in the North Pacific Ocean, Atuvai and Nigau, nee prince of the islands of Ovagu and Mauvi, asks His Majesty Emperor Alexander Pavlovich, the ruler of all Russia, etc., etc., etc., to accept the above mentioned islands under His patronage and wants to be forever faithful to the Russian scepter with its heirs; as a sign of fidelity and devotion, he took the Russian flag from the Otkrytie ship, owned by the Russian-American Company.

Insignia of King Tomari

Translated into the Sandwich language and made public by the king himself to the inhabitants of the islands of Atuvai and Nigau.” [26]

To note: there is no evidence that he was a Christian, and only his son, later, under the influence of American missionaries, converted to Christianity. Notably, unlike Alaska and Fort Ross, Orthodox churches were not built in the short “Russian period” on Kauai, although plans for converting Hawaiians, following the example of the Aleuts, to Orthodoxy, were discussed by the RAC as the next stage in the development of Kauai. On the other hand, it is known that the RAC opposed the opening of most new church missions in Russian America, because their maintenance was carried out at the Company’s expense [27].


On July 1 (13), 1816, a "secret treaty" was struck between Georg Schaeffer and King Kaumualia under which Kaumualia sent 500 islanders to conquer the islands of Oahu, Lanai, Naui (Maui. - V.O. ), Malokai and “others”, which belonged to him and had been taken from him by force. The general leadership of the expedition was assigned to Doctor Schaeffer. “The king gives Dr. Schaeffer, as indicated in the treaty, the control of this expedition and all kinds of support for building fortresses on all the islands in which there will be Russian commanders, as in the harbor of Ganarua (Honolulu) on the island of Wagu [Oahu].”

The deal stipulated that RAC would get from the king "half of" Oahu, as well as "all sandalwood" on this island. Kaumuali pledged to pay "for everything that he had received and would receive, namely: for the fittings and ammunition of the brigantine and schooner, and alao for other properties with sandalwood. He also made it clear he would refuse all trade with citizens of the union state of America [that is, the United States]." For his part, Dr. Schaeffer committed himself to “establishing factories and introducing the best kind of economy through which local residents would be enlightened and enriched.”

Alexander I “found it important, with a view to encourage such relations, to bestow the local ruler named Tomari with a gold medal on the Annensky ribbon to be worn around the neck, which had the inscription “To the ruler of the Sandwich Islands, Tomari, in acknowledgement of his friendship with the Russians”. On top of that, the king got a dagger with a rich frame and a pocket cloak with gold tassels and gold galloon.”

The RAC Board, having received Schaeffer’s reports, issued their “Viewpoint” on measures necessary to strengthen the company’s trade with the Sandwich Islands. The document established the following requirements: “a) to protect King Tomari from other island rulers as long as such an intervention did not happen through the influence of a European nation and was not inflicted by the nation itself; b) to respect this king as much as the style of his wild life requires; c) disputes that could happen between Russians and Indians cannot be managed without consulting the king and satisfying the demands of his judiciary; d) on the non-infliction of the slightest resentment because of misappropriation of the islanders’ property or females; e) on the non-use of islanders for labor without pay or through coersion; and e) on the maintenance of trade ties in the same manner as before, until substantial information was received and proper instructions were provided thereon.” [28]

Reports on the developments in Hawaii appeared in the foreign press saying that the Russians had annexed one of the islands ("not far from the Sandwich Islands") and were building fortifications on it. “We will soon see this nation with its glorious and active government in all parts of the world” - this excerpt from an American newspaper, also published in the Courier, became a subject of concern for the Russian Foreign Ministry. [29].

It seemed that Russia had not only advanced to Polynesia - it was gaining a foothold there.



Now, it would be interesting to figure out who Dr. Schaeffer was. Born in Bavaria, he was Doctor of "Medicine, Surgery and Midwifery” and promoted to this title at the University of Gottingen in 1808. He entered the Russian service, “was placed with the Moscow Police in 1809, from 1812 to 1813 he participated in “military campaigns”, including unfulfilled projects of launching balloons in the war with Napoleon, and then “in the rank of naval doctor he went to serve with American Russian colonies." Most historians are wondering what an experienced ruler of Russian America Baranov found about Schaeffer that he dispatched him on a responsible Hawaiian mission? Was there nobody else at hand? And they conclude: Schaeffer was a 100% schemer [30], who misled both RAC and St. Petersburg and who manipulated the hostility between Kaumualia and Kameamea. Everyone agrees that Schaeffer had a weakness for titles and laughs at Sheffertal.

Nevertheless, some historians choose not to reduce Schaeffer, the co-ruler of Kauai for a year and a half, to a funny caricature. They remark that Fort Elizabeth built under the command of Dr. Schaeffer, with 38 cannons along the perimeter, turned out to be “impressive”[31], the Russian flag flew graciously over the island, 400 vines were planted by him on the island, and Schaeffer’s main problem was not his vanity or a sense of adventure, but the “Boston skippers” - the Americans, who sensed a rival in Schaeffer and did everything they could to besmirch both Schaeffer and Russia in the eyes of the Hawaiians [32].

Among Russian historians, only S. Okun tends to see Shaeffer not as an adventurer, but an executor of a well-thought-out strategy. According to Okun, “an attempt to capture the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands, made on behalf of tsarist Russia at the beginning of the 19th century, was not a random act by a certain rascal, as official sources presented, but was a carefully thought-out plan developed by the Russian-American Company and approved by the tsarist government. It’s only due to unfortunate circumstances that the Hawaiian Islands did not become, along with part of California, “lands of Russian ownership” during this period, and that a doctor of the Moscow City Police, Schaeffer, did not make “the Russian Columbus”[33].

As for the “Russian Columbus,” Okun went too far, even though he uses an unrealistic subjunctive. Also, there were no direct orders for the "ownership" of Hawaii from the "tsarist government."


But the study of Schaeffer's diary entries that he made on Kauai, as well as a note he presented to Alexander I, “on the gains Russia would acquire if it gets a foothold on the Sandwich Islands,” leave an impression of him as a man of keen wit and devoted to Russia: “Regarding the political agenda: the securing of proper patronage to Russian overseas possessions depends on acquiring a reliable position in the South Sea. Should Russia try to secure that possession? This is a matter of honor and lucrative trade. Russia should occupy Atuvai along with all the other islands. By occupying the Sandwich Islands, Russia will provide itself with the opportunity to become the only seller of furs on the northwest coast and will prevent the Americans from using this territory, but without these islands all the establishments of Russia and its trade will be lost in these countries of the world . ”

Schaeffer shrewdly adds: “Without [occupation] Sandwich Islands... we will lose our colonial possessions on the northwestern coast of America, and the Americans of the United States will quickly capture them. On the other hand, the British continue to spread to Asia annually, and Russia will soon find itself compelled to resort to force in order to maintain the [benefits] that it now enjoys by trading with China, America, and Asia. The Americans of the United States, under various pretexts, have long been trying to create all sorts of obstacles for us in this part of the world, they even use fake reports and false information to this end, making it to appear as if we were at war with one another and would therefore be forced to leave the Sandwich Islands ”[34].

In Dr. Schaeffer, we actually have “two individuals in one”: an ardent subject of the Russian Empire, who thought about consolidating the country’s position and who, at the same time, did not forget about his own interests. Ready for adventure ... but, how could you expect one to behave in the South Seas of the first quarter of the 19th century? Where is the line between "adventure" and "scam"?



In his strivings, Schaeffer did not take into account, however, that he could not expect the Russian Empire to be grateful to him for an easy acquisition of a “strategic” island in the Pacific Ocean.

Indeed, in the first half of his reign, Alexander I saw Russian America as only a minor part of a greater strategy which focused on China and Japan. The empeor was vitally interested in getting access to the port of Canton. There were plans to turn the northern part of the Pacific Ocean into the Russian "lake" run by the Russian fleet. Thus, patriotism was closely connected with commercial gains [35]. However, after the Vienna Congress, Alexander I lost interest in these kinds of projects, opting for legitimacy and no longer wanted any “conquests”, even if the territories in question did not belong to any other powers at that time. The proponent of such a restraint was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count K.V. Nesselrode, who found geopolitical games in the Pacific alien and even harmful.

On top of that, while Schaeffer was on Kauai, the RAC itself was torn by an acute conflict between civilian and military personnel in which representatives of the “merchants” were losing to the “navy”. And the latter had neither instruction, nor intention to support Baranov in his ambitions.

Besides, the RAC leadership could not come to a final decision "on the issue of Schaeffer and Kauai." Impressed by Schaeffer's reports, they began to contemplate economic gains, seeing “great benefits for trade and livelihood in north-western colonies, and in Kamchatka and Okhotsk, where staples and salt were much needed and could come more than handy in order to guarantee the regions’ prosperity in years to come. For ships circumnavigating the world a rest on these paradise islands which cannot be found anywhere else with a better effect on human health, better stocking up on food and better peace, makes them invaluable” [36].

To guarantee Russian dominance over Kauai, the RAC proposed, if necessary, “to assign two ships for transport and one for the cover and up to one hundred Russian industrial people, of which half would be in the garrison and the other would be busy working on plantations and on various enterprises that disseminate safety, benefit and gain. Meanwhile, as all this will come into effect, the industrials will establish family ties with the islanders, and maybe, they will be able to instill in them the sacred respect for the Christian religion, which tames wild temper.”[37]

However, members of the RAC Board, Mikhailo Buldakov, Venedikt Kramer, and Andrei Severin, who signed the above document, did not take into consideration the moods running in St. Petersburg ministries.

While considering Schaeffer’s enthusiastic reports on Hawaiian islands, officials in the Department of Manufacture and Domestic Trade dryly remarked: “All plants that grow in this happy climate could be grown on these islands, lying below the tropics,” and “it will be a challenge for the government to manufacture goods on the islands located in the other hemisphere, more than 2 thousand kilometers from the nearest Russian possessions, that is, the Aleutian islands, and the Aleutian islands are more than 12 thousand kilometers from St. Petersburg, therefore, instruction for the management of the islands with he will be sent for over 14 thousand kilometers ”[38].

But it was the Foreign Ministry that has the last say. Reporting in February 1818 on Emperor Alexander I’s final ruling on the issue of the Sandwich Islands, Nesselrode said: “The Emperor tends to believe that the acquisition of these islands and their voluntary entry into Russian patronage would not only yield Russia no substantial gains, but, on the contrary, in many respects, is associated with major inconveniences. Therefore, His Majesty wishes, expressing all possible affability and desire to preserve friendly relations with King Tomari, not to accept the above mentioned act from him, but confine himself to maintaining friendly relations with him and act to promote trade between the American Company and the Sandwich Islands, as consistent with the current state of affairs.” Minister of the Interior O.P. Kozododlev was instructed to inform the Company of this decision and "instruct it not to depart from this rule."

In conclusion, Nesselrode said that the “hasty acts” of Dr. Schaeffer “had already given rise to some unfavorable speculation,” and reported that the emperor “found it necessary to wait for further news on this subject” [39].

But by the time of this “final decision” came through, there was neither Schaeffer nor the Russian flag on Kauai. Such is the paradox of times, when not only there was no Internet, but when messages dispatched over thousands of miles took many months to reach their destination and sometimes could travel to the addressee for a year.



The Americans began to instigate conflict in September 1816, just four months after the Russian flag was hoisted over Kauai and Kaumuali stood under this flag dressed as a Russian naval officer. Three American captains tried to pull down the Russian flag, but were detained by the king’s guards.

In December 1816, O.E. Kotsebu, who was on a round the world voyage, visited the Ryurik Brig in Honolulu. Speaking with King Kameamea, Kotsebu did not confirm Schaeffer's authority to act on behalf of the Russian emperor in Hawaii. One of the participants of his expedition concluded the following: “The Sandwich Islands will remain what they were until now: a free port and a trading place for all sailors on these seas. If any foreign power chose to take possession of these islands, then for such an enterprise it would be unnecessary to have the envious vigilance of the Americans, who have taken control of almost all trade on these seas, or the secure patronage of England ... ”[40]. This conclusion was fundamentally different from Schaeffer's estimates.

In the spring of 1817, seeing that Schaeffer did not seem to enjoy substantial support in Russia, the Americans living on Kauai or calling at the ports of the island began to spread rumors that Russia and the United States were on the verge of a war and that the Russian ambassador had left Washington. This was 100% misinformation, since during this period, on the contrary, Russia and the United States were coming closer to one another and St. Petersburg hoped that Washington would join the Holy Alliance.

But the fake reports did produce an effect. Kaumualia dreaded the consequences for him of a Russian-American war. It did not even occur to him that it could be a lie. On May 7, Kaumualia, and with him another one thousand Hawaiians, approached the people of Schaeffer with a demand that they leave the island. The Russian flag was lowered, and in its place was put another, non-descript one. Six American sailors seized Schaeffer and pushed onto the Russian ship Kodiak, anchored in the south-west of the island, at the mouth of the Waimea River, near the Elizabeth Fortress. Schaeffer tried to sail round the island and moor in the north, in "his estate" of Hanalei, but after learning that two of his faithful Aleuts, waiting on the shore, had been killed, left Kauai never to return [41].



After that there would be attempts by Schaeffer on his return to Europe to secure an audience with Alexander I. There would also be attempts by a Russian citizen of Irish descent, Peter Dobel, to reignite the tsar’s interest in “Russian Hawaii”. But the Russian flag would no longer fly over Hawaii.

Three years later the vicinity of the abandoned “Russian Fort” would play home to Protestant missionaries, the Whitney spouses, who would come to settle on the island and would pay a tangible contribution to consolidating the position of the United States on Kauai. The Whitneys would marvel at the grapes cut from vines planted by Schaeffer[42]. The Russian military uniforms and guns left behind would capture the interest of the islanders for years to come.

The life paths of two “Georges” would follow whimsical routes. George Schaeffer, after failing to convince the Russian emperor of the usefulness of Kauai, would head for Brazil, where he would happily end his days, flaunting the title of Count Frankenthal he had acquired and recruiting German soldiers to serve the Brazilian Emperor Pedro I. “George” - Kaumualia would not be able to escape from revenge: King Kameamea’s son, named Likholiho, would forcefully rescue him from Kauai, bring him to Honolulu and force him to marry the widow of Kameamea; so ingloriously would fade Kauai's independence, which the inhabitants of the island would miss so much for so long. One of the daughters of King Kaumualia named Kikuyiau would marry a Russian, and they would have a daughter named Kapule [43] ... but why this Russian stayed on Kauai and what happened to his descendants is lost in history.

In 1898, all Hawaiian islands, including Kauai (as predicted by Schaeffer), would be annexed by the United States - a step the legitimacy of which is still questioned by a number of Hawaiian historians [44]. The fertility of the Kauai soils that impressed Schaeffer so much would turn the island into a “pineapple land”. Pineapple plantations would spring up everywhere. The architect of annexation of Hawaii, the “pineapple” tycoon Sanford Dole, recalled that in his childhood he would play with Russian guns left in the “Russian Fort” of Kauai[45].

The Elizabeth Fortress has undergone an impressive renovation to become an open-air historical and architectural landmark (without a flag, but with a flagpole). The inscription “Russian Fort” leaves many tourists confused and annoys some nationalists who would like to rename “Elizabeth” the Hawaiian way. Next to the Russian Fort begins a "closed zone". First, a military base, where the Americans track the movement of Russian submarines. Next is a missile testing site where missile defense systems (ABMs) are tested. “On our island, not only Hollywood films are shot, but they are also preparing for star wars,” – the locals say, maybe joking, or maybe seriously.

Indeed, the new status of becoming part of the United States radically changed the lives of residents the "Garden Island." But this, as it happens, is a completely different story, because by that time the utopia of “Russian Hawaii” was already a thing of the past.


1.See: Bolkhovitinov N.N. Russians on Hawaii (1804-1825). In: History of Russian America: in 3 vols. / Edit. N.N.Bolkhovitinov. M., 1999. V. 2. P. 275-300; Pierce R.A. Russian's Hawaiian Adventure, 1815-1817. Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1965. Р. 2-3. Monograph R.Pierce and works by N.N.Bolkhovitinov are the most fundamental ones on the history of Russian Hawaii.

2.Bolkhovitinov N. Op.cit.


4.Joesting Edward. Kauai. The Separate Kingdom. University of Hawaii Press & Kauai Museum Association, Limited. 1984. Р. 73.

5.Ibid. Р. 75.

6.Ibid.P. 54-69.

7.Date obtained by the author in Kauai Museum. April 2016

8.Alexander Tarsaidze, in his usual manner, presents this story: “Once, Father Tomari was the ruler of five islands. Kameamea, at first, ruled only in a small territory in the north of Oahu. The entire southern part of Oahu, including Honolulu, was divided between the local princes, whom Kameamea removed with the help of foreigners. Kameamea killed Tomari’s father, and Tomari vowed revenge.” Tarsaidze Alexander. Kings and presidents. The story of a forgotten friendship. M .: International Relations, 2010. P. 86. See also: Joesting Edward. Op. cit. P. 54-69.

9.Joesting Edward. Op. cit. P. 67.

10. Okun S. Tsarist Russia and the Hawaiian Islands. Red archive. 1936.V. 5 (78). P. 161.

11. Bolkhovitinov N. Russians in Hawaii (1804-1825).  Op.cit. .; Pierce R.A. Op. cit. P. 6.

12. Bolkhovitinov N.  Op.cit.


14. Pierce R.A. Op. cit.

15. Extracts from the journal presented by G. Schaeffer with accounts of his stay in the Sandwich Islands. Red archive. 1936.V. 5 (78). P. 172.



18.Ibid. P. 174.

19.Ibid. P. 177.

20.Tarsaidze Alexander.  Op.cit.

21.For more about the island of Kauai, the fortress of Elizabeth and the history of Russian presence on the island, see the video blog and a selection of historical and modern materials: Orlov Vladimir. Hawaiian Don Flowing //

22.Data obtained by the author at the Kauai Museum. April 2016

23. Extracts from the journal presented by G. Schaeffer with accounts of his stay on the Sandwich Islands // Red Archive. 1936.V. 5 (78). P. 172.

24.Joesting Edward. Op. cit. P. 81.

25. Extracts from the journal presented by G. Schaeffer ...

26.Act signed by King Tomari of the two Sandwich (Hawaiian) islands on the acceptance of Russian citizenship by him. May 21, 1816 // Red Archive. 1936.V. 5 (78). P. 165.

27. See: Ilya Vinkovetsky. Russian America: the overseas colony of the continental empire. 1804-1867. M., New Literary Review. 2015.P. 110.

28. Viewpoint of the Board of the Russian-American Company on the necessary measures to strengthen trade relations of the company with the Sandwich Islands, March 26, 1818 // Red Archive. 1936.V. 5 (78). P. 167.

29. Bolkhovitinov N.  Op.cit.

30. See: Bolkhovitinov N.N. Dr. Schaeffer's adventure in Hawaii from 1815-1819. New and recent history. 1972. No. 1. P. 121-137; Pierce R.A. Op. cit .; Mills Peter R. Hawaii’s Russian Adventure: A New Look at Old History. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu; Tarsaidze Alexander. Op.cit. P. 85. Tarsaidze describes  Schaeffer as "a wandering adventurer of German blood."

31.To imagine the power of the Elizabethan fortress on Kauai, one should see its reconstruction, carried out by a Novosibirsk specialist A. Molodin //

32. Joesting Edward. Op. cit. P. 80-84.

33.Okun S. Op.cit.

34. A note submitted by him to Alexander I, “on the benefits acquired by Russia if it is established on the Sandwich Islands” // Red Archive. 1936.V. 5 (78). P. 175.

35.Vinkovetsky Ilya.  Op.cit. P. 82, 96.

36. Note by the Board of the Russian-American Company on the annexation of the Sandwich Islands to Russia, submitted to the Department of Manufactures and Domestic Trade on March 18, 1819, Red Archive, 1936. V. 5 (78). P. 167.

37.Ibid. P. 184.

38. Comments by the Department of Manufactures and Domestic Trade on some paragraphs of Schaeffer’s note. February 1819 // Red Archive. 1936.V. 5 (78). P. 177.

39. See: Bolkhovitinov N. Russians in Hawaii ...


41.Joesting Edward. Op. cit. P. 84.

42.Ibid. P. 87.

43. Data obtained by the author at the Museum of Kauai (Museum), April 2016.

44. Most indigenous Hawaiians signed petitions opposing annexation. See for example: The Hawaiians. Reflecting Spirit. A film by Edgy Lee. Distributed by Filmworks Pacific Ltd., 2005 //

45. Joesting Edward. Op. cit. P. 87.

46. The proponents of these views propose to rename the fortress, giving it the "genuinely Hawaiian" name "Paulaula-o-Hipo" and refer to the fortress as "a symbol of Hawaiian independence." These Views are detailed in: Mills Peter R. Hawaii’s Russian Adventure: A New Look at Old History. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu. P. 228. According to the author, the fortress is “paradoxically also a monument to Kaumualia’s power over Kauai and his failed policy to spread hegemony over all the islands of Hawaii, which he yearned. P. 230. The Hawaiians were not just passive participants in the "Russian development" of Kauai, says Mills.


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