Kamehameha the Great (reign 1795 - 1819) proved to be a true father to his people and maintained a conservative respect for the old traditions yet welcomed every civilized innovation that would advance the welfare of his people. He was the only Hawaiian to stay overnight aboard Captain Cook’s ship and the first Hawaiian to accept gold and silver coins as money. Kamehameha exemplified the essence of Hawaii's greatness. Kamehameha the Great was a master in both war and peace. He was truly one of the world's great leaders. He had no one to emulate, no past history to study. He could not pattern his efforts after Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan or Napoleon as others did. He had to find the way himself. And find it, he did. Blessed in battle by Madame Pele, the Volcano Goddess of Fire, Kamehameha beat his cousin, the heir to ruling the Big Island of Hawaii in a brazen confrontation and consolidated the ruling power under his leadership. He dared any and all to stop him and displayed the confidence of a champion in individual combat to the death. In 1795 with 16,000 warriors in double-hulled canoes complete with schooners, cannons and white men, Kamehameha accomplished what no other Hawaiian had ever done. He conquered all the Hawaiian Islands and founded the Kingdom of Hawaii. He then proved to be as wise in peace as he was brutal in war. Kamehameha introduced the concept of governmental legitimacy and instituted the rule of law for the Kingdom of Hawaii that included the Law of the Splintered Paddle (Kānāwai Māmalahoe). As a shrewd political leader as well as a skilled warrior, Kamehameha established the concept of law and order that could have been a point of popular criticism to his political advantage, while protecting the human rights of his people for future generations. His plan was to amass so much power that he would never have to use it. He succeeded.
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