HAWAII’S LAST REIGNING MONARCH BUILT FRIENDSHIP WITH CIVIL WAR HERO EDWARD McCOOK
Hawaiian King David Kalākaua was often called “The Merrie Monarch” for his love of parties, royal balls and entertainment. But he also was a serious leader who went on a tour to enhance relationships around the world.
By 1887, his cabinet was overthrown and a new constitution was developed, taking away most of his power. By then, the king had entertained diplomats from the United States, including Civil War hero Edward McCook, who was commissioned by President Andrew Johnson to be the U.S. Minister to the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1866.
During this time, King Kalākaua (1836-1891) received a Henry Rifle from McCook (1833-1909). It was factory engraved “Gen’l McCook” on the flat of the receiver and bears an elaborate scroll and punch dot engraving by Henry factory engraver Samuel Hoggson. It carries a nameplate, added in the 1930s, that declares it “King Kalakauas Favorite Rifle.”
The rifle, along with a royal presentation sword owned by King Kalākaua, are featured in Heritage’s arms and armor auction scheduled for June in Dallas.
“The Henry rifle passed from the king to his queen and then to their adopted son, Prince Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole,” says Tom Slater, director of Heritage’s Americana auctions. “The rifle was in the rifle cabinet of the prince when he died in 1922.” The prince’s widow donated the entire contents of the rifle cabinet to the Bishop Museum, which put this rifle up for auction in 1932.
“This is a truly unique Henry rifle with a rich history,” Slater says, noting that the last owner was antique firearms collector and Hawaii firearms historian John A. Bell (1931-2008).
Many historians consider King Kalākaua and his descendants as true American Royalty. The only real royal palaces in the United States are in Hawaii, which received statehood in 1959.