Early Leaders

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This die proof of the Boston Engraved Issue featuring Kamehameha III was created in 1889.
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The 3-cent Hawaii stamp featuring a statue of Kamehameha I was issued on October 18, 1937.

When the missionaries first arrived in Hawaii, it was ruled by King Kamehameha III (1814-1854). King of the Hawaiian Islands for thirty years, Kamehameha III was the longest reigning monarch. Influenced by the Christian missionaries, Kamehameha III became the first Christian king of Hawaii. In 1853, the “missionary” stamps were replaced by a new series depicting Kamehameha III. The dieproof shown here was created for the 1889 reprinting of the 13-cent Kamehameha III issue.

In 1937, the first U.S. postage stamp featuring a Hawaiian was released in celebration of Hawaii’s status as a U.S. territory, which it became in 1900. The stamp depicts a statue of King Kamehameha I, also known as Kamehameha the Great. He is credited with preserving Hawaii’s independence by building alliances with Pacific colonial powers and bringing the Hawaiian Islands under a single sovereignty. King Kamehameha I established a dynasty that ruled the Hawaiian Islands from approximately 1810 until 1872.