Born on December 11, 1830, Lot Kamehameha was the last direct descendant of Kamehameha the Great to rule the Hawaiian kingdom.
Lot’s mother was Kinau, a half-sister of Kamehameha II (Liholiho) and Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli). When Kauikeaouli’s two children died in infancy, he adopted Kinau’s children as his heirs.
Lot was educated at court and at the Chief’s Children’s’ School, which was established for royal children by American missionaries. In 1848, a missionary took Lot and his brother, Alexander Liholiho (the future Kamehameha IV), on a tour of Europe and the United States. During this time, Lot became educated on matters of politics and diplomacy.
In 1863, following the death of Kamehameha IV, Lot was named king by order of the cabinet, privy council and kuhina nui (prime minister), Princess Victoria Kamamalu. He had previously served as minister of the Interior and headed his brother’s finance department.
When he took the throne, he refused to take an oath to uphold the 1852 constitution, which he regarded as too restrictive of the king’s powers. Instead, he attempted to create a new constitution. In May of 1864, he called for a constitutional convention of representatives elected by the people for the purpose of revising the existing constitution. When the delegates met, however, most opposed the king’s plan. Still, Lot managed to draft a new constitution that gave him more power. The constitution lasted for 23 years.
Prince Lot Festival
Despite heavy criticism, Lot strived to promote a renaissance of Hawaiian traditions and culture; he often hosted hula performances at his residence in Moanalua on Oahu. Today, the Prince Lot Festival is held at Moanalua Gardens each July to pay homage to Lot. The daylong festival spotlights hula troupes from around the state sharing their love for the Hawaiian dance.
Lot never married. Some speculate that he had been in love with Bernice Pauahi Bishop (who married Charles Reed Bishop) and the widowed Queen Emma, wife of his deceased brother. In 1872, his declining health forced Lot to offer the throne to Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who refused. Lot died on December 11, 1872, without naming an heir.