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Henry E. Cooper

Henry Ernest Cooper
Sanford B. Dole, Judge Henry E. Cooper, Lorrin A. Thurston, Col. Curtis Piʻehu Iaukea, 1923.
Republic of Hawaii
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
November 6, 1895 – March 29, 1899
President Sanford B. Dole
Personal details
Born (1857-08-28)August 28, 1857
New Albany, Indiana
Died May 15, 1929(1929-05-15) (aged 71)
Long Beach, California
Spouse(s) Mary Ellen Porter
Children 7
Occupation Lawyer, judge, politician

Henry Ernest Cooper (1857–1929) was an American lawyer who moved to the Kingdom of Hawaii and became prominent in Hawaiian politics in the 1890s. He was the first Territory of Hawaii Attorney General, 1899–1900.


  • Early life 1
  • Politics 2
  • Personal life and legacy 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life

Cooper was born August 28, 1857 in New Albany, Indiana, to Harriet A. Cooper and William Giles Cooper, a lawyer from England. He was educated in public schools in Boston and received the LLB degree from the Boston University School of Law in 1878. He was admitted to the bar in Suffolk County, Massachusetts and practiced law there.[1]

Cooper married Mary Ellen Porter October 2, 1883 in San Diego, California. In 1884 he named his estate Bonita Ranch, and the name was applied to the post office of Bonita, California.[2] There the Coopers had four children: Alfred D. Cooper (born 6/8/1886), Henry E.Cooper (born July, 1887) Wallace McKay Cooper (August1888 – March 1, 1966), Theodore A. Cooper (born October 28, 1889) and Alice Cooper (December 9, 1890 – 1978). He worked as an attorney for the California Southern Railroad, including arguing several cases in the Supreme Court of California.[3]

Cooper then moved with his family to the Hawaiian Islands in 1890. In Hawaii the Coopers had three more children: Isabel(Ysabel) Cooper, and twin Irene, (born February 19, 1894), and Francis J. Cooper (born April 6, 1895). They settled in the Mānoa Valley near Honolulu where Cooper Road is named for him at .[4]


Henry E. Cooper and Frank Hoogs, Honolulu newspaperman, with Government Expedition at Battle of Kalalau, 1893.

In Hawaii, Cooper quickly got involved in Hawaiian politics during a very turbulent decade, with several changes of government.

On January 14, 1893 he was chairman of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. On January 16 his name was the first on a letter to John L. Stevens, the United States Minister to Hawaii, saying "...the public safety is menaced and lives and property are in peril, and we appeal to you and the United States forces at your command for assistance."[5] On January 17, he read the proclamation establishing the provisional Government of Hawaii, and the next day was made a member of the advisory council to President Sanford B. Dole.[6]

From March 7, 1893 to November 4, 1895 he was judge of the first circuit court. Beginning on November 6, 1895, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of what was then the Republic of Hawaii through March 29, 1899. He acted temporarily in all other posts of Dole's cabinet as the other members traveled to negotiate with the United States on annexation. These included Attorney General from November 6, 1895 to December 12, 1895, and from February 10, 1897 to April 16, 1897; Minister of Finance from May 5, 1896 to August 10, 1897; and Minister of the Interior from March 4, 1898 to July 1, 1898. He was also appointed to the Board of Health on February 12, 1897, later becoming president of the board until 1900.

From January 11, 1898 to March 3, 1898 Cooper was the acting president of the republic.[6] From March 20, 1899 to June 14, 1900 he was Attorney General of the new William McKinley appointed him to be the first secretary of the territory, and also as treasurer of the territory. He was acting governor from March 31, 1902 to June 3, 1902. A few days after resigning the treasurer post December 2, 1902, he became superintendent of public works from December 6, 1902 to November 18, 1903.[7]

This prompted some in the press to call him the real power in the territory, accusing him of taking the public works position because he could make more money.[8] A local newspaper said:
Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, but it is only rarely that an ordinary cooper is enabled to thrust such constantly growing greatness upon himself as does this Territorial Cooper of ours.[8]

On January 1, 1903 he sent congratulatory messages over the first submarine communications cable from San Francisco to Hawaii. Recipients included US President Theodore Roosevelt and Clarence Mackay, president of the Commercial Pacific Cable Company.[9]

An investigation in 1903 noted that most public works projects had ceased because of lack of funds, but government crews repaved the sidewalks in front of his house.[10] Another scandal involved the new treasurer William H. Wright, who was allowed to escape after he was found to have been pocketing government money with checks endorsed by Cooper.[11] On February 23, 1903 he resigned as territorial secretary, and November 18 as superintendent of public works, after

Government offices
Preceded by
Francis M. Hatch
Republic of Hawaii Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Ernest Mott-Smith
Preceded by
William Owen Smith
Acting Republic of Hawaii Attorney General
November 6, 1895 – December 12, 1895
February 10, 1897 – April 16, 1897
Succeeded by
William Owen Smith
Preceded by
James A. King
Acting Republic of Hawaii Minister of Finance
June 30, 1896 – September 12, 1896
September 5, 1899 – November 13, 1899
Succeeded by
Theodore F. Lansing
Preceded by
James A. King
Acting Republic of Hawaii Minister of the Interior
March 4, 1898 – July 1, 1898
Succeeded by
James A. King
Preceded by
Territory of Hawaii Attorney General
March 20, 1899 – June 14, 1900
Succeeded by
Edmund P. Dole
  • Works by or about Alice Cooper Bailey in libraries (WorldCat catalog)

External links

  1. ^ a b John William Siddall (1921). Men of Hawaii: being a biographical reference library, complete and authentic, of the men of note and substantial achievement in the Hawaiian Islands. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. pp. 109–111. 
  2. ^ Erwin G. Gudde; William Bright (May 10, 2004). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. University of California Press. p. 42.  
  3. ^ California. Supreme Court (1906). Reports of Cases Determined in the Supreme Court of the State of California. 
  4. ^  
  5. ^   Known as the Blount Report
  6. ^ a b "Cooper, Henry E., office record card 1". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Cooper, Henry E., office record card 2". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Too Much Cooper". The Independent (Honolulu). December 27, 1902. p. 2. Retrieved August 12, 2010. 
  9. ^ "President Roosevelt Exchanges Greetings with Hawaiians and Flood of Felicitous Dispatches Pours in Upon Clarence H. Mackay". The San Francisco call. January 3, 1903. p. 3. Retrieved August 12, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Territorial Government Affairs in Hawaii are Grossly Mismanaged". The San Francisco call. April 8, 1903. p. 3. Retrieved August 12, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Governor Dole is Under Fire: Legislature Blames Him for the Escape of Wright; Former Secretary Cooper is Accused of Unbusiness-like conduct". The San Francisco call. April 28, 1903. p. 2. Retrieved August 12, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Carter and Cooper Differ Sharply about Recent Land Transactions" Lively Scenes in the Executive Council—Carter Can't Find Out How Deeply the Territory is Involved by Cooper's Private Agreements". The Hawaiian gazette (Honolulu). December 27, 1902. p. 1. Retrieved August 12, 2010. 
  13. ^ "May Revolutionize System of Producing Sugar Cane: The Hutchinson Plantation May Co-operate With Homestead Association—Estate to Lose 800 Leased Acres". The Hawaiian gazette (Honolulu). July 25, 1905. p. 1. Retrieved August 12, 2010. 
  14. ^ United States Supreme Court (1907). United States Supreme Court records and briefs. pp. 27–177. 
  15. ^ "Palmyra Atoll". Office of Insular Affairs web site. United States Department of Interior. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  16. ^  
  17. ^ "Palmyra Atoll conservation".  
  18. ^ United States v. Fullard-Leo
  19. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Cooper Island
  20. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Cooper Airport
  21. ^ Herbert G. Gardiner (1908). "Masonic Directory, Territory of Hawaii". Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  22. ^ "The History of Honolulu Lodge, F. & A.M.". official web site. Retrieved August 11, 2010. 
  23. ^ J. Meredith Neil (1975). "The Architecture of C. W. Dickey in Hawaii". Hawaiian Journal of History (Hawaiian Historical Society) 9: 102.  
  24. ^ Robert M. Kamins; Robert E. Potter (December 1998). Mālamalama: a history of the University of Hawai' i. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 6, 10, 315.  
  25. ^ "Name Written Large in Hawaiian History". Los Angeles Times. May 16, 1929. Retrieved August 11, 2010. 
  26. ^ Alice Cooper Bailey (1966). To remember Robert Louis Stevenson. McKay. 
  27. ^ Something about the author 135. Gale Research. 2003. p. 12.  
  28. ^ "Report of the Committee—Annexation Anniversary, August 12, 1948". Fifty-Seventh Annual Report (Hawaiian Historical Society). 1949. pp. 9–12.  
  29. ^ "Alice Cooper Bailey Papers".  
  30. ^ "Half Staff: Henry Ernest Cooper III". Sandy Bay Yachi Club. April 9, 1999. Retrieved August 11, 2010. 


Several of Cooper's descendants have had distinguished naval and nautical careers, including U. S. admirals and Space Shuttle astronaut Rick Hauck. On August 19, 1922 a grandson Henry Ernest Cooper III was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut to Wallace McKay Cooper. Henry III served in the US Navy in World War II aboard the USS Card. In 1987 he sailed with a few friends from Maine through the Pacific Ocean, including a visit to his inherited Home Islands at Palmyra Atoll, and died April 9, 1999.[30]

Daughter Alice Cooper Bailey, wrote several articles and books including two Dutch folk stories, a popular Hawaiian children's book Kimo in 1928, and a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson in 1966.[26][27] She was part of a ceremony in 1948 marking the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's annexation,[28] and was a benefactor of the ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu where Cooper had worked during the Republic of Hawaii period.[29]

He moved to Long Beach, California to live with a daughter where he died on May 15, 1929.[25] Son Theodore graduated from Punahou School (then called Oahu College) in 1908, and became an Engineer constructing Fort Ruger in Honolulu. After working briefly for Bank of Hawaii, he enlisted to the United States Army Corps of Engineers and served in France during World War I.[1]

[24].University of Hawaii at Manoa (then known as Hawaii College), and served until 1914. He selected the site in the Mānoa valley for the main campus, the University of Hawaii On May 1, 1907 he became a founding member and president of the board of regents of the [23].Mission Revival Style architecture to build a stone house on his Mānoa land in California Charles William Dickey In 1897 he commissioned architect [22][21] In his later years he was active in

By a series of transactions between 1888 and 1911, Cooper purchased Palmyra Atoll, located in a remote latitude near the Equator at .[15] He visited the island in July 1913 with scientists Charles Montague Cooke, Jr. and Joseph F. Rock who wrote a description of the atoll.[16] He sold most of the atoll in 1922 to the Fullard-Leo family, who sold it to the Nature Conservancy in 2000.[17] He retained ownership of the Home Islands at the southwestern tip of the atoll, which his heirs have inherited. His land title, passed to the Fullard-Leos and his own legatees, was confirmed by the U. S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Fullard-Leo, 331 U.S. 256 (1947) [18] after it was disputed by the U. S. military. The largest island of the group is called Cooper Island, despite a proposed name change to Samarang Island in 2003.[19] The airstrip built in World War II is often called Cooper Airport.[20]

Personal life and legacy

He formed a law firm Kinney, McClanahan & Cooper (with partners William Ansel Kinney and E. B. McClanahan), and often worked for owners of large sugar plantations in Hawaii. The plantations often leased government land, and concentrated political and economic power in a few of what were called the "Big Five" of Hawaii.[13] At least one of their cases, "Territory of Hawaii vs. Cotton Brothers & Company" of 1904 went to the United States Supreme Court.[14] On March 22, 1910 he was named again to be judge of the first circuit court, and served until March 7, 1914.[7]


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