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Provisional Cession of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands

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Title: Provisional Cession of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands  
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Subject: List of former sovereign states, February 25, 1843, Kingdom of Hawaii
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Provisional Cession of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands

Provisional Cession of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands
Part of the British Empire



God Save the Queen
Provisional Cession
Capital Honolulu
Languages English
Government Provisional government
 -  1843 Queen Victoria
Local Representative
 -  1843 George Paulet
 -  1843 Richard Thomas
 -  Established February 25, 1843
 -  Disestablished July 31, 1843

The Provisional Cession of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands was an occupation government formed by Lord George Paulet during the Paulet Affair, i.e., while attempting to annex the Kingdom of Hawaii to the United Kingdom. The Provisional Cession lasted only five months.


On February 25, 1843 King Kamehameha III agreed to cede the Hawaiian Islands to Lord George Paulet, over legal disputes with British subjects.


Act of Provisional Cession:

In consequence of the difficulties in which we find ourselves involved, and our opinion of the impossibility of complying with the demands in the manner in which they are made by Her Britannic Majesty's representative upon us, in reference to the claims of British subjects, we do hereby cede the group of islands known as the Hawaiian (or Sandwich) Islands, unto the Right Honorable Lord George Paulet, captain of Her Majesty's Ship of war Carysfort, representing Her Majesty, Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, from this date, and for the time being: the said cession being made with the reservation that it is subject to any arrangements that may have been entered into by the Representatives appointed by us to treat with the Government of her Britannic Majesty; and in the event that no agreement has been executed previous the date hereof; subject to the decision of Her Britannic Majesty's Government on conference with the said representatives appointed by us; or in the event of our representatives not being accessible, or not having been acknowledged, subject to the decision which Her Britannic Majesty may pronounce on the receipt of full information from us, and from the Right Honorable Lord George Paulet.

Proclamation of Lord Paulet:

A provisional cession of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands having been made this day by Kamehameha III., King, and Kekauluohi, Premier thereof, unto me, the Right Honorable Lord George Paulet, commanding Her Britannic Majesty's ship Carysfort on the part of Her Britannic Majesty, Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland; subject to arrangements which may have been made or shall be made in Great Britain, with the Government of Her Britannic Majesty, I do hereby proclaim, First. That the British Flag shall be hoisted on all the Islands of the group, and the natives thereof shall enjoy the protection and privileges of British subjects. Second. That the government thereof shall be executed, until the receipt of communications from Great Britain, in the following manner, namely: By the native King and chiefs and the officers employed by them, so far as regards the native population, and by a commission, consisting of King Kamehameha III, or a Deputy appointed by him, the Right Honorable Lord George Paulet, Duncan Forbes Mackay, esquire, and Lieut. [John E.] Frere, R.N., in all that concerns relations with other powers (save and except the negotiations with the British Government), and the arrangements among foreigners (others than natives of the Archipelago) resident on these Islands. Third. That the laws at present existing or which may be made at the ensuing council of the king and the chiefs (after being communicated to the commission), shall be in full force so far as natives are concerned; and shall form the basis of the administration of justice by the commission in matters between foreigners resident on these islands. Fourth. In all that relates to the collection of the revenue, the present officers shall be continued at the pleasure of the native King and chiefs, their salaries for the current year being also determined by them, and the archives of Government remaining in their hands; the accounts are, however, subject to inspection by the commission heretofore named. The Government vessels shall be in like manner subject, however, to their employment if required for Her Britannic Majesty's service. Fifth. That no sales, leases, or transfers of land shall take place by the action of the Commission appointed as aforesaid, nor from natives to foreigners during the period intervening between the 24th of this month and the receipt of notification from Great Britain of the arrangements made there; they shall not be valid, nor shall they receive the signatures of the King or premier. Sixth. All the existing bona fide engagements of the native King and premier, shall be executed and performed as if this cession had never been made.


The British Commission was established as the government of the Provisional Cession. Under the constitution the Kingdom was allowed to remain intact as the authority on domestic issues and governing the population. But the British Commission was able to make changes such as laws and taxes, the Kingdom had as much authority to challenge the changes as common citizens.

The main positions were composed of four men, three commissioners and one deputy. The head of the Commission was denoted as the “Right Honourable”, later titled Local Representative of Her Majesty Queen Victoria taken by Paulet and later Richard D. Thomas. The remaining two commissioners were Duncan F. Mackay and John E. Frere, Mackay resigned after falling ill. The deputy was appointed by and represented of the monarch, King Kamehameha III, head of domestic issues, Gerrit P. Judd filled the position of deputy, but resigned on May 11.

Military and law enforcement

The police force of the Hawaiian kingdom was disbanded and the Police Corps was established, recruiting from the population.
The Queen’s Own Regiment was formed as a small company sized army, also recruiting from the population.
Three schooners were commandeered by the Commission and renamed the Victoria, Albert, and Adelaide.

Policy changes

  • Fornication was legalized.
  • Transactions (sale, lease, transfer) of land were suspended.
  • Tariff on imports increased 1%.
  • A more lenient liquor license system was installed.

Restoration of the Kingdom

As soon as Admiral Richard Darton Thomas received news in Valparaíso of the takeover by Paulet in Hawaii, he set sail for Honolulu on his flagship the HMS Dublin. On July 26 Thomas arrived in Honolulu and became Local Representative, head of the British Commission from Paulet. He met with King Kamehameha III the next day and two conferences were held negotiating the restoration of the Kingdom between Thomas and Kamehameha III. On July 31 a ceremony was held Thomas declared the end of the Provisional Cession and recognizes Kamehameha III as king of the Hawaiian Islands and the Islands to be independent and sovereign.

Kamehameha III named the place of the ceremony in Thomas’ honor and a service was held at Kawaiahaʻo Church celebrating Hawaii’s return of independence. Celebrations continued for ten days and a holiday, Hawaiian Restoration Day was created.


  1. ^ La Ku'oko'a: Events Leading to Independence Day, November 28, 1843 The Polynesian, November 2000

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