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What do you feed the last Hawaiian king?

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  January 31, 2014 10:31 AM

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It's funny to think about a Hawaiian king riding a railroad, but there he was: On January 1, 1875, King Kalakaua, the last king of Hawaii, pulled into Boston. Twelve years later he'd sign, at gunpoint, a new constitution that gave away most of his monarchal power. But when he arrived in Boston, he still had kingly business to discuss.

According to a recent blog post by the Massachusetts Historical Society, King Kalakaua- otherwise known as the Merrie Monarch- had come to Boston to try and convince New Englanders to ease their support of sugar tariffs, which were blocking one of Hawaii's biggest exports. The highlight of Kalakaua's visit was a lavish banquet at Revere House on January 2. The feast began with oysters and also included turtle soup, sweetbreads a la Santa Cruz, an undoubtedly potent concoction known as Roman Punch, and a large array of pastries and desserts. The whole fete cost more than $3000, and whatever was said amid all the merrymaking worked for Kalakaua: A few months later he signed the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875, and Hawaiian sugar was allowed into the United States, levy-free.

Kalakaua portrait.jpg

King Kalakaua.jpg

Image of King Kalakaua via Wikimedia Commons

Image of banquet menu courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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