William Pitt Kalanimoku (c. 1768–1827) was a High Chief who functioned similar to a prime minister of the Hawaiian Kingdom during the reigns of Kamehameha I, Kamehameha II and the beginning of the reign of Kamehameha III.


Kalanimoku was born at Kauiki, Maui, circa 1768. His father was Kekuamanoha and his mother was Kamakahu-kilani, the niece of his father. Through his father he was a grandson of Kekaulike, the King of Maui. Through his mother he was great-grandson of Kekaulike. He was cousin of Queen Kaahumanu, Queen Miriam Kalakua, and Queen Lydia Namahana, Governor John Adams Kuakini of Hawaii, Governor George Cox Kahekili Keeaumoku II of Maui, and his brother was Governor Boki of Oahu.

At the time, his name was often spelled Karaimoku by the Hawaiians and sometimes Kalaimoku. Other spellings were Crymoku or Crimoku. He himself adopted the name William Pitt after his comtempary the Prime Minister of Great Britain, William Pitt the Younger. He was frequently addressed as Mr. Pitt or Billy Bitt. He served as Kamehameha I's chief minister and treasurer succeeding his uncle Keeaumoku Papaiahiahi. He had great natural abilities in both governmental and business affairs. He was well liked and respected by the foreigners, who learned from experience to rely on his words. He was called "the iron cable of Hawaii because of his abilities.[1][2]

He was baptized a Roman Catholic in 1819 aboard the Uranie, in the presence of Kuhina Nui (Premier) Kaahumanu and King Kamehameha II. The scene was painted by ship's artist Jacques Arago (1790—1855), who wrote and illustrated accounts of the Hawaiian Islands during the French expedition. Kalanimoku led an army against the revolt of Kekuaokalani in December 1819 in the successful battle of Kuamo.[3]

He served as regent along with Queen Kaahumanu while Kamehameha II traveled to London in 1823, and to Kamehameha III after Kamehameha II's death in 1824.

In his later years his vision dimmed and one of his eyes was defective. He suffered from dropsy through 1826 and the disease became alarming in the following year. He died at Kamakahonu (the old home of Kamehameha I) in Kailua Kona, Hawaii Island on February 7, 1827. He had only one son, William Pitt Leleiohoku I, who married Princess Keelikolani.


  1. Kuykendall , Ralph Simpson . Hawaiian Kingdom: Foundation and Transformation, 1778-1854, Vol. 1. University of Hawai‘i Press, January 1938.
  2. Potter, Norris W, and Kasdon, Lawrence M and Rayson, Ann. History of the Hawaiian Kingdom . Bess Press, 2003.
  3. A Guide to Old Kona, Kona Historical Society, 1997, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0824820107

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Kalanimoku. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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