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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp412-413 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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Template:412-413 From TheMorganReport



Only a small proportion of the area of the islands is capable of sustaining a dense population. The most habitable tracts are near the seacoast, and only a part or even a small part of these are really fertile.

"The interior portions are mountainous and craggy, with a thin soil, admirable in a few localities for pasturage, but unfit for agriculture.

"Many parts of the shore belt are arid and almost barren. Others are covered with lavas too recent to have permitted the formation of soil, and still others are trenched with ravines so deep and abrupt that access is difficult. "

Deep rich soils at altitudes adapted to the growth of the sugar cane probably form less than the fortieth part of the entire area.

"Shallower soils, however, are a little more extensive and yield other crops of tropical staples in abundance."


The climate of the Hawaiian Islands is warm but salubrious, the temperature equable, and the sky usually clear. In the shade it is never hot and seldom chilly, and there is so little humidity in the air that it is rarely sweltering, though during the months of January, February, and March the wind blows strongly from the southwest, and the atmosphere is damp and unpleasant. After such seasons the arid westerly slopes are clothed with verdure and the capacity of the pastures vastly increased.

"Upon the islands themselves it may be said that there are almost as many climates as there are square leagues, and the differences of climatic conditions exhibited by localities separated only half a dozen miles are extreme.

"As a general rule the windward sides are excessively rainy, the precipitation frequently exceeding 200 inches in a year. The leeward sides are generally arid, but to this there are some striking exceptions ; whenever the land barrier is low enough to permit the trade winds to blow over it the lee of the barrier is invariably dry and sometimes is as parched and barren as the sage plains of the Rocky Mountains; the winds throw down their moisture copiously as they rise to the dividing crest and descend hot and dry ; but when the barrier is lofty enough to effectually oppose the drift of the air, the lee becomes subject to the simple alternation of daily land and sea breeze. As the sea breeze comes in and ascends the slope it sends down rain ; as the land breeze floats down ward and outward it is dry and clear.

"The sea breeze sets in a little before noon and the land breeze goes out a little before midnight.

"Relatively to human comfort, the climate is perfection. It is never hot, and at moderate altitudes it is never cold. The heat of summer is never sufficient to bring lassitude, and labor out of doors is far more tolerable than in the summer of New England or Minnesota."

When the mountains are low, as in Oahu, the rains extend over them and maintain copious streams for irrigation of the leeward lands where little rain falls. Very much more rain falls on the windward northeast sides of the large islands. At Hilo in Hawaii as much as 20 feet has been measured in one year. At Honolulu the mean annual rainfall for five years ending 1877 varied from 32.30 to 46.40 inches, giving an average of 38 inches.


Hurricanes and typhoons are said to be infrequent. There is, however, at Kawaihae, in the island of Hawaii, a wind called the mumuka which rushes violently down between the mountains, and is dangerous to shipping. When hurricanes occur on the island of Maui, great damage to the sugar crop ensues.

The temperature varies from 55° in winter to 70° in summer for the early mornings, and attains an average maximum of 75° in the winter and 85° in the summer for afternoon heats.

There is no rapid, sudden change; cold or hot waves are unknown.

During the heat of the day the sun-heated lava and rocks create a strong draft, loaded with vapor from the ocean; this vapor, at 2,000 feet elevation, forms a continuous cloud bank, covering the mountains.

Hail sometimes falls in the vicinity of Hawaii.

Table from Pacific Coast Commercial Record showing temperatures in Honolulu:

Maximum temperature for 1891 in Honolulu 89°
Minimum temperature for 1891 in Honolulu 54°
Maximum daily range of the year 22°
Average weekly maximum from July 1, to October 1 86°

Table from " Vistas of Hawaii" showing temperature for 1890;

Date 6 a.m. 1 p.m. 9 p.m.
° ° °
January 7 67 77 69
February 4 68 72 69
March 4 66 76 69
April 1 67 78 71
May 6 69 78 70
June 3 73 78 74
July 1 73 82 75
August5 72 84 75
September 2 72 83 75
October 7 75 81 76
November 4 71 80 72
December 2 69 78 72

From the above it is evident that the climate of the Hawaiian Islands is in general that of a mild summer. The hottest months are July and August, when the thermometer sometimes rises to 90°, but this is considered unusual. Frost is unknown; rains are warm; and the days and nights are of so nearly the same temperature that little daily change of clothing is necessary.


Earthquakes are of common occurrence in the islands, but they usually have their center of disturbance in Hawaii. In the islands to the northwestward the shocks are infrequent and feeble. The shocks are seldom of a very alarming or destructive character, but small or moderate tremors are frequent.


The total population of the Hawaiian Islands in 1890* was 89,990, of which 58,714 are males, 31,276 females.

*Statesman's Year Book, 1893.

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