Addition to the Hawaiian Domain

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Addition to the Hawaiian Domain


This brief article described the historically significant but not quite exciting (at the time at least) acquisition of Palmyra as a Hawaiian possession. The original written report of Captain Zenas Bent is included, describing how he left a flag, a "well corked" bottle containing legal documents, and several men to begin working a small farming operation.

This is one of the first mentions of Palmyra in newspapers, and certainly its first mention as part of Hawaii, which it remains to this day.



The Polynesian (Hawaiian Newspaper)




Public Domain





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Addition to the Hawaiian Domain

We noticed last week the return, from a cruise southward, of the sloop Louisa, Captain Z. Bent. The cruise had extended to Palmyra Island, an uninhabited spot north of the Equator, which was taken possession of in the name of His Majesty Karuehameha IV. The following report of Captain Bent, to the Minister of the Interior, which we have been permitted to copy, will, no doubt, prove interesting.

To His Royal Highness Prince L. Kamehameha, Minister of the Interior:

Sir : In pursuance of the authority granted to me by His Majesty Kamehameha IV., on the first day of March A. D. 1862. I took possession of Palmyra Island, in the name of His Majesty ; and according to my instructions, I erected on the island a pole, with the Hawaiian flag wrapped round it ; and I interred at the foot of it a bottle, well corked, containing a paper signed by me, in the following form:

'This island is taken possession of by order of His Majesty King Kamehameha IV., for him and his successors on the Hawaiian throne, by the undersigned, in the schooner Louisa, this 15th day of April A. D 1862.

[Signed.] Zenas Bent’

By correct observation, I found the island to be in latitude 50' North, and in longitude 161 ° 53' NWest. The island is about ten miles in length and six miles in breadth. The eastern end rises about twenty feet above the level of the sea. The lending is on the west end ; and a vessel can lie in perfect safety in three fathoms of water. The trees on the island are cocoanut, puhala and a species of the koa. All kinds of vegetables will grow on the island. I planted some beans, corn and watermelons. I erected a dwelling house on the island, and also a curing house for biche de mer.

I left on the island one white man and four Hawaiians, who are engaged in curing the biche de mer. I propose returning to the island in about ten days.

I have the honor to remain,
Your obedient servant, Z. Bent.

Honolulu, June 16, 1862

Original Format



“Addition to the Hawaiian Domain,” Palmyra Archive, accessed October 28, 2020,


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