Chapter 199: The Kingdom of Hawaii
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Lahaina, Hawaii, the United States of America
December 12th, 1835

"The mōʻī will see you now, Mr. Ambassador," A Hawaiian man stated as he motioned for the American ambassador to follow.

Gao Xianliang, the American ambassador to the Kingdom of Hawaii (which was now formally occupied by the United States), followed his escort and made his way through the artistically designed palace. Several Hawaiian soldiers glared at him as he passed, but he maintained his composure while making sure he wasn't acting arrogant or condescending. The Hawaiians were on edge after the United States established their presence in the islets after the Treaty of Reykjavík, landing a thousand Marines in Hilo, Honolulu, and Lahaina. There were a few skirmishes, but the United States government was keen on avoiding bloodshed and agreed to a temporary compromise with the Kingdom of Hawaii; Hawaii would accept American lordship over the kingdom. In return, the United States would iron out a deal to benefit both parties. Until that deal was finalized, the Kingdom of Hawaii would remain 'independent' from the affairs of Columbia.

As a result, Gao was appointed as the ambassador to the Kingdom of Hawaii by President Peters, one of the first Californians and first Chinese-Americans to receive a diplomatic position in the State Department. The son of two Chinese immigrants, Gao was California's Representative in Congress and was recognized for his foreign language abilities and diplomacy skill. After the president appointed him, he was given numerous lessons on the Hawaiian culture and language and local customs and etiquette. He was taught by a Hawaiian who had defected to the United States during the Anglo-American War, a man named Oke Koi. After several months of preparation and approval from the State Department, he left San Francisco for the Hawaiian Islands and arrived in early December to meet with King Kamehameha the Second, the current ruler of Hawaii, to negotiate an official treaty between the United States and Hawaii.

His task was 'simple:' Hawaii was to remain a part of the United States, but was allowed to maintain some of its original governmental structure and customs. The official terms were left up to him and the king, and the ambassador was allowed to use whatever the United States had at its disposal to smooth out the deal. This included medicine, food, and aid.

"Try to relax a bit more, Mr. Gao," Koi whispered as he walked slightly behind the American ambassador. The Hawaiian accompanied the ambassador for support, as the Hawaiian king spoke English semi-fluently and desired to converse with the ambassador personally, "You look far too stiff."

"I am trying to act humbly and minding my manners while I walk. After all, this is an important meeting between Hawaii and the United States. The last thing I want is to leave a bad first impression on the king."

"Even still. It would help if you tried to act more naturally. I am aware that you are a good man, Mr. Ambassador. But to the king and his entourage, you may come off as deceptive."

Gao gulped as he took a deep breath, "I will try."

The Hawaiian king's throne room was large and colorful. There were hints of Western influence, such as the velvet luxurious chairs and curtains, but the throne room was most definitely Hawaiian in looks and nature. The windows revealed a stunning view of the beaches, and the floor was lined with wooden tiles instead of carpets. Several guards stood at attention near the entrance, dressed in traditional malo (loincloth) and armed with muskets.

King Kamehameha the Second sat on his throne alongside Kamamalu, his half-sister and spouse. The two Hawaiian royals looked at Gao expectingly, though their expressions were welcoming. The American ambassador bowed deeply towards the king and greeted him with a slightly strained smile, "Aloha e mōʻī."

"Greetings to you as well, Ambassador. I assume that you have brought a treaty for me to sign?" King Kamehameha said, with a hint of disdain in his voice.

"With your approval, of course."

"It isn't as if I have much of choice, given the circumstances," The king waved his hands towards the window, and Gao caught a glimpse of a squad of American Marines patrolling the streets.

"I assure you, mōʻī, the United States will do its best to accommodate Hawaii and her people. However, before we begin our negotiations, I have a gift to present."

"A gift?" King Kamehameha's eyebrows shot upwards as his eyes glanced around the ambassador.

Gao nodded, "In fact, I believe you can see it from here. The gift is in the harbor."

A large ship with a paddle wheel and a chimney stack sat in the harbor of Lahaina, its size dwarfing most of the other ships within the small harbor. Once the king saw the ship with his own eyes, his mouth curved upwards, and he clasped his hands together, "A steamship? I have seen some British ones myself, but your government is willing to gift me such a magnificent ship?"

"Of course. The ship is for your personal use, and there is a complement of American sailors that will operate the ship." Gao had been informed of King Kamehameha's obsession with ships and gave this old steamer to the Hawaiian king as an official gift from the American government. "We were well-aware of your customs of bringing gifts from afar, and since we have heard rumors of your love for foreign ships, we decided to gift you with one of our finest ships."

"Excellent," The Hawaiian monarch said with a pleased smile. He fidgeted in his chair and glanced at the ship again with a broad grin. One of his guards brought over a set of lei to the king, and the king nodded his assent. The guard gently placed the lei, which was made up of bright pink flowers, around the ambassador's neck and proceeded to do the same with Koi. While Gao felt a bit uncomfortable wearing the lei, he kept it on as he knew taking it off in front of the king was a grave insult. "So what do desire from my kingdom, Ambassador?"

"For Hawaii to become an integral part of the United States. I'm afraid that my government is against the idea of Hawaii's independence due to... recent events."

King Kamehameha grimaced, "I did not have much say in that matter myself. And the warriors that fought on Britain's side did so on their own."

"My government has noted your objection, but we have fears that the Kingdom of Hawaii may be influenced or even invaded by hostile foreign powers in the future. As such, we seek to ensure that the Kingdom of Hawaii joins the United States on its own, if possible."

"I can not resist your nation with my military, as my kingdom's strength has been decimated due to disease and war. However, what does the United States have to offer? After all, if I do give my affirmation of joining the Kingdom of Hawaii and the United States together, then I will be forced to abdicate due to the republican government of your nation."

Gao cleared his throat and adjusted his simple, black suit jacket, "That is why we offer aid and compromise. Even if this treaty is not finalized by the end of this month, two hospital ships are heading to Hawaii as we speak to vaccinate your people against smallpox and treat any other diseases ravaging the Hawaiian people. Our goal is to ensure that the Hawaiian people can live freely, without fearing oppression or death from diseases. The American government is aware that diseases have decimated half of the population already."

"That would be... greatly appreciated. And very much necessary."

"Additionally, we will offer substantial development to the Hawaiian Islands. The American government will expand farms and ports and improve infrastructure across the islands. We will ensure that Hawaii remains protected from exploitation, both from foreign and American companies. All Hawaiians will be considered American citizens after a formal citizenship process, and we will establish schools to help teach the Hawaiian language and English."

"Hawaii's autonomy and customs will be respected. As you have mentioned earlier, we politely ask you to step down from your position as the king. However, we offer a different position for you: Ali'i-kia'aina. The position will be voted upon by the people, but I'm sure that the Hawaiian people will see the appeal of electing you into office, and your descendants as well."

"Chief-Governor," King Kamehameha tapped the armrest of his throne, "A step down from being a king, but I will consider it."

"Then we can discuss other terms. We are also looking to build a naval base in a lagoon on the island of Oahu. I believe it is called Wai Momi in Hawaiian..."