Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Legislature enacts gun control, prohibits corporate campaign contributions (in 1913, that is)

From a report on a drug trial: Yesterday afternoon the trial was made notable by the appearance of U.S, Attorney R. W. Breckons on the stand, and by the fact that two expert "hop" smokers from Chinatown were called upon to appear before the court and give an exhibition of opium smoking. They smoked with relish the opium alleged to have taken from Hausman and testified that 1t was the real article beyond the shadow of a doubt.—Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 4/30/2013

by Larry Geller

100 years ago today in the Star-Bulletin

The story on the drug charges was amusing, but as the 1913 legislative session wrapped up, there was big news to report.

Stop the presses—before we get into the mundane work of the Territorial Legislature, here’s the story that grabbed the headline in the 3:30 edition of the April 30, 1913 Star-Bulletin:

Star-Bulletin 19130430

The biggest business deal of the year was settled this morning, after negotiations extending over several days, when the estate of C. M. Cooke. Ltd.. and the J. B. Atherton Estate Ltd., bought the full controlling Interest in the Hawaiian Electric company.

Aside from the amount of money involved, which exceeds half a million dollars, the deal is unusually significant as it means a shakeup in the affairs of the big electric light and power corporation and new forces in control of the policy of the company in internal administration of affairs, as well as its attitude as a public service corporation.

There was nothing dull about the news that day, exactly 100 years ago.


As to the legislature, it was preparing to adjourn on May 1. Surprisingly, there were a couple of very significant laws passed in 1913 and already signed by the Governor at the end of April. Among them was an Act that created the counties:

Act 129 Creating Counties within the territory and providing for the government thereof.

Bronze shoesAlso in that year, the PUC was created:

Act 89 Creating a public utility commission, defining its powers and

Act 135 To bring franchises of certain public utility companies under jurisdiction of public utility commission.

And yes, there were two gun control measures that became law:

Act 22 Prohibiting carrying fire arms.

Act 159 Prohibiting the sale of fire arms to minors under the age of 16

Speaking of opium, the 1913 legislature wasn’t terribly tough on the drug issue:

Act 144 Making it a misdemeanor to use or smoke opium, or have it in possession.

A bill was passed then that we can’t have today. It prohibited corporate campaign contributions:

Act 67 To prohibit corporation contributions to campaign funds.

There were bills to take care of the necessary stuff of government, for example, exemptions from jury duty and to provide for the nomination and appointment of guardians for minors. The lege also enacted a statute of limitations law. I’ll skip all of that. But here are some of the interesting bills I Ayer'sran across, and then I’ll mention some more news:

Act 14 Regulating hours of work of female minor children.

Act 18 To provide for the compilation and publication of a dictionary of
the Hawaiian language.

Act 23 Making it a felony to commit an assault with knife or sword

Act 27 Raising the age of consent to fifteen years.

Act 23 Prohibiting the employment of city or county prisoners outside
the jails.

Act 53 Prohibiting the employment of prisoners by private persons.

Act 33 Prohibiting the catching or killing of birds beneficial to the forests.

(I wonder if there were environmental activists lobbying in those days?)


Act 50 Giving the Honolulu supervisors authority to establish and maintain water and sewer works and take over the present systems In Honolulu held by the territory.

Act 55 To appropriate $15,000 for purchase of private lands in Walpio, Hamakua, Hawaii, for homestead purposes.

Act 59 Requiring a 60-day notice and publication in English and Hawaiian of any sale, drawing or allotment of public lands.

(These days we appear to have given up even paying lip service to Hawaiian as one of the official languages of the state.)


Act 64 Giving land commission power to grant rights-of-way to railroads.

Act 73 Establishing the fee for searching the records.

Act 124 Amending curfew law by allowing Judge of juvenile court to
grant permit for child under age-of fifteen to be on streets after 7 o'clock.

Grape nuts(So kids are under curfew at 15 but can buy firearms at 17??)

Act 136 Extending the franchise of the Rapid Transit & Land Company.

Act 163 To transfer the control and management of Kapiolani Park from the Honolulu Park Commission to the City arid County of Honolulu, and to repeal certain laws relating to said park.


In those days, bill titles were rather specific, unlike today’s practice. For example:

Act 9 Relating to juries and trial by' juries, and fixing the amount of pay of jurors.

There’s no wiggle room for “gut and replace” tactics in that, though probably they had their own special ways to finesse procedure then. In fact, that day’s editorial laments a “sharp practice” in which the Speaker of the House referred a bill and then immediately slipped in a recess for the day. Since that was the last day for second reading, the bill effectively died. Ha. Not much has changed, it seems, only the details of how (abuse of) power is wielded.

More news

In 1913, “cable news” wasn’t TV entertainment, it meant that news arrived in Hawaii by cable. So the paper could immediately report events in Washington, for example. On that day the Senate Finance Committee denied some sort of request for a hearing by the Hawaii sugar industry, the paper reported.

Back home, a fight over conditions in the schools raged in the legislature. It seems rather complicated and would require further research, but the issues included at least a merger of the Normal School with Oahu College (at Punahou). There were calls for dismissal or resignation of the Superintendent. The lege dealt with it then as they might today—they set up a task force to study conditions in the schools and report back to the 1915 legislature.

President Knudsen. who will name the committeemen, stated that he had not yet decided upon the personnel of the committee, and would probably not announce the names until tomorrow.

The resolution was introduced in the senate late yesterday afternoon when more than two hundred teachers and pupils of the Normal School were present to oppose the proposed consolidation of that institution with the College of Hawaii. [This snip is actually from a 4/29/1913 article.]


Reapportionment was an issue that year:

Reapportionment was killed by house members who were willing to forget the clear provisions of the organic act and the fact that in taking office they had sworn to do their duty.

(See more below on reapportionment)

PinectarA headline:



Before there was Lei Day, Hawaii celebrated May Day just like much of the rest of the country and elsewhere:

A snip from a story:


Tbe annual May Day celebration by
the students of the public schools or
the city will take place tomorrow
morning in Thomas Square, begin-
ning at ten o'clock and lasting until
noon. The fete this year promises to
be bigger and better than ever before
and already more than a thousand
pupils have been listed to take part,
six hundred to participate in the spe-
cial dances and eight hundred to com-
pose the chorus.

The pupils or nine schools, namely
Royal, Central Grammar, Kauluwela,
Normal. Liliuokalani, Pohukaina, Kai-
ulani. Kalihi-waena and Kaahumanu,
will take part in the program, which
will be opened with a processional pa-
geant around the square, and which
will include folk dances and folk
songs of the various nations.


Here’s what happened to reapportionment:



A largish paid advertisement listed up HECO’s electric charges and gave reasons why they were unfair (and of course, much too high when compared, for example, to rates in Los Angeles). I found it a bit confusing, but I’m sure there was a counterpart for Henry Curtis at the time who could make sense of it all.

So what has changed over the hundred years? And when, I ask you, when, will we have enough laws and be able to skip this insanity?


Heh. Looks like the front page of that paper contained more real news than today's entire Star Ad.

It does have more news on the front page. No giant illustrations to take up space. It may also have more local news in the entire paper, but I didn't really compare. It's only 16 pages for the day I looked at, if I remember correctly.

Probably no Long's circular either.

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