On May 19, 2020, a lengthy article was published on this Blog titled, Can Hawai‘i Successfully Live with COVID-19 Without a Vaccine? The Answer is Yes But Under the International Law of Occupation. At the time, there was no vaccine for COVID-19. However, since December 11, 2020, Pfizer was authorized by the U.S. FDA for emergency use and on August 23, 2021, it was grated full approval.
A question has been circulating throughout the Islands asking whether the Hawaiian Kingdom would require vaccinations for all people within its territory. The answer is “YES.” Smallpox and COVID-19 are viruses and both cause death on a massive scale. In 1853, the Hawaiian Kingdom had a serious bout with the smallpox virus in the city of Honolulu. A total of 16,500 infections with 5,000 deaths.
Hawaiian historian, Samuel Kamakau, who witnessed the ravage, wrote, “From the last week in June until September the disease raged in Honolulu. The dead fell like dried kukui twigs tossed down by the wind. Day by day from morning till night horse-drawn carts went about from street to street of the town, and the dead were stacked up like a load of wood, some in coffins, but most of them just piled in, wrapped in cloth with heads and legs sticking out.”
The government reported, “No new cases of smallpox has been reported. Those already existing are doing well. The health of the city is otherwise generally good.” After two-months the epidemic passed and Honolulu was virus free. After the outbreak, the Hawaiian Legislature enacted the following statute making vaccinations compulsory:
An Act to Make Compulsory the Practice of Vaccination Throughout the Hawaiian Islands
Whereas, the late mortality caused by the Small Pox has shown the necessity of compelling a general and effective vaccination of the subjects of this Kingdom; Therefore,
Be it Enacted by the King, the Nobles and Representatives of the Hawaiian Islands, in Legislative Council assembled:
Section 1. As soon as may be convenient after the passage of this act, the Minister of the Interior shall appoint four suitable persons as Vaccinating Officers, viz:
One for the Island of Hawaii.
” ” ” Islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai.
” ” ” Island of Oahu.
” ” ” Islands of Kauai and Niihau,
who shall receive such salaries as may be provided in the annual appropriation bills.
Section 2. Each vaccinating officer shall elect, within his respective district, a number of convenient places, not less than three in each school district, for the performance of vaccination; and from time to time give public notice of the day and hour at which he will attend at such places, to vaccinate all persons not already successfully vaccinated, who may then and there appear; and also of the time at which he will attend at such place, to inspect the progress of such vaccination in the persons so vaccinated.
Section 3. The father or mother of every child born on the Hawaiian Islands, after the first day of June, 1854, shall, within six calendar months after the birth of such child, or in the event of the death, illness, or absence of the father or mother, then the guardian, nurse or person having charge of the said child, shall, within six months after the birth of said child, or at the earliest opportunity after, take the said child to the vaccinating officer of the district in which the said child is resident, for the purpose of being vaccinated.
Section 4. Upon the eight day following the day on which any child has been vaccinated, as aforesaid, the father, mother, or the person having charge or custody of the said child shall again take the said child to the vaccinating officer, by whom the operation was performed in order that he may ascertain by inspection, the result of such operation.
Section 5. Upon the ascertained successful vaccination of any child the vaccinating officer shall deliver to the father, mother, or person having charge of the said child, a certificate under his hand, that the child has been successfully vaccinated; and shall not the same in a book to be kept by such vaccinating officer for that purpose; for which services the said officer shall not be entitled to demand and receive from the father, mother or person having charge or custody of such child, any pay whatsoever.
Section 6. On the presentation of a child to be vaccinated, should the vaccinating officer deem the child in an unfit state to be vaccinated, he may postpone the operation to some future time, at his discretion, giving due notice to the parents, or persons having charge or custody of such child, to reproduce it for vaccination at such future time.
Section 7. The vaccinating officers appointed under the provisions of this act may be removed from office at any time, by the Minister of the Interior.
Section 8. The vaccinating officers shall visit the several stations appointed by them, once in every six months, or oftener if deemed necessary by the Minister of the Interior, and the parent or person having charge or custody of any child which has not been vaccinated who shall neglect to produce such child for vaccination in accordance with the third section of this act, shall be subject to a fine of five dollars, on conviction of such neglect before any Police or District Justice of this Kingdom; one-half of which fine shall be paid to the informer.
[According to the inflation calculator, a $5 fine in 1854 would be $154.05 in 2020]
Section 9. The Minister of the Interior is hereby charged with the duty of carrying out the provisions of this act, and of providing the necessary books and stationary to the vaccinating officers.
This was a test for the newly created Smallpox Commission that was established by statute on May 16, 1853. The statute’s preamble stated, “Whereas, the Small-Pox is believed to exist in this Kingdom, and humanity and a just regard to life require that all who are affected with that disease should receive strict care and attention, and whereas it is desirable that the disease shall not extend through the Islands.” The Board of Health eventually assumed complete control in response to future smallpox outbreaks.
After the King, in Privy Council, in 1869 concluded that smallpox was endemic to the west coast of the United States and posed a direct threat to the health and well-being of Hawai‘i’s people, Mokuakulikuli—known today as Sand Island, was designated as the Quarantine Ground. The Hawaiian Gazette reported, “Altogether, about ninety persons can be comfortably accommodated at the quarantine buildings.”
Vaccinations in the nineteenth century were not full proof and another outbreak of smallpox hit Honolulu in 1881 that lasted just over five months. 282 people lost their lives.
There were hard lessons learned from the second outbreak that eventually culminated in the Board of Health’s adoption of a more comprehensive and authoritative quarantine regulations in 1891. The regulations focused on incoming passenger and merchant ships arriving from foreign ports.
Under these quarantine regulations, full authority and centralized control was vested in the Board of Health to make on the spot decisions that had the backing of the Hawaiian government through enforcement. The regulations were driven by medical experts and not politicians.
The regulations also provided who was responsible for the costs of the quarantine, which would not be incurred by the Hawaiian government. If payment was refused, the ship and/or assets were seized and liquidated to pay for the costs the government incurred.
1891 Quarantine Regulations
- The Board of Health may, from time to time, establish the quarantine to be performed by all vessels arriving at any port of the Kingdom, and may make such quarantine regulations as may be deemed necessary for the public health and safety. (Civil Code, Section 292).
- The quarantine regulations so established shall extend to all persons, goods and effects, arriving in such vessels, and to all persons who may visit or go on board of the same. (Civil Code, Section 293).
- Notice shall be given of such quarantine regulations by publication in the manner provided in Section 284 of the Civil Code; after which notice, any person violating such quarantine regulations shall be fined a sum of not less than five dollars (equivalent to $144.04 today) nor more than five hundred dollars (equivalent to $14,403.78). (Civil Code, Section 294).
- Any vessel which shall refuse to submit to quarantine or which shall leave the quarantine ground before the expiration of the quarantine imposed upon her, or which shall be the means of clandestinely introducing into this Kingdom any contagious disease, or any disease dangerous to the public health, shall be liable to seizure, confiscation and sale for the benefit of the public treasury. (Civil Code, Section 295).
- The Board of Health or its agents may at any time cause a vessel arriving at any port in this Kingdom, when they deem such vessel, or any part of its cargo, to be foul, infected, or in any way dangerous to the public health, to be removed to the nearest quarantine ground, and to be thoroughly purified at the expense of the owners, consignees or persons in possession of the same; and they may also cause all persons arriving in or going on board of such vessel, or handling such infected cargo, to be removed to some place of safety, there to remain under their orders. (Civil Code, Section 296).
- If any master, seaman, or passenger, belonging to a vessel on board of which there may be at the time, or may have lately been, or suspected to have been any infectious or contagious disease, or that which may become the source of such disease, or which may have been at or have come from a port where any infectious or contagious disease prevailed that may endanger the public health, shall refuse to make answer on oath to such questions as may be asked him, relating to said disease, or possible source of disease, by the Board of Health or its agents, such master, seaman, or passenger, so refusing, shall be punished by fine not exceeding five hundred dollars (equivalent to $14,403.78), or be imprisoned with hard labor for not more than twelve months, or both, at the discretion of the Court. (Civil Code, Section 297).
- Upon arrival of any vessel making the usual marine signal for a pilot, it shall be the duty of pilot or pilots at the port, to immediately put off such vessel, taking with him a white and yellow flag, to inquire into the sanitary condition of the ship and the health of those on board; and upon being assured to satisfaction that there is no danger to be apprehended from any contagious disease, he shall board the vessel, but not otherwise. (Civil Code, Section 594).
- Upon boarding the vessel, the pilot shall present to the commanding office a heal certificate to be signed by him, and in case the same shall be signed, the white flag shall be immediately hoisted at the main, and the pilot shall be at liberty to bring the vessel into port; but in case the commanding officer shall decline to sign the certificate of health, the pilot shall deliver to him a yellow flag, which the master shall hoist at the main, and the vessel shall be placed in quarantine outside of the harbor, and anchored where the pilot may direct. Any pilot who shall conduct a vessel into any port in this Kingdom, in violation of provisions of this section, or any of the regulations of the Board of Health, or knowing that there is just ground to suspect the existence of contagion on board, shall be liable to fine not exceeding five hundred dollars (equivalent to $14,403.78); and every vessel, the master of which shall have declined to sign a certificate of health, as above prescribed, shall upon entering port, be liable to seizure, confiscation and sale. (Civil Code, Section 595).
- If the Pilot, after boarding any vessel, shall discover the existence of any infectious or contagious disease, be shall not return on shore without the permission of the Board of Health; neither shall it be lawful for any of the ship’s company or passengers to land, or communicate with the shore, or to board any other vessel without the permission of the Board of Health, or the Collector, under penalty of a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars (equivalent to $14,403.78). (Civil Code, Section 596).
- The Board of Health and its agents may from time to time, at their discretion, appoint certain places within or near any harbor or anchorage in the Hawaiian Islands, for the performance of quarantine, where all or any vessel or vessels, crews, passengers and other person on board thereof, shall perform the same; and also may appoint stations apart from such vessels, where any persons or things shall be detained for the performance of quarantine.
- Every vessel arriving off any port of these Islands, may be boarded by the Port Physician, who shall examine personally the crews and passengers, and if satisfied that no contagious or infectious disease, that is dangerous to the public health, exists, or has recently existed on board, he shall give the Captain a certificate to that effect; but if not so satisfied, he shall give the Captain a certificate to that effect; but if not satisfied, he shall order the Pilot to anchor the vessel outside of the harbor and notify the Board of Health of the facts. No vessel may enter the harbor or any port of this Kingdom, when forbidden to do so by the Port Physician of said port.
- All expenses incurred on account of any person, vessel, or goods, shall be paid by such person, vessel or owner, or consignee of such vessel or goods, the vessel causing them not receiving a permit to quit the port until said expenses are paid.
- In every case where a vessel is boarded by the Port Physician, his fees and expenses shall be paid by the vessel or its representatives; and if said vessel or its representatives decline to pay these fees, the Collector of Customs shall collect them and shall not grant a clearance to said vessel until such fees and expenses shall have been paid.
- The resident physicians who are, or shall be appointed by the Government to take charge of the various districts of these Islands, except Honolulu, are hereby appointed by the Board of Health to act as Port Physicians for all ports in their several districts.
- If a vessel, passing on to another port or country, wish to land persons or goods in any port of these islands, the said vessel being obliged to undergo quarantine under the provisions of the previous Sections and these regulations, the person or goods entering said ports of these Islands may be landed and shall undergo such quarantine or other treatment as the Board of Health shall order, after which the vessel shall be free to depart, when her quarantine is raised.
- On the arrival of a vessel at any port of this Kingdom, coming from a port known to be infected with cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, scarlet fever, plague or any other contagious or infectious disease deemed by the Board of Health to be dangerous to public health, although no case of such disease may have broken out on board during the voyage, the officers, crew and passengers of such vessel may be kept in quarantine until a period of eighteen days shall have elapsed from the time of her leaving said infected port; and the vessel herself and her cargo shall undergo such process of cleansing and disinfection as the Board of Health shall judge necessary.
- On the arrival of a vessel at any port of this Kingdom which has or has had on board during the voyage, any person sick with smallpox or scarlet fever, (1,) the sick persons, if passengers for that port, shall be sent to the quarantine hospital for such a period as may be deemed necessary; (2,) the officers, crew, well passengers and other persons on board shall be placed in quarantine apart from the aforesaid, for such period as may be deemed necessary by the Board of Health; (3,) and the whole or part of the ship and its cargo shall undergo such fumigation and disinfection as the Board may deem necessary. But with regard to all sick passengers other than passengers for that port, and with regard to all persons sick with cholera, yellow fever or plague, and with regard to all persons sick with cholera, yellow fever or plague, the Board will not consider itself bound to receive them or to take care of them in quarantine.
- No person shall leave or visit any quarantined vessel, or any house, enclosure or place set apart for quarantine purposes; unless by written permission of the President of the Board of Health, or some agent authorized by said Board.
- Under no circumstances provided for by the last preceding regulation, shall clothing, personal baggage, or any goods be allowed to be landed from any vessel or removed from any place, before having undergone such disinfecting process as may be ordered by the Board of Health; nor shall letters or mails be landed in Honolulu except by written permission of the President of the Board of Health, or in any other district of the Kingdom except by permission of the District Port Physician.
- Vessels arriving from an Asiatic port, or from any port reported to be infected with cholera, yellow fever, or smallpox shall not enter any port of this Kingdom, though such vessels may show a clean bill of health, until special permission is granted by the Board of Health for entry into the port of Honolulu, or by a duly accredited agent of the Board for entry at any other port in the Hawaiian Islands. Such vessels shall be anchored on quarantine ground, at such places as may be chosen by the Pilot under direction of the Port Physician, and remain at such anchorage until changed or admitted into port by the Board of Health.
- The Board of Health may order the fumigation and disinfection of all personal effects from Asiatic ports.
- Any vessel placed in quarantine shall fly a yellow flag at the main by night and shall keep such signals hoisted until released from quarantine.
- It shall be the duty of the Pilot to deliver to the commanding officer of any vessel he may board a copy of the aforesaid quarantine regulations, with which he shall be provided by the Board of Health for that purpose.
Although these regulations were applied to arriving ships throughout the kingdom, they are applicable today to airplanes arriving throughout the various airports as well.
If the United States or its proxy the State of Hawai‘i was complying with the international law of occupation by administering the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom, COVID-19 would have been detected much sooner and quarantine measures would have taken effect followed by a lockdown of the borders to prevent foreign travelers from re-introducing the virus.
Hawaiian Bureau of Immigration and the Authority to Deny Entry
The legislature in 1864 established a Bureau of Immigration within the Ministry of the Interior. Its purpose was “superintending the importation of foreign laborers, and the introduction of immigrants.” The Bureau came under the control of the Minister of the Interior who was “assisted by a committee of five members of the Privy Council of State, to be appointed by His Majesty the King for that purpose.”
On January 14, 1880, the Bureau enacted an ordinance regulating immigration. In particular, Section 7 of the ordinance provided, “Immigrants not desiring to make engagements for labor shall, before leaving the depot, furnish to the President of the Board of Immigration satisfactory evidence that they will not become vagrants or a charge on the community for their support.”
Section 7 was the basis for the denial of a petition for writ of habeas corpus to the Hawaiian Kingdom Supreme Court by two passengers that completed quarantine for smallpox but were still detained by the Minister of the Interior because they did not satisfy section 7 of the regulations of the Board of Immigration.
Before the second outbreak of smallpox in Honolulu, the steamship Septima arrived in Honolulu from China on February 13, 1880. It was determined by the Board of Health that the virus existed amongst the passengers and they were removed to Sand Island for quarantine.
After they were cleared of smallpox by the Board of Health, authority was then passed over to the Board of Immigration. They were further detained by the Minister of the Interior until each of the passengers provided evidence that “they will not become vagrants or a charge on the community for their support.”
Two of the passengers from China refused to agree with section 7 of the regulations and claimed that the ordinance, itself, was unlawful because it was not a law passed by the legislature. In the Matter of Chow Bick Git and Wong Kuen Leong, the Hawaiian Kingdom Supreme Court, in 1881, not only denied the petition by upholding the Board of Immigration’s ordinance as constitutional, it also addressed the authority of the Hawaiian government to deny entry of foreigners.
After the Court cited Vattel’s Law of Nations and the passenger cases before the United States Supreme Court on a State’s authority to deny entry into its territory by foreigners, Associate Justice Albert F. Judd provided a separate opinion in agreement with the Chief Justice. He further stated:
“the State has a right to impose such terms and conditions precedent to the entry of foreigners within its borders as in its opinion are essential to its welfare, peace and good government. I see no reason why a sovereign State may not prescribe these terms, even in the absence of municipal law declaring what they shall be. The State may say to those who seek to become residents within its territory, ‘We will admit you, providing you accede to these terms which we deem to be reasonable and necessary.’”