TDISH: Russians in Hawaii

On July 19, 1817, a contingent of the Russian-American Company (RAC) set sail from Oahu in disgrace, having failed in an attempt to conquer the island along with its neighbors in the Hawaiian archipelago.  Almost two years prior, a representative from the RAC, Georg Schaffer, arrived in the islands with the intent of overthrowing the local monarchy to gain for Russia the amply supplies of sandalwood and tobacco and the strategic location of the islands as a coaling station for the newly expanding Russian navy.  Schaffer arrived as part of a rescue expedition meant to help stranded Russian sailors who had shipwrecked on one of the islands.  While there, likely without orders for St. Petersburg, Schaffer raised a small force of Hawaiians who were disgruntled with the ruling King Kamehameha.  His attempted, however, were bungled from the beginning and the tsar, Alexander I, was loathe to support such an effort since many of Russians European peers also used the islands as a coaling station.  Russia was still recovering from the years of the Napoleonic Wars and was not ready to goad its neighbors so soon after peace had been re-established.  Schaffer’s ill-fated expedition was recalled to Russia in disgrace.

Featured Image: “Georg Anton Schaffer.” By not given – Edward Joesting (1988) Kauai: The Separate Kingdom, University of Hawaii Press, p. Page 64 ISBN: 9780824811624., Public Domain.
Source: Michel, Casey. “Russia’s Pacific Paradise.” The Diplomat. 15 October 2015.

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