HAWAII: The Big Change

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The missionaries, it was said, "came to do good—and they did well." After building a basic, solid structure of up-to-date education and Christianity, the missionaries stayed on, became sugar planters. Sugar became big business, and soon the new landowners began importing Chinese coolie labor. By 1890, the missionaries-turned-businessmen were operating 72 plantations, exporting more than 25 million Ibs. of sugar a year. Born in the boom were the "Big Five" factoring companies, set up to handle the business of the sugar plantations. Gradually, they took over the functions of business agent, banker, labor supplier and arbiter of status. By 1941, the paternalistic Big Five—American Factors, Ltd., C. Brewer & Co. Ltd., Alexander & Baldwin, Castle & Cooke Ltd., Theo. H. Davies & Co.—hovered over a vast economy worth $309 million (v. a 1958 gross territorial product of $1.4 billion), and by virtue of interlocking directorates and interlocking marriages, controlled wholesale and retail business, agriculture, banks, land, shipping, society—everything.

Status & Change. Governor Bill Quinn was an ambitious philosophy student in St. Louis in the late 19305 when the first signs of Hawaii's big change were beginning to come clear. The Chinese, longest established of the imported laborers, were slowly building up capital. Japanese immigrants were hoarding their slender earnings to get their children educated and on the road to citizenship. A young merchant seaman named Jack Hall jumped ship in Honolulu in 1935 and, forming an alliance with Red-lining Harry Bridges, boss of the West Coast International Longshoreman's and Warehouseman's Union (I.L.W.U.), waved the flag of unionism. Organizer Hall planned first to win control of the vulnerable shipping points on the docks, then move boldly inland toward the vast sea of laborers in the pineapple and sugar fields.

The roar and devastation of World War II, which crippled the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor, sent a deeper shock through Hawaii's way of life. Some first families, fearful of invasion, put up valuable land holdings for sale at bargain prices, and the Chinese were there to snap up the bargains and get the outsiders' first big toehold in real estate. But most affected by the shock were the thousands of Japanese-Americans whose ancestry made them suroect, especially to faraway Washington and the apprehensive military. Intensely loyal to the U.S., crushed by the restrictions of martial law and threatened internment, the Nisei wallowed in confusion until their island friends came to their rescue, set up coordinating committees that satisfied the suspicious, promoted Nisei war-bond purchases and blood donations, talked encouragingly to 10,-ooo individual Japanese.-Notable among the helpful, friendly Caucasians: Jack Burns, the Montana-born Honolulu cop, who won a Nisei devotion that would have much to do with his future political fortunes.

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