A Man Who Painted the Colors of Hawaii - Samantha Magdaleno

A Man Who Painted the Colors of Hawaii

Red, white, and blue...that is the first thought that comes to mind when people are asked

about the flag that represents the United States of America. Three simple colors, that a make a

bold statement. The red stands for valor, while the white signifies innocence, and the blue is for

justice. The Hawaiian flag carries the same colors as our nation’s flag, which is why I love it so

much. Hawaii is a beautiful, historical place of its own, that is a part of an equally extravagant

country. I would have to credit and thank Captain Alexander Adams for designing such an

exquisite flag for the place I call home.

Captain Alexander Adams was born in Scotland in 1780 and lived there until the year

1792. He began a career of working out of ships and eventually made his way to the United

States. He was docked in Boston and took the Albatross ship to Hawaii where he anchored in

1781. King Kamehameha I heard of Adams soon after he arrived on the island and decided to

hire him to work on his fleet of ships. Kamehameha put Adams in charge of getting his

sandalwood fleet to China via his ship, Kamehameha. Adams was extremely honored because he

was the first foreigner captain who worked out of Honolulu port.

Flags were flown on ships during voyages, but Adams refused to put up the American

flag on his ship after the War of 1812. Prior to leaving on his voyage in 1816, Adams worked

with James Auld, a Scottish friend, on a flag that would be flown while in route to China. He

included the British Jack into his design because Great Britain still had a strong influence over

the world at the time, and he wanted to remain on their good side. He kept with the red, white, and blue color scheme because it was the color of the United States and Great Britain’s flag.

Adams incorporated eight stripes to correspond with the eight Hawaiian Islands.

Adams flag wasn’t just flown on ships. It was also flown after he removed the Russians

from Fort Elizabeth in 1817 after being instructed to do so by Kamehameha. The flag was also

raised in 1820 when Adams and John Young stood on the shores of Kailua-Kona waiting for the

arrival of the first American Christina missionaries.

The Hawaiian flag that Adams and Auld designed was flown on important victorious

moments for the state of Hawaii and its people. It was a way of letting the people in the

surrounding area know that Hawaii was involved and proud to be so. It’s fascinating to know

that Adams initially designed the flag because he was not comfortable with flying his new home

countries’ flag, and it ended up turning into so much more. Not only did Adams raise that flag on

his ship, but now all the people of Hawaii raise the same flag daily. It makes me happy to see

families proudly flying their Hawaii State flag when I drive through the roads of Oahu. The flag

is a part of the culture. It unites the people and reminds us of the fact that we’re all family

through thick and thin. The camaraderie in Hawaii is partly because of the unity our flag brings

us, and for that we can thank Captain Alexander Adams.

Work Cited

Bailey, Chris. "What's the Story behind Hawaii's Flag?" Www.hawaiimagazine.com. N.p., 21

Oct. 2008. Web. 10 Apr. 2018.

"Captain Alexander Adams." Images of Old Hawaiʻi. N.p., 10 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2018.

Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants - Adams, Alexander. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr.


"Posts about Alexander Adams on Nupepa." Nupepa. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2018.

Scotland and Hawaii in History. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2018.

"The Story Behind Hawaii's State Flag." Hawaii Aloha Travel. N.p., 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 Apr.