In 1857, Abner Pratt resigned from his position as Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. He had been given the opportunity of a lifetime: a presidential appointment based in Honolulu. Tough gig…
Captain James Cook found the Hawaiian islands in 1778 (a “discovery” that did not end well for him). He named the area the “Sandwich Islands” in honor of his benefactor the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. When President James Buchanan chose Abner Pratt to serve as his consul nearly eighty years later, the islands were still being referred to as the Sandwich Islands.
Pratt’s job as consul was to assist and protect the citizens of the U.S. (remember Hawaii did not become a state until 1959), and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries. A consul is distinguished from an ambassador, the latter being a representative from one head of state to another.
Pratt held the post until 1862, about ten years before the end of the Kamehameha dynasty. Upon his return to Marshall, Michigan, Pratt built a beautiful home inspired by his time on the islands. A place that came to be known as “Honolulu House.”
Today Honolulu House is the home of the Marshall Historical Society. It is open for tours from May 1st through October 31st. Please visit their website to learn more.