Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox was born on February 15, 1855 a descendant from the Maui royal line of Lonomakaihonua, brother of Kaulahea, King of Maui before Kamehameha’s reign. Robert led two patriotic attempts on behalf of his Sovereign and countrymen. The first was to overthrow the illegal and despised Bayonet Constitution and the Reform Government. The second was to restore the deposed Queen Liliuokalani and the Hawaiian Government. He was sentenced to death on his attempt to restore the queen, but was pardoned by the U.S Congress.
Later Robert was voted by his countrymen to obtain full voting rights for his people in the forming Hawaii’s Organic Act. He was successful and returned home with honor and was elected as Hawaii’s first Delegate to Congress.
After his release from prison from his attempt to restore the queen, he married Princess Theresa Owana Kaʻōhelelani Laʻanui of the Kamehameha Dynasty on August 20, 1896. From this marriage they had a son, Prince Robert Kalanikupuapaʻikalaninui Wilcox and a daughter, Princess Virginia Kahoa Kaʻahumanu Kaʻihikapumahana Wilcox.
Wilcox and Princess Theresa owned and operated two newspapers published before the period of the revolution and after annexation, which was respectfully a voice to their people. Their newspapers were called the Liberal and the Home Rule Republic which was written in both English and Hawaiian language editions
Honorable Robert William Kalanihiapo Wilcox
Princess Theresa Owana Kaʻōhelelani Laʻanui
Wife of Robert Wilcox
Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox Day
A new park was built and named “Wilcox” park. A statue of Robert Wilcox was erected in 1993 in the central downtown area of Honolulu, Hawaii on the corner of King and Fort Street. A proclamation was made by the State of Hawaii, declaring that September 11 in 1993 is Honorable Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox Day in remembrance of such a great Hawaiian soldier.
Statue of Robert William Kalanihiapo Wilcox
The descendants of Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox and his wife, Princess Theresa Owana Kaʻōhelelani Laʻanui Wilcox at the unveiling ceremony of the Honorable, Robert Kalanihiapo Wilcox statue at Wilcox Park, downtown Honolulu, Fort Street Mall on King St. September 11, 1993.
On September 11, 1993 about 350 people gathered in downtown Honolulu for a ceremony and the unveiling of a statue honoring Robert William Kalanihiapo Wilcox. The ceremony was alive with Hawaiian cultural tradition. Tributes were made to Wilcox through na mele ku’auhau (chants), na mele hula (dances), and the blowing of the sacred pu (conch shell).
Various speakers made their own respective tributes. City Council Chairperson Gary Gill, who originally proposed the idea for the statue, declared:“. . . today for me is a triumph. For after a hundred years, a great figure in Hawaiian history is finally receiving the recognition that he’s due. Robert Wilcox was a patriot. Robert Wilcox stood for truth, independence, nationhood, and sovereignty in a day when American imperialism was conquering the Pacific.”
Mayor Frank F. Fasi proclaimed September 11, 1993 as Robert Wilcox Day. After his speech, Fasi led in the unveiling of the Wilcox statue. When revealed, one could see a bronze-like figure of Wilcox in his uniform of an Italian cavalry officer standing boldly, or defiantly, while holding his sword. Fasi then made a ho’okupu (offering) to the statue.
Resuming with the speakers’ tributes, Monsignor Charles Kekumano defined Wilcox as “irrepressible.” Kekumano emphasized that if Wilcox “didn’t like the way things were, he just could not sit back and do nothing. He was not the type to merely talk about things. He was an activist, a man of zeal and determination, and at times of exaggerated vigor.”
Martha Webb, a translator of the Hawaiian language and a poet, mentioned that while Wilcox was in Italy studying, he met Italian revolutionary Guiseppe Garabaldi, “a successful military leader whose accomplishments in the face of seemingly impossible odds made him an appropriate and inspiring role model to a man of Wilcox’s position.” Webb added that she translated an 1889 biography of Wilcox, written in Hawaiian by Thomas Nakanaela, for Wilcox’s descendants.
H.R.H. Princess Owana Kaʻōhelelani Salazar, Wilcox’s great-granddaughter, was among the various descendants who spoke. She declared that “This is a momentous day for all Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians), to give honor to this man who gave his life for his people. We do right to honor this Hawaiian hero, this freedom fighter, this patriot, this Ali’i o Hawai’i nei (Chief of Hawai’i).
“Let us all remember too the hundreds of men who marched with him here upon the very ground this park and statue stand on today, who fought beside him against all the dreaded odds, whose ultimate goal was to free the Hawaiian people; free them from the clutches of a few greedy American business men and to return the dignity to the throne of Hawai’i.”
When all the speakers were finished honoring Wilcox, there was a final ho’okupu from his descendants. They proceeded to cover the statue with na lei pua (flower leis) to show love and respect. After more cultural tributes,
the ceremony reached its conclusion. (David Star)