The Polynesian

The four-to-eight page Polynesian was published weekly in Honolulu in English and some Hawaiian from June 6, 1840 to December 11, 1841 (first series), and again from May 18, 1844 to February 6, 1864 (second series). James Jackson Jarves ran the first series with a combination of mission support, advertising, and subscriptions. However, the paper was not profitable, and he shut it down after only two and a half years. Jarves reestablished the paper under the same title in May 1844. Two months later, the Polynesian became the "Official Journal of the Hawaiian Government" and remained so until 1861. The Polynesian was the leading paper on O'ahu in the mid-1800s. It served as the principal vehicle for publishing all enacted laws and criminal codes as well as the policies of Kamehameha III and his successor, King Kamehameha IV. The paper was among the first in the islands to feature puff pieces, which were essentially free advertisements posing as articles and promoting products or industries featured in adjoining paid advertisements. The paper featured local and international news, business and shipping news, police reports, editorials, and fiction. Its size depended on the amount of newsprint available at the time. Between government sponsorship and Jarves's pro-American editorializing, the Polynesian exemplified the many conflicts, contradictions, and tensions that characterized Hawai'i during this period. Abraham Fornander, editor of the Weekly Argus from 1852 to1853, and the New Era & Weekly Argus from 1853 to1855, later edited the Polynesian, then purchased it in 1861 and continued to publish it till its demise in 1864.

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