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The Saturday Press (Honolulu, Hawai‘i)
Described as “the whitest of the white men’s newspapers,” the four-page Saturday Press was published every Saturday in Honolulu in English by Robert Grieve from September 4, 1880 to August 29, 1885. The paper was available for an annual subscription rate of $5 and featured advertisements; shipping schedules; passenger lists; import and export logs; local, national, and international news items; and politically-motivated supplements published primarily in the weeks leading up to elections. The Morning Guide appeared as the Saturday Press’s weekday counterpart from 1884 to 1885.
Introduced “as a medium of free interchange of ideas amongst all classes of residents in these Islands, native or foreign, subject or sojourner,” in practice the Saturday Press was decidedly anti-monarchy and favored a close relationship between Hawai‘i and the United States. Business Manager Thomas G. Thrum--who also managed the Friend --wrote the majority of the content, which was in large part directed against King Kalākauaand Walter Murray Gibson. Gibson--a former Mormon missionary and founder of a Mormon settlement on Lāna‘i--was widely popular among Native Hawaiians and had harnessed this popularity to win the 1880 race for House of Representatives with a large majority.
The Saturday Press’s early success was due in large part to a boycott of Walter Murray Gibson’s then newly-acquired Pacific Commercial Advertiser by a group of prominent pro-American, pro-annexation merchants, including Sanford B. Dole and Claus Spreckles. Gibson used the Advertiser to promote his own politics, which included Native Hawaiian health and well-being and a vision of a Pan-Pacific confederation with Hawai‘i and its King at the center.
As Gibson’s prominence in the Kalākaua administration grew and as the 1882 election approached, Thrum attacked the King through a series of pamphlets issued as Saturday Press supplements. One of these pamphlets,“The Shepherd Saint of Lāna‘i,” aimed to defame Gibson and yet was largely unsuccessful because it was not reprinted in Hawaiian and was therefore not read by the majority of Native Hawaiians. Gibson was reelected with 80 percent of the vote and was soon after tapped by King Kalākaua to serve as Prime Minister. TheSaturday Press openly attacked Kalākaua’s government for what it regarded as wasteful spending on the King’s 1883 coronation ceremony and efforts to revive public performances of Hawaiian chanting and hula. “The coronation hulas, authorized, approved, applauded by Kalākaua, were crimes against the very life of the social fabric.” The paper also openly attacked other members of Kalākaua’s administration and in 1883 was the object of a libel suit by government physician Dr. George L. Fitch.
In September 1885, the Saturday Press merged with Thrum’s Morning Guide to form the Daily Honolulu Press, which remained in publication until June 1886.
Provided by: University of Hawaii at Manoa; Honolulu, HI