|Hawaii's Big Five|
The Big Five (Hawaiian : Nā Hui Nui ʻElima) was the name given to a group of what started as sugarcane processing corporations that wielded considerable political power in the Territory of Hawaii during the early 20th century and leaned heavily towards the Hawaii Republican Party. The Big Five were Castle & Cooke, Alexander & Baldwin, C. Brewer & Co., American Factors (now Amfac), and Theo H. Davies & Co. The extent of the power that the Big Five had was considered by some as equivalent to an oligarchy. Attorney General of Hawaii Edmund Pearson Dole, referring to the Big Five, said in 1903, "There is a government in this Territory which is centralized to an extent unknown in the United States, and probably almost as centralized as it was in France under Louis XIV."
Though commercial sugar production began in the first years of the 1800s, the industry remained relatively minor until the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. This treaty provided duty-free trade of sugar between the Kingdom of Hawaii and the United States, and it generated massive disruptions in the sugar industry. Plantation growth and consolidation soon followed, with the number of plantations falling from 79 in 1875 to just 20 in 1883.Prior to this disruption, the agencies played a much more limited role in Hawaiian industry. They served primarily to add liquidity to an agricultural industry with long growing periods (18-24 months) by both providing credit against future sales and providing transportation to foreign markets and equipment procurement. With the growth pressure imposed by the Reciprocity Treaty, however, plantations required capital infusions in order to expand their cultivation into more marginal lands, leading to increased reliance on the agencies for credit. With Hawaii's annexed by the United States, this change was locked in as sugarcane plantations gained a new infusion of investment. By eliminating tariffs imposed on sugarcane producers by the United States, planters had more money to spend on equipment, land and labor. Increased capital resulted in increased production. Five kingdom-era corporations benefited from annexation, becoming multimillion-dollar conglomerations that controlled 90% of the sugar business. The companies colluded to keep the prices on their goods and services high. Their profits skyrocketed even more. Soon, the executives of the Big Five sat on each other's boards of directors. With economic power came political power, and the families usually favored the Republican Party of Hawaii.
During the Democratic Revolution of 1954, the unions inflicted a decisive blow against the giants and the sugar industry declined after Hawaii became a state in 1959; so did each of the Big Five companies.[ citation needed ] The greatest post-statehood challenge came as the U.S. Department of Justice challenged the ownership of Matson Navigation Company by four of the five companies (all except Theo H. Davies). The lawsuit was settled when the four companies agreed not to share officers, executives, and directors. Alexander and Baldwin eventually bought out the other three stakes in Matson in 1964.
In the 1970s, as sugar plantations closed, many of the Big Five companies themselves were bought out. Where the companies are now:[ citation needed ]
The domination of Hawaii by the Big Five forms much of the background for the book The Revolt of Mamie Stover , describing the life of a prostitute in Hawaii in the 1940s.[ citation needed ]
James Michener's fictionalized account of Hawaiian history, Hawaii included references to the Big Five, which he called "the Fort".[ citation needed ]
The Big Five are mentioned briefly in Harry Turtledove's Days of Infamy series , an alternate history where Japanese forces completely occupy Hawaii during World War II.
The Big Five are mentioned in Kaye Starbird's The Lion In The Lei Shop.
James Drummond Dole, also known as the "Pineapple King", was an American industrialist who developed the pineapple industry in Hawaii. He established the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (HAPCO) which was later reorganized to become the Dole Food Company and now operates in over 90 countries. Dole was a cousin of Sanford B. Dole, President of the Republic of Hawaii.
The Territory of Hawaii or Hawaii Territory was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from April 30, 1900 until August 21, 1959, when most of its territory, excluding Palmyra Island, was admitted to the United States as the 50th U.S. state, the State of Hawaii. The Hawaii Admission Act specified that the State of Hawaii would not include Palmyra Island, the Midway Islands, Kingman Reef, and Johnston Atoll, which includes Johnston Island and Sand Island.
Dole plc is an American agricultural multinational corporation headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company is the largest producer of fruit and vegetables in the world, operating with 74,300 full-time and seasonal employees who are responsible for over 300 products in 90 countries. Dole markets such food items as bananas, pineapples, grapes, strawberries, salads, and other fresh and frozen fruits and juices. Dole owns a shipping line, "Dole Ocean Cargo Express".
Adolph Claus J. Spreckels was a major industrialist in Hawai'i during the kingdom, republican and territorial periods of the islands' history. He also involved himself in several California enterprises, most notably the company that bears his name, Spreckels Sugar Company.
Amfac, Inc., formerly known as American Factors and originally H. Hackfeld and Company, was a land development company in Hawaii. Founded in 1849 as a retail and sugar business, it was considered one of the so-called Big Five companies in the Territory of Hawaii. At its peak, it owned 60,000 acres (24,000 ha) of land, and was a dominant sugar company in Hawaii as well the founder of one of its best known department stores, Liberty House. It now owns 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) of land in Kaanapali on the island of Maui. Since 2005 it is known as Kaanapali Land, LLC.
Theo H. Davies & Co. is a company that was one of the Big Five trading and agricultural companies in the Territory of Hawaii.
The Treaty of reciprocity between the United States of America and the Hawaiian Kingdom was a free trade agreement signed and ratified in 1875 that is generally known as the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875.
Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. is an American company that was once part of the Big Five companies in territorial Hawaii. The company currently operates businesses in real estate, land operations, and materials and construction. It was also the last "Big Five" company to cultivate sugarcane. As of 2020, it remains one of the State of Hawaii's largest private landowners, owning over 28,000 acres (11,000 ha) and operating 36 income properties in the state.
Castle & Cooke, Inc., is a Los Angeles-based company that was once part of the Big Five companies in territorial Hawaii. The company at one time did most of its business in agriculture, including becoming, through mergers with the modern Dole Food Company, the world's largest producer of fruits and vegetables. In 1995, it was spun off from Dole and today most of the company's business is in real estate and residential, commercial and retail development.
Puerto Rican migration to Hawaii began when Puerto Rico's sugar industry was devastated by two hurricanes in 1899. The devastation caused a worldwide shortage in sugar and a huge demand for the product from Hawaii. Consequently, Hawaiian sugarcane plantation owners began to recruit the jobless, but experienced, laborers in Puerto Rico.
Hāmākua is a district on the northeast coast of Hawaiʻi's Big Island, administered by the County of Hawaiʻi in the state of Hawaiʻi. It is also the name given for the coastline in the region, the "Hāmākua Coast".
Sugarcane was introduced to Hawaii by its first inhabitants in approximately 600 AD and was observed by Captain Cook upon arrival in the islands in 1778. Sugar quickly turned into a big business and generated rapid population growth in the islands with 337,000 people immigrating over the span of a century. The sugar grown and processed in Hawaii was shipped primarily to the United States and, in smaller quantities, globally. Sugarcane and pineapple plantations were the largest employers in Hawaii. Today both are gone, production having moved to other countries.
The Waialua Sugar Mill, formally known as the Chamberlain Plantation, was a sugarcane plantation and historical sugar mill, located in the town of Waialua on the North Shore of Oahu. It was in operation from 1865 until 1996.
The Old Sugar Mill of Kōloa was part of the first commercially successful sugarcane plantation in Hawaiʻi, which was founded in Kōloa on the island of Kauai in 1835 by Ladd & Company. This was the beginning of what would become Hawaii's largest industry. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 29, 1962. A stone chimney and foundations remain from 1840.
Henry Perrine Baldwin was a businessman and politician on Maui in the Hawaiian Islands. He supervised the construction of the East Maui Irrigation System and co-founded Alexander & Baldwin, one of the "Big Five" corporations that dominated the economy of the Territory of Hawaii.
Samuel Thomas Alexander co-founded a major agricultural and transportation business in the Kingdom of Hawaii.
William Harrison Rice was a missionary teacher from the United States who settled in the Hawaiian Islands and managed an early sugarcane plantation.
Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum is located in the small sugarcane growing and milling community of Puʻunene, Hawaii, Kahului, Maui. The museum exhibits the history of Hawaiian sugarcane plantations and Alexander & Baldwin and its role in the sugarcane industry in Hawaii. The company itself continues in business and though it has diversified, it continues to produce sugarcane. The museum itself in the former mill manager's house.
Spreckelsville is an unincorporated community on the northern coast of the island of Maui in the U.S. state of Hawaii.