The Hawaiian Mission of Francis A. Hammond, 1851-1865
by John J. Hammond
Hardback / 520 pages / 978-1-56085-242-1 / $39.95 / April 25, 2016
Francis (“Frank”) Hammond was not an average Mormon pioneer. After breaking his back working on a whaling ship off the coast of Siberia in 1844, he was set ashore on the island of Maui to heal. While there he set up shop as a shoemaker and learned the local language. Three years later, he converted to Mormonism in San Francisco, and in 1851 he was sent back to Hawaii as a missionary along with his new wife, Mary Jane. In the 1860s he returned to the islands as mission president.
Through all this, he and his wife kept extensive and fascinating journals, documenting their adventures on land and sea, as well as relations (some prickly) with fellow missionaries and non-Mormon caucasians and Hawaiians. Hammond established a Mormon gathering place on the island of Lana’i, and in the 1860s he traveled by stagecoach from Utah to the west coast with a satchel of $5,000 in gold coins to purchase the land that became the site in O’ahu of the LDS temple, church college, and Polynesian Culture Center.
John J. Hammond was born and raised near Blackfoot, Idaho. After earning a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo, he taught political science and philosophy at Kent State University for thirty-five years, retiring in 2007. For the past fourteen years, he has enjoyed researching Mormon topics—including the life and writings of his great-great-grandfather, Frank Hammond.
“This engagingly written examination of Francis Asbury Hammond’s life provides an intimate, personal perspective on the first decades of the LDS Hawaiian Mission. It is grounded in solid scholarship and an array of primary sources, and considerably broadens our understanding of the mission’s successes, failures, and challenges. It is an important addition to the growing literature on Mormonism in Oceania.”
—J. Matthew Kester, Assistant Professor of History, University Archivist,
Brigham Young University–Hawaii; author, Remembering Iosepa:
History, Place, and Religion in the American West
“The story of Francis Hammond provides a fascinating lens into the world of the nineteenth-century Pacific. As a crossroad for commerce, empire-building and evangelism, Hawaii represented a small but vital piece of the Mormon aspiration to bring the gospel to all lands, and Hammond’s life work, so precisely detailed in this biography, greatly enriches our understanding of the earliest years of this venture, both its successes and failures. This is an honest and indispensable contribution to the history of Mormon missionary work.”
—Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor in the Humanities,
Washington University at St. Louis; co-editor with Reid Neilson of
Proclamation to the People: Nineteenth-century Mormonism and the Pacific Basin Frontier
“John J. Hammond has produced a delightfully candid account of his ancestor Frank Hammond’s mission to Hawaii. Family histories are too often triumphant and congratulatory. Hammond’s story is anything but, as he casts a critical eye over both the religious and cultural colonization of a people and the ethnocentrism that allowed for it. Brutally honest in recounting the fraught nature of these nineteenth-century cross-cultural encounters, Hammond’s work is informed and fresh.”
—Gina Maree Colvin, Lecturer in Cultural Studies, University of Canterbury;
co-author with Joanna Brooks of Decolonizing Mormonism
“Island Adventures is a fascinating examination of the whaler-turned-evangelist’s survival, with George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, of the tragedies and triumphs of their Hawaiian outreach. The adventures are myriad, involving shipwrecks, a smallpox epidemic, threats from outsiders, and tension from within the mission brotherhood itself. At the heart of the story is Frank’s conversion to Mormonism and adaptation to Hawaiian customs. In placing the smallest details within a larger context, the author has made a significant contribution to Mormon studies.”
—Nathaniel R. Ricks, recipient of the Mormon History Association Best Thesis Award;
editor of My Candid Opinion: The Sandwich Islands Diaries of Joseph F. Smith
“John Hammond offers new insights into the mid-nineteenth-century Mormon missionary struggle to establish an Anglo-American church among indigenous Hawaiians. His views are gleaned in particular from the full journals of his missionary ancestor, Francis Hammond. From that pioneering diarist’s honest record, the charismatic experiences, cultural connections, conflicts (internal and external), compromises, successes, and failures of the first turbulent Hawaiian mission are interpreted anew. The descendant–scholar John Hammond has achieved empathy and critique in equal measure.”
—Ian G. Barber, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Otago;
author of “Matakite, Mormon Conversions, and Māori–Israelite Identity Work in Colonial New Zealand”
in the Journal of Mormon History