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Darwin Correspondence Project

From ?   [after 14 January 1874]1

The Decreasing Population of the Sandwich Islands.2

From the Honolulu Gazette. March 12.3

The census of 1866 gave a total of 62,959 inhabitants of the kingdom, divided as to sex as follows: Males 34,395; females, 28,564. The census of 1872 gives a total population of 56,897, composed of 31,650 males and 25,247 females. The decrease in totals is 6,062 souls, a little over 11 per cent in six years. Of the natives of the kingdom, including half-castes, the total in 1872 was 51,531; the total in 1866 was 58,765, making a decrease of 7,234 in six years. Of this class we find that the full-blood native has decreased 8,081, while the half-caste has increased in numbers 847. Of foreigners in 1866 were numbered 4,194; in 1872 we find 5,366, showing a gain of 1,172. These numbers include Chinese. The percentage as to the whole population of those under fifteen years of age has slightly increased the past six years, a most encouraging fact.

Of full-blood natives the males are largely in excess, while in the case of half foreign blood of Hawaiian birth, the females are slightly in excess of males.

A reference to the census statistics since 1832 gives the percentage of decrease of populations as follows:

Per cent.
1832 to 1836. 4 years ..... 16
1836 to 1850. 14 years ..... 22
1850 to 1853. 3 years ..... 13
1853 to 1860. 7 years ..... 4
1860 to 1866. 6 years ..... 10
1866 to 1872. 6 years ..... 10

The native race numbered, in 1832 about 130.000; in 1872, forty years later, the full-blood natives are numbered at 49,044.

CD annotations

3.3 31,650 … 25,247] underl red crayon
3.4 natives] underl red crayon
3.5 including half-castes] underl red crayon
3.6 Of … 847. 3.7] scored ink
4.1 in the case … males. 4.2] scored ink


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to T. N. Staley, 13 January [1874], in which CD seemed unaware of census data from Hawaii. CD received information on the Hawaiian census from Thomas Nettleship Staley and Titus Munson Coan (see letter from T. N. Staley, 12 February 1874, and letter from T. M. Coan, 14 February 1874) and may have sought information from others via Henry Walter Bates (letter from H. W. Bates, 7 February 1874) or Edward Livingston Youmans (letter from T. M. Coan, 14 February 1874). The handwriting has not been recognised and may be a clerk’s or amanuensis’s.
The islands of Hawaii were often referred to as the ‘Sandwich Islands’, the name given to them by James Cook, until the 1890s.
The series of extracts has been copied from a report on the 1872 census returns for Hawaii published in the Hawaiian Gazette, 12 March 1873. CD added information on the decreasing population of Hawaii to Descent 2d ed., pp 186–7.


Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.


Extract from the Honolulu Gazette on the decreasing population of the Sandwich Islands.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 89: 120
Physical description
Amem 2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8794,” accessed on 6 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22