Pearl Harbor

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Pearl Harbor, or Pu'uloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, brought the United States into World War II.



Pearl Harbor was originally an extensive shallow embayment called Wai Momi (meaning, “pearl water”) or Puʻuloa (meaning, “long hill”) by the Hawaiians. Puʻuloa was regarded as the home of the shark goddess, Kaʻahupahau, and her brother (or son), Kahiʻuka, in Hawaiian legends. Keaunui, the head of the powerful Ewa chiefs, is credited with cutting a navigable channel near the present Puʻuloa saltworks, by which made the estuary, known as “Pearl River,” accessible to navigation. Making due allowance for legendary amplification, the estuary already had an outlet for its waters where the present gap is; but Keaunui is typically given the credit for widening and deepening it.[3]

Nineteenth Century

During the early nineteenth century Pearl Harbor was not used for large ships due to its shallow entrance. The interest of the United States in the Hawaiian Islands followed its whaling and trading ships in the Pacific. As early as 1820, an "Agent of the United States for Commerce and Seamen" was appointed to look after American business in the Port of Honolulu. These commercial ties to the American continent were accompanied by the work of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. American missionaries and their families became an integral part of the Hawaiian political body.

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