Walter Francis Dillingham, 1875-1963. Hawaiian Entrepreneur and Statesman

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This biography describes the career of a key figure during the years of the Territory of Hawaii, adding significantly to the incomplete history of Hawaii in the first half of the 20th century. Dillingham's accomplishments had a profound effect upon the development and growth of the territory. He and his Hawaiian Dredging Company changed greatly the shoreline of Honolulu, and helped shape the character of the city. Dillingham played a key role in the creation of Pearl Harbor as the Navy's major mid-Pacific naval base. His company was in integral factor in building naval airbases throughout the Pacific prior to and during WWII. He inherited the presidency of the Oahu Railway and Land Company from his father, and the railroad remained central to the island's transportation system for 30 years, furthering the expansion of sugar and pineapple plantations on Oahu. Given their major position in island society, he was able to entertain key national figures, helping influence mainland decisions affecting the future of the islands. Both Honolulu and Washington political leaders listened to him regarding important policy matters. In his later years, he stood against communism, the growing influence of labor unions in the islands, and opposed the idea of statehood. This biography depicts in particular his leading role in island and national affairs over a span of forty years.


"Based on the personal and family papers of Walter F. Dillingham, this biography provides an interesting perspective on the economic history of Hawaii in the industrial era." - Choice

"While the book is an excellent biography of Walter Dillingham, it is also a fine introduction to the subject of the economic growth of Hawaii. . . . Dr. Melendy's research for this biography is both extensive and deep. . . . The Dillingham Family made available to him both the personal papers of Walter Dillingham and those concerned with the family enterprises. Because of his residence in Honolulu, Melendy was able to interview in depth business associates and Dillingham family members. His bibliography shows quite clearly that the author carried his research to the mainland as he utilized manuscript collections throughout the country." - Gerald E. Wheeler

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