Kalākaua, sometimes called The Merrie Monarch, was the last king and penultimate monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, reigning from February 12, 1874, until his death on January 20, 1891. Succeeding Lunalilo, he was elected to the vacant throne of Hawaiʻi against Queen Emma. Kalākaua had a convivial personality and enjoyed entertaining guests with his singing and ukulele playing. At his coronation and his birthday jubilee, the hula that had been banned from public in the kingdom became a celebration of Hawaiian culture.
During his reign, the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 brought great prosperity to the kingdom. Its renewal continued the prosperity but allowed the United States to have exclusive use of Pearl Harbor. In 1881, he took a trip around the world to encourage the immigration of contract sugar plantation workers. Kalākaua wanted Hawaiians to broaden their education beyond their nation. He instituted a government-financed program to sponsor qualified students to be sent abroad to further their education. Two of Kalākaua's projects, the statue of Kamehameha I and the rebuilding of ʻIolani Palace, were expensive endeavors but are popular tourist attractions today.