Hiram Bingham and his wife arrived on the Island of Hawaii in 1820 and then sailed on to Honolulu April 19. In an effort motivated by a need to teach the Hawaiian people to read the bible, Bingham was involved in and played a key role in translating and the creation of the spelling system for the Hawaiian Language. He also translated several books of the Bible into Hawaiian.
Bingham designed the Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu on the Island of Oʻahu. The church was constructed between 1836 and 1842 in the New England style of the Hawaiian missionaries and is one of the oldest standing Christian places of worship in Hawaiʻi.
The Binghams left August 3, 1840 and returned to New England February 4, 1841 for what was intended to be a sabbatical due to his wife’s poor health. After her death the board refused to reappoint him as a missionary. With time on his hand he wrote and published a memoir, A Residence of Twenty-One Years in the Sandwich Islands in 1847 in which a beautiful wood block map was published. The map was one of the first to show the island names spelled utilizing the missionary inspired 12 letter alphabet.
Bingham’s son, Hiram Bingham II, was also a missionary to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. His grandson Hiram Bingham III was an explorer who claimed to have discovered Machu Picchu and became a US Senator and Governor of Connecticut. His great-grandson Hiram Bingham IV was the US Vice Consul in Marseille, France during World War II who rescued Jews from the Holocaust.
In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS Hiram Bingham was named in his honor. Bingham was caricatured as the character Reverend Abner Hale in James Michener’s novel Hawaii