Walter F. Dillingham

Walter F. Dillingham (1875 - 1963) was one of the most influential white businessmen in Hawaii. Through the work of his Hawaiian Dredging Company, Dillingham significantly changed the shoreline of Honolulu. His company created the Ala Wai Canal had a key role in the creation of Pearl Harbor. Dillingham held racist attitudes against the non-whites in Hawaii and he strongly believed Thalia Massie's claim that she was raped. At one point while testifying before Congress, Dillingham stated that "God had made the white race to rule and the colored to be ruled." The Ala Moana mistrial greatly upset the Hawaiian business community. Dillingham headed a newly-formed "emergency committee" of the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce that was given a charge by the business community to clean up the police department and pursue "legal and other assistance" to track down evidence that could be used in a retrial. Just one day after the mistrial, the chamber publicly posted a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction. Dillingham wrote a private memo after the murder of Joseph Kahahawai in which he stated:

"Unless one has lived in this community one cannot appreciate the importance of the example to the people that they have no right to take the law into their own hands. While this may be condoned under conditions which prevail where whites are in the majority, it would be a hazardous thing to given any such recognition of lynch law in our community where it is vital to stress the necessity of abiding by the laws of the country."

Early photo of Walter Dillingham from a book published in 1917.