Business History Review

Research Article

The American-Hawaiian Steamship Company, 1899–19191

Thomas C. Cochrana1 and Ray Gingera2

a1 Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania

a2 Former Assistant Professor of Business History at Harvard University

Abstract

At a time when American shipping generally was finding it difficult to compete in international trade, certain American shipping groups were profiting largely. The strength of the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company derived from conservative financial policy, bold but not reckless expansion, astute analysis of trading opportunities, skillful handling of competition, and decisive adaptation to emergencies. A closely knit group of owner-managers held the reins of control. Internal strength permitted optimum realizations from a favorable commercial environment and even helped to make that environment favorable.

Footnotes

1 During the period discussed in this article, American-Hawaiian was a very closely held corporation which did not even publish annual reports. Therefore, unless otherwise noted, this article is based on the unpublished records of the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company, which are still in the firm's files. Mr. Edward P. Farley, chairman of the board of American-Hawaiian, has kindly consented to the publication of this material.