Goo Kim Fui
|Goo Kim Fui
|President of the United Chinese Society
Mei County, Guangdong, Qing China
3 May 1908|
Honolulu, Hawaii Territory, United States
Goo Kim Fui (1835–1908) was a prosperous and influential Chinese merchant, community leader, and philanthropist. He was a defender of the Chinese people during the anti-Chinese agitation in Honolulu in the 1880s and played an instrumental role in uniting the local Chinese people. Goo's efforts to protect their rights from anti-Chinese prejudices meant that many Chinese were able to prosper in their work and living.
Goo Kim Fui met the young Sun Yat-sen when Sun was studying in Hawaii. They both shared the same Christian faith and were friends with the same pastor, Sit Moon. As Chinese Vice-Consul to Hawaii, Goo was able to help Sun obtain travel visas to Honolulu. Later, Goo and other members of his church financially supported Sun in his efforts to overthrow the Qing dynasty in 1911. Goo Kim Fui fully supported Sun Yat-sen's revolution toward a modern China and shared similar ideals.
As the social work of Goo Kim Fui occupied so much of his focus, appears that these innovative programs and social engineering innovations influenced the thinking of the young Sun Yat Sen.
Goo Kim Fui was born in 1835 in Mei Xian of the Guangdong province of China to a Hakka family. In his early 20s, he went to Southeast Asia to pursue new business opportunities, but in 1866, he decided to go to Hawaii to establish himself there and expand his businesses. Goo knew the English language well and was very successful in networking with the local tradesmen. In a few years, he became one of the wealthiest and prosperous merchants in Honolulu.
In 1875, through Sit Moon, a Chinese pastor from San Francisco, Goo converted to Christianity. At the time, they attended the church service of Rev. Samuel C. Damon's Seamen's Bethel Church. In 1877, they established the Chinese Y.M.C.A. which would later become known as the Chinese Christian Association (CCA). It was chartered by King Kalakaua on November 13, 1877 and many Chinese attended the fellowship meetings. The congregation gradually grew in number and funds were raised to construct a new church building to accommodate the people. In 1879, the Chinese Christian Church, which would later become the First Chinese Church of Christ in Hawaii, opened its doors.
In 1882, Goo Kim Fui was elected as vice-president of the United Chinese Society (中華會館) to promote mutual aid among Chinese migrants in Hawaii. The Qing imperial government of China appointed Goo as a commercial agent with the official title of Chinese Vice-Consul to Hawaii.
Goo later succeeded his predecessor as the president of the United Chinese Society in July, 1892. The anti-Chinese agitation in the 1880s and increasing anti-Chinese activities led Goo to organize the Mutual Defense Association ("Lein Wei Hui") in 1894 and in response to help his own countrymen when they were refused medical help at the general hospital, he set up a Chinese hospital in March 1897 (惠華醫院) to cater to Chinese patients. With the help of his long-time Christian friend, Sanford B. Dole, President of the Republic of Hawaii, Goo won the legal battle to protect the rights of the Chinese migrants living and working in Hawaii as well as the right to legally attain American citizenship.
Following a disastrous fire on January 20, 1900 that burned down nearly all of Chinatown, Goo Kim Fui actively participated in efforts to save Chinatown and eliminate the large losses suffered by local Chinese businesses. He donated his own money to help the victims of the fire. News of this was reported back to the Qing government in China and he was honored with an award for his contribution.
In July 1902 Goo Kim Fui was promoted from Vice Consul to Acting Consul General of the Chinese Legation in Honolulu following a US Department of State protest. Yang Wei-pin, the previous Chinese Consul in Hawaii resigned "for domestic reasons" and was immediately replaced by Goo Kim Fui.
During his years serving in the United Chinese Society, Goo co-founded several community centers for the benefit of the people, including the Protection Bureau ("Bow On Guk"), the Mutual Defense Association ("Lein Wei Hui"), the Chinese Christian Association, the Chinese Christian Church on Fort Street, an educational institution and a hospital. He often traveled back to his hometown in China and built houses for his extended family as well as building a church for the community.
Following the annexation of Hawaii the Overland Monthly published an article on the Chinese Community in Honolulu:
"Foremost in the Chinese colony is Goo Kim Fui, Chinese Consular Agent to Hawaii, President of the United Chinese Society, President of the Hospital Association, President to the Young Men's Christian Association, a merchant of tried probity, great business sagacity, great wealth, and the proprietor of extensive enterprises. He would be a man of influence anywhere. Self-made to a large extent, he combines the breadth of view, the solidity of character, and the intellectual amplitude, that mark the man of achievement."
Upon his death in 1908, Goo Kim Fui was eulogized in the Annual Report of the Hawaiian Evangelical Association.
"Mr. Goo Kim Fui, our honored co-laborer in the Chinese Mission work and one of the most prominent Chinese residing in Hawaii, passed away on May 3rd of this year, being more than seventy years of age. Mr. Goo Kim came to Hawaii in 1867 and early engaged in business enterprises. He was married to Miss Ellen Kamae, an Hawaiian lady, in 1872.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Goo Kim were members of the old Bethel Church under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Damon. Mr. Goo Kim after his conversion became the foremost leader in our Chinese colony in all departments of Christian and philanthropic work. We commend to all the lessons of his long and victorious life. ... As an honored representative of the Chinese Imperial Government for many years, as an active and busy merchant, a faithful and devoted church deacon, chief mover in Y.M.C.A. work, teacher in the Sunday School and Bible instructor, evangelist and teacher under the Hawaiian Board, he will long be remembered. In his noble wife, and family he found sympathetic helpers and co-workers. As a chief and leader he was borne to his burial by hundreds of his countrymen and representatives of other nationalities."
- Russ, William Adam: The Hawaiian Republic, 1894-98, and Its Struggle to Win Annexation, page 171-172. Susquehanna University Press, 1961. 
- Gerber, James and Guang, Lei: Agriculture and Rural Connections in the Pacific, 1500–1900, page 192. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006. 
- Sun Yat-sen's Christian Schooling in Hawai`i
- The Overland Monthly, page 474. Samuel Carson, 1898
- A Brief History of the First Chinese Church of Christ: Sit Moon
- How Firm the Foundation: A Short History of the First Chinese Church of Christ. 
- The Overland Monthly, page 471-473. Samuel Carson, 1898
- United States Dept. of State: Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, page 249. G.P.O., 1903. 
- The Overland Monthly, page 474-475. Samuel Carson, 1898
- Hawaiian Evangelical Association: Annual Report, page 96-97. 1908