Group of eight major volcanic islands and numerous islets in central Pacific Ocean. Polynesian settlement prior to 1150. Discovered, 18 Jan. 1778, by English explorer James Cook, who named islands after John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich. Whalers, loggers, merchants, and missionaries traveled to islands, 1780–1850. King Kamehameha III allowed preaching of Christianity, facilitated translation of Bible into Hawaiian language, and issued guarantee of religious freedom, 1839. Fearing United States and French influence, British forces occupied islands, 25 Feb.–31 July 1843. JS met with apostles in Nauvoo, Illinois, 23 May 1843, and appointed four missionaries to serve in islands, though none of them actually served there.