Claus Spreckels Arrives
German-born Claus Spreckels arrived from California and quickly took advantage of the newly-established Reciprocity Treaty that favored exporters of Hawaiian sugar. Spreckels had been a financier associated with the California Sugar Refinery in San Francisco. In Hawai'i, he bought up the 1877 sugar crop and resold it for a huge profit. He invested in sugar lands, mills, railway lines, and extensive irrigation systems. His empire, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, became one of the most successful sugar operations in the Islands. Spreckels was a poker-playing companion of King Kalakaua and won political favors in return for personal loans. When Spreckels' influence began to wane, he moved back to San Francisco (1886) but returned to Hawai'i regularly. After the overthrow of the monarchy, he supported returning Lili'uokalani to the throne, but gradually withdrew his money from his island investments. He sold his Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company to Alexander & Baldwin.
Claus Spreckels and William G. Irwin constituted the partnership of the firm William G. Irwin and Company, which acted as a sales agent for the Olowalu Sugar Company during the latter part of the century. The company was also purchasing agent for plantation equipment and supplies and represented Olowalu with the Hawaiian Board of Immigration to bring in immigrant laborers. In addition, Irwin and Company required, for a time, that Olowalu's sugar be shipped to the Spreckels-controlled Western Sugar Refinery in San Francisco by the Spreckels-controlled Oceanic Steamship Company.