Grace Hubbard Fortescue


McDougal's Honolulu Mysteries

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Clarence Darrow Argued His Last Case in Honolulu

Mrs. Grace Fortesque and the two other men accused of murdering Joseph Kahahawai. This sensational trial exposed the military control of Hawaii, a "sugar-coated fortress" and the inequities of racial control. Darrow, a champion of unpopular causes, had attained national fame with his defense of the murderers Leopold and Loeb and support for John T. Scopes, charged with teaching evolution in the famous "Monkey Trial" in Dayton, Tennessee. Now you can visit the actual courtroom where this renown figure in American criminal justice argued his last case before retiring.


The Massie Rape Case

Thomas Massie, a naval officer, and his young wife, Thalia, attended a party at the Officers Club. After drinking and dancing all evening, they got into a row and Thalia rushed out in a huff. A few hours later, Thalia was at home, confused and hysterical, claiming to have been raped by some local men. On the most circumstantial evidence, Joseph Kahahawai and four friends of mixed ethnic background were accused. In a highly controversial trial rife with racial tensions, the verdict ended in a hung jury.

While a new trial was being set, Kahahawai and his friends were out on bail. Seeking revenge, Thomas Massie and
Grace Fortescue, Thalia's mother, kidnapped Joseph Kahahawai with a plan of extracting a confession from him. They were aided by two enlisted men assigned to guard Thalia. While questioning Joseph, they killed him and attempted to dump his body in the sea but were apprehended. Another controversial trial-this time for Mrs. Fortescue, Massie, and the accomplices-followed. Clarence Darrow, the famous lawyer, sailed to Hawaii to defend them. For killing Kahahawai, these people served one hour of imprisonment in the judge's private chambers. The other four, acquitted with Joseph Kahahawai, maintain innocence of the rape to this day. Later, the Massies divorced, and Thalia went on to become a depressed alcoholic who took her own life.

In 1932, America's most famous criminal defense lawyer sailed to Honolulu to defend Lt. Thomas Massie,



Grace Hubbard Fortescue.
To the right of Mrs. Fortescue is her daughter, Thalia Fortescue Massie.

Thalia Fortescue Massie (born February 14, 1911 in Washington, D.C.) was the daughter of Grace Hubbard Fortescue and the wife of a Navy lieutenant and the genesis of what is now known as the Massie-Kahahawai Case. She claimed that in September, 1931, a group of Hawaiian men had raped her at Ala Moana Beach in Honolulu. Subsequently, five young men, two of Hawaiian ancestry, two of Japanese ancestry, and one of Chinese ancestry were arrested and charged with rape. With evidence presented demonstrating that none of the accused could have committed the crime, the jury deadlocked and all five were released on bail. Grace Fortescue was deeply disturbed by the release and one of the defendants, a native Hawaiian named Joseph Kahahawai, was later found dead in the back seat of her car. Defended by attorney Clarence Darrow, of the Scopes Monkey Trial, Fortescue was eventually tried and convicted of manslaughter. Originally sentenced to 10 years, her sentence was commuted to one hour in the executive chambers of Governor Lawrence Judd of the Territory of Hawaii, a Republican. The commutation of Fortescue's sentence was perceived by native Hawaiians and other citizens as a gross miscarriage of justice in the Territory. Thalia's claim and the subsequent events were seminal in strengthening the labor-union movement in Hawaii and the resolve of concerned citizens that formed the Hawaii Democratic Party.
From left to right, Clarence Darrow, and defendants ; two navy sailors, Lieutenant Thomas Massie, and



Grace Hubbard Fortescue (1883-1979)
Grace Hubbard Fortescue brashly told a journalist that January 8, 1932, was "the day of the murder" before she went on trial for the killing of Joseph Kahahawai. A member from birth of the U.S. social elite, Fortescue was accustomed to doing anything she wished. She had no fear of calling Kahahawai's death just what it was, a murder, because she had no reason to believe that she would ever be punished for her role in it. In her mind, killing a man to save her daughter's reputation was completely and undeniably justified.
Bell's Niece Born in 1883, Grace Fortescue was the granddaughter of Gardiner Hubbard, a wealthy financier who became the first president of Bell Telephone. Hubbard had backed Alexander Graham Bell, his son-in-law and Grace's uncle, for the commercial debut of Bell's invention, the telephone. Grace grew up playing in the sprawling grounds of Twin Oaks, the mansion her grandfather built in the upscale Rock Creek area of Washington, D.C.Society Girl
As a young debutante, Grace found her cultured background served her well. In 1910, she married Major Granville "Rolly" Fortescue, who was in the Rough Riders. He had served with Theodore Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War and had been wounded at San Juan Hill. The young couple embarked on a life of travel and privilege.
Keeping Up Appearances When her husband failed to be as financially successful as she had expected, Grace Fortescue did all in her power to maintain a façade of success. She knew the value of appearances. As soon as she received a cable from her son-in-law, Lieutenant Thomas Massie, saying that her daughter Thalia had been assaulted, Fortescue packed her trunk for the long trip to Hawai'i.
Murder Without Remorse
Though Thalia was a controversial and somewhat disliked figure in her Hawai'ian Naval circles, Fortescue was dismayed to hear her daughter's "good name" drawn through the mud. After the case against Thalia's alleged assailants ended in a mistrial, Grace set her mind to squashing the gossip purporting that Thalia had made up the rape. Mrs. Fortescue and Lieutenant Massie came to the conclusion that the only way to correct the terrible injustice against Thalia's reputation was to secure a confession from one of the accused men. Whether or not there was a plan to kill Kahahawai before kidnapping him, Grace Fortescue certainly did not exhibit any remorse about his death. As New York Times journalist Russell Owen reported in an exclusive interview on February 7th, two months before Fortescue's trial, "Mrs. Fortescue's chief concern seems to be that the affair was bungled."
Beyond Justice
Nor did Fortescue's friends in high places seem troubled by her criminal role. The deck of the Alton, where the four defendants were held in protective custody by the Navy before and during the trial, was covered stern to bow with floral arrangements and notes of encouragement from friends in politics and society. Friends of the family, possibly including Navy personnel, raised the money to pay the nation's top defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, to lead the defense in The Territory of Hawai'i vs. Grace Fortescue, et al. U.S. newspapers ran banner headlines characterizing Kahahawai's death as an "honor killing" and reporting sympathetically about Fortescue and Massie's revenge -- justifiable, in many Americans' minds -- against Thalia's alleged assailant.
A Charming Prisoner Grace's composure upon being arrested mesmerized the reporters and police officers on the scene. After the indictment, she spent one night in jail, where her poise endeared her to journalists and jail personnel. Absurdly enough, Grace Fortescue invited the jail matron and the cook to join her for a cup of coffee in her cell. The importance of appearing refined and calm at all times -- and denying that her actions were criminal -- perhaps paralleled Darrow's belief that "you never see a good looking woman convicted of murder or manslaughter -- or refused alimony."
Unscathed Fortescue's ability to weather the Hawai'ian storm she helped create enabled her literally to get away with murder. Though she was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Kahahawai, Fortescue had her sentence commuted from ten years in prison to an hour spent with the territorial governor, after white outcry against the guilty verdicts. Grace Fortescue headed back to the States and made money off of her story, then settled down to live out her days in leisure and comfort after inheriting a fortune from her father. She died in 1979, at the age of 95, outliving both her daughter Thalia and her son-in-law.



You are bidding on a paperback titled The Massie Case by Peter Packer and Bob Thomas -- this book was published in 1966, this printing is from 1984. It is in fair shape with 186 pages. TROUBLE IN PARADISE. The young Navy wife wandered alone one night into Honolulu's "native section" and returned home badly bruised and dishevelled. Something horrible has happened," she cried. THALIA MASSIE TOLD A LURID TALE OF GANG RAPE THAT SPARKED MURDER, TWO SENSATIONAL TRIALS AND AN INFERNO OF RACIAL TURMOIL! Lt. Tommy Massie -- the outraged husband, whose determination to wrench a confession from his wife's assailants led to murder. Mrs. Fortescue -- the avenging socialite mother who evolved the plan that ended in one man's death and a storm of racial hatred. Clarence Darrow -- the world-famous lawyer, bought out of retirement by a $25,000 retainer to defend Massie and Fortescue in a bizarre case that would blacken his sterling reputation. THE MASSIE CASE -- As senators and citizens urged measures to crush the "Yellow Peril" -- as the tabloids fueled the racial prejudice that would cause an island paradise to erupt with long-simmering unrest ...only one woman knew the truth behind it all -- Thalia Massie. The bored restless wife whose mysterious adventure in the "native section" changed Hawaii forever.

MASSIE CASE Clarence Darrow Final Court Case


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