Kamehameha IV, born Alexander ʻIolani Liholiho reigned as the fourth monarch of Hawaii under the title: Ke Aliʻi o ko Hawaiʻi Pae ʻAina of the Kingdom of Hawaii from January 11, 1855 to November 30, 1863. His full Hawaiian name was Alekanetero ʻIolani Kalanikualiholiho Maka o ʻIouli Kūnuiākea o Kūkāʻilimoku.
Kamehameha III died on March 18, 1854. On January 11, 1855 Alexander took the oath as King Kamehameha IV, succeeding his uncle when he was only 20 years old. His cabinet ministers were: Wyllie, as minister of foreign affairs, Keoni Ana (John Young II) served as minister of the interior, Elisha Hunt Allen as minister of finance, and Richard Armstrong as minister of education. William Little Lee served as chief justice, until he was sent on a diplomatic mission and then died in 1857. Allen became chief justice, and David L. Gregg became minister of finance. After Keoni Ana died, his brother Prince Lot Kapuāiwa was minister of the interior.
Only a year after assuming the throne, Alexander took the hand of Emma Rooke as his queen. Queen Emma was the granddaughter of John Young, Kamehameha the Great's British royal advisor and companion. She also was Kamehameha's great-grandniece.
At the time of Alexander's assumption to the throne, the American population in the Hawaiian islands continued to grow and exert economic and political pressure in the Kingdom. Alexander worried that the United States of America would make a move to conquer his nation; an annexation treaty was proposed in Kamehameha III's reign. He strongly felt that annexation would mean the end of the monarchy and the Hawaiian people. Liholiho instead wanted a reciprocity treaty, involving trade and taxes, between the United States and Hawaii. He was not successful. In an effort to balance the amount of influence exerted by American interests, Alexander began a campaign to limit Hawaii's dependence on American trade and commerce. He sought deals with the British and other European governments, but his reign did not survive long enough to make them.
Alexander died of chronic asthma on November 30, 1863, and was succeeded by his brother, who took the name Kamehameha V. Alexander was only 29 years old. The natives believed that the King had died as punishment because his people had betrayed their gods. At his funeral, eight hundred children and teachers walked to say goodbye. He was buried with his son at Mauna Ala on February 3, 1864.