Hawaii Statehood, August 21, 1959
Located in the historical records of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate at the Center for Legislative Archives are many documents that illustrate the important role of Congress in the statehood process. Here is a small sampling of the many congressional records that highlight Hawaii’s long path to statehood. On August 21, 1959 Hawaii became the 50th state.
First the monarchy proposed a new constitution for the Kingdom of Hawaii, racially excluding all but Kanaka (native Hawaiians) from voting, as well as dismissing the power of the legislature.
Which prompted the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom by Native Born Hawaiians that called themselves “the committee of safety”. Which later became the Republic of Hawaii.
Recognition of the Republic of Hawaii
LETTERS OF FORMAL DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION (DE JURE) OF THE REPUBLIC OF HAWAII, RECEIVED FROM AUGUST 1894THROUGH JANUARY 1895. These letters were signed by Emperors, Kings, Queens, Princes, and Presidents, addressed to His Excellency Sanford B. Dole, President of the Republic of Hawaii.
A related webpage explains the historical significance of these letters of recognition and current political implications. By recognizing the Republic as the legitimate government of Hawaii, the worldwide family of nations effectively condoned the revolution of 1893 as having been “legal” under international law, and acknowledged the right of the Republic to offer a treaty of annexation and to make a deal with the U.S. ceding Hawaii’s public lands in return for paying off Hawaii’s national debt. A secessionist claim is analyzed and refuted by these documents — a claim that the Republic had no legitimacy under international law and was merely a puppet regime of the United States. For details please see this article on the historic significance and current political implications of these newly rediscovered letters of international recognition.
The most visually spectacular letters are the ones from China and Russia. The letter from Queen Victoria (Britain) is of great significance because of the special relationship between Britain and the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1778 to 1893, and the special relationship between Queen Victoria and Queen Liliuokalani. The letter from President Grover Cleveland (U.S.) is important because Cleveland had blamed the Hawaiian revolution on the presence of U.S. peacekeepers. Cleveland had tried to destabilize the Provisional Government and restore Liliuokalani to the throne from March through December 1893, but stopped interfering due to Congressional pressure after the Morgan Report (Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, February 1894) concluded the U.S. had neither conspired in nor assisted the revolution. Liliuokalani’s strongly-worded letter of abdication and oath of loyalty constitute, in effect, a letter from the Kingdom of Hawaii recognizing the Republic as the legitimate government. Thus 19 foreign nations, plus the Kingdom of Hawaii, recognized the Republic of Hawaii as the rightful government under international law.
ABDICATION DOCUMENT SIGNED BY EX-QUEEN LILIUOKALANI, JANUARY 24, 1895 FORMALLY GIVING UP THE THRONE AND SWEARING HER ALLEGIANCE TO THE REPUBLIC OF HAWAII. ALSO, OATH OF LOYALTY TO THE REPUBLIC OF HAWAII.
Letter from Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii to U.S. House of Representatives protesting U.S. assertion of ownership of Hawaii, December 19, 1898
President William McKinley’s nomination of Sanford B. Dole to be Governor of the Territory of Hawaii, May 4, 1900
J. Res. 1 of the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii, August 15, 1903, that petitioned Congress to admit Hawaii as a state
Certificate of Election of Joseph Farrington, November 16, 1942, as Hawaii’s Delegate to Congress; Farrington served in Congress until his death in 1954
“Hawaii: 49th State” brochure c.1946, compiled by the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii to outline student support for Hawaiian statehood
Letter from the 8th Grade Social Studies Class, Honokaa High and Elementary School, Hawaii, to the Chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, 1951
Sen. J. Res. 8 of the Legislature of the State of California, relative to granting the Territory of Hawaii statehood in the United States, March 12, 1953
Res. 84 of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Maui, November 21, 1958; various legislative petitions, such as this one, were submitted to Congress regularly
Resolution of the Republican County Committee, County of Hawaii, January 15, 1959, sent to Congress urging statehood for Hawaii
S. Res. 13 of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii sent to express gratitude to Congress for allowing Hawaii to become a state
Certificate of Election for Representative Daniel K. Inouye, August 21, 1959, as Hawaii’s first voting member of the U.S. House of Representatives
Out of a total population of 600,000 in the islands and 155,000 registered voters, 140,000 votes were cast, the highest turnout ever in Hawaii. The vote showed approval rates of at least 93% by voters on all major islands. Of the approximately 140,000 votes cast, fewer than 8,000 rejected the Admission Act of 1959.