“The first bill I shall introduce will be one to admit Hawaii to Statehood”

From 1849 to 1959, Hawaiians repeatedly attempted to become a state. In 1849, pressure from Britain and France forced King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III prepared a provisional deed ceding the Kingdom of Hawaii to the United States. He gave the letter to the United States Commissioner, but as the pressure decreed, it was never implemented.

In 1854, the king singed an order, directing the Minister of Foreign Relations to find out how the United States viewed annexation, and the terms and conditions they would agree to. The Hawaiian government drafted a treaty that August, for Hawaii to obtain full statehood, but the informal negotiations fell apart. Over thirty years later, on September 8, 1897, the Republic of Hawaii ratified an annexation treaty, which a joint resolution of Congress accepted as the Newlands Resolution, which President McKinley signed.

It was not until April 30, 1900, when Preisdent McKinley signed the Organic Act, that established the government of the Territory of Hawaii that all those who had been citizens of the Republic of Hawaii on August 12, 1898, were now citizens of the Territory of Hawaii and the United States.

Although Hawaii’s first Territorial Delegate to Congress, Robert Wilcox pledged that his first bill he would introduce would be to allow Hawaii to become a state, and by 1940, 67% of Hawaiians voted in favor of statehood in the general election – it was not until 1958 when Delegate John Burns, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson and Democratic Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, negotiated a two-step process admitting Alaska as the 49th state in 1958 and Hawaii as the 50th state in 1959.

Shortly before Hawaii achieved statehood, in March 1959, Life magazine published an article, “Hawaii—Beauty, Wealth, Amiable People,” which included several color photographs of the people and places of Hawaii, including a Dole pineapple plantation and children learning a Mamala paddle dance to honor of Lono, the god of peace and agriculture.

On March 11, 1959, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the statehood bill, which President Eisenhower signed on March 18, 1959. Finally, on August 18, Hawaii was admitted into the United States. On August 24, Senators Oren E. Long, Hiram L. Fong, and Representative Daniel K. Inouye took their oaths of office in Washington D.C. Representative Inouye became Hawaii’s first voting memebr of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2003, the Hawaii Legislature passed a bill to organized events to celebrate Admission Day on the weekend of August 15 through 17.

However, in recent decades, the attitude toward celebrating Hawaiian statehood, and Hawaiian statehood in general, has changed. In 1959, more than 90% of the public supported statehood. There was dancing in the streets and fireworks at the Iolani Palace. Governor Ben Cayetano – the first Filipino-American governor in the U.S. —and the nation. – did celebrate Statehood Day, from San Francisco in 2000, and issued a public statement in 2002, he had since ceased commemorating the day, citing it as too controversial. His successors have felt the same, and have refused to celebrate, though Gov. Linda Lingle organized a government conference on the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s statehood.