Hawaii is the unique state not only its geographic position – it is the only U.S. state located entirely on archipelago – and its mild tropical climate, it is also unique with it political status in the United States. Since its discovery by Captain Cook in 1778 till the attainment of legal statehood in 1959 Hawaii tried to return the independence, and even now some radical politicians claim Hawaii is not legally the U.S. State. The purpose of this research is to discuss the statehood of Hawaii, the time and the circumstances of statehood attainment.
Hawaii attained statehood when residents of Hawaii voted to accept the statehood and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Hawaii Admission Act.
History of Hawaiian statehood
Only four states were independent before entering the United States: Vermont, California, Texas, and Hawaii. Moreover, only two states obtained the international formal diplomatic recognition as sovereign states: Texas and Hawaii. Hawaii is considered as the newest state of the United States because Hawaii Admission Act was signed in 1959. Before this time Hawaii for a long time was just the territory under U.S. control.
The first settlement on Hawaii appeared approximately in 11th century. Historians say first inhabitants of Hawaii were Polynesians. Until European arrival the social structure on Islands was rather primitive, it is also known that Hawaiians practiced cannibalism. James Cook, English explorer, was first European who visited Hawaii and contacted local population in 1778. First visits of Europeans brought new diseases to islands and many local residents died because they have no immunity against influenza and smallpox.
Westerners began settling the islands by 1790 and changed the lifestyle of the Hawaiian population. They changed their way of living and eating habits by the beginning of the 19th century. Not only did they bring a new lifestyle with them, but they also brought contagious diseases and alcoholism. These contributed to a decline in the number of native inhabitants. (Richard, 2008)
Those who survived epidemics renewed the struggle, and in 1810 almost all islands of archipelago were united under the single king. King Kamekameha the Great established new dynasty which ruled almost for century. The Kingdom of Hawaii was independent from 1810 till 1893. Within this period Christian missioners successfully turned Hawaiian kings to Christianity, the leper colony was established on the one island, and the “Bayonet Constitution” was adopted. This constitution favored white rich minority and was adopted under the threat of violence. In 1893 the Queen Liliʻuokalani tried to adopt new constitution but was overthrown by the group of business leaders, mostly Europeans. In 1894 Hawaiian Republic was established, and in 1898 Hawaii was annexed by the United States and became the Territory of Hawaii.
In 1954 Hawaiian Democratic Revolution started. Local residents demanded for equal right with their counterparts from the continent. Those who were born on the Territory of Hawaii could be considered as the citizen of the United States; however, in reality Hawaiian did not get so many rights and freedoms. Thus, the public vote of 1959 proposed a choice to remain the Territory or to become the state of the United States. There was no choice to return the independency and sovereignty. For this reason radical politicians claim Hawaii is not a state legally.
“On March 12, 1959, both houses of Congress passed the Hawaii Admission Act. President Eisenhower signed it into law five days later.
Almost 95 percent of Hawaii residents voted to accept the statehood bill that June, and the Hawaiian archipelago became the 50th state two months later.” (Paiva, 2008)
It could hardly be argued that the statehood began the locomotive force in Hawaiian economics and infrastructure development. Hawaii became one of the most popular places for tourism in the world. However, the development of tourism has negative influence on national culture of Hawaii. Despite the state programs protecting Hawaiian culture, many native Hawaiians feel their Motherland degraded.
Richard, Cicely. How Hawaii became a state. On Helium web site. August 19, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.helium.com/items/1154179-how-hawaii-became-a-state
Paiva, Derek. Hawaii became a state 49 years ago today. On Hawaii Magazine web-site. March 12, 2008. Retrieved from http://www.hawaiimagazine.com/blogs/hawaii_today/2008/3/12/Hawaii_became_state_49_years_ago_today