Hawaii Admission Act

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Hawaii Admission Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act to provide for the admission of the State of Hawaii into the Union.
Nicknames Hawaii Statehood
Enacted by the 86th United States Congress
Effective March 18, 1959
Public law 86-3
Statutes at Large 73 Stat. 4
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 50
  • Passed the Senate on March 11, 1959 (76-15)
  • Passed the House on March 12, 1959 (323-89, in lieu of H.R. 4221)
  • Signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on March 18, 1959

The Admission Act, formally An Act to Provide for the Admission of the State of Hawaii into the Union (Pub.L. 86–3, 73 Stat. 4, enacted March 18, 1959) is a statute enacted by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower which dissolved the Territory of Hawaii and established the State of Hawaii as the 50th state to be admitted into the Union.[1] Statehood became effective on August 21, 1959.[2] Hawaii remains the most recent state to join the United States.

Hawaii statehood and international law[edit]

Prior to 1959, Hawaii was a territory of the United States. In 1945, the United Nations in 1946 listed Hawaii as a non-self-governing territory under the administration of the United States (Resolution 55(I) of 1946-12-14). Also listed as non-self-governing territories under the jurisdiction of the United States were Alaska Territory, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Statehood vote[edit]

Copy of official ballot (inset) and referendum results approving Admission Act.

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 (see adjacent figure for details). Of the approximately 140,000 votes cast, fewer than 8000 rejected the Admission Act of 1959.

Opposition to statehood[edit]

The acceptance of statehood for Hawaii was not without its share of controversy. Many Native Hawaiians in Hawaii protested against statehood. Also, various bills of admission were stalled in congressional hearings since the early 1900s because of the racial prejudices of many members of the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate. There was a fear of establishing a state that was governed by an ethnic minority, namely the large Asian American population. Lawmakers questioned the American patriotism of Hawaii residents. Upon the election of John A. Burns from the Hawaii Democratic Party as delegate of the Territory of Hawaii to Congress, southern leaders charged that Burns' election was evidence of Hawaii as a haven for communism. John A. Burns, in 1959, would reflect on the obstacles against the statehood campaign and place more emphasis on the resistance to statehood in the islands, rather than in Washington itself.

The reasons why Hawaii did not achieve statehood, say, ten years ago—and one could without much exaggeration say sixty years ago—lie not in the Congress but in Hawaii. The most effective opposition to statehood has always originated in Hawaii itself. For the most part it has remained under cover and has marched under other banners. Such opposition could not afford to disclose itself, since it was so decidedly against the interests and desires of Hawaii's people generally.[3]

Southern lawmakers[edit]

Burns was involved in vigorous lobbying of his colleagues persuading them that the race-based objections were unfair and charges that Communist Party sympathizers controlled Hawaii were blatant lies. Burns worked especially hard with the southern Democrats, led by Lyndon Johnson, who blocked the various Hawaii statehood bills. Upon leaving her seat as delegate from Hawaii, Elizabeth P. Farrington said, "Of course, Lyndon Johnson was no friend of statehood." Farrington added, "There were 22 times when he voted against us. He did everything he could, because he was representing the Southern racial opposition." She claimed Johnson had a fear that Hawaii would send representatives and senators to Congress who would oppose segregation, in spite of Johnson's record as a supporter of civil rights for blacks (Johnson had hedged in his support for the Civil Rights Act of 1957 to avoid splitting his party, giving it modest support and was to finally break up a Southern Democratic attempt to filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1960).

Alice Kamokila Campbell[edit]

On the 53rd anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, January 17, 1946, Territorial Senator Alice Kamokila Campbell, one of the few voices that opposed statehood for Hawaii, offered her testimony to the joint congressional committee sent to investigate and report on statehood. Kamokila Campbell testified at Iolani Palace in front of a small crowd of 600 to frequent applause. There she stated.

I do not feel...we should forfeit the traditional rights and privileges of the natives of our islands for a mere thimbleful of votes in Congress, that we, the lovers of Hawaii from long association with it should sacrifice our birthright for the greed of alien desires to remain on our shores, that we should satisfy the thirst for power and control of some inflated industrialists and politicians who hide under the guise of friends of Hawaii, yet still keeping an eagle eye on the financial and political pressure button of subjugation over the people in general of these islands.[4]

In 1947 Kamokila Campbell opened the Anti-Statehood Clearing House, where she sent “anti-statehood information, reports and arguments to congress.”[5]

On March 29, 1949, Kamokila Campbell successfully sued the Hawaii Statehood Commission, to stop them from spending public money to lobby for statehood, invalidating a single section of the Act which created the Hawaii Statehood Commission.[6]

Formation of the state[edit]

The State of Hawaii's territory was defined thus in the Act:

The State of Hawaii shall consist of all the islands, together with their appurtenant reefs and territorial waters, included in the Territory of Hawaii on the date of enactment of this Act, except the atoll known as Palmyra Island, together with its appurtenant reefs and territorial waters, but said State shall not be deemed to include the Midway Islands, Johnston Island, Sand Island (off-shore from Johnston Island), or Kingman Reef, together with their appurtenant reefs and territorial waters.[7]


  1. ^ Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Statement by the President Upon Signing the Hawaii Statehood Bill.," March 18, 1959". The American Presidency Project. University of California – Santa Barbara. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "48 USC 3 Hawaii". 
  3. ^ John A. Burns, "Statehood and Hawaii's People," State Government 32 (Summer 1959): 132
  4. ^ John S. Whitehead, "The Anti-Statehood Movement and the Legacy of Alice Kamokila Campbell" in The Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 27 (1993) – Article on one of the few voices opposing statehood for Hawaii in 1959, that of a prominent public and cultural figure, a descendant of Hawaiian royalty and an heir of the James Campbell Estate.
  5. ^ September 18, 1947, Honolulu Star-Bulletin
  6. ^ Campbell v. Stainback, et al., 1948
  7. ^ Hawaii Admission Act, s. 2

External links[edit]