1959 · Honolulu, Hawaii
Newspaper. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Honolulu, Hawaii, March 12, 1959.
"…The wail of civil defense sirens informed Honolulans today that State-hood, long awaited, had finally been approved. Immediately afterward, church bells pealed, ship's whistles tooted, and motorists leaned on their horns…"
President William McKinley and the U.S. Congress, under the Newlands Resolution, had annexed Hawaii in July, 1898, a time of great expansionist fervor. Hawaii remained a territory for sixty years. Over time, a movement in support of Hawaiian statehood emerged in opposition to the plantation elite, who benefited from territorial status, which allowed them to hire cheap immigrant labor without adhering to national immigration statutes. The mainstream of American political opinion in the first half of the twentieth century held that Hawaii should not be granted statehood because of fears of self-government by a perceived racial minority (Asian-Americans).
The celebrations announced in this paper were in reaction to news that the U.S. House of Representatives was expected to vote in support of allowing statehood. The Senate had already voted in favor, 76-15. The Act to Provide for the Admission of the State of Hawaii into the Union was signed by President Eisenhower on March 18, 1959. A territorial plebiscite on whether to accept statehood passed by a large margin, and Hawaii was formally admitted on August 21, 1959, making it the 50th state. (Inventory #: 21403)