Timeline: Hawaii's march to statehood

June 14, 1900: Congress passes the Hawai'i Organic Act which creates the governing legislation of the Territory of Hawai'i. The act grants citizenship to all citizens of the Republic.

February 11, 1919: Prince Kuhio introduces the first Hawaiian statehood bill to Congress. The bill is quietly referred to a committee for further study.


July 9, 1921: U.S. Congress approves the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act sponsored by Prince Kuhio. The act sets aside almost 200,000 acres of former Crown lands in trust for people of at least 50 percent Native Hawaiian blood.

November 22, 1935: Pan American Airways makes its inaugural regular service flight to Hawai'i with a China Clipper. The emergence of commercial air travel brings Hawai'i closer to the U.S.

October 6 — 22, 1937: A joint congressional committee of 7 senators and 12 representatives hold 17 days of hearings in Hawai'i and conclude that Hawai'i fulfills every requirement for Statehood. A Statehood plebiscite, a vote from the people of Hawai'i, is recommended.

May 7, 1940: The U.S. Pacific Fleet moves its headquarters from San Pedro, California to Pearl Harbor. This, in addition to the military fortifications already in place Fort Shafter, Schofield Barracks, and Hickam Airfield make Hawai'i an ever more important military outpost for the United States.

November 5, 1940: A statehood plebiscite required by Congress results in a 2 to 1 vote in favor of statehood 46,174 votes to 22,426.

December 7, 1941: The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. The outbreak of World War II interrupts the drive for statehood as suspicions over those of Japanese ancestry are raised and the "American-ness" of the Territory of Hawai'i is questioned. Hawai'i is placed under martial law until 1944.

August 15, 1945: World War II ends. The 442nd Regimental Combat team, a Japanese-American unit with many soldiers from Hawai'i, becomes the most decorated U.S. military unit of World War II. Their loyalty helps convince Congress to push for statehood despite the territory's high population of non-whites.

January 7-17, 1946: The U.S. House Committee on Territories, headed by Louisiana representative Henry Larcade, holds hearings on statehood for Hawai'ičthe first since 1937.

January 7, 1948- President Harry S. Truman calls for Hawai'i Statehood in his state of the union message.

May 20, 1949: In an attempt to expedite statehood, the Territorial Legislature approves the convening of a Constitutional Convention to frame a state constitution as other territories that became states had done successfully in the past.

November 7, 1950: The Hawai'i State Constitution is overwhelmingly approved by the people with a vote of 82,788 to 27,109.

1952: At the insistence of the majority leader, U.S. Senator Ernest McFarland, a combined Hawai'i-Alaska Statehood bill is sent to the Senate floor against the wishes of the Delegates of both Territories, who felt both had more chance of success if Hawai'i went first.

1953: In the 83rd Congress, the House of Representatives pass the Hawai'i Statehood bill, 274 to 138, for the third time; however, the Senate postpones action to 1954.

1954: The Senate votes 46 to 43 to join the Hawai'i and Alaska bills into one measure. They then pass the combined bill 57 to 28. Representative Joseph Martin, the U.S. House Speaker at the time, favors statehood for Hawai'i alone and refuses to consider the joint bill.

February 24, 1954: A 250 lb. petition containing 120,000 signatures in favor of Hawai'i Statehood is ceremoniously sent to the U.S. Congress from Hawai'i.

November 1954: For the first time in Hawai'i's history, the Democratic Party gains control of the territorial legislature. A November 6, 1956: John A. Burns is elected Hawai'i's delegate to Congress as a Democrat.

1957 to 1958: Delegate Burns agrees to a strategy supported by both the Senate majority leader and House speaker to admit Alaska in the 85th Congress and hold back Hawai'i. This strategy is designed to force the issue with President Eisenhower, who is firm for Hawai'i statehood but equivocal about Alaska. The Alaska bill passes the House 208 to 166 and the Senate 64 to 20. Eisenhower signs the bill. Burns fulfills his commitment and refuses to press for the Hawai'i bill in the dying days of Congress, even though this poses a serious re-election problem for him at home.

January 3, 1959: Alaska becomes the 49th State. The 86th Senate moves expeditiously to consider Hawai'i for Statehood, at the urging of Alaska's newly-appointed Senator Gruening.

March 11, 1959: The Senate passes Hawai'i's Statehood Bill 75 to 15.

March 12, 1959: The U.S. House of Representatives passes Hawai'i's Statehood Bill, 323 to 89.

March 18, 1959: The act to provide for the admission of the state of Hawai'i to the union is signed by President Eisenhower. Hawai'i's delegate, John Burns, is not invited to the signing ceremony.

June 27, 1959: Hawai'i residents vote to approve the Statehood bill passed by Congress.

August 21, 1959: President Eisenhower makes Hawai'i Statehood official by signing the proclamation that welcomes Hawai'i as the 50th state of the union and unveils the new fifty-star flag.

Source: Hawai'i Statehood Commission


Statehood celebration at Iolani Palace.

Statehood celebration at Iolani Palace.

Advertiser library file photo

Hawaii Statehood Conference
When: Friday, Aug. 21, 2009
Where: Hawaii Convention Center View map »
Cost: $30 per delegate; $15 per student delegate
Highlights: Top experts discuss the 21st century economy, education for the next generation, tomorrow's energy, technology in our lives and Native Hawaiians in a sea of change.
Registration: Online pre-registration ends Monday, Aug. 17, at 5 p.m. After that, on-site registration at the convention center is available.
Full schedule: View a Full Statehood conference schedule

Weekly Reader Column
The Advertiser wants your memories of Hawai'i's admission into statehood. We will publish a selection of personal accounts in the newspaper and online. Your reflections could include:

• Memories of events leading to statehood or of Admission Day itself.

• What statehood has meant to you or your family.

• How Hawai'i has benefited — or suffered — under statehood during the past 50 years.

• What you miss about Hawai'i from around the time the state entered the union.

We are seeking articles of about 500 words or brief vignettes of fewer than 100 words. Articles of other lengths will also be considered. We also welcome photographs that include descriptive information about the photo and when and where it was taken.

Send all contributions to Include your name and a contact phone number or numbers. Only e-mail contributions are being accepted.

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