By Richard K. Barry
(Ed. note: Interestingly, I just finished reading Sarah Vowell’s wonderful book Unfamiliar Fishes, a fascinating history of Hawaii mostly from the arrival of the first missionaries in 1820 (with a great deal leading up to their historic voyage) to its pro-American white oligarchic revolution in 1893 and appalling annexation by the U.S. in 1898 — and more broadly a case study of American imperialism and its myriad injustices. It turned me into a Hawaiian nationalist — though, alas, I have never been there — and made me really, really, really want to see Princess Nahi’ena’ena’s famous feather skirt for myself. — MJWS)
On August 21, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order proclaiming Hawaii the 50th state in the union. This day is celebrated in Hawaii as Admission Day or Statehood Day, and it is a legal holiday. It’s actually celebrated annually on the third Friday in August.
Statehood bills for Hawaii were introduced into the U.S. Congress as early as 1919 and again in 1935, 1947 and 1950, but it wasn’t until 1959 that Congress approved the Hawaii Admission Act. After this, a referendum took place in which 94% voted in support of statehood, which was then followed by the executive order making Hawaii a state. Prior to this, Hawaii had been an organized incorporated territory of the United States beginning on July 7, 1898.
(Cross-Posted at Lippmann’s Ghost.)
This day in history – August 21, 1959: Hawaii becomes the 50th state
By Richard K. Barry (Ed. note: Interestingly, I just finished reading Sarah Vowell’s wonderful book Unfamiliar Fishes, a fascinating history of Hawaii mostly from the arrival of the first missionaries [...]