Hawaii Statehood - Honolulu Star-Bulletin
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A landmark issue of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin celebrating the imminent achievement of statehood for Hawaii after sixty years of territorial status. The huge banner headline reads “STATEHOOD!”, with related pictures and reports. The caption, “First Class Citizens Now,” is written above several images of common Hawaiians, neatly encapsulating the arguments against continued territorial status, which left Hawaiians significantly disenfranchised. Hawaii would officially become the 50th state in the Union in August 1959. [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.