Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The mystique of the Hawaii Admission Act

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The mystique of the Hawaii Admission Act

By John Hall
The Daily Magi
October 14, 2043

The Admission Act, formally An Act to Provide for the Admission of the State of Hawaii into the Union (Pub.L. 86–3, 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. Hawaii remains the most recent state to join the United States.

Since 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.

In 1946, Hawaii was placed on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories. America transmitted annual reports on Hawaii to the United Nations Secretary General from 1946 until September 1959. By a letter of September 17, 1959, after a statehood vote in Hawaii with 94 percent approval, the United States notified the U.N. Secretary General that Hawaii had become a state of the Union in August 1959 and that the United States would thereafter cease to transmit information to the United Nations. The United Nations accepted this notification and removed Hawaii from the list of non-self-governing territories, recognizing the statehood of Hawaii.

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.

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).

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.

Rather than any residual feelings of Hawaiian Nationalism or Royalist loyalties, Campbell was motivated by a fear of Asian voters gaining control of the State. The Territory was ruled by appointed Governors and appointed judges. Testifying before congressional hearings on Statehood, Campbell explained:

First I will give it to you from the standpoint of a Hawaiian, the land being the land of my people. I naturally am jealous of it being in the hands of any alien influence. It took us quite a while to get used to being Americans—from a Hawaiian to an American—but I am very proud today of being an American. I don’t want ever to feel that I am ashamed of being an American. But I think that in the past 10 years I have lost a sense of balance here in Hawaii as to the future safety of my land. This un-American influence has come into our country, and even in the report of the Governor you will see where he says one-third of the population are Japanese. If we are a State they would have the power to vote and they would use every exertion to see that every vote was counted, if we become a State. As it is now, I feel the confidence and I feel the sincerity of Congress, and know they are not going to forsake us.

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

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.

It does not necessarily follow that the invalidity of paragraph 10 of section 2 of the Act vitiates the entire Act. It contains a severability clause. The invalidity of a portion of the law does not necessarily render the remainder void.This holding is clearly in accord with the doctrine of partial invalidity as adhered to in this jurisdiction. What remains is "* * *complete in itself and capable of being executed in accordance with the apparent legislative intent * * *" wholly independent of that which is rejected.

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.

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