Territory of Hawaii

Territory of Hawaii
Panalāʻau o Hawaiʻi
Organized incorporated territory of the United States


Flag Seal
Territory of Hawaii
Capital Honolulu
Government Organized incorporated territory
  1900–1903 Sanford B. Dole
  1957–1959 William F. Quinn
Military Governor
  1941–1944 Maj. Gen. T. H. Green
  Monarchy overthrown January 17, 1893
  Annexed by the US July 4, 1898
  Organic Act 1900
  Martial law 1941–1944
  Revolution of 1954 1946–1958
  Statehood August 21, 1959

The Territory of Hawaii or Hawaii Territory[1][2][3] was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 7, 1898, until August 21, 1959, when its territory was admitted to the Union as the fiftieth U.S. state, the State of Hawaii. The Hawaii Admission Act explicitly specified that the State of Hawaii would not include Palmyra Atoll, The Midway Islands, Johnston Atoll, Sand Island (off-shore from Johnston Island), or Kingman Reef.[4]

The U.S. Congress passed the Newlands Resolution which annexed the Republic of Hawaii to the United States. Hawaii's territorial history includes a period from 1941 to 1944—during World War II—when the islands were placed under martial law. Civilian government was dissolved and a military governor was appointed.

Provisional Government

Upon the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani in 1893, the Committee of Safety led by Lorrin A. Thurston established the Provisional Government of Hawaii to govern the islands in transition to expected annexation by the United States. Thurston actively lobbied Congress while the former monarchy lobbied Democrats to protest.

First annexation proceedings began when Democrat Grover Cleveland took office. Cleveland was an anti-imperialist and was strongly against annexation. He withdrew the annexation treaty from consideration, mounted an inquiry, and recommended the restoration of Liliʻuokalani as queen. Further investigation by Congress led to the Morgan Report, which established that the actions of U.S. troops were completely neutral, and exonerated the U.S. from any accusations of complicity with the overthrow.[5]

On August 12, 1898, the flag of the Kingdom of Hawaii over ʻIolani Palace was lowered and the United States flag raised to signify annexation.

The provisional government convened a constitutional convention to establish the Republic of Hawaii. Thurston was urged to become the nation's first president but he was worried his brazen personality would damage the cause of annexation. The more conservative Sanford B. Dole, former Supreme Court Justice and friend of Queen Liliʻuokalani, was elected as the first and only president of the new regime.[6]

Cartoon depiction of the United States, its territories, and US controlled regions as a classroom with belligerent Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Cuba

Hawaii's strategic location to support the Spanish–American War in the Philippines made it especially important to American interests, as argued by naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan.[7]

On the 4th July, 1898, the United States Congress passed the Newlands Resolution (named after Congressman Francis Newlands) which officially annexed Hawaii.[8] A formal ceremony was held on the steps of the formerly royal ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu where the Hawaiian flag of the Republic was lowered and the American flag of the "Stars and Stripes" raised on the 12th of August. Former President Sanford B. Dole was appointed Hawaii's first territorial governor.

Former President of the Republic of Hawaii, Sanford B. Dole was sworn in as the first territorial governor on the steps of the former royal ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu as American businessmen and plantation owners lauded victory against the previous Hawaiian monarchy.

The Newlands Resolution said,

Whereas, the Government of the Republic of Hawaii having, in due form, signified its consent, in the manner provided by its constitution, to cede absolutely and without reserve to the United States of America, all rights of sovereignty of whatsoever kind in and over the Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies, and also to cede and transfer to the United States, the absolute fee and ownership of all public, Government, or Crown lands, public buildings or edifices, ports, harbors, military equipment, and all other public property of every kind and description belonging to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands, together with every right and appurtenance thereunto appertaining: Therefore, Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That said cession is accepted, ratified, and confirmed, and that the said Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies be, and they are hereby, annexed as a part of the territory of the United States and are subject to the sovereign dominion thereof, and that all and singular the property and rights hereinbefore mentioned are vested in the United States of America.[8]

The Newlands Resolution established a five-member commission to study which laws were needed in the newly organized Territory of Hawaii. The commission included: Territorial Governor Sanford B. Dole (R-Hawaii Territory), Senators Shelby M. Cullom (R-Illinois) and John T. Morgan (D-Alabama), Representative Robert R. Hitt (R-Illinois) and former Hawaii Chief Justice and later succeeding Territorial Governor Walter F. Frear (R-Hawaii Territory). The commission's final report was submitted to Congress for a debate which lasted over a year. Many Congressmen and Senators raised objections that establishing an elected territorial government in Hawaii would lead to the admission of a state with a "non-white" majority in the then racist and segregated era of "Jim Crow" laws in the South at the time.

Organic Act

The United States Congress finally agreed to grant Hawaii a popularly elected government of its own and 25th President William McKinley signed a law passed by the Congress, "An Act to Provide a Government for the Territory of Hawaii", also known as the Hawaiian Organic Act of 1900.

The Organic Act established the Office of the Territorial Governor, an office appointed by the sitting American president and was usually from his own political party. The territorial governor "served at the pleasure" of the President of the United States and nominated by him and confirmed by the Senate and could be replaced at any time.

Territorial governors

The Organic Act created a bicameral Hawaii Territorial Legislature, consisting of a lower chamber House of Representatives and the upper chamber, the Senate, with its members elected by popular vote.

A Territorial Supreme Court of several justices/judges led by a Chief Justice, and additional appellate courts, also appointed by the President with the constitutional "advice and consent" of the Senate.

The Act also provided as with the other several Federal territories for a non-voting Delegate to the United States Congress, seated and with offices and the otherwise usual rights and privileges of a U.S. Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives

Congressional delegates

Representation in the U.S. House of Representatives was limited to a single, non-voting delegate:


Matson Navigation Company advertised Hawaii as a tourist destination for the first time late 1890s.

Hawaii's tourism industry began in 1882 when Matson Navigation Company, founded by William Matson, began sailing vessels between San Francisco and Hawaii carrying goods. His transports encouraged him to purchase passenger steamships that would carry tourists hoping to vacation in Hawaii from the mainland United States.[9][10]

Matson's fleet included the SS Wilhelmina, rivaling the best passenger ships serving traditional Atlantic routes. With the boom in interest of Hawaiian vacations by America's wealthiest families in the late 1920s, Matson added the SS Mariposa, SS Monterey and SS Lurline (one of many Lurlines) to the fleet.

Matson Navigation Company opened two resort hotels in Honolulu near royal grounds. The first (and for a time the only) hotel on Waikīkī was the Moana Hotel which opened in 1901. As the first hotel in Waikīkī, the Moana Hotel was nicknamed the "First Lady of Waikīkī." The hotel gained international attention in 1920 when Edward, Prince of Wales and future King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, stayed as a guest.

In 1927, the luxurious Royal Hawaiian Hotel, informally called the "Pink Palace of the Pacific," opened for business. It was the preferred Hawaii residence of President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he visited Hawaii during World War II.

Military bases

With annexation, the United States saw Hawaii as its most strategic military asset. McKinley and his successor U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt expanded the military presence in Hawaii and established several key bases, some still in use today. By 1906, the entire island of Oahu was being fortified at the coastlines with the construction of a "Ring of Steel," a series of gun batteries mounted on steel coastal walls. One of the few surviving batteries completed in 1911, Battery Randolph, is today the site of the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii.[11][12]

List of Territorial Installations:

Industrial boom and the "Big Five"

As a territory of the United States, sugarcane plantations gained a new infusion of investment. By getting rid of tariffs imposed on sugarcane sent to the United States, planters had more money to spend on equipment, land and labor. Increased capital resulted in increased production. Five kingdom-era corporations benefited from annexation, becoming multi-million dollar conglomerations: Castle & Cooke, Alexander & Baldwin, C. Brewer & Co., American Factors (later Amfac), Theo H. Davies & Co. Together, the five companies dominated the Hawaiian economy as the "Big Five."[13]

Pineapples and Hawaii

James Dole, also known as the Pineapple King, arrived in Hawaii in 1899. He purchased land in Wahiawa and established the first pineapple plantation in Hawaii. Confident that canned pineapples could become a popular food export, Dole built a cannery near his first plantation in 1901. HawaiianPineapple Company, later renamed Dole Food Company, was born. With his profits soaring, Dole expanded and built a larger cannery in Iwilei near Honolulu Harbor in 1907. The Iwilei location made his main operations more accessible to labor. The cannery at Iwilei was in operation until 1991. Dole found himself in the midst of an economic boom industry. In response to growing pineapple demand in 1922, Dole purchased the entire island of Lanai and transformed the Hawaiian tropical low shrublands into the largest pineapple plantation in the world. For a long stretch of time, Lanai would produce 75% of the world's pineapple and become immortalized as the "Pineapple Island."[14]

By the 1930s, Hawaii became the pineapple capital of the world and pineapple production became its second largest industry. After World War II, there were a total of eight pineapple companies in Hawaii. Today pineapples are imported from Thailand and elsewhere; few are commercially grown in Hawaii.[15]

Race relations

One of the most prominent challenges territorial Hawaii had to face was race relations. Intermarriage was tolerated and even sought after. Many native women married immigrant men and joined their community.[16] By the 1898 most of Hawaii's population was made up of plantation workers from China, Japan, the Philippines and Portugal. Their plantation experiences molded Hawaii to become a plantation culture. The Hawaiian Pidgin language was developed on the plantations so they all could understand each other. Buddhism and Shintoism grew to become large religions. Catholicism became Hawaii's largest Christian denomination.[17]

Massie Trial

Main article: Massie Trial

Race relations in Hawaii took to the national spotlight on September 12, 1931 when Thalia Massie, a United States Navy officer's wife, got drunk and alleged that she was beaten and raped. That same night, the Honolulu Police Department stopped a car and detained five men, all plantation workers. Officers took the men to Massie's hospital bedroom where she identified them. Although evidence could not prove that the men were directly involved, national newspapers quickly ran stories about the brute locals on the prowl for white women in Hawaii. The jury in the initial trial failed to reach a verdict. One of the accused was afterwards severely beaten, while another, Joseph Kahahawai, was murdered. Police caught the Kahahawai killers: Massie's husband Thomas, mother Grace Fortescue, and two sailors. Famed criminal lawyer Clarence Darrow defended them. A jury of locals found them guilty and sentenced to hard labor for ten years. Outraged by the court's punishment, the territory's white leaders as well as 103 members of Congress signed a letter threatening to impose martial law over the territory. This pressured Governor Lawrence M. Judd to commute the sentences to an hour each in his executive chambers. Hawaii residents were shocked and all of America reconsidered what they thought of Hawaii's racial diversity.

Martial law

From 1941 to 1944, following the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War II, Territorial Governors Joseph B. Pointdexter and Ingram M. Stainback stripped themselves of their administrative powers by declaring martial law.[18] With the territorial constitution suspended, the legislature and supreme court were also dissolved indefinitely. Military law was enforced on all residents of Hawaii. The formation of the military government was mostly done by Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Green of the U.S Army Judge Advocate General's Corps, who became Military Attorney General. General Walter Short appointed himself military governor December 7, 1941. He assumed control of Hawaii and governed from ʻIolani Palace, which was quickly barricaded and fitted with trenches. He was relieved December 17 and charged with dereliction of duty, accused of making poor preparations in case of attack before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Under martial law, every facet of Hawaiian life was under the control of the military governor. His government fingerprinted all residents over the age of six, imposed blackouts and curfews, rationed food and gasoline, censored the news and media, censored all mail, prohibited alcohol, assigned business hours, and administered traffic and special garbage collection. The military governor's laws were called General Orders. Violations meant punishment without appeal by military tribunals.

Anthony, the shadow Attorney General of the period, provides different information. The "aged and weak"[19] Poindexter (sic), an appointed Democrat, was variously misled into surrendering his powers. Anthony does not mention fingerprinting; corroborates gasoline rationing but not food (the latter unlike the mainland); and disproves a liquor ban by showing how the military gained handsome profits by liquor permits and fees.

The military government instituted employment stasis by General Order No. 91 (no leaving an employer without a letter of good standing); and the banning of courts that required witnesses and juries. Traffic violations were said to have netted prison terms[20] and the military courts evidenced bias against civilians. There ensued a turf battle between the federal Departments of War, Justice and Interior, in which the middle one played a mediating or flip-flopping role. Indeed, it appeared War if not the Pacific Command was operating autonomously.[21]

The Glockner and Seifert cases, actually two detained, naturalized Germans, tested the military's suspension of habeas corpus. In the second year of martial law, August 1943, U.S. District Judge Metzger subpoenaed General Richardson as to why these two were held without charges. The General, according to General Order No. 31, could have had the server arrested for bringing charges against a military person, but instead had the Marshal manhandled so as to evade summons.[22] The prisoners were released outside of Hawaii, avoiding the implicated fall of military power.

List of Military Governors:

Democratic Revolution of 1954

The Democratic Revolution of 1954 was a nonviolent revolution consisting of general strikes, protests, and other acts of civil disobedience. The Revolution culminated in the territorial elections of 1954 where the reign of the Hawaii Republican Party in the legislature came to an abrupt end, as they were voted out of office to be replaced by members of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

Hawaii 7

During the years leading up to the ousting of the Republican Party Cold War fears brewed and the U.S. was in the middle of the Second Red Scare. The FBI employed the Smith Act toward the ILWU and Communist Party of Hawaii, arresting those who would become known as the Hawaii 7 on August 28, 1951 in synchronized raids at 6:30 that morning. They were convicted in a two-year-long trial. The Hawaii 7 were eventually released in 1958.[23][24]


After failing in 1935 and 1937 to convince Congress that Hawaii was ready for statehood, Hawaii resurrected the campaign in 1940 by placing the statehood question on the ballot. Two-thirds of the electorate in the territory voted in favor of joining the Union.[25] After World War II, the call for statehood was repeated with even larger support, even from some mainland states. The reasons for the support of statehood were clear:

All islands voted at least 93% in favor of Admission acts. Ballot (inset) and referendum results for the Admission Act of 1959.

A former officer of the Honolulu Police Department, John A. Burns, was elected Hawaii's delegate to Congress in 1956.[26] A Democrat, Burns won without the white vote but rather with the overwhelming support of Japanese and Filipinos in Hawaii. His election proved pivotal to the statehood movement. Upon arriving in Washington, D.C., Burns began making key political maneuvers by winning over allies among Congressional leaders and state governors. Burns' most important accomplishment was convincing Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Texas) that Hawaii was ready to become a state.

In March 1959, both houses of Congress passed the Hawaii Admission Act and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law. On June 27, 1959, a plebiscite was held asking Hawaii residents to vote on accepting the statehood bill. Hawaii voted 17 to 1 to accept.[27] On August 21, church bells throughout Honolulu were rung upon the proclamation that Hawaii was finally a US state.

See also


  2. "(Department of Commerce, Statistical Abstract of the United States, page 1)" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  3. http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2000/phc-3-13.pdf (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003, page III-1)
  4. "An Act to Provide for the Admission of the Stateof Hawaii into the Union". Hawaii Nation.org. March 18, 1959.
  5. Niklaus R. Schweizer, His Hawaiian Excellency: The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy and the Annexation of Hawaii (1994).
  6. Helena G. Allen, Sanford Ballard Dole: Hawaii's Only President, 1844–1926 (1988)
  7. Peter Karsten, "The Nature of 'Influence': Roosevelt, Mahan and the Concept of Sea Power." American Quarterly 23#4 (1971): 585–600. JSTOR
  8. 1 2 30 Stat. 750
  9. Christine Skwiot, The purposes of paradise: US tourism and empire in Cuba and Hawai'i (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).
  10. James Mak, "Creating 'Paradise of the Pacific': How Tourism Began in Hawaii" (2015) online
  11. Dan Cragg, Guide to military installations (U of Illinois Press, 2000).
  12. Bertrand M. Roehner, "Relations Between US Military Forces and the Population of Hawaii" Laboratoire de physique théorique et hautes énergies (2014). online
  13. Julia Flynn Siler (2012). Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America's First Imperial Adventure. p. 292.
  14. Helena G. Allen, Sanford Ballard Dole: Hawaii's Only President, 1844-1926 (1988).
  15. Duane P. Bartholomew, Richard A. Hawkins, and Johnny A. Lopez. "Hawaii pineapple: the rise and fall of an industry." HortScience 47#10 (2012): 1390-1398. online
  16. Margaret A. Parkman and Jack Sawyer. "Dimensions of ethnic intermarriage in Hawaii." American Sociological Review (1967): 593-607. in JSTOR
  17. Lawrence H. Fuchs, Hawaii Pono: 'Hawaii the Excellent': An Ethnic and Political History (1961), pp 83. 110.
  18. Robinson, Greg. Interview about his book, A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America. CUP. n.d. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  19. Anthony, J. Garner (1955). Hawaii Under Army Rule. California: Stanford University Press. p. 198. ISBN 0-8248-0377-9.
  20. Anthony, J. Garner (1955). Hawaii Under army Rule. california: Stanford University Press. p. 106. ISBN 0-8248-0377-9.
  21. Anthony, J. Garner (1955). Hawaii Under Army Rule. California: Stanford University Press. p. 96. ISBN 0-8248-0377-9.
  22. Anthony, J. Garner (1955). Hawaii Under Army Rule. California: Stanford University Press. pp. 65–68. ISBN 0-8248-0377-9.
  23. Dan Boylan, T. Michael Holmes (2000). John A. Burns. University of Hawaii Press. p. 104. 9780824822774.
  24. Michael Holmes (1994). The specter of Communism in Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press. p. 104. 9780824815509.
  25. "Hawaii Votes To Petition For Statehood: Plebiscite Shows 39,413 in Favor And 19,911 Opposed". The Washington Post. Associated Press. November 7, 1940. p. 8.
  26. "Democrats Win Hawaii Delegate". The Washington Post. November 8, 1956. p. A25.
  27. "Commemorating 50 Years of Statehood". archive.lingle.hawaii.gov. State of Hawaii. 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-21. On June 27, 1959, a plebiscite was held to allow Hawai`i residents to ratify the congressional vote for statehood. The 'yes for statehood' garnered 94.3 percent (132,773 votes) while the 'no' ballots totaled 5.7 percent (7,971 votes).

Further reading


Specialty studies

Primary sources

External links

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Coordinates: 21°18′00″N 157°49′00″W / 21.3000°N 157.8167°W / 21.3000; -157.8167

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