“Hawai‘i is America in a microcosm – a melting pot of many racial and national origins, from which has been produced a common nationality, a common patriotism, a common faith in freedom and in the institutions of America.” (Senator Herbert
On June 27, 1959, Hawaiʻi registered voters voted on three propositions related to Statehood:
Shall the following propositions, as set forth in Public Law 86-3 entitled “An Act to provide for the admission of the State of Hawaii into the Union” be adopted?
1. Shall Hawaii immediately be admitted into the Union as a State?
Yes – 132,773 (94.3%)
No – 7,971 (5.7%)
2. The boundaries of the State of Hawaii shall be as prescribed in the Act of Congress approved March 18, 1959, and all claims of this State to any areas of land or sea outside the boundaries so prescribed are hereby irrevocably relinquished to the United States.
Yes – 132,194 (94.5%)
No – 7,654 (5.5%)
3. All provisions of the Act of Congress approved March 18, 1959, reserving rights or powers to the United States, as well as those prescribing the terms or conditions of the grants of lands or other property therein made to the State of Hawaii are consented by said State and its people.
Yes – 132,281 (94.6%)
No – 7,582 (5.4%)
(There was a 93.6% voter turnout for the General election – as compared to generally less than 50% in recent times – total turnout for the 2016 primary election was only 34.8% (a new low.))
While Hawaiʻi was the 50th State to be admitted into the union on August 21, 1959, Statehood is celebrated annually on the third Friday in August to commemorate the anniversary of the 1959 admission of Hawaiʻi into the Union.
Contrary to comments by some, the Crown and Government lands were not ‘stolen’ from the people with Territorial status, Statehood or any other change in governance. Those lands have been consistently recognized as part of the public domain or government property, as decided by the Hawai‘i Supreme Court.
That court noted, “In 1840 (Kamehameha III) granted the first Constitution by which he declared and established the equality before the law of all his subjects, chiefs, and people alike.”
“By that Constitution, he voluntarily divested himself of some of his powers and attributes as an absolute Ruler, and conferred certain political rights upon his subjects, admitting them to a share with himself in legislation and government. This was the beginning of a government as contradistinguished from the person of the King …”
“… who was thenceforth to be regarded rather as the executive chief and political head of the nation than its absolute governor. Certain kinds of public property began to be recognized as Government property, and not as the King’s.”
The Court noted, “These lands are to be in the perpetual keeping of the Legislative Council (Nobles and Representatives) or in that of the superintendents of said lands, appointed by them from time to time …”
“… and shall be regulated, leased, or sold, in accordance with the will of said Nobles and Representatives, for the good of the Hawaiian Government, and to promote the dignity of the Hawaiian Crown.”
The Court found, “while it was clearly the intention of Kamehameha III to protect the lands which he reserved to himself out of the domain which had been acquired by his family through the prowess and skill of his father, the conqueror, from the danger of being treated as public domain or Government property …”
“… it was also his intention to provide that those lands should descend to his heirs and successors, the future wearers of the crown which the conquerer had won; and we understand the act of 7th June, 1848, as having secured both those objects.” (Supreme Court Decision in the Matter of the Estate of Kamehameha IV, 1864)
Following the overthrow, these lands remained for public benefit when they were transferred through changing governments and governance to the Provisional Government, Republic, Territory and State.
This was affirmed by the US Court of Claims noting, “The constitution of the Republic of Hawai‘i, as respects the crown lands, provided as follows: ‘That portion of the public domain heretofore known as crown land is hereby declared to have been heretofore, and now to be, the property of the Hawaiian Government …” (Lili‘uokalani v The United States, 1910)
Beneficiaries of these lands have also not changed – those lands remain part of the public trust for the benefit of Hawai‘i citizens. The government and governance of the Kingdom through Statehood has not been, nor are they now, based on race. People of many races have been and continue to be citizens.
Under the Admission Act, about 1.2-million acres are to “be held by (the) State as a public trust” to promote one or more of five purposes:
1. support of the public schools and other public educational institutions
2. betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians (per the Hawaiian Homes Act, 1920)
3. development of farm and home ownership on as widespread a basis as possible
4. making of public improvements
5. provision of lands for public use
So, as Statehood is celebrated in the Islands, the lands that were in the public domain over the changing levels and entities of government and governance continue to be held in public trust, for all citizens (just as in the times of the constitutional monarchy.)
“Today, one of the deepest needs of mankind is the need to feel a sense of kinship one with another. Truly all mankind belongs together; from the beginning all mankind has been called into being, nourished, watched over by the love of God.”
“So that the real Golden Rule is Aloha. This is the way of life we shall affirm.”
“Let us affirm ever what we really are – for Aloha is the spirit of God at work in you and in me and in the world, uniting what is separated, overcoming darkness and death, bringing new light and life to all who sit in the darkness of fear, guiding the feet of mankind into the way of peace.”
“Thus may our becoming a State mean to our nation and the world, and may it reaffirm that which was planted in us one hundred and thirty-nine years ago: ‘Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.’” (Reverend Abraham K Akaka; Given on: Friday, March 13, 1959)