“(T)ake possession in our name of Palmyra Island, … not having been taken possession of by any other government or any other people by erecting thereon a short pole with the Hawaiian flag wrapped round it and interring at the foot thereof a bottle well corked containing a paper signed by (Zenas Bent) in the following form viz: ‘Visited and taken possession of by order of His Majesty King Kamehameha IV …’” (Bent did so on April 15, 1862.) Later legal decisions note that ownership of Palmyra was held privately, initially in the name of Bent and Johnson B Wilkinson.
Palmyra Atoll was a part of the Territory of Hawaii prior to Hawaii’s entering the Union on August 21, 1959. Congress expressly excluded Palmyra from the State of Hawaii by section 2 of the Hawaii Statehood Act. Palmyra Atoll is situated 960-miles south by west of Honolulu. The atoll has an area of about one and one-half square miles with numerous islets in the shape of a horse shoe surrounding two lagoons. It was named after the American vessel Palmyra, who sought shelter there on November 7, 1802. Title is now held by The Nature Conservancy. It is an incorporated Territory of the US.