The Hawaiʻi Admission Act was signed into law on March 18, 1959; Hawaiʻi became the 50th State 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.
On June 27, 1959, Hawaiʻi registered voters voted on three propositions related to Statehood (there was a 93.6% voter turnout for the General election:)
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%)
President Eisenhower called it “truly an historic occasion” because for the second time within a year a new state had been admitted.
“All forty-nine states will join in welcoming the new one – Hawaii – to this Union,” he said. “We will wish for her prosperity, security, happiness and a growing closer relationship with all of the other states.”
“We know that she is ready to do her part to make this Union a stronger nation – a stronger people than it was before because of her presence as a full sister to the other forty-nine states. So all of us say to her, ‘good luck.'” (nytimes-com)
“(A)n unplanned service (was) held at Kawaiahaʻo Church. This church is the denomination of the missionaries who came to Hawaii in 1820. A crowd of more than 1,000 people, including the Honorable Neal Blaisdell, mayor of the city and county of Honolulu, gathered and paid respect to the Divine Providence within minutes of the news being received that the bill was passed by the House.”
“The next morning, thanksgiving services were held at this same church. The Reverend Dr. Abraham Akaka, pastor of Kawaiahaʻo Church, gave the sermon, which is included here.” (John A Burns, Delegate to US House of Representatives))
“‘One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’ – these words have a fuller meaning for us this morning in Hawaii. And we have gathered here at Kawaiahaʻo Church to give thanks to God, and to pray for his guidance and protection in the years ahead.” (Reverend Abraham K Akaka; Given on: Friday, March 13, 1959)
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.
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:
- support of the public schools and other public educational institutions
- betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians (per the Hawaiian Homes Act, 1920)
- development of farm and home ownership on as widespread a basis as possible
- making of public improvements
- 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)