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How Hawaii Became The 50th State

The road to statehood for Hawaii did not come easy. In fact, opposition to making Hawaii a part of the United States dates back to the 19th century.

Learn about the efforts of the United States to take control of Hawaii. Discover details about how it finally became the 50th state.

Early Efforts Of The U.S. To Take Control Of Hawaii

Almost from the time that the Polynesians made Hawaii their home approximately 1,500 years ago, other people Hawaiian hula dancerswanted to lay claim to Hawaii. It finally became unified in 1810.

While the Hawaiian people fought off early attackers, the United States decided not to give up. In 1893, Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown by a party of businessmen, who then imposed a provisional government.

Becoming A U.S. territory

After the Spanish-American War started, the United States could no longer avoid renewed efforts to annex Hawaii to the United States. Congress officially annexed the territory to the U.S. in 1898.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration explains that after the Hawaiian Islands were successfully annexed by the U.S., the event marked an end of a lengthy internal struggle between native Hawaiians and white American businessmen for control of the Hawaiian government.

Although the U.S. annexed the the Islands, this was not the end of the struggle. The Center for Legislative Archives provides a copy of a letter written by Queen Liliuokalani in December 1898. She protested the U.S. assertion of ownership without due process or just compensation. Her letter was to no avail, however.

Efforts to make the Island a state began long before it actually became the 50th state. Five years after the annexation of the Island to the U.S., the J. Res. 1 of the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii, dated August 15, 1903, sought to make it a state. That effort failed.

Finally Becoming The 50th State

Several years after the 1903 failed efforts to make the Island a new state, renewed efforts resulted in more people advocating for making it an actual state. A major event was the attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor that occurred on December 7, 1941. It has been stated that during World War II, the Island became firmly ensconced in the American national identity following the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Even school children sought to make Hawaii a new state. In 1946, the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii outlined student support to make it the 49th state. However, Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, pushing efforts to make Hawaii the 50th state. An eighth-grade social studies class in Hawaii petitioned the U.S. Congress to make the Island a state.

Eisenhower Shows His SupportUS flag Hawaiian

President Eisenhower stated his support for the Island becoming a state early on in his administration. Yet early efforts during his administration continued to fail, even with the support of Eisenhower. In his 1954 State of the Union Address, Eisenhower stated that the people of Hawaii are ready for statehood.He renewed his request for this legislation in order that Hawaii may elect its state officials and its representatives in Washington along with the rest of the country that same fall.

President Eisenhower and others in support of Hawaii becoming a state persisted after Alaska finally became a state. In March 1959, efforts finally paid off when the U.S. government approved statehood for Hawaii, and in June the Hawaiian people voted by a wide majority to accept admittance into the United States.

Hawaii became the 50th state on August 21, 1959.

The Eisenhower Presidential Library explains that on August 21, 1959, President Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10834 establishing the design of the 50-star flag.