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World War II temporarily delayed any further attempts for statehood.

The numerous proceedings on Hawaiian statehood proved time and time again that Hawaii had met all the criteria for admission. Desire for statehood was evidenced by the approval of the state constitution in the general election of November 1950, by a 3-to-2 margin. 276/

After the war, procrastination on Hawaiian statehood bills came mostly from the United States Congress. Alaska and Hawaii were in the midst of the same political struggle and their futures as territories or states were at the sole discretion of the Congress. Once the fight for Alaskan statehood had been won, it was evident that the last incorporated territory, Hawaii, would soon achieve the same status. Hawaii was finally admitted to the Union as a State by the Act of March 18, 1959 (73 Stat. 4).

Hawaiian Boundaries

The joint resolution of annexation did not define the boundaries of Hawaii, but merely accepted the cession made by the government of the Republic of Hawaii of "the Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies." The islands were listed as Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, Kahoolawe, Molokini, Lehua, Kaula, Nihoa, Necker, Laysan, Gardiner, Lisiansky, Ocean, French Frigates Shoal, Palmyra, Brooks Shoal, Pearl and Hermes Reef, Gambia Shoal, and Dowsett and Maro Reef (Sen. Doc. No. 16, 55th Cong., 3rd Sess.).

The Admission Act of March 18, 1959 (73 Stat. 4) and the State Constitution define the boundaries as "all the islands, together with their appurtenant reefs and territorial waters, included within the territory of Hawaii...except the atoll known as Palmyra Island, together with its appurtenant reefs and territorial waters, but said state shall not be deemed to include the Midway Islands, Johnston Island, Sand Island (offshore from Johnston Island), or Kingman Reef, together with their appurtenant reefs and territorial waters."

Some question is presented regarding the status of Midway Island. The United States claims that it acquired Midway on August 28, 1867. The Hawaiian government, before annexation, claimed it had acquired Midway on July 5, 1859, prior to the acquisition by the United States. Thus, there is an academic question of whether the United States acquired Midway when it annexed Hawaii or whether it acquired Midway independently.

Palmyra Island was part of the territory that the United States acquired when it annexed Hawaii (see United States v. Fullard-Leo, 331 U.S. 256 (1947)), but is not now part of the State of Hawaii. Midway Island, Johnston Island, and Sand Island were included within the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for Hawaii by the Act of August 13, 1940 (54 Stat. 784) and it may be that the specific exclusion of these islands from the Admission Act and the Constitution was merely to overcome any presumption that might have arisen from the 1940 Act that these islands were in the Territory of Hawaii. In any event, it is clear that Palmyra Island was once part of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the Territory of Hawaii but is not now part of the State of Hawaii. Midway Island is not part of the State of Hawaii either; there is a question of whether it was part of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Midway, however, is part of the Hawaiian Island chain.


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