Statehood and Hawaii: Correspondences between Congress, the State Department and the United Nations
As we have seen during the 50th commemoration of Hawaii statehood, the issue of statehood is both complicated and controversial, a topic with many approaches.
The Statehood Commission driving the road to Statehood
The road to Hawaii’s statehood story, as told by the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s statehood commission doesn’t stray very far from the story that we learn in middle school: that the Territorial delegate to Congress, John Burns and the Statehood Commission successfully lobbied Congress (particularly Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn and Senator Majority leader Lyndon B. Johnson), to influence the Southern Democratic opposition to vote in favor of the Statehood Bill which the Senate did on March 11th and the House approved the following day on March 12th.
Generally, Hawaii’s statehood had mixed support in the public and in Congress– those that supported Statehood, favoring a generous paternalism allowing Hawaii to attain the gold star of statehood, and those opposing, arguing on the grounds that there were too many non-whites or communists that would jeopardize the American way and that the citizenry in Hawaii should not have a voice in Congress.
Many of these debates were not new, and the dialogue over diversity and citizenship, as well as details over proximity and contiguity had been argued since Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole submitted a Statehood Bill that died in the House Committee on Territories in 1919. Following that, bills were submitted in 1931, 1935– stopped during wartime, and continued again in 1947, into the 1950s until the 86th Congress approved statehood in March of 1959, with Eisenhower signing Proclamation 3309 on August 21st 1959.
Much of the reason why Congress did not vote in favor of Hawaii statehood was seen as an effort by the Southern Democrats– who voted as a bloc– to prevent Hawaii and Alaska from having voting representation in Congress. The issue of non-white congressional representation did not sit well with the Southern Democrats who during that time were fighting federal legislation over civil rights. Details of how Congressional Southern Democrats changed their votes in 1959, is often also attributed to George Lehleitner and his submission of the Tennessee Plan that allowed Alaska to enter the Union before Hawaii, as a means to balance the Democratic and Republican parties. As the story goes, why this Congressional tit-for-tat is important has to do with the Southern Democrats disapproval of any Civil Rights bills, and a general aversion to approving Hawaii as a state as a result of there being too many Japanese– too many non-whites. This story is echoed even in Hawaii, where Hawaii Senator Alice Kamokila Campbell, in 1946, stirs opposition to statehood as a result of too many Japanese, fearing that statehood would only further entrench the Big Five and the Japanese vote– a peculiar position considering that the Japanese, as a bloc, supported labor, and were against the economic hegemony of the Big Five.
Illegitimacy of Annexation
In addition, any discussion of Hawaii statehood has to take into account the legitimacy of Hawaii’s territorial status. It’s as if we’re attempting to argue for a legitimacy that is built upon an illegitimacy built upon another illegitimacy. A law built upon fraud built upon fraud. I’m speaking of course, about the overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani in 1893, the executive agreements between President Cleveland and Queen Lili’uokalani restoring her to the throne, and the Ku’e petitions that influences the Senate vote against annexation. Yet, despite the congressional outrage and the wide support for restoring the Kingdom, there is a good case of flim-flam in President McKinley’s promotion of annexation-light through the not-a-treaty, but merely a joint-resolution process. Whether or not this McKinley annexation was a violation of U.S. Constitutional Law by not abiding by the US Constitution’s “Treaty Law” has been an ongoing debate, and it was certainly a deceit to the international community that did have treaties with the Kingdom of Hawaii at the time.
Illegitimacy of Statehood
Further, the second fraud, the 1959 statehood plebiscite misled the United Nations General Assembly by submitting only one of the three questions required for removal from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The plebiscite asked, “Shall Hawaii be admitted into the Union as a State?” These three questions should have been do you want full-independence, partial-autonomy, or statehood? Not once did the administrating power offer full-independence as an alternative, and not once, since the United States listed Hawaii to the UN list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, did the territory or the Department of the Interior, fulfill any of its obligations accorded to the United Nations Charter, Chapter 11 which takes into account the “political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions.” The responsibilities of the territory, as well as the Department of the Interior, should have also, following UN General Resolution 648 provide political advancement of the population sufficient to enable them to decide upon the future destiny of the territory with due knowledge.
The reason this is significant is that the State maintains its assertion that there was 94% support for statehood without recognizing that only 35% of eligible voters voted, significantly reducing a statehood mandate. When you couple these voting figures with the exclusion of the other questions, as well as the lack of education of our political advancement, suddenly even the legitimacy of statehood under international law becomes questionable, and the idea that our current state is a fraud built upon a fraud built upon a fraud sounds less and less like hyperbole.
Illegitimacy of WTO?
Exploring how the discussion over Hawaii statehood has been framed over the last several years, while presenting new documents and a more expansive background, this narrative may substantiate meaning and fill in some of the holes regarding Hawaii’s statehood history. And these documents, by the way, don’t really address the history of the Kingdom or the fake McKinley annexation, but it does in a sense address it, by bringing into question the role of power in international agreements. Looking at contemporary examples of unsigned treaties that have manifest power in the world, one might look at the World Trade Organization, another treaty the Senate never ratified, and yet, one that holds more influence over world affairs than probably any other document in history. The WTO affects trade, labor, banking and currency, mining, manufacturing, likely every facet in commerce, including sectors such as the environment, water, food, energy, pharmaceuticals, copyright and intellectual property, to name but a few.
I should probably substantiate this with an obscure reference, and it’s from the Constitutional expert, Prof. Laurence Tribe’s testimony before the Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Trade and Environment of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, 103rd Congress in 1994…Just reading a couple sentences:
I am not here today to discuss whether participation in the World Trade Organization is a good idea, weighing both its net dollar benefits and its possible dangers to consumer safety, environmental protection, and various labor interests. Instead, I am here to address what the United States of America is more fundamentally about, which is not just economic success, but democratic self-government within the context of an enormously important document, the Constitution of the United States.
My concern is with basic constitutional values apart from any gains in trade– constitutional values that are beyond price. I find profoundly troubling the notion that, the process of governing the American people, national leaders would consider the Constitution only as an afterthought. So it was during the last few months that the more I learned about the Uruguay round and the proposed World Trade Organization, the more dismayed I became at many leader’s apparent disregard for the Treaty Clause of the Constitution…
How this quote by Prof. Tribe is relevant, tangentially addresses both the de-occupation model and decolonization model and I’m using it to suggest that we continue to live under a rubric of power that is so entrenched in our day-to-day, that we become stifled under the tapestry of laws and agreements. This illegitimacy of constitutional process should also empower people to continue struggling to right the wrongs of our governments, compelling us to challenge the illegitimacies of our governments in action.
The de-occupation model asserts that Hawaii is currently occupied as a result of the fraudulent annexation and that President Cleveland’s executive agreement with Liliuokalani to restore the kingdom ensured the continued survival of the kingdom, thereby nullifying any law passed since the McKinley—the fake McKinley annexation otherwise known as the Newlands Resolution, and that includes the nullification of statehood.
The decolonization model addresses that Hawaii was fraudulently removed from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories and should be re-instated and given an opportunity to become truly self-governing, meaning, “choosing our own political advancement and entering into direct relations of every kind with other governments and with international institutions and to negotiate, sign and ratify our own international instruments. UNGAR 648 (VII).”
Historically, what is ironic about Senate ratification of supra-national treaties like the UN Charter or the WTO for example, is that in January of 1953, Senator Bricker introduced a resolution that sought to revise Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution: the treaty clause which states that the President shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…. As a result of the UN General Assembly passing the Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Convention in 1948 without the Senate being able to study the text until the following year in 1949, both Senator Bricker and the American Bar Association raised concerns over the potential dangers of having an international treaty like the UN Charter override the US Constitution. There was much debate in the Senate over Executive Agreements and Treaties (as there is today). And so in 1954, a year after the Bricker Amendment was proposed, Senator Knowland submitted a revised Bricker Amendment, which even President Eisenhower publicly supported. Upon further study the Bricker Amendment was again revised and it never quite got enough congressional support for passage.
I bring this up because Senator Knowland who was an active supporter of Hawaii Statehood, was the first to raise the question in nearly a decade as to why the territories of Hawaii and Alaska are transmitting information to the United Nations Secretary-General, as was required by Chapter XI, Article 73 (e) of the UN Charter. On May 2, 1953, just five months after Senator Bricker introduced this legislation, the Times-News, from Hendersonville, N.C, reported in, “Statehood for Hawaii is Opposed,” that Senator Smith (D.) of North Carolina, in an address to the Society for the Advancement of Management, opposed statehood while approving the Bricker Amendment, as well as the Marshall Plan.
This is the letter that Senator Knowland delivers to the Assistant Secretary of State, Francis O Wilcox, International Organizations on June 19, 1956
Your letter of June 11 has been received, and I wish to thank you for sending me the information.
I would certainly seen no objection to the United States filing a report under Article 73(e) relating to American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands.
I most strenuously do object to this government having filed such reports fro the Territories of Alaska and Hawaii, both of which are destined to become states of the American Union. Both have adopted State Constitutions and are awaiting admission as the 49th and 50th States.
I am taking the liberty of forwarding a copy of this letter to Secretary Dulles
With best personal regards, I remain
William F. Knowland
The same day he also writes to Secretary of State Dulles…
Dear Mr. Secretary, speaking to John Foster Dulles:
Enclosed is a copy of the letter I have written to Assistant Secretary of State Francis O. Wilcox.
Frankly, I was greatly shocked to learn that the United States since 1946 has been transmitting information under Article 73(e) for the territories of Alaska and Hawaii. I hope that steps will be taken to correct the situation as these two organized Territories have elected their own Legislatures and both have adopted Constitutions in anticipation to being admitted as full members of the Union as the 49th and 50th States.
With best personal regards, I remain
William F. Knowland
What Sen. Knowland is refers to as Article 73(e) of the UN charter, reads:
Chapter 11. Article 73 (e): to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General for information purposes, subject to such limitation as security and constitutional considerations may require, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social, and educational conditions in the territories for which they are respectively responsible other than those territories to which Chapters XII and XIII apply.
Chapters 12 and 13 apply to “Trust” territories that were surrendered by Germany, Japan and Italy during the war and transferred to be newly administered by the Allied powers.
Chapter 11, Article 73(e)
What Article 73 (e) looked like was a more generalized version of the U.S. Statistical Abstract that had been published annually since 1878. Yet its annual submission to the UN Secretary-General caused alarm for Senator Knowland, insinuating that it was a threat to national security, despite its yearly publication and easy access. In addition, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles points out that the type of information called for by Article 73 (e)” was by no means as comprehensive as the information that the Department of the Interior published each year in its annual report which is a public document.”
The information called for by Article 73(e) was the technical information like geography, population data, government, economic conditions, agriculture, fisheries, land tenure, human rights, labor and employment, education, health and housing. In Hawaii, this information was housed in the Lieutenant Governor’s office and given to the Department of the Interior where it was passed to the State Department’s Office of Dependent Areas (ODA), then given to the US/UN Mission for submission to the Fourth Committee on Decolonization where this information was examined by what was technically called the “Specialized Agencies.” These agencies, like the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), or the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), were any of the international agencies that would provide recommendations to the UN Secretary-General on the progress of what was outlined in Chapter XI, Article 73(e) of the UN Charter.
June 20th 1956 Congressional Record
At the time these letters were drafted, Senator William F. Knowland was the California Republican Senate Minority Leader from 1955-1959, and before that Knowland was the Senate Majority Leader.
In the June 20th 1956 Congressional Record, Knowland states, “So, Mr. President, I hope that prompt action will be taken to get the Territories of Hawaii and Alaska out or the category into which they have apparently been placed.
Senator Bricker responds: “Have there been any reports from the State Department setting forth why the Territories of Alaska and Hawaii were included in the first place? If so, on what assumption did they make such reports?
Senator Knowland again: “I am awaiting a full and complete report. The preliminary information I had when the matter came up in 1946 was that it had been determined that it might encourage some of the other nations to file reports if we included Hawaii and Alaska. I do not agree with that decision, needless to say.
Senators Bricker and Knowland use the territorial status of Hawaii and Alaska, not so much as to advocate for Statehood, but to further challenge and revise the Treaty clause of the Constitution so that Congress could fulfill its constitutional mandate for making laws, citing that the example of Alaska and Hawaii onto the UN List of Non-Self-Govening Territories does not represent the will of Congress.
Could this Bricker Amendment also represent another historical challenge to President McKinley’s fake annexation– the Newland’s Resolution– as well as all other Executive Agreements that the Senate never ratified, including perhaps, the authority of the WTO, for example?
Let’s temporarily close this chapter of 1956 and re-open it ten years earlier in 1946 when the UN Charter had just been signed.