Whig Paper Urged Statehood Back in 1849


POSTED: Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back as far as the landing of the first American traders and missionaries the potentialities of the Islands as a state were recognized.

In 1842, President John Tyler emphasized the strategic importance of the Islands by extending the Monroe Doctrine to include the then Sandwich Islands, 2,000 miles distant from the Mainland.

In a message in Congress, President Tyler noted that the Islands “;lie in the Pacific Ocean much nearer to this continent than any other.”;


Seven years after President Tyler extended the protection of the Monroe Doctrine to the Islands, a Whig newspaper, the Northern Journal, published in Lowville, Lewis County, New York, urged the annexation of Hawaii and its subsequent admission to the Union.

In its May 1, 1849 issue the little newspaper devoted two full pages to the editorial advising annexation of the Islands.

A correspondent for the Honolulu newspaper the Polynesian wrote that the idea had caught on and that “;several papers of influence have seconded the motion.”;


The question of annexation of the Islands was first placed before Congress in 1852 by Representative McCorckle of California.

He urged annexation for protection of the Mainland in the event of war and was as solidifying an important link in the rapidly growing trade with Asia.

Annexation, the Californian said, would make the United States and Hawaii “;one power, independent in the balance of the world.”;


Franklin Pierce was elected President in 1852. As a Democratic celebration after the election, the new President joined in a toast offered to the “;Sandwich Islands—may they soon be added to the galaxy of States.”;

Two years later, King Kamehameha III, concerned by political unrest in the Islands, sough the United States' views on possible annexation.

With the assistance of U.S. Commissioner David L. Gregg, the Treaty of 1854 was drawn up, providing for Hawaii's admission to the Union as a State enjoying the same degree of “;sovereignty as other States.”;


The death of the king that same year, however, ended the negotiations.

In its report, the Hawaii Statehood Commission said that “;although the treaty was never ratified, it served to establish the basic premise of Hawaii's endeavor—exchange of her independent sovereignty for the sovereignty of Statehood.”;

The report added that Hawaii had not only never abandoned this premise but had repeatedly reaffirmed it.

Despite the fact that the Treaty of 1854 was never ratified, its consideration gave the people of Hawaii reasons to believe that Statehood would be the Islands' ultimate destiny as it had been its goal.


This confidence was rewarded when President Andrew Johnson, in his annual message to Congress on December 18, 1868, said in regard to a proposed reciprocity treaty with Hawaii:

“;It would be a guarantee of good will and forbearance of all nations until the people of the Islands shall of themselves, at no distant day, voluntarily apply for admission to the Union.”;

The need of the U.S. and the Islands for Statehood began to grow.


In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant's minister at Honolulu suggested in a message to Washington that it would be “;wise and sagacious”; for the government to again consider annexing the Islands.

“;That such is to be the political destiny of this archipelago,”; he said, “;seems a foregone conclusion in the opinion of all who have given attention to the subject in this country, the United States, England, France and Germany.”;

President Grant sent the minister's message to the Senate but no action was taken.

Toward the end of Grant's term in 1874 King Kalakaua made a personal appearance before Congress. The king negotiated a treaty of reciprocity with the United States under which the products of each country were exchanged without duty restriction.

This treaty also gave the United States the right to establish a coaling station and to fortify Pearl Harbor.

Following the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893 the new republic, under President Sanford B. Dole, sent a commission of five to Washington to negotiate a treaty for political union with the United States.

President Benjamin Harrison approved, but one of President Grover Cleveland's first acts after inauguration in March 1893 was to withdraw the treaty.

But in 1897, with the backing of President William McKinley, a new treaty was signed. McKinley had written a year before that he considered the annexation of Hawaii in the best interests of the United States.

“;We need Hawaii,”; he said, “;just as much and a good deal more than we did California. It is manifest destiny.”;

A joint resolution of annexation introduced by Senator Newlands of Nevada was passed by both the House and the Senate and signed the next day, July 6, 1898, by the President.


Formal transfer of sovereignty took place on August 12, and brought the Islands closer to the reality of Statehood.

Hawaii's legislators began to work for Statehood in grim earnest.

They petitioned Congress in 1903 for admission to the Union.

In 1919 Delegate to Congress Kuhio Kalanianaole introduced a bill providing for Statehood.

All delegates after that time have followed suit.