Little Bits of History

USA = 50 States

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2010

The Hawaiian Islands

August 21, 1959: After much convincing on both sides of the Pacific, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s proclamation admits Hawaii as the 50th state of the union. Alaska had become the 49th state in January of 1959 and a new US flag with 49 stars first flew over Independence Hall in Philadelphia on July 4, 1959. The next year the 27th US flag, now designed with 50 stars, was first flown on July 4, 1960.

Hawaii is made up of islands that have been forming for 70 million years. The volcanic activity continues with three of the volcanoes having erupted in the last 200 years. Some volcanoes underwater are also erupting and with the increased lava flows may one day be above sea level.

The first residents of the tropical paradise are shrouded in the mists of history. It is believed that Tahiti natives sailed outrigger canoes to the islands between 300 and 750 AD. The islands were called Hawaii until Captain James Cook found them in 1778 and renamed them Sandwich Islands for Britain’s Earl of Sandwich. The name was shunned by natives.

Old Hawaii was not a unified Hawaii. There were many kingdoms, each headed by their own king and with a strictly stratified caste system for the rest of the society. The first unified Hawaiian king was King Kamehameha in 1810. Queen Lili’oukalani was the last monarch whose reign ended July 7, 1898 when President McKinley annexed her kingdom. By 1900, Hawaii became a territory of the US.

In 1813, Spanish settlers introduced two new crops that are still a mainstay of Hawaiian agriculture: coffee and pineapples. There are 6,500 acres of coffee planted with 6-7 million pounds of green bean production yearly. In the year 2000, Hawaii produced about 354,000 tons of pineapples.

“As long as you’re here in Hawaii you learn to have great respect for this particular goddess and you can see her work still evident today at her volcano.” – Daniel Akaka, Hawaiian Senator

“Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace.” Paul Theroux

“Every week people were treated to different images of Hawaii, and that made people want to go and visit Hawaii. So consequently, it was a boom for Hawaiian tourism.” – Luis Reyes

“When the islands became a state in 1959, … there was a broad consensus in Congress that Native Hawaiians would not be treated as a separate racial group, and that they would not be transformed into an ‘Indian tribe.’” – John Fund

Also on this day, in 1831 Nat Turner leads a slave rebellion in Virginia.

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2 Responses

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  1. Sherry said, on August 23, 2015 at 11:19 am

    My son and his wife live in Honolulu, two blocks from Waikiki Beach. She’s a native Pacific Islander – father is Samoan, her mother was born and raised on Palau. So my kid will be making his life in Hawaii. We have very little family here, and his wife has dozens of relatives on the islands, including her siblings and parents.

    Well, it’ll be nice to visit once in a while!

    • patriciahysell said, on August 23, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      There are much worse places to “have” to visit. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I hear it is lovely.


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