Tag Archives: HAWAII

The Path to Statehood: Hawaii and Alaska

erupting lava during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

by Rick Bretz

The Hawaiian Islands’ volcanic eruptions generating the long stream of hot lava is analogous to the extended years and upheaval it took to join America as a 50th state.   As the lava flows in nature’s effort to reclaim territory, many of its citizens and towns are seeing their houses and roads taken over.  This island paradise that has become a vacation spot and tourist destination surrounded by the Pacific Ocean is a stark contrast to Alaska, a frosty, just as remote scenic territory due north.

 

Alaska was a state that nobody wanted and many government administrators and elected officials  thought Secretary of State William Seward’s venture to purchase the Alaska territory was ill-advised at best.  The newspapers at the time called it “Seward’s Folly.”

snow light sky winter
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hawaii, in contrast, was not only wanted, but literally taken over with the Island Queen Liliuokalani under house arrest in the palace.

Why would the American government want the territory and the Islands as part of our eventual United States?  The answer is found in that both were sought after for the same purpose and yet for a couple of different motivations.  The United States government purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for 7.2 million dollars.  At the time, the treaty to purchase Alaska seemed like wasted money but the purchase ended the presence of Russian influence  in North America at the time.  Russian influence allegedly would revisit us later in the form of hacking, spying and social media posts during our 2016 elections.

Later, the 1896 discovery of Gold in the Yukon and its strategic importance during World War II in the Pacific Theater vindicated William Seward’s push to purchase the territory which began before the civil war.  Alaska became the 49th state a few months before Hawaii on January 3rd, 1959.

Alaska’s significance remains strategically important but today the state is well known for the large number of reality shows situated there from “Deadliest Catch”, “Gold Rush” and “Ice Road Truckers” to “Alaska State Troopers”. Who knew when Congress approved the purchase of the Alaskan territory that it would be a boon to the television entertainment industry in the 21st Century and make several Alaskan citizens relatively wealthy from something other than gold mining?

Hawaii took a divergent path that centered on what can be called, “the protection of the good old American dollar.”  Specifically, the influence of plantation owners and their wanting to protect their financial interests from the rise of the Hawaiian Monarchy.  The United States annexed the Hawaiian Islands in 1897 at the urging of the American plantation owners.  This annexation was in the form of a takeover as the Queen Liliuokalani was put on trial before a military tribunal, forced to relinquish all claims to the Monarchy and imprisoned her.  This just because she wanted to exert some power as as a monarch. This power threatened European and American land owner however so these men literally asked the United States government representatives to call in the Marines.

https://www.iolanipalace.org/history/queens-imprisonment/

The financial interest was the primary reason for the forced annexation of Hawaii but it also served a military strategic importance for naval bases.  Along with several other islands, such as Guam, the Philippines, the Kwajalein Atoll and Alaska, the annexation gave the United States a presence in the Asian theater.  This first line of defense proved vital at the outset of World War II.  The Hawaiian Islands had citizens that came from many countries other than the United States, like Japan and Portugal.  Hawaii became the 50th state a few months after Alaska on August 21st, 1959.

Why so long of a wait for Alaska and Hawaii statehood?  As with everything that the government does, it comes down to power and what the current political landscape at a particular time, as in Southern Democrats who didn’t want civil rights legislation passed. The number of democratic and republican votes in congress figured in the decision.  The racial mixture of each state and Alaska’s low population figured in the long wait.  The economic advantages with Alaskan oil reserves and Hawaii’s tourist industry added to the attractiveness of having them as states.  In the end, the political issues and resistance from certain groups in Hawaii were overcome and the territories became states.

Becoming a state can take a long circuitous route as the Puerto Rico effort to become one shows to everyone following it. The status of statehood depends just as much on political concerns as the financial ones.  The original 13 colonies had a  significant issue to overcome on their path to become a member the select group of the United States of America-the war to gain independence from the crown.

Notable Links:

https://www.alaska.edu/creatingalaska/downloads/Statehood-for-Alaska.pdf

http://teachinghistory.org/history-content/ask-a-historian/25769

https://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/alaska-purchase

https://www.english-online.at/history/alaska-and-hawaii-at-50/alaska-hawaii-at-50.htm

http://statehoodhawaii.org/2009/05/12/the-statehood-plebiscite/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaii

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-puerto-rico-learn-hawaii-180963690/

 

 

 

Top Eight July 4th Historical Events

Posted by Rick Bretz

The Fourth of July holiday is approaching.  Here is a top eight list of events that occurred on July 4th from the milestone timeline.

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jeffe...
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of independence (1776) were all of British descent. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. 1776- Declaration of Independence-US gains independence from Britain.

Without this event nothing else can happen, especially all of the family get togethers and cook-outs.  

2. 1802- The US Military Academy opened at West Point, NY.

The US Military Academy at West Point trains officers so that America can experience many July 4ths.  This is a real important one

3. 1796-1st Independence Day celebration is held.

Let the celebration begin now all we need is for someone to invent the grill.  (and the cooler)

4. 1884-Statue of Liberty presented to US in Paris.

Scores of immigrants saw this statue way before docking in New York.

5. 1894-Elwood Haynes successfully tests one of 1st US autos at 6 MPH.

First the auto, then the highways and then the July 4th trips to destinations unknown.  Road Trip!

6. 1970-Casey Kasem‘s “American Top 40” debuts on LA radio.

OK, auto, highways, tunes and then ROAD TRIP!!

7. 1960-The number of stars on the American flag was increased to 50 to honor the new state of Hawaii.

It took a while but we got a nice round number of 50.

8. 1826 – Former American presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams die, fifty years to the day after the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Two stellar personalities who were responsible for building the United States passing away on the same day, hours apart, on America’s birthday. Maybe it was written in the stars!–and stripes.

Top Eight Military Memorials

Since Memorial Day is a few days away I wanted to give a list of memorials in remembrance of American service members..  The nation owes them a debt of gratitude for defending the United States  and its values. Choosing the top eight military memorials is a tough task.  I think all of them honor the veterans with splendor and reverence. Throughout history, leaders and politicians from America’s adversaries have underestimated the spirit of our fighting men and women.  Arguably, when given a mission and left alone, they have achieved success time after time.  American servicemen aren’t politicians so they have no control over decisions made by the government.  The military is an essential position for diplomacy. It’s President Teddy Roosevelt‘s analagous “Big Stick.” Politics aside, they have achieved success in every war, conflict, police action and peace-keeping mission given to them—and that means every mission.  These memorials are a testament to the widely held belief that servicemen would rather have peace because they know more than any other citizen the price to be paid for war.

1.  USS  Arizona-dedicated in 1962

2. Vietnam Memorial-Accepted by the President of the US in 1984

Vietnam war memorial
Vietnam war memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3.  Marine Corps War MemorialDedicated November 10, 1954 (179th Birthday of the Corps)

United States Marine Corps War Memorial by Fel...
United States Marine Corps War Memorial by Felix de Weldon at night. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4.  US Air Force Memorial-Dedicated in 2006

5. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier-Patrolled continuously 24/7 since 1930

Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unkno...
Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
                                                                                            6.  Korea War Memorial-Dedicated in 1995
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial (Photo

        7.  Women  in the Military Service Memorial-Dedicated in 1997

The Women in Military Service for America Memo...
The Women in Military Service for America Memorial is the nation’s first major national memorial honoring women who served in the armed forces during all eras and in all services. Image shows a panorama of the monument. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8.  Arlington  National Cemetery-Began with the confiscation of the Mary Anna Custis Lee  property in 1864

Soldiers from the 3d Infantry Regiment carry N...

Other Notables: Normandy American Center and Memorial (D-Day); Missing Man Formation; Empty Boots, Rifle and Helmet; Gettysburg National Park; Taps on the Bugle; and any resting place for an American serviceman and family member.