At our Statehood Countdown halfway point, we’re looking at correspondence from 1956 between Claire Engel, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, House of Representatives, and Robert C. Hill, Assistant Secretary for the Secretary of State.

 This document reaffirms the State Department policy that Statehood would “strengthen the United States position in the United Nations and would be of value in our relations with those countries now represented in the United Nations, which have recently achieved self-government or independence.” What this refers to, as we have seen in earlier documents in this “Statehood Countdown,” is that after Chapter XI of the UN Charter was ratified, the Administering Powers like the United States, Great Britain, Holland, Belgium, France, etc., had a “sacred trust” to develop their territories towards self-governance (which was later changed to “self-determination”). As many of these colonies began to assert their self-determination and gained independence, they became members of the United Nations.

A new situation arose with the admittance of these new UN members, in that the United States and the old colonial powers could no longer control the majority votes as many of these new territories were now voting along side the Soviet bloc.

As we have seen in the Statehood Countdown documents between the WFTU and ICFTU, the Soviet position was to support the independence movements of these territories, and the initial entry point for this support often passed through the international dock and transport unions. After all, whoever led the dock and transport unions, it was thought, controlled the import of arms and propaganda. This is the entry point for where the process to destabilize governments could occur. Hawaii’s ILWU, although supporting statehood, was also a member of the WFTU and a supporter of the United Nations Charter promoting the independence of territories, internationally.

Recognizing this, an international meeting took place in September of 1954, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) consisting of member states Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, United Kingdom, and the United States. Out of this meeting, the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty and The Pacific Charter were drawn and formally ratified in February of 1955. The Pacific Charter, which is referred to in this correspondence, is a document that allows for the United States to “prevent or counter by appropriate means any attempt in the treaty area to subvert their freedom or destroy their sovereignty or territorial integrity.” This includes as Article 4, section 2 defines as “in any way other than armed attack” which the United States has singled out as “communist aggression.” Further, this treaty attempts to maintain the colonial governments of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, by singling these out by name in the SEA Collective Defense Treaty.

The concern that Asia would become communist will be looked at tomorrow, with correspondence by Frank E. Midkiff who had his office at the Castle and Cooke Building in Hawaii. Representing Honolulu’s Chambers of Commerce , he appeals to Senator Knowland to enact legislation that will help prevent further communist influence in Asia.

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Dear Mr. Engle:
The following comments are in response to your letter on June 6, 1956 requesting the view of this Department on the Hawaiian Statehood bill, H.R. 6177.

The Department does not consider that this question has a marked bearing on our foreign relations. But insofar as the grant of statehood to Hawaii is concerned, the effects would be beneficial to the conduct of United States foreign policy in that termination of its status as a dependency of the United States would be consistent with American policy as subscribed to in Chapter XI of the United Nations Charter and in the Pacific Charter of September 8, 1954.

As a concrete example of American policy toward dependent areas, Hawaiian statehood would tend to strengthen the United States position in the United Nations and would be of value in our relations with those countries now represented in the United Nations, which have recently achieved self-government or independence.

With specific reference to the definition of territorial limits contained in Section One of the bill, it is our understanding that such territorial limits are consistent with recognized United States sovereignty in the Hawaiian area and that the proposed exclusion of Palmyra Island from the jurisdiction of Hawaii is no way affects United States sovereignty over that island.

Sincerely yours,
Assistant Secretary of State.

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