As a continuation of Statehood Hawaiiʻ s “Statehood Countdown,” weʻ re looking at the document given to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles by Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, Francis O. Wilcox.

This document contains the procedure by which Hawaii could be removed from the UN list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Francis O. Wilcox was one of the key State Department people who communicated with the United Nations, and particularly the office of the US/UN (United States Mission to the United Nations).

International Organization oversaw for example, the Office of Dependent Areas. The State Department communicated with the Department of the Interior, a separate department within the federal system which worked closely with the Congressional Committees on Interior and Insular Affairs (1951-1968).

The Governorʻs office of Territory of Hawaii primarily communicated with the Department of the Interior, and since the formation of the United Nations, these had been the Governorsʻs offices of Ingram Stainback, (appointed by Pres. Roosevelt in 1942), Oren E. Long (appointed by Pres. Truman in 1951), Samuel King (appinted by Eisenhower in 1953), and William Quinn (appointed by Eisenhower in 1957).

It should be noted that communication between the United States and Hawaii primarily went through the Department of the Interior from 1898 until 1959, the “annexation” years. Prior to that, communication to the United States went through the State Department.

The National Archives contains the correspondence between the State Department and the Hawaiian Kingdom between 1840 when the first Hawaiian Constitution was decreed by Kamehameha III until annexation in 1898.

Go to original Letter to John Foster Dulles, from Francis O. Wilcox. 17 July, 1956

Possible Procedure and Arguments of Cessation of Reporting on Alaska and Hawaii to the United States

If you disapprove our recommendation that we should continue to report to the United Nations on Alaska and Hawaii, and decide that we should cease transmitting information, the following procedure and arguments might be used to explain such a decision to the United Nations.


If the United States follows the established procedure in the United Nations, a communication setting forth the case for cessation together with all relevant documents, would be submitted to the Secretary-General. These would include the Organic Acts of the Territories of Hawaii and Alaska, all amendments thereto, the drafts of the two stated Constitutions and a statement of the economic, social and educational advancement of the two territories during the last ten years. In the case of Puerto Rico, the Resident Commissioner to the Congress was attached to the United States Delegation at several United Nations meetings as an adviser and was our principal spokesman in the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories and the General Assembly. Since it has become the practice for elected representatives to present these cases and answer questions in the United Nations, it would be expected that the Delegates to the Congress from Alaska and Hawaii would be advisers and the principal spokesman when the agenda item was discussed.

The United States communication and accompanying documentation would be first considered by the Committee on Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories. This Committee would review the documentation, would hear the oral arguments and submit a report, The Fourth Committee would then hold extensive debates and hear the two Delegates again, Finally, the matter would be discussed in the plenary session of the General Assembly which would adopt a favorable or unfavorable resolution on the cessation of information. It is possible that, as in the Surinam and Netherlands Antilles case, the Assembly might decide to postpone final action on the issue until statehood is granted the two Territories. In this event, the issue might appear on the agenda of several sessions of the General Assembly.

There have been precedents in the United Nations when Governments have ceased reporting on territories in a position somewhat similar to that of Alaska and Hawaii. The United Nations in 1953 approved the cessation of information by Denmark on Greenland, which has now become an integral part of the Danish Realm with rights corresponding to those of other parts of Denmark. This constitutional change was effected through an amendment to the Danish Constitution. In Denmark the administration of Greenland is exercised by a Danish Government Ministry, the Ministry of Housing and Greenland Affairs. Matters of general importance to Greenland are submitted to the special Greenland Committee of the Danish Parliament. The two Governors of Greenland are appointed by the Crown. Greenland’s new constitutional status gives the people representation in the Danish Folketing on equal footing with the rest of Danish population.

In 1951 the Netherlands Government informed the United Nations that, in view of the constitutional changes about to take place in the territories of the Netherlands Antilles and Surinam, it would no longer transmit information on them. the Netherlands, in fact, did cease reporting on these territories. In 1953, a General Assembly resolution requested the Netherlands to resume reporting and to submit evidence of their new constitutional status so that the General Assembly could decide whether reporting was no longer necessary. The Netherlands declined to resume reporting but in 1955, submitted the constitutional information requested. The General Assembly subsequently adopted a resolution to the effect that it was no longer appropriate to report on these two territories. Meanwhile, the new constitutional status had entered into force on December 2, 1954 with the promulgation of the Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The United Kingdom on March 26, 1949 stated that Malta, although not yet in full control of its external affairs, had attained full responsibility for local self-government on September 5, 1947. Since cessation, social and educational conditions in Malta were now the exclusive concern of the Government of Malta, the United Kingdom concluded that it found it “inappropriate and indeed impossible” to continue the transmission of information under Article 73(e). In 1949, when the Malta case was presented, machinery for the examination of those cases by the United Nations had not been perfected and a vote was never taken on Malta per se.

Possible Arguments to Explain Cessation of Reporting

In the documentation transmitted to the United Nations to explain a decision to cease reporting, the following arguments might be included.

Although there have been a few minor political changes, such as allowing women to sit on juries, there has been no basic-constitutional change in Alaska and Hawaii since 1946. In the absence of any basic political advancement, the Department might present its case for ceasing to report by combining several features of the cases cited above. The incorporated Territories of Alaska and Hawaii have been judicially recognized as integral parts of the United States to which the Constitution and laws of the United States have been extended. The legal interpretations of incorporation are, 1) the United States Congress thereby subjects itself to certain limitations regarding further Legislation for that Territory; 2) the action of incorporation is irrevocable since the United States Constitution, once extended, cannot be withdrawn; and 3) the act of incorporation has consistently been regarded as a commitment by the Congress to admit the area as a State.

Since the Constitutions of Alaska and Hawaii have not been approved by the Congress and the President, in our argument to the United Nations we would emphasize the democratic procedure by which the American citizens of Alaska and Hawaii have adopted these Constitutions. Both Territories elected delegates to constitutional conventions by the Territorial Legislature and ratified by the people. Both Territories have responsibility for local government. Both Legislatures have power to legislate for the Territories, including the power to meet the needs of expanded Territorial Government services, labor problems, land and agriculture, public works, education and taxation.

Although the appointed Governors have the power of veto, they may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the elected legislature in either Territory. Moreover the Congress of the United States has never exercised its powers to override laws passed by the Territorial Legislatures.

Federal departments and agencies operate in Alaska and Hawaii as the same as in the forty-eight States of the Union. Since 1946, the Territories have made remarkable strides in educational, economic and social fields. For example, the per capita personal income in Hawaii in 1955 was $1,740, which approximates the per capita figure of $1,792 for the United States. In the same year this Territory paid $126,340,000 in Federal taxes, more that was paid by nine of the forty-eight states. Hawaii now produces approximately 70 percent of the world’s supply of canned pineapple products, valued at about $100,00,000. Both Territories have universities and also community colleges. The citizens of Alaska and Hawaii are thoroughly imbued with American political and cultural traditions.

To many United Nations Members, the above arguments would seem to evade the main issue of constitutional advance since 1946. It would therefore be desirable, even essential, for us to demonstrate that the people of the two Territories oppose further reporting to the United Nations. This might help to persuade those Members, which attach importance to the idea of the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned. At the moment, however, we have no evidence of a popular demand in Alaska and Hawaii for cessation of reporting. Such a demand would therefore have to be stimulated in one form or another.

One of the following methods, which are listed in the order of their possible effectiveness, might be used in expressing he desires of the people of Alaska and Hawaii to cease reporting: 1) the Territorial Legislatures might adopt resolutions to this effect; 2) the Territorial Delegates to the Congress might request the Congress to adopt a resolution; 3) The Territorial Delegates might ask the President to cease reporting, a request that would be strengthened if the Delegates could base it upon a widely circulated petition in the Territories; and 4) the Territorial Governors might ask the President to cease reporting.

go to #19 on the countdown

arnie Statehood Countdown