After yesterday’s overwhelming posting which I’ll be working on well beyond the statehood countdown, this post is more of a recap of what we have seen before regarding the State Department’s position on statehood. This time, we are looking at a draft letter– never sent– between Thurston Morton, Assistant Secretary of State, International Organization, Office of Dependent Areas to Senator Murray who was on the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, the Senate Committee responsible for investigations on Hawaiian and Alaskan statehood.

From Eisenhower’s perspective, the urgency for Hawaii’s statehood, as we have seen from earlier postings was one of “national security.” Often when we think of national security in the 1950s, the propaganda often suggests impending U.S. attacks from Soviet aggression, and Hawaii and Alaska are seen as the bumper regions that would stave off attack to the west coast from communists.

The idea of national security suggests protection of US ambitions in the east against the Soviet Union and China. Statehood, if it had been granted in 1955, from the perspective of the President and the State Department, would’ve strengthened the position of the United States in the United Nations as to its application of promoting self-governance in territories– a condition of the UN Charter, Chapter XI, Article 73(e) (plenary session).

Maivan Clech Lam discussing Chapter XI, Article 73(e) in context of Hawaii

The stated position of the United States was to give “Maximum effect to its support of the principle of self-determination whenever feasible.” The problem here however, is that supporting self-determination was more often than not, contrary to the policy of the Marshall Plan and other recovery programs where U.S. interests were more concerned with corralling other currencies to the dollar and benefiting colonial interests more than the peoples of the territories.

go to original 

Dear Senator Murray:
I am concerned over developments, which have arisen during the hearings before the Sub-committee of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs on Alaska and Hawaii Statehood. According to the transcript of the hearings on February 22, Senator Jackson has construed my letter to you of February 4, 1955 as indicating that “it is going to hurt our foreign policy if we not make it (Alaska) a state.”

In my letter of February 4, 1955, I stated that granting statehood to Alaska and Hawaii “would serve to support American foreign policy and strengthen the position of the United States in international relations.” It is not correct to infer that the corollary Senator Jackson would draw is true.

The matter was covered by the President in his State of the Union message, when he said: “As the complex problems of Alaska are resolved, that Territory should be expected to achieve statehood. In the meantime, there is no justification for deferring the admission to statehood of Hawaii. I again urge approval of this measure.”

From the foreign policy standpoint, the question of when a greater degree of self-government is given is not so important as the fact that a great degree of self-government exists and the ultimately the two territories should be expected to achieve statehood. As indicated by the Department of State representative in testimony before the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs of the House of Representatives on February 8, it is for the Congress and the President to decide if and when these tow Territories should become states.

Sincerely yours,
Thurston B. Morton Assistant Secretary of State International Organization, Office of Dependent Areas.

go to #6 of the countdown

arnie Statehood Countdown