Continuing our “Statehood Countdown,” we’re looking at a Memorandum of Conversation between Governor William Quinn of Hawaii, David Bane, Deputy Director, Office of Northeast Asian Affairs, State Department, and Ambassador Munro from New Zealand.

Although this memo is fairly short, there are several remarkable things about this correspondence.

First, though I should mention that my grandfather, Dale Claggett passed away yesterday afternoon. He was 85 years old and was two weeks shy of celebrating his 50th anniversary with his wife, Nori. He owned Leeward Insurance Agency in Waipahu and was very active in the business community on Oahu. He was president of the Honolulu Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1957 or 58, and before that a bus driver. Originally, he hailed from Ohio, and he had several talents that I will miss: piano, singing, accordion, wood work, piloting planes, and photography are what come to mind, but during the last 15 years, genealogy was an obsession. As a Son of the American Revolution. He loved his heritage and he loved Hawaii. He died of cancer. I bring this up, because if I am unable to give the kind of attention to these documents as I had in previous postings, I would like to apologize in advance if something seems lacking in this or in following postings.

One of the unusual things about this document is that it is dated a day after the House voted and passed the Statehood Bill, and a day before the Senate voted on it and there is hardly any mention of it in this document. But how we come to understand the discussion, particularly for those who have looked at the previous posts, is the issue of National Security with Asia, which had been an ongoing policy concern for several years. The conflict in Southeast Asia for example, mentioned in yesterday’s correspondence from 1950, was still a very big issue and the United States involvement with the region was about to escalate dramatically. Frank E. Midkiff, in his lengthy letter to Senator Knowland, had recommended something of an Asian student exchange program as a means to promote American-style democracy in an attempt to halt the influence of communism in the region.

Governor Quinn’s and Sir Leslie’s conversation over some kind of UN attention in the territory must have been interesting, particularly when Sir Leslie suggested something like the Trusteeship Council participating rather than ECOSOC (economic and social council of the United Nations). The Trusteeship Council, however, was not same as the Fourth Committee which oversaw the transmission of information under Chapter XI, Article 73 of the UN Charter, the committee of those territories that were held in trust by the Administering Powers– those that won the war, the Allied Powers. The Trusteeship Council oversaw the “Trust” territories under Chapter XII and XIII, and these were the territories that were previously held by Germany, Japan and Italy after WWII. In the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and the United States were the ones to primarily divide up those Pacific colonies.

Finally, what is also of interest in this memo, is that there was consideration of a meeting with the Asst. Secretary of State, Director of International Organizations, Francis. O. Wilcox, who figures prominently in the earlier 1956 discussions with Senator Knowland, on the process by which Hawaii can and should be removed from the U.N. list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

When we consider the history of Hawaii’s statehood, we are not simply looking at the Statehood Commission or John Burn’s lobbying efforts on Congress, or Congress’s interest in Hawaii’s statehood, we are looking at the role the United States is playing in the UN and its determination to perpetuate its relationship with its territories and colonies as it existed before WWII.

One of the objectives with these postings, is to encourage a rethink of Hawaii’s statehood. As many in the Hawaiian independence movement are doing, they are rethinking statehood from the perspective of its illegality: from the overthrow, to annexation, to statehood, to beyond.

The inclusion of these documents, and much of the perspective this website has focused on over the last two years, has been to look at what Hawaii meant to the United States from an international perspective, particularly WWII and the formation of the UN. The rationale of how and why Hawaii became a state is part of a larger post war policy that we have already begun to look at. We might now ask: what was the political motivation for the United States to maintain its good standing in the United Nations, and how does Hawaii’s statehood fulfill those goals?

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March 11, 1959

Department of State Memorandum of Conversation Subject:
Hawaiian Statehood Participants:
Governor William Quinn, Governor of Hawaii
Sir Leslie Munro, Ambassador, Embassy of New Zealand
Mr. David M. Bane, Deputy Director, Office of Northeast Asian Affairs

While traveling by air from Honolulu to Washington, March 11, Mr. Bane had occasion to talk at some length with Governor William Quinn of Hawaii and Sir Leslie Munro on the subject of Hawaiian statehood. Governor Quinn stressed at considerable length the importance of granting of statehood to Hawaii would have on United States relations with Asian countries, a view Sir Leslie and Mr. Bane heartily endorsed. Governor Quinn stated that if statehood were granted, Hawaii planned to observe this momentous event over the coming year and he hoped that maximum benefit would be derived there from in terms of US-Asian relations. He said that Hawaii hoped to launch a large-scale exchange-of-student program with Asian countries and he particularly hoped that some United Nations manifestation or event could be held in Honolulu this coming year as a part of such observance. Governor Quinn thought that Hawaiian statehood was a development of particular significance to the UN. He suggests a meeting of UNESCO at Honolulu might be one possibility of focusing UN attention on Hawaiian statehood. Sir Leslie, while stressing that this was an internal US matter, said that he would support strongly any US suggestion to this end and wondered whether a meeting of the Trusteeship Council in Honolulu might not be more appropriate than UNESCO.

Governor Quinn stated that he hoped he would have the opportunity while in Washington to talk to Mr. Robertson about his views on this matter as well as to M. Wilcox. Mr. Bane told Governor Quinn that he was sure that both Mr. Robertson and Mr. Wilcox shred his views as regards the importance of Hawaiian statehood in terms of UN-Asian relations and that they would be very much interested in talking to him while in Washington. Mr. Bane said that he would communicated to Mr. Robertson and Mr. Wilcox, Governor Quinn’s views as expressed to him and Governor Quinn’s desire to see them if his time in Washington permitted. Governor Quinn stated that he would be staying at the Sheraton-Carlton Hotel and the he would be in touch with Mr. Stimpson of Governor Herter’s office as regards his plans.

go to #8 of the countdown

arnie Statehood Countdown