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Admission Day in Hawaii - Third Friday in August Celebrates Hawaii Statehood in 1959

The third Friday in August is Admission Day in Hawaii. It celebrates Hawaii's admission to the Union on August 21, 1959. The following article appeared in the New York Times on August 21, 1959 - the actual day of Hawaii's statehood.

Hawaii Becomes the 50th State; New Flag Shown

Eisenhower Hails 'Historic Occasion' as Proclamation Joins Territory to Union


Star Staggered in 9 Rows of 6 and 5 Each in Latest National Standard




Washington, Aug. 21, 1959 -- Hawaii was officially proclaimed as the fiftieth state of the United States today by President Eisenhower at bipartisan White House ceremonies.

The Presidential action was followed immediately by the unfurling of a new fifty-star flag, which will not become official until next July 4. The thirteen alternate red and white stripes remain unchanged, but the stars on a field of blue are arranged in nine alternate staggered rows of six and five stars each.

The President welcomed the new state along with Alaska, admitted earlier this year. Not since 1912, when Arizona and New Mexico were added to the Union, had any new states been admitted.

Ceremony a Formality

The White House ceremony today was but a formality noting the Hawaiian citizens had boted to accept the obligations of statehood and had held elections to choose their officers.

The ceremony had a bipartisan character because a Democratic Congress had voted to carry out a Republican President's recommendation in authorizing statehood for Hawaii.

The President sat at the long Cabinet table, flanked by Vice President Richard M. Nixon on his right and the House Speaker, Sam Rayburn of Texas, on his left. Behind them stood representatives of Hawaii, including one of her Senators-elect, Oren E. Long, 70-year-old Democrat, and the House member-elect, Representative Daniel K. Inouye, 34-year-old Democrat and war hero.

The other Senator-elect, Hiram Fong, a Republican, remained in Hawaii, as did Gov. William F. Quinn. The Senators will be seated on Monday after they have drawn lots to see whether they receive terms of approximately six years, four years or two years. The Governor was sworn in today at ceremonies at Honolulu.

Mr. Inouvye will also take his seat Monday.

President Eisenhower called it "truly an historic occasion" because for the second time within a year a new state had been admitted.

"All forty-nine states will join in welcoming the new one- Hawaii- to this Union," he said. "We will wish for her prosperity, security, happiness and a growing closer relationship with all of the other states. We know that she is ready to do her part to make this Union a stronger nation- a stronger people than it was before because of her presence as a full sister to the other forty-nine states. So all of us say to her, 'good luck.'"

As the President completed his remarks, Speaker Rayburn leaned over to chat with him.

Then the President remarked that he had been reminded by the Speaker of "one fact that has great historic significance."

"Next Monday will be the first time in 158 years there has not been a delegate in the membership of the Congress of the United States," he said.

"The delegates are gone and in their places we have Senators and Congressmen."

Hawaii and Alaska were represented by non-voting delegates in the House of Representatives while they were territories. Puerto Rico, as a commonwealth, continues to have a commissioner, without vote, in the House.

Among the Hawaiian officials witnessing signature of the proclamation were Edward E. Johnston, former Secretary of the Territory, and Lorrin P. Thruston, publisher of The Honolulu Advertiser.

The United States Secretary of the Interior, Fred A. Seaton, who had responsibility for the territories, was also on hand for the official birth of a new state.

The approval of statehood for Alaska last year in effect ended Hawaii's long fight for statehood. For at that time it was generally understood that this year Hawaii's turn would come.

Until this year Hawaii statehood bills had passed the House three times in the last decade. On one occasion the bill passed the Senate also, but was tied to an Alaskan measure that brought death to both.

Much of the opposition came from Southerners in Congress who took a dim view of the mixed racial strains of Hawaii's population. Southerners also fought its admission on the same ground they fought Alaskan statehood. That is, the additional seats would weaken the South's already diluted strength in the Senate.