Statehood Day or Admission Day is the day Hawaii became the 50th US state. It is annually observed on the 3rd Friday in August to commemorate the anniversary of the state’s admission to the Union on August 21, 1959. It was first observed in 1969.
The US Congress approved the Hawaii Organic Act in 1900 after the illegal overthrow and annexation of the Hawaiian monarchy. The Territory of Hawaii then developed new governing legislation, and the subjects of Hawaii became U.S. citizens.
To ensure proper representation in Congress, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, Territorial Delegate presented a Hawaii statehood bill in 1919. The bill went for review but was voted down. Additional bills were introduced in 1935, 1947 and 1950.
In 1946, the U.S. House Committee on Territories conducted hearings for Hawaii statehood. On the last day, Territorial Senator Alice Kamokilaikawai Campbell (daughter of sugar baron, James Campbell and sister-in-law to Prince David Kawananakoa) delivered a speech against statehood, 53 years after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. “I do not feel ... we should forfeit the traditional rights and privileges of the natives of our islands for a mere thimbleful of votes in Congress...” She later went on to start the Anti-Statehood Clearing House, which went against Hawaii Statehood Commission efforts. She gathered testimonies and arguments against statehood and presented them to Congress…to no avail.
In 1959, the Senate voted in favor of the Hawaii Statehood Bill 75 to 15 votes and the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Bill 323 to 89 votes.
This was followed by a referendum in which Hawaii residents voted 94% (132,773 to 7,971 votes) in support of statehood (the ballot question was: “Shall Hawaii immediately be admitted into the Union as a state?”), and on August 21, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation creating the 50th state.
Subsequently, on November 23, 1993 U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the “Apology Resolution,” formally known as United States Public Law 103-150, which apologizes for its role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy on behalf of the United States.