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Letter to the President of the Senate on Statehood for Hawaii and Alaska.

November 27, 1950

My dear Mr. Vice President:

I hope that at this session the Senate will approve the bills now before it for the admission of the Territories of Hawaii and Alaska to the Union as States. These bills, H.R. 49 relating to Hawaii, and H.R. 331 relating to Alaska, were approved by the House of Representatives in March 1950, and reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs on June 29, 1950. They now await final action by the Senate.

Prompt approval of these measures is essential not only to the welfare and security of Hawaii and Alaska, but also to the security of the Nation as a whole.

Since these bills came before the Senate, this country has moved to check aggression in Korea, in support of the principles of the United Nations. As a result, our position in the Pacific area, and our attitude toward the peoples of that area, have become of even greater importance to our national security and to the success of our efforts to achieve a just peace.

Both Hawaii and Alaska are vital to the defense of the United States in the Pacific. They are also the proving-ground of our democratic institutions in the Pacific area, with tremendous psychological influence on the hearts and minds of the people of Asia and the Pacific islands.

As frontiers of our national territory, Hawaii and Alaska must maintain a high degree of military readiness. The security of our national defense forces there rests upon the wholehearted effort and support of the local population. The morale of the people of Hawaii and Alaska, who are our fellow-citizens, will be heightened if we show them that we truly regard them as our equals in the responsibilities and privileges of statehood. Statehood will increase the effectiveness and the vitality of their local governments, and render them better able to back up our armed forces.

Furthermore, statehood will mean full participation by the elected representatives from these areas in the work of the Congress. The defense needs and responsibilities of the two territories will be presented more forcefully by members of Congress who are entitled to vote. As a result, the Government will be better informed and better able to provide for our national security in the specific area.

Statehood will not only strengthen the moral and physical aspects of our national defense in these areas--it will also improve our relations with the other free peoples of the Pacific area, and strike a blow at communist influence among them. Communism seeks to create distrust of the sincerity of our intentions, particularly among the peoples of the Far East. The granting of statehood to Hawaii and Alaska would speak far louder than words of our devotion to our national ideals. It would show, particularly in the case of Hawaii, that this Government judges people by their deeds, and not by their racial or national origins. It would give additional convincing proof to the people of the Far East that this country is still truly dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

In all fairness, we should not longer deny the desire for statehood of our fellow citizens in Hawaii and Alaska. Unlike our other overseas areas, Hawaii and Alaska are incorporated Territories. Their special legal status has long been regarded by them and by us as the first major step toward statehood. They have asked for statehood. An overwhelming majority of the people of Hawaii voted on November seventh in favor of the adoption of a State constitution. Similarly, the people of Alaska have voted almost three to one in favor of statehood.

Both areas pay all Federal taxes, although they have no voice in levying them or in the .spending of tax revenues. Their young men are inducted into the armed forces of the Nation. The people of Hawaii have about five times as many men on the casualty lists from Korea, in proportion to their total population, as the rest of the country.

It is now obvious that the people of both Territories can exercise effectively all the rights of self-government under statehood both in local and national affairs. Having earned these rights and expressed a desire to exercise them, the people of Hawaii and Alaska should be granted them without delay. Our sense of justice and fair play demands it.

For these reasons, I urge that the Senate give the highest priority to the statehood measures before it and complete legislative action on them before the present Congress adjourns.

Very sincerely yours,


[Honorable Albert W. Barkley, The President of the Senate]

Harry S Truman, Letter to the President of the Senate on Statehood for Hawaii and Alaska. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230472

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