Why did AK and HI become states?

Funny thing is that I live in Hawaii. I know how they achieved statehood and all the work they put into it. But what was Washington thinking?

You got a group of islands that are 2500 miles away from the mainland. Not a territory or colony, but actually part of the USA.

You got a Alaska, which is physically seperated from the contiguous states by another seperate nation. Again, not as a territory or colony, but actually part of the USA.

No other nation has it’s parts seperated by another country, nor another part so isolated from the rest of the nation. What was Washington thinking when they made them actual states?

What about France? IIRC, some of their Caribbean/S. American colonies became full-fledged departments.

Well, what would you propose we should have done with them? Grant them independence? Sell Alaska back to the Russians?

I don’t think it’s really healthy for a free country to maintain colonies. Granted, we still have a few; I’d say that, if a colony really wants independence, we should let them have it; if they really want statehood, we should let them have that. A further complication is that, apart from Puerto Rico, none of our current dependencies could qualify for statehood on population grounds. However, so long as none of the rest of them (American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the Virgin Islands) seem to want independence, then I don’t suppose we need to force it upon them.

The people of Alaska and Hawaii didn’t want to continue as dependents of another people, and they wanted statehood, not independence. They qualified on demographic grounds. (I think Alaska may have been a bit of a stretch at the time, but they’re no longer the least populous state.) Statehood was, therefore, the right thing to do.

Ummmm, Not quite

Enclaves of the world

Of course, Alaska is definitely a pretty big example.

Yup. As long as Alaska and Hawaii remained colonies, US control was vulnerable in a post-war climate which was increasingly intolerant of colonialism. Both Alaska and Hawaii had strategic value (and, in the case of Alaska at least, economic value) and incorporating them into the union must have seemed the best way of cementing US control. Just look at the slew of colonies worldwide which acheived independence in the years from 1945 to 1965 to see what the alternative might have been.

Besides, having national territory separated by an expanse of ocean, or even by the territory of another state, is not that unusual historically or even today. France has already been mentioned. Portugal is another example (Madeira and the Azores). Italy used to have territorial enclaves on the coast of what is now Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and island territories in the Aegean. Russia had Alaska before the United States did. Prior to the Second World War Germany had East Prussia, separated by a strip of Poland and by Danzig. At the time of statehood for Alaska and Hawaii, Pakistan consisted of East Pakistan and West Pakistan, separate by thousands of miles of Indian territory. (East Pakistan has since become Bangladesh.) These arrangements are not always ideal (and not always stable) but, given the assent of the local population, they’re not necessarily problematic.

And, of course, there is Russian area (what is it’s official status?) of Kaliningrad.

Kaliningrad is still part of Russia, and I imagine it will. Back in the days when it was East Prussia, the place was overwhelmingly German, and thus a logical part of Germany. But due to forced population movements after World War II, Kaliningrad wound up with a Russian majority, and is thus logically a part of Russia, despite its not being contiguous with the rest of Russia. If anyone minds the current arrangement, I’m unaware.

Incidentally: if Kaliningrad were still part of Germany, it wouldn’t be contiguous with Germany. I guess that would count as another non-contiguous, yet definite, part of a nation.

Further examples not mentioned: Spanish Ceuta, the island territories of Australia, New Zealand’s Chatham Islands, Angola’s Kabinda… Then there’s Greenland, which I believe has recently gained full independence from Denmark, but a quick search reveals conflicting information. At any rate, Greenland did have representation in Danish parliament until very recently. (I know Iceland went independent in 1923, which made for another far-flung chunk of Denmark that they possessed for much of the past millenium.)

There is no population criterion for statehood. In fact, there are really no criteria for statehood, with the possible exception that the territory seeking statehood must have a republican form of government.

Historically, the admission process has simply been 1. Formation of a state constitution guaranteeing a republican form of government. 2. Petition to Congress. 3. Passage of a bill admitting the territory as a state, passed by a simple majority of Congress. 4. Signature of the Bill by the President.


There are plenty rueful Alaskans asking themselves the same question – now that two-thirds of the land area is withdrawn by the federal government. Though frankly I don’t know what 600,000 people would do with all that real estate…

We climbed up to #47 a few years ago. In your face, Vermont! (And of course Wyoming.)

Alaskans involved in the drive for statehood would like to think it was their initiative that did the trick, not the federal government’s desire to cement its presence in strategic territories. Specifically, Delegate Ernest Gruening felt he needed the help of 2 Senators to accomplish anything in Congress – like getting federal aid for roads, public health, and other infrastructure.

Without knowing the details, I imagine this is the root of the D.C. Statehood movement: locals want to shake off the sovereignty of Congress by having home-rule and three voting members.

At times, Congress has imposed a minimum head-count which a terrority must have in order to be considered for statehood, although I do not know if any such rule currently exists. In any case, Illinois was well under the rule then extant at the time of its petition for statehood, but was able to fudge the numbers enough to satisfy Congress.

Ultimately, of course, the decision to grant statehood rests in the hands of Congress as a purely political question (absent treaty considerations).

You’re right, SuaSponte: There is no constitutional population requirement for statehood; I don’t know if there’s a statutory one or not. What I meant was, Congress is unlikely to grant statehood, including two Senators and a Representative, to some territory with only a few thousand people. Right now, the population of the least-populous state is not too far off from that of an average Congressional district–the House of Representatives, if not the Senate, is supposed to be more or less representative by population. But, AFAIK it’s a political point, not a legal one.

When did those lands become federal land, and how? Was it before or after statehood? What was their status under Russian rule?

Using the 2000 Census Data Alaska is actually 48 but if you look at the small gap between it and North Dakota (16,000) and the rate of growth in both, it’s quite possible that you are 47 right now.

If so, how did Louisiana become a state? :smiley:

Or how Alabama continues to be one, given its near-complete lack of a judicial system. But that’s another thread entirely…

There are major Russian naval facilities at Kaliningrad, the former Koenigsburg. They’re not about to hand them over to Poland or Lithuania.

Alaska and Hawaii both voted for statehood, apparently thinking it would give them more control over their own affairs. It’s debatable if that has happened, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. The Hawaiian statehood movement started pretty shortly after Sanford Dole’s coup against Queen Liliuokalani, using Texas as a precedent, but it was hampered by the Republican Senate’s distaste for adding 2 Democratic seats, and by simple racism, mostly anti-Japanese. The racism argument was eliminated by the war performance of Hawaiians, and the partisan balance argument was eliminated by the emergence of Republican-dominated Alaska. They went in almost simultaneously because of Senate balance.

True, there was greater federal intrusion during territorial days. I was referring to Alaskans who regret losing the opportunity to become a separate nation, independent of the Feds.

Yeah, population growth. :rolleyes: Or else yours truly just forgot how to count.:stuck_out_tongue:

Funny how the first officials elected (U.S. Senators, U.S. Representative, and Governor) upon Alaska’s statehood were all Democrats. So either you’re full of it, or else history proves once again to be nothing short of ironic.

Also, Hawaii was a Republican state at the time. Yet, in presidential elections, Alaska voted Democratic once and Hawaii has only gone Republican twice. It’s ironic realignment.

No one seems to mind the arrangement per se, but how that arrangement is accommodated is another matter. When Poland and Lithuania become members of the EU, Russians may not be able to travel visa-free between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia.