The Citizens of Hawai‘i
On June 14, 1900, people gathered around ‘Iolani Palace, now the Capitol. People of different nationalities lived in Hawai‘i—Hawaiians, Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Filipinos, and others. The newspaper that day said, “The Republic is dead! Long live the Territory—until Statehood!” This was the hope of that day for some, but not for most Native Hawaiians.
The Organic Act of 1900 set up the laws for the new Territory. The U.S. president chose Dole as governor and also chose Hawai‘i Supreme Court justices and other judges. The only requirement to be a citizen of Hawai‘i was to live in the islands for one year. The Organic Act stated there were to be two houses, a Senate with fifteen members and a House of Representatives with thirty members, to be elected by citizens of the Territory. This new legislature could pass laws and control island affairs. The U.S. Congress kept the right to approve or disapprove of any Territory laws made, although it never did disapprove of any.
All the citizens of Hawai‘i became territorial citizens of the United States. Wives and children of male citizens were also made citizens. Chinese and Japanese people who had not been born in Hawai‘i were not allowed to become territorial citizens at that time because of U.S. immigration laws and laws that prohibited Asians, in general, from becoming American citizens (a series of Asian Exclusion Acts). Under the new territorial government, the people of Hawai‘i could not vote for President and Vice-President of the United States. They could send one delegate (or representative) to the U.S. Congress, but the person had no vote. Elected in 1901 as a republican, Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole served as the delegate from the Territory of Hawai‘i to the United States Congress for almost twenty years. He worked for many years on programs and laws to help Native Hawaiians, such as the Native Hawaiian homestead program. Kūhiō was able to get the Hawaiian Homestead Act passed in 1921. Moloka‘i was the first island to have the program, but it failed due to the lack of water on Moloka‘i.