by Keokani Kipona Marciel, MS
Pelekikena, Hui Aloha ʻĀina o Las Vegas
On July 7th, 1898, following two failed attempts to ratify an annexation treaty, U.S. Congress enacted the Newlands Resolution, a joint resolution claiming to annex the Hawaiian territory, which it defines in 6 words, “the Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies.”
On April 30th, 1900, U.S. Congress enacted the so-called “Hawaiian Organic Act,” which defines the Hawaiian territory as the islands allegedly acquired by the Newlands Resolution.
On March 18th, 1959, U.S. Congress enacted the alleged statehood admission act, which defines the Hawaiian territory as the islands inherited from the Hawaiian Organic Act.
On June 27th, 1959, 35% of “eligible” voters chose American statehood admission for Hawaiʻi through a false plebiscite that excluded independence options. The ballot used for the statehood question defines the Hawaiian territory as that allegedly acquired by the American act for statehood admission.
Notwithstanding the inability of a congressional enactment to unilaterally annex a foreign country, each act in the above series of U.S. domestic laws refers back to the Newlands Resolution to define the Hawaiian territory. However, defining the territory in just six words, without specifying which of the 137 Hawaiian Islands would be included, and without describing boundaries in terms of metes and bounds, latitude and longitude, is a conspicuous historical anomaly contrary to customary practice. To demonstrate, it is instructive to look at the most recent territories annexed by the United States before and after the Newlands Resolution.
In 1867, the United States annexed Alaska through a treaty of cession with Russia. The defined territory was inherited from the 1825 treaty of cession between Russia and Great Britain, as follows.
Commencing from the southernmost point of the island called Prince of Wales Island, which point lies in the parallel of 54 degrees 40 minutes north latitude, and between the 131st and the 133d degree of west longitude, (meridian of Greenwich,) the said line shall ascend to the north along the channel called Portland channel, as far as the point of the continent where it strikes the 56th degree of north latitude; from this last-mentioned point, the line of demarcation shall follow the summit of the mountains situated parallel to the coast as far as the point of intersection of the 141st degreee of west longitude, (of the same meridian;) and finally, from the said point of intersection, the said meridian line of the 141st degree, in its prolongation as far as the Frozen ocean.
Five months after the Newlands Resolution, the United States acquired Guam, Philippines and Puerto Rico through a treaty of cession with Spain. The treaty defines the territory of the Philippines as follows.
A line running from west to east along or near the twentieth parallel of north latitude, and through the middle of the navigable channel of Bachi, from the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) to the one hundred and twenty-seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence along the one hundred and twenty seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4° 45']) north latitude, thence along the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4° 45') north latitude to its intersection with the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119° 35') east of Greenwich, thence along the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119° 35') east of Greenwich to the parallel of latitude seven degrees and forty minutes (7° 40') north, thence along the parallel of latitude of seven degrees and forty minutes (7 [degree symbol] 40') north to its intersection with the one hundred and sixteenth (116th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence by a direct line to the intersection of the tenth (10th) degree parallel of north latitude with the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, and thence along the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the point of beginning.
The only official means by which the United States has ever claimed Hawaiian sovereignty is by unilateral declaration through a congressional joint resolution that it enacted in 1898, called the Newlands Resolution. However, there is no evidence in the U.S. Constitution, nor is there any evidence in American history, that the enumerated congressional power to admit states can be used to annex a foreign country unilaterally. Customary international law also does not support unilateral annexation by enactment of domestic legislation in lieu of a treaty.
Defining the territory of an archipelago in just six words, without listing the islands by name, and without describing geographical boundaries, is contrary to both U.S. history and customary international law. For example, 467 words are used to define the territory of Alaska in 1825 and 1867; and 233 words are used to define the territory of the Philippines in 1898—the same year as the infamous Newlands Resolution. Sandwiched in time between those two annexations is the alleged annexation of Hawaiʻi by joint resolution, following the two historical failures, in 1893 and 1897, to lawfully and constitutionally annex Hawaiʻi by treaty. Only one of the 90 U.S. Senators in 1898 maintained that this was possible.
The evidence examined in this investigation does not support the claim that the Hawaiian Islands were annexed by the United States through a congressional joint resolution in 1898. In the absence of annexation, the inescapable conclusion is that Hawaiʻi today remains under a prolonged illegal occupation by the United States. This began on June 14th, 1900, when the United States seized full governmental control over the Hawaiian Islands, making it the longest occupation in modern history.
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