By ANDREW GLASS, POLITICO | 6/15/10 Link to discussion>>>POLITICO
On this day in 1898, the House approved Senate Joint Resolution 55 providing for the annexation of Hawaii as a U.S. territory. At the time, Hawaii was an independent republic. The vote was 209-91.
The Republic of Hawaii had been declared on July 4, 1894, under the presidency of Sanford Dole, a native speaker born in Hawaii into a family of Protestant missionaries from Maine. Dole, a cousin of the pineapple magnate, advocated the Americanization of Hawaiian society and culture, while pressing for annexation of the Pacific island chain.
An alliance of anti-imperialist Republicans and Democrats in the House — including Speaker Thomas Reed (R-Maine) — opposed the annexation treaty negotiated under President William McKinley. For nearly a month, Reed blocked the resolution from coming up for debate.
The resolution was largely the handiwork of Rep. Francis Newlands (D-Nev.). Proponents of annexation eventually prevailed by sponsoring a joint resolution, which needed simple majority approval, rather than a vote on McKinley’s treaty, which would have required a two-thirds Senate majority.
Earlier in the year, the Senate had rejected the proposal after being presented with a petition signed by 38,000 Hawaiians.
Eventually, overwhelming sentiment in the House in favor of annexation forced Reed to relent — though he voted against it.
The Senate approved the measure on July 4, 1898; McKinley signed it on July 7. In August, a ceremony on the steps of the former royal palace in Honolulu marked the impending transfer of sovereignty.
Hawaii officially became a U.S. territory on April 23, 1900. Robert William Wilcox, who had sought to restore the Hawaiian monarchy through several unsuccessful rebellions, served as its first delegate.
In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state.
SOURCE: HISTORIAN, CLERK OF THE U.S. HOUSE