1956 Wilcox to Dulles

Letter to John Foster Dulles, from Francis O. Wilcox. 17 July, 1956 Possible Procedure and Arguments for Cessation of Reporting on Alaska and Hawaii to the United Nations “If you disapprove our recommendation that we should continue to report to the United Nations on Alaska and Hawaii, and decide that we should cease transmitting information, the following procedure and arguments might be used to explain such a decision to the United Nations….” The above is a short excerpt of a document that was sent to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in 1956. It was written by Francis O. Wilcox, who was at the time Asst. Secretary of State, director of International Operations in the U.S. State Department. What this letter is responding to is a demand by Senator Knowland (R.CA.) that he made in Congress to have the United States stop reporting on Hawaii and Alaska. Officially, Francis Wilcox is preparing Dulles’ response to Sen. Knowland and advising him on the options as to how Hawaii and Alaska can be removed from the list of the United Nations Non-Self-Governing-Territories list. In a nut shell, the correpondance describes ways in which Congress can decide to admit Hawaii as a state to begin the process of Hawaii’s removal from the NSGT list of UN Chapter XI, Article 73e. If Congress should vote against Hawaii’s statehood, then Hawaii would have to remain on the list. If Congress votes for Hawaii’s statehood and the UN General Assembly votes in favor of its “cessation of reporting” then a resolution is passed granting removal from the list. What is unusual though, and part of the controversy, is that in order for Hawaii to be removed from the list, there is a process that needs to occur, and part of that process is an informed and educated vote, which clearly did not occur. In fact the opposite was true. There was no government attempt of informing or educating the voters of their options. Whether this was a convenient and predetermined oversight by the State of Hawaii, the Dept. of the Interior, or the State Department, is up for discussion. I have not come across any hard evidence implicating the Territory of Hawaii of knowingly deceiving the public in this process of educating the public, in fact if anything, it seems that the government of the Territory of Hawaii saw the reporting to the United Nations as “a lot of hokum,” as Territorial Governor Oren Long writes in a memo to the Territorial LRB on May 7, 1952. However, one has to question why in 1959, Territorial Governor Quinn proclaimed that the Statehood Plebisite should take place during the general election, a time which would traditionally reflect both low voter turnout as well as a time when one could disguise and undermine the process. Neither public education nor oversight of the UN process for removal from the UN list of NSGT occured. How many eligible voters, registered or unregistered knew about this process previous to 1959? Very few, although ILWU leadership knew about this, but that is another story that will be addressed elsewhere. From 1947-1960, the UN Sec. General along with the Specialized Agencies like UNESCO, International Labor Organization, World Health Organization, etc.., had been reviewing information received from Hawaii. Hawaii however, did not send information directly to the United Nations. The State Department requested information, often through the Department of the Interior who instructed the Territorial Government of Hawaii to fulfill. The Territorial Government would comply and the Dept. of the Interior would send it back to the State Department– or if instructed send directly to the State Department– who would then give it to the USUN ambassador, or give it directly to the office of the UN Sec-Gen, who would share it with Specialized Agencies. Recommendations would be recorded and further shared with the General Assembly. Now this might seem like “a lot of hokum” upon first reading, but imagine a similar process occuring and leading to the independence of nearly 60 countries from 1949 -1970. It’s also important to consider that the United States ratified the UN Charter, and that the treaty between the US and the UN was constiutionally binding (Article XI of US Consitution). No amount of fist pounding by dissenting senators could change or alter this relationship without majority congressional support. Many Senators opposed this treaty because they felt, as a few continue to feel, that Congress should be able to enact laws that are plenipotentiary over treaties. This new relationship with the UN Charter gave the State Department and the Administration greater power over international affairs and redefined the relationship between Congress and U.S. territories. This conflict led to the creation of the Bricker amendment, which Senator Knowland also supported and helped to introduce. The Bricker amendment failed to amend Article XI of the Constitution, but if continues to get reintroduced in Congress.]]>

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