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H.R. 13906, A Bill to extend the general land laws of the United States to the Territory of Hawaii, January 29, 1901

Delegate Robert W. Wilcox of Hawaii aimed to improve conditions for native-born Hawaiians through legislation, such as this bill he introduced to extend U.S. homesteading law to the islands. Wilcox’s lack of voting privileges and refusal to align himself with any political party complicated his legislative work. His discomfort with speaking English (his first language was Hawaiian) was another obstacle.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

H.R. 13906, A Bill to extend the general land laws of the United States to the Territory of Hawaii, January 29, 1901

Hawaii’s First Delegate to Congress

The Hawaiian Islands were an independent kingdom until American businessmen, supported by a diplomat and U.S. Marines, overthrew Queen Liliuokalani in 1893. Forming a provisional government, the victors requested annexation to the United States. After initial annexation efforts failed, Congress passed the Newlands Resolution to annex Hawaii in 1898. Congress approved an Organic Act in 1900 to give Hawaii territorial status and provide a territorial government. The Organic Act permitted Hawaii one nonvoting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Hawaii’s first delegate, Robert W. Wilcox, served from 1900 to 1903.

My great idea is to get this land system so all people––native, white, and every American citizen of this country—can have land, and not as it is now, in the hands of a few men.

Robert W. Wilcox, Hawaiian Investigation, 1902