Tools for Educators - Timeline
1875 - Treaty of Reciprocity: Under pressure from white planters, the Hawaiian government trades access to Pearl Harbor for duty-free access to the American sugar market. The way is cleared for rapid growth of Hawaii's sugar industry.
1885 - With sugar cultivation spreading rapidly, planters invest in the massive migration of workers from Japan to Hawaii.
1893 - Supported by American diplomats and American troops, American-descended citizens of Hawai'i take over the nation of Hawai'i.
1898 - American government annexes Hawai'i on a wave of jingoistic fervor accompanying the Spanish American War; America becomes a pan-Pacific power.
1909 - Japanese workers stage first major sugar strike
1920 - Japanese workers stage second major strike, triggering anti-Japanese allegations of the "Japanization" of Hawai'i
1924 - Congress passes Japanese Exclusion Act, causing major crisis in U.S. - Japan relations
1920's - Hawaiian-Japanese Civic Association forms as a leadership group of early-born Nisei (second generation) persons of Japanese ancestry. It provides leadership opportunities and the beginnings of a voice for many who will exert leadership in the 1930s and 1940's.
1934 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) visits Hawaii, seemingly oblivious to overtures from the Japanese-ancestry community.
1936 - FDR receives reports of people in Hawaii socializing with visiting Japanese naval ships. FDR orders lists made of all such persons as the first to be put into "concentration camps" (his words) in the event of war.
1936 - Led by the Navy, the military in Hawaii begins systematically gathering intelligence on the Japanese community in Hawaii.
1939 - An inter-ethnic Council of Inter-Racial Unity forms, begins discussions on how to get Hawaii's people through a US-Japan war, particularly the nearly 40% of Japanese ancestry. Prominent figures include the educator Shigeo Yoshida and YMCA executive Hung Wai Ching.
Aug 1939 - FBI Agent Robert Shivers, a close associate of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, reopens the Honolulu FBI office, mainly to further investigate the probable loyalty of the Japanese-ancestry community in the event of war. At home, he is influenced by a student boarder, Shizue Kobotake. At work, he is influenced by an esteemed community figure, Charles Hemenway, and by Harvard-educated attorney Masaji Marumoto. Shivers becomes a participant in the Council for Inter-Racial Unity, along with other intelligence officers.
Summer 1941 - A group of Nisei step forward as volunteer police. Police Lt. John A. Burns is assigned to work with them and is deployed to support Shivers' investigations. Together Shivers and Burns emerge as two of the most effective advocates of the trustworthiness of Japanese Americans.
7-Dec-41 - The crisis of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i becomes manifest
1942 - Japanese American support network resists mass internment; nisei 100th Battalion is sent to training
1943 - Anti-Japanese movement is thwarted; events in Hawai'i lead new national policy of including AJA in U.S. military; 442nd RCT formed
1944 - With the lifting of martial law, Japanese community meetings are held repeatedly across the islands, aimed at creating a democratic, multi-racial community after the war is over
1944-45 - Japanese American fighting units are widely acclaimed for their bravery in battle. They return to Hawaii as heroes with a resolve to reform society.
1948 - Japanese Americans, now courted by both major political parties, accelerate their involvement in the Democratic Party. They are recruited by John Burns, who has left his secure job to organize Democrats.
1954 - Led by Nisei veterans, the Democratic Party takes over the Hawaii Territorial Legislature
1956 - Burns elected Territorial delegate to Congress, a nonvoting advocacy position.
1959 - In concert with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson and House Speaker Sam Rayburn, and with the support of Republican President Dwight David Eisenhower, Burns wins adoption of statehood for Hawaii.