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Hawaii Organic Act: Congressional debates on Hawaii Organic Act

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April 4, 1900
v. 33   (4)
p. 3763-3769
Mr. FINLEY. Mr. Chairman, during the past one hundred and 
twenty-four years the United States has many times extended its 
boundaries or expanded its territory. First, the Louisiana pur-
chase, in 1803, out of which has been carved the States of Arkansas, 
Kansas. Louisiana, apart of Minnesota, a part of Mississippi, Mis-
souri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, a part of Wyoming, 
Indian Territory, and Oklahoma Territory, and these Territories, 
together with Arizona and New Mexico, will at some time be 
admitted as States; next, the Florida purchase from Spain, by 
treaty, in 1819, first organized as a Territory, and then admitted as 
a State in 1845, and by the same treaty a large scope of territory, 
out of which has been carved the States of Oregon, Idaho, and 
Washington; and third, the annexation of Texas by act of 
Congress in 1845. followed soon after by other acquisitions from 
Mexico, under treaty, out of which has been carved the States of 
California, Colorado in part, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming in part, and 
the Territories of Arizona and New Mexico in part. All of these 
acquisitions were adjoining the territory of the United States, and 
were secured from a standpoint of national necessity, or in order 
that we might be rid of dangerous or troublesome neighbors, 
living in close proximity to us.
France, when in possession of the Louisiana Territory, including 
the western bank of the river, had control of the mouth of the river, 
and this was a serious annoyance to American citizens inhabiting 
the part of the United States on the east side of the Mississippi, and 
drained by it. This being before the days of railroads, the 
Mississippi River was the great commercial highway for all the 
people living within this boundary.
The mouth of the river being in possession of the French, and 
our right of exit and entrance being secured only by treaty, 
which could be annulled by France at any time, it was a matter of 
extreme national necessity that the Louisiana territory should be 
secured in order that the citizens of the United States living in 
the eastern part of the valley of the Mississippi might have an 
unrestricted outlet for their commerce, a dangerous neighbor re-
moved, and our western border secured - a direct application, so 
to speak, enunciated years afterwards, in what is called the 
Monroe doctrine, that America should not be considered a field 
for exploitation and colonization purposes by the powers of 
In the case of Florida, held as it was by impotent and bigoted 
Spain, its proximity to the southern part of the United States 
rendered it a fertile field for breeding troubles to our Govern-
In the case of the annexation of Texas it was a matter of contract 
between two intelligent and sovereign nations, advantageous to 
In the case of the other territory secured from Mexico by treaty, it 
was but the result of a theory long held by many of our wise and 
sagacious statesmen that, by the laws of nature and geographically 
speaking, the entire area from the Atlantic on the east to the 
Pacific on the west, from the Gulf of Mexico on the south to the 
Great Lakes on the north, was intended for one great country under 
one national government.
So, in this way, expansion of our territory was brought about 
by constitutional methods, and, except in the case of Texas, which 
was admitted as a sovereign State, always with a view to organ-
izing the lands so secured into Territories with local self-govern-
ment, and, eventually, to the admission of these Territories into 
the Union as sovereign States.
This wise and statesmanlike policy has been carried out to 
such an extent that to-day there are only four Territories, Ari-
zona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Indian Territory, within the 
bounds Of the above acquisitions.
In 1867 we purchased from Russia Alaska. This purchase, I 
believe, was not so much because the territory was valuable at 
the time, or that it was considered that it would ever be of any 
great use for purposes of emigration and settlement, or from a 
commercial standpoint, but because, the Russian Government being 
in the humor to sell, it was thought advisable for the United 
States to purchase, rather than at some time this territory should 
fall into the hands of Great Britain, it being held then, as it had 
long been held, that it would be unwise on our part, from a na-
tional standpoint, to permit England to secure any further acqui-
sition of territory in North America.
Mr. Chairman, in all this those in charge of governing and 
shaping the national policies of the United States were wise and 
sagacious: the territory acquired being in all instances, practi-
cally speaking, an unsettled wilderness and needing only the hand of 
an intelligent, industrious, and liberty-loving American citizen to be 
applied in order that it might become an important and valuable 
part of our great Republic.
National security from external dangers, the perpetuation of 
our republican form of government, the welfare, prosperity, and 
happiness of the people of the United States, made it necessary 
that these acquisitions of territory should be made. This was 
expansion in its best and truest sense.
Prior to the war with Spain no territory was acquired by the 
United States outside of North America, nor was any of this ac-

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