After nearly a decade of political wrangling, Hawai'i became the fiftieth state in 1959. While scholars have appropriately examined the sectional, racist, and isolationist reasons that statehood took so long, the arguments of statehood proponents have been largely overlooked. This article examines statehood advocates' strategies to keep statehood a live issue, especially equating statehood with U.S. foreign policy objectives of decolonization and the battle for the "hearts and minds" of the world. Advocates deployed the dual discourses of race and internationalism to present a Hawai'i that was both integral to U.S. interests abroad and key in projecting a positive American image to the rest of the world. They portrayed Hawai'i as a bridge to Asia and a shining example of American ideals: a cultural battleground in the ideological Cold War.

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