The New States: Alaska and Hawaii

The New States: Alaska and Hawaii

The New States: Alaska and Hawaii

The New States: Alaska and Hawaii

Excerpt

Surely no two states in the American Union of fifty are as alike--and yet as different--as the new states, Alaska and Hawaii.

Consider the striking similarities: Both states are the latest to join the Union, having come to each other's aid in the long and agonizing quest for entry. Both are the only noncontiguous states, Alaska being separated from the mainland forty-eight by another nation (Canada), Hawaii by a vast expanse of ocean (the Pacific). Both states (even if for vastly different reasons) are considered tourist paradises and are heavily dependent upon tourism for their livelihood. Both play a key role in the nation's defense-- Alaska bulking within sight of the Soviet Union across the Bering Strait, Hawaii anchored in the Pacific as a forward staging area for America's Far Eastern defenses. Both states have advanced political systems, with up-to-date constitutions that are models of progressive good government. And in spirit, both are characterized by the same open-hearted friendliness, the same congenial attitude of tolerance and brotherhood, from which the other states might well take example.

Despite these and other similarities, however, the two states are dramatically the opposite of each other in many ways. Alaska is the largest and least densely populated. Hawaii is one of the smallest and most densely populated. Alaska's rugged, frozen wildernesses contrast sharply with Hawaii's balmy, sun-drenched tropicality. The one has an electrifying frontier history of men battling nature and the elements for gold and for land. The other embodies the romantic tale of a lush island kingdom wrapped in charm and innocence.

Together, the new states make a fascinating study in sameness, contrast and paradox. Having entered the Union less than a decade ago, how are Alaska and Hawaii faring under their new status? What advances have come with statehood? What problems? And what are their prospects for the future, now that the initial excitement of a new and coveted standing has simmered down?

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