1976 13¢ Hawaii
State Flags Issue
Issue Date: February 23, 1976
City: Washington, DC
Quantity: 8,720,100 panes of 50
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Photogravure
Issued as part of the ongoing Bicentennial celebration, the 13¢ State Flags pane was a first in U.S. history. This was the first time a pane with 50 face-different stamps was issued. Each state is represented by its official flag, with the stamps arranged on the sheet in the same order each state was admitted into the Union.
Hawaii State Flag
Hawaii’s state flag has remained virtually unchanged since its creation in 1816. At the time, Hawaii was an independent kingdom under the rule of Kamehameha the Great, who commissioned the creation of a flag. The resulting flag consisted of eight red, white, and blue stripes with the flag of Great Britain in the upper-left corner. The eight stripes represent the eight main islands of Hawaii, while the Union Jack (another name for the flag of Great Britain) symbolizes the friendship between Hawaii and Great Britain. In 1959, when Hawaii was admitted as the 50th state of the United States, the flag was officially adopted as the state flag of Hawaii.
The Bicentennial Series
The U.S. Bicentennial was a series of celebrations during the mid-1970s that commemorated the historic events leading to America’s independence from Great Britain. The official events began on April 1, 1975, when the American Freedom Train departed Delaware to begin a 21-month, 25,338-mile tour of the 48 contiguous states. For more than a year, a wave of patriotism swept the nation as elaborate firework displays lit up skies across the U.S., an international fleet of tall-mast sailing ships gathered in New York City and Boston, and Queen Elizabeth made a state visit. The celebration culminated on July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
The U.S.P.S. issued 113 commemorative stamps over a six-year period in honor of the U.S. bicentennial, beginning with the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Emblem stamp (U.S. #1432). As a group, the Bicentennial Series chronicles one of our nation’s most important chapters, and remembers the events and patriots who made the U.S. a world model for liberty.
On June 11, 1872, Hawaii celebrated its first Kamehameha Day, in honor of the king who united the Kingdom of Hawaii.
On December 22, 1871, Kamehameha V proclaimed June 11 to be Kamehameha Day in honor of his grandfather. In addition to honoring his grandfather, the holiday was meant as a replacement for Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day, which was unpopular among the king and his ministers.
The first Kamehameha Day was held on June 11, 1872. The celebrations that year and in years to come included carnivals, fairs, foot races, horse races, and bicycle races. One of the most important rituals of the celebration was first instituted in 1901 – the draping ceremony. In this ceremony, long strands of lei were draped on prominent statues of Kamehameha in Hawaii as well as at the US Capitol. When Hawaii became a US state in 1959, Kamehameha Day was one of the first holidays the governor and state legislature proclaimed.
Kamehameha Day is still celebrated today. The day includes many traditional Hawaii events, paying respect to the cultural traditions Kamehameha fought to preserve. Among the events is the King Kamehameha Hula Competition, which draws hula groups from around the world. Floral parades are also held throughout Hawaii. They include marching bands and beautifully designed floats covered in native plants and flowers. After the parade, the celebrations continue with a block party including arts and crafts, games, sports, and other events.
According to legend a great leader would be born who would reign over all the islands upon the sighting of a bright star. The date of the sighting coincides with the appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1758.
Upon his birth, Kamehameha was seen as a potential threat to warring clans. He was hidden and raised in secret until the age of five. His original name, Paiea, meaning “Soft-Shelled Crab,” was changed when he reached adulthood to Kamehameha, meaning the “Great Lonely One” or the “One Set Apart.”
Kamehameha was raised in the royal court of his uncle Kalaniʻōpuʻu. Upon his uncle’s death, Kamehameha received an important religious position, guardianship of the Hawaiian god of war, Kūkāʻilimoku, plus control of the Waipi’o Valley. His cousin succeeded his uncle and the two young men didn’t get along. Eventually, a group of chiefs from the Kona district pledged their allegiance to Kamehameha.
The island was divided between the two cousins, but they all lived in relative peace until July 1782. A dispute among some of their chiefs broke out and led to the Battle of Mokuʻōhai, during which Kamehameha’s cousin was killed. It was a major victory for Kamehameha, which gave him leadership over most of the island of Hawaii. From there, Kamehameha was determined to unite all the islands. He received aid from British and American traders, who sold him guns and ammunition.
By 1795, Kamehameha had conquered all of the main islands except Kauai and Niihau. He appointed the local chiefs as governors and proclaimed himself King Kamehameha I. The chiefs of Kauai and Niihau accepted his rule in 1810.
The first Hawaiian chief to unite the islands of Hawaii, Kamehameha was an able ruler and role model for the Hawaiian monarchy. He used chiefs as effective local rulers and preserved many of his people’s customs and religion. However, he did institute changes when necessary. Under Kamehameha’s rule, trade increased greatly. He built a huge fortune for Hawaii through a government monopoly on the sandalwood trade and port duties on visiting ships. Throughout the period of discovery by whites, Kamehameha did not succumb to foreign rule or colonization. In fact, he often employed white men, or haoles.
Kamehameha is believed to have died on May 8, 1819 (though it could have been May 14). Following tradition, his friends hid his body. The Hawaiians believed a person’s mana, or power, was sacred, so their body needed to be buried in secret to protect their power. His final resting place is still unknown today.
Kamehameha had between 21 and 30 wives and a total of 35 children. The children born to his highest-ranking wife, Keōpūolani, would succeed the throne. His family led the kingdom until 1872. After a series of governments, Hawaii became a territory of the United States in 1900. Though his family no longer reigns in Hawaii, King Kamehameha is a revered figure in the state’s history.