Bayonets in ParadiseMartial Law in Hawai'i during World War II

Bayonets in ParadiseMartial Law in Hawai'i during World War II

Harry N. Scheiber and Jane L. Scheiber

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780824852887

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press


Bayonets in Paradise recounts the extraordinary story of how the army imposed rigid and absolute control on the total population of Hawaii during World War II. Declared immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack, martial law was all-inclusive, bringing under army rule every aspect of the Territory of Hawaiʻi's laws and governmental institutions. The result was a protracted crisis in civil liberties, as the army subjected more than 400,000 civilians—citizens and alien residents alike—to sweeping, intrusive social and economic regulations and to enforcement of army orders in provost courts with no semblance of due process. Army rule in Hawai`i lasted until late 1944—making it the longest period in which an American civilian population has ever been governed under martial law. The army brass invoked the imperatives of security and “military necessity” to perpetuate its regime of censorship, curfews, forced work assignments, and arbitrary “justice” in the military courts. The authors provide a rich analysis of the legal challenges to martial law that culminated in Duncan v. Kahanamoku, a remarkable case in which the U.S. Supreme Court finally heard argument on the martial law regime—and ruled in 1946 that provost court justice and the military’s usurpation of the civilian government had been illegal. Based largely on archival sources, this comprehensive, authoritative study places the long-neglected and largely unknown history of martial law in Hawaiʻi in the larger context of America's ongoing struggle between the defense of constitutional liberties and the exercise of emergency powers.