By far the most important new economic development in Hawaii during the first decades of the 20th century was the growth of the pineapple industry. Pineapples had been grown on the islands since early in the 19th century, but only on a small scale. Then, in the early years of the 20th century, the development of efficient canning operations enabled pineapple production to expand rapidly. Sugar output also grew, due to expanded acreage and higher crop yields per acre. Between 1900 and 1940 the territory’s population nearly tripled, from 154,001 to 422,770, largely due to immigration. During the first decade of the century, Japanese laborers constituted the bulk of the immigrants, followed later by Filipino workers, and some Koreans, Puerto Ricans, Spanish, and Portuguese.
About 110,000 Filipinos were brought to the islands; most returned home or went to the mainland when their contracts expired, but a sizable number settled permanently in Hawaii. Attempts to attract American settlers to the islands met with little success. However, a small group of white mainlanders did come as managers and skilled workers, and beginning in the 1930s, the expansion of U.S. military facilities in Hawaii, particularly at Pearl Harbor, brought many U.S. soldiers and sailors to the islands, especially Oahu.
Power in the territory of Hawaii was concentrated in the hands of the owners of five major companies heavily invested in sugar, known as the Big Five. Hawaii remained largely a plantation society, with only a small middle class, one effective political party (Republican), and sharply limited opportunities for non-whites.
Still, many Chinese and Japanese people, and especially their children, became professionals and owners of small businesses. The public schools taught the values of opportunity and freedom, and citizens of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino descent born in the territory developed a strong loyalty to the United States and its system of democracy. They voted with enthusiasm, and at the outbreak of World War II in 1939, some held elective office. Ethnic Hawaiians and many part-Hawaiians, the products of extensive intermarriage, also played a large role in the political system, often running for state legislative office or representing the territory in Congress. But there was always a large undercurrent of resentment against the white and other immigrant newcomers for the great losses felt by the Hawaiian people. Distrust and conflict existed also between the newer immigrant-ethnic groups. World War II would bring even greater tension. "Hawaii" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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