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Ingram M. Stainback

Name Ingram M. Stainback
Born May 12 1863
Died April 12 1961
Birth Location Somerville, Tennessee

Lawyer, judge, and Hawai'i's ninth governor, Ingram M. Stainback (1883–1961) fought against martial law during World War II.

Stainback was born on May 12, 1863, in Somerville, Tennessee. He graduated with honors from Princeton University and the University of Chicago where he obtained a doctor of jurisprudence law degree. He came to Hawai'i in 1912 and after two years was named territorial attorney general, serving until 1917. Stainback resigned that year to serve in World War I and following his discharge at the rank of major, he was a member of the Territorial Food Board and Public Utilities Commission. In 1922, Stainback married Cecile White of Springfield, Missouri, in California and they returned to Hawai'i where he practiced law. In June 1934, President Roosevelt named him U.S. district attorney succeeding Sanford B.D. Wood, and he held the post until September 1940 when he was appointed to the federal bench.

Between 1942 and 1951 Stainback was Governor of Hawai'i, serving longer than any other chief executive. As governor, he fought against the military to lift martial law. William Francis Quinn in a statement paying tribute to Stainback said Stainback's term as governor during World War II, "was a most difficult period of great trial for Hawaii, and as Governor he showed great courage in facing the problems which the war and post-war re-adjustment created." [1] Garner Anthony who served as territorial attorney general during World War II noted that Stainback's "insistence upon the supremacy of the civil power is sufficient to give him a lasting place in history. It required courage and statesmanship of a high order. On these large issues Governor Stainback stood firm in the face of powerful critics." [2] Despite praise for his actions during World War II, during his career as governor, Stainback also earned the lifelong enmity of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) by signing the Dock Seizure Law that the union had been fighting in every session since 1949 to have repealed. It provided for the taking over of waterfront operations by territorial authority so that ships could sail to and from Hawaiian waters and bring to the Islands urgently needed supplies. [3] He said later in a public talk that the law "prevented Communist from tying up the docks," as he took a firm stand against what he believed were Communist efforts to infiltrate Hawai'i's economy and government. [4] Thus, during Congressional hearings on Hawai'i statehood in 1950, Stainback testified that while he has been "a very hearty advocate of statehood," he nevertheless felt that "that at this time there is considerable danger to the national government if Hawaii is admitted to statehood at this time" due to the threat of communism. [5]

In 1951, President Truman appointed Stainback to serve as an associate justice of the territorial Supreme Court. Following his retirement from the bench Stainback was involved in two big stockholder battles with Olaa Sugar Co. and Pioneer Mill Co. He led the minority stockholders' fight that challenged American Factors' (Amfac) contract with Olaa Sugar Co. and was one of the major dissenters in the unsuccessful struggle to keep Pioneer Mills from merging with Amfac. After battling a chronic illness, Stainback was found dead at his home by his housekeeper.

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura , University of Hawai'i

For More Information

"He Stood Up for Hawaii," Honolulu Star-Bulletin , 13 April 1961, 6.

Hollingsworth, Louise. "Wartime Fight for Isle Civil Control To Give Stainback Niche in History." Honolulu Star-Bulletin , 12 April 1961, 12-A.

"Ingram M. Stainback," Honolulu Advertiser , 13 April 1961, B-2.

"Ingram Stainback Dies, Former Governor, Judge," Honolulu Star-Bulletin , 12 April 1961, 1, 1-A.

Scheiber, Harry N., and Jane L. Scheiber. "Bayonets in Paradise: A Half-Century Retrospect on Martial Law in Hawaii, 1941–46." University of Hawai'i Law Review 19 (1998): 477–648.

Turner, Charles. "Death Ends Stainback's Colorful Career in Hawaii." Honolulu Advertiser, 13 April 1961, A-17.


  1. Charles Turner, "Death Ends Stainback's Colorful Career in Hawaii," Honolulu Advertiser , 13 April 1961, A-17.
  2. Louise Hollingsworth, "Wartime Fight for Isle Civil Control To Give Stainback Niche in History," Honolulu Star-Bulletin , 12 April 1961, 12-A.
  3. "He Stood Up for Hawaii," Honolulu Star-Bulletin , 13 April 1961, 6.
  4. "Ingram Stainback Dies, Former Governor, Judge," Honolulu Star-Bulletin , 12 April 1961, 1-A.
  5. Turner, A-17.

Last updated June 12, 2020, 3:35 p.m..