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Destiny's Landfall

Copyright Date: 1995
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    Destiny's Landfall
    Book Description:

    This history of Guam is intended for general readers and students of the history, politics, and government of the Pacific region. Its narrative spans more than 450 years, beginning with the initial written records of Guam by members of Magellan 1521 expedition and concluding with the impact of the recent global recession on Guam’s fragile economy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6217-6
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-v)
  3. Maps and Tables (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Illustrations (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Acknowledgments (pp. ix-xii)
  6. Prologue Center of the First Province (pp. 1-4)

    Guam became the first inhabited island in the Pacific Ocean known to Europeans when Ferdinand Magellan stepped ashore there in the year 1521. Magellan’s fateful landfall not only opened the age of European exploration of the Pacific; it also led inexorably to foreign domination of every traditional island society throughout that immense third of the earth’s surface now called Oceania. During the historical transformation of the Pacific world in the centuries since Magellan, little Guam—only thirty miles long and 214 square miles in area—has played a strategic role far more significant than islands much larger, much less isolated,...

  7. 1 Aliens 1521–1638 (pp. 5-20)

    On Wednesday, 6 March 1521, as the sun began to rise over the western Pacific Ocean, a tired and hungry seaman on the dawn watch of Magellan’s flagshipTrinidadsaw a broad, bluish hump slowly materialize out of the dark haze on the northwestern horizon off the ship’s starboard bow. Then a smaller dark bump loomed above the rim of the sea just to the south of the first shape. The seaman, who was in the ship’s crow’s nest nearly sixty feet above water level, waited anxiously, staring hard to make sure that the shapes were not clouds. Convinced the...

  8. 2 The Place of Before Time Ancestors 1638–1662 (pp. 21-40)

    The islands of Palau, Yap, and the Marianas are the tips of an immense submerged mountain range along the eastern rim of the Philippine Sea. This range stretches over 1,400 miles in a great bend from Halmahera Island in the Moluccas of Indonesia northeastward to the Marianas. From the Marianas, the range turns north and disappears before reappearing above the ocean as the tiny Volcano and Bonin islands. Within this mountain range, the Marianas are high islands of comparatively recent volcanic origin in the long span of earth’s geological time. They are not located over a volcanic hot spot, as...

  9. 3 Father San Vitores 1662–1672 (pp. 41-57)

    On a sunlit day in May 1662, the Spanish shipSan Damiánfurled sails and slowed in crystal blue tropical waters as it approached a high, dark green island in the western Pacific. The island was one of the Islas de los Ladrones, as they were still called by Europeans in that period. Which specific island was not recorded, but it was most likely either Guam or Rota, where such stopovers were by then routine. The ship, a two-masted brigantine (patachein Spanish) faster and smaller than a galleon and used to carry supplies, had left Acapulco in April en...

  10. 4 The Spanish Conquest 1672–1698 (pp. 58-73)

    Guam’s history might have been quite different if Father San Vitores had been an ordinary missionary whose martyrdom would have been duly celebrated but eventually forgotten among the thousands of other martyrs in the Catholic Church’s long history. However, he was not ordinary. He was a member of the church’s most militant order and the son of a high official in the Spanish government. Furthermore, Christianity had been challenged, and the Spaniards considered it a point of honor to defend the faith. For these reasons, the Spaniards reacted with force to retrieve a failing religious effort, particularly one in which...

  11. 5 Oasis in the Ocean 1698–1800 (pp. 74-87)

    With the depopulation of the northern islands in 1698, Spanish government in the Marianas settled into a benevolent but heavy-handed despotism on the southern islands. The governor’s title wasgobernador político-militar, wherein he combined all civil and military responsibilities in direct authoritarian rule. He issued orders by edicts (bandos) and also acted as judge and chief of police. The legal system of the Marianas, like the Philippines, came under the church’s ecclesiastical law as well as the Spanish civil and criminal code of 1680 called the Law of the Indies, which had been created originally for the Spanish colonies in...

  12. 6 Twilight of Pax Hispanica 1800–1898 (pp. 88-107)

    The last century of Spanish rule in the Marianas began with minor but bad omens for the Spaniards. In 1798, Governor Muro’s wife became sick and lingered near death for a long time. The governor fell into a severe depression owing to “melancholia” over his wife’s illness, according to Spanish records, and in November 1799 sent a letter of resignation to Manila. In 1800, Governor-General Rafael María de Aguilar accepted Muro’s resignation and named as his replacement Vicente Blanco. This routine administrative event—the leisurely replacement of a worn-out governor with a new man—would be repeated twenty-six more times...

  13. 7 The Anglo-Saxon Way 1898–1903 (pp. 108-126)

    Guam had nothing to do with the causes and little to do with the conduct of the Spanish-American War. Nonetheless, the war was an epochal turning point in the history of the Mariana Islands. The American clash with Spain grew largely out of the expansionist ambitions of highly aggressive, often paranoid, and mostly Republican party leaders in the United States. Men such as the hyperenergetic Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, the ultrareactionary Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and the influential naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan wanted to make the United States a world naval power.

    Mahan, a rare example of a precise military...

  14. 8 Ordered Tranquility 1903–1918 (pp. 127-143)

    From 6 February 1903 until 10 December 1941, Seaton Schroeder was followed by over two dozen hardworking, sometimes capable, and sometimes obtuse American naval officers as governors and acting governors of Guam. These naval chief executives usually served short tours of duty, averaging only one year and five months each on Guam. Tours for American officers and enlisted men were deliberately kept short because of the unhealthy climate and poor living conditions on Guam in those days before air-conditioning. Officers received 10 percent additional salary and enlisted men 20 percent more as hardship pay for service on the island.


  15. 9 The Quest for Identity 1918–1941 (pp. 144-162)

    With the war over, the people of Guam and the American military personnel on the island hoped for a relaxation of wartime restrictions. This was not to be. Governor Smith’s replacement turned out to be a humorless autocrat. Worse, he was a racist, not just personally, but in his official capacity as chief executive of the island.

    In less than two years on Guam, Governor Gilmer issued over fifty stultifying general orders. He ordered, among other things, a halt to any whistling (Smith’s earlier order against whistling had been ignored by Chamorro boys), a halt to smoking, institution of a...

  16. 10 The Way of the Samurai 1941–1944 (pp. 163-181)

    Dawn on Monday, 8 December 1941, on Guam, over 2,300 miles west of the international dateline, came four hours after the sunrise on Sunday, 7 December, at Pearl Harbor, about 1,400 miles east of the dateline. Nearly everyone on Guam was preparing for the celebration that day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Bishop Olano described the preparations: “It was a beautiful morning. People, especially the younger men and women, thronged the door of the Cathedral to attend Solemn High Mass in honor of the Immaculate Concepcion. The Mass was to begin at eight. The Cathedral was bedecked in...

  17. 11 Return of the Americans 1944–1945 (pp. 182-203)

    The American plan for the assault on Guam in 1944 resembled the Japanese invasion of the island in 1941 but differed in sheer massiveness and in the precise beaches where landings took place. One major U.S. force—the Third Marine Division under Major General Allen H. Turnage—would land northeast of Apra Harbor, but at Asan, not at Tumon and Agana bays as did the Japanese in 1941. The second major force—the First Provisional Marine Brigade led by Brigadier General Lemuel C. Shepherd and, as a reserve, the Seventy-seventh U.S. Army Infantry (“Statue of Liberty”) Division under Major General...

  18. 12 Gibraltar of the American Lake 1945–1950 (pp. 204-223)

    After V-J Day, the rapid demobilization—called the Magic Carpet Program—of American forces drastically reduced the military presence on Guam. Admiral Nimitz and his CINCPAC staff, including Vice Admiral Hoover, departed Guam for Hawai‘i in late August 1945, leaving Vice Admiral George D. Murray as the new COMNAVMAR and Marine Major General Larsen still island commander. As of 31 August 1945, the military population on the island was an enormous 201,718, and civilians numbered 21,838, for a total of 223,556. With a density of 1,045 persons per square mile, this was the largest number of people on Guam in...

  19. 13 Under the Organic Act 1950–1970 (pp. 224-244)

    The first few years after passage of the Organic Act produced an intense but progressive governmental transformation on Guam. Prior to the act, the navy administered Guam as a military base with the island’s civil government of minor priority within the military chain of command in the Pacific under CINCPAC, who reported to the Pentagon. After the act, the island government’s responsibilities expanded to correspond approximately to those of a tiny U.S. state with direct civilian links to the Congress and the executive branch, even though in size, people, and resources Guam is equivalent (albeit with some unique differences) to...

  20. 14 Ocean Chrysalis 1970–1980 (pp. 245-264)

    The election of Carlos Camacho in 1970 was the first occasion in Guam’s postcontact history wherein the people of the island chose their own chief executive of government. Yet this positive step in Guam’s political development came at a time when much of what remained of traditional neo-Chamorro culture—the language, family ties, and retention of land—was being threatened by Americanization, by development, and by tourism. A cultural watershed was passed sometime in the late 1960s when English began to replace Chamorro as the main language in a majority of island homes.

    The American presence permeated every nook and...

  21. 15 Unfinished Quests 1980–1990 (pp. 265-290)

    For many Guamanians, the decade of the 1980s started off with the happy possibility of obtaining monetary redress in court for the massive acquisition of their property by the navy after World War II. About 600 land claims reached the courts in 1980 after the 1977 Omnibus Territories Act reopened the issue of post–World War II land condemnations by the navy. Won Pat aroused appetites enormously on the island when he estimated that retroactive compensation for land claims could be $500 million, which with interest since World War II might ultimately reach $3.5billion.

    Guamanian hopes dimmed when District...

  22. Appendix Chief Executives of Guam 1668–1990 (pp. 291-294)
  23. Abbreviations (pp. 295-298)
  24. Notes (pp. 299-342)
  25. Glossary (pp. 343-348)
  26. Bibliography (pp. 349-368)
  27. Index (pp. 369-380)
  28. Back Matter (pp. 381-381)