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Destiny's Landfall

A History of Guam, Revised Edition

Robert F. Rogers

Publication Year: 2011

This revised edition of the standard 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.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. vii

Maps and Tables

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pp. viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiii

This book is intended for the general reader and for students of the history, politics, and governments of the Pacific region. The method followed is one of linear narrative history beginning with the initial written records of Guam by members of the 1521 Magellan expedition who were the first Europeans to make contact with the island. An underlying assumption is that actual history does not change, but...

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PROLOGUE. Guam: Center of the First Province

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pp. 1-5

Guam became the first inhabited island in the Pacific Ocean known to Europeans when Ferdinand Magellan, sailing under the flag of Spain, stepped ashore there in the year 1521. Magellan’s fateful landfall not only opened the Pacific to European exploration, it also led to foreign domination of every traditional island society throughout that immense...

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CHAPTER 1. Aliens: 1521–1638

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pp. 6-21

On Wednesday, March 6, 1521, as the sun began to rise over the western Pacific Ocean, a tired and hungry seaman on the dawn watch of Magellan’s flagship Trinidad saw a silent blue shore materialize out of the dark haze on the northwestern horizon off the ship’s starboard bow. It appeared to be a high island. Then a smaller dark bump loomed...

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CHAPTER 2. The Place of Before Time Ancestors: 1638–1662

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pp. 22-37

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...

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CHAPTER 3. Father San Vitores: 1662–1672

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pp. 38-53

On a sunlit day in May 1662, the Spanish ship San Dami

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CHAPTER 4. The Spanish Conquest: 1672–1698

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pp. 54-68

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...

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CHAPTER 5. Oasis in the Ocean: 1698–1800

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pp. 69-83

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 was gobernador político-militar, wherein he combined all civil and military responsibilities in direct authoritarian rule. He issued orders by edicts (bandos) and also...

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CHAPTER 6. Twilight of Pax Hispanica: 1800–1898

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pp. 84-101

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 resigna-...

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CHAPTER 7. The Anglo-Saxon Way: 1898–1903

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pp. 102-119

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 and mostly Republican party leaders in the United States. Men...

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CHAPTER 8. Ordered Tranquility: 1903–1918

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pp. 120-134

From February 6, 1903, until December 10, 1941, Seaton Schroeder was followed by over two dozen 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...

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CHAPTER 9. The Quest for Identity: 1918–1941

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pp. 135-151

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 Gil-...

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CHAPTER 10. The Way of the Samurai: 1941–1944

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pp. 152-169

Dawn on Monday, December 8, 1941, on Guam, over 2,300 miles west of the international dateline, came four hours after the sunrise on Sunday, December 7, 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...

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CHAPTER 11. Return of the Americans: 1944–1945

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pp. 170-189

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 at Asan. The second ma-...

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CHAPTER 12. Gibraltar of the American Lake: 1945–1950

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pp. 190-220

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 for Hawai‘i in late August 1945, leaving Major General Larsen still island commander. As of August 31, 1945, the...

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CHAPTER 13. Under the Organic Act: 1950–1970

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pp. 206-225

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 in Hawai‘i. After the act, the island...

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CHAPTER 14. Ocean Chrysalis: 1970–1980

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pp. 226-242

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. Guam was thus internally self-governing to a large degree but still fell short of United Nations criteria of full self-government. Because the people of the island did not vote on either...

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CHAPTER 15. Unfinished Quests: 1980–1990

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pp. 243-264

For many Chamorros, the decade of the 1980s started off with the happy possibility of obtaining monetary redress in court for the massive acquisition of their properties by the U.S military 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...

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CHAPTER 16. Recession: 1990–2003

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pp. 265-285

After the shock of Ricky Bordallo’s death, the 1990s on Guam started off with considerable optimism. The economy was booming with tourists flocking in from Japan. The U.S. military presence rose in 1991 in support of another distant war, this time against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq for invading Kuwait. Japan’s ebullient economy (called Japan Inc. in the...

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EPILOGUE. Guam: A Neocolonial Anachronism

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pp. 286-288

Guam is not a “basket case” MIRAB stereotype (MIRAB applies to small islands dependent on migration, remittances, aid, and bureaucracy) as are many other partially decolonized Pacific islands, but it is close. What keeps Guam afloat is substantial tourism despite recession as well as military and other federal U.S. funding to a degree not available...


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pp. 289-292


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pp. 293-295


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pp. 297-349


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pp. 351-356


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pp. 357-382


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pp. 383-391

E-ISBN-13: 9780824860974
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824833343

Publication Year: 2011