War in the Pacific
Administrative History
NPS Logo

Chapter 2:


The meeting of two cultures is inevitably profound for both. In the case of the Chamorro-European meeting, a way of life that had existed on the island began rapid changes caused by the European's overpowering force coupled with the religious and cultural presumptions that typified colonialization. And, as with most of the western hemisphere, European diseases dramatically reduced the indigenous population to the point where not only individuals died, but the collective memory of entire generations were lost. This chapter focuses on that dramatic and sometimes volatile cultural mixing.

In the spring of 1521, the resourceful Portuguese captain, Ferdinand Magellan, skillfully navigated his Spanish flotilla of three ships–the Trinidad, the Concepcion, and the Vittoria–through the dangerous straits that now bear his name, then northwest into the "unknown" expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Once he was north of the equator and in the channel of the northeast trade winds, Magellan turned his vessels west into longitudes beyond any previously known to Europeans. By March 5, 1521, after sailing for over three months from South America, Magellan's crew (comprised of Spaniards, Basques, Italians, Portuguese, French, Greek, and English) was hungry, sick, and dying from lack of fresh water, semi-starvation, and scurvy. Swept further west along the fourteen-degree north latitude by the prevailing spring trade winds from the northeast, on March 6, a weary seaman, perched in the sixty-foot-high crows nest on Magellan's flagship Trinidad, sighted a bluish lump emerging on the horizon to the northwest, off the ship's starboard bow.

"lTierra! ltierra!," shouted the sailor to the crew on the deck below. Several hours later, Magellan guided his flotilla around the northern tip of the large island sighted, cruised in a southwesterly direction in deep water outside low reefs, and into one of the enclaves, or bays. By late afternoon on March 6, Magellan's flotilla anchored, most likely in the large and calm Tumon Bay or Agana Bay. The next morning, March 7, 1521, the first Europeans stepped ashore on a beach along Guam's northwest coast. Magellan remained three days on Guam before continuing on toward the Philippines. [12] Although Magellan was killed one month later on Mactan, his chief pilot, Sebastian del Cano, continued on from the Philippines and arrived back in Seville, Spain, on September 8, 1522, with 31 of the original 237 men and one of the three ships, the Vittoria, thus completing the first recorded voyage around the earth. [13]

European Contact

For many years, historians have debated the location of Magellan's landing. The Chamorro had no written language to record the event (or not record the event, which would be equally persuasive). Therefore, the historian cannot consult any contemporaneous written record made by the residents of the time. There is also no Chamorro oral tradition reporting the event. To complicate matters further, a written narrative of the voyage simply reports making landfall at latitude 12 degrees north, longitude 146 degrees east, without identifying the location with any more specificity. And, since the minutes and seconds are omitted from the coordinates, the landing could have occurred anywhere within 360 square miles. (One minute of latitude equals one nautical mile.) Furthermore, the maritime world had not yet developed the chronometer, so one could only guess the longitude. [14]

Contradictions in the narrative reports of Magellan's two eyewitness scribes, voyage chronicler Antonio Pigafetta and the voyage's flag pilot Francisco Albo, have even made some people question whether Magellan landed on some other island in the Mariannas and not on Guam. In the late 1980s, Robert F. Rogers and Dirk Ballendorf re-examined the accounts of Pigafetta and Albo and, after carefully considering other islands as possible landing sites (such as Rota, Aguijan, Tinian, and Saipan), concluded that none other than Guam was Magellan's most logical landfall. The authors' nautical re-enactment sailing around Guam's northern-most point, Ritidian Point, also convinced them that Magellan could not have landed at Umatac Bay as supposed for hundreds of years, but most likely came ashore in one of the six calm enclaves on the twenty-mile stretch of coastline between Ritidian Point and Orote Point to the southwest. In addition to fresh water, coconuts, and Chamorro villages that were present in these bays, Tumon Bay offered the best anchorage of them all. Rogers and Ballendorf concluded that: "the written evidence, the geography, and logic combine to make it almost certain that Ferdinand Magellan dropped anchor on March 6, 1521, along the sheltered northwest coast of Guam, perhaps at Tumon Bay." [15]

Following Magellan's landfall on Guam, outsiders made only sporadic contact with the island and its residents over the next 150 years. During the 1500s, most of the ships that sailed near or anchored off the coast of Guam came from Spain. When Emperor Charles V sent a fleet of seven ships from Spain, carrying charts of Magellan's route four years after Magellan reached Guam, the primary goals were to trade for spices in the five small Spice Islands of the Moluccas and, if possible, establish Spanish authority there. Although the captain of this fleet, Don Garacia Jofre de Loiasa, died in the mid-Pacific, Toribio Alonso de Salzar captained the ships through Micronesia. The deceased Loaysa's flagship, the Santa Maria de la Victoria, reached Guam on September 4, 1526. Unlike Magellan's flotilla, the Victoria approached the unprotected eastern windward side of the island, where the crew eventually was able to anchor their ship in one of the small inlets known as Pago, Ylig, and Talofofo, where they stayed until September 10. [16]

In 1526, Charles V of Spain sent a third expedition across the Pacific, this time from the west coast of New Spain (Mexico), over which he had claimed dominion and had begun building ships at Zacatula, Mexico. Avaro de Saavedra Cerón commanded a flotilla of three ships, built at Zaacatula, which left the nearby harbor of Zihuatanejo on All Souls Day in 1527. Saavedra, sailing the Florida, sighted the eastern windward side of Guam on December 29, 1527. Unable to anchor in the deep turbulent waters, Saavedra took on provisions from Chamorro, who paddled out to them in proas [17] before continuing on to Mindanao and the Spice Islands.

In 1529, Spanish King Charles V signed the Treaty of Zaragoza with Portugal's King John III. This treaty divided dominion of the world in half between Spain and Portugal. Spain agreed to give up all claims to the Spice Islands to Portugal, while in exchange it gained European imperial authority over the Philippines and the Micronesian islands, including Guam. Despite this treaty, no Spanish ships stopped at Guam for nearly forty years. Not until 1664, did Spain send a contingent of four ships, under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, from Spain to the Mariana Islands with orders to select sites for future Spanish colonization. On January 21, 1565, Legazpi's San Lucas approached Guam from the southeast. After the sun set, Legazpi sailed around Guam's southwestern tip. The next day, he anchored his two larger ships just outside Umatac Bay. Legazpi remained there several days, went ashore and celebrated a mass, and formally declared Guam and the other Mariannas as the possession of Philip II of Spain. Accounts of Legazpi's expedition used precursors of the name "Guam" to refer to this island, for the first time. Previously, Guam had been called "Islas de los Ladrones" (Island of Thieves). [18]

Following Legazpi's visit, Guam became a regular provisioning place for Spanish galleons engaged in trading and transporting valuable goods across the central Pacific, west from Acapulco, New Spain to Manila, Philippines. These galleons, which carried silver from New Spain to the Philippines and Chinese goods (such as silk and porcelain) from Manila back to New Spain, made their yearly passage westward often to the north of Guam, between Guam and Rota. Often ships did not anchor, just furled their sails near one of the two islands while they took on food and water from the Chamorros who paddled out to the ships in their proas. Only Pedro Fernandez de Quirós is known to have touched Guam in 1596. During this period of trade between Acapulco and Manila, in the era of European empire building, Guam and the other Mariannas were small specks in what seemed to be a gigantic Spanish lake–the central Pacific Ocean.

By the late 1500s, however, Spain was not the only European country that sailed ships with alien visitors to the Marianna Islands and Guam's shores. After gaining independence form Spain in 1570, the Dutch began to challenge Spain for trade goods in the Pacific Ocean by the early 1600s. The first Dutch ships in the central Pacific came in 1600 from South America. The Dutch flotilla of four ships, under the command of Oliver van der Noort, spent September 15 and 16, 1600 at Guam, bartering iron nails for provisions with the Chamorros. In January 1616, Joris Silbergen along with other Dutch visitors stopped at Guam for three days. In January and February 1625, the Dutch "Nassau Fleet," comprised of eleven ships with 1,200 men, stopped for seventeen days at Umatac Bay. The Dutch bought eighty-pound bales of rice from the Chamorros.

For decades, Spanish galleons from Acapulco continued to anchor off the coasts of Guam or Rota or at Umatac Bay on their annual trading voyage to the Philippines. The Spaniards usually remained on their galleons when they paused briefly in the Mariana Islands. Occasional shipwrecks and on-shore visits of Europeans did have some environmental consequences; rats, chickens, cats, dogs, and even flies and mosquitoes arrived on Guam. [19] However, the traditional way of life of the Chamorro underwent relatively minor gradual changes during the one hundred years after Miguel Lopez's visit to Umatac Bay in 1565.

Even initial missionary efforts appeared to have minimal impact on the indigenous peoples of the Mariana Islands. Early missionary efforts on the Mariana Islands had been short-lived and limited to Rota. Friar Antonio de los Angeles, a member of the Franciscan Discalced order of friars, had undertaken the first missionary efforts in the Marianas. In 1596, Father Antonio, on his way to the Philippines with twenty-two other Franciscans on the San Pablo, left the ship while it anchored, probably off Rota, and introduced Catholicism to the Chamorro during his one-year stay in the Marianas. He left for the Philippines in a Spanish galleon the following year. In 1602, Spanish Franciscan friars Juan Pobre de Zamora and Pedro de Talavera had performed missionary activities on Rota for seven months, before being retrieved by a Manila galleon in October that year. No Spanish mission or military settlement was founded in the Mariana Islands, between 1560s and the 1660s. [20]

During this time, Guam and its residents unknowingly became part of the immense empire of New Spain, ruled by the Viceroy of Mexico, extending from North America's Mississippi River to Manila, Philippines, and from Yucatan, Mexico, in the south to Nootka Sound on the west coast of present-day British Columbia, in the north. The life of the Chamorro residents began to change when foreign visitors took up residence on Guam supplanting the spiritual beliefs of the indigenous people with Christianity and introducing social and cultural norms alien to the Chamorro.

Foreign Occupation Begins

The actual colonization and missionary efforts by Spanish soldiers and priests on Guam began almost 150 years after Magellan's 1521 visit with the arrival of Father Diego Luis de San Vitores. On June 15, 1668, Father San Vitores and five other Jesuits, along with a complement of Spanish soldiers, arrived at Guam on the San Diego, which had left Acapulco, Mexico, three months earlier. The next day, the forty-year-old San Vitroes, with his black cassock flapping in the offshore breezes against his lanky frame, stepped ashore near the village of Hagatna (first called "Agania" or "Agadna" by the Spaniards). The Chamorros reportedly celebrated his arrival on shore with much dancing. Rams, sheep, a bull and cow, and parrots were unloaded from the ship along with quantities of supplies. The next day, the San Diego weighed its anchor and headed west toward the Philippines, leaving the small group of around fifty men on their own for a year until the next galleon would arrive. [21]

Father San Vitores's entourage immediately set to work pursuing its dual purpose of establishing a Catholic mission and spreading Spanish secular authority. Even before the San Diego sailed from Guam, Father San Vitores conducted his first Catholic mass on the beach near small Chamorro huts in the vicinity of east Hagatna. Here, San Vitores preached his first sermon in Chamorro (having studied the language for years before arriving in the Marianas), "converted" about 1,500 adults (to be baptized later), and baptized around twenty children. The very first Christian baptism on Guam was reportedly performed on a two-year-old baby, christened "Mariana." Not long after this baptism, Father San Vitores renamed the archipelago known as "Islas de los Ladrones" to "Las Islas Marianas" (Mariana Islands) in honor of Mariana of Austria, queen regent of Spain between 1665 and 1677, who financially supported San Vitores's missionary efforts. [22]

Following this initial missionary work, Father San Vitores vigorously began other missionizing and colonizing work in the Marianas. Father San Vitores directed the construction of a church structure of palmaria wood as well as a priest's house at the mission in Hagatna. The small wooden church, named the "Dulce Nobre de Maria," was formally dedicated on February 2, 1669. The apparent initial enthusiasm of the Chamorros for Christianity encouraged Father San Vitores to send his staff out from Hagatna to other parts of the Marianas. One priest traveled to several small villages around Guam; another went to Rota; and two others sailed to Tinian and, later, to Saipan.

During the first several weeks, all went well for the missionaries and the Spanish soldiers as they went about their work. Relations between Chamorro residents and the foreigners appeared relatively amiable. Difficulties began to arise, however, when cultural differences clashed. Chamorro nobles in Hagatna, who believed that baptism was a prestigious activity and should be restricted to only the upper social classes in Chamorro society clashed with San Vitore's insistence on equality of treatment in his practice of Catholicism. The Chamorros and Catholic visitors also disagreed about who should have access to knowledge about the new imported religion. Furthermore, Father San Vitores apparently had no understanding of the Chamorros' deification of carved idols and ancestor skulls, and initiated their destruction, over the vehement objections of the Chamorros. San Vitores also pressed converted Chamorros to cover their naked bodies with palm skirts and cotton shirts, unfamiliar and uncomfortable to the islanders. Finally, the Chamorro began to suspect that the water used by the priests in baptisms might be poisonous, since many newborn infants died soon after baptism. The Chamorros did not realize that Christian doctrine encouraged the baptism of infants who appeared to be near death and the elderly, and became convinced that San Vitores and his priests had come to the Marianas to take the lives of the children. [23]

Only six weeks after the Jesuits arrived, the Chamorros who had become increasingly agitated over the actions of the Spanish visitors expressed hostility toward the newcomers. In August 1668, one Jesuit priest (Father Luís de Medina) was wounded in the face on Guam. That month, the Chamorros killed a Spanish soldier and his servant, when in a proa near Tinian. In July 1669, the Chamorros held Father San Vitores prisoner during a visit to Saipan, threatening to execute him. Although San Vitores was released, the Chamorros soon afterward accused his traveling companion, Lorenzo, of being a child killer and killed him. By the time San Vitores returned to Guam in November 1869, he realized that he and his priests could not rely on the goodwill of the Chamorros for protection.

Clash of Cultures: Spanish-Chamorro Wars, 1670-1697

In late 1669, only a year and a half after the arrival of Father San Vitores and his complement of Jesuits and soldiers, the priest organized a military force composed of a band of priests and soldiers known as the "Esuadrón Mariano" (Maranas Squadron) in an effort to impose his will on the Chamorros and defend the Christian faith. Father San Vitores wrote soon afterward that the Chamorros' "infraction of the Law of God or of the good customs that we taught them, would not go unpunished." [24] San Vitores ordered the squadron to Tinian to settle a dispute between warring Chamorro villages. The Marianas Squadron engaged in its first armed clash in what became known as the "Spanish-Chamorro Wars," a period of thirty years characterized by sporadic fighting between the Spanish visitors and the Chamorro residents. [25]

Outbreaks of violence over the next three years left feelings of bitter resentment and revenge in its wake that led to more fighting and death. In late January 1670, Chamorro warriors on Saipan attacked and killed two Catholic missionaries. Two Chamorro warriors were killed by Spanish soldiers on Tinian in March 1670. A year later, a group of Chamorros killed Father San Vitores's young Mexican servant, prompting the outbreak of fighting between a clan of Chamorros and the Spanish soldiers in Hagatna, where, by then, the mission church and residence had been converted into a crude fort. In September 1671, about 2,000 Chamorro warriors attacked the mission fort and nearly overwhelmed the missionaries and soldiers inside when a mammoth typhoon smashed into Guam and destroyed all the Chamorro houses and everything at the Spanish mission except the encircling stockade. The battle resumed several days later, ending in the death of many Chamorros and a promise from the living to obediently attend Catholic mass every Sunday. Momentarily, with increased power to expand his authority, Father San Vitores, in early 1672, ordered the construction of several new churches on Guam–at Pagat and Nisihan in the east, in the villages of Merizo in the south, and at Pigpug near Talofofo Bay in the southeast. Seeking revenge, a Chamorro leader orchestrated the murder of one of Vitores's catechist [26] in late March 1672. Five other Spanish foreigners were also killed in late March 1672.

Father San Vitores's death came only a few days later. On his return trip from Nisihan to Hagatna, he and one of his catechist paused at a village on Tumon Bay. Against the wishes of the headman of the village, San Vitores baptized a newborn infant in the village. Soon, the Chamorro leader and a companion killed San Vitores's catechist with a lance. When the Spanish priest came from the house of the baptism, he, too, was attacked and killed. San Vitores's death marked the end of the first era in the foreign occupation of Guam. As a result of the priest's martyrdom, the authority of the Spanish military expanded and the clash of cultures intensified. [27]

Father San Vitores
Figure 2-1. The martyrdom of Father San Vitores, the Jesuit founder of the Roman Catholic mission on Guam in 1668. He was killed on April 2, 1672 in Tumon. Francisco Garcia, Istoria della converwione alla nostra Santa Fede dell'Isole Mariane, Naples, 1686, plate XV, reprinted in Robert F. Rogers, Destiny's Landfall: A History of Guam, Honolulu: University of Hawaii.

Following Father San Vitores's death, the so-called "Spanish-Chamorro Wars" continued for the next quarter century as Spaniards used unrelenting force to control the Chamorros. Although not all Guam residents opposed the foreigners, the Spanish soldiers on Guam performed acts of violence indiscriminately against the Chamorro as a group. When the Spaniards caught and killed one of San Vitores's murderers in May 1672, they also inadvertently shot an innocent Chamorro woman. Only days later, Spanish soldiers burned several houses and proas at a largely deserted village at Tumon Bay and along the beach at Ypao (on part of "Hospital Point" south of Tumon Bay). In retaliation, small bands of Chamorro warriors from separate communities staged hit-and-run tactics against the Spaniards, over the next several months. The Spanish soldiers constructed a large diamond-shaped presidio (military garrison) near the beach in Hagatna for protection. [28]

Over the next eight years, sporadic and sometimes vicious fighting periodically erupted in numerous locations across Guam between the Spanish foreigners and certain Chamorro clans. Every act of violence committed by the Chamorro against the Spanish missionaries and military was met with retaliation and overpowering suppression by the Spaniards. When Chamorro warriors killed missionaries or attacked the presidio in Hagatna, the Spanish soldiers raided and burned Chamorro villages. The more rebellious villagers in the north experienced devastating scorched-earth sweeps that were used increasingly by the Spaniards in the late 1670s. The Spaniards even enlisted some Chamorros to kill known "troublemakers" among them and present their heads in order to avoid harsh reprisals by Spanish soldiers. Every June, Spanish galleons arrived with more soldiers and priests, as well as munitions and supplies, which made it possible for the Spaniards to continue their suppression of the Chamorro resistance. Each retaliatory Chamorro outbreak was met with increasingly harsh punishment exacted by the Spanish military, all as part of the foreigner's policy of reduccíon –to subjugate the Chamorro people into acceptance of cultural beliefs and practices of the western world. In an effort to avoid the relentless brutality of the Spanish, many Chamorros fled their villages to hide in caves or they sailed to other islands. [29]

With the elevation of Captain Don Joseph de Quiroga to governor of the small colonial capital at Hagatna in June 1680, the Spanish subjugation of the Marianas native people entered its most brutal phase of the Spanish-Chamorro Wars. Following strict orders to end all Chamorro resistance to Catholicism and Spanish rule, Quiroga initially sent soldiers out in all directions from a hill at present-day Macheche to hunt down all recalcitrant Chamorros. The more threatening Chamorros, when captured, were executed. Some were rounded up and resettled in Christian communities on Guam. All Chamorros on the island were forced to move to one of several Spanish pueblos (main villages), centered on a Catholic church. Children were forced to attend schools in pueblos that were taught by priests. After a two-year absence from Guam, Quiroga returned in 1684 and, as commander of the Spanish troops, launched an invasion of Saipan, where, reportedly, the most resistant Chamorros lived. Quiroga's large force of soldiers using intimidating firepower quickly conquered the island, and then went on to gain control of the peoples on the far northern Marianas and to build a church on Saipan.

During Quiroga's absence from Guam, a rebellious group of Chamorros attacked the presidio at Hagatna in July 1684, killing several priests and soldiers. The Spaniards successfully repelled a second assault with the help of friendly Hineti Chamorro warriors. Less than one month later, revengeful Chamorros attacked the Spanish detachments returning from Quiroga's expedition to Saipan and massacred all seventeen soldiers who had landed on Tinian during a storm. After his return to Hagatna in late November 1684, Quiroga launched a series of raids on rebel Chamorro villages, suppressing all resistance or driving recalcitrant and frightened Chamorros to neighboring islands. [30]

The impact of the arrival of Spanish residents in the Mariana Islands and three decades of subsequent indoctrination by the missionaries and war with the soldiers proved irreversibly devastating for the indigenous Chamorros. Between 1668, when Father San Vitores arrived, and 1690, the native population on Guam plummeted from an estimated 12,000 to around 1,800 (including Spaniards and Filipinos). Many Chamorros had fled Guam to other neighboring islands and to The Carolinas to the south. Hundreds of Chamorros had been killed during the relentless battles, skirmishes, and burning by the Spaniards. Many old and young Chamorros also died from a combination of food shortages, stress, demoralization, disruption, and other deprivations during the three decades of warfare. Lastly, and most importantly, diseases introduced by Europeans to which the original Guam residents had no immunity, killed thousands. Perhaps microscopic organizms played a greater role in the demise of the Chamorro people and their culture than all of Spain's guns and crosses. [31]

Although precise records simply don't exist, some records of the introduction of disease can be gleaned from ships logs and extant journals. In 1688, the brigantine San Francisco arrived on Guam from Acapulco with a disease, probably influenza or smallpox, which proved deadly to an unknown number of Chamorros who had no resistance to these foreign pathogens in what is today called a "virgin soil epidemic." The next year, a Spanish galleon brought yet another disease to Guam, which killed about five percent of the island's 1,800 residents in a mere three months. Guam, by 1690, had become vastly depopulated of Chamorro; the majority of Chamorros still living resided on Rota, Tinian, and Saipan. But, these islands also finally succumbed to the ravages of foreign-born diseases when in 1693, when another virgin soil epidemic, most likely smallpox, killed Chamorros throughout the Marianas. Yet another devastating epidemic killed over 650 residents after the first Acapulco galleon of the eighteenth century brought what is thought to be influenza. The introduction of foreign pathogens to Guam was probably responsible for the death rate of Chamorros outpacing the birthrate at the beginning of the 1700s. [32]

The long years of the Spanish-Chamorro Wars came to a climactic close in 1694. Determined to put down the last remaining Chamorros living on the islands north of Guam, Don Joseph de Quioga set off from Guam with fifty soldiers in the fall of 1694. He first stopped at Rota, where he intimidated remaining rebel Chamorros and consolidated control over them. Next, Quiroga and his men traveled to Saipan, where the remaining rebellious Chamorros capitulated upon the much-feared arrival of Quiroga. Quiroga then went south to the small island of Aguijan, to which the Chamorros living on Tinian had fled when they learned of Quiroga's exploits. At Aguijan, resistant Chamorros on the hilltops attempted to beat back the Spaniards by rolling boulders down on their invaders as they climbed the steep high cliffs to the flat-topped Chamorro refuge. Finally, overwhelmed by the Spanish soldiers, some defiant Chamorros took their own lives by jumping from the cliffs, a dramatically symbolic act of defiance in this last tragic battle of the Spanish-Chamorro War, epitomizing the strident clash between Chamorro and Spanish cultures. [33]

Spain's Quiet Outpost and the Era of Fading Dominance, 1698-1898

In contrast to the eras of Father San Vitores and of Joseph de Quiroga, when Spain expended enormous human and financial resources to convert and quell the indigenous peoples on Guam and the other Marianas, the eighteenth century on Guam was a time of Spanish administrative neglect and diminishing presence. The nineteenth century witnessed the continuing decline of Spanish geopolitical influence in the region and the gradual appearance of ships from other European countries, including after 1783, the newly created United States. Foreign-born diseases, occasional devastating typhoons, and even disastrous fires sometimes had violent and dramatic effects on the Chamorros living on Guam. Yet change during the two centuries extending from 1698 to 1898 occurred less violently than it had in the previous decades.

Beneath the opaque veneer of Spanish religious and social adaptation and acculturation, a distinct sense of Chamorro identity remained and continued. During this two-hundred-year period, the population of pure-blooded Chamorros continued to decline. Indies or "Natural Indians," as they were called, fell from 3,539 people in 1710 (the first year of the official Spanish census on Guam) to 1,576 in 1742. Between 1783 and 1816, the Spanish census showed an equal number of pure-blooded Chamorros and non-Chamorros. After 1816, Indios were a dwindling minority, alongside Guam residents of mixed Chamorro, Filipino, Spanish, and mestizo (people of Spanish and Indian blood) ancestry. [34] Chamorro society changed in other respects. Indigenous Chamorro family names were replaced by Hispanicized surnames. The Chamorro clan structure also disintegrated. Simultaneously, a Spanish class structure emerged in which a small new principalia class, concentrated in the center of Hagatna, replaced the old Chamorro families. Increasingly, the traditional Chamorro matrilineal system gave way to the Spanish male primogeniture system of inheritance. Finally, Roman Catholicism became a refuge against the calamities of diseases, typhoons, and fire that periodically ravaged the island and against the unpredictability idiosyncrasies of individual Spanish rulers. Catholicism became an abiding part of the Chamorros spiritual heritage.

Even as the acculturation of the Chamorros took place, threads of the traditional, pre-contact society were carried forward into the neo-Chamorro society. Concepts of communal family ownership of land remained intact, thus countering the government and private ownership of land introduced and perpetuated by the Spaniards on Guam. Much of the indigenous Chamorro folklore and customs were perpetuated or mixed with Spanish and Filipino customs. Perhaps most importantly, the musical Chamorro language was maintained through the maternal control over the family life. Mothers raised their children to speak Chamorro at home. Through the retention of language, new-Chamorro descendents never lost their awareness of their ancestral roots and their cultural identity. [35]

Spain's gradual relinquishment of control over the Mariana Islands and its people, and Guam's changing role in the geopolitics of imperial European interests in the western Pacific greatly influenced the course of history on Guam in the 1700s and 1800s. Spain's grip on Guam and its residents began to loosen in the first half of the eighteenth century under Spanish navy officers, sometimes assigned as governors, who tended to be more liberal and lenient than army officers serving as governor of Guam. Diminishing financial subsidies from Spain to operate the government on Guam, and pay and protect government institutions, officials, and soldiers, and to provide basic services for the island's residents also reduced Spanish influence. Increasingly, Spain found itself entangled in and financially drained by wars that took place in far-flung corners of the world. The administrative oversight of all Spanish colonies throughout Latin America and the Pacific were neglected as a consequence. Geopolitical events between different warring European nations left diminutive, distant Guam with diminishing Spanish soldiers, money, and administrative control from Manila, New Spain (Mexico), and Madrid. Additionally, several corrupt Spanish governors on Guam exploited the limited resources that did exist, further impoverishing the lives of residents. By the mid-1850s, Spain had become so distracted, distressed, and economically depressed by international domestic power struggles that it ended Guam's regular financial subsidy from Manila. Guam soon plunged into a deficit that continued for the remainder of the 1800s. [36]

Spanish commerce also declined in the Pacific during the 1700s and the 1800s. As early as the 1710s, Spanish galleons leaving Acapulco with silver and supply ships failed to stop at Guam some years, causing hardships for residents who had grown accustomed to and even dependent on imported goods. In the mid-1700s, the arrival of Spanish ships continued to be sparse and sporadic. In 1765, as power among European empires shifted, Spain rerouted its ship traffic between Spain and the Philippines to the Indian Ocean and around Africa's Cap of Good Hope, leaving Guam even more commercially isolated from the Spanish empire. Finally, revolution in Latin America against Spain ended all galleon voyages across the central Pacific Ocean, when, in 1811, Mexican rebels seized a silver-laden galleon in Acapulco embarking to Guam and Manila. Spain's silver life-line across the Pacific was severed forever, after the last two Spanish galleons left Acapulco for Manila by way of Guam in 1815. [37]

As Spain's political power and economic vitality ebbed around the world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, other nations began to encroach on the Spanish lake of the central Pacific Ocean and on Guam. As early as 1685, an English privateer [38] had anchored his ship near Umatac Bay. The next year, English pirates also visited Guam, also stopping near Umatac. In March 1710, four English ships with a total of 200 crew, commanded by privateer Woodes Rogers, anchored off Umatac. English Captain John Clipperton showed up at Guam in March 1721 with one ship of privateers. Twenty years later, during the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739-1741) between Spain and England, British Commander George Anson visited Tinian in 1742 for two months in his man-of-war, Centurion. By the mid-1700s, during the Seven Years' War (1754-1763), English men-of-war ships had replaced privateers in the Pacific. At this time, non-Spanish ships outnumbered Spanish vessels, particularly British ships, in the Pacific Ocean. [39]

Other European nations also began to dispatch numerous expeditions to the Pacific in the 1700s. France, a competitor for trade in that region, sent its first ship across the Pacific to the Far East, and the ship stopped at Guam in June 1708. By 1717, seventeen French ships had crossed the Pacific and anchored at Guam. French trade with the countries around the rim of the Pacific Ocean ended abruptly, when Spain captured several French ships in 1716 and 1717. The arrival of a so-called "Crozet's Voyage," two small ships commanded by Captain Chevalier du Clesmeur, at Apra Harbor in 1772, marked the return of the French to the Marianas. [40]

European maritime expeditions of exploration into the Pacific and to Guam accelerated after the American War of Independence ended in 1783, opening up the oceans for safe travel and making money available for non-military activities. France and Great Britain, as well as Russia, now challenged Spain's claim of exclusive dominion over the Pacific. Spain attempted to reassert its presence in the Pacific by mounting its own major scientific expeditions into the Pacific, led by Alessandro Malaspina, from 1789 to 1794. Halfway through the expedition, two of Malaspina's ships anchored off Umatac. Twenty years passed before Russian and France sent their own scientific expeditions into the Pacific, soon after the costly Napoleonic Wars ended (1803-1816), involving France, England, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Germany, Russia, Sweden, and parts of Italy. In 1817, a Russian Navy brig commanded by Otto August von Kotzebue stopped at Guam for a few days. Two more Russian expeditions also went to Guam in 1818 and 1819. In 1828, Russian Ferdinand Petrovich von Lütke anchored his two ships at Apra Harbor for three weeks. [41]

During the same period, the French government likewise financed and organized scientific expeditions traveling around the world that stopped at Guam, usually Umatac Bay, for rest and recuperation. The 350-ton corvette Uranie, commanded by Louis de Freycinet, remained anchored for three months off Umatac Bay in 1819. Members of the Greycinet expedition compiled a thorough scientific and historical description of Guam and its residents. Rose Pinon de Freycinet, wife of the commander, wrote in poignant prose about the "miserable conditions of the inhabitants," no doubt suffering, in part, from the depressed economy of the Spanish government in Guam. [42] Another scientific expedition sponsored by the French government, commanded by Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville, anchored at Umatac for four weeks in May 1828. Ten years later, Dumont d'Urville returned to Guam on another circumnavigation. He, too, observed that "the island was poverty stricken. The inhabitants, ravaged by leprosy, lived in filthy huts among beautiful orange groves," Dumont d'Urville penned. [43] Dumont d'Urville's final voyage around the world from 1837 to the 1840s was one of the last scientific expeditions into the Pacific that stopped at the Mariana Islands. Beginning in the 1840s, non-Spanish traders transporting various merchandise and non-Catholic missionaries visited the Marianas. [44]

Less than twenty years after the founding of the United States in 1783, privately owned American ships began navigating across the Pacific Ocean on trading exploits. The first known American whaling ship in the Marianas, the Ann & Hope, from New England, arrived at Tinian in 1798. A year later, the American whaling ship Resource stopped at Guam for wood, water, provisions, and relaxation. In early 1802, the American bark Lydia from Boston dropped anchor in Apra Harbor on its way to Manila and Canton, China. The first officer of the Lydia, William Haswell, noted in his journal the residents "lived in neatly thatched basketwork houses about 12 feet from the ground" and described Hagatna as a pleasant town with about 500 buildings, six principal streets, and two forts–one on the hillside overlooking the town and the other at the landing place (near present-day Piti). [45] Another American ship, the Maria sailing from Boston, touched Guam in 1812. As the whaling and seal fur industries expanded in the Pacific along with the China trade, many other American merchant ships stopped at Guam for provisions–fresh produce and livestock, trepang (sea slug skins sold in China for use in soups), and pearls. [46] By the 1820s, American whaling ships often paused in the Mariana Islands. As many as sixty whaling ships a year stopped at Guam's Apra Harbor, many of which, such as the Emily Morgan sailing from New Bedford, Massachusetts, ventured from the United States and stopped at Guam many times in the mid-1800s. [47]

With the decline of whaling in the 1850s, American ships continued to visit Guam, but for far different reasons than before. United States merchant ships engaged in trade with Pacific rim countries began visiting Guam. Then, in late 1854, the first official American merchant consul to Guam, Samuel J. Masters, arrived off of Hagatna and presented himself to the Spanish governor. This visit was followed six months later by the arrival of the first American warship to Guam, the U.S.S. Vandalia, which anchored in Apra Harbor on July 6, 1855. The Vandalia's commander had come to Guam to reprimand the Spaniards for detaining survivors of the American merchant ship Sarah Moores, which had been brought to Guam after the ship ran aground in the Carolinas in late 1853. This invigorated American activity on Guam reflected shifting geopolitical conditions in the Pacific. As Spain's dominance on the former "Spanish Lake" in the central Pacific Ocean continued to diminish, the United States took a new interest in the Pacific after California became a U.S. territory, and the discovery of gold there brought thousands of immigrants to the West Coast from around the world. By the 1890s, dozens of American merchant ships, engaged in trading a wide assortment of commodities between both U.S. coasts and China, the Philippines, and Japan, sailed across the Pacific Ocean. Guam, by then, had become a central coaling station for trade in the region as well as an increasingly important naval crossroads. [48]

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 08-May-2005