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We Fought the Navy and Won

We Fought the Navy and Won: Guam's Quest for Democracy

Doloris Coulter Cogan
Copyright Date: 2008
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    We Fought the Navy and Won
    Book Description:

    We Fought the Navy and Won is a carefully documented yet impassioned recollection of Guam’s struggle to liberate itself from the absolutist rule of the U.S. Navy. Doloris Cogan concentrates on five crucial years, 1945–1950, when, fresh out of journalism school, she had the good fortune to join the distinguished team of idealists at the newly formed Institute of Ethnic Affairs in Washington, D.C. Working as a writer/editor on the monthly Guam Echo under the leadership of the Institute’s director, John Collier, Cogan witnessed and recorded the battle fought at the very top between Collier and Navy Secretary James V. Forrestal as the people of Guam petitioned the U.S. Congress for civilian government under a constitution. Taken up by newspapers throughout the country, this war of words illustrated how much freedom of the press plays in achieving and sustaining true democracy. Part of the story centers around a young Chamorro named Carlos Taitano, who returned home to Guam in 1948 after serving in the U.S. Army in the Pacific. Taitano joined his colleagues in the lower house and walked out of the Guam Congress in 1949 to protest the naval governor, who had refused their right to subpoena an American businessman suspected of illegal activity. The walkout was the catalyst that brought approval of the Organic Act of Guam, which was signed into law by President Truman in 1950. We Fought the Navy and Won is the first detailed look at the events surrounding Guam’s elevation from military to civilian government.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6555-9
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. [Map]
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    This book is about the five-year struggle, between 1945 and 1950, leading up to the Organic Act of Guam. It is about the Chamorros who defied the U.S. Navy in their determination to achieve the civil rights that they correctly believed were promised them when Guam was taken from Spain in 1898. It is also about the Institute of Ethnic Affairs and John Collier, its founder, his anthropologist wife, Laura Thompson, its scholarly directors, and the small staff, who worked tirelessly in support of the Guamanians.

    This is thedetailedstory of how the Chamorros achieved United States citizenship and...

  6. Chapter 1 Welcome to Guam
    (pp. 1-30)

    “Welcome home,” he said, standing there at the end of the ramp as I descended from Pan-American’s Strato Clipper that had brought me to Guam.

    It was B. J. Bordallo, longtime leader in the Guam Congress, speaking. He, along with Simon Sanchez, superintendent of schools, and Agueda Iglesias Johnston, assistant superintendent, had come as a welcoming committee. It was late afternoon on a beautiful day early in June 1951.

    That was a moment I will never forget. Here I was, a young woman from Nebraska, then twenty-six, who had traveled alone halfway around the world to visit the far-flung Pacific...

  7. Chapter 2 The Institute of Ethnic Affairs
    (pp. 31-38)

    John Collier wrote his letter of resignation from the Department of the Interior on January 19, 1945 (see Appendix 1 for President Roosevelt’s response). He had served for twelve years as Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs—longer than any Indian commissioner before or since. He had been appointed to that post by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 at the insistence of the new secretary of the interior, Harold L. Ickes. For thirteen years before that, beginning in 1920, Collier had publicly defended the Indians’ rights to their own cultural customs. He and Mr. Ickes had become acquainted...

  8. Chapter 3 Collier and Ickes Kick Off the Battle
    (pp. 39-44)

    The man who sent Collier to London would sound the battle cry for civilian control of the Pacific islands at the first annual meeting of the Institute of Ethnic Affairs. The meeting was cosponsored by the Institute of Pacific Relations and held in Washington, D.C., on May 29, 1946.

    Harold L. Ickes had resigned as Secretary of the Interior on February 15, 1946, and become a syndicated newspaper columnist reaching millions of readers. He was Collier’s choice for main speaker, and he delivered what later became known as the opening salvo in the battle to take the governments of Guam...

  9. Chapter 4 To Be or Not to Be a Strategic Trusteeship
    (pp. 45-56)

    Less than a month after I was hired by the Institute, Collier asked me to prepare an article for theNews Letterexplaining the difference between a “strategic” and a “nonstrategic” trusteeship and why the latter was better for the islands formerly mandated to Japan. That writing assignment may have been the hardest I was ever given.

    I was told to talk to Emil Sady about trusteeship matters. Formerly a young protégé of Collier’s in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, during the war Sady had trained as a military affairs officer in the Navy. In 1946 he was a trusted...

  10. Chapter 5 The Guam Echo
    (pp. 57-68)

    So here we were, moving into January 1947, six months aft er I had joined the Institute staff. I had proved that I could get my arms around a difficult subject like a strategic versus a nonstrategic trusteeship. I could write in plain English. I could pick up the phone and ask questions of almost anyone in Washington. I could get publications out on time. All this and my general knowledge of imperialism and world government apparently qualified me for my added assignment as writer and editor of the newGuam Echo.

    The expense of printing a regular newspaper would...

  11. Chapter 6 The Fight for Civilian Government
    (pp. 69-83)

    Stopping in Hawai‘i on his way home from Shanghai, American Samoa, Kwajalein, Guam, Wake, and Japan, Interior Secretary Krug left no doubt about his personal conviction that increased self-government and civilian administration were best for the Pacific islands. In an address before the Hawaiian Legislature on February 28, 1947, he strongly supported statehood for Hawai‘i, then added: “the native populations of Guam and American Samoa have made great progress under naval administration. But now they are ready for the next step in the American tradition, which is civil political administration, responsible to the people who are governed.”¹

    Back in Washington,...

  12. Chapter 7 The Press Weighs In
    (pp. 84-96)

    Perhaps pressured by the House hearings, the Secretaries of State, War, Navy, and the Interior, on June 18, 1947, finally sent to President Truman their recommendation on how the Pacific islands should be administered. This was the answer he had requested more than twenty months before (see Appendix 10). It came the very day the House subcommittee had passed up the opportunity to report out a bill and voted instead to make a trip to the islands.

    The communication from the Secretaries recommended that legislation for Guam “be enacted at this session” of Congress, that legislation for American Samoa be...

  13. Chapter 8 The Navy versus the Guamanians
    (pp. 97-104)

    As we have seen, the Navy was relentless in its public relations attempts to maintain control of the government of the Pacific islands. In the fall of 1946, it had transported news reporters throughout the islands, expecting them to report favorably on naval administration. In the late winter of 1947 it had dispatched the Hopkins Committee to the Pacific to do what Ickes called a whitewash of conditions. Both efforts boomeranged. In May, Admiral Wright wrote “Let’s Not Civilize These Happy People” for publication in theSaturday Evening Post. During the summer, he was promoted to Deputy High Commissioner of...

  14. Chapter 9 Rehabilitation of Guam Begins
    (pp. 105-122)

    The first issue of theGuam Echoin 1948 spread the good news that on January 12 the U.S. Senate had approved a bill, S. 1675, authorizing $106,714,500 for Navy construction on Guam. That was in addition to the $92,000,000 already authorized for shore construction. When passed by the House and signed by the president, the new legislation would authorize:

    $24,000,000 for the naval base at Apra Harbor

    $30,000,000 for the naval air station

    $14,000,000 for the naval ammunition depot

    $6,750,000 for supplemental radio activity

    $4,750,000 for a permanent radio station

    $14,675,000 for a naval supply center

    $9,800,000 for a...

  15. Chapter 10 F. B. Leon Guerrero Goes to Washington
    (pp. 123-131)

    It was toward the end of August 1948 when F. B. (Frank) Leon Guerrero, member of the Guam Congress, decided just to walk in on Maurice J. Tobin, U.S. Secretary of Labor. Frank had met with the Hopkins Committee when it came to Guam the year before. Tobin was a member of that committee, and Frank felt he knew him, so without making an appointment, one day in August 1948, Frank just went to his office at 200 Constitution Avenue, Washington, D.C. Tobin was leaving to catch a plane, but he recognized Frank and stayed to talk.

    Among other things,...

  16. Chapter 11 Guam Assembly Walkout Spurs Congress
    (pp. 132-142)

    It was a short United Press dispatch printed by theWashington Postand theNew York Timeson March 5, 1949, that alerted us to what had happened.

    Guam, March 5 (UP)—The Guam Assembly walked out in protest today against what it said was an attempt by the United States Navy to curtail its legislative authority.

    The walkout occurred after the Navy government refused to permit contempt warrants to be served on a civil service employee charged with refusing to answer questions of a congressional committee. Assemblyman Carlos Taitano said the Assembly would remain in adjournment until the United...

  17. Chapter 12 Connie Barrett Goes to Washington
    (pp. 143-152)

    Concepcion (Connie) Barrett was one of the first women to own a business in Guam. She was also one of the first women elected to the Guam Assembly. In the spring of 1949, she combined a buying trip to New York City with a visit to Washington and in her own way made a difference. But before I discuss her activity on Capitol Hill, let me tell a little about what everyday life in Guam was like in those days.

    Nothing was depressing Guamanians more than the snail-like pace with which their own rehabilitation was proceeding by contrast with the...

  18. Chapter 13 Truman Decides by Decree
    (pp. 153-161)

    In a letter to the Secretary of the Interior dated May 14, 1949, and made public four days later, President Truman directed that Guam be transferred from the Navy to the Interior Department within a year regardless of the status of pending legislation, and that American Samoa and the Trust Territories be transferred within two or three years after that. Truman’s letter was the linchpin in all that the Guamanians and the Institute of Ethnic Affairs had been working for since 1945:

    I have today informed the Director of the Bureau of the Budget that the drafts of organic legislation...

  19. Chapter 14 Skinner Becomes First Civilian Governor
    (pp. 162-174)

    Named Governor of Guam by President Truman on September 3, 1949, Carlton Skinner and his family left Washington on September 14 by ship expecting to arrive in Guam and take the oath of office about September 27.

    Skinner was born in California in 1913 and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1934. Before entering the federal government in 1938 as Assistant Director of Information, Department of Labor, he had been a staff correspondent for the United Press andThe Wall Street Journal. On active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard from 1941 to 1945, Skinner received his...

  20. Chapter 15 The Organic Act Becomes Law
    (pp. 175-186)

    Early in 1950, the Crawford bill, H.R. 4499, was transformed into the Peterson bill, H.R. 7273, incorporating some of the twenty-three changes suggested by the Miles Committee. The change of sponsorship reflected the change of political party leadership brought about by the 1948 elections. Peterson (D., Fla.) introduced H.R. 7273 on February 13, 1950, and less than ten days later, on February 22, the House Public Lands Committee issued a favorable report with the recommendation that the full House pass the bill. In the interest of historical reference, here is what the committee said in its report on the bill:...

  21. Chapter 16 Mission Accomplished
    (pp. 187-190)

    As described in Chapter 1of this book, I had the pleasure of visiting Guam in June 1951 as Pacific Area Assistant in the Office of Territories, United States Department of the Interior. Beginning on January 1, 1951, I was transferred from the Office of the Secretary of the Interior to the Office of Territories, and within six months arrangements were made by my boss, Emil J. Sady, for me to accompany the U.S. Navy on an inspection trip through the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

    I flew alone via United Airlines to Hawai‘i, where I spent several days with...

  22. Appendixes
    (pp. 191-224)
  23. Map and Photo Credits
    (pp. None)
  24. Notes
    (pp. 225-234)
  25. Index
    (pp. 237-244)
  26. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-248)