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The Guam Organic Act of 1950, (48 U.S.C. § 1421 et seq.) is a United States federal law that redesignated the island of Guam as an unincorporated territory of the United States, established executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and transferred federal jurisdiction from the United States Navy to the Department of the Interior. For the first time in over three hundred years of foreign colonization, the people of Guam had some measure of self-governance, however limited.
The Organic Act (as it became known on Guam) provided for:
Guam was later granted a non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Guam delegate is an official part of Congress, and can serve on committees, but cannot vote on legislation. See: Delegate (United States Congress)
The first bill providing for an Organic Act and U.S. citizenship was introduced on July 15, 1946, by U.S. Representative Robert A. Grant of Indiana in the form of H.R. 7044. This provided that Guam is accorded the semi-autonomous status of an Organized territory, with the privilege of sending a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, however, was never even reported out of committee, as was the fate of all the bills introduced during the 79th United States Congress.
The issue of local authority came to a head in February 1949, when Abe Goldstein, a civil service employee of the U.S. Navy, was subpoenaed by the Guam Assembly. Goldstein allegedly was one of a number of people in violation of a prohibition against Americans owning local businesses. Goldstein and others were accused of using Guamanian "front men" to finance the local businesses. Goldstein, however, refused to testify, having received unofficial support from Naval Governor Charles Alan Pownall (1949–1953). Pownall had vetoed the power of the Guam Assembly to subpoena Americans in October 1948.
When Goldstein refused to testify, the Guam Assembly declared him guilty of contempt and issued a warrant for his arrest. Governor Pownall then intervened and halted execution of the warrant by the Guam Police Department. Angered and frustrated by what they saw as a lack of respect and authority, the Guam Assembly walked out en masse on March 6, 1949. Governor Pownall ordered them to return, but when the assemblymen refused, he dismissed them.
This dramatic encounter received international attention and widespread publicity (through the help of Assemblyman Carlos P. Taitano) that generated a great deal of support for self-government and U.S. citizenship for the people of Guam. Though the Assemblymen were later reinstated by Governor Pownall, U.S. citizenship and some form of self-government had already become a foregone conclusion.
To pacify the island until the U.S. Congress could pass an Organic Act, U.S. President Harry S. Truman, issued Executive Order No. 10077 on September 7, 1949, which stipulated that:
In accordance with this order, Carlton Skinner, a public relations officer in the Department of Interior, was selected by Interior, nominated by the Navy, and then appointed by President Truman to serve as Guam's first civilian Governor. He took the oath of office on September 17, 1949.
On October 3, 1949, the House Public Lands Committee reported that H.R. 4499, containing provisions that later became known as the Organic Act of Guam, would be enacted. Guam, as an unincorporated territory, was also granted, among other things, some leeway in establishing its judicial branch.
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The history of Guam involves phases including the early arrival of Austronesian people known today as the Chamorros around 2000 BC, the development of "pre-contact" society, Spanish colonization in the 17th century and the present American rule of the island since the 1898 Spanish–American War. Guam's history of colonialism is the longest among the Pacific islands.
The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, is an insular area and commonwealth of the United States consisting of 14 islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. The CNMI includes the 14 northernmost islands in the Mariana Archipelago; the southernmost island, Guam, is a separate U.S. territory. The CNMI and Guam are the westernmost territories of the United States.
Politics of the United States Virgin Islands takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic dependency, whereby the Governor is the head of the local government, and of a multi-party system. United States Virgin Islands are an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs of the United States Department of the Interior. Executive power is exercised by the local government of the Virgin Islands. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories and several island possessions. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the president and the federal courts, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of Congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court.
Madeleine Mary Zeien Bordallo is a Guamanian politician, who served as the Delegate from the United States territory of Guam to the United States House of Representatives.
Antonio Borja Won Pat was a Guamanian politician and member of the Democratic Party of Guam. He served the first Delegate from Guam to the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 1985.
An insular area of the United States is a U.S. territory that is not one of the 50 states and is not a Federal district. Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution grants to the United States Congress the responsibility of overseeing these territories. There are 14 U.S. Territories as of 2018: three in the Caribbean Sea and 11 in the Pacific Ocean. These territories are classified by whether they are incorporated and whether they have an organized territorial government established by the U.S. Congress through an organic act. All territories but one are unincorporated, and all but four are considered to be unorganized. Five U.S. territories have a permanent, nonmilitary population. Each of them has a civilian government, a constitution, and enjoys some degree of local political autonomy.
Territories of the United States are sub-national administrative divisions overseen by the United States government. The various U.S. territories differ from the U.S. states and Native American tribes in that they are not sovereign entities. They are classified by incorporation and whether they have an "organized" government through an organic act passed by Congress. All U.S. territories are part of the United States, but the unincorporated territories are not considered to be integral parts of the United States, and the Constitution of the United States applies only partially in those territories.
The Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) is a unit of the United States Department of the Interior that oversees federal administration of several United States insular areas. It is the successor to the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department, which administered certain territories from 1902 to 1939, and the Office of Territorial Affairs in the Interior Department, which was responsible for certain territories from the 1930s to the 1990s. The word "insular" comes from the Latin word insula ("island").
The Governor of Puerto Rico is the executive of the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as its head of state and head of government and, by its nature, constitutes the executive branch of the government of the island. The governor is also the commander-in-chief of the Puerto Rico National Guard.
Non-voting members of the United States House of Representatives are representatives of their territory in the House of Representatives, who do not have a right to vote on proposed legislation in the full House but nevertheless have floor privileges and are able to participate in certain other House functions. Non-voting members may vote in a House committee of which they are a member and introduce legislation. There are currently six non-voting members: a delegate representing the District of Columbia, a resident commissioner representing Puerto Rico, and one delegate for each of the other four permanently inhabited US territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. A seventh delegate, representing the Cherokee Nation, has been formally proposed but not yet seated, while an eighth, representing the Choctaw Nation, is named in a treaty but has neither been proposed nor seated. As with voting members, non-voting delegates are elected every two years, and the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico is elected every four years.
The Jones–Shafroth Act —also known as the Jones Act of Puerto Rico, Jones Law of Puerto Rico, or as the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act of 1917— was an Act of the United States Congress, signed by President Woodrow Wilson on March 2, 1917. The act superseded the Foraker Act and granted U.S. citizenship to anyone born in Puerto Rico on or after April 11, 1899. It also created the Senate of Puerto Rico, established a bill of rights, and authorized the election of a Resident Commissioner to a four-year term. The act also exempted Puerto Rican bonds from federal, state, and local taxes regardless of where the bond holder resides.
The Legislature of Guam is the law-making body for the United States territory of Guam. The unicameral legislative branch consists of fifteen senators, each serving for a two-year term. All members of the legislature are elected at-large with the island under one whole district. After the enactment of the Guam Organic Act in 1950, the First Guam Legislature was elected composing of 21 elected members. Today, the current fifteen-member 35th Guam Legislature was elected in November 2018.
The Legislature of the Virgin Islands is the territorial legislature of the United States Virgin Islands. The legislative branch of the unincorporated U.S. territory is unicameral, with a single house consisting of 15 senators, elected to two-year terms without term limits. The legislature meets in Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas.
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), P.L. 99-410, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973ff–1973ff-6, 39 U.S.C. § 3406, 18 U.S.C. §§ 608–609, is a United States federal law dealing with elections and voting rights for United States citizens residing overseas. The act requires that all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands allow certain U.S. citizens to register to vote and to vote by absentee ballot in federal elections. The act is Public Law 99-410 and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on August 28, 1986.
The Government of Guam (GovGuam) is a presidential representative democratic system, whereby the President is the head of state and the Governor is head of government, and of a multi-party system. Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States with policy relations between Guam and the US under the jurisdiction of the Office of Insular Affairs.
Charles Alan Pownall was a Vice admiral in the United States Navy and Governor of Guam. He was the third military Governor and first naval Governor of Guam following the United States recapture of the island from the Japanese. After conflict with the Guam Congress in 1948, Pownall replaced many Congressmen with his own appointments, whom the Guamanians refused to recognize. The ensuing protest persuaded President Truman to transfer control of the island away from the Navy. As a consequence, Charles Pownall was the last military governor of Guam.
Voting rights of citizens in Guam differ from those of United States citizens in each of the fifty states. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Guam is entitled to a delegate, who is not allowed to vote on the floor of the House, but can vote on procedural matters and in House committees. Citizens of Guam may not vote in general elections for President.
The Elective Governor Acts of 1968 are a pair of acts passed by the 90th United States Congress in 1968, which provide for the Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Governor of Guam to be popularly elected, rather than appointed as they had been up to that point. The two acts are individually titled the Virgin Islands Elective Governor Act and the Guam Elective Governor Act. The impetus for the acts came from extensive lobbying efforts by both Guamanians and Virgin Islanders. The Guam Legislature, led by Speaker Antonio Borja Won Pat, had begun lobbying Congress for popular elections in 1962. In the Virgin Islands, the act stemmed from the recommendations of the territory's first Constitutional Convention in 1964–5, which included the popular election of the governor. The acts were seen as a breakthrough for political reform both in Guam and the Virgin Islands. The Guam act was controversial, however, for authorizing federal auditing of the territory's accounts by the Interior Department—a practice that remained in place as of 1995.