5th Marianas History Conference Day 1 - 3

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The Dawn of America’s Pacific Empire

The Capture of Guam on June 21, 1898

By Anthony Camacho, Esq.

University of Guam

Abstract: America’s capture of Guam on June 21, 1898 during the SpanishAmerican War was a cross-cultural contact that profoundly influenced four important political developments in the Western Pacific region during and after the war. First, America’s need for a coaling station to project its military forces across the Pacific resulted in the capture of Guam and Spain’s most humiliating territorial loss during the war. Second, Guam was one of the American victories that encouraged the McKinley Administration to alter its foreign policy from nonannexation to the annexation of Spanish Pacific territories occupied by American forces during the war. Third, Juan Marina, the last Spanish Governor of the Marianas Islands, made a token resistance to American military forces by limiting his surrender to Guam and by not surrendering the entire Marianas Archipelago, he began their political division which exists to this day. Fourth, Guam’s capture represents the dawn of America’s Pacific Empire because it was closely followed by the US annexation of Hawaii after the passage of the Newlands Resolution on July 4, 1898, and by the US acquisition of the Philippines after the Spanish surrender of Manila to American military forces on August 13, 1898.

Preface

This work was prepared for submission to the 5th Marianas History Conference that will be held in February, 2021 and the author hopes it exemplifies and fosters the conference’s theme of “One Archipelago, Many Stories. Navigating 500 Years of Cross-Cultural Contact.” The author originally started this work when he was a history graduate student at the University of Missouri, Columbia, in 1989, and had the benefit of the vast archives, collections, and works of that university’s great library. Completing this work in its present form was an interesting project for the author. Despite the passage of thirty-two years, the author’s recent amendments to the work concerned its form instead of its content or its conclusions. The author is also indebted to the Micronesian Area Research Center of the University of Guam, which promptly provided electronic copies of portions of its Spanish Documents Collection and Manuscripts that greatly assisted the author in completing this work in its present form.

The Dawn of America’s Pacific Empire

The Capture of Guam on June 21, 1898

One of the most significant cross-cultural contacts the Marianas Islands experienced during the nineteenth century was the U.S. capture of Guam on June 21, 1898. This event shaped the