LESS THAN 3 weeks ago, I signed a bill which provided for the popular election of the Governor of the Virgin Islands. Today, I am pleased and proud to sign a bill which will permit the people of Guam to elect their chief executive.
It is high time that the 77,000 people of Guam were accorded this basic American right. Since 1950, when the Guam Organic Act established a popularly elected local legislature, the islanders have shown their dedication to responsible and progressive self-government.
The social and economic 'progress of Guam has been no less impressive. In less than 15 years, the College of Guam has grown from a 2-year college with limited enrollment to a full-fledged university enrolling almost 2,000 students. As recently as 1964, the per capita personal income on the island was less than $1,300. This year, it will be over $2,000.
When I visited Guam in April of last year, I nominated Governor Guerrero for another 4-year term. I knew what an outstanding leader he had been. I knew he had the confidence of the people. But I told him then that I would do everything in my power to make sure that he was the last appointed Governor of Guam. So in 1970, if he still wants to be Governor, he will have to run a spirited campaign to get the job.
We have worked for this bill for a very long time. Secretary Udall has pushed for it here in Washington. The same concerned Congressmen who worked so effectively for the Virgin Islands elective Governor bill should be congratulated for this bill as well: Chairman Aspinall, Representative Saylor, and Senators Jackson, Burdick, and Church.
With this bill, democracy comes to all our territories. Now, only one place under the American flag is denied democracy's most basic right--the Nation's Capital. I hope that one day soon the American President will sign a bill granting self-government and home rule to all the citizens of the District of Columbia. Then democracy will finally be a fact in every part of the American Union.
I am particularly glad that we have with us this morning Governor Ralph Paiewonsky of the Virgin Islands. He has guided the islands with a wise and steady hand. We were unable to have a ceremony for the signing of his bill, and we wanted him to share in this one.Note: As enacted, the bill (S. 449) is Public Law 90-497 (82 Stat. 842).
We are also honored to have another distinguished American and a former Governor of Guam here with us today. I invited Bill Daniel to join us because this day belongs very much to him. He was the first Governor of Guam to recommend that the office be made elective. Maybe he was just trying to prove that he was as good a man as his brother, Governor Price Daniel--but it has worked out for the good of us all.
In the statement the President referred to, among others, Manuel F. Guerrero, Governor of Guam, Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, Representative Wayne N. Aspinall of Colorado, Chairman of the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, Representative John P. Saylor of Pennsylvania, Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington, Chairman of the Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, Senator Quentin N. Burdick of North Dakota, Senator Frank Church of Idaho, and Price Daniel, former Governor of Texas.
The bill providing for popular election of the Governor of the Virgin Islands was approved by the President on August 23, 1968 (see Item 457).