Letter to the Secretary of the Interior on the Transfer of the Pacific Islands to Civilian Administration.
[Released May 18, 1949. Dated May 14, 1949]
My dear Mr. Secretary:
I have today informed the Director of the Bureau of the Budget that the drafts of organic legislation for Guam and American Samoa, prepared by the Department of the Interior, have my approval. The Department of the Interior will have the responsibility of presenting the measures to the Congress. I have asked the Secretary of the Navy to assist you and I enclose a copy of my letter to him.
I indicated in my letter of February 1948, to the Secretaries of State, Army, Navy and the Interior, that it was my intention, upon approval of organic acts for the Pacific Islands, to designate the Department of the Interior as the civilian agency with general supervision over civil administration of these islands. While I state again that such a designation would be without prejudice to future consideration based upon further study of long-range plans for administration of United States territories and possessions, it is my desire that realistic planning be undertaken immediately to effectuate orderly transfer of the aforementioned islands from naval to civilian administration. Accordingly, I request that you take the lead, in cooperation with the Secretary of the Navy, in developing a specific time schedule within which the desired transfers may be effected, regardless of the status of pending legislation. Preferably, under such a schedule, the Island of Guam should be transferred to civilian administration within the next year, and American Samoa and the Trust Territories within the next two to three years. Plans devised under these time arrangements can then be integrated with whatever legislative proposals are ultimately enacted.
I further request that you advise me by September 1, 1949, of the plans recommended under the aforementioned procedure.
It is the announced aim of this Government to accord civil government and a full measure of civil rights to the inhabitants of its Pacific territories. The accomplishment of this objective will be furthered by the transfer of these territories to civilian administration and the enactment of organic legislation at the earliest practicable date.
A copy of this letter is being sent to the Secretary of the Navy.
HARRY S. TRUMAN
[The Honorable, The Secretary of the Interior.]
Note: The following Executive orders were signed by the President in connection with the transfer of the islands: Executive Order 10077, September 7, 1949, "Transfer of the Administration of the Island of Guam from the Secretary of the Navy to the Secretary of the Interior" (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 279); Executive Order 10137, June 30, 1950, "Amending Executive Order No. 10077 of September 7, 1949" (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 320); and Executive Order 10264, June 29, 1951, "Transfer of the Administration of American Samoa from the Secretary of the Navy to the Secretary of the Interior" (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 765).
Harry S. Truman, Letter to the Secretary of the Interior on the Transfer of the Pacific Islands to Civilian Administration. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229411