25 julio 2006

Historia de una nueva entidad DXCC llamada Isla Gente Hermosa

He encontrado este interesante articulo con una breve reseña histórica de la isla Swains.
Está en inglés, pero es interesante para conocer un poco de esta isla que al parecer estará en el aire.

Muy interesante resulta conocer los distintos nombres con los que se ha conocido a la isla a lo largo de la historia, y entre ellos, como no podía ser de otra forma en aquella zona, nombre en castellano. Olosenga Island, Olohega Island, Quiros Island, Gente Hermosa Island and Jennings Island

El articulo original aquí (el articulo es propiedad del Departamento de Interior de los EE.UU.)

A Brief History
of Swains Island
in American Samoa

Note to the reader: this is not in any way whatsoever an approved, sanctioned, authorized or official document of the Policy Division, Office of Insular Affairs, United States Department of the Interior.

Location and general description

de Quiros' Island (1606-1830's)

Swains Island (1830's-1856)

Eli Hutchinson Jennings Sr., titleholder: 1856-78

Eli Hutchinson Jennings Jr., titleholder: 1878-1920

Alexander Hutchinson Jennings, titleholder: 1920-40's

Alexander E. Jennings, titleholder: floruit 1950's

Latter-day government of Swains Island: judicial, legislative, administrative

The Jennings family

LOCATION AND GENERAL DESCRIPTION

Approximately two hundred fourteen (214) miles to the north of Tutuila, the principal island of American Samoa, lies Swains Island, the territory's sixth most populated island.(1) It is situated at eleven (11) degrees, three (3) minutes, of latitude south of the equator and at one hundred seventy (170) degrees, fifty-five (55) minutes, of longitude west of Greenwich, England.

Geographically a part of Tokelau, a New Zealand territory, Swains is an atoll, oval in shape and about one and one-half miles long, although from the air it looks like a big circle of palm trees enclosing a blue lagoon. The land measures about one and one-quarter square miles. Nearly all of the land has been given over to the growing of coconut palms. All unused ground is covered with the discarded husks of coconuts, which are allowed to accumulate and to rot to add organic matter to the scanty soil.

About a mile by road on the western side of Swains appears a group of buildings known as The Residency.(2) In the center of the island the lagoon, surrounded by a ring of tree-covered land, could well be a lake deep in the forest were not the roar of the surf on the reefs outside loud enough to remind one of the presence of the Pacific Ocean. The water in the lagoon, thirty-six feet at its deepest, is brackish and useful for washing but is impotable.(3)

At the western end of Swains Island stands a small village, the Taulaga, with a grassy malae(4), about twenty Tokelauan-style, rectangular fale(5) and a copra shed, which looks like a big red New England barn. This shed serves as the island's town hall; Swains Islanders call it the iupeli.(6) The water supply is derived entirely from the copious rainfall, which is collected in gutters around the iupeli's tin roof and led into two huge mahogany tanks.(7) To sustain themselves, Swains Islanders raise coconuts. In addition, they grow bananas, taro, breadfruit and papaya. They supplement their diet with fish, which swim in abundance outside of Swains' reef.

To the iupeli's south stand the island's communications building and school.(8) The latter is an open fale with a tin roof and coral floor; it measures thirty (30) by twenty (20) feet. The schoolteacher's fale is constructed out of wood and tin, about twelve (12) by fifteen (15) feet.(9) A short distance away from the iupeli is a wooden church with seating for about sixty worshippers.(10) A road encircles the island and runs through an aisle in the palm trees, which connects the village, The Residency, the cemetery and, at least in the 1940's and 1950's, the wireless station. In the center of the cemetery stands the headstone of Eli Hutchinson Jennings Sr. (November 14, 1814-December 4, 1878).(11)

DE QUIROS' ISLAND (1606-1830's)

The first papalagi(12) to come to Swains Island was Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, who set out from Peru under orders from the viceroy of Philip III (1578-1621), King of Spain (1598-1621), and landed there on March 1, 1606. The handsome and friendly inhabitants so charmed him that he called the island la Isla de la Gente Hermosa. Archaeological findings suggest that these inhabitants were eastern Polynesians.(13)

For over two hundred years thereafter de Quiros' Island, as the western world labelled it, remained unvisited by papalagi navigators. During that period, according to legends which reflect the nomadic habits of the Tokelauans, these atoll-dwellers came over by sea from the nearest island, Fakaofu(14), slaughtered most of the men and took the then king of de Quiros' and the island's women back with them to Fakaofu. The unhappy king invoked a curse, and when the Fakaofuans returned to de Quiros' to settle, they met with drought and poor fishing and were starved out.(15)

SWAINS ISLAND (1830's-56)

At some time prior to 1840, Captain W.C. Swains of New Bedford, Massachusetts, skipper of the whaling bark George Champlan out of Newport, Rhode Island, visited the island and believed that he had come upon land with which papalagi had never had any contact. Somewhere in the Pacific, he encountered Commodore Charles Wilkes, U.S.N., commander of the United States exploring expedition which arrived in the Samoas in 1839, and Captain William H. Hudson, U.S.N., who commanded the USS Peacock of the expedition. Captain Swains told Commodore Wilkes and Captain Hudson of his belief.

In 1840 Commodore Wilkes directed Captain Hudson to look out for the island, and on January 31, 1840, Captain Hudson lay off the atoll but did not go ashore because there was no visible passage through the reef, and the sea was too rough to permit landing through the surf. Captain Hudson saw no people on the island and no evidence of human habitation except the coconut palms, which are always a sure sign of past or present Polynesian occupancy. He found that the island was not in the same location as that described by de Quiros and concluded that, in all probability, Captain Swain was correct in his claim to be the first papalagi to have come to this island.

Soon after Captain Hudson's visit, the Fakaofuans returned to the island, where they were joined by three Frenchmen, who engaged in making coconut oil. When the Frenchmen had accumulated a shipload, they sailed away and left the place to the Fakaofuans.(16)

At about this time a British subject known as "Captain Turnbull" appeared in Apia, Upolu.(17)

Captain Turnbull claimed that he had likewise been the first papalagi to have come to Swains Island. Captain Turnbull met "the ingenious Yankee", Eli Hutchinson Jennings Sr. The failure of the Samoans to pay him adequately for his masterpiece, the paddle-wheeled war vessel, Le Tuamasila, had disgruntled Mr. Jennings Sr., who wanted to leave ungrateful Samoa to strike out elsewhere. Captain Turnbull offered Mr. Jennings Sr. his title to Swains Island for unknown consideration. Mr. Jennings Sr. accepted the offer. With his Samoan wife, Mere, also spelled Maria and Malie, Mr. Jennings Sr. set out for his new home and landed there on October 13, 1856, and raised an American flag to declare his nationality.(18)

ELI HUTCHINSON JENNINGS SR.

TITLEHOLDER: 1856-78

To Mr. Jennings Sr., coming from eastern Long Island, New York, where he had been a near neighbor of Gardiners Island, not from the Hamptons, individual ownership of an insular estate seemed natural. With the aid of Fakaofuan labor, he began to produce copra and to sell it in the market in Apia. Still a shipwright and inventor at heart, he built two small schooners in the outer lagoon of Swains Island, blasted a channel through the reef, floated his vessels through on pontoons made of empty barrels and sold them in Apia to J.C. Godeffroy and Company, a firm from Hamburg, Germany.

Mr. and Mrs. Jennings Sr. had six children, Eli Hutchinson Jr., Daniel, Fipe, Mere, Leta and Eleni, and adopted a child named Samisi. At the age of fifty-four, Mr. Jennings Sr. made a will, which named Mrs. Jennings Sr. his sole beneficiary. He recorded the will with the United States consul in Apia, and in 1878 at the age of sixty-four Mr. Jennings Sr. died.(19)

During her widowhood, Mrs. Jennings Sr. continued in possession of Swains Island. The fate of three or four of her children is unknown; one presumes that these died young. However, she named the other three in her own will, which she made in 1881. These were Eli Hutchinson Jennings Jr., to whom she bequeathed the island itself, and Daniel and Mere, whom she designated heirs of her other property. As her husband had done before her, Mrs. Jennings Sr. registered her will with the United States consul in Apia.(20)

ELI HUTCHINSON JENNINGS JR.

TITLEHOLDER: 1878-1920

Having been born on Swains Island on January 1, 1863, Mr. Jennings Jr. was educated in San Francisco. He took over the management of the estate before his mother's death on October 25, 1891.(21) Ten years later, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson(22) referred to Mr. Jennings Jr. as "King Jennings" when they visited Swains Island aboard the Janet Nichol. The Stevensons found a road, a church, a schoolhouse and a copra shed and saw under construction a wooden railway from the copra shed to the head of the reef channel, down which loaded cars were to roll by gravity. Since the highest elevation of the land was about twenty feet, pushing the empty cars back uphill by hand would not entail back-breaking labor. Through her porthole on the Janet Nichol Mrs. Stevenson noted a horse and carriage.

The employees on Swains Island were Polynesians, several of whose contracts had expired but who had been unable to go home because of lack of transportation. When the Janet Nichol left Swains Island, it took a few of them along two hundred miles to the east to their native Pukapuka.(23)

Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson also saw on Swains Island a remarkable variant of the United States flag. Old Glory flew on the flag pole, but superimposed on the blue canton was a white dove. They learned that at one time a bird had come and cried over the community at night, foreboding pestilence, and the dove had been added to the flag to propitiate this omen of evil.(24)

Mr. Jennings Jr.'s proprietorship came to be challenged by two parties, the government of Edward VII (1841-1910), King of the United Kingdom (1901-1910), and Mr. Jennings Jr.'s relatives living in Apia. Exercising supreme authority over the other islands in the Tokelau chain, the United Kingdom's then subcommissioner in the Ellice and Gilbert Islands decided that Swains also belonged to his territory and visited there in 1907 to exact taxes.(25)

Under protest Mr. Jennings Jr. paid eighty (80) dollars. He claimed that he was an American and that his island belonged to the United States. When higher officials in the Government of the United Kingdom evaluated Mr. Jennings Jr.'s protest, they upheld him. They conceded his American nationality and that Swains was an American island, reprimanded the overzealous tax gatherer and returned the money to Mr. Jennings Jr.(26)

In 1906 Daniel Jennings claimed that his older brother was in unlawful possession of Swains Island. Within a few years a nice problem had arisen, which involved the Jennings family, the Samoas, the United Kingdom's Foreign Office and the United States Department of State. Since Swains Island copra earned about twenty thousand (20,000) dollars per annum for its owner, Mr. Jennings Jr.'s relatives questioned his right to this undivided property. The stake was also attractive to Captain E.F. Allen, who with William Blacklock directed the Samoa Shipping and Trading Company, which owned the ships Dawn and Rob Roy, upon which Mr. Jennings Jr. was dependent for the shipment of his crop. Captain Allen saw that it would obviously be more profitable to own the plantation than to transport its product.(27)

Captain Allen was in a strong position. He controlled the transportation, had Mr. Jennings Jr. in his debt and could incite Mr. Jennings Jr.'s relatives to action. The conflicting interests involved became aligned upon national grounds when Mr. Jennings Jr. turned to the United States for aid and his opponents to the United Kingdom.(28)

On September 29, 1913, the United States consul in Apia, Mason Mitchell, Esq., wrote to Commander C.D. Stearns USN(29) in Pago Pago that the time had come for action regarding Swains Island. As the nearest United States consul, Mr. Mitchell had the place under his protection, but this was no substitute for a method of administration, and he proposed to join Swains Island to American Samoa to define its status. Frankly interested in the taxes which Swains Island's copra would earn for his chronically poor government, Commander Stearns thought highly of Mr. Mitchell's idea and asked the Secretary of the Navy to consider the plan. This prospect evidently pleased Mr. Jennings Jr., for he wrote directly to the Department of State to urge the union and pointed out that he transacted his business in Apia and used the German courts there for the sole reason that there was a United States consul present to protect his interests.(30)

Probably spurred on by this move, the Jennings family in Apia took the offensive. James Curry of Apia, whose position in the matter is not clear, wrote Commander Stearns that his deceased cousin, J.C. Curry, had claimed that Mr. Jennings Sr.'s will had never been probated and that therefore Mr. Jennings Jr.'s title to Swains Island was open to serious question. He further called attention to Captain Allen's growing interest in the place, based upon Mr. Jennings Jr.'s indebtedness to him and to the general dissatisfaction of members of the Jennings family in Apia. Describing Captain Allen as a "South Seas character" and believing that Mr. Curry had aligned himself with the forces opposed to Mr. Jennings Jr., Commander Stearns forwarded Mr. Curry's letter to the Secretary of the Navy and commented that, as the situation was developing, Captain Allen might well be able to take control of the island himself.(31)

Over the next few months, great pressure must have been brought to bear on Mr. Jennings Jr., for in May 1914 he announced that he had changed his mind about the union of his island to American Samoa. He gave as his reason that he was dependent upon Apia for his labor. By this he probably meant the shipping which Captain Allen provided. Mr. Jennings Jr. further announced that Swains Island was a possession of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom(32).

A letter from the United States Secretary of State in which the Secretary said that he saw no objection to formal American control of the island crossed in the mail an urgent appeal from Commander Stearns, who thought that the machinations of Captain Allen were about to produce a "public scandal" on an American island and that only prompt action could spare the United States the spectacle of an American living on United States territory being forced to convey title to a British subject and to alienate the land in the bargain.

There is no record of what delayed the Jennings family in Apia and Captain Allen from the consummation of their plans. It is likely that the outbreak of the First World War(33) turned their attention to other matters. It is also likely that, having conceded the sovereignty of the United States over Swains Island, the Government of the United Kingdom had no desire in the heat of the war to aid its would-be nationals in an attack upon that sovereignty.(34)

During the new period of inactivity, there appeared another claimant to the proprietorship of Swains Island, Sarah (Mrs. W.C.) Swain. Mrs. Swain was the widow of Captain W.C. Swain, who himself had died in the belief that he had been the first papalagi to have come to Swains Island. At the age of eighty-two, Mrs. Swain asked her Member of Congress, the Honorable John M. Raker (Rep.-Calif.), to ascertain if she had any rights to Swains Island or at least some claim on the Government of the United States because of her late husband's having been purportedly the first papalagi to come to Swains Island.

Congressman Raker asked the then Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Josephus Daniels (1862-1948), to look into the matter. Secretary Daniels, in turn, gave the problem to the then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945).(35) After consulting with the Navy's Hydrographic Office, Assistant Secretary Roosevelt concluded that Swains Island and de Quiros' Island were one and the same. The discrepancy in map locations had been due to the imperfect navigational instruments which de Quiros had used in the early seventeenth century. Moreover, other shipmasters had visited de Quiros' Island more than once at or about the same as Captain Swain. Therefore, Mrs. Swain could not establish any pecuniary rights for herself.(36)

By 1917 the First World War had passed from the Pacific, and the Apia parties interested in Swains Island renewed their activities. Mr. Sale Tyrell advised his mother Mere Jennings (Mrs. A.B.) Tyrell, Mr. Jennings Jr.'s younger sister, that Captain Allen had become his fast friend. Mr. Sale Tyrell asked that his mother should on no account bring this fact to his uncle's attention. He also told his mother that she should never permit anybody to say unchallenged that Swains Island belonged to the United States.(37)

Still unable to oust Mr. Jennings Jr., some of the Apia parties resorted to the tactic of character assassination. With German Samoa now under New Zealand administration, they attempted to discredit Mr. Jennings Jr. by advising local authorities that he was unfit to continue his landlordship.(38)

Although the Government of the United Kingdom had formally recognized American authority on Swains Island, the scandalous conditions which Mr. Sale Tyrell alleged to exist there were, if true, a matter of common interest to all civilized people. The United Kingdom's ambassador in Washington, D.C., invited the attention of the United States Department of State to certain evidence which it "may very probably wish to consider". In brief, the Tyrells claimed:

(1) that Mr. Jennings Jr. and his manager and son-in-law, Irving Heatherington Carruthers, were unjust in their dealings with their Polynesian employees;

(2) that they were arbitrary and stingy;

(3) that Mr. Jennings Jr. took all of the available food for himself; and

(4) that he punished people by flogging them and tying them to trees or by putting them in stocks.(39)

Having no means to investigate, the United States Department of State referred the matter to the Secretary of the Navy, who in turn directed the Governor of American Samoa to look into the matter. The Governor ordered Lieutenant Commander L.W. Sturm, U.S.N., to make a personal survey of conditions on the island and to render a report.(40)

Commander Sturm found that there were seventy people living on Swains Island, of whom only thirty were sixteen years of age or older. Taking with him an interpreter and a stenographer to record interviews directly, he talked with nineteen men and nine women selected at random. He reported that, in general, the people were happy and enjoyed an ample diet, which included rice, bread, tea, biscuits, jams and tinned pisupo(41) as well as their local catch of fish. The alleged deprivation of food amounted to no more than the tithe of their fish which they rendered in the Polynesian manner to Mr. Jennings Jr. as their matai(42).

Mr. Jennings Jr., Commander Sturm learned, spent about four hundred (400) dollars a month in wages and benefits for his workers, cared for the sick as best he could and exempted any expectant mother from working. His books were well kept and showed that he paid each worker five (5) dollars a month in wages in addition to the worker's keep as well as a bonus upon the expiration of the worker's contract.(43)

Commander Sturm also showed that the charges of cruel and unusual punishment were so extreme as to challenge belief. First, although it was a fact that Mr. Jennings Jr. had tied three young men and three young women to trees, he had done so in accord with Polynesian custom and because the young people's parents had objected to their getting married. The three couples had attempted to elope by putting out to sea in a canoe, even though the nearest land was one hundred (100) miles away.

Next, Mr. Jennings Jr. produced for Commander Sturm the stocks which he had used to punish an exceptionally ardent man, who had annoyed Swains Island's married women. The offender admitted to Commander Sturm the justice of Mr. Jennings Jr.'s punishment and indicated his own lack of resentment by declaring that he was happy and had no desire to move away from Swains Island.

Last, there had been only one episode of flogging, when Mr. Carruthers, Mr. Jennings Jr.'s son-in-law and manager, had chastised his own nephew for raping the daughter of Swains Island's pastor. Crime on Swains Island consisted chiefly of offenses against mores, both Polynesian and papalagi, and the punishments inflicted were not unusual by Samoan or missionary standards of the era.(44)

ALEXANDER HUTCHINSON JENNINGS

TITLEHOLDER: 1920-40's

Commander Sturm's report ended this phase of the campaign against Mr. Jennings Jr., and he was left in peace until his death on October 24, 1920. His elder son, Eli Hutchinson Jennings III, having died, Mr. Jennings Jr. willed his real property to his surviving son, Alexander Hutchinson Jennings, and the residue of his estate to his daughter, Anna Eliza Jennings (Mrs. Irving Heatherington) Carruthers of Apia. Attempts to settle the estate opened the way for further litigation.(45)

Then twenty-three years of age, A.H. Jennings tried to probate his father's will in the High Court of American Samoa, but the Honorable A.M. Noble, Judge of the High Court, doubted that his court had jurisdiction and consulted the United States consul in Apia, Quincy F. Roberts, Esq. In Western Samoa Mrs. Carruthers likewise found herself without recourse to the courts of that mandated territory. Consequently, Mr. Roberts referred the matter to his superiors in the District of Columbia, and asked for a clear statement of who had jurisdiction in Swains Island.(46)

The Departments of State and the Navy considered Swains to be United States territory. The Secretary of the Navy proposed that the Honorable Warren G. Harding (1865-1923), Twenty-ninth President of the United States (1921-23), establish American authority by executive order and designate him as its administrator. The Secretary of the Navy pointed out, nevertheless, that his department was not interested in Swains Island as far as Swains' own business was concerned. The Secretary of State, however, countered that he considered the matter one for congressional rather than executive action. Again the problem lay unresolved.(47)

A.H. Jennings was thus left in an impossible position. Because his father's will could not be probated, he personally asked for a formal declaration of American jurisdiction. Circumstances compelled him to continue to operate the Swains Island plantation jointly with his sister, Mrs. Irving H. Carruthers, whose rights were as ill-defined as his own. However, it was not until March 4, 1925, that the then Secretary of State, the Honorable Charles Evan Hughes (1862-1948), succeeded in having Congress adopt legislation which formally extended United States' control to Swains Island and made it an administrative part of American Samoa, an entity which Congress had not yet recognized:(48)

The sovereignty of the United States over American Samoa is extended over Swains Island, which is made a part of American Samoa and placed under the jurisdiction of the administrative and judicial authorities of the government established therein by the United States.(49)

This act rendered the problems of the Jennings family soluble. A.H. Jennings took possession of Swains Island and turned the estate's other assets over to his sister. In keeping with South Seas custom, new flag-raising ceremonies became appropriate. In May 1925 Lieutenant Commander C.D. Edgar, U.S.N., travelled to Swains Island and formally hoisted the American flag, sixty-nine years after Eli Hutchinson Jennings Sr. had raised it.(50)

The legal battle over Swains Island and Mr. Jennings Jr.'s estate was not finally concluded until 1939, when the then Governor of American Samoa, Captain E.W. Hanson USN was able to report the end of the litigation.(51)

ALEXANDER E. JENNINGS

TITLEHOLDER: FLORUIT 1950's

In the 1950's an unexpected crisis developed on Swains Island. By then it had become the undisputed, personal property of Alexander E. Jennings. As such, coconut plantation differed from a freehold farm in the United States mainland only in that A.E. Jennings' was an island surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. A.E. Jennings hired mostly Tokelauans for workers, who in 1953 decided to claim squatters' rights on the grounds that they lived on Swains Island year round. When A.E. Jennings dismissed fifty-six workers and shipped them and their families off to Tutuila, the American Samoa Government (ASG) had to support the evicted Tokelauans until they could be repatriated.

The then Governor of American Samoa, the Honorable Richard B. Lowe, was forced to act. To prevent recurrence of such episodes, the Governor issued an executive order which acknowledged A.E. Jennings's proprietary rights and his employees' rights. Governor Lowe directed that A.E. Jennings' employees be protected by contracts approved in each case by the Governor and cancellable only with his approval. Furthermore, the Governor restricted employment on Swains to American Samoans and installed a pulenu'u(52), a leoleo(53) and an ASG representative to supervise ASG affairs and contracts.(54)

LATTER-DAY GOVERNMENT OF SWAINS ISLAND:

JUDICIAL, LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE

The territory of American Samoa provides Swains Island's government. For Swains' judiciary, the jurisdiction of the High Court of American Samoa extends to include Swains Island.(55) A delegate advocates Swains Islanders' needs in legislation before the American Samoa House of Representatives. The delegate receives one hundred twenty-five (125) dollar per diem for each day of a legislative session which he actually attends.(56)

The local government of Swains Island consists of the American Samoa Government representative, a village council, a pulenu'u and a village leoleo.(57) Swains' government and its officials have the same rights and duties and are subject to the same qualifications as their counterparts in other villages of American Samoa. The exception to this is that Swains' village council consists of all men on-island of sound mind over the age of twenty-four.(58) According to the federal decennial census in 1980, five men fell into this category.

Neither the proprietor of Swains Island nor any person whom he employs is eligible for appointment as the government representative.(59) The government representative has the duty:

(1) to act as the Governor's representative on Swains Island;

(2) to mediate between employees and their employer;

(3) to enforce the laws of the United States and of American Samoa which apply on Swains Island;

(4) to enforce village regulations;

(5) to keep the Governor advised as to the state of affairs on Swains Island, particularly as to the Swains Islanders' health, education, safety and welfare;

(6) to insure that the Swains Islanders continue to enjoy the rights, privileges and immunities accorded to them by the laws of the United States and of American Samoa; and

(7) to insure that the proprietary rights of the proprietor are respected.(60)

The government representative has the power:

(1) to make arrests,

(2) to quell breaches of the peace,

(3) to call meetings of the village council to consider special subjects and

(4) to take such actions as may be reasonably necessary to implement and render effective his duties.(61)

THE JENNINGS FAMILY

American Samoa law holds that Swains Island, which did not become a part of American Samoa until 1925, is not under the matai system. Also, it maintains that the true children of the man who held title to Swains in 1949 and those children's lineal descendants born in American Samoa have heritable blood (at least one-half native blood) with respect to Swains Island or any part of it, notwithstanding any other ASCA provision on the alienation of real property. American Samoa law does not construe an otherwise valid devise of Swains Island or any part of it to the true child of such a descendant to violate the ASCA provisions on the alienation of real property.(62)

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