Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

by the Government of the United States; and, finally, that the importance of making this leadership effective is a matter of national

concern.

The recommendations of the commission are set forth in detail in the bill printed herewith and may be summarized as follows:

seq.

That the islands described in the said acts of Congress Section 2 et of 1925 and 1929 be not erected into an organized Territory at the present time but be given a provincial status as a body politic under the name of "American Samoa" with its own bill of rights and not the United States Constitution as its guaranty of personal liberties, and with the continuation of its present organization of government changed only in two important mattersfirst, by removing from the governor all judicial power and legislative authority except the veto and the initiation of legislation, and second, by abolishing the office of the secretary of native affairs and providing for a chief justice, independent of the governor, to perform all the judicial functions of that former office, and for an attorney general to perform the other duties thereof.

The bill of rights recommended has been phrased as near as may be in consonance with the language of the Constitution on those subjects calculated to afford protection to the individual, without doing violence to longestablished native institutions. The reasons for the recommendation regarding the changes in the power and authority of the governor are obvious. Such changes and the bill of rights would inaugurate the rule of law as distinguished from the rule by orders. Heretofore the office of the secretary of native affairs has been charged with too many duties. Its title has created the idea among the other officials of the government that he and not they have the duty of studying native problems in contact with the inhabitants. Under the changes suggested. prosecutions of important cases would be the function of the attorney general, in addition to which he would take charge of many matters under the governor and stand by to assume the duties of the governor during his absence or disability.

That, except as changed by the act, the present laws Sections 1, of Samoa, known and understood by the inhabitants, be 6, 7. continued in force until amended or repealed by the local legislative authority or by Congress. The act would repeal all laws not stated and set forth in the official "codification" and those inconsistent with the provisions of the act, and would amend certain others to bring them into conformity with the act.

That the inhabitants of American Samoa on February Section 3. 20, 1929, and their children born subsequently be made citizens of the United States. Provision is made for those natives of American Samoa residing in Hawaii or the mainland of the United States, or temporarily elsewhere, to preserve evidence of their new status.

Section 3.

The people of American Samoa freely and without reserve offered the sovereignty of their islands to the United States. This offer Congress has accepted. These people owed no allegiance to any foreign government. They were autonomous. For generations they had successfully governed themselves. They are of the same race as the Hawaiians. Their loyalty to the United States and their intense longings to have made certain their national status demand recognition.

It is believed confidently that the granting of American citizenship and the right to participate in the making of laws will do away largely with the causes which brought into existence the anti-Navy movement in Samoa called the "Mau," and that it is reasonable and proper that such participation by all elements in the population should be encouraged.

That there be created also a citizenship for American Samoa among the American citizens thereof in which there shall be no discrimination against any person of Polynesian blood on the ground that he is not of socalled full blood, a local citizenship in which residence for five years in American Samoa shall be a qualification, and concerning which the people of American Samoa may make qualifications if and when they so choose. These provisions will enable the people of American Samoa to decide for themselves many questions which now perplex and which can easily be decided unfortunately if decided prematurely; and will recognize as part of the body politic those of the mixed blood, a permanent element of the population which should be used to the advantage of the community.

That a restriction be placed on the Government of American Samoa against the making of alliances, confederations, or treaties. Treaties have been made in the past with the authorities of western Samoa by the Governor of American Samoa. These other islands of Samoa, one of which is distant from Tutuila only 80 miles, are inhabited by relatives of the residents of American Samoa, and discussions looking to treaties and alliances are not unlikely unless prohibited by Congress.

That the scheme of government for American Samoa as above summarized is calculated to bring to its inhabitants all the changes that are presently desirable, at the same time permitting a continuation of the assistance of the Navy, to enable the inhabitants to make such progress in the art of self-government as they themselves desire, under a flexible system which can develop as the changes in thought come to them; and to build up the idea, which is not now clear in their minds, of an island government separate and distinct from the Navy officials, a government in which the ambition shall be to become self-sustaining with the expenditures kept within the islands' income.

That the legislative authority of American Samoa Section 12. be reposed in the native general assembly called the "Fono," one house, meeting in November each year, of 30 delegates, selected after discussion according to native custom, 10 from each of the three ancient districts of American Samoa, together with the native district. governors, the county chiefs, and the district judges of each district. Thus, the people will be left to continue to choose their representatives as they have in the past and, when they so wish, to change the method of elections. It will be noted that certain restrictions to membership in the Fono have been recommended; all members must be citizens of American Samoa; none can sit who have had their civil rights taken from them; insane Section 33. persons are excluded. That the power of the Fono be extended to all rightful subjects of legislation but with restrictions against the granting of franchises without congressional approval; against the granting of private charters, but allowing the formation under general laws of companies for certain purposes; against the granting of divorces by the Fono in any event and by the courts, unless the applicant shall have resided in American Samoa for the one year next preceding the application; against lotteries; against the use of public moneys for private schools; against the creation of any public debt except for public defense or public improvements, and in both events with a limit of indebtedness to 10 per cent of the total assessment of property for taxation purposes and a provision that not more than 3 per cent of such indebtedness may be incurred in any one year; against the use of the public domain for credit purposes; against the issuance of any public bonds with a term in excess of 30 years and without the approval of the President of the United States, and without provisions for complete amortization during the life of the bonds.

The people of American Samoa are changing from the aboriginal system of social organization and property in which ownership was communal. These changes began a generation ago and are the inevitable result of contact with the so-called western civilization. They can not be stopped or obliterated. As yet the taxes for the general purposes of government are imposed therefor as a poll tax and not on property. It is expected that a system based on property assessments will be adopted by the people sooner or later, hence some of the above restrictions. Others of these restrictions have been recommended after a study of the history of legislation in the Territory of Hawaii, the only other American jurisdiction wherein American institutions have been adopted by a community originally Polynesian. As a guide to the Fono in its new responsibility, measures are recom- Sections mended dealing with the usual subjects of the constitution of a quorum, the demand for yeas and nays, exemp

15-26.

Sections 27-28.

Section 31.

Section 54.

Section 34.

Section 39.

Section 35.

Section 34.

Section 37.

tion from liability for speeches made, exemption from arrest, enacting clause, title to laws and signing bills.

That the veto power on legislation, as to specific items in appropriation bills and entire bills on other subjects, be reposed in the governor, with an appeal to the President should the governor's veto be overridden by the Fono. These provisions, new to American Samoa, are set forth in detail in the act so as to be understood clearly by the people.

That the governor be directed to submit to the Fono estimates for appropriation bills and such other measures as he may consider to be in the people's interest, and that in the event of an appropriation bill not being passed, the sums named in the last appropriation bill shall be deemed to have been reappropriated.

That no money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law, and that full publicity be given at regular times to the statement of the receipts and expenditures of government.

That the Governor of American Samoa be appointed by the President of the United States by and with the advance and consent of the Senate, and that in the selection the choice may be made from among the active, retired, or reserve officers of the Navy and Army as well as from among civilians. It is recommended that no such officer be denied the benefit of the salary of governor if his allowances as such officer are less than the salary. That the governor be vested with the executive authority of the government of American Samoa and with power to grant pardons and reprieves and to make all appointments not otherwise stated by law and that his annual report shall be transmitted to Congress.

That the governor shall be responsible for the faithful execution of the laws.

That the term of office of the governor be at the pleasure of the President. This provision is inserted at the request and for the benefit of the inhabitants of American Samoa to the end that an incumbent who has become acquainted with the people and with their manners and methods of thought and life may remain with them as the head of the government and their leader and not be summarily removed simply because an arbitrary period of time has expired. This provision exists in other jurisdictions and is eminently required in American Samoa, for the Samoans, like all Polynesians, are apt to look more to the man who leads than to such an abstract thing as the law.

That there be an attorney general appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to hold office at the pleasure of the President, who shall perform the duties of nonjudicial character now imposed on the secretary of native affairs, conduct important prosecutions in the courts, report to the Con

gress the acts of the Fono and to the President the proceedings of the executive and serve as acting governor in the absence or disability of the governer.

Section 38.

40-43.

That there be a chief justice appointed by the Presi- Section 39. dent, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, whose term of office shall be four years, this official, independent of the governor, to be the center of the system of courts. It is recommended that, except as above noted, sections the present system of courts be continued and be subject to such modifications as the people of Samoa may decide. There is no present need to introduce the jury system. In the act proposed the people of American Samoa are left free to inaugurate that institution later if they so choose. There is no local objection nor any theoretical section 41. objection to the system now in vogue of having the "American judge " sit in the lower courts with the district judge, and again preside over the upper court on appeal.

That the chief justice be required to present advisory section 44. opinions to the governor or the Fono on important matters of law. This provision of law existed beneficially in Hawaii and pertains in some States. In Samoa it should prove helpful and preventive of discord.

That appeals in all important cases in the court of Section 45. last resort of American Samoa be allowed to the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, such appeals to be heard in Samoa to avoid delays and expense to the parties litigant. It is believed that this recommendation will be not only stimulating to the administration of the law in the courts of American Samoa but also, as a tangible evidence to the people of American Samoa of their new status, be helpful to the general administration of that government.

That the Federal Government directly bear the salaries Section 50. of the governor, the attorney general, and the chief justice, as it is now doing as to certain officials in the case of the Territory of Hawaii. The salaries suggested may seem generous, but the posts, long distant from the mainland of the United States, should be filled by the best type of men for whose services other interests will be calling. Transportation for them and their families should be provided and leaves of absence allowed along the lines proposed in the act. The high standard of the American personnel in the island government must be continued if the Nation's record in American Samoa in the future is to be a successful one.

Sections

That as to wharves, landings, and other public prop- 46-47. erty now belonging to or which may later be acquired by the government of American Samoa provision be made in the act for their control, administration, and maintenance to the end that responsibility be defined and the idea of local government fostered.

« AnteriorContinuar »