The Marianas is an important archepeligo in rhe central Pacific. The Northern Marianas consists of 14 tropical islands stretching across 400 miles. They are adjacent to the Marianas trench which is the deepest point in the ocean. Saipan is the most populated island in the group. Rota is much less developed. The Northern Marianas were settled around 1500 BC by Chamorros who have cultural ties with the indigenous people on Guam. Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to discover the islands (1521). He named them the Islas de los Ladrones (Islands of Thieves) because of his experiences with the Chamoros. Spanish Jesuit Luis Diego Sanvitores renamed the islands Las Marianas in honor of the Spanish queen Maria Ana of Austria (1668). He and five other priests established a mission in the Marianas. The Spanish effort to Christanize and control the islands set off two decades of often brutal hostilities between the Spanish and the Chamorros who violently resisted them. The Spanish had to commit a substantial military force to gain control of the islands. Because of lingering resistance, the Spanish rounded up most of the the Chamoros on Saipan and trasported them to Guam. The Spanish had more trouble doing this on Rota where most of the Chamoros managed to hide in the island's caves and mountains. The Spanish permitted Caroline islabders to move to Marianas where they tended cattle for the Spanish. Pope Leo XIII confirmed Spanish sovereignty over the Marianas (1885). Spain began encouraging the Chamoros on Guam to move to the Northern Marianas. The Guam Chamoros were now throughly Hispanicized. The Spanish saw a larger Chanoro population on Saipan and other islands in the Northern Marianas as a way of strengthening Spanish control. The Carolinians had by that time settled much of the most productive coastal areas. The United States seized the Philippine Islands and Guam during the Spanish-American War (1898). The Spanisg decided that there was no benefit in having the Northern Marianasa. The decided to sell the islands to Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm II at the time was building a new high seas navy and anxious to acquire colonies. The Northern Marianas and other Pacific Islands acquired by the Germans provided useful facilities for the new German Navy. The Germans also hoped to develop copra production.
The Marianas is an important Micronesia archepeligo in the central Pacific Ocean between the 12th and 21st parallels north and along the 145th meridian east. The Northern Marianas consists of 14 tropical islands stretching across 400 miles. They are adjacent to the Marianas trench which is the deepest point in the ocean. The islands are volcanic formations, in fact the summits of volcanic mountains in the north-western Pacific. Saipan is the most populated island in the group. Tinian is a smaller island near Saipan. Rota to the south is much less developed. The southern-most island is Guam. The war developed somewhat differently on the islands because Guam was separated from what became known as the Northern Marianasa (Rota, Saipan, and Tinian). The other islands are much smaller and of lesser importance.
Not a lot is knowm about the settlement of the Marianas. The Northern Marianas are belived to have been settled around 1500 BC by people now known as the Chamorros. They had cultural ties with the indigenous people on Guam to the south. Actual archeological evidence is more recent. They were an insular people originating in southeast Asia. Given the distance involved and the geography of the Pacific. The settlement murely must have comefrom the Philippipnes ny people with southeastern Asian origins. The earliest archaeological evidence comes from Chalan Piao on Saipan. They were noted for a distinctive of red-slipped pottery, sometimes incised with lime-filled decoration. This is very similar to Philippine ceramics. Archeologists report a more plain unslipped pottery (800 AD). Stone building also developed. One of the few archeological remains of these people are the 'latte stones' which have been found throughout the archepeligo. They are similar, although smaller than the stone figures found on Easter Island. The Marianas latte stones can be as high as 6 meters. They are carved limestone posts with a piece of limestone or brain coral capstone on top shaped like a large bowl (halege). They were arranged in parallel rows of upright pillars. Early Spanish accounts provide accounts of intact structures. The culture is named after the structures--the Latte Culture. They may have been built as homes, canoe sheds or perhaps both. Each village had at least one latte structure. The people used both stone and shell tools. They chewed betel nuts . Burial finds have been found between the latte rows. The pre-colonial population was substantial, perhaps 0.1 million peope.
The islands were discovered Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan flying under the flag of the Kingb of Spain
in his circumnavigation of the globe (1521). It is unclear what island he landed on, but aftr the natives stole askiff, he name the the islands the Ladorines, Spanish for thieves. Miguel López de Legazpi landed at Umatac, Guam and claimed the islands, still called the Ladrones, for Spain (1565). Priests went ashore to perform mass. There was no attempt to found a colony. Spain was more comcerned with its larger, richer colonies (the America, Philippines, and Moluccas) and did not have the ability to found colonies on every island it claimed. British adventurer Thomas Cavendish with the Desire next visited the islands (1588). He traded briefly, but saw little of interest. He fired at the islanders following his ship in canoes. Contact with Europeans devestated the Chamorros who had not resistance to European diseases (influenza, smallpox, leprosy, venereal diseases, and tuberculosis). Midtreatment at the hands of the Spanish was another factor.
Although claimed by Spain, Spanish authorities showed little interest in the islands. Spanish colonization began with Jesuit priest Diego Luis de Sanvitores (1668). He led a group of five otherb priests, laymen, women, and a few Filipino soldiers. At the time, Mariana of Austria was the regent of Spain and she had financed his mission. He thus renamed the islands the Marianas. Sanvitores and his colonists built churches and religious schools and began to convert the Chamorros. It did not prove easy. The Chamorros resisted Spanish rule and the unfamiliar new religion. A string of revolts followed. Christianity was not a good fit with their traditional beliefs. The Spanish response was to forcibly concentrate the people who lived all over the islands. Saipan was the most populace island and the most resistant to Spanish efforts. Rota had a smller population and more rugged terraine. Many Chamorros were killed during the relocation effort. In addition, by concentrating them the Spanish made them more vulnerable to the spread of disease. The Spanish with the Chamorros still resisting decided to act with more force. José Quiroga was appointed governor of the Marianas (1680). He confronted a series of revolts, sieges, murders of missionaries, and burning of churches with brute force--the Chamorro Wars. The Spanish effort to Christanize and control the islands set off two decades of often brutal hostilities between the Spanish and the Chamorros who violently resisted them. The Spanish had to commit a substantial military force to gain control of the islands. The Chamorros attempted to hide in the rugged terraine of the interior. Quiroga decided to relocate the entire Chamorro population from Saipan and Rota to Guam. Most of the Chamorros on Saipan were relocated. The Spanish permitted Caroline islanders to move to Marianas where they tended cattle for the Spanish. The Spanish had more trouble relocating the Rota Chamorros where many managed to hide in the island's caves and mountains. The Spanish permitted Caroline islabders to move to Marianas where they tended cattle for the Spanish. Finally, the Chamorro people who survived conceded the inevitable and took the oath of allegiance to the king of Spain and accepted conversion. The adopted other Spanish customs including clothing and began planting corn and other Spanish crops. The Spanish provided artisans teach arange of skills, including sewing, spinning, weaving, tanning, iron forging, stone masonry, and other valuable crafts. By the time Quiroga left the Marianas, the Chamorros were subjected and the Marianas firmly under Spanish rule (1698). From the Marianas, the Spanish seized other islands in Micronesia, not encountering the level of resistance experienced on Saipan. Guam became the center of Spanish administration and an important stop for the Spanish galleons sailing between the Philippines (Manila) and Mexico (Acapulco). The convoy known as the Galeon de Manila. The Marianas under Spanish rule remained a backwater under the General Government of the Philippines.
Germany began diplomatic efforts to question Spanish control of the Marianas. Pope Leo XIII confirmed Spanish sovereignty over the Marianas (1885). Partly as a result, Spain changed its policy toward the now throughly Hispanicized Guamanian Chamorros. Spanish authorities began encouraging the Chamorros on Guam to move to the Northern Marianas. he Spanish saw a larger Chamorro population on Saipan and other islands in the Northern Marianas as a way of strengthening Spanish control. The Carolinians had by that time settled much of the most productive coastal areas.
The Marianas were unique in that they were divided beteen the United States and Japan before World War II. The Americans obtained Guam and the Philippine Islands from Spain as a result of the Spanish-Aerican War (1898).The Spanish American War was primarily fought over Cuba. Insurgents on Cuba had been fighting the Spanisg for decadeds. American newspapers picked up on the struggle and began running lurid articles about Spanish colonial opression. When the USS Maine blew up in Havana harbor, the newspapers blamed the Spanish. With the outbreak of war, the U.S. Navy engaged Spanish squadrons in both the Atlantic and Caribbean. The major Atlantic sea battle occurred off Santiago, Cuba. The United States also attacked Spanish possessions in the Pacific. This primarily meant the Philippine Islands. The U.S. Navy destroyed the Spanish Pacific squadron in Manila Bay. In the peace settlement, the Americans also obtained Guam. These possessions along with the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands made the United States a Pacific power.
Spain by the 19th century was no longer an important European power. Even before it was invaded by Napoleon it was a European backwater and after the Napoleonic Wars lost most of its colonies. It did not experience the great economic and scientific floweing of therest of Europe in the 19th century. Germany united after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-7) and Imperial Germany wanted a colonial empire. Both German and British traders and settlers supported by their governments began to expand interests in what is now called Micronesia. Germany contemplted war with Spain (1886). This was followed by the mediation of Pope Leo XIII. A decade later war with United States flared up, primarily because of Cuba. The American Pacific Squadron under Commodore George Dewey defeated the Spanish fleet in the Philippines and also seized Guam (1898). The Spanish moved their administrative center from Guam to Saipan, but decided that there was no benefit in having the Northern Marianasa. Without the Philippines, the Marianas and the Carolines were of no value to Spain. Thus Spain decided to withdraw from the Pacific. The decided to sell the islands to Germany (1899). Kaiser Wilhelm II at the time was building a new high seas navy and anxious to acquire colonies. The Spanish sold the Germans the remaining islands of the archipelago (except Guam, but with the Carolines and Pelew Islands) for 837,500 German gold mark, about $4.1 million 1900 dollars February 1899). The Germans incorporated the Northern Marianas into the Protectorate of New Guinea. The total population was only about 2,600 people as the Spanish had removed most of the Chamorros. The ten most northerly islands had active volcanic and virtually uninhabited. The Northern Marianas and other Pacific Islands acquired by the Germans provided useful facilities for the new German Navy. The Germans made Saipan their administrative center. This established a permanent division between Guam and the Northern Marianas. The Germans began to develop the island facilities which had languished under Spanish control. The Germans built schools, a hospital, and other public buildings. German colonists were encouraged to emigrate. The Germans centered their economic plans on copra. Large coconut plantations were founded as were other agricultural projects.
Japan had a Naval Alliance with Britain. When World War I broke out in Europe, the Japanese entered the War on the Allied side. The British were at first surprised at the Japanese eagerness to enter the War. Japanese officials saw some advantages to be gained from the War, particularly the opportunity of seizing German colonies. This was helpful to the British because it allowed the Royal Navy to maintain only a small squadron in the Pacific to deal with the Germans. After efforts to find the German Pacific squadron, the Allies got down to occupying the various far-flung German islands. Japanese, British, and Dominion forces seized the German outposts. The World War I settlment assigned the northern colonies to Japan and the southern colonies to Australia. The Japanese thus acquired the Northern Marianas (Rota, Saipan and Tinian). The Ameicans continued to control Guam to the south. The islands were not to be fortified. The Japanese began to militaize their islands, the United States did not.
The Japanese saw the Northern Marianas as useful both militarily as well as an economic assett. The Marianas served as useful air and naval bases to build a shield around Japan. Economically the Japanese were particularly interested in sugar cane. They proceed in clearing groves of coconut palms planted by the Chomoros as well asand tropical forests. This included many ancient latte stones important to the Chamoros. Large numbers of Japanese civilians were brought in to develop the economy. This proved an economic success. The Marianas sugar cane operations were producing 60 percent of the revenues the Japanese were generated in Micronesia. The Japanese also changed the Northern Marianas demographically. When the Japanese acquired the islands, there were about 4,000 Chamorros. The Japanese population when the War began was 45,000, mostly immigrant workers. The Marianas thus became essentially Japanese islands. The Japanese recreated the islands amd thgus life there became similar to that on Japan itself. Schools were opened for the Japanese children.
President William McKinley by executive order placing Guam under the administration of the Department of Navy. The United States officially took possession of Guam (February 1899(. The U.S. Naval Station, Guam, was established (August 1899). The entire island was designated as Naval Station. The Commanding Officer, Captain R.P. Leary was designated as the firstvAmerican Governor of Guam. The Unites Srates was unsure just how to administer the native Chomoros/Chamorus. The native Guamanians were given the status of U.S. nationals. They were not aliens, but neither were they U.S. citizens. Guam under Spanish rule had languished. Under American administration, many improvements were initiated. These included projects in agriculture, public health, sanitation, education, land management, taxes, and public works. One reform was introducing a public system of nonsectarian education. Capt. Leary required each adult to learn to write his or her own name within a specified time. The U.S. Navy used Guam as a refueling and communication station. PanAm operated a station and hotel on the island. It was part of tge famed China Clipper route. The United States in the Inter-War era while operating Guam as a naval station, did not foirtify it. The Japanese in violation of treary obligations did fortify the Northern Marianas.
The Marianas were unique in that they were divided beteen the United States and Japan before World war II. The Americans obrained Guam from Spain as a result of the Spanish-merican War (1898). The Japanese seized Sipan and Tinian from Germany during World war I (1914-18). Durng the inter-War era by international agreement, the islands were not to be fortified. The Japanese began to militaize their islands, the United States did not. Japan immediately after Pearl Harbor seized Guam which had only a small Marine detachment with small arms (Scember 1941). Later in the War, the Marianas became a major battlefield of the War. The Navy's Central Pacific campaign was unopposed by the Imperial Fleet. The Japanese hoped that fortified islands could resist amphibious invasions without the Fleet intervening. After the Ameicans took the Marshalls, Gilberts, and Carolines, it was clear that they could not. For the Japanese the stakes were very high. The Marianas brought the Japanese Home Islands within range of the new B-29 bombers. So when the American landings on the Marianas began, the Imperail Fleet did intervene, setting up one of the climatic battles of the Pacific War--the Battle of the Phillipine Sea (1944). As the Marine and Army troops were going ashore, the B-29 bombers were coming off the assembly line at American aircraft plants.
Guam, Saipan, and Tinian were heavily damaged during the fighting. The important sugar cane industry developed by the Japanese. was desestated. Rota which was bypassed experienced only minor damage. The Americans built mssive facilities on Guam, Saipan, and Guninian leaving a very developed infrastructure. The United Nations made the Marianas a department of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (1947). The United States received the exclusive rights to administer the islands and to establish and maintain military bases.
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