Friday, May 13, 2016
CHAMORROS IN SAN FRANCISCO IN 1898
A newspaper in San Francisco, California at the end of 1898 relates the arrival of 414 "more or less desirable" immigrants to the United States.
This was just a few months after the American occupation of Guam, and the Treaty of Paris which made Guam a U.S. possession had not even been signed yet, but that was just a formality by then.
Yet 25 people from Guam are mentioned in this latest batch of immigrants. About 72% of all these immigrants were men, and we can expect that most, if not all, the Guam immigrants were men. It was almost always men who left Guam, usually on whaling ships.
The fact is that young men from Guam had been leaving the island for elsewhere for many, many years already. There were already Chamorro men living in the Bay Area long before 1898.
One sad fact is that the largest number of illiterate immigrants in this group were the ones from Guam; 9 out of the 25, or 36% of the Guam settlers could not read or write, not even in their own language.