Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Charles Freeman was the captain of a whaling ship. In 1856 he arrived on Guam and was in search of young Chamorro men to work on his ship catching whales.

By then, the Spanish Government on Guam already had a system in place. The whaling captain would enter into a formal agreement with the Spanish Government for the services of a young Chamorro man.

The agreement included the following terms :

1. The Chamorro recruit was allowed by the Spanish Government to leave the island for eight months to serve on the whaling ship. After that, he had to be returned back to Guam by the captain. (The Spanish Government in the Marianas often expressed how Chamorro young men were so quick to abandon the islands forever, when the islands in fact were low in population. This may have been a way the Government sought to keep these young men from leaving the island permanently. It didn't work.)

2. The Chamorro recruit was paid up front by the captain before leaving island.

3. The captain could not oblige the Chamorro recruit to leave the Catholic religion and had to allow the Chamorro recruit to observe Catholic practices. (Most American and British captains were not Catholic and many of the crew were also not Catholic. This would be the first time Chamorro young men would be exposed to a non-Catholic environment.)

4. The captain had to deposit money with the Spanish Government which he could reclaim once he fulfilled the terms of the contract and returned the Chamorro recruit to Guam.

The interesting thing is that many Chamorro recruits never did come back to Guam. Many whaling ships called on Guam once, never to return again. Many of these Chamorro seamen gladly continued with their work and travels overseas. With neither the captain nor the Chamorro whaler wanting to return, Guam continued to lose many, if not most, of her young whalers. The loss of the deposit was not a big loss perhaps for these captains.

Here's what the contract said involving Captain Freeman and the Spanish Government for the services of one José Quintanilla of Hagåtña :

In the City of Agaña on March 15 of 1856, before Don Felipe de la Corte, Military and Political Governor of these Mariana Islands, and us, Don José de la Cruz and Leocadio Crisóstomo, with the interpreters Don Vicente Deza and José Pérez, appeared Mr. C. Freeman, captain of the English whaling ship Sir Edward Perry, and José Quintanilla, native of this city, a bachelor of 17 years of age, they stated that Mr. Freeman obliges said José Quintanilla to sail on his ship in the class of sailor for a period of eight months during which he must return him to this same island of Guam satisfying him or paying him for his work in one for every 170 of what they may catch while he is on board, not obligating him to follow or adhere to any other religious principle save that of the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman which he professes, allowing him the proper expressions of it. And that on account of his work in what he may earn he gives at this moment the quantity of 13 pesos which José Quintanilla acknowledges as received, obligating himself to sail on said ship for the time mentioned. And for the security of this contract, both parties are obliged with their persons and acquired goods and since Mr. Freeman has specially mortgaged the sum of 80 pesos in currency which he deposits in the hands of the Governor who acknowledges it as received and is obliged to return it as this contract is completed and the mentioned José Quintanilla is presented satisfied of the completion of it, and as he does not know how to sign his name he made a cross at the side of his name, the Governor and Captain and interpreters signing, of which we attest.

A recruitment contract between the Spanish Governor of the Marianas and a whaling captain

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