American Samoa History and Documents

American Samoa became a U.S. territory by deed of cession, starting in 1900. In 1878 the United States signed a treaty for the establishment of a naval station in Pago Pago Harbor. An 1899 agreement between colonial powers divided Samoa into spheres of influence: Germany gained control of the western islands, and the United States took the eastern islands. Formal cession by the local chiefs came later. By 1904 the eastern islands had all been ceded to the United States, although the U.S. Congress did not formally accept the deeds of cession until Feb. 20, 1929. Under the administration of the U.S. Navy (1900–51), American Samoa became a strategic naval base, but the Samoan leaders had little administrative power. In 1951 control of the territory was transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior. The U.S. government appointed a governor who had full powers to administer the territory. The governor appointed political advisers and senior civil servants from the United States to help him.

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Revised Constitution of American Samoa

Article I: Bill of Rights


  1. Freedom of religion, speech, press, rights of assembly and petition.
  2. No deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process.
  3. Policy protective legislation.
  4. Dignity of the individual.
  5. Protection against unreasonable searchesand seizures.
  6. Rights of an accused.
  7. Habeas corpus.
  8. Quartering of militia.
  9. Imprisonment for debt.
  10. Slavery prohibited.
  11. Treason.
  12. Subversives ineligible to hold public office.
  13. Retroactive laws and bills of attainder.
  14. Health, safety, morals and general welfare.
  15. Education.
  16. Unspecified rights and privileges and immunities.


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