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(Subsequently the committee staff received the following statements from the Library of Congress on the differences between a “Delegate in Congress” and a "Resident Commissioner.”)


Washington, D. C., January 25, 1957. To: House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee

(Attention : Mr. Taylor.) From: American Law Division. Subject: Difference between terms “Delegate in Congress (as from Alaska)"

and “Resident Commissioner (as from Puerto Rico)." The Delegate provided for in the organic acts of Alaska and Hawaii (48 U. S. C., secs 131, 651) is specifically elected to represent the people of his Territory in the House of Representatives of the United States, with the right of debate but not of voting. His term of office is 2 years, the same as that of Members of Congress. In the acts which established a civil government for Puerto Rico (48 U. S. C., sec. 891), the Resident Commissioner provided for, is not a representative of the people of his Territory, in the House of Representatives, but to represent Puerto Rico in the United States. He is certified through the Department of State and is to serve for a 4-year term. Although, like the Delegates, he has been extended the privileges of the House of Representatives, except the right to vote, these privileges were so extended by the rules of the House of Representatives (rule XII) and not by law, as in the case of Delegates, and his status is therefore not the same as that of a Delegate.

Several attempts were made in Congress to give Puerto Rico a Delegate to Congress instead of a Resident Commissioner. The first act which set up a civil government for Puerto Rico in 1900 (31 Stat. 86, sec. 39), as originally introduced, provided for a “Delegate to the House of Representatives" (33 Congressional Record, p. 3523, col. 1, "sec. 36''). This was amended on the floor of the Senate, to read “Resident Commissioner to the United States” (33 Congressional Record, p. 3577, col. 1, "sec. 37", and p. 3693, col. 2). The amendment was passed without discussion.

Again in 1903 a bill (H. R. 17546) to provide for a Delegate to the United States House of Representatives from Puerto Rico was passed by the House (36 Congressional Record, pp. 2923, 2927) but failed of enactment in the Senate (36 Congressional Record, p. 2893), again without discussion.

The Office of Delegate was first established for the Northwest Territory by the Ordinance of 1787, passed by the Continental Congress (sec. 12). This was confirmed by an act of Congress (1 Stat. 50, ch. 8). This ordinance organized the area into a Territory of the United States and, since the Constitution had not yet been adopted, extended to the Territory “the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty, which form the basis whereon these Republics (the Original 13 States), their laws and constitutions, are created” (sec. 13).

In like manner Alaska and Hawaii were organized into Territories (48 U. S. C., secs. 21, 492) and the Constitution and laws of the United States were extended to them (48 U. S. C., secs. 23, 495). This was not so in Puerto Rico. The act of July 3, 1950, known as the “Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act,” was "adopted in the nature of a compact so that the people of Puerto Rico may organize a government pursuant to a constitution of their own adoption” (48 U. S. C., sec. 731b). Puerto Rico was not organized into a Territory of the United States, and the Constitution of the United States was not extended to it. (See 48 U. S. C., sec. 734.)

A Territory or district must be organ!zed by law before the House of Representatives will admit a Delegate. (See Hind's Precedents of the House of Repre. sentatives, vol. 1, secs. 405, 407, 411, 412.) Prior to the independence of the Philippine Islands, they were represented in the United States by Resident Commissioners (39 Stat. 552, sec. 20).

Let us now examine the acts which provided civil governments for Guam and the Virgin Islands (48 U. S. C., secs. 1421-1424b and secs. 1405–1406m). “Guam is declared to be an unincorporated Territory of the United States" (48 U. S. C., sec. 1421a), and the Constitution of the United States is not extended to it.” (See 48 U. S. C. 1421c). "The Virgin Islands * * *

* declared an unincorporated Territory of the United States of America" (68 Stat. 497, ch. 558, sec. 2 (a)). The Constitution of the United States is not extended to the Virgin Islands. (See 68 Stat. 501, sec. 8 (c).)



Since, as stated above, the House of Representatives has not admitted Delegates from Territory not organized by law, it would appear that the proper representatives to be chosen from Guam and the Virgin Islands would be Resident Commissioners.

A provision for the election by the people of the Virgin Islands of a Resident Commissioner to represent the islands in the United States was contained in the original version of H. R. 5181, 83d Congress (sec. 25). However, as reported out by the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, this provision was deleted from the bill. (See H. Rept. 1603, 83d Cong., p. 20.) H. R. 5181 failed of passage and S. 3378 (also without such a provision) was enacted in lieu, as the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands (68 Stat. 497, ch. 558).



Washington, D. C., March 14, 1957. To: House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee.

(Attention : Mr. Taylor.) From: American Law Division. Subject: Suggestion of a term to be used to describe a representative from

Guam and the Virgin Islands, other than “Delegate” or “Resident Com

missioner." In reply to your request of February 28, 1957, for a term to be used to describe a representative from Guam and the Virgin Islands, we suggest the term, “Deputy from Guam” and “Deputy from the Virgin Islands.”

The term “Deputy" was used by some of the Colonies in describing the Delegates to the Continental Congress which met at Philadelphia on September 5, 1774. Thus the credentials of the Delegates from New Jersey read as follows: “TO JAMES KINSEY, WILLIAM LIVINGSTON, JOHN D'HART, STEPHEN CRANE, AND

RICHARD SMITH, Esq., each and every of you: "The Committees, appointed by the several Counties of the Colony of New Jersey, to nominate Deputies, to represent the same in the general congress of deputies from the other Colonies in America, convened at the City of New Brunswick, have nominated and appointed, and do hereby nominate and appoint you, and each of you, deputies to represent the Colony of New Jersey in the said general congress

* * *(Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 1, 1774, p. 19).

The credentials of the Delegates from Delaware contain the following phrase:

"* * * and we do, therefore, unanimously nominate and appoint Caesar Rodney, Thomas M'Kean, and George Read, Esq., or any two of them, deputies, on the part and behalf of this government, in a general continental Congress * * *" (id., p. 22).

Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina also described them as “deputies" (id., pp. 22, 23, 24).

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York described them as delegates (id., pp. 15, 16, 19). Rhode Island referred to them as "commissioners or delegates" (id., p. 17), and Connecticut termed them "commissioners” (id., p. 17).

The term "Deputy to Congress" was used in the Treaty of Hopewell, concluded on November 28, 1785, between the United States and the Cherokee Indians. Article 12 of this treaty provided that the Cherokees were allowed “to send a deputy of their choice, whenever they think fit, to Congress.” In order to prove that the United States, when making said treaty, did not consider the Cherokees to be a foreign state, wholly separated from the Union, Justice Baldwin stated :

"The meaning of the words 'deputy to Congress' in the twelfth article, may be as a person having a right to sit in that body, as at that time it was composed of delegates or deputies from the states, not as at present, representatives of the people of the states: or it may be as an agent or minister. But if the former was the meaning of the parties, it is conclusive to show that he was not and could not be the deputy of a foreign state wholly separated from the union. If he sat in Congress as a deputy from any state, it must be one having a political connection with, and within, the jurisdiction of the confederacy; if, as a diplomatic agent, he could not represent an independent or sover

eign nation, for all such have an unquestioned right to send such agents when and where they please. The securing the right by an express stipulation of the treaty, the declared objects in conferring the right, especially when connected with the ninth article, show beyond a doubt it was not to represent a foreign state or nation, or one to whom the least vestige of independence or sovereignty as to the United States appertained * * *” (T'he Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia (1831), 30 U. S. 1, 16, 38).

As we pointed out in our memorandum of January 29, 1957, the Federal laws pertaining to the organized Territories of Alaska and Hawaii provide for "a Delegate in the House of Representatives of the United States” (48 U. S. C., secs. 131, 651), while the law pertaining to Puerto Rico (18 U. S. C., sec. 891) and the law which pertained to the Philippine Islands prior to their independence (39 Stat. 552, sec. 20), provide for a "Resident Commissioner to the United States."

(Mrs.) MOLLIE Z. MARGOLIN. Mr. O'BRIEN. May I suggest, at this moment we have been informed by the Committee on Government Operations they are now in business in the Federal courtroom and will hold their hearing there temporarily, perhaps will come here later. I do not know. We had hoped to be finished before they actually arrived.

The other committee is taking testimony on the Virgin Islands Corporation and perhaps some other matters of which I am not aware. If anyone here desires to testify before that committee or to attend their hearings, they are now in session in the Federal courtroom.

I might add, those who want to remain here and then go there will be able to do so in the fairly near future.

(Discussion off the record.) Mr. ABBOTT. Mr. Young.

Mr. Young. I would like to state that the majority view of the chamber of commerce—and as a matter of fact, it is the unanimous position of the executive board—that the Organic Act of 1954 need not be changed at this time to provide for an elective governor.

The concensus of opinion in that chamber of the businessmen is that this island and St. Thomas-St. John are not quite ready to go into an elective program for its governor or a resident commissioner.

We feel we should give the 1954 organic act a little more time to see how it works out with the appointed governor and how it works out with the unicameral legislature.

As Mr. Merwin says, perhaps in 4 years it will be time then to consider the question of taking that next step forward of having our own elected governor.

Mr. O'BRIEN. Would you also postpone the possibility of having a resident commissioner?

Mr. Young. We have agreed that the organic act need not be amended to provide for a resident commissioner. That probably can be set up administratively in another fashion. There is no need to disturb the organic act merely for that purpose. We feel it would be beneficial to have one-that is true—but not to upset our constitution to provide for one.

Mr. ABPOTT. Mr. Rohlson.
Mr. ROHLSON. I am in favor of an elective governor.

I sincerely believe that the only way we are going to solve a lot of the difficulties and problems arising in the administration of government is going to be through the election of a governor. I am in favor of an elected governor to take office January 2, 1961, giving us 4 years to properly prepare for that step.

Mr. Chairman, about 2 years ago I believe the Virgin Islands were split on a 50–50 basis as to whether we should have an elective

governor or not. During the last 2 years under the administration of appointed governors, we have come to the conclusion that we can do no worse and probably a lot better, and today about 90 percent of the Virgin Islanders are in favor of an elective governor.

Mr. O BRIEN. There has not been an expression of opinion on that, has there, an official referendum?

Mr. Rohlson. The Democratic Party, before we prepared our platform, held hearings throughout the islands, including St. Thomas and St. John, on questions that we would put forth in our platform, and we could not find one dissenting voice on having an elective governor.

Mr. O BRIEN. Sometimes people are timid about coming forward. It would not be as exact, of course, as a referendum. Sometimes we find at hearings that people stand up and say, “I represent 2,000 people” and “I represent 1,500 people, and then we discover that they do not.

Mr. Rohlson. That is quite true, but I am confident if a referendum was held it would indicate a vast majority of the Virgin Islands for an elective governor.

Mr. O'BRIEN. I understand that, but there has never been a referendum?

Mr. ROHLSON. Not recently.
Dr. MILLER. I thought there was a referendum.
Mr. HODGE. In 1948.
Mr. O'BRIEN. What was the result of that?

Mr. HODGE. The result of that in St. Thomas was the majority of the people went for an elective governor.

Dr. MILLER. What was the vote overall in the islands?

Mr. HODGE. I think a little less than 50 percent voted for an elective governor at that time.

Mr. O'BRIEN. The majority was against ?

Mr. HODGE. Yes; I would say 95 percent went for a resident commissioner.

Mr. O'BRIEN. You had that in the referendum too?
Mr. HODGE. Yes.
(Discussion off the record.)
Mr. ABBOTT. Mr. Rohlson.

Mr. Rohlson. I am confident that the referendum of 1948 does not reflect the thinking of the people today in the Virgin Islands in 1956. We have changed politically. There has been a lot of political improvement, and it is increasing every day.

We are concerned with the fact an attempt is being made to protect us from ourselves. We do not want to be protected from ourselves. We want an opportunity to make mistakes and to learn by those mistakes and to grow in wisdom and experience.

I think the ultimate goal of every American is to be able to elect the people who should control his future.

In this case we are seeking the election of a governor as soon as possible, and I think that we can well justify the election of a governor by 1961 or before.

Mr. ABBOTT. You are aware, Mr. Rohlson and the balance of the panel members, from a practical standpoint, whatever the sentiments


of this committee and the counterpart in the Senate, the Congress as a whole, in the case of Alaska, acquired from Russia by purchase, of course, in 1867, Alaska to this day has not been able to have enacted legislation for an elective governor.

Hawaii, acquired by treaty of annexation in 1898, has been precisely in the same position.

Guam and American Samoa, acquired after treaty with Spain in the Spanish-American War, has not achieved elective governorship status.

From a practical standpoint, each of those areas Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico in the Caribbean-did shortly after coming under the American flag obtain, and have had since, of course, a voteless representative in Washington, Delegates, until the Commonwealth Act in Puerto Rico when their Delegate became known as Resident Commissioner.

The observation and you gentlemen are practical people--is at least worth noting, whether it is agreed that an area should be treated on its own merits

and the facts of its own case, because those are facts of history.

Dr. MILLER. A quick review of this Library of Congress report as to whether a governor is elected or appointed in the surrounding islands shows that 8 or 9—all of them seem to be appointed, and some of them do not even have a legislature. Most of them do not.

Mr. ASPINALL. In order to be perfectly fair, there must be a statement here that the Netherlands, on the other hand, has made within the last year, with the exception of the Crown appointee, an approach to what might be called very nearly self-autonomy in government.

Dr. MILLER. But the Governor is appointed by the Crown.

Mr. ASPINALL. My only answer to that is that the Governor of the Netherlands down here does not assume a position other than representative of the Crown as such.

Mr. ABBOTT. He is somewhat in the same position, is he not, Mr. Aspinall, as the Governor General in Canada or other Dominion and Commonwealth areas under the United Kingdom?

Mr. O'BRIEN. I am sure Mr. Abbott, when he noted the failure of Congress to act in certain fields, was not suggesting that it is improper to press for such action, because sometimes Congress acts very slowly. I think that in the cases of Alaska and Hawaii they have put most of their eggs into one basket labeled "Statehood” and have not fought as hard for an elective governor as they might have if they were not interested in statehood, which would bring an elective governor automatically.

Mr. ABBOTT. Had you finished, Mr. Rohlson ?
Mr. Rohlson. I had not completed my statement on that.

I think it is very difficult to compare the Virgin Islands with Alaska, Hawaii, or any other Territory. I believe each Territory should stand on its own merits.

I would hesitate to compare the Virgin Islands with any British or other foreign island, because I think the concept of government in both places are entirely different. The American Government we believe is on the democratic principle of government, while others have colonialism. I do not believe there is any comparison on the basis they do not have elected governors there as compared to our request for an elective governor.

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