Sites & cities that bear the name of Pago Pago

Pago Pago

Today in : Samoa
First trace of activity : ca. 19th century C.E
Last trace of activity : today

Description : Pago Pago is the territorial capital of American Samoa. It is in Maoputasi County on Tutuila, which is American Samoa’s main island. Historically, the strategic location of Pago Pago Bay played a direct role in the political separation of Western and Eastern Samoa. The initial reason that the U.S. was interested in Tutuila was its desire to use Pago Pago Harbor as a coaling station.:30–31 The town has the distinction of being the southernmost U.S. capital, and the only one located in the Southern Hemisphere. Pago Pago was first settled 4,000 years ago. Two missionaries were assigned to Tutuila Island in the 1830s: Reverend Murray and his wife to Pago Pago and Reverend Barnden to Leone. They landed at Fagasa Bay and hiked over the hill to the High Chief Mauga in Pago Pago. Mauga welcomed the missionaries and gave them support. RMS Dunottar Castle later moved to Pago Pago, becoming the second ship to enter Pago Pago Harbor. The missionaries later chose to establish their headquarters at Leone.:79–80 As early as 1839, American interest was generated for the Pago Pago area when Commander Charles Wilkes, head of the United States Exploring Expedition, surveyed Pago Pago Harbor and the island. Rumors of possible annexation by Britain or Germany were taken seriously by the U.S., and the U.S. Secretary of State Hamilton Fish sent Colonel Albert Steinberger to negotiate with Samoan chiefs on behalf of American interests. American interest in Pago Pago was also a result of Tutuila's central position in one of the world's richest whaling grounds. In 1871, the local steamer business of W. H. Webb required coal and he sent Captain E. Wakeman to Samoa in order to evaluate the suitability of Pago Pago as a coaling station. Wakeman approved the harbor and alerted the U.S. Navy about Germany's intent to take over the area. The U.S. Navy responded a few months later by dispatching Commander Richard Meade from Honolulu, Hawaii to assess Pago Pago's suitability as a naval station. Meade arrived in Pago Pago on USS Narragansett and made a treaty with the Mauga for the exclusive use of the harbor and a set of commercial regulations to govern the trading and shipping in Pago Pago. He also purchased land for a new naval station.:137–138 The chief of Pago Pago signed a treaty with the U.S. in 1872, giving the American government considerable influence on the island. It was acquired by the United States through a treaty in 1877. One year after the naval base was built at Pearl Harbor in 1887, the U.S. government established a naval station in Pago Pago. It was primarily used as a fueling station for both naval- and commercial ships. The U.S. Navy first established a coaling station in 1878, right outside Fagatogo. The United States Navy later bought land east of Fagatogo and on Goat Island, an adjacent peninsula. Sufficient land was obtained in 1898 and the construction of United States Naval Station Tutuila was completed in 1902. The station commander doubled as American Samoa's Governor from 1899 to 1905, when the station commandant was designated Naval Governor of American Samoa. The Fono (legislature) served as an advisory council to the governor.:84–85 Despite being a part of the United States, Great Britain and Germany maintained a strong naval presence in the Samoan Islands. Twice between 1880–1900, the U.S. Navy came close to taking part in a shooting war while its only true interest was the establishment of a coaling station in Pago Pago. The U.S. quietly purchased land around the harbor for the construction of the naval station. It rented land on Fagatogo Beach for $10/month in order to store the coal. Admiral Kimberly was ordered to Pago Pago while in Apia waiting for transportation home after the hurricane of 1889. In Pago Pago, he selected a site for the new coaling station and naval base. In June 1890, the U.S. Congress passed an appropriation of $100,000 for the purpose of permanently establishing a station for the naval and commercial marine. With the appropriation, the State Department sent Consul Sewall from Apia to Pago Pago to buy six tracts of land for the project. Some parts were previously owned by the Polynesian Land Company, while other tracts were still owned by Samoan families. For the defense of the harbor in event of a naval war, the U.S. Navy wanted to purchase headlands and mountainsides above the Lepua Catholic Church which directly faced the harbor's entrance.:138–139

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