Presidential Executive Order 8616

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Presidential Executive Order 8616


Though much of the Pacific islands owned by the US had already been designated as military facilities, Palmyra remained except until 1939, when the government determined its current owners, the Fullard-Leo family, did not have legal claim to it, and subsequently took it from them (this decision would be reversed in 1947).

This was all communicated through legal correspondence between the families lawyers and government officials, and it wasn't until this executive order that the Navy took formal control of Palmyra.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt


December 19, 1940.


Public Domain



Text Item Type Metadata



Placing Palmyra Island, Territory of Hawaii, Under the Control and Jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Navy
By virtue of the authority vested in me by section 91 of the act of April 30, 1900, 31 Stat. 141, 159, as amended by section 7 of the act of May 27, 1910. 36 Stat. 443. 447, and as President of the United States, it is ordered that Palmyra Island, consisting of a group of islets surrounded by a coral reef located in the Pacific Ocean approximately at Latitude 5°52'18" North and Longitude 162°05'55" West, as indicated by diagram hereto attached and made a part hereof, be and it is hereby, subject to valid existing rights, if any, placed under the control and jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Navy and reserved for naval purposes: Provided, that nothing herein contained shall affect the civil or criminal jurisdiction of the Territory of Hawaii with respect to persons or property on Palmyra Island, in so far as such jurisdiction is consistent with the purposes for which said island is hereby reserved.

Franklin D Roosevelt The White House, December 19, 1940.





President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Presidential Executive Order 8616,” Palmyra Archive, accessed March 17, 2018,


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