The Guano Islands Act Is Passed By The U.S. Congress
The Guano Islands Act is federal legislation passed by the U.S. Congress, on August 18, 1856.
It enables citizens of the U.S. to take possession of islands containing guano deposits. The islands can be located anywhere, so long as they are not occupied and not within the jurisdiction of other governments. It also empowers the President of the United States to use the military to protect such interests, and establishes the criminal jurisdiction of the United States.
# The Guano Islands Act of 1856 provided for U.S. claims to unoccupied islands. Baker Island, Howland Island, and Navassa Island were annexed in under its provisions in 1857. Today ownership of Navassa is disputed between the U.S. and Haiti. Johnston Atoll was claimed by the U.S. and Hawaii in 1858; the U.S. claim became undisputed in 1898 after the annexation of Hawaii. Midway Atoll was discovered and claimed in 1859 and formally annexed 1867. Kingman Reef was annexed in 1922.
Whenever any citizen of the United States discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other Government, and not occupied by the citizens of any other Government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining to the United States.
”— first section of Guano Islands Act