State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols: A Historical Guide

By Benjamin F. Shearer; Jerrie Yehling Smith et al. | Go to book overview
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has administered the island. Citizenship rights were granted to Guamanians by the 1950 Organic Act of Guam. The unincorporated territory of Guam is America's westernmost frontier, which is why it is known both as "Where America's Day Begins" and "America's Paradise in the Pacific."117


In 1493, during his second voyage, Christopher Columbus discovered an island called Boringuen, which was inhabited by several Indian tribes. He named the island San Juan in honor of St. John the Baptist. The city was called Puerto Rico, meaning "rich port." Later, the names were switched. Puerto Rico has been an American territory since 1898. Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens in 1917, and in 1952, the island became a semi-autonomous commonwealth voluntarily associated with the United States.118


The U.S. Virgin Islands lie 1,500 miles south-southeast of New York in the Lesser Antilles. St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John are the three principal islands. Columbus found the islands on his second voyage to the New World, naming them "The Virgins," referring to the beauty of the 11,000 seafaring virgins of St. Ursula. According to legend, St. Ursula agreed to marry a pagan prince at her father's request only after 11,000 of the most beautiful virgins of the two kingdoms were gathered to be her companions for three years. Ursula trained her companions into a fighting force and set off up the Rhine to Basel and from there to Rome on foot. But all were martyred near Cologne in 238 A.D.

The Danish took control of all three islands in 1733. They were purchased on March 31, 1917, by the United States for $25,000,000 from Denmark. Today, the Virgin Islands are an unincorporated territory of the United States and everyone born in the Islands is a U.S. citizen. The Virgin Islands call themselves the "American Paradise."119

Alabama State Emblems ( Montgomery: Alabama State Department of Archives and History, n.d.), p. 2; "The Name Alabama," Arrow Points 10 ( January 1925): 19-20.
Alabama State Emblems, pp. 3-4.
J. Ellis Ransom, "Derivation of the Word 'Alaska,'" American Anthropologist 42 ( July-September 1940): 551.
John P. Harrington, "Our State Names," Smithsonian Institution Annual Report ( 1954): 376.
Welcome to Arizona ( Phoenix: Arizona Office of Tourism, n.d.); Harrington , "Our State Names," p. 376; Adlai Feather, "Origin of the Name Arizona," New Mexico Historical Review 39 ( April 1964): 90-100.


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