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About Carlton Skinner
Carlton Skinner (April 8, 1913 – June 22, 2004) was the first civilian governor of Guam and a prominent advocate for the integration of the United States Armed Forces. President Harry Truman appointed Skinner governor in 1949, after the United States Navy ceded control of the island to the Department of the Interior.
Life and education
Skinner, a native of Palo Alto, California, originally attended Wesleyan University where he was a member of the fraternity that later became a chapter of The Kappa Alpha Society and transferred from there to the University of California at Los Angeles. Prior to World War II, he was a correspondent for United Press International and The Wall Street Journal World War II. From 1947 to 1949 he served as Public Relations Director and then as a special assistant to the United States Secretary of the Interior.
As a Coast Guard Lieutenant, Skinner commanded the USCGC Sea Cloud, a weather ship. When the United States entered World War II, the Coast Guard was integrated into the Navy, and the Sea Cloud was sent out on combat service. Leaving Boston, the Sea Cloud participated in sinking one submarine. Earlier, while serving as executive officer of the USCGC Northland, Skinner began to question the Armed Forces policy of ship segregation. The Northland, stranded during a patrol with no engine, was saved when a black steward crewman got the engine started after white engineers were unable. When Skinner recommended the man for promotion, he was told that blacks were only allowed to be steward's mates. Seeking to prove a point, Skinner sailed with the Navy's first fully integrated crew since the Civil War, with duties spread equally among white and black crewmen. Future black artist Jacob Lawrence was among the men who served on the Sea Cloud under Lieutenant Skinner.
After the Sea Cloud, Skinner commanded a second integrated crew aboard the USS Hoaquim near the Aleutian Islands. Noting the success of Skinner's two commands, the Navy integrated the USS Mason, and dropped ship segregation completely within the next few decades. Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Vincent W. Patton III said of Skinner: "I will say without question that he was the front guard of integrating the U.S. military forces in World War II, and the man got very little credit for it".
When the Department of the Interior began to oversee Guam, Skinner was a Public Relations Officer for the Department. After the Department selected him and the Department of the Navy ceded control, Truman appointed Carlton Skinner governor of Guam on September 17, 1949. As governor, Skinner established Guam's first university at the University of Guam. He also wrote the Constitution of Guam, which is still in use today.
After leaving the governor's post in 1953, Skinner lived in various locations around the world, serving as chief financial officer for American President Lines, Colt Industries, and Fairbanks-Morse. John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Skinner to two consecutive terms on the South Pacific Commission. He eventually became a San Francisco businessman and owner of Skinner & Co., a financial consulting firm.
Death and legacy
Skinner died of heart failure on June 22, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts, at the age of 91. A plaza in Agana is named in Skinner's honor.