MacGillivray Milne

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MacGillivray Milne
MacGillivray Milne head.jpg
27th Governor of American Samoa
In office
January 20, 1936 – June 3, 1938
Preceded by Thomas Benjamin Fitzpatrick
Succeeded by Edward Hanson
Personal details
Born August 19, 1882
Gauley Bridge, West Virginia
Died 26 January 1959(1959-01-26) (aged 76)
Naval Hospital Oakland in Oakland, California
Spouse(s) Natalie Elise Blauvelt
Alma mater United States Naval Academy
Occupation Naval officer
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Captain
Commands USS Tulsa (PG-22)
USS Arizona (BB-39)
Modern Languages Department of the United States Naval Academy

MacGillivray Milne (August 19, 1882 – January 26, 1959) was a United States Navy Captain, and the 27th Governor of American Samoa from January 20, 1936, to June 3, 1938. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy, Milne served many posts in the Navy, including heading the Department of Modern Languages at the Naval Academy. He was a veteran of a large numbers of conflicts, including the Philippine–American War, the United States occupation of Veracruz, and both World War I and World War II. Milne commanded a number of ships, but his last one was the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39). After the ship struck a private fishing vessel and killed two civilians, Milne was court-martialed and stripped of three grades which determined his eligibility for promotion. As Governor, Milne pushed for the modernization of American Samoa, and sought increased federal aid for the islands; his efforts to obtain additional funding for the island largely ended in failure. He died in 1959 at the Naval Hospital Oakland, and was buried in Sparkill, Rockland County, New York.

Early life[edit]

Milne was born on August 19, 1882, in Gauley Bridge, West Virginia.[1] He married Natalie Elise Blauvelt on June 2, 1917.[1] He lived most of his ashore life in Newport, Rhode Island.[2] Because of his difficult to spell and overly-long given name, Milne always signed official letters "M. Milne".[3]

Naval Service[edit]

Milne aboard the USS Arizona.

Milne graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1903,[4][5] and served as a naval officer in multiple different wars, including the Philippine-American War, the United States occupation of Veracruz, and both World War I and World War II.[1] He served a post at the United States Naval Academy. While there, he joined a panel of three other officers in researching the scholarship of student athletes at the Academy over a period of thirty years. The panel found that these athletes were likely to stay in the United States Navy for long periods of time, and were often career minded.[4] At the Academy, Milne also served as head of the modern languages department.[6]

In 1932, Milne was one of few American military officers chosen to travel to Italy to inspect a number of war veterans alongside Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Mussolini had invited officers from numerous countries in an effort to improve relations.[7]

Milne then commanded the USS Arizona when, in 1934, the battleship collided with the private fishing vessel Umatilla off the coast of Neah Bay, Washington, on July 26, 1934. The collision split the Umatilla in half, and two of its crew drowned. Milne underwent a court martial, where the blame for the crash was placed upon him. The court stripped him of three grades of seniority within his rank, making it very difficult for him to be promoted.[2] Milne had been ranked 149th in the Navy register,[8] but retired with the rank he had at this time, that of Captain.[1] Officials stated that the real punishment came from the "black mark" the court martial left upon Milne's record.[8] His position on the Arizona ended soon after his conviction.[3]


Milne became the Governor of American Samoa on January 20, 1936, relieving Thomas Benjamin Fitzpatrick from command.[1] He took steps in modernizing American Samoa; his wife appealed directly to First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt to help improve the state of the islands' indoor plumbing and sanitation systems.[9] Among his projects, Milne tried to have a library built for use by the Samoans.[10] Despite these efforts, neither of the two were able to acquire federal aid for the improvement of infrastructure.[1] During his term, the inhabitants of American Samoa became increasingly Americanized.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Captain McGillivray Milne". Government of American Samoa. 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Associated Press (13 November 1934). "Punish Captain of Naval Vessel for Collision July 26". Schenectady Gazette. Schenectady, New York. p. 3. Retrieved 21 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Stillwell, Paul (1991). Battleship Arizona: An Illustrated History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 132;184. ISBN 0-87021-023-8. Retrieved 20 March 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Find Athletes Good Students: Naval Academy Board Makes Report After Scanning Records of Thirty Years". The Woodville Republican. Woodville, Mississippi: Boyd. 22 April 1922. p. 6. Retrieved 21 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Naval Academy Lucky Bag. Annapolis, MD: United States Navy. 1903. p. 46. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  6. ^ Annual Register of the U.S. Naval Academy. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Academy. 1919. p. 25. Retrieved 21 March 2010. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (28 October 1932). "Americans to Accompany Premier". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. p. 5. 
  8. ^ a b Associated Press (13 November 1934). "Navy Officer Punished". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. p. 6. 
  9. ^ Sorensen, Stan (16 May 2008). "Historical Notes" (PDF). Tapuitea. Government of American Samoa. III (20): 2. Retrieved 20 March 2010. 
  10. ^ Civil Engineering. 9. Reston, Virginia: American Society of Civil Engineers. 1939. 
  11. ^ "Samoa's Youth Takes to American Clothes; Girls Dress in Rayon, Boys in Bright Shirts". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. 5 December 1937. p. 42.