World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

John Martin Poyer

John Martin Poyer
12th Governor of American Samoa
In office
March 1, 1915 – June 10, 1919
Preceded by Charles Armijo Woodruff
Succeeded by Warren Jay Terhune
Personal details
Born 1861
Indiana, U.S.
Died May 12, 1922
Washington, D.C.
Spouse(s) Emma Porter
Alma mater United States Naval Academy
Occupation Naval officer
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Years of service 1879 - 1906, 1915 - 1919
Rank Commander
Awards Navy Cross

John Martin Poyer (1861 – May 12, 1922) was the twelfth Naval Governor of American Samoa, from March 1, 1915 to June 10, 1919. He held the longest term of any American governor appointed over the territory by the United States Government. A Naval Academy graduate, Poyer served in numerous positions and retired in 1906 on account of failing health; however, the Navy recalled him to service in 1915 to serve as Governor. During the 1918 flu pandemic, Poyer quarantined the territory to stop the spread of the pandemic to American Samoa. Because of his actions, no deaths occurred in American Samoa, and he received the Navy Cross. Upon his final retirement, Poyer had reached the rank of Commander.


  • Life and career 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Naval career 1.2
  • Governorship 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4

Life and career

Early life

Poyer was born in Indiana in 1861.[1] He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Wisconsin in October 1879.[2]

Naval career

Poyer became an Ensign in February 1884, a Lieutenant (junior grade) in December 1894.[2] He was stationed to the Washington Navy Yard from 1892 to 1894, the USS Montgomery from August 1894 to 1897, the Naval War College on June 1897, back to the Washington Ship Yard from 1897 to 1898, and the USS Saint Paul.[2] He became a Lieutenant on May 1898.[2] Poyer retired from active duty in on June 30, 1906 on account of ill-health as a Lieutenant commander, but was brought back to active duty to become Governor of American Samoa.[3][4]


On March 1, 1915, Poyer relieved Lieutenant Charles Armijo Woodruff and became the twelfth Governor of American Samoa, the eleventh man to hold the office. He is only one of three men to hold the office of Naval Governor after having already retired from the Navy.[5] As Governor, Poyer ended prohibition of alcohol in the territory. During the 1918 flu pandemic, Poyer quarantined American Samoa after hearing news reports of worldwide deaths on the radio.[6] This action caused American Samoa to be one of the few places in the world to not suffer any flu deaths.[5] Angered by the quarantine of ships, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Logan of the New Zealand Army, administrator of Western Samoa, cut off communications with American Samoa.[5] For his leadership in preventing the spread of Spanish influenza, Poyer received the Navy Cross.

Poyer transferred command of American Samoa to Warren Jay Terhune on June 10, 1919, ending his governorship. His term is the longest of any Naval Governor of American Samoa.[5] After his retirement, Poyer lived in Washington, D.C. until his death.[3]


  1. ^ United States Civil Service Commission (1887), 473.
  2. ^ a b c d Hamersly (1902), 216.
  3. ^ a b The New York Times (1922), 26.
  4. ^ United States Bureau of Naval Personnel (1906), 178.
  5. ^ a b c d Government of American Samoa (2009).
  6. ^ Sims (2009).


  • "Commander John Martin Poyer: March 1, 1915 - June 10, 1919".  
  • Hamersly, Lewis Randolph (1902). The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps: With a History of Naval Operations During the Rebellion of 1861-5, and a List of the Ships and Officers Participating in the Great Battles. J.M. Carroll. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  • "Obituary 1 -- No Title".  
  • Sims, Keith (23 September 2009). "The Spanish Flu".  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.