PAGÁN, Bolívar

PAGÁN, Bolívar
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
1897–1961

Biography

Dubbed “Puerto Rico’s best-read man” by the New York Times, Bolívar Pagán was highly educated and a prolific writer.1 Pagán married a daughter of his mentor, labor leader and political giant Santiago Iglesias, and upon the older man’s sudden death, filled his seat as Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pagán pursued his father-in-law’s economic initiatives in Congress, particularly the defense of the island’s sugar industry against strict quotas. However, Puerto Rico’s strategic location during the Second World War and the appointment of a controversial governor eventually consumed Pagán’s congressional career.

Bolívar Pagán was born in Guayanilla, a suburb of Ponce in southwestern Puerto Rico, on May 16, 1897, to Emilio Pagán and Elisa Lucca.2 Pagán received his early education in Adjuntas, before moving to Ponce for secondary school, where he excelled at writing, winning the Insular School literary prize in 1915. After graduating from Ponce High School in 1916, he worked as a journalist for several local newspapers: El día de Ponce, Nosotros, Renacimiento, and Puerto Rico ilustrado. He eventually edited La idea and La aurora. In 1919, under the tutelage of Puerto Rican Partido Socialista (Socialist Party) founder Santiago Iglesias, he became vice president of the party. Pagán received his law degree at the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras in 1921, was accepted to the bar, and set up practice in San Juan. In 1922 he served as a judge in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, on the island’s eastern coast. Frequently part of a team of politicians lobbying Washington, Pagán was particularly active in efforts to obtain statehood for the island.3

Pagán made two unsuccessful bids as a Partido Socialista candidate, for the Puerto Rican house of representatives in 1924, and for the Puerto Rican senate in 1928; however, in 1925 he began a four-year term as the San Juan city treasurer.4 Pagán finally attained a seat in the insular senate as a Coalición (Coalition) candidate in 1932 and served from 1933 to 1939, rising to president pro tempore and majority floor leader. In 1936 and 1937, he was also the city manager for San Juan. Personally and politically allied to Iglesias, then the island’s Resident Commissioner in the U.S. Congress, Pagán married Iglesias’s daughter Igualdad in 1933.5

After Iglesias’s unexpected death on December 5, 1939, the Jones Act permitted Governor William B. Leahy to appoint a successor to serve out Iglesias’s elected term, which ended in January 1941.6 Since Iglesias belonged to the Coalición, Leahy asked each of the two parties that formed the pact—the Socialistas, led by Pagán, and the Partido Unión Republicana (Republican Union Party)—to submit the name of a candidate. However, the Unión Republicana leaders honored the terms of the Coalición, which called for a Socialista member to fill the Resident Commissioner post. On December 26, Leahy officially named Pagán to the post.7 He was sworn in on January 3, 1940, and inherited his late father-in-law’s assignments on the Agriculture, Insular Affairs, and Territories Committees.8

Much of Pagán’s work continued his father-in-law’s legacy, including the advocacy of Puerto Rico’s economic and political interests in various New Deal relief and employment programs. Pagán fought to increase Puerto Rican quotas for sugar exports to the continental United States, an issue Iglesias pursued when Congress passed emergency regulations on domestic production in 1934 and 1937. Pagán’s request to increase Puerto Rico’s sugar quota by nearly two-thirds went unheeded, despite restrictions on the industry, whose production exceeded its 1938 quota by nearly one-third.9

Pagán also continued Iglesias’s quest for Puerto Rican statehood and greater local control over the government, but he considered calls for the island’s independence tantamount to “economic suicide.”10 On April 12, 1940, Pagán submitted two bills. The first called for the local election of the island’s governor starting the following November; the governor would appoint his own cabinet, the island’s auditor, and seven of the island’s positions on the supreme court (an increase from five). Pagán also called for the popular election of a vice president, who would serve as the island’s president of the senate. The second bill called for a constitutional convention to consider the island’s statehood. Both bills, however, died in committee.11 The following month, Pagán was a signatory to a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt claiming that Governor Leahy had assumed extraconstitutional powers by appointing two cabinet ministers without the advice or consent of the insular senate. Deeming the move an “embarrassing situation,” the letter stated that the governor’s arbitrary exercise of power gave “no credit to the United States as a champion and safeguard of democracy,” at a time when “absolute dictatorship in Europe had put democracy and modern civilization in actual jeopardy.”12

Pagán faced a changed political landscape in his first election as the incumbent. Two new political entities, the Partido Popular Democrático (Popular Democratic Party, or PPD) and the Partido Unificación Tripartita (Tripartite Unification Party)—dissident factions of the former Coalición and Partido Liberal—petitioned to be on the ballot. The PPD, led by Luis Muñoz Marín, had broken with Partido Liberal allies in 1937 over the issue of immediate independence. As a result, Muñoz Marín tabled the independence issue to focus on social reform and began campaigning in force for the 1940 election. The PPD nominated Dr. Antonio Fernós-Isern, a local physician. The Unificación Tripartita, backed by laborers, chose Puerto Rican speaker Miguel Angel García Méndez as its candidate.13 Pagán’s Coalición stood by its desire for statehood; the incumbent “expresses himself as vigorously pro American,” noted Governor Leahy.14

The political upheaval and continued economic depression translated into a violent campaign. In a July 31 telegram to Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, Governor Leahy noted, “The political controversy here is getting hotter from day to day. We hope it will not explode into violence although there has already been reported some scattered bombing without any casualties more serious than shaken nerves.”15 Although three people were killed and 15 were injured during the polling, federal observers considered the violence an improvement over the status quo.16 “Our local election here is reported as the most peaceful election of recent years,” Governor Leahy told Secretary Ickes. “Only two persons were assassinated,” he reported erroneously, “and only three ballot boxes were burned.”17 The PPD was confident of victory leading up to Election Day. However, surprisingly, the Coalición held together. As a result of the continued and largely pragmatic alliance of the Unión Republicanas and the Socialistas under the Coalición banner, Pagán prevailed; official returns put the Coalición on top with 222,423 votes (39 percent), barely edging out the PPD’s 214,857 votes (38 percent). Unificación Tripartita and a minor political entity—the Partido Agrícola Pura (Pure Agriculture Party), which polled just over 1,000 votes—garnered a combined total of 131,571 votes (23 percent).18

From his perch on the House Committee on Labor in the 77th Congress (1941–1943), Pagán addressed the issue of sugar quotas.19 He rallied against a lopsided vote to raise quotas for mainland producers and refiners of beet and cane sugar that would further restrict quotas for the territories and other producers of cane sugar.20 The vote took place after only 40 minutes of debate, without committee hearings, and despite the warnings of President Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and Secretary of Agriculture Claude Wickard. Though Agriculture Committee chairman Hampton Fulmer of South Carolina assured his colleagues the new quotas would not raise sugar prices, opponents of the proposal disagreed. The Florida delegation was among the groups that lobbied the hardest against the proposal, to protect its burgeoning production of cane sugar. Texas and Louisiana beet producers opposed Florida and the sugarcane-producing territories.21 Pagán read a letter from the President into the Congressional Record: “The Administration has not recommended sugar legislation,” the letter said. “It must also be recognized that a quota and allotment structure may, under conditions now current, conflict with national and defense requirements,” continued the letter, alluding to the growing threat to the United States from the Second World War and to its interest in protecting U.S. territories. Moreover, unstable foreign areas in Cuba and the British West Indies would be under a “virtual embargo,” Secretary Hull had noted. Recognizing the need for stability in sugar-producing regions after the United States entered World War II on December 8, 1941, the Senate amended the legislation on December 15, striking the quota reductions but lowering the price for raw sugar for three years.22

Pagán initially approved of Roosevelt’s foreign policy toward Latin America, praising the President’s “iron pact” speech, in which FDR proclaimed his intention to defend South America against Nazi incursion and pledged “whole hearted and faithful support of your leadership of this nation and the whole democratic world.”23 In the 78th Congress (1943–1945), Pagán gained additional assignments on the Military Affairs and Naval Affairs Committees, reflecting Puerto Rico’s selection before the war as the site for a $30 million army and naval base.24 The committee assignments recognized Puerto Rico’s strategic importance to the U.S. war effort. Dubbed the “Pearl Harbor of the Caribbean,” Puerto Rico became a key location for combating Nazi submarines believed to be roaming the sea.25

A food shortage caused by German U-boat attacks on Caribbean shipping drew national attention to the antipathy between Pagán and Puerto Rico’s appointed governor, Rexford Tugwell. Pagán first aired local dissatisfaction with Tugwell, a former member of Roosevelt’s “Brains Trust,” when Tugwell was appointed chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico in July 1941. Pagán called the move “the most anti-Puerto Rican manoeuvre ever attempted,” noting that no small state university—let alone “the little university of the small and hungry Puerto Rico”—paid its chancellor the exorbitant annual salary of $15,000 that was offered to Tugwell. The selection of a “continental American” as chancellor was also insulting, Pagán said, because it implied that the island could not oversee its own institutions. Pagán’s political opponent Luis Muñoz Marín supported Tugwell’s appointment, partly because of a campaign promise to isolate the university from politics.26 Pagán claimed their alliance benefitted the PPD and Tugwell at Puerto Ricans’ expense. In return, Pagán was frequently accused of attacking Tugwell strictly for political purposes.27

Shortly after Tugwell accepted his appointment as university chancellor in August 1941, Puerto Rican governor Guy Swope resigned, and President Roosevelt quickly tapped Tugwell for the vacancy. Muñoz Marín spoke at Tugwell’s nomination hearing, and Pagán vocally opposed the appointment.28 As early as January 1942, he called for Tugwell’s removal from the post, writing that the governor was “disregarding in Puerto Rico all the principles that the United States forces and democratic peoples are fighting for thruout the world.” He accused Tugwell of aligning with the minority PPD to create despotic political rule and of collecting two federal salaries because he received $10,000 annually as governor while retaining his pay as university chancellor.29 Pagán requested Tugwell’s recall several times throughout the next year, but the Roosevelt administration, advertising itself as sympathetic to the plight of Latin American governments, ignored him.30 Noting that Tugwell threatened to impose martial law to squelch protest against him, Pagán again described his rule as anti-American: “In this way Tugwell is an American Quisling, [he] is doing a good job for the axis powers.”31

Pagán’s battle against the Tugwell administration eventually led to a showdown over a proposed $15 million emergency food program for Puerto Rico. The package stipulated a reduction in sugar production, long anathema to Puerto Rican politicians, along with seeds for food crops to displace cane fields. Pagán was incensed that local politicians were never consulted about the program, a course he claimed was typical of Tugwell. Pagán supported the food aid legislation, observing that the submarine attacks had decimated ships carrying more than two-thirds of the island’s food supplies from the mainland.32 However, he opposed the initial proposal, promising to introduce another $15 million food program, without stipulations, that would include “safeguards for its administration so that the economic structure of Puerto Rico will not be unnecessarily affected.”33

The committee eventually approved an aid bill introduced by Pagán as promised, but in a blow to Tugwell added an amendment offered by Representative William Poage of Texas stipulating that the money would not be appropriated while the governor was in office.34 Despite his opposition to Tugwell’s regime, Pagán expressed doubt about the amendment, fearing it would delay the approval of the desperately needed food aid. Yet, following the committee’s nearly unanimous vote, Pagán expressed satisfaction with the outcome.35 “The members of the agriculture committee do not have confidence in Tugwell and the proviso approved with the bill is merely a declaration against Tugwell,” he noted. “I hope that Tugwell will interpret the proviso as a request of the committee on agriculture that he be withdrawn from the governorship of Puerto Rico.”36 Angered by the amendment, Interior Secretary Ickes accused Pagán of seeking publicity instead of the relief of his constituents, beginning several rounds of public hostility between the two. “The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico has again demonstrated that he is more concerned with politics than with the feeding of the people of Puerto Rico,” Ickes told reporters. Pagán responded by saying, Ickes “demonstrat[ed] that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.”37 When Ickes was called before the House Insular Affairs Committee to testify on Tugwell’s rule, committee members ended up serving as “volunteer referees.” Pagán’s questioning of the Interior Secretary degraded into a shouting match as Ickes, professing to misunderstand Pagán’s accent and accusing him of “playing politics,” frequently asked Pagán to repeat himself. Representative Ed Gossett of Texas eventually moved to close the hearing, noting, “I don’t want to sit here and listen to the secretary and Mr. Pagan argue.”38

Part of Pagán’s fight to dismiss Tugwell included the submission of several bills for the direct election of the Puerto Rican governor, requiring an amendment to the Jones Act, which established the island’s local government. Ironically, Tugwell was the first to suggest the idea to Roosevelt, who approved of his plan on July 4, 1942. However, in an effort to maintain some control over the strategically located island, the Tugwell plan kept the appointed governor in place until the 1944 election cycle. Secretary Ickes supported the plan, but two days later Pagán introduced a bill that allowed the direct election of the governor in the upcoming 1942 election, calling for Tugwell’s immediate resignation and for election plans to move forward.39 New York Representative Vito Marcantonio, a radical member of Congress whose East Harlem district included a large Puerto Rican population, opposed both plans, arguing that neither went far enough and he called for the “immediate, unconditional freedom” of Puerto Rico. Citing the large number of absentee corporate landowners on the island, Marcantonio claimed that only Puerto Rico’s independence would satisfy the requirements of the Atlantic Charter and secure the full cooperation of Latin American nations.40 Ignoring both Pagán and Marcantonio, Roosevelt officially endorsed the Tugwell plan in a message to Congress on March 9, 1943, in which he appointed to a committee headed by Ickes an equal number of Puerto Rican and “continental” residents to recommend the changes in the Jones Act to require the direct election of the island’s governor.41 Pagán was not selected to serve on the committee, but supported its final plan to allow Puerto Rico to elect its own governor.42

Pagán called one last time for Tugwell’s resignation. On May 1, 1944, he declared that Puerto Ricans were on the brink of revolution.“If the American flag had not been waving over Puerto Rico, the people would have already gone into open revolt by arms,” he told reporters. He also charged the governor with living in a plush mansion despite the island’s poverty. “Tugwell’s dictatorial attitude can be matched only by Hitler’s and Mussolini’s,” he said.43 Pagán was more diplomatic in a letter to Roosevelt, writing, “Many Congressmen, who are acquainted with the Puerto Rican situation, argue that the reform measure [proposed by Tugwell] would be fake if Puerto Ricans do not have since now a new governor, respected and trusted by all.”44 Tugwell called Pagán’s assertions “irresponsible,” declaring, “We in Puerto Rico are as peaceful as other Americans who happen to live in Wichita or Seattle.”45 “Mr. Pagán has perhaps lost touch with the real Puerto Rico,” Tugwell spat. “His return from Washington [last year], triumphant over thousands of hungry fellow-citizens, evidently went to his head a little. That’s the only way I can account for his delusions of revolution.”46 In September, Pagán threatened in a letter to the President to boycott the election if he did not remove Tugwell, a move the White House strongly denounced.47

Pagán decided not to run for re-election in 1944 because of another political realignment. A new coalition of the Partidos Unión Republicana and Socialista, and dissident factions of the former Partido Liberal allied to combat the growing strength of the PPD. The agreement included putting forward a former Liberal for Resident Commissioner, and Colonel Manuel Font topped the new Coalición ticket.48 Early predictions boasted a PPD victory in the fall of 1944, partly as a vindication of the policies of Tugwell, who according to the minority party, was maligned strictly for political purposes.49 In an election watched closely by mainland observers, including New Mexico Senator Dennis Chavez, the PPD, which was headlined by the candidate for Resident Commissioner, Jesús T. Piñero, won 65 percent of the votes, handily defeating the Coalición’s 35 percent.50 The issue of Puerto Rico’s status crept back into the campaign. Leading the victorious party, Luis Muñoz Marín declared he would call for a plebiscite to vote on independence.51

Pagán served in the island senate until the PPD absorbed his Partido Socialista in the late 1940s, after which he resumed his law practice on the island.52 He also wrote a two-volume political history of Puerto Rico, from the U.S. invasion in 1898 through 1953. After completing a draft of his manuscript in 1960, he was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent an operation but died 17 months later in San Juan on February 9, 1961.53

Footnotes

1“Appoints Bolivar Pagan,” 27 December 1939, New York Times: 9.

2Libertad I. Moore to Ansel Wold, 16 January 1940, textual files of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives (hereinafter referred to as textual files of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress). A newspaper article indicates that Santiago Iglesias raised Pagán alongside his 11 children after Pagán was orphaned at a young age, but even in his eulogy of Iglesias on the House Floor, Pagán never confirmed this. “Appoints Bolivar Pagan,” 27 December 1939, New York Times: 9; “Memorial Services Held in the House of Representatives of the United States, Together with Remarks Presented in Eulogy of Santiago Iglesias, Late a Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico,” (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1941): 33.

3See, for example, “Offers Puerto Rico Plan,” 6 June 1939, New York Times: 5; “Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico Named,” 27 December 1939, Baltimore Sun: 9.

4Moore to Wold, textual files of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

5“Daughter of Island Envoy Wed Here,” 28 September 1933, Washington Post: 8. It is not known whether the couple had any children.

6Second Jones Act of 1917, PL 64-368, 39 Stat. 964.

7“May Succeed Iglesias,” 21 December 1939, New York Times: 16; “Report Post for Pagan,” 24 December 1939, New York Times: 9; “Appoints Bolivar Pagan.”

8Congressional Record, House, 76th Cong., 3rd sess. (3 January 1940): 6. In what appears to be a formality under the provisions of the Jones Act (39 Stat. 964), the Puerto Rican senate confirmed Pagán’s appointment on February 17. See “Pagan Confirmed by Puerto Ricans,” 18 February 1940, Washington Post: 15. Several other Resident Commissioners were appointed to the House. Appointments from Puerto Rico to fill vacancies are permitted under the Jones Act of 1917 (39 Stat. 964). Other Resident Commissioners who were appointed are José Pesquera of Puerto Rico (1932), Quintin Paredes of the Philippines (1935), Joaquin Elizalde of the Philippines (1938), Carlos Romulo of the Philippines (1944), Antonio Fernós-Isern of Puerto Rico (1946), and Antonio Colorado of Puerto Rico (1992). See Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, http://bioguide.congress.gov.

9James L. Dietz, Economic History of Puerto Rico: Institutional Change and Capitalist Development (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986): 171–172, see especially Table 3.8.

10“Pagan, 61, Is Dead of Cancer,” San Juan Star, 10 February 1961, available in the textual files of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

11H.R. 9360 and H.R. 9361; “Pleads for Puerto Rico,” 13 April 1940, New York Times: 6; Congressional Record, House, 76th Cong., 3rd sess. (12 April 1940): 4464.

12“Puerto Ricans Protest Leahy Rule, Is Report,” 22 May 1940, Baltimore Sun: 4.

13César J. Ayala and Rafael Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century: A History since 1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007): 136–137, 142; “New Party Is Strong in Puerto Rico Vote,” 7 November 1940, New York Times: 6; “Results in Closely Contested Races for Seats in the House,” 7 November 1940, Washington Post: 6.

14William D. Leahy to Harold Ickes, 16 November 1940, Doc. 9-9-82-Politics-Elections-1940; Classified Files, 1907–1951; Office of Territories, Record Group 126; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD (hereinafter referred to as RG 126; NACP).

15William D. Leahy to Harold Ickes, 31 July 1940, Doc. 9-8-82-Politics-Elections-1940, RG 126, NACP.

16“Puerto Rico Vote Split,” 9 November 1940, New York Times: 8.

17“Puerto Rico Vote Split”; William D. Leahy to Harold Ickes, 6 November 1940, Doc. 9-9-82-Politics-Elections-1940; RG 126; NACP.

18Fernando Bayron Toro, Elecciones y partidos políticos de Puerto Rico, 1809–2000 (Mayagüez: Editorial Isla, 2003): 191–194; “Puerto Rico Vote Split”; “Total Number of Votes Cast in the Last Election by Each Political Party for Commissioner to Washington,” Doc. 9-8-82-Politics-Elections-1940; RG 126; NACP.

19David T. Canon et al., Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1789 to 1946, vol. 3 (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2002): 797.

20Congressional Record, House, 77th Cong., 1st sess. (1 December 1941): 9297.

21“Mainland Sugar Wins House Help,” 2 December 1941, New York Times: 19.

22Senate Committee on Finance, Extension of Sugar Act of 1937, 77th Cong., 1st sess., S. Rep. 907; P.L. 77-386, 55 Stat. 872–873.

23Associated Press, “Controlled Nazi Press Blames ‘Jewish Suggesters’ to F.D.R.,” 29 May 1941, Atlanta Constitution: 6.

24Canon et al., Committees in the U.S. Congress, 1789 to 1946, vol. 3: 797; “Puerto Rico Base Work Progressing, Leahy Reports,” 2 January 1940, Washington Post: 4.

25John Lear, “Rexford Tugwell under Fire as Governor of Puerto Rico,” 1 March 1942, Washington Post: B3; Lear, “Tugwell Stirs Up a Tropical Storm,” 8 March 1942, Baltimore Sun: SC10.

26“Assails Naming Tugwell,” 30 July 1941, New York Times: 5.

27Surendra Bhana, The United States and the Development of the Puerto Rican Status Question, 1936–1968 (Lawrence: The University Press of Kansas, 1975): 41, 46–47.

28Hearing before the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs, Nomination of Rexford G. Tugwell, U.S. Senate, 77th Cong., 1st sess. (6, 12, 13, and 18 August 1941).

29“Brand Tugwell a Quisling; Call for His Ouster,” 22 January 1942, Chicago Daily Tribune: 7; “Tugwell Called American Quisling,” 22 January 1942, Baltimore Sun: 13; “Tugwell Removal Asked by Puerto Rico Official,” 3 February 1942, Atlanta Constitution: 12.

30“Tugwell Worse Governor, Says Plea for Recall,” 29 October 1942, Chicago Daily Tribune: 9; “Tugwell’s Recall Urged,” 29 October 1942, New York Times: 25; “Tugwell under New Attack on Ouster of Aid,” 12 November 1942, Chicago Daily Tribune: 13; John Lear, “Rexford Tugwell under Fire as Governor of Puerto Rico,” 1 March 1942, Washington Post: B3; Lear, “Tugwell Stirs Up a Tropical Storm,” 8 March 1942, Baltimore Sun: SC10.

31“Brand Tugwell a Quisling; Call for His Ouster”; “Tugwell Called American Quisling.”

32“Claims Tugwell Tries Nazi Ideas in Puerto Rico.” 17 October 1942, Chicago Tribune: 14.

33Eugene Rachlis, “Puerto Rican Opposes Plan for Food Fund,” 21 June 1942, Washington Post: 9.

34John Fisher, “Millions Voted Puerto Rico if Tugwell Quits,” 18 November 1942, Chicago Daily Tribune: 1; “Moves in Congress to Oust Tugwell,” 18 November 1942, New York Times: 16. The latter claims “Representative Page” introduced the amendment, but there was no one named “Page” on the House Agriculture Committee in the 77th Congress. However, Representative William Poage of Texas served on the committee. See Congressional Directory, 77th Cong., 2nd sess. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1941): 197.

35Accounts of the committee vote differ. Chairman Fulmer claimed the vote was unanimous, but reporters noted two dissenters. See Paul Ward, “House Group Adopts Device to Oust Tugwell from Office,” 18 November 1942, Baltimore Sun: 1

36“Moves in Congress to Oust Tugwell,” 18 November 1942, New York Times: 16; John Fisher, “Millions Voted Puerto Rico If Tugwell Quits,” 18 November 1942, Chicago Daily Tribune: 1.

37“Pagan Disputes Ickes,” 20 November 1942, New York Times: 11.

38William Moore, “Tugwell Debate with Ickes Fags a Puerto Rican,” 25 February 1943, Chicago Daily Tribune: 11.

39James B. Reston, “Right of Electing Governor Planned for Puerto Ricans,” 4 July 1942, New York Times: 1; “Election of Governor Planned for Puerto Rico,” 5 February 1943, Atlanta Constitution: 3; “Plans Being Made to Let Puerto Rico Elect Its Governor,” 5 February 1943, Baltimore Sun: 11.

40“Offers Bill to Aid Puerto Rico in ’42,” 7 July 1942, New York Times: 10. Pagán frequently found himself trading barbs with Marcantonio. See, for example, Congressional Record, House, 76th Cong., 3rd sess. (26 April 1940): 5148–5155.

41Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Message to Congress on Local Election of a Governor of Puerto Rico,” in John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=16371 (accessed 28 September 2010); “Home Rule Asked for Puerto Rico,” 10 March 1943, New York Times: 3.

42“Puerto Rican Rule to Come Up Tomorrow,” 18 July 1943, Chicago Daily Tribune: 16; “Ickes, Seven Others Seek Workable Formula for Puerto Rican Home Rule,” 18 July 1943, Washington Post: M8; “Back Puerto Rico Bill,” 6 August 1944, New York Times: 16.

43“Puerto Ricans Held on Verge of Revolt,” 1 May 1944, Christian Science Monitor: 11; “Tugwell Rule Brews Revolt, Asserts Critic,” 2 May 1944, Chicago Daily Tribune: 8; “Puerto Rico Revolt Hinted; Tugwell Ouster Demanded,” 2 May 1944, Los Angeles Times: 2; “Assails Tugwell as ‘Like Hitler’,” 2 May 1944, New York Times: 9; “Puerto Rico Revolt Said Seething,” 2 May 1944, Atlanta Constitution: 3.

44Bolivar Pagán to Franklin D. Roosevelt, 6 June 1944, Doc. 9-8-82-Politics-General, RG 126, NACP.

45“Tugwell Denies His Regime Is Dictatorship,” 4 May 1944, Chicago Daily Tribune: 5.

46“Puerto Rico Safe, Tugwell Declares,” 4 May 1944, New York Times: 5.

47Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bolivar Pagán, 9 October 1944, Doc. 9-8-82-Politics-Elections-General, RG 126, NACP.

48Bayron Toro, Elecciones y partidos políticos de Puerto Rico: 202.

49“Tugwell in Puerto Rico,” 19 March 1944, Washington Post: B5.

50Elmer Ellsworth and J. T. Piñero to Bolivar Pagán, 4 May 1944, Doc. 9-8-82–Politics-Elections-Legislation, U.S., RG 126, NACP. Some results separate the remaining Partido Liberal votes from the Coalición votes. Taken separately, the Partido Liberal won 38,630 votes, the Socialistas won 68,107, and the Unión Republicanas won 101,779 votes. “Total Number of Votes Cast in Last Election by Each Political Party for Commissioner in Washington,” Doc. 9-8-82-Politics-Elections-1944, RG 126; Congressional Record, Extension of Remarks, 79th Cong., 1st sess. 22 January 1945; 9-8-82-Politics-Elections-1940; RG 126; NACP.

51Paul W. Ward, “New Measure on Puerto Rico,” 21 December 1944, Baltimore Sun: 7.

52Pagán won his final senate term as a Socialista in 1948. See Bayron Toro, Elecciones y partidos políticos de Puerto Rico, 1809–2000: 212.

53“Puerto Rican Ex-Official,” 10 February 1961, Washington Post: B4; “Bolivar Pagan, 61, Puerto Rican Aide,” 10 February 1961, New York Times: 24. According to Social Security records, Pagán was born in 1897, which would have made him 64 when he died. However, his obituaries state that he died at age 61.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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Bibliography / Further Reading

"Bolívar Pagán" in Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-2012. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of the Historian and the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2013.

Pagán, Bolívar. América y otras páginas. San Juan, P. R.: [s. n.], 1922.

___. El sufragio femenino (estudio jurídico). San Juan, P. R., 1924.

___. Ley municipal, revisada, anotada, y comentada. San Juan, P. R.: La Correspondencia de Pto, Rico, Inc., 1925.

___. Ideales en marcha; discursos y artículos. San Juan, P. R.: Biblioteca de autores puertorriqueños, 1939.

___. Puerto Rico: The Next State. Washington, D. C., 1942.

___. Discurso de Bolivar Pagán. San Juan, P. R.: [Imprenta Venezuela, E. Franklin & Co.], 1943.

___. Crónicas de Wáshington. San Juan, P.R.: Biblioteca de Autores Puertorriqueños, 1949.

___. Constitución para Puerto Rico. [San Juan, P. R.], 1951.

___. Historia de los partidos políticos puertorriqueños, 1898-1956. San Juan, P. R.: Librería Campos, 1959.

___. Lecciones de gobierno civil. San Juan, P. R.: Departamento de Instrucción Pública, 1961.

___. Proccerato puertorriqueño del siglo XIX: historia de los partidos políticos puertorriqueños, desde sus orígines hasta 1898. San Juan de Puerto Rico: Editorial Campos, 1961.

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Committee Assignments

  • House Committee - Agriculture
  • House Committee - Insular Affairs
  • House Committee - Labor
  • House Committee - Military Affairs
  • House Committee - Naval Affairs
  • House Committee - Territories
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