Puerto Rico

William McKinley of Ohio/tiles/non-collection/p/part2_06_mckinley_william_lc.xml Image courtesy of the Library of Congress A prominent Civil War veteran, William McKinley of Ohio served for seven terms in the House before being elected governor of Ohio. Elected President in 1896, McKinley was felled by an assassin in Buffalo, New York, in September 1901, six months into his second term.
The predominant development in the story of Hispanic-American Members of Congress during this era was the ambiguous absorption of Puerto Rico into the national fold. The island territory was neither fully part of the United States nor an independent country. “Since [Puerto Rico] was subject to the sovereignty of and was owned by the United States, it was foreign to the United States in a domestic sense,” pronounced Justice Henry Brown in the Supreme Court’s landmark Downes v. Bidwell (182 U.S. 244) decision in 1901—which was intended to clarify the island’s position, but ended up only adding a new layer of uncertainty instead.14 Primarily as a result of this contradictory decision, Congress governed Puerto Rico through a series of statutes that enabled the United States to extract island resources and exploit its strategic location at the center of the Caribbean while paying little attention to the economic, cultural, and political realities on the island. Lawmakers found themselves in the position of “fabricat[ing] the jurisdictional fiction of an unincorporated territory,” notes a scholar, effectively “relegating the island to the perpetual status of a ward who will never become part of his patron’s family.”15

U.S. Expansionism and the Caribbean

Although the United States began acquiring Caribbean territories in the late 1800s, the impetus for such acquisitions was based on Manifest Destiny—the concept that the United States had a moral claim on territory stretching to the Pacific Ocean and beyond—and on the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, which asserted that European nations should not meddle in the Western Hemisphere. The desire for security and control of economic resources such as sugar and tobacco also fueled some U.S. policymakers’ ambitions for Caribbean territory during the antebellum era.16

Though the Civil War temporarily halted America’s focus on the Caribbean, by the 1880s, large American businesses sought new markets, and the U.S. government desired influence beyond the North American continent. Within U.S. society, the emergence of a social elite and the travels of entrepreneurs, tourists, missionaries, and settlers also encouraged the public to look at expanding the United States’ role in world affairs. Even anti-expansionists such as President Grover Cleveland had a mixed record as far as pursuing an aggressive foreign policy and checking U.S. expansionist initiatives in the early 1890s.17 Territorial expansion was a key platform for President William McKinley during the 1896 and 1900 elections, especially the expansion southward into the Caribbean where an American-owned isthmian canal was being built to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.18

Spanish-American War

U.S.S. Maine/tiles/non-collection/p/part2_07_uss_maine_lc.xml Image courtesy of the Library of Congress The accidental sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana’s harbor killed 266 U.S. sailors. With a rallying cry, “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain,” many newspapers blamed Spain for the incident. Popular sentiment compelled Congress to declare war in April 1898.
When Cuban revolutionaries began calling for independence from Spain in 1895, the United States found itself in an awkward situation given Cuba’s proximity and its strategic Caribbean location. The American press began sensationalizing the events in Cuba, and popular opinion rallied behind the revolutionaries. McKinley and his deputies pressured Spanish officials to stop the uprising before it became uncontrollable, warning that failure to comply might precipitate American intervention.19

By February 1898 the diplomatic situation had deteriorated and the relationship between the U.S. and Spain was tottering. The explosion on February 15 of the U.S.S. Maine, an American battleship newly arrived in Havana Harbor, killed 266 sailors and became the tipping point for American intervention. Though the circumstances of the explosion were unclear, many, including some in Congress, blamed Spain.20 President McKinley resisted the immediate calls for war, but with conditions in Cuba expected to worsen, he acknowledged the conflict in a message to Congress on April 11.21 He blamed Spain and demanded an end to the war to protect U.S. interests and promote peace in the Caribbean. The House voted 325 to 19 in favor of war, passing a joint resolution that stopped short of recognizing an independent Cuban government. But the Senate added language to the House measure recognizing the Cuban Republic three days later on April 16, by a 67 to 21 vote.22 When the conference committee convened, negotiations lasted until after one o’clock in the morning. The final resolution acknowledged Cuban freedom but did not acknowledge Cuba as a republic. Congress formally declared war on April 25.23

On July 25, 1898, the United States invaded Puerto Rico as part of an American strategy to capture Spanish holdings in the Caribbean. The Spanish Army put up little resistance to the invasion, and some rural peasants even formed mobile bands to resist their former colonizers.24 Two future Resident Commissioners watched the assault from different perspectives. As a leader in the Autonomist Party and having recently won home rule for Puerto Rico from the Spanish government, Luis Muñoz Rivera watched the invasion with dismay. His political rival, Santiago Iglesias, whom Muñoz Rivera had imprisoned for his labor agitation at the outbreak of the war, nearly died when an American shell struck the prison. Upon his release, he aided the American invaders by serving as an interpreter. Hostilities ended August 12, 1898, and the United States installed a military government in Puerto Rico on October 18. The Treaty of Paris, which was signed December 10, 1898, ended the war, with Spain ceding Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. Among those present at the treaty’s signing in France was future Resident Commissioner Federico Degetau.

Overview of Puerto Rican Politics, 1898–1900

Puerto Rican politics differed from those of the other islands in the Spanish Caribbean and from those of other U.S. territories. Unlike Cuba and the Dominican Republic—which were characterized by revolutionary militarism and authoritarianism, respectively—Puerto Rico followed a tradition of working within the existing colonial system to liberalize civil government on the island.25 By the time the United States acquired Puerto Rico at the end of the Spanish-American War the island’s political elite, who would shape the first generation of relations with the United States, already had a long history of working within a colonial framework. By 1869 the Spanish Cortes in Madrid had seated the first Puerto Rican delegates. Over time Puerto Rican businessmen and politicians became inclined to favor “electoral and parliamentary solutions to its colonial dilemma,” thus reinforcing “a defining characteristic of the island’s political culture,” relative economic stability with rigid class lines.26

Autonomists, who sought self-rule within the Spanish imperial orbit, dominated island politics by the 1880s. They formed Liberal and Conservative factions that often reflected the platforms of major parties in Madrid. Moreover, they constantly advanced their case for ever-greater measures of home rule by contrasting the island’s record as a faithful outpost of the empire with Cuba’s insurrectionist movement. For instance, the Autonomist faction, led by Luis Muñoz Rivera, contributed “loyalty and support for the Liberal Party in the Spanish Cortes in exchange for concessions of enhanced self-rule.” Muñoz Rivera declared to Spanish officials, “We are Spaniards and wrapped in the Spanish flag we shall die.”27 He and future Resident Commissioner Federico Degetau were among those who traveled to Madrid in 1895 to secure home rule for Puerto Rico from the Spanish government.

The United States’ victory in the Spanish-American War moved Puerto Rico’s trajectory away from self-rule, frustrating and traumatizing Puerto Rico’s political elites “to the extent that more than a century later, those wounds continued to ooze with no end in sight.”28 Instead of political autonomy, which Spain had promised, the United States implemented two years of military rule under three different governors: Major John Brooke, General Guy Henry, and General George W. Davis—all of whom had backgrounds as Indian fighters, leaving Puerto Ricans dismayed at the unlikelihood of their political recognition.29 After the United States occupied the island in 1898, Muñoz Rivera wrote a poem likening his efforts to achieve political autonomy for Puerto Rico to Sisyphus’s eternal task of pushing a huge rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down.30

The Foraker Act and Its Discontents

Joseph Foraker of Ohio/tiles/non-collection/p/part2_08_foraker_joseph_lc.xml Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Joseph Foraker of Ohio, chairman of the Senate Committee on Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico, was a Civil War veteran. Foraker also served as governor of Ohio for two terms before his election to the U.S. Senate.
In 1900 the U.S. ended its military occupation of Puerto Rico and attempted to define the island’s position within the federal orbit. Beginning as H.R. 6883, a bill to apply U.S. customs and internal revenue laws in Puerto Rico, the Foraker Act was the first law to define Puerto Rico’s territorial status in the early 20th century. The bill was introduced by its chief sponsor, House Ways and Means Chairman Sereno Payne of New York, in January 1900.31 Senate bill S. 2264, introduced by Joseph Foraker of Ohio, simultaneously provided a “temporary civil government for Porto Rico.” A report that accompanied the bill recommended “the election of a Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, who shall be allowed a seat but not vote in that body.”

  Two types of opposition emerged. Some Members argued that the legislation did not go far enough, challenging the notion that a single individual could represent more than one million, a constituency significantly larger than any House Member’s. Also, the provision fell significantly short of Puerto Rico’s representation in the Spanish Cortes, which included four senators and 12 deputies.32 Other Members, such as Senator John C. Spooner of Wisconsin, believed the legislation went too far. Spooner felt territories such as Puerto Rico and Hawaii would never become states and that the election of a Delegate held out a false promise of eventual statehood. “There is no difference between a Delegate in Congress and a member except in the matter of a vote. It has always been considered a pledge of statehood,” Spooner argued. “I am not yet ready, nor are we called upon now, to give that quasi pledge of statehood, or to imply that they will ever reach a condition where it shall be either for their interests, or certainly for ours, to let them be one of the members of this Union.”33

A small Puerto Rican delegation representing a diverse range of political interests appealed for a civil government during debate on the Foraker Act. Among the members of the delegation was future Resident Commissioner Tulio Larrínaga, who was then a municipal engineer of San Juan and a member of the Puerto Rican Federal Party. Testifying before several House and Senate committees about conditions on the island, he called for free trade with the United States, advocated territorial status for Puerto Rico, and discussed universal male suffrage.34 “Puerto Rico needs a civil government even more than free trade,” he told the House Committee on Ways and Means. “The people want to feel that they have become in a tangible manner attached to the United States and [that Puerto Rico is] not a mere dependency.”35

John C. Spooner of Wisconsin/tiles/non-collection/p/part2_09_spooner_john_lc.xml Image courtesy of the Library of Congress John C. Spooner of Wisconsin supported the acquisition of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam as U.S. territories, but opposed their permanent annexation.

The House passed Payne’s bill by a vote of 172 to 160. The Senate replaced the language in the House bill with its own, adding such extensive amendments that the bill was eventually named for its Senate sponsor. President McKinley signed the Foraker Act (31 Stat. 77–86) on April 12, 1900. The law established a colonial regime, administered by the U.S. President and the Congress, and designated the island an “unorganized territory”; thus, while Puerto Ricans were not granted U.S. citizenship, those who swore loyalty to the United States would receive its protection. The act placed absolute power in the hands of a governor appointed by the President and an 11-member executive council that comprised a majority of U.S. appointees who directed the island’s six principal administrative bureaus. The law also created a 35-member house of delegates that would be popularly elected every two years, but undermined its authority by vesting the executive council with unchecked veto power. Additionally, it provided that “qualified voters” would elect biennially a Resident Commissioner who would be “entitled to official recognition as such by all Departments” and given a seat in the U.S. House. Finally, the law anticipated, but stopped short of, instituting a system of free trade. Instead it established a reduced ad valorem tariff of 15 percent for all Puerto Rican merchandise entering the United States and all U.S. goods entering Puerto Rico.36 Although the Foraker Act was economically generous in some respects—it exempted the island from U.S. taxes, for example—many Puerto Ricans were bitterly disappointed because it left the island’s political status unresolved and created an undemocratic administrative structure.37

Future Resident Commissioner Luis Muñoz Rivera emerged as the voice of mainstream discontent with the Foraker Act. Addressing the Puerto Rican house of delegates in 1908, he characterized American political leaders as “petty kings” and the house of delegates as an institution serving little purpose because its laws were “wrecked on that perpetual reef ” of the U.S.-appointed governor’s council. Even in oppressed countries like Ireland and Hungary, the lawmakers were natives, Muñoz Rivera noted, but “the members of the Porto Rican senate are Americans, and we are given the laws of Montana, of California.… The inventors of this labyrinth find pleasure in repeating that we are not prepared [for self-government],” he said. “I wish to return the charge word for word … that American statesmen are not prepared to govern foreign colonies so different in character and of such peculiar civilization.”38

Insular Cases

La Fortaleza/tiles/non-collection/p/part2_10_san_juan_palace_lc.xml Image courtesy of the Library of Congress This 1899 image of La Fortaleza emphasizes its defensive capabilities. Built in the 16th century to guard San Juan Bay from naval attacks, it has served as the Puerto Rican governor’s residence for more than 400 years.
The Foraker Act also raised questions about American citizenship for Puerto Ricans. Since the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, most territories within the continental United States achieved statehood by following well-established guidelines.39 The Insular Cases, which were eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, stemmed from debate about whether overseas territories such as Puerto Rico should be considered foreign or domestic for tax purposes, but the question on most Americans’ minds, was whether Puerto Ricans would be entitled to full citizenship under the new civil government.40 Of the Insular Cases heard before the Supreme Court, scholars consider Downes v. Bidwell (182 U.S. 244, 1901), Dorr v. United States (195 U.S. 138, 1904), Balzac v. Porto Rico (258 U.S. 298, 1922), and Rasmussen v. United States (197 U.S. 516, 1925) to be the most important because they delineated the entitlements of incorporated versus nonincorporated territories. The Supreme Court ruled that nonincorporated territories would receive “fundamental” constitutional protections including “freedom of expression, due process of law, equal protection under the law … [and] protection against illegal searches,” but not the full range of constitutional protections enjoyed by U.S. citizens.41 The Supreme Court classified Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Pacific territories acquired after 1898 as nonincorporated territories. Incorporated territories received full constitutional protections because they were considered part of the United States.42 Puerto Ricans were considered “citizens of Porto Rico,” a designation that gave rise to the term “U.S. national,” a person who receives fundamental constitutional protections but is not entitled to full civil or constitutional rights.

The court was deeply divided over the groundbreaking decision in Downes v. Bidwell. In a 5 to 4 decision, the Justices wrote five different opinions (one majority, with two separate concurrences, and two dissenting), reflecting an array of views.43 In effect, the ambiguous ruling reinforced the Supreme Court’s marginal role in territorial jurisdiction, thus preserving—and arguably strengthening—Congress’s absolute authority over Puerto Rico’s status.

The Jones Act of 1917: Origins and Discontents

William A. Jones of Virginia/tiles/non-collection/p/part2_11_jones_william_red_book_hc.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
William A. Jones sponsored an act that outlined independence for the Philippine Islands. A 14-term U.S. Representative, Jones attended the Virginia Military Institute as an adolescent and helped to defend Richmond, Virginia, from the Union Army during the Civil War.
Frustrated with the Foraker Act, the Puerto Rican Union Party led a revolt against then-governor Regis Post and the executive council in 1909, accusing them of deliberately resisting calls for political reform on the island. After a large portion of its legislative agenda was rejected, the Puerto Rican house of delegates submitted petitions protesting the Foraker Act to the U.S. Congress and to President William Howard Taft, and threatened to adjourn without passing vital budget and appropriations bills. Congress amended the Foraker Act to enable it to pass Puerto Rico’s budget bills if the house of delegates failed to act, and American officials became newly aware of Puerto Rico’s grievances with its governing legislation.44

Woodrow Wilson’s ascent to the presidency increased the likelihood that the Foraker Act would be amended. In 1912 Wilson campaigned on a promise to ensure U.S. citizenship and home rule for Puerto Ricans.45 From 1912 to 1914, Insular Affairs Committee chairman William A. Jones of Virginia, who had previously opposed the Foraker Act, introduced bills on six occasions calling for a new constitutional government for Puerto Rico and U.S. citizenship for its residents. None of them gained any traction, but two events in 1914 added to the island’s importance in the eyes of U.S. officials: the completion of the Panama Canal and the start of the First World War. The canal’s role as a vital connection between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans highlighted Puerto Rico’s strategic value as a stopover for maritime commercial traffic. This was especially the case for ships coming from Europe, but the start of World War I strengthened fears that the Caribbean would be dragged into the conflict. Puerto Rico had served for centuries as a Spanish outpost, and in the early 20th century it was crucial to U.S. plans to protect the Panama Canal from German U-boats patrolling Caribbean shipping lanes.46

Though the Wilson administration was preoccupied with events in Europe, the Bureau of Insular Affairs (BIA) argued that cementing the political bonds between Puerto Rico and the mainland would pay significant dividends. “The word loyalty will have a greater meaning [for Puerto Ricans] if we admit them to the conglomerate of our citizenship,” read a 1912 internal BIA memo. “Otherwise, there will always be discontent[ed] elements that will agitate for breaking the bond.”47 Also, U.S. military planners were eager to assemble a volunteer Puerto Rican home guard and a Puerto Rican regiment to protect the island and defend the Canal Zone, respectively. Puerto Ricans’ newly acquired U.S. citizenship made recruitment easier. On an island with roughly one million inhabitants, hundreds of thousands of men registered for the draft; more than 17,000 were selected.48 The island also exceeded its fundraising quota for Liberty Loan bond drives. “We have been at your side in the hour of crisis and the people who are good to share the responsibilities, hardships, and sacrifices at any great emergency and who are quick to respond to the call of public duty, should also be good to share the prerogatives and advantages of your institutions and of American citizenship in normal times,” said Resident Commissioner Félix Córdova Dávila.49

Introduced by House Insular Affairs Chairman Jones—and following on the heels of the First Jones Act (39 Stat. 545‐556), which in August 1916 had increased Filipino autonomy and pledged independence as soon as practicable—the Second Jones Act (39 Stat. 951‐968), which pertained to Puerto Rico, was less sweeping than the Foraker Act and retained much of the colonial structure. While the new legislation increased membership in the territorial house from 35 representatives to 39 and created for the first time a popularly elected senate with 19 members, it reserved Congress’s right to annul or amend bills passed by the insular legislature and it required that directors of four of the six major government departments—agriculture and labor, health, interior, and treasury—be appointed by the U.S. President with the advice and consent of the territorial senate. The two remaining department heads, the attorney general and the commissioner of education, would be named solely by the President.50 As a scholar of Puerto Rican politics notes, the Jones Act “barely nodded in the direction of [the] American principle of government by consent of the governed,” and though it provided some “coveted gains,” it hardly fulfilled most Puerto Ricans’ aspirations.51 Most significant, rather than deferring to Puerto Ricans on the issue of citizenship, the final version of the Jones Act conveyed new constitutional obligations.

Panama Canal/tiles/non-collection/p/part2_12_panama_canal_lc.xml Image courtesy of the Library of Congress This 1912 photo shows the construction of the Panama Canal. The locks are visible but the gates have not yet been built. World War I made the U.S. government aware of Puerto Rico’s importance in relation to the canal.

Citizenship was a controversial subject on an island whose political leaders struggled to define its relationship with the United States. For example, Luis Muñoz Rivera initially argued against granting Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship in the debate over the Jones Act, following the lead of his Union Party, which eliminated statehood from its platform in 1912. However, he personally embraced the prospect of U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans. After eventually endorsing the Jones Act on the House Floor, Muñoz Rivera proceeded to explain why many Puerto Ricans rejected it. “My countrymen, who, precisely the same as yours, have their dignity and self respect to maintain, refuse to accept a citizenship of an inferior order, a citizenship of the second class, which does not permit them to dispose of their own resources nor to live their own lives nor to send to this Capitol their proportional representation,” he said.52 Muñoz Rivera never saw the Jones Act implemented; he died before President Wilson signed it into law on March 2, 1917.

Intended to pacify Puerto Rico’s concerns and strengthen America’s grip on the Caribbean Basin during wartime, the Jones Act only made Puerto Rico’s political situation more complex. “Rather than solving the status question, the Jones Act intensified the status struggle,” placing Resident Commissioners at the center of the debate observes historian Luis Martínez-Fernández.”53

The Ongoing Question of Puerto Rican Status

What the Foraker Act, the Insular Cases, and the Jones Act failed to finally determine was Puerto Rico’s political status as a nonincorporated American territory. According to Martínez-Fernández, the early decades of U.S. rule in Puerto Rico were driven by a policy of “bifurcation and fragmentation” as U.S. authorities played favorites with factions of the island’s political elite in an attempt “to retain the island as a territorial conquest of ambiguous political status.”54 Puerto Rican politicians were also split on the question of status. The popularity of three broad options—statehood, complete independence, and some measure of autonomy within the colonial structure—waxed and waned among Puerto Rico’s political elites.

Jones-Shafroth Act/tiles/non-collection/p/part2_13_jones_act_na.xml Original Jones–Shafroth Act; image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration The Jones–Shafroth Act (39 Stat. 951-968) guaranteed full citizenship rights to Puerto Ricans. The act also extended the term of Resident Commissioners from two to four years. This law was superseded by the Commonwealth Act of 1952.

By virtue of their participation in the American federal government most Resident Commissioners either advocated a form of colonial autonomy or pursued statehood. At the heart of the matter was the constant struggle to achieve a balance between federal and local control of Puerto Rico’s internal affairs. One scholar describes Luis Muñoz Rivera as a “master trapeze artist in Puerto Rico’s ideological wars” because at one point in his career he embraced all three status options.55 But this balancing act was difficult for Muñoz Rivera, who was caught between his deep emotional and cultural attachment to his Hispanic heritage and Puerto Rican independence and his pragmatic impulse to accept U.S. citizenship. Here was the essential autonomist dilemma: Whereas statehood threatened to subsume local Puerto Rican issues, complete independence might limit the island’s economic opportunities.56 The divisiveness of this issue both on and off the island led a Washington Post reporter to observe in 1924, “What the ultimate status of Porto Rico will be is a matter still lying in the capacious lap of the gods.”57

Pivoting on the issues of autonomy, statehood, and independence, Puerto Rican political parties underwent a number of transformations in the early 20th century (see Political Parties of Puerto Rico). One scholar describes the insular political scene of the 1920s as a “kaleidoscope” with the “disappearance of some parties, the birth of new ones, and the merger of others” and as a jumble of “personality clashes, factions within parties, and changing political credos.” Adding another layer of complexity, these developments always “operated within the framework of United States control.”58 Félix Córdova Dávila discussed Puerto Ricans’ quandary: testifying before the House Committee on Insular Affairs during the 70th Congress (1927–1929), “This uncertainty [in status] brings as a result a divided public opinion; some of the people advocating independence, others statehood, and others full self-government,” he told his colleagues. “We are not to be blamed for the different views that are striking our minds. It is not our fault. If there is any fault at all, it belongs exclusively to the doubtful position we are left in through the failure of the American Congress to define our status.” Continuing, Córdova Dávila delineated Puerto Rico’s identity crisis:

Are we foreigners? No; because we are American citizens, and no citizen of the United States can be a foreigner within the boundaries of the Nation. Are we a part of the Union? No; because we are an unincorporated Territory under the rulings of the Supreme Court. Can you find a proper definition for this organized and yet unincorporated Territory, for this piece of ground belonging to but not forming part of the United States? Under the rulings of the courts of justice we are neither flesh, fish, nor fowl. We are neither a part nor a whole. We are nothing; and it seems to me if we are not allowed to be part of the Union we should be allowed to be a whole entity with full and complete control of our internal affairs.59

Shifting American policy had a direct influence on the confusing political alliances in Puerto Rico. “The political situation here is more complex and scrambled than it has been for many years,” wrote Harwood Hull in the New York Times in 1932, a year that saw at least three party transitions. “Party lines have been broken and re-formed in recent months.”60

Next Section


14Downes v. Bidwell, 182 US 244 (27 May 1901).

15Gervasio Luis Garcia, “I Am The Other: Puerto Rico in the Eyes of North Americans, 1898,” Journal of American History 87, no. 1 (June 2000): 44.

16See Robert E. May, The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, rev. ed. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991). For a comprehensive account of 19th-century territorial expansion, see George C. Herring, From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

17The classic work on American imperialism at the turn of the 20th century remains Walter LaFeber, New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860–1898, 35th Anniversary ed. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998). See also Jeannette P. Nichols, “The United States Congress and Imperialism, 1861–1897,” Journal of Economic History 21, no. 4 (December 1961).

18Herring, From Colony to Superpower, 304–309; George Thomas Kurian, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Republican Party, vol. 2 (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1997): 457–462.

19For more information on the buildup to the war and its effects on America’s political culture, see Herring, From Colony to Superpower; LaFeber, New Empire; Robert L. Beisner, From the Old Diplomacy to the New, 1965–1900 (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 1986); and Charles S. Campbell, Transformation of American Foreign Relations, 1865–1900 (New York: HarperCollins, 1976).

20John L. Offner, An Unwanted War: The Diplomacy of the United States and Spain over Cuba, 1895–1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992): 122–123. For example, the New York Times reported that “the Maine’s 250 perished through the treachery and murderous ingenuity of the Spanish.” See “National Capital Topics,” 6 March 1898, New York Times: 13.

21Historians debate the role of the Maine incident in provoking the war. See Louis A. Perez, Jr., “The Meaning of the Maine: Causation and the Historiography of the Spanish-American War,” Pacific Historical Review 58 (Aug. 1998): 293–322.

22Congressional Record, House, 55th Cong., 2nd sess. (13 April 1898): 3820–3821; “Congress Tells Spain to Go,” 14 April 1898, Chicago Daily Tribune: 1. The Senate had concurred with the House in a 51 to 37 vote earlier in the evening of April 16. Congressional Record, Senate, 55th Cong., 2nd sess. (16 April 1898): 3993; “The Senate for Free Cuba,” 17 April 1898, New York Times: 1.

23“Cuba Free,” 19 April 1898, Boston Globe: 1; “An Act Declaring that War Exists Between the United States of American and the Kingdom of Spain,” 30 Stat. 364. See also Lewis L. Gould, The Presidency of William McKinley (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1980): 84–88.

24Luis Martínez-Fernández, “Puerto Rico in the Whirlwind of 1898: Conflict, Continuity, and Change,” OAH Magazine of History 12, no. 3 (Spring 1998): 26.

25Luis Martínez-Fernández, “Political Culture in the Hispanic Caribbean and the Building of U.S. Hegemony, 1868–1945,” Revista Mexicana del Caribe 6, no. 11 (2001): 14.

26Martínez-Fernández, “Political Culture in the Hispanic Caribbean and the Building of U.S. Hegemony, 1868–1945”: 14–15.

27Ibid., 19.

28Ibid., 17.

29Tomás Sarramía Roncero, Los gobernadores de Puerto Rico (San Juan, PR: Publicaciones Puertoriqueñas, Inc., 1993); Roberto H. Todd, Desfile de gobernadores de Puerto Rico (San Juan, PR: Imprenta Baldrich, 1943).

30Luis Muñoz Rivera, Tropicales (New York: H. M. Call Printing Company, 1902): 147–152.

31Jose A. Cabranes, Citizenship and the American Empire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979): 26–35.

32Senate Committee on Pacific Islands and Porto Rico, Temporary Civil Government for Porto Rico, 56th Cong., 1st sess., 1900, S. Rep. 249, 14–15.

33Congressional Record, House, 56th Cong., 1st sess. (28 February 1900): 2429–2430. See debate on the bill on pp. 2401–2430, especially the quotations on pp. 2402–2407, 2410–2412, 2414, 2424, and 2426; William R. Tansill, “The Resident Commissioner to the United States from Puerto Rico,” Revista Juridica de la Universidad de Puerto Rico 47, nos. 1–2 (1978): 69–72.

34See, for example, Hearing before the Senate Committee on Pacific Islands and Porto Rico, Industrial and Other Conditions of the Island of Puerto Rico, and the Form of Government Which Should be Adopted for It, 56th Cong., 1st sess. (5 February 1900): 176–182. R. B. Horton, ed., House Committee on Insular Affairs, Committee Reports, Hearings, and Acts of Congress Corresponding Thereto, 56th Cong., 1st and 2nd sess. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904): 337.

35“Puerto Rico Is Able to Support Itself,” 22 March 1900, New York Times: 5.

36“An Act Temporarily to Provide Revenues and Civil Government for Porto Rico, and other Purposes” (Foraker Act), 31 Stat. 77–86, 1896–1901; Stephen W. Stathis, Landmark Legislation 1774–2002: Major Acts and Treaties (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2003): 148–149.

37For an account of Muñoz Rivera’s reaction to the Foraker Act in the context of his son’s coming of age in a political family, see Maldonado, Luis Muñoz Marín: 27–28.

38Hon. Luis Muñoz Rivera, “Are the Porto Rican People Prepared for Self-Government,” extract from remarks of Hon. Tulio Larrínaga in the House of Representatives, 8 May 1908 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1908): 7.

39Northwest Ordinance, Section 12, Article 5. For a description of the evolution of territorial incorporation, the classic study is Max Farrand, Legislation of Congress for the Government of the Organized Territories of the United States, 1789–1895 (Buffalo, NY: William S. Hein, 2000; reprint of 1896 edition). A more recent study is James E. Kerr, The Insular Cases: The Role of the Judiciary in American Expansionism (Kennikat, NY: Kennikat Press, 1982): 3–13. For a succinct overview, see Christina Duffy Burnett and Burke Marshall, “Between the Foreign and the Domestic: The Doctrine of Territorial Incorporation, Invented and Reinvented,” in Christina Duffy Burnett and Burke Marshall, eds., Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001): 1–36. For a recent interpretation, see Burnett, “Untied States: American Expansion and Territorial Deannexation,” University of Chicago Law Review 72, no. 3 (Summer 2005): 797–879.

40Bartholomew Sparrow, The Insular Cases and the Emergence of American Empire (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006): 10, 40–55.

41Efrén Rivera Ramos, “Insular Cases,” in Oboler and González eds., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States, vol. 2: 386–387.

42Sparrow, The Insular Cases and the Emergence of American Empire: 5, 257. Sparrow cites the number of cases as 35, whereas Pratt cites it as 14. Another study cites the number of cases as 22. Regardless of the number, the three studies agree on the important cases that defined the concepts of “incorporation” and “nonincorporation” of territories; Walter F. Pratt, Jr.,“Insular Cases,” in Kermit L. Hall, ed. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005): 500–501.

43Sparrow, The Insular Cases and the Emergence of American Empire: 86.

44Roland I. Perusse, The United States and Puerto Rico: The Struggle for Equality (Malabar, FL: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company, 1990): 19–20; Alfredo Montalvo-Barbot, Political Conflict and Constitutional Change in Puerto Rico, 1898–1952 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1997): 63–64.

45Perusse, The United States and Puerto Rico: 20.

46Donald A. Yerxa, “The United States Navy in Caribbean Waters during World War I,” Military Affairs 51, no. 4 (October 1987): 182, 185; Burnett, “Untied States: American Expansion and Territorial Deannexation”: 797–879; César J. Ayala and José L. Bolívar, Battleship Vieques: Puerto Rico from World War II to the Korean War (Princeton: Markus Wiener, 2011).

47“La palabra lealtad tendrá mayor significado si lo admitimos al conglomerado de nuestra ciudadanía. De lo contrario, siempre habrá elementos descontentos que agitarán a favor de la cuptura del lazo.” Quoted in María Eugenia Estades Font, La presencia militar de Estados Unidos en Puerto Rico, 1898–1918: Intereses estratégico y dominación colonial (Río Piedras, PR: Ediciones Huracán, 1988): 209. Translated as The Military Presence of the United States in Puerto Rico 1898–1918: Strategic Interests and Colonial Domination by Translations International, Inc. (May 2010).

48For Córdova Dávila’s complete committee testimony regarding the bill, see Hearings before the Committee on Territories and Insular Possessions, The Civil Government of Porto Rico, Part 2, 68th Cong., 1st sess. (9 March 1924): 87–92.


50The governor and the President also retained veto power over legislation. Stathis, Landmark Legislation: 174.

51José E. Rios, “The Office of Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico,” unpublished M.A. thesis, Georgetown University (9 May 1969): 11–12.

52Congressional Record, House, 64th Cong., 1st sess. (5 May 1916): 7471, 7473.

53Martínez-Fernández, “Political Culture in the Hispanic Caribbean and the Building of U.S. Hegemony, 1868–1945”: 33.

54Ibid., 29.

55Maldonado, Luis Muñoz Marín: 35.

56Héctor Luis Acevedo, “Luis Muñoz Rivera and the Foundations of Contemporary Autonomism,” in Perspectivas sobre Puerto Rico en homenaje a Muñoz Rivera y Muñoz Marín (San Juan, PR: Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín, 1997): 36.

57“Territories and Statehood,” 23 June 1924, Washington Post: 6.

58Truman R. Clark, Puerto Rico and the United States, 1917–1933 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1975): 76; see especially chapter 4.

59Hearings before the House Committee on Insular Affairs, Popular Election of the Governor of Porto Rico, 70th Cong., 1st sess. (16 May 1928): 22.

60Harwood Hull, “Puerto Rico Facing Doubtful Election,” 18 September 1932, New York Times: E8.