This message addressed to Speaker Sam Rayburn from the senate of Puerto Rico, dated on the day Americans celebrated their independence, congratulated Congress and the people of Alaska on the admission of the 49th state. The text of the accompanying resolution offered sincere congratulations, but also highlighted some Puerto Ricans’ frustrations in their quest for statehood.
Ceded by Spain to the United States as part of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico occupied a nebulous space in American insular affairs. The 1900 Foraker Act ended U.S. military rule and established a civil government on the island, but residents were still not U.S. citizens. The Foraker Act also created the position of Resident Commissioner, allowing nonvoting representation for Puerto Rico in the House of Representatives. In 1917, the Jones–Shafroth Act granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship, but they still could not vote in U.S. presidential elections. Puerto Rico became a commonwealth in 1952, drafting its own constitution and achieving a measure of self-government, although it remained a U.S. territory with nonvoting representation and no electoral college votes.