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IGLESIAS, Santiago

IGLESIAS, Santiago
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Imprisoned in San Juan when the Americans invaded Puerto Rico in 1898, Santiago Iglesias was a fiery labor organizer who frequently ran afoul of Spanish authorities. Eventually embracing American democratic principles, Iglesias became known as “Mr. Liberty” and the “He-Cinderella of Porto Rico.”1 Born in poverty in Spain, Iglesias, the former radical who was eventually considered the “dean of the Puerto Rican politicians” and a “staid and dependable” public servant, was elected Resident Commissioner during a period of political upheaval.2 A tireless legislator, Iglesias espoused Puerto Rican statehood along with greater local control, increased federal financial assistance, and close political ties to the mainland United States. “Puerto Rico is American socially, politically,” he concluded in his maiden speech on the House Floor. “And its trade, its practices, and its industry pile and flourish under the American flag.… Since 1917 all Puerto Ricans have been American citizens, and this citizenship is the same brand as that of New Yorkers, or Californians, or Minnesotans, or Down-in-Mainers.”3

Santiago Iglesias was born on February 22, 1872, in La Coruña, Spain. His father, Manuel Iglesias, was a carpenter.4 Iglesias’s mother, Josefa Pantín, worked in a cigar factory to support her family, and Santiago Iglesias left school at age 12 to become a carpenter’s apprentice. Early in his training, he took part in a violent strike, his first act in a lifelong struggle to reform labor rights.5

In 1887 Iglesias joined the Spanish Socialist Party and moved to Cuba, where he took a job in a furniture factory. His work with organized labor, including rallying laborers to lobby for a 12-hour workday, led to his frequent dismissal from and constant movement between jobs. Iglesias’s involvement with the Cuban War for Independence in 1895 drew the ire of Spanish authorities. He attempted to escape to England in 1896; however, after arousing the suspicions of his fellow passengers aboard the ship, which was to route through Spain on its way to Great Britain, he disembarked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on December 26.6

Iglesias’s arrival marked the beginning of a labor movement in Puerto Rico that was previously nonexistent because of oppressive Spanish labor laws.7 As a carpenter helping to reinforce San Juan’s military fortifications, Iglesias began organizing his fellow laborers. Two days after he arrived, Iglesias met with local labor leaders to discuss starting a newspaper to promote their causes.8 Iglesias’s impassioned speech in that initial meeting, advocating participation in the international labor movement and decrying colonialism, vaulted him to the unofficial position of the island’s labor leader. Taking advantage of the eroding Spanish colonial infrastructure in Puerto Rico, Iglesias quickly organized meetings, educational programs, and literature designed to unite laborers. He refrained from publicly supporting the political factions that were emerging in the late 1890s as Spain promised autonomy to Puerto Rico, believing that the local political elite cared little about the working people. After Iglesias organized his first mass meeting of workers on March 27, 1898, Luis Muñoz Rivera, then a member of the Spanish Autonomist Cabinet, ordered his arrest, but Iglesias fled to the other side of San Juan Harbor. Two weeks later, amid the confusion caused by the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Iglesias attempted to escape to New York, but Spanish authorities captured and incarcerated him in San Juan. Iglesias spent the rest of the war in prison. He was nearly killed when an American bomb hit his jail cell on May 12.9

The Spanish government attempted to deport Iglesias, but before that occurred, Washington asked Madrid to release all political prisoners in October 1898. Iglesias immediately returned to his labor-organizing activities, receiving protection from the island’s U.S. military commander, General John R. Brooke, for whom Iglesias was an interpreter. Soon afterward Iglesias founded the first official organized labor group on the island, the Federación Regional de los Trabajadores (Puerto Rican Federation of Laborers), and presided over the group’s initial meeting on October 20, 1898.10

Iglesias’s labor activities redoubled after the United States acquired Puerto Rico as a territory in February 1899. He pitted himself against his longtime political enemy Muñoz Rivera, the founder of the Partido Federalista (Federal Party), by allying occasionally with José Celso Barbosa, the founder of the Partido Republicano (Puerto Rican Republican Party), Muñoz Rivera’s rival and a sometime friend to Iglesias.11 Ultimately, his refusal to take clear sides resulted in a split in the Puerto Rico Federation of Laborers.12 Iglesias headed up the Federación Libre de Trabajadores (Free Federation of Laborers), a faction insisting on labor’s independence from the political wrangling.13 Frequently imprisoned, and ill as a result of his activism, Iglesias managed to organize a large general strike starting August 1, 1900, to protest the severe devaluation of the Spanish peso after the Foraker Act demanded its exchange for American dollars. Though the strikers were unsuccessful, the month of violence that followed the strike solidified the power of the Federación Libre de Trabajadores.

Realizing he needed to link with U.S. trade unions, Iglesias moved to New York to seek out sympathetic labor leaders. He worked as a carpenter in Brooklyn while learning English and taking night classes at Cooper Union College.14 He also became an American citizen.15 Iglesias convinced the American Federation of Labor (AFL) to organize in Puerto Rico, and with the blessing of AFL president Samuel Gompers, met with Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.16 With Gompers’s and Roosevelt’s support, Iglesias returned to Puerto Rico as the island’s AFL organizer, but upon his arrival in 1901, Iglesias was arrested for failing to appear for a court date for charges that he broke a Spanish law prohibiting conspiracy to raise wage labor.17 Gompers paid Iglesias’s bail, but in December, Iglesias was sentenced to slightly more than three years in prison. Supporters appealed his case to the Puerto Rican supreme court, and after Iglesias served seven months, the court overturned his sentence. Bolstered by Gompers’s advocacy, and garnering headlines about his legal battles in major mainland newspapers, Iglesias rose to national prominence. A year later, he married Justa Bocanegra of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The couple raised 11 children: Santiago Angel, Josefina, Libertad, Fraternidad, América, Igualdad, Justicia, Laura, Luz, Manuel, and Eduardo. Many of their names reflected their father’s political beliefs.18

For the next three decades, Iglesias merged politics with labor activism as the Federación Libre (Free Federation) became more powerful. He edited a series of Spanish-language newspapers promoting labor causes; in addition to the Ensayo oberero (1897–1899), Iglesias helped publish the Porvenir social (1899–1900), the Unión oberera (1903–1906), and the Justicia (1914–1925).19 In 1906 and 1908, he ran for Resident Commissioner on the Federación Libre ticket, but his party lost handily to the Partido de Unión (Unionist Party) and its candidate, Tulio Larrínaga.20 In 1915 Federación Libre workers met in Cayey, Puerto Rico, and formed their own political arm, which they designated the Partido Socialista (Puerto Rican Socialist Party). Though he did not officially lead the party until 1920, Iglesias was one of its founders and remained the party’s spokesperson for the rest of his life.21 Representing his new party, Iglesias was elected to the Puerto Rican territorial senate, where he served from 1917 to 1933. With Gompers, Iglesias founded the Pan American Federation of Labor (PAFL).22

Iglesias won election as Resident Commissioner to Congress primarily because of a coalition between his Partido Socialista and the Partido Unión Republicana (Union Republican Party). Although Socialistas had traditionally focused more on economic reform than on Puerto Rico’s status and because Iglesias believed stronger ties to the American mainland would benefit poorer Puerto Ricans, the two parties were linked by the issue of status.23

The Coalición (Coalition), which favored statehood, faced off with the newly formed Partido Liberal (Liberal Party), which was led by territorial senator Luis Muñoz Marín, and espoused independence.24 The Coalición leadership agreed in June 1932 to back a candidate from the Partido Socialista for Resident Commissioner, a candidate from the Partido Unión Republicana as president of the territorial senate, and a candidate from the party that received the most votes for speaker of the territorial house.25 Amid thunderous applause, the Socialist convention unanimously nominated Iglesias for Resident Commissioner.26 The Partido Unión Republicana signaled its solidarity by nominating Iglesias in September. When the pact was formalized in October, he was officially the Coalición candidate.27

The 1932 election was unique in that Puerto Rican women were permitted to vote providing they (like men) passed a literacy test. In addition, the scramble to overturn new, local election law that purposely favored large, established political parties left little time for campaigning.28 With three parties on the ballot—the Coalición, the Partido Liberal, and the Partido Nacionalista (Nationalist Party)—the question of Puerto Rico’s status became a primary issue during the campaign, along with the economic problems resulting from the Great Depression, which were manifested by a decrease in Puerto Rico’s per capita income of approximately 30 percent between 1931 and 1933.29 Iglesias campaigned on a familiar platform, emphasizing social justice, economic aid, and reform. “I am accused of being a radical, a Socialist who would as resident commissioner be concerned with the working classes only,” he said. Indeed, Iglesias’s opponents highlighted his many jail sentences, including his imprisonment during the U.S. invasion.30 Iglesias brushed off these attacks, likening himself to the Democratic presidential candidate, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his supporters. “They stand for social justice, democratic institutions and humanity—for individual freedom and private rights,” he noted. Iglesias also asserted that he planned to be a dedicated representative of Puerto Rico in Congress. “In speaking of Congress,” he noted, “I do not have charity in mind. It is cooperation.”31 In line with the Coalición, Iglesias did not support independence, believing that Puerto Rico’s becoming a U.S. territory was the best option for the working classes. Iglesias faced Partido Liberal candidate Benigno Fernández García, formerly a Partido Unión candidate for the territorial house of representatives and a floor leader for the Alianza (Alliance). Nacionalista candidate Julio Medina González, who favored independence, also entered the race.32

Despite interruptions by the powerful September San Cipriano hurricane—whose devastation forced a special legislative session—and political wrangling that lasted through the summer, the fall campaign went relatively smoothly. Election Day, November 8, 1932, was “as colorful as a carnival,” with supporters flying their parties’ flags. Despite the political shifts and economic difficulties surrounding the contest, the election was one of the quietest since 1900.33 Eighty-five percent of registered voters turned out to elect officials by party slates. The Coalición won with 35 percent of the vote, elevating Iglesias to the Resident Commissioner. The Partido Liberal trailed with 29 percent of the vote, and the Nacionalistas garnered less than 1 percent.34

Iglesias arrived in Washington after attending an AFL convention in Cincinnati, eventually settling his large family in a duplex in northwest Washington. Sworn in on the Opening Day of the 73rd Congress (1933–1935), he became the first Resident Commissioner to receive committee assignments in addition to a seat on the Insular Affairs Committee, traditionally reserved for the representative from Puerto Rico. Iglesias was also named to the Agriculture, Labor, and Territories Committees. He still lacked the right to vote and the ability to accrue seniority on committees, but at that time lawmakers considered the Agriculture Committee to be one of the most attractive committee assignments in the House.35

The new Resident Commissioner educated his colleagues about Puerto Rican history, government, and economic issues, speaking frequently and protractedly on the House Floor about matters that affected his home island. His first speech on March 29, 1933, introduced his colleagues to his two greatest concerns during his service on Capitol Hill: Puerto Rico’s economic rehabilitation and the clarification of the territory’s political and cultural connection with the mainland United States. Furthermore, he emphasized the economic problem Puerto Rico faced as a result of the Depression and asked that the territory be included in economic rehabilitation plans proposed by newly elected President Roosevelt. “As you all know,” he said, using a sentence he would invoke frequently, “Puerto Rico stands literally at the crossroads of the world, at the entrance to the Caribbean region and on a direct line between east and west, north and south.”36

During his two terms in office, Iglesias doggedly pursued Puerto Rico’s inclusion in New Deal legislation for the financial relief of banks and individuals. On March 12, 1935, he argued in favor of incorporating Puerto Rican banks under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), a program to guarantee bank deposits that was created as part of the Glass–Steagall Banking Act of 1933.37 Iglesias eventually succeeded in having Puerto Rican banks included among those of other territories under the legislation’s protection.38 He also fought for the inclusion of Puerto Rico under the umbrella of Social Security, yet succeeded only late in his career in securing coverage for Puerto Ricans under two sections of the legislation: Section 5 funneled aid through the Children’s Bureau in the Department of Labor, and section 6 provided money aimed primarily at rural communities via the U.S. Public Health Service.39

At other times Iglesias had to shift tactics to block the effects of New Deal legislation. He unsuccessfully attempted to combat the negative effect of the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), passed in May 1933, on the prices of food imports in Puerto Rico. A later amendment to the AAA, the Sugar Act of 1934 (also known as the Jones–Costigan Act) proved particularly damaging to Puerto Rico’s depressed sugar industry.40 The bill attempted to regulate sugar production by assigning quotas to American sugar producers in various regions. Puerto Rico’s allotment—nearly 40 percent lower than the expected output in the following year—proved severely inadequate. Moreover, quotas assigned to Cuba, the Philippines, Hawaii, and mainland producers were much higher.41 “Puerto Rico feels it is entitled to be treated with the same consideration that has been accorded to the domestic producers of sugar,” Iglesias railed. “Puerto Rico wants to be recognized as an integral part of the United States and be recognized in the same way as any other domestic community of the mainland or any other part or territory of the United States.”42

But it was Iglesias’s response to the debate over Puerto Rico’s status that drew the most attention during his career on Capitol Hill. On January 3, 1935, on the Opening Day of the 74th Congress (1935–1937), Iglesias introduced a bill granting Puerto Rico statehood.43 Outlining the history of the island’s acquisition by the United States from the invasion of the island in 1898 through the passage of the Jones Act in 1917, he explained his reasoning. “The loyalty and sincerity of purpose of the people of Puerto Rico are far above any possible question,” he declared. “We have done our duty and played our part in the sorrows and happiness of the Nation.” He further noted, as he would frequently, that Puerto Rico’s population, according to the 1930 Census, exceeded the combined populations of Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, and Vermont, which were established states. He also cited his limited rights as Resident Commissioner. “I desire that you bear in mind that Puerto Rico, not having a vote in Congress, cannot exercise the great influence which may be exercised by the representatives of the several States of the Union,” he said.44 Iglesias’s initial bill languished in the Committee on Territories, but after a year, almost to the day, Iglesias made a similar appeal.45

Iglesias’s statehood bill was soon overshadowed by the introduction of a vindictive piece of legislation calling for Puerto Rico’s independence from the United States—contingent on complete economic severance during the severe financial crisis—from Senator Millard Tydings of Maryland, a close friend of the late Puerto Rican police chief E. Francis Riggs, who had been assassinated by Nacionalista extremists in February 1936. In a rare moment of unanimity with the island’s Partido Liberal spokesman Luis Muñoz Marín, Iglesias deemed the Tydings legislation “unjust, arbitrary, and devastating for Puerto Rico … a destructive measure and [one that] certainly will bring nothing but despair among the people who love American democracy.”46

In the thick of the debate over the Tydings legislation, Iglesias faced his first re-election campaign. As in past elections, the primary issue was Puerto Rico’s status, but in 1936 the issue took on national importance. “For the first time the offensive has been taken by those opposed to independence,” observed the New York Times. “They say the outcome of the election will make it unnecessary for Congress to order an independence plebiscite.”47 Also, the election was the first conducted under universal suffrage laws; men and women, voters—both literate and illiterate—were now eligible to vote, and a record number registered.48 Despite fears dating back to Spanish rule about unescorted women entering polling places, one observer noted, “Women voters came to the voting places and departed, with or without escorts, with seemingly no more concern than when they go shopping.”49 To facilitate voter turnout, the island government shut down universities for Election Day.50 Since Partido Liberal leader Muñoz Marín called for a boycott of the election because of his disdain for the Tydings legislation, Iglesias faced a weakened candidate, Dr. J. A. López Antongiorgi, a surgeon who had long been based in New York.51

Iglesias campaigned vigorously for his statehood bill, denouncing the Tydings legislation and the independence movement generally. On October 27, 1936, in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Iglesias received a flesh wound to his right arm when Nacionalista Domingo S. Crespo fired off five rounds from the 1,000-person crowd that had gathered to hear Iglesias speak.52 The police quickly apprehended the shooter, and four other suspects were arrested later. An investigation revealed that the would-be assassin had also taken aim at two other people on the podium: Maria Luisa Arcelay, the island’s only female legislator, and speaker of the territorial house M. A. García Méndez.53 One week later, Iglesias returned to the podium in the Plaza Principal with a bandage on his arm. Again, he spoke in favor of Puerto Rican statehood, noting “The welfare of the island people is obtainable only within the liberality of American institutions.”54 He later denounced Nacionalista violence in a letter to the Washington Post, writing, “There is no necessity or excuse for violence where freedom exists as it does in Puerto Rico. It is a very small minority, without any important standing among the masses of the people.”55 Aided by the boycott by the Partido Liberal, the Coalición won handily, extending Iglesias’s term in Washington and winning three-quarters of the territorial senate and house.56 Iglesias’s return to Washington was a blow to the independence movement. “Puerto Rico prefers to go along with Uncle Sam rather than set up shop for herself as an independent republic,” declared the New York Times.57

After the 1936 election, Iglesias became the face of the anti-independence movement in Puerto Rico. To combat the publicity received by the Tydings legislation, he wrote a long editorial in the Christian Science Monitor: “In answer to the frequent questions which are put to me, as to whether the people of Puerto Rico want to become independent,” he wrote, “my reply is a forceful, emphatic, unqualified … ‘No! How could they, in view of what the United States has meant to them!’ … They know there is no other explanation for the fact that they have more to eat than before; that they have a better balanced diet, better clothing, a higher percentage of people in school and a higher rate of literacy and knowledge of the English language than any of the comparable Caribbean and other countries; that they have more miles of railroads and more miles of highways per hundred square miles than any of those countries.”58 The Tydings legislation languished in the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs.

Iglesias’s second term was quieter than his first; he was less active on the House Floor but provided lengthy treatises in the Congressional Record Appendix. In 1939 the AFL sent Iglesias back to Mexico and Cuba to revive the PAFL. Having contracted malaria, he was weakened by a fever and died a week after returning from his trip, on December 5, 1939, in Washington’s Garfield Hospital. Speaker William Bankhead of Alabama appointed a committee to attend funeral services in Puerto Rico, where Iglesias lay in state in San Juan, while flags on the island flew at half-staff.59 More than 200,000 people attended his funeral, where House Labor Committee chair Representative Mary Norton of New Jersey spoke on behalf of the Members of Congress.60Bolívar Pagán, elected to succeed his father-in-law, memorialized Iglesias on the House Floor. “A hard worker, a bold fighter, and beloved leader for my land on the seas,” Pagán noted. “[Iglesias] had devoted more than 40 years to the awakening to the betterment, to the welfare, and to the social and economic freedom of our common people.”61 He later described his father-in-law as “a live wire, a human dynamo, an energetic, honest, and far-sighted statesman at the service of the people.”62 Iglesias was buried in San Juan Cemetery.


1“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” (Government Printing Office, 1941): 31 (hereinafter referred to as “Memorial Services”); Harwood Hull, “A He-Cinderella of Puerto Rico,” 6 October 1929, Baltimore Sun: MP11.

2Thomas Mathews, Puerto Rico and the New Deal (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1960): 16.

3Congressional Record, House, 73rd Cong., 1st sess. (29 March 1933): 1003.

4Iglesias’ primary biographer, Gonzalo F. Córdova, states that Iglesias’s father died before he was born, but Gregg Andrews writes in American National Biography that Iglesias was 12 when his father died. At least one older brother, Eduardo, immigrated to Argentina and was never heard from again. See Gonzalo F. Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times (Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1993): 45; Gregg Andrews, “Iglesias, Santiago,” American National Biography, 11 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999): 631 (hereinafter referred to as ANB).

5Historians disagree about the first time Iglesias participated in the labor movement. Córdova notes that this occurred in 1882, although Iglesias would have been 12 years old, and reports that the master carpenter in Iglesias’s shop influenced him by imbuing him with Socialist and Marxist ideology. See Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 45–46. Andrews notes that Iglesias masterminded the 1884 walkout as a protest against his employer. See Andrews, “Iglesias, Santiago,” ANB.

6Carmen E. Enciso and Tracy North, Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822–1995 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1995), 64; Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 47.

7César J. Ayala and Rafael Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century: A History since 1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007): 17; Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 50–51.

8Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 51.

9Ibid., 53–62.

10Ibid., 65; Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century: 17.

11For an explanation of Puerto Rican political parties, see Figure 1 in the contextual essay for this section.

12The interactions among the three men are documented in detail in Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times, chapter 2.

13Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century: 17; Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 71.

14“Memorial Services”: 32.

15Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 101.

16Ibid., 96.

17William George Whittaker, “The Santiago Iglesias Case, 1901– 1902,” The Americas 24, no. 4 (April 1968): 381.

18“Santiago Iglesias,” Dictionary of American Biography, Supplements 1–2: To 1940 (American Council of Learned Societies, 1944–1958). Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 2003, (accessed 20 November 2003) (hereinafter referred to as DAB); “Porto Rican Gives His Daughters Unusual Names,” 17 September 1939, Chicago Tribune: G7.


20Ibid. See also Enciso and North, Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822–1995: 64. Under the provisions of the Foraker Act, Resident Commissioners faced re-election every two years, until 1917. See Abraham Holtzman, “Empire and Representation: The U.S. Congress,” Legislative Studies Quarterly 11, no. 2 (May 1986): 254.

21Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 134.


23Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century: 65; “Political Parties in Puerto Rico,” File 719-82, Entry 5; General Classified Files, 1898–1945; General Records Relating to More Than One Island Possession; Records of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, Record Group 350; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD (hereinafter referred to as RG 350; NACP); Iglesias to George H. Dern, Secretary of War, 14 March 1933, File 719-82, RG 350, NACP.

24Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century: 100; Harwood Hull, “Puerto Rico Facing Doubtful Election,” 18 September 1932, New York Times: E8.

25Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 242.

26“Name Iglesias for Post,” 5 August 1932, New York Times: 7.

27Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 244–246.

28Electoral law dictated that, to receive space on the ballot, new or poorly polling parties were required to present petitions with the signatures of at least 10 percent of the total number of voters in the previous election. Thus, the Liberal Party, a new political entity, and the Nationalists, who had polled a meager 329 votes in the previous election, were forced to circulate these documents to gain a place on the ballot. Urged by then-Resident Commissioner José Pesquera, the insular legislature pushed through the compromise brokered among Pesquera, Iglesias, and Governor James Beverley, allowing all three parties on the ballot. Liberal leader Antonio Barceló had championed the law as president of the insular senate and leader of the large and powerful Alliance Party in 1928. Ironically, the breakup in the Alianza put him in the position of opposing his own law. See Mathews, Puerto Rican Politics and the New Deal: 35–38.

29Mathews, Puerto Rico and the New Deal: 40; Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century: 96.

30Truman R. Clark, Puerto Rico and the United States, 1917–1938 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1975): 123.

31“Iglesias Restates His Stand,” 27 October 1932, Porto Rico Progress: 10; available in File 719-49, RG 350, NACP.

32If he won, Medina González planned to go to Washington as a plenipotentiary minister instead of as Resident Commissioner, demanding Puerto Rico’s separation from the United States (Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 252–254).

33Harwood Hull, “Puerto Rico Poll Calmest in Years,” 27 November 1932, New York Times: E7.

34Votes for Partido Unión Republicana and votes for the Partido Socialista were counted separately in the balloting but were combined in the final result. The Partido Unión Republicana polled 19 percent, and the Socialistas polled 17 percent [Córdova, 256; “Puerto Rico Elections: General Election of 1932, 3 May 1934, File 9 8 82-Politics-Elections-1932; 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)].

35R. Eric Peterson, “Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico,” 16 January 2009, Report RL 31856, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.: 3; Charles Stewart III, “Committee Hierarchies in the Modernizing House, 1875–1947,” American Journal of Political Science 36 (November 1992): 845.

36Congressional Record, House, 73rd Cong., 1st sess. (29 March 1933): 1003.

37Congressional Record, House, 74th Cong., 1st sess. (12 March 1935): 3490.

38Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, A History of the FDIC 1933–1983, (accessed 17 September 2010).

39“Hopes for Security Law,” 15 August 1937, New York Times: 22; Congressional Record, Appendix, 76th Cong., 1st sess. (16 March 1939): 1026–1028.

40Sugar Act of 1934, P.L. 73-213, 48 Stat 670.

41Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century: 100–101; Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 305; “The Sugar Act of 1937,” Yale Law Journal 47, no. 3 (April 1938) 984–985; James L. Dietz, Economic History of Puerto Rico: Institutional Change and Capitalist Development (Princeton University Press, 1986): 171 (see especially Table 3.8).

42Congressional Record, House, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (15 February 1934): 2621–2623.

43Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times: 312; H.R. 1394.

44Congressional Record, House, 74th Cong., 1st sess. (3 January 1935): 35.

45Congressional Record, House, 74th Cong., 1st sess. (5 June 1935): 8715.

46“Puerto Rican Bill Draws More Fire,” 28 April 1936, New York Times: 8.

47“Iglesias Campaigns Again in Puerto Rico,” 2 November 1936, New York Times: 12.

48“Iglesias Elected by Puerto Ricans,” 5 November 1936, New York Times: 20; “Iglesias Campaigns Again in Puerto Rico.”

49“Puerto Rico Vote Favors U.S. Ties,” 15 November 1936, New York Times: E10.


51Ibid.; Frank Otto Gatell, “Independence Rejected: Puerto Rico and the Tydings Bill of 1936,” The Hispanic American Historical Review 38, no. 1 (February 1958): 40.

52“Iglesias Is Wounded in Puerto Rican Talk,” 27 October 1936, New York Times: 4.

53“Push Puerto Rico Inquiry,” 17 November 1936, New York Times: 17.

54“Iglesias Campaigns Again in Puerto Rico.”

55Santiago Iglesias, “Puerto Rico Affairs,” 26 March 1937, Washington Post: 8.

56Gatell, “Independence Rejected: Puerto Rico and the Tydings Bill of 1936”: 42; “Puerto Rico Vote Favors U.S. Ties,” 15 November 1936, New York Times: E10. When examined separately, Liberals were still the single largest polling party (over Socialists and Republicans). See “Estadisticas de las elecciones celebradas en Puerto Rico el 3 de Noviembre de 1936,” File 9-8-82-Politics- Elections-1936, RG 126, NACP.

57“Iglesias Elected by Puerto Ricans.” “An independence plebiscite would only favor the opponents of island Americanism,” Iglesias told reporters. “For many years I have insisted at Washington that the vast majority of the island people want only union with the people of the United States. Yesterday’s election again proves this.”

58Santiago Iglesias, “Puerto Rico and Independence,” 12 April 1937, Christian Science Monitor: 1.

59“Santiago Iglesias, Labor Leader, Dies,” 6 December 1939, New York Times: 32; “Iglesias Lies in State,” 12 December 1939, New York Times: 16; “Crowd Carries Body of Iglesias to Grave,” 13 December 1939, New York Times: 27.

60“Memorial Services”: 33.

61Pagán married Iglesias’s daughter Igualdad in 1933. See “Daughter of Island Envoy Wed Here,” 28 September 1933, Washington Post: 8; “Memorial Services”: 29.

62“Memorial Services”: 32.

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

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External Research Collections

Cornell University
Martin P. Catherwood Library

Ithaca, NY
Papers: In the papers of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Benjamin Schlesinger, President; 1914-1923, 2 linear feet. Correspondents include Santiago Iglesias.

University of Virginia
University of Virginia Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: Santiago Iglesias Pantin papers, 1915-1937, 1 reel microfilm. Papers are mostly in Spanish.

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Bibliography / Further Reading

Carreras, Juan. Santiago Iglesias Pantín; su Vida, su Obra, su pensamiento; datos biograficos. Epoca: 1896 a 1940. San Juan, P. R.: Editorial Club de la Prensa, 1965.

Cordova, Gonzalo F. Santiago Iglesias Pantín, creador del movimiento obrero de Puerto Rico. Rio Piedras, P. R.: Editorial Universitaria, 1980.

___. "Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times." Ph. D. diss., Georgetown University, 1982.

___. Santiago Iglesias y las elecciones de 1932. San Juan, P. R: Oficina del Gobernador de Puerto Rico, La Fortaleza, Oficina de Asuntos Culturales, 1984.

___. Resident Commissioner, Santiago Iglesias and His Times. Rio Piedras, P. R.: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1993.

Iglesias de Pagán, Igualdad. El oberismo en Puerto Rico; época de Santiago Iglesias, 1896-1905. Gúia cronológica del movimiento obrero organizado y del partido socialista y obrero de Puerto Rico. Palencia de Castilla [i.e. San Juan, P. R.]: Ediciones Juan Ponce de León, 1973.

Iglesias Pantín, Santiago. Luchas emancipadoras: crónicas de Puerto Rico. V. 1. Prólogo por Bolívar Pagán. San Juan. P.R.: Imp. Venezuela, 1958.

"Santiago Iglesias" 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.

Senior, Clarence Ollson. Santiago Iglesias, Labor Crusader. Foreword by Herman Badillo. Hato Rey, P. R.: Inter American University Press, 1972.

United States. 76th Cong., 3rd Sess., 1940. House. Memorial Services held in the House of Representatives of the United States, together with remarks presented in the eulogy of Santiago Iglesias, late a resident commissioner from Puerto Rico. Seventy-sixth Congress, Third Session. Washington: GPO, 1941.

Whittaker, William George. "The Santiago Iglesias Case, 1901-0902: Origins of American Trade Union Involvement in Puerto Rico," The Americas, Vol. 24, No. 4 (April 1968), pp. 378-393.

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Committee Assignments

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