Puerto Rico and the Promise of United States Citizenship: Struggles around Status in a New Empire, 1898-1917 – Parte II – By Samuel C. Erman

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Puerto Rico and the Promise of United States Citizenship: Struggles around Status in a New Empire, 1898-1917 – Parte II – By Samuel C. Erman

CHAPTER 5

“THE FORGOTTEN ISLAND,” 1905-1909

El Dr. Julio Henna, Dr. Roberto H/ Todd y Sotero Figueroa convencieron a Teddy Roossevelt el liberar a Puerto Rico y los USA fueron recibidos con flores, música y akegría.

Although they had asked the Supreme Court not to recognize Puerto Ricans as U.S. citizens in Gonzales v. Williams (1904), the Republican administration and its allies in later years warmed to the idea. They came to agree with the lawyers they had earlier opposed: recognition of Puerto Ricans as U.S. citizens would neither bring islanders rights nor hamper U.S. policy in the Philippines. Secretary of Puerto Rico Regis Post

declared that U.S. citizenship would be a “perfectly empty gift.” It would neither threaten “any of our control” nor extend new rights to islanders, but would placate Puerto Ricans who “consider [non-citizenship] rather a slur on their honor.” Governor Winthrop and President Roosevelt backed the policy, as did the Senate Committee on Pacific Islands and Porto Rico. That committee contended that in 1900 U.S. citizenship for Puerto

Ricans could have set a precedent that could “prove prejudicial to our interests in connection with legislation for the Philippines.” But with legislation having now been enacted for both archipelagos and the Supreme Court having offered guidance in the Insular Cases, the committee stated that “most of the questions which then gave rise to

apprehension have [now] been solved.”241

241 “Inhabitants of Porto Rico to Be Citizens of the United States,” Senate Report No. 2746, in Senate

Reports (Public), 59th Cong., 1st sess., 4 Dec. 1905-30 Jun. 1906, vol. 2 (Washington, D.C.: Government

 

Puerto Rican labor leader Santiago Iglesias and American Federation of Labor President Samuel Gompers sought to maneuver this apparent momentum toward citizenship into protection of the rights of Puerto Ricans. The men deemphasized Gompers’s failures to secure recognition of all the rights that he sought for mainland workers. They also made little mention of Gompers’s especially modest efforts and progress on behalf of agricultural laborers who, like many in Puerto Rico, were people of color or Spanish speaking. Instead, the men depicted a national consensus in favor of extensive rights for U.S. worker-citizens. At the same time, Iglesias sought to draw on and extend recent political and organizational gains while improving working conditions

Signature Johns Act 1917
On March 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act. This law gave Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship. The Jones Act separated the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches of Puerto Rican government, provided civil rights to the individual, and created a locally elected bicameral legislature. First administrative cabinet under the Jones Act. From left: A. Ruíz Soler (Health), José E. Benedicto (Treasurer), Ramón Siaca Pacheco (Secretary), Hon. Arthur Yager (Governor, 1914-1921), Paul G. Miller (Education), Manuel Camuñas (Labor and Agriculture), Salvador Mestre (Attorney General), Guillermo Esteves (Interior), Jesse W. Bonner (Auditor), Pedro L. Rodríguez (Governor’s Secretary). Miller, p. 418. Download an uncompressed TIFF (.tif) version of this image.

 

 

for potential and existing constituents.242

Having established themselves as the dominant Puerto Rican electoral force, Muñoz and other Unionistas sought to translate their more confrontational approach to U.S.-Puerto Rican relations into steps toward fulfilling their campaign promises to win greater Puerto Rican self-government. Some advocated disrupting island governance to protest for greater home rule. Domingo Collazo, who had recently analyzed his niece’s Supreme Court case in mainland and island newspapers, proposed another approach. Despite being an ex-revolutionary typographer from a plebeian family who had no appreciable base of support on the island, Collazo offered himself as a liaison between Unionistas and the U.S. Democratic Party. This strange alliance, he argued, would help secure Puerto Rico incorporation into the United States and with the incorporation, self-

Printing Office, 1906), see Letter of Secretary Post, 7 Jul. 1905 (quotes 1-3); text of the report (quotes 4-5); Statement of Governor Winthrop, 15 Jan. 1906; Theodore Roosevelt to J.B. Foraker, 25 Mar. 1906.

242 On the success of some and failures of other claims by the American Federation of Labor on the mainland, see William E. Forbath, Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991). For an early work on Samuel Gompers and black workers, see Bernard Mandel, “Samuel Gompers and the Negro Workers, 1886-1914,” Journal of Negro History 40

(Jan. 1955): 34-60. On the Federation and workers of Mexican heritage, see, e.g., Emilio Zamora, The

US Passport
En el 1917 288 Puertorriqueños firmaron una declaración jurada no aceptándola, y luego 13 murieron sin ella.

World of the Mexican Worker in Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1993).

 

government. But the alliance foundered on one central mismatch; though some U.S. Democrats expressed willingness to distinguish Puerto Ricans from the Filipions whom they presumed to be truly degraded, many Democratic Party politicians objected to Republican imperialism based upon beliefs that many overseas peoples were their racial inferiors. But even though some U.S. Democrats expressed willingness to distinguish Puerto Ricans from the Filipinos whom they presumed to be truly degraded, it would be difficult to ally with politicians whose objections to Republican imperialism were rooted in beliefs that many overseas peoples were their racial inferiors.

Labor Rising? 1905-1906

After years as a politically isolated, urban craft union, Santiago Iglesias’s Federación Libre entered 1905 seeking to extend fresh gains: new agricultural unions, membership in a legislative majority, and a recent law mandating an eight-hour workday for government employees. Aware that the American Federation of Labor claimed a constitutional right to strike on the mainland, Iglesias and his colleagues gained Federation support for their claim to a U.S. citizenship carrying “the same rights and privileges possessed by the people of all other States.” In fact, Iglesias was overreaching here: he implied that U.S. citizenship would bring island workers new, valuable rights, but U.S. courts did not in fact recognize mainland workers’ asserted general right to strike. What citizenship promised islanders was the right to make claims to rights similar to the claims that mainland laborers made.243

243 Report of Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor Held at San Francisco, California, November 14 to 26 Inclusive, 1904 (Washington, D.C.: The Law Reporter Printing Company, 1904) [hereinafter 1904 Federation Report], 174 (Resolution No. 116) (quote), 135; Santiago Iglesias, Report on San Juan, P.R., in American Federationist, “What Our

9-1-14 Ciudadania USA
En el 1917 288 Puertorriqueños firmaron una declaración jurada no aceptándola, y luego 13 murieron sin ella.

Iglesias also secured Federation support for his demand for greater powers for elected island legislators. In 1905, labor conditions were favorable for agricultural labor activism in the heavily sugar-producing regions of southern Puerto Rico. Sugar prices were up and island production of sugar was twice what it had been five years before. The fied worker were a dense and mobile population. They could migrate between plantations depending upon labor conditions; they were accustomed to and in a position to negotiate in term of wages; and they had access to the ports and cities where ideas circulated, people gathered, and island unions had traditionally formed. Density also created a key condition for solidarity and for a mass movement that could withstand at least some repression. For Iglesias, nearby Ponce meant that he had close at hand a branch of his labor organization, a means of communication, and access to state officials. Thus, in

early March, Iglesias joined Ponce-area union representatives to petition sugar planters for higher wages, nine-hour workdays, and an end to child labor. Most employers in the area ignored the demands of Iglesias and his allies. Soon, Iglesias counted approximately

14,000 workers on strike. Within days, Iglesias told the American Federation of Labor, insular police commanded by their gubernatorially appointed Chief were threatening, arresting, beating, shooting, and barring and disbanding meetings by “peaceful”

strikers.244

Organizers Are Doing” (Apr. 1905): 231-232; An Act to Establish the Duration of the Official Working Day, and for Other Purposes (10 Mar. 1904), in The Acts and Resolutions of the Second Session of the Second Legislative Assembly of Porto Rico and the Code of Civil Procedure of Porto Rico (San Juan, P.R.:

1904), 81-82; Forbath, Law and Labor, 64-65, 84, 128-158, passim; Samuel Gompers, “Justice Brewer on Strikes and Lawlessness,” American Federationist (Apr. 1901): 121-123; “Compulsory Arbitration Advocates—Their Fallacies Exposed,” American Federationist (May 1901): 160-163 (insisting “upon the legal, LAWFUL RIGHT TO STRIKE”).

244 Letter to Editor, Santiago Iglesias, “Strike of Agricultural Laborers in Porto Rico,” American

Federationist (Jun. 1905): 380-381 (quote); 1904 Federation Report, 135, 129 (Resolution No. 82); Iglesias, Report on San Juan; Santiago Iglesias Pantín, Luchas emancipadoras (crónicas de Puerto Rico) vol. 1, 2d ed. (San Juan, P.R.: [Imprenta Venezuela] 1958 [1929]), 338-339, 344-345; Miles Galvin, “The

 

For Federation President Samuel Gompers, the campaign to defend and protect strikers also offered a chance to advise Iglesias on pursuing and documenting complaints. On May 5, Gompers wrote Iglesias that he had told Puerto Rico Governor Beekman Winthrop about written charges of “criminal and brutal assault” by “insular police . . . violating [strikers’] right of free assemblage and free speech.” Over the next week, he informed Iglesias, he also complained to the Associated Press of anti-labor bias in its Puerto Rico coverage and published a response to one instance of such coverage in the Washington Star. Asking Iglesias for further evidence, including statements from others, Gompers stressed that he would “count upon the absolute reliability of any statements which you and others may make.” On May 15, Iglesias cabled Gompers that their effort “ends satisfactorily.” Most workers, he wrote, secured a 30% wage increase; six new

unions had been formed.245

Early Development of the Organized Labor Movement in Puerto Rico,” Latin American Perspectives 3 (summer 1976): 24; Report of the Governor of Porto Rico, in War Department Annual Reports, 1909, vol.

9 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1909), 20-22; “Shanton Back after Quieting Porto Rico,” New York Times, 20 Nov. 1912, 8; H.B. 8: An Act to Create and Provide for an Insular Police of Porto Rico (31 Jan. 1901), The Acts and Resolves of the First Legislative Assembly of Porto Rico (San Juan, P.R.: 1901), 106-112; Annual Report of the Governor of Porto Rico for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30[,]

1907 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907), 17; Second Annual Report of the Governor of

Porto Rico, Covering the Period from May 1, 1901, to July 1, 1902 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1902), 19; Sydney W. Mintz, “The Culture History of a Puerto Rican Sugar Cane Plantation: 1876-1949,” Hispanic American Historical Review 33 (May 1953): 224-251; Henry K. Carroll, Report on the Industrial and Commercial Condition of Porto Rico, 2d ed. (San Juan, P.R.: Ediciones Puerto, 2005 [1899]), 45, 111, 117-119, 184-195; Juan Ángel Silén, Apuntes para la historia del movimiento obrero puertorriqueño (San Juan, P.R.: Publicaciones Gaviota, Inc., 1978), 62; Gervasio L. García and A.G. Quintero Rivera, Desafío y solidaridad: breve historia del movimiento obrero puertorriqueño (San Juan, P.R.: Ediciones Huracán, 1986), 46-47; A. G. Quintero Rivera, Conflictos de clase y política en Puerto Rico, 5th ed. ( Río Piedras, P.R.: Ediciones Huracán, 1986 [1977]), 113-127; Ángel G. Quintero Rivera, Patricios y plebeyos: burgueses, hacendados, artesanos y obreros (Río Piedras, P.R.: Ediciones Huracán, 1988), 132; Cesar J. Ayala and Laird W. Bergad, “Rural Puerto Rico in the Early Twentieth Century Reconsidered: Land and Society, 1899-1915,” Latin American Research Review 37 (2002): 78, passim; Third Annual Report of the Governor of Porto Rico, Covering the Period from July 1,

1902, to June 30, 1903 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1903), 57.

245 Samuel Gompers to Beekman Winthrop, 5 May 1905, SGL 100/363 (quotes 1-2); Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 8 May 1905, SGL 100/403 (quote 3); Excerpt, Cable, Iglesias to Gompers, 15 May 1905, accompanying Iglesias, “Strike of Agricultural Laborers in Porto Rico” (quote 4); Samuel Gompers to

Santiago Iglesias, 5 May 1906, SGL 100/366; Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 8 May 1905, SGL

100/405; Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 12 May 1905, SGL 100/621; Cable, Gompers to Iglesias, 6

 

In early 1906, as Iglesias had requested, Gompers lobbied in Washington for U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans. Both political parties in Puerto Rico supported the measure as did the Executive Council, the presidentially appointed upper legislative chamber in Puerto Rico. On January 4, 1906, Republican Senator Joseph Foraker of Ohio introduced a bill to naturalize the islanders en masse. Seeking to use U.S. foreign policy to nudge Congress into actions, President Roosevelt appointed Resident Commissioner Tulio Larrinaga to be a delegate to the Pan-American Congress, and then asked Foraker on March 25, 1906, that “the citizenship bill . . . pass . . . prior to [Larrinaga’s] going there.” In early April, Chairman of the House Committee on Insular Affairs Henry Cooper introduced a citizenship bill. By mid-May committees in both chambers had

recommended passage.246

As U.S. lawmakers contemplated U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans, Iglesias and his colleagues assisted striking sugar workers in the northern Puerto Rican municipality of Arecibo. Though sugar prices fell that year, production increased by more than half. The Arecibo area matched the area around Ponce: high sugar production, a dense population of mobile workers, and home to an urban center of island officials, communications technologies, and several Federación Libre unions. Gompers also lent support, commending strikers, authorizing disbursement of strike-benefit funds, and

May 1905, SGL 100/392; Iglesias, “Strike of Agricultural Laborers”; see also Iglesias, Report on San Juan.

246 Roosevelt to Foraker, 25 Mar. 1906 (quote); “Inhabitants of Porto Rico”; Hearing before the Committee on Pacific Islands and Porto Rico, United States Senate, 6 Feb. 1906, CDOSIP/MC/1 (testimony of R. H.

Todd); Iglesias, Luchas emancipadoras, 395-398; Congressional Record 40, pt. 1:682 (4 Jan. 1906); A bill

to provide that the inhabitants of Porto Rico shall be citizens of the United States, in “Inhabitants of Porto Rico,” 1; Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 23 Jan. 1906, SGL 107/357; Joint Resolution by the Legislative Assembly of Porto Rico, in “Inhabitants of Porto Rico,” 5; A bill providing that the inhabitants of Porto Rico shall be citizens of the United States, H.R. 17661, Report No. 4215, 59th Cong., 1st Sess., CDOSIP/MC/1; House of Representatives, Report No. 4215, 59th Cong., 1st Sess., 16 May 1906, CDOSIP/MC/1; see also Henry Cooper to Samuel Gompers, 22 Feb. 1906, SGL 108/730; Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 2 Mar. 1906, available at SGL 108.

 

lobbying high officials in Puerto Rico on their behalf. When dozens of insular police arrived in Arecibo in May 1906, arrests, convictions, and shootings of strikers followed, resulting in one death. Gompers declared himself “shocked” by the “brutal manner” of

the police that Iglesias described and convinced the Washington Star to publish copies of Iglesias’s complaints. On May 28 he presented the complaints to Roosevelt, who solicited a report from Governor Winthrop. Winthrop flatly denied the charges as “a series of falsities from beginning to end,” insisting that the “administration has not taken sides,” police were “impartial,” and “courts are honorable and just.” Gompers then told Iglesias that though “[I] am not now doubting your trustworthiness,” you must “make full and complete answer” “before further action can be taken.” In the meantime, Gompers later recalled, he heard from Iglesias that “the men had no guarantees of the right of meeting,

etc.,” and so the strike collapsed.247

Iglesias responded by instigating new fights. Having clashed with police, prosecutors, judges, and the governor during strikes, Iglesias next addressed these men’s superiors in Washington. Building on a petition by 5,000 American Federation of Labor

247 Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 1 Jun. 1906, SGL 112/113 (quotes 1-2); [Beekman Winthrop] to [Mr. President], 12 Jun. 1906, in “El Presidente y la Huelga de Arecibo,” Unión Obrera, 29, 31 Aug. 1906 (quotes 3-6 (“una serie de falsedades desde el principio hasta el fin”; “La administración no se ha puesto de una parte ni de la otra”; “imparcial”; “las Cortes son honradas y justas”)); Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 22 Jun. 1906, SGL 112/881 (quotes 7-8); Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 13 Jul. 1906, SGL

113/529 (quote 9); Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 22 Jun. 1906, SGL 112/879 (quote 10); Copy, Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 25 May 1906, CDOSIP/MC/1; Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 29 Dec. 1905, SGL 106/616; Copy, Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 16 Jun. 1906, CDOSIP/MC/1; Carlos Sanabria, “Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor in Puerto Rico,” Centro Journal 17 (spring 2005): 154-156; [author, title unknown], Boletín Mercantil, issues from May and June, 1906, CDOSIP/MC/1 (see especially 11 Jun. 1906); Ángel Silén, Apuntes para la historia,

62, 65, 67-68; Copy, Wm. Lobe to Samuel Gompers, 19 Jun. 1906, SGL 112/884; Annual Report . . . June

30[,] 1907, 17; Carroll, Report of Porto Rico, 111, 117-119, 184-195, 728-733; García and Quintero Rivera, Desafio y solidaridad, 46-47; Quintero Rivera, Patricios y plebeyos, 132, 144; Quintero Rivera, Conflictos de clase, 113-127; Mintz, “Culture History”; Ayala and Bergad, “Rural Puerto Rico,” 81, passim. On how conflicts produce disputes over underlying events that illuminate dyanmics of claims making, see Aims McGuinness, Path of Empire: Panama and the California Gold Rush (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008), 131-132.

 

members attacking Governor Winthrop’s administration and asking Roosevelt to intervene, Iglesias maneuvered to transform mass labor activism into political power. The Federation, struggling to respond to advocacy by the Republican-affiliated National Association of Manufacturers in favor of open shops, had recently liberalized its policy of partisan neutrality to let its organizations side more effectively with Democrats. On August 21, citing this policy shift, Iglesias and his colleagues in the Federación Libre resolved both to register the organization with the Puerto Rican state as a political body and to “lend its support without distinction of political party to all candidates recognized as friends of the workers.” With Federación delegates forming a minority of the

Unionista majority in the House, this new stand was a way to use organizational strength to exert pressure on Unionistas who had previously opposed principal Federación legislative goals. But it also risked provoking reaction. Labor newspaper Unión Obrera supported the strategy by depicting a struggle between the freedom labor leaders sought and a slavery in which other Unionistas acquiesced. Claiming the mantle of male honor,

it explained: “Unionistas are on their back seeking favors from the boss who whips them” while labor leaders “seek citizenship standing upright.” The Federación also proposed seven labor leaders, including Iglesias, to be among thirty-five Unionista candidates for the House of Delegates in 1906. Unionistas balked, accepting less than half the proposed candidacies. Relations deteriorated. Unión Obrera relayed Unionista complaints that

labor leaders sullied the reputation of the party with U.S. authorities, and Iglesias soon found himself in a third-party campaign. Aware that Unionistas could buy votes and that most laborers had not yet joined the island labor movement, the newspaper argued that “money” and “the ignorance of the pueblo” made “the fight . . . extremely unequal.”

 

Nonetheless, Unión Obrera insisted, Unionistas had snubbed “honored and free citizen[]” workers, and so labor leaders would “honorably meet the mission imposed upon them” and serve “the larger plan of unionism” by standing for office.248

Beginning on August 29, Iglesias transformed his dispute with Governor

Winthrop over official wrongdoing during the Arecibo sugar strikes into a campaign issue in which Federación leaders appeared to be martyrs for workers’ causes. In more than a dozen articles, Iglesias published correspondence between Gompers, the White House, and Winthrop. Following Gompers’s earlier advice, he also included telegrams and sworn complaints of official wrongdoing in Arecibo from both victims and witnesses. The articles made specific charges, provided places and dates, and named

victims and malefactors. Taken together, they described police insulting, threatening, and attacking strikers; abusing women and children; disrupting meetings; and falsely arresting workers. At least one court, complainants added, denied strikers meaningful

representation and browbeat their witnesses. Though enemies of labor “[o]rder that we be

insulted and killed,” Unión Obrera told voters, “no one frightens us.” On October 27 the

248 “Consejo Ejecutivo,” Unión Obrera, 21 Aug. 1906, 2 (quote 1 (“prestará su apoyo sin distinción de partidos políticos, a todo candidato reconocido como amigos de los trabajadores”)); “En campaña,” Unión Obrera, 31 Aug. 1906, 2 (quotes 2-3 (“Unionistas están boca-abajo pidiendo favores al amo que los flagela”; “queremos la ciudadanía de pié y nunca de rodillas”)); “En campaña,” Unión Obrera, 15 Sep.

1906, 2 (quotes 4-7, 9 (“la lucha es en extremo desigual”; “dinero”; “la ignorancia del pueblo”; “la plana mayor del unionismo”; “ciudadanos honrados y libres”)); “En campaña,” Unión Obrera, 2 Oct. 1906, 2 (quote 8 (“cumplir con honor la misión que se ha impuesto”)); “Appel de los trabajadores puerto- rriqueños,” [Unión Obrera], 30 Aug. 1906, CDOSIP/MC/1; José del Carmen, “En campaña,” Unión Obrera, 6 Sep. 1906, 2; Ángel Silén, Apuntes para la historia, 65-67; Torres de Solon, “Crónica de la semana,” Unión Obrera, 5 Sep. 1906, 2; García and Quintero Rivera, Desafío y solidaridad, 52-56; Gonzalo F. Córdova, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias and His Times (Río Piedras: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1993), 105-109; “Labor to Be Factor,” Washington Post, 16 Apr. 1906, 4; “Labor Submits Its Grievances,” Washington Post, 22 Mar. 1906, 1; Julie Greene, Pure and Simple Politics: The American Federation of Labor and Political Activism, 1881-1917 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998). On a characterization of the new Federation policy by the Federación, see “Consejo Ejecutivo.”

 

series concluded by calling on President Roosevelt to intervene.249

On November 6, 1906, Unionistas dominated the island election, retaining the Resident Commissionership and sweeping the House of Delegates, including Luis Muñoz Rivera’s election to that House. Federación candidates secured just 1,345 votes. Despite the failures of the strikes and campaigns of 1906, Iglesias’s initial actions suggested continuing faith in electoral politics, U.S. citizenship, and labor activism. Gompers told the Federation in November that he had submitted to Roosevelt evidence that Iglesias had sent him “controverting each point [by Governor Winthrop] and re-asserting in detail every charge . . . , all of which was formally sworn to.” Later that month, Iglesias and his Federación reaffirmed their advocacy of self-government and U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans. But the Federación was in decline. Union membership soon fell, agricultural strikes ceased, and Federación electoral weakness persisted. Though Iglesias had found stronger allies and made more effective claims in 1905-1906 than he had previously, the combination was still not yet potent enough to sustain his labor activism. Pending a new strategy involving additional allies and better claims, the labor movement languished.250

249 “En campaña,” 2 Oct. 1906, 2 (quotes (“Manden a insultar a asesinar que nada nos arredra”)); “El

Presidente y la huelga de Arecibo”; “Santiago Iglesias y el Gobierno,” [Unión Obrera], 7-8, 10-11, 20, 22,

24, [2?]5, [2?]6 Sep., 4, 8, 9-12, 19, 27 Oct. 1906, available at CDOSIP/MC/1. Susan S. Silbey observes

that although state power is exercised under color of law in innumerable situations, those exercises are most likely to become the bases of formal legal change and subject to public scrutiny when they are made the subject of a formal, public, legalistic proceeding such as a trial. “After Legal Consciousness,” Annual Review of Law and Society 1 (Dec. 2005): 330-333.

250 Report of Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor Held at Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 12 to 24 Inclusive, 1906 (Washington, D.C.: The Graphic Arts Printing Company, 1906) 16 (Report of the President) (quote), 92 (Resolution No. 15), 205-206; Bayron Toro, Elecciones y partidos de Puerto Rico (1809-1876) (Mayagüez, P.R.: Editorial Isla, Inc., 1977), 128-

129; Córdova, Resident Commissioner, 109-110; Federación Libre to Theodore Roosevelt, 21 Nov. 1906, CDOSIP/MC/1; Ángel Silén, Apuntes para la historia, 68-70; Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 11

Jul. 1907, SGL 125/1027; Galvin, “Early Development,” 25; García and Quintero Rivera, Desafío y

solidaridad, 47, 60.

 

Domingo Collazo: Journalist, Politician, Unionista, and Democrat, 1906-1908

The Unionista party also languished in late 1906. Two years after first winning island elections, they had made little progress toward the self-government they sought. For Domingo Collazo, who had commented on Puerto Rican status and U.S. electoral politics in the New York Times following his niece’s Supreme Court appeal, Unionistas’ difficulties were an opportunity. Drawing on his knowledge of U.S. electoral politics and his years of experience seeking to liberalize the relationship of Puerto Rico to its metropole, Collazo both developed a synthesis of Democratic and Unionista policies and built a reputation among Puerto Ricans as a New York-based journalist and politician who pursued this partisan agenda.

Collazo announced his fidelity to Unionista aims in December 1906, telling the New York Times that the “total electoral success . . . of the home rule party” reflected the “unyielding desire” for self-government among Puerto Ricans. Next, in articles published by the main Unionista newspaper in Puerto Rico, La Democracia, Collazo supported and amplified arguments of party leaders on the mainland. On January 4, 1907, after the Evening Post ran a letter accusing Unionista Resident Commissioner Tulio Larrinaga of dereliction of duty, Collazo repeated Larrinaga’s claim that Puerto Ricans suffered from structural inequality; Larrinaga was not indifferent to his countrymen, the men indicated, but rather had to do his best depite representing a million Puerto Ricans on less funding

than other representatives had for 200,000-odd constituents.251

Later that month Mariano Abril, a leading figure at La Democracia then sojourning in New York, wrote articles on Japan and honor. In one he reported that

251 Letter to Editor, D. Collazo, “Porto Rico’s Plight,” New York Times, 2 Dec. 1906, 6 (quotes); D. Collazo, “Desde Nueva York,” La Democracia, 4 Jan. 1907, 2 (including Letter of T. Larrinaga to the Director of The Evening Post, 23 Dec. 1906).

 

pressure from California unions opposed to Japanese labor immigration had led California to place Japanese children in black and Chinese segregated schools. Japanese officials resented the policy and, fresh from their victory against Russia, responded with implicit, credible military and economic threats.252

In a second article, Abril turned to the trial of a millionaire who had supposedly

committed a lethal crime of passion. Other newspapers, Abril relayed, contended that a Spanish “jury would absolve” the defendant if given the chance. Abril commented that “[i]n the Latin pueblos, above all, the offense to honor or the betrayals of love, are washed with blood.”253

Collazo revisited and intertwined these themes in late February. The Japanese, he

wrote, believed in their “social equality.” Aware that “only the Blacks and Chinese sit in separate schools,” they sought “the same advantages of public instruction that are granted others from foreign countries,” including “Italians, Germans and Jews.” Having

“[p]roved that equality by defeating Russia,” Collazo elaborated, the Japanese “prefer to go to war” rather than suffer unequal treatment. Collazo anticipated that Japan and unions would both accept extension of Chinese Exclusion laws to Japanese immigrants in lieu of segregation. But he knew from experience the coercive and dishonoring potential of

immigration laws and warned that the Japanese might eventually balk at “jump[ing] from

252 Mariano Abril, “Desde Hudson,” La Democracia, 21 Jan. 1907, 2; Alberto Arroyo Gómez, Bibliografía puertorriqueña: narrativa (San Juan, P.R.: Ediciones Amano, 2004 [1998]), 10, available at www.scribd.com; Daniels Roger, The Politics of Prejudice: The Anti-Japanese Movement in California and the Struggle for Japanese Exclusion, reprint (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977 [1962]); Kiyo Sue Inui, “The Gentlemen’s Agreement: How It Has Functioned,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 122 (Nov. 1925): 188-198; Paul A. Kramer, The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,

2006), 349-350.

253 Mariano Abril, “Correspondencia de Nueva York,” La Democracia, 9 Feb. 1907, 2 (“el jurado lo absolvería”; “En los pueblos latinos, sobre todo, las ofensas á la honra ó las traiciones del amor, son

lavadas con sangre”).

 

the frying pan into the fire” of receiving “the same meanness at U.S. ports that they give the Chinese.” 254

Unlike Japan, however, Puerto Rico had no navy or trade agreement to strengthen its negotiating position with the United States. It also lacked the voting representative in the U.S. Congress that most domestic U.S. populations enjoyed. When it failed to win U.S. citizenship during the 1905-1907 term, it consequently had little recourse. Collazo’s next columns sought to explain why the bill failed or, as he put it, why islanders’ “honored service” encountered an “ungrateful” “master.” The reason, he wrote, lay with Republican Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon of Illinois. Cannon saw Puerto Ricans as racial inferiors, “too ignorant to be American citizens and to govern themselves” and not “honorable enough for the American citizenship.” He used and would use his power, Collazo wrote, paraphrasing Cannon, to block islanders’ “equitable participation on the

public matters of our patria until you have stayed out from under the burning tropical sun of the tropics and gotten the whiteness essential to enjoying our citizenship.”255

Over the next two years, now as a regular commentator in La Democracia,

254 D. Collazo, “Desde Nueva-York,” La Democracia, 25 Feb. 1907, 2 (“igualdad social”; “solamente á los negros y á los chinos los sientan en escuelas separadas”; “las mismas ventajas de instrucción pública que se les otorga á los de los demás países”; “italianos, alemanes y judíos”; “Probaron esa igualdad derrotando á Rusia”; “prefieren ir á la guerra”; “caer from the frying pan into the fire”; “mismas bajezas en los puertos

de los Estados Unidos que á los serviles chinos”). On legal, state-enforced racial differentiation as “the public expression of a structure of domination,” see Gerald J. Postema, “Introduction: The Sins of Segregation,” Law and Philosophy 16 (May 1997): 221-244.

255 D. Collazo, “Carta de New York,” La Democracia, 11 Mar. 1907, 2 (quotes 1-3 (“servicio honrado”; “ingrato”; “amo”)); D. Collazo, “Desde New York,” La Democracia, 2 Mar. 1907, 2 (quote 4 (“demasiado ignorantes para ser ciudadanos americanos y gobernarse por sí mismos”)); D. Collazo, “Desde Nueva York,” La Democracia, 4 Apr. 1907, 2 (quotes 5-6 (“dignos de la ciudadanía Americana”; “participación equitativa en la cosa pública de su patria hasta tanto no hayan conseguido bajo el sol quemante de los

trópicos la blancura esencial para el goce de nuestra ciudadanía”)); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La

Democracia, 5 Jun. 1908, 2; Congressional Record 40, pt. 2:1165 (introduction of H. R. 12076 by Res. Com. Tulio Larrinaga of P.R., 16 Jan. 1906), pt. 4:3499 (introduction of H. R. 16380 by Rep. Joseph Goulden of N.Y., 8 Mar. 1906), pt. 5:4627 (introduction of H. R. 17661 by Rep. Henry Cooper of Wis., 2

Apr. 1906), pt. 6:5602 (report of S. 2620, 20 Apr. 1906), pt. 7:6994 (report of H. R. 17661, 16 May 1906), [Senate Bills]:80 (S. 2620, 1906), [House Bills]:530 (H. R. 12076), 653 (H. R. 16380), 691 (H.R. 17661,

1906); Congressional Record 41, pt. 1:172-173 (objection raised when Rep. Cooper seeks consideration of

  1. R. 17661, 7 Dec. 1906); [House Bills]:123 (H. R. 17661, 1907).

 

Collazo promoted a Democratic national victory as the surest path forward. Support for mainland Democrats was, he argued, an obligation of citizenship and honor. The party “oppose[d] . . . colonial exploitation,” believing that “[a]ll men under the American flag have title to the protection of the institutions that the flag symbolizes.” It favored independence for the Philippines and perceived Puerto Rico to be “a more assimilable country . . . than that little pile of volcanic islands,” the “organized territory” of Hawai‘i. Hence, he claimed, Democrats sought the “political rights and privileges” of “the territorial form of government,” including U.S. citizenship and “an autonomist regime.” Collazo did not have to remind readers that William Jennings Bryan, soon to be the Democratic nominee for President, had long argued that the difference between

traditional territorial governance and the Republican method was that between democracy and monarchy. Instead, he asserted that “citizens are justly desirous of the triumph of the Democratic Party,” “it being the duty of all <citizens of Puerto Rico> to defend the personality and honor of their country.”256

In promoting Democrats, Collazo stressed the importance of federal leaders who

would mitigate or eliminate the ill-defined, subordinating, interrelated status of Puerto Ricans and of Puerto Rico. Aware that Republican lawyers and judges labeled islanders “American” non-alien subjects, Collazo blamed the uncertain citizenship status of Puerto Ricans on Republican “bloodhounds of imperialism” who killed naturalization bills. This intransigence, he wrote, was like that of Spanish General Weyler in Cuba, which had

256 D. Collazo, “Give the Devil His Due,” La Democracia, 2 May 1908, 1 (quotes 1-2, 8-9 (“oponemos . . . explotación colonial”; Todos los hombres bajo la bandera Americana tienen título á la protección de las instituciones que simboliza esa bandera”; “ciudadanos están en lo justo deseándole el triunfo al partido Demócrata”; “siendo el deber de todo <ciudadano de Puerto Rico> defender la personalidad y la honra de su país”)); Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 1 Aug. 1908 (quotes 3-4 (“como más asimilable país . . . que ese montoncito de islas volcánicas”; “territorio organizado”)); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia,

27 Jul. 1908, 2 (quotes 5-7 (“derechos y privilegios políticos”; “la forma territorial de gobierno”; “un regimen autonómico”)); Chapter 3 above, note 88 and accompanying text.

 

“worked more in favor of the independence of Cuba than” his former colleague and leader, “the Liberator of Cuba,” José Martí. By contrast, Collazo promised, Democrats stood ready to recognize Puerto Ricans as U.S. citizens.257

Even more important than U.S. citizenship, Collazo contended, was the status of

Puerto Rico as a place. Because Puerto Rico would not be “an integral part of the United States” under the Insular Cases until it was incorporated by Congress, Collazo claimed, U.S. citizenship was, “like the pieces of glass that served in the 16th century to deceive the innocence of the Indians,” a pretty, empty gift that would not take “Puerto Ricans from their current condition of colonial servitude and raise them to the level of full citizenship that is enjoyed in the Territories.” What islanders lacked was self-government and a respectable relationship to the United States and other nations. Elected Puerto Ricans, suffering “an exotic government [that] depart[ed] from the Constitution,” could not legislate, he contended, because presidential appointees on the Executive Council vetoed all their bills. The “international status” of Puerto Rico reduced it to a “country without a name in the international world.” “[D]egraded to the category of <possession>, which is to say, fief,” he added, the “‘forgotten’ island” found reform to be a “Sisyph[ean]” endeavor as “tourists, ex-professors, and ex-‘carpetbaggers’” circulated “erroneous impressions” that created “unjust . . . public sentiment” which islanders were powerless to dispel.258

257 D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 18 Jun. 1909, 1 (quotes 1-2 (“sabuesos de limperalismo”; “trabajó más en pró de la independencia de Cuba que Martí”)); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 12 Feb. 1909, 2 (quote 3 (“el Libertador de Cuba”)); Collazo, “Give the Devil His Due”; see also “Collazo en Denver,” La Democracia, 25 Jul. 1908, 3 (taken from the Denver Republican of 10 Jul.

1908); Collazo, “Porto Rico’s Plight”; D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 1 Aug. 1908, 2.

258 D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 4 Sep. 1908, 2 (quotes 1, 3 (“‘parte integrante de

Estados Unidos’”; “puertorriqueños de su actual condición de servidumbre colonial y levantarlos al nivel de la ciudadanía plena que en los Territorios se goza”)) (quoting Downes v. Bidwell (1901) (White, J., conc.)); “Collazo en Denver” (quote 2 (“como los pedazos de vidrio que sirvieron en el siglo XVI para

 

Turning to Cuba as an inspirational and cautionary tale, Collazo argued that under current conditions independence would threaten the home rule for Puerto Rico that incorporation of the island into the United States would guarantee. Martí, he wrote, had argued that a “government” and its “methods and institutions” “must be born of its country.” While Cuba had achieved such government with its “Republic,” Puerto Rico, to his mind, remained a “<colony> . . . , without name and humiliated before the world.” Collazo did not, however, advocate Puerto Rican independence, stating that “[o]ur aspiration to [that status] is today merely conditional, and only sought when we see our hopes defrauded and it becomes the only road open.” Martí, he reminded readers, had warned that strong economic ties between a weak and strong country threatened the independence of the former, a situation Cuba now faced. Hawai‘i had avoided this problem by becoming an incorporated territory with, in Collazo’s words, “the American citizenship [and] a decent and logical position within the federal evolution of these

sovereign States.”259

In 1908 Collazo became active in the Democratic presidential campaign, using it as an opportunity to push for a new U.S. policy in Puerto Rico, expand his social-political

engañar la inocencia de los indios”)); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 17 Aug. 1908, 2 (quote 4 (“un gobierno exótico sentaron un precedente saliéndose de la Constitución”)); Collazo, “Porto Rico’s Plight” (quotes 5-6); D. Collazo, “Un anónimo y la dignidad humana,” La Democracia, 20 Jan.

1908, 2 (quote 7 (“degrade á la categoría de <posesión>, es decir, feudo”)); Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 5

Jun. 1908 (quote 8 (“isla ‘olvidada’”); D. Collazo, “Desde Nueva York,” La Democracia, 23 Mar. 1907, 2 (quote 9 (“Sísifo”)); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 27 Feb. 1909, 1 (quotes 10-12 (“touristas [sic], ex-profesores y ex-‘carpetbaggers’”; “erróneas impresiones”; “sentimiento público . . . injusto”)); Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 1 Aug. 1908; D. Collazo, “Castigando a Puerto Rico,” La Democracia, 7 Jun. 1909, 2.

259 Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 12 Feb. 1909 (quotes 1-3, 7 (“ “gobierno”; “métodos é instituciones”; “ha de nacer del país”; “la ciudadanía americana [y] un puesto decente y lógico dentro de la evolución federal de estos soberanos Estados”)); Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 27 Feb. 1909 (quote 4 (“Republica”)); Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 17 Aug. 1908 (quote 5 (“<colonia> . . . , sin nombre y humillada ante el mundo”)); Collazo, “Castigando a Puerto Rico” (quote 6 (“Nuestra aspiración á la independencia es por hoy

meramente condicional, y sólo la pediremos cuando veamos defraudadas nuestras esperanzas y llegue á ser

ella el único camino abierto”)); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 20 Aug. 1909, 2.

 

network, and build his reputation as a politician. Marveling at the public affection President Theodore Roosevelt generated as “the most effective self-promoting press agent of his time,” Collazo pursued a similar strategy, reporting on and securing media coverage of his activities and accomplishments. In 1908, Collazo was writing for several Latin American newspapers and editing the Spanish-language La Semana in New York. Collazo attended the Republican National Convention as a correspondent. In Early July, he lobbied party leaders as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Acting as translator and occasional commentator for a New York Times reporter, Collazo shaped and encouraged press coverage of a Puerto Rican club where he served as Secretary. The

club’s members included naturalized U.S. citizens in New York like Collazo and wealthy islanders visiting the city. They socialized, promised to fundraise for Democratic presidential candidate William J. Bryan, and proposed to organize an estimated 10,000 eligible islanders to vote on his behalf. In August, Collazo reported, Bryan warmly received him in Fairview, Nebraska, as a member of the committee notifying Bryan of his nomination. Two months later, Collazo placed himself in famous company by writing of his encounters with men like the hero and martyr of the Cuban Revolution José Martí, Unionista party head Luis Muñoz Rivera, Nicaraguan poet, journalist, and politician

Rubén Dario, and Republican Senator Chauncey Depew of New York.260

Collazo also attacked Republicans. Echoing caricatures of U.S. Reconstruction,

260 D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 31 May 1909, 2 (“el más eficaz press agent de sí mismo que han conocido los tiempos”); Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 1 Aug. 1908; D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 27 Sep. 1909, 2; D. Collazo, “Correspondencia de New York,” La Democracia, 26 Jun. 1908; “Will Ask Bryan to Quit,” New York Times, 2 Jul. 1908, 2; Letter to Editor, D. Collazo, “Porto Rico’s

Three Delegates,” New York Times, 2 Jul. 1908, 8; “Porto Rican Vote Pledged to Bryan,” New York Times,

1 Aug. 1908, 2; D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 29 Aug. 1908, 2; D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 17 Oct. 1908, 2; “Trocando los frenos,” El Águila, 31 Mar. 1908, available at CIHCAM 8/L1. On immigrant enclaves and the homeland as mutually constitutive spaces that together formed an imagined transnational space, see Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo, New York, and a Changing World since 1950 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2008).

 

Collazo argued that “Porto Ric[an] national interests cannot be . . . safe in the hands of professional carpet-baggers” who seek to impress superiors in Washington rather than govern for the benefit of the island. Doubting that Republicans would alter the system, he later claimed that former military-governor of the Philippines William Taft, after becoming President, “captured the nostalgia of the carpetbaggers” by fondly remembering his prior post at the head of the U.S. government in the Philippines.

Echoing the New York Sun, Collazo explained that Taft realized “it is not the same to be

President,” “servant of a people,” “as to be boss and lord of colonies.”261

Collazo also attacked Republican imperialism as disregarding rule of law, resembling the fall of the Roman Republic, and reprising Napoleon’s rise. After criticizing the White House for “carry[ing] to the nation what was permitted in colonies,” Collazo recounted a Sun article about a U.S. traveler who complained of the President’s “despotic conduct” and “monarchical tones.” Collazo charged that Republicans

contributed to the problem by attacking the Supreme Court, which was sometimes at odds with Roosevelt, as an “absolute monarchy.” Echoing the Sun’s traveler, he added that just as hero worship “facilitated Caesar’s overthrow of the Republic” and “Napoleon’s ascension” resulted when “the democracy abdicated its power . . . in obeisance to a national hero,” so too “the virility, the civil sufficiency of the North American citizen has

been lost.” “The condition of vassalage,” Collazo concluded, “is being learned rapidly

261 Letter to Editor, D. Collazo, “Porto Rico and ‘Overaspiring’ Officials,” New York Times, 1 Oct. 1907,

10 (quote 1); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 23 Oct. 1909, 1 (quotes 2-5 (“condensó admirablemente la nostalgia del carpet baggers”; “no es lo mismo ser Presidente”; “servidor de un pueblo”; “amo y señor de colonos”)) (citing as the source of the quotation the New York Sun); Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 1 Aug. 1908; D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 13 Nov. 1908, 2; David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001).

 

here.”262

Republican imperialism, Collazo complained, also cost Puerto Rico benefits of access to U.S. markets. In a paraphrase of William Jennings Bryan, he wrote:

With Central America largely under the republican protectorate of Mr. Roosevelt, Taft and Root; Haiti, soon to have [illegible?] fiscal links; the Philippines, a permanent American possession under its current government; Cuba, stumbling drunkenly while its its supposed caretakers in Washington fatally wound its independence; Santo Domingo, stripped of international life and relegated to the schoolhouse bench by the hall monitor; and inevitable further expansions by the republican administration into the Caribbean and the continent, which will undoubtedly culminate in a zollverein customs union, Puerto Rico has

more reason than ever before to see a threat to its wealth.263

Here, presuming readers’ familiarity with them, Collazo condensed a decade of U.S. foreign relations in the Caribbean and with the Philippines into a paragraph. In Central America, these included: U.S. securing of Panama Canal rights following U.S.

262 D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 1 Feb. 1909, 2 (quote 1 (“llevarían á la nación lo permitido en colonias”)); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 13 Apr. 1909, 2 (quotes 2-3, 5-10 (“conducta despótica”; “tonos monárquicos”; “colocó á César en posición de derrocar la República”; “el ascenso de Napoleón”; “la democracia abdicó su poder . . . en obsequio de un héroe nacional”; “Se ha perdido ya la virilidad, la suficiencia cívica del ciudadano norteamericano”; “La condición de vasallo se va aprendiendo rápidamente aquí”)); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 18 Jun. 1908, 1 (quote 4 (“monarquía absoluta”)); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 10 Oct. 1908, 2; D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 2 Nov. 1908, 2; Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 13 Nov. 1908.

263 Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 29 Aug. 1908 (“Con Centro América virtual, casi efectivamente, bajo el protectorado republicano de Messrs. Roosevelt, Taft y Root; Haití, donde se preparan en estos momentos

lazos de futuros mento[?]ados fiscales; las Filipinas, posesión permanentemente Americana bajo el actual gobierno; Cuba, dando traspiés intoxicada con su independencia herida de muerte por sus pseudo

queredores de Washington; Santo Domingo, sentada ya, sin vida internacional, en los bancos de este plantel preceptor; y las futuras é inevitables adiciones bajo la administración republicana en el Caribe ye en el continente, que indudablemente terminarán en un Zollverein aduanero, Puerto Rico verá su riqueza

amenazada con más razones que nunca”) (citing as the source of the quotation a communication from

William Jennings Bryan).

 

involvement in Panamanian independence; Roosevelt’s big-stick policy in Central America; and Secretary of State Elihu Root’s attempts to build good will throughout the Americas. Collazo referenced U.S. operation of the Dominican customs house since 1905 and U.S. machinations to eclipse Germany in Haiti. Collazo similary assumed readers’ knowledge of U.S. colonial governance in the Philippines and of a U.S. domination of Cuba that included a now-two-year-old reoccupation. These and similar activities had brought enormous capacity in sugar—a leading Puerto Rican industry—within U.S. control. By suggesting that Republicans intended to bring these regions within U.S. tariff

walls, Collazo associated Republican victory with Puerto Rican economic distress.264

Though Collazo’s candidate did not win—on November 3, Republican William Howard Taft became president-elect—Collazo’s campaign work and analyses of mainland politics and Puerto Rican status made him into a public commentator on and active participant in U.S.-Puerto Rican politics. In subsequent weeks Collazo served as a Puerto Rican commissioner lobbying Congress on coffee tariffs and elicited from Bryan an attentive explication of his attitude and intentions toward Puerto Rico during and after the presidential campaign. But with the next opportunity to unseat the Republican President four years hence, Collazo—and his Unionista colleagues—still lacked a

264 César J. Ayala, American Sugar Kingdom: The Plantation Economy of the Spanish Caribbean, 1898-

1934 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999). See the following for examples of U.S. involvements with Panama, John Lindsay-Poland, Emperors in the Jungle: The Secret History of the United States in Panama (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2003), the Dominican Republic, Cyrus Veeser, A World Safe for Capitalism: Dollar Diplomacy and America’s Rise to Global Power (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), and Haiti, Mary A. Renda, Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915-1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 30. On U.S. sovereignty in the Philippines, see, e.g., Kramer, The Blood of Government. On Cuba under the Platt Amendment, see, e.g., Rebecca J. Scott, Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005), 216-232; Louis A. Pérez, Jr., Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution, 3d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006 [1988]), 169.

 

strategy with which to advance their political agenda.265

The Budget Crisis of 1909

More than four years after taking the island House of Delegates and the Resident Commissionership, Unionistas sought new ways to win the self-government that had so far eluded them. Denigrating cooperation with U.S. officials as ineffective, many Unionista leaders advocated even greater confrontation as a means to bring attention and sympathy to their island. Doing so was likely to stir up and reshape longstanding debates in Washington evaluating U.S.-Puerto Rican relations in light of U.S. ideals and history and the experiences of other empires and subordinate peoples. To try and control the direction that those debates would take, Collazo joined with some Democrats in equating Republican-run Puerto Rico with the Reconstruction-era U.S. South. Nearly all elected Republicans declined to defend a Reconstruction policy that most U.S. whites remembered as having failed. They instead cast Puerto Ricans as racial inferiors in particular need of tutelage. That negative characterization of newly acquired peoples bolstered Democrats who had opposed U.S. expansion in 1898, but put Collazo in a bind. While most Democrats and increasing numbers of Republicans agreed that participation by blacks in politics had been a key mistake of Reconstruction, disfranchisement of Puerto Ricans of color was a non-starter for Unionistas’ many non-white constituents. Reconciling this tension was the key challenge for Collazo in making the Reconstruction metaphor effective as a basis for claims by Puerto Ricans to home rule, U.S. citizenship, and full membership in the U.S. polity.

265 Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 1 Feb. 1909; D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 2 Nov. 1909, 2; D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 15 Jan. 1909, 2.

 

Unionista leaders’ dissatisfaction did not primarily arise from the non-recognition of Puerto Ricans as U.S. citizens about which Collazo again complained in early 1909.

As Resident Commissioner Tulio Larrinaga charged in a congressional address and before paternalistic, reformist, and influential Friends of the Indian and Other Dependent Peoples that U.S. rule in Puerto Rico undid “forty years [of] struggling with the Spanish Government to obtain our rights.” Those lost rights, the Unionista newspaper La Democracia elaborated, included not only national citizenship, but also many political and civil rights and greater self-government. Now, Unionista Executive Council member Martin Travieso told the Friends, Puerto Ricans sought “no less than that which has been

done for the Indian tribes”: “the opportunity of governing itself.”266

Mainlanders refused this demand, Larrinaga contended, by casting Puerto Ricans “as an inferior people”—lazy and in offices for personal gain. But really, he continued, island laborers had long worked twelve-hour days while Puerto Rican legislators had paid to travel to the Spanish Cortes where they had freed their slaves. The “persistent desire to represent” islanders “as unworthy,” he concluded, was an attempt by “the greatest champion of human rights and liberty on the face of the earth” “to cover” its “injustice” and “moral wrong” in failing to extend islanders “a government more in accordance with the principles of the American democracy.”267

U.S. citizenship was beside the point. Agustin Navarrete, a Cuban-born journalist

266 Congressional Record 43, pt. 2:1059-1060 (18 Jan. 1909) (quote 1); “Travieso en Mohon Lake,” La Democracia, 26 Oct. 1908, 1 (quotes 6-7 (“no menos de lo que habeis hecho por las triibus indias”; “la oportunidad de gobernarse por ellos mismos”)); “Estatus del país,” La Democracia, 18 Mar. 1909, 1; Lucy Maddox, Citizen Indians: Native American Intellectuals, Race, and Reform (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2005).

267 Congressional Record 43, pt. 2:1059-1060 (18 Jan. 1909) (quotes 4, 8); Tulio Larrinaga, “Porto Rico’s

Attitude Toward the United States,” Address before the Lake Mohonk Conference, Lake Mohonk, N.Y., 25

Oct. 1907, in Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Meeting of the Lake Mohonk Conference of Friends of the Indian and Other Dependent Peoples 1907 (Lake Mohonk Conference, 1907), 159-164 (quotes 1-3,

5-7), passim.

 

with roots in the Puerto Rican autonomist movement of the 1880s and 1890s, told readers of La Democracia that U.S. citizenship status promised islanders few new political rights. Drawing on the legacy of the Civil War, he added that because Puerto Rico would only enter “the federal pact that fixes the indissolubility of the link that exists between all the States” if it “c[a]me to form a State of the Union,” U.S. citizenship would not preclude

Puerto Rican autonomy or independence.268

In the first half of January 1909 Unionista in the House of Delegates moved to protest “the tyrannical yoke imposed on Porto Rico” under the Foraker Act by displaying their “irrevocable independence” “at all costs” “within legal means.” While following its standard practice of waiting to act on the appropriations bill until all other bills had passed or failed, the House of Delegates passed several bills to rebalance governance by increasing Unionista influence at the expense of mainlander influence. One bill proposed to create an industrial school outside the Puerto Rican Department of Education, and hence outside the control of the Department’s chief, mainlander Edward Dexter of Illinois. One would alter selection of judges to the advantage of Unionistas. And one would cripple the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico. These bills, though passed by the House, were not enacted, as the presidentially appointed upper legislative chamber, the Executive Council, then vitiated or rejected the House proposals as illegal, anti- American, or corrupt. The House responded by stonewalling on the island budget. The chambers adjourned on March 16, 1909. With no funds authorized for the year ahead, each chamber sent a commission to Washington to influence the federal response to the crisis they had produced.269

268 Augustin Navarrete, “La ciudadanía y el status,” La Democracia, 6 Aug. 1908, 2.

269 Chauncey M. Depew, “Porto Rico: Speech on the Effort of the Porto Rican House of Delegates to

 

Acknowledging that their intransigence might produce short-term setbacks, Unionistas framed the crisis as an opportunity to vindicate Puerto Rican honor and pursue long-term change. The commissioners whom Unionistas sent to Washington from among their number in the House of Delegates, La Democracia reported, addressed a “hostile” “country” in the U.S. capitol that doubted Puerto Rican “capacity.” The commissioners thus did not seek “immediate reforms,” but “to fulfill a duty.” With acts of the Executive Council having “dishonored the United States” and having been “incompatible with Puerto Rican honor,” the newspaper wrote, commissioners would help “Puerto Rico save

its dignity and rights” and “the prestige” and “honor of the House.”270

Beginning on March 24, in memos and meetings, commissioners from the House made their case before President Taft, Secretary of Interior Richard Ballinger, federal lawmakers, and mainland media. For years, commissioners told Taft and Ballinger, the appointed Council members ignored the elected House, thereby “creating a profound feeling of resentment.” Initially the House had deferred, but a decade into U.S. rule, Larrinaga later explained, the island public had grown discontented with

Coerce Congress by Refusing to Pass Appropriation Bills, July 9, 1909,” Orations, Addresses and Speeches of Chauncey M. Depew, vol. 7 (New York: Privately Printed, 1910) (quotes 1-4) (quoting the initial

position to which the Unionista caucus assented and the provision subsequently adopted by the Unionista caucus); “Comisión de la cámara en Washington,” La Democracia, 2 Apr. 1909, 1; Brief, Luis Muñoz Rivera, Cay. Coll Cuchi, and Eugenio Benitez Cantaños, 29 Mar. 1909, reprinted in Congressional Record

44, pt. 4:4337-4347 (9 Jul. 1909); Congressional Record 44 pt. 3:2340-2346 (24 May 1909); Regis Post to Secretary of the Interior, 17 Mar. 1909, in Senate Report No. 10, in Senate Reports (Public) vol. 1, 61st Cong., 1st sess, 1909-1910 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910); W. F. Willoughby, Henry Hoyt, and George Ward to Secretary of the Interior, 29 Mar. 1909, in Senate Report No. 10; Wm. Taft to Senate and House of Representatives, 10 May 1909, in Senate Report No. 10; “Contra su patria,” La Democracia, 18 Mar. 1909, 2; “El Congreso resolverá,” La Democracia, 18 Mar. 1909, 3; “Las

interviews,” La Democracia, 24 Mar. 1909, 1.

270 “Hacía la metrópoli,” La Democracia, 18 Mar. 1909, 2 (quotes 1-3 (“hostil”; “país”; “capacidad”)); “Regreso de la comisión,” La Democracia, 5 May 1909, 1 (quotes 4, 9 (“reformas inmediatas”; “los prestigios”)); “La comisión de la cámara,” La Democracia, 6 May 1909, 1 (quotes 5-7 (“iban al cumplimiento de un deber;” “deshonran á los Estados Unidos”; “incompatibles con el honor puertorriqueño”)); “El mensaje del President,” La Democracia, 13 May 1909, 1 (quote 8 (“Puerto Rico salve su dignidad y su derecho”)) (quoting the commission); “Noticias de Washington,” La Democracia, 3

Apr. 1909, 1 (quote 10 (“honor de la Cámara”)) (quoting José de Diego); “La comisión de la Cámara,” La

Democracia, 22 Apr. 1909, 1; “Desde Washington,” La Democracia, 4 Jun. 1909, 1.

 

accommodations that produced no progress toward self-government. Unionistas, the House Commission explained, thus had “no other means of defense than the justice of their cause, nor other protection than their own rights.” Executive Council members countered that the crisis showed the House lacked the political maturity to draft meritorious bills and reach reasonable compromises. At the same time, House members met regularly with media in Washington and New York, hoping to sway public opinion. During these efforts the commission chose Domingo Collazo as its secretary and interpreter. He particularly helped Unionista party head and commission member Luis Muñoz Rivera, who then lacked fluency in English, during his travels to New York to try

to improve press coverage of the Commission.271

Reaction was swift. La Democracia reprinted and summarized dozens of press clippings on opposing sides and from across the United States. Contending that appropriations were a lower, different class of problem than self-government and so an inappropriate means with which to seek it, Secretary Ballinger condemned the House of Delegates in his March 30 report to Taft. After the House Commission returned to Puerto Rico, President Taft told Congress in a May 10 message that since 1898 “Porto Rico has

271 House Commission members also made their case to leading Congressmen on Puerto Rican affairs, the Senate Committee on Pacific Islands and Porto Rico, and in a published pamphlet that they circulated to U.S. lawmakers. Brief, Muñoz Rivera, Coll Cuchi, and Benítez Cantaños (quotes); Ward, Willoughby, and Hoyt to Secretary of the Interior, 29 Mar. 1909; “Porto Ricans Blame the War,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 25

Mar. 1909, 5; “Comisión de la Cámara en Washington,” La Democracia, 3 Apr. 1909, 3 (summarizing a Washington Post article of 26 Mar. 1909); “Ante el presidente,” La Democracia, 26 Mar. 1909, 1; “Los del consejo,” La Democracia, 26 Mar. 1909, 1; Taft to Senate and House of Representatives, 10 May 1909; Eugenio Benítez and Muñoz Rivera to Secretary of Interior, 31 Mar. 1909, in Senate Report No. 10; “Nuestra comisión,” La Democracia, 29 Mar. 1909, 1; “Deny Statement of Council,” Washington Post, 30

Mar. 1909, 3; “La comisión de la Cámara,” La Democracia, 8 Apr. 1909, 1; “Ultima hora,” La

Democracia, 31 Mar. 1909, 1; “El memorandum,” La Democracia, 1 Apr. 1909, 1; Congressional Record

44, pt. 3:2340-2346 (24 May 1909); Congressional Record 44, pt. 3:2459-2476 (27 May 1909); “Comisión de la cámara en Washington,” 2 Apr. 1909; “Las interviews,” La Democracia, 24 Mar. 1909, 1; “La comisión de la cámara,” 22 Apr. 1909; “La comisión de la Cámara,” La Democracia, 16 Apr. 1909, 1; “Ante el Congreso,” La Democracia, 21 Apr. 1909, 1; “La comisión,” La Democracia, 23 Mar. 1909, 1; “En la labor,” La Democracia, 25 Mar. 1909, 1. Muñoz’s lack of fluency is implicitly noted in Memorandum for the Secretary of War. (Diary), May 4, 1912, CDOSIP/MC/2.

 

been the favored daughter of the United States,” receiving U.S. largesse while accruing the “education” to prepare it to “safely . . . exercise the full power of self-government.” With the crisis, he wrote, island delegates showed a “willingness . . . to subvert the government,” demonstrating that “its members are not sufficiently alive to their oath- taken responsibility, for the maintenance of the government.” Concluding that “we have gone somewhat too fast in the extension of political power to them,” he advocated a law that would, as currently done in Hawai‘i and the Philippines, leave a prior Puerto Rican budget in place until a subsequent one replaced it.

After this indictment from the presidential bully pulpit, Collazo observed that most mainland newspapers sided with Taft against elected islanders. On May 11, an administration ally on this issue, Republican Senator Chauncey Depew of New York, introduced the bill that Taft had suggested. A second provision, which Depew told his colleagues “the President considers very essential,” would instruct all island authorities to report to the agency that had overseen administration of Puerto Rico immediately prior to institution of civil governance there: the Bureau of Insular Affairs within the War Department. A sponsor of the House version of this bill described this provision as

placing “all matters pertaining to the government of Porto Rico in the jurisdiction of” a single bureau. By demanding greater self-government, it appeared, Puerto Rico had convinced many in Washington that they were not prepared to exercise it.272

As legislative debates over Taft’s proposals began in summer 1909, Congressmen

272 Taft to Senate and House of Representatives, 10 May 1909 (quotes 1-6); R. A. Ballinger to the

President, 30 Mar. 1909, in Senate Report No. 10; Depew, “Porto Rico” (quote 7); Congressional Record

44, pt. 3:2340 (24 May 1909) (Rep. Sereno Payne of N.Y.) (quote 8), pt. 2:1898 (11 May 1909); “Desde Washington,” 4 Jun. 1909; “La comisión de la cámara,” 22 Apr. 1909; Muñoz Rivera and Coll Cuchi, “Regreso de la comisión”; D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 21 May 1909, 2; “La cuestión de Puerto-Rico,” La Democracia, [24?] May 1909, 2 (citing New York Sun of 11 [May] 1909). For examples of La Democracia reporting on mainland coverage of the House Commission, see “Comisión de la camara en Washington,” 2 Apr. 1909; “La prensa Americana,” La Democracia, 13 Apr. 1909, 3.

 

resurrected and reformulated old comparisons of U.S. policy in Puerto Rico to Reconstruction, practices of fellow empires, and to U.S. treatment of other subordinated groups. Some legislators focused on the purported Puerto Rican incapacity for self-rule, chastising Unionistas as patronage politicians who had asked the Executive Council to

buy their votes and were not ready for statehood or Canadian-style autonomy. Republican

Senator Elihu Root of New York, who had shaped U.S. insular policy as Secretary of

War in 1899-1904, compared Unionista intransigence in budget negotiations to their 1900 decision to boycott island elections. Drawing on a Black Legend of Spanish rule, Root

told colleagues, “One of the serious evils of Spanish American government has long been that when one party finds itself unable to accomplish what it desires it seeks to coerce the home government by refusing to go on with the operation of government.” Puerto Ricans, who had not outgrown that “childish” tactic, he elaborated, were “not yet capable of self- government” and in need of “a long course of education.” Democratic Representative James Slayden of Texas doubted the efficacy of even long education. Referring fellow representatives to the British experience in Africa and the West Indies, he argued, “We

are mainly Anglo-Saxons,” “[t]hey are largely mongrel[s],” and “history tells us that distinct, radically different races have rarely if ever dwelt together in political harmony.”273

Other legislators stressed self-government and citizenship. Democratic

Representative Finis Garrett of Tennessee argued, for instance, that even if “Puerto Rico never will, so long as the Spanish blood preponderates there, govern itself like we govern

273 Congressional Record 44, pt. 4:4337-4347 (9 Jul. 1909) (remarks of Sen. Elihu Root of N.Y.) (quotes 1-

4), pt. 3:2927-2928 (7 Jun. 1909) (quotes 5-7), 2459-2476 (27 May 1909); Depew, “Porto Rico.” In 1900, Muñoz’s Federales had boycotted the polls. In 1904 the Federales had reconstituted themselves into the Partido Unionista. See Chapters 1 and 3 above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ourselves,” islanders deserved the chance that “[e]very tribe in Africa” has to “govern[] itself in some way.” Representative Henry Cooper, a longtime advocate of liberalizing U.S. rule in Puerto Rico, categorized Puerto Ricans as superior to Filipinos, comparing them to such undoubted citizens as children, women, and Hawai‘ians. Arguing that Puerto Ricans resembled children, he thus implied, merely strengthened Puerto Rican claims to U.S. citizenship. Democratic Senator Hernando Money of Mississippi accused Senator Root of having “forgotten a little of his English history.” “Every solitary

accession of British liberty,” he asserted, “has come from the power of the Commons and the people over the purse” that Unionistas had exercised. Commissioner Larrinaga

implied that he agreed that Puerto Ricans resembled U.S. white, male citizens fighting for democracy and liberty when he told the House that Unionista delegates were property- holding professionals with mainland and continental degrees whose predecessors under Spain had secured emancipation and a republican form of government.274

U.S. lawmakers also debated whether U.S. rule in Puerto Rico represented a

return to what many remembered as intrusive, Reconstruction-era Republican misrule in the U.S. South. As Democratic Representative Thomas Martin of Virginia explained:

[W]e have had an experience in this country with what I term a ‘carpetbag government,’ and that is a government made up of men from some other section of the country, or some other country, over whose selection the people governed

have no voice, a government imposed not by consent, but by superior power upon them; and no right-minded man would want to return to that condition in this

country.

274 Congressional Record 44, pt. 3:2465 (quotes 1-3) (27 May 1909) (remarks of Rep. Finis Garrett of Tenn.), 2927-2928 (7 Jun. 1909), 2340-2346 (24 May 1909), pt. 4:4337-4347 (9 Jul. 1909) (remarks of Sen. Hernando Money of Miss.) (quotes 4-6).

 

The United States, he charged, had instituted “another specie of the same genus in Porto Rico.” Republican Representative Marlin Olmsted of Pennsylvania answered such charges not by defending Reconstruction, but by denying its equivalence to U.S. rule in Puerto Rico. Only a few mainlanders held high posts in the Puerto Rican state, he claimed, and all were disinterested and “never before . . . accused of bad acts.”275

Though the analogy to Reconstruction had drawbacks for islanders, Collazo

embraced them during the crisis. In his columns, he argued that Puerto Ricans should join post-Reconstruction U.S. southerners in enjoying home rule, U.S. citizenship, and full membership in the U.S. polity. Taft’s bill temporarily stalled in the House, he argued, because southern Democrats objected to “‘government by carpet-baggers.’” Here he depicted a Democratic willingness to extend disgust for Reconstruction to any

Republican intrusion into local rule. But when he added that U.S. officials in Puerto Rico were “carpet-baggers” who, as had occurred during the American Indian genocide, would “sweep [Puerto Ricans] off their homeland,” he overreached. Democratic opposition to Reconstruction was rooted as much in white supremacy as in federalism, and many Democrats joined Representative Slayden in seeing Puerto Ricans as racially inferior “mongrels.” Such politicians were unlikely to accept Collazo’s comparison of Puerto Ricans to both American Indians and Reconstruction-era southern whites, with its implication that the confederacy, islanders, and native peoples shared morally equivalent hardships. When Senator Root turned the debate from Republican misrule to Puerto

Rican capacity by arguing that islanders needed a long education before enjoying self-

government, Collazo appeared to recognize the futility of telling Democrats that Puerto

275 Congressional Record 44, pt. 3:2459-2476 (27 May 1909) (quotes 1-2), 2927-2928 (7 Jun. 1909) (quote

3).

 

Ricans were as politically capable as Reconstruction-era southern whites. Instead he launched ad hominem attacks, claiming that Root took orders from Tammany Hall and the trusts.276

Nonetheless, Collazo and other Unionistas condemned what they portrayed as a

vicious, counterproductive U.S. racism that operated extra-legally, was alien to Puerto Rico and its heritage, and impeded their aspirations for home rule. La Democracia thus reported on savage U.S. lynchings, Ida Wells Barnett’s campaign against lynching, and blacks’ efforts to organize for civil rights. The newspaper also republished a piece arguing that while “there is no question of ‘color’” in Latin America, “[i]n no other nation is the color prejudice as deeply entrenched as in the United States.” Collazo recounted how upon appointing a black commissioner to Liberia, Taft got caught between “offend[ing] the negros” and disregarding white commissioners’ objections to traveling on an equal footing with their black colleague. Collazo argued that Taft’s solution of providing separate naval cruiser for each commissioner was expensive and endangered the mission. In attacking white commissioners’ “imbecile preoccupations,” Collazo voiced an anti-racist vision similar to that of the Cuban revolutionary he had once followed, José Martí. Similarly, when Puerto Ricans faced racially charged criticisms in Hawai‘i, Collazo shot back that “[t]he humanity is equal in all parts.” Collazo’s Reconstruction metaphors, however, implicitly argued not that all races were

276 Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 12 Jun. 1909, 2 (“‘gobierno de carpet-baggers’”; “carpet-baggers”; “lo barran del suelo patrio”) (citing as the source of the quotation Rep. Robert Macon of Ark.); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 27 Jul. 1909, 1. On the related phenomenon of changes in conceptions of the nation and citizenship among residents of sending countries where departing migrants engage in circular migrations, see Carlos Pabón, Nación postmortem: ensayos sobre los tiempos de insoportable ambigüedad (San Juan, P.R.: Ediciones Callejón, 2002); Jorge Duany, The Puerto Rican Nation on the Move: Identities on the Island & in the United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,

2002); Louis A. Pérez, Jr., On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality and Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).

 

equal but that most Puerto Ricans were white and that white Puerto Ricans could be trusted to control island affairs. Similarly, La Democracia reprinted an article in July that argued that mainlanders mischaracterized some Puerto Ricans as non-white and misperceived other Puerto Ricans who were not white as threats to and thus implicitly consequential in governance of the island. “If there were not people of African blood in Puerto Rico or there were few,” the piece concluded, “we would have had enough white

people to organize a state before now.”277

To reconcile his professed racial egalitarianism with his embrace of Democratic criticism of Reconstruction, Collazo portrayed Democrats and not Republicans as partisans of blacks, Ulysses S. Grant, and the Civil War. Blacks might vote Democratic, Collazo thus wrote, because in 1906 Roosevelt and Taft had summarily dismissed 167 black soldiers unjustly accused of rioting in Brownsville, Texas. Taft had also defiled Grant’s name by mentioning his alcoholism on Decoration Day, Collazo charged. “[I]t was enough,” he explained, “to have mentioned that the general, with his triumph over the South, broke the chains of the slave and consolidated the Union of his patria.” On

Lincoln’s birthday, Collazo lauded “celebrations in honor of . . . that martyred President,”

then insisted that the solidly Democratic “South . . . does not contest the halo of the savior of the Union.” Collazo’s improbable claims notwithstanding, most Democrats remained committed to white supremacy. Thus, though Republican rule in Puerto Rico

277 “El problema del color,” La Democracia, 23 Jul. 1909, 3 (quotes 1-2, 6-7 (“no hay la cuestión de ‘el color’”; “En ningún otro pueblo está tan arraigado el prejuicio del color como en los Estados Unidos”; “Si no hubiese personas de sangre africana en Puerto Rico ó fueran éstas muy pocas habríamos tenido bastante gente Blanca para organizar un estado antes de ahora”)) (citing as the source of the quotation “John A. MacDonal” in the “Heraldo Español”); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 1 May 1909, 2 (quotes 3-4 (“ofender á los negros”; preocupados imbéciles”)) (quoting “Topics of the Times,” New York Times, 19 Apr. 1909, 8); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 24 Apr. 1909, 2 (quote 5 (“La humanidad es igual en todas partes”)); Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 12 Feb. 1909; “11 negros linchados,” La Democracia, 23 Jun. 1908, 1; “Un negro linchado,” La Democracia, 22 Feb. 1909, 1; “Victimas de lynch,” La Democracia, 16 Jun. 1909, 2; “Piden justicia,” La Democracia, 14 Jun. 1909, 1.

 

did deprive islanders of self-government, any analogy between it and Republican-led Reconstruction remained vulnerable to the argument that Puerto Ricans were less capable of self-government than former Confederates had been.278

On July 15 the U.S. political branches overcame Democratic objections to a

supposed Reconstruction in Puerto Rico and enacted Taft’s proposals stripping the House of Delegates of its budget veto and placing the island under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Insular Affairs within the War Department. Despite this apparent defeat, Unionista leaders reported in late July and early August that they had won important congressional allies during the fight. Collazo quickly pointed out that U.S. colonial rule in Puerto Rico had begun to hamper U.S. foreign policy throughout Latin America. Rather than the “‘envy of Latin America’” that McKinley had predicted, the island had become a “horrendous scarecrow for the Hispanic pueblos.” Now, Collazo continued, even Taft joined Unionistas in favoring reform of the Foraker Act, with the President asking the Secretary of War to report on the matter.279

Before Congress turned its attention to potentially far-reaching reforms in Puerto Rico, Republican Senator Marlin Olmsted asked Puerto Rico Governor Regis Post to survey the opinions of leading men in Puerto Rico on such matters. The suggestion set in

278 D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 13 Jun. 1908, 2 (quotes 1-2 (“bastaba haber mencionado que el general, con su triunfo sobre el Sud, rompió las cadenas del esclavo y consolidó la Unión de su patria”)); D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 20 Feb. 1909, 2 (quotes 3-4 (“celebraciones en honor de . . . aquel Presidente mártir”; “Sur . . . ya no le regatea el halo de Salvador de la Unión”)); John D. Weaver, The Brownsville Raid (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1992 [1970]); “Troops Not Spared,” Washington Post, 22 Nov. 1906, 1.

279 D. Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” La Democracia, 29 Jul. 1909, 1 (“‘la envidia de la América Latina’”; “‘horrendo espantajo’ para los pueblos hispanos”) (quoting or paraphrasing President William McKinley); Congressional Record 44, [House Bills]:315 (1909); “A manera de epilogo,” La Democracia, 2 Aug. 1909,

1; Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 27 Sep. 1909; Domingo Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 3 Dec. 1909, 1; Domingo

Collazo, “Metropolitanas,” 9 Dec. 1909, 1; Post to Secretary of the Interior, 17 Mar. 1909).

 

motion events revealing that divisions on the island had come to co-exist with near- consensus as to the desirability of U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans. On August 31,

1909, Post distributed dozens of surveys that began by asking respondents to comment on proposals to extend U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans through collective or individual naturalizations. Unionista leaders responded with apprehension. By soliciting opinions directly from people he chose, they worried, Post could be aiming to sideline the Unionista Party or to build a record that could cause Congress to treat Puerto Rico ungenerously. The Unionista newspaper La Democracia thus attacked the questionnaire

as harmful to Puerto Rico while offering guidance to those Unionistas who chose to respond. In addition to asking party members not to contravene Unionista principles, the newspaper reminded readers that it was Unionista policy to seek complementary status for Puerto Rican people and Puerto Rican lands: Were the island destined to be an independent country, Puerto Rican citizenship would be appropriate; if statehood was in

its future, U.S. citizenship was best. But with that decision pending, the party’s leadership contended, “We are not in a position to settle on a citizenship.”280

Despite Unionista leaders’ objections to the survey, over one hundred fifty people responded. Nearly half were Unionistas. The results suggested consensus among mainlanders in positions of power on the island and Puerto Rican politicians and labor leaders that islanders should have some form of access to U.S. citizenship. Abraham

Peña, a longtime colleague of Santiago Iglesias in the island labor movement, advocated

280 I thank Tomás Pérez Varela for sharing work in progress with me. See, e.g., Tomás Pérez Varela, “Conversación en torno a la ciudadanía: los cuestionarios de 1909,” (MA thesis, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras, 2007). See also “Comentarios,” La Democracia, 10 Sep. 1909, 1 (“no estamos en condiciones de fijar una ciudadanía”); MD NARA 350/[80/8G?]/1; “El interrogatorio,” La

Democracia, 7 Sep. 1909, 1; “Las reservas,” La Democracia, 8 Sep. 1909, 1; “Union [sic] de Puerto-Rico,”

La Democracia, 9 Sep. 1909, 1; Cay. Colly Cuchi, “Torpeza contra justicia,” La Democracia, 13, 15 Sep.

1909, 1.

 

collective naturalization and not individual naturalization, claiming “that we should not beg for an American citizenship to which we have a right.” Most respondees from the major island political parties and the Puerto Rican organized-labor movement agreed. B. S. Rodey, a mainlander and judge in the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico, publicly described his efforts to win Puerto Ricans collective naturalization, though he also announced hat he would prefer individual naturalization to no naturalization. Some other mainlanders favored individual naturalization to the exclusion of a collective grant of U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans. Despite these areas of agreement, however, leaders on the island appeared unlikely to put aside their recent battles over the budget to present a unified front in favor of some form of U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans. Then in early

September 1909 Governor Post resigned.281

281 Survey of Abraham Peña, MD NARA 350/[80/8G?]/1 (“entiendo que la ciudadanía americana no debemos implorarla, si es que tenemos derecho á ella”); Pérez Varela, “Conversación, 14, 25, 30-31; Survey of B. S. Rodey, MD NARA 350/[80/8G?]/1.

 

 

CHAPTER 6

A “PECULIARLY GOVERNED” ISLAND: THE TWILIGHT OF U.S. CITIZENSHIP IN PUERTO

RICO, 1909-1917

Santiago Iglesias was not displeased that the United States had condemned the protest for self-government by members of the Unionista majority party in Puerto Rico by weakening the sole elected legislative body on the island—the House of Delegates— and placing the island under the administration of the Bureau of Insular Affairs in the War Department. In fact, the Puerto Rican labor leader welcomed U.S. administrative rule. Enjoying little support in the House of Delegates, Iglesias hoped to ally with the new presidentially appointed governor and War Department masters of Puerto Rico. These men were potentially important friends. Between them, they led one of the most administratively powerful arms of the heterogeneous U.S. state, and as to matters involving Puerto Rico they largely set executive policy, shaped federal and Puerto Rican legislative agendas, and enjoyed the ear of the president. In communications to the American Federation of Labor, its president Samuel Gompers, and President William Taft that newspapers covered, he indicated to U.S. and Puerto Rican officials, workers,

and voters that Puerto Rican organized labor was a natural ally of the U.S. administrative state. Iglesias’s labor organization, the Federación de Trabajadores Libres, and U.S.

 

administrators responsible for Puerto Rico, he argued, shared an enemy—Unionistas who pursued “Anti-American politics” and acted to the “injury of the labor interests”—and a recognition that islanders needed administration like “progressive education” and “the intervention . . . of GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY.” Favoring expansive federal power in Puerto Rico over greater home rule was an anti-democratic proposition on an island where residents did not cast votes for Congress or President. Nonetheless, Iglesias admitted that “the Government of Porto Rico is not a democratic one” while claiming that it nonetheless made “the island progress with intensity.” Characterizing self-government as a chance for Unionistas to exploit the “fatal ignorance” of under-educated Puerto Ricans and thus “bring slavery, ignorance and disgrace for 90 percent of the population,” Iglesias instead proposed another agency, a Department of Agriculture, Commerce and

Labor.282

Iglesias took a roseate view of dependence, evincing little public concern that administration officials would abuse their authority. Yet, during these years, U.S. officials routinely coerced peoples throughout the U.S. empire-state. U.S. courts upheld maximum-hours laws for women and children as non-violative of liberty of contract by explaining that such dependent citizens—marked as inferior to adult men—could not represent their own interests. Widespread black disfranchisement rested on purported black failures to vote responsibly. And mainland commentators promoted U.S. colonial rule in Puerto Rico by depicting the island as a victim of Spanish colonialism, as unable to match Anglo-Saxon capacity for self-government, and as a permanent child subject to

282 Copy, Santiago Iglesias and Abraham Peña to William Taft, 27 Nov. 1909, CDO:1 (quotes 1, 3-4, 8); Report of Proceedings of the Twenty-Ninth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor Held at Toronto, Ontario, November 8 to 20, Inclusive, 1909 (Washington, D.C.: The Law Reporter Printing Company, 1909) [hereinafter 1909 Federation Report) 40-42 (quotes 2, 5-7) (Iglesias Report), 217 (Resolution No. 87), 217-218 (Speech of Santiago Iglesias [hereinafter Iglesias Speech]).

 

a paternalistic U.S. tutelage suffused with discipline. Nonetheless, Iglesias imagined U.S. administrators governing island workers as good parents nurtured maturing children. Conceptualizing U.S. citizenship in terms of honorable exchanges of mutual obligations, Iglesias depicted Puerto Rican workers earning a status that would guarantee their transformation from administrative wards into autonomous political agents like adult, white, U.S. men. As he wrote, islanders tendered the United States allegiance by remaining “under the flag of the United States for ten years,” tolerating foreign investment, and respecting U.S. laws and officials. Implying that they thus merited U.S. citizenship, he contended that U.S. refusal “to recognize to the people of Porto Rico . . . the absolute right to be American citizens” let Unionistas cast U.S. officials as placing Puerto Ricans in the “shameful position” of “inferior human beings.” By contrast, he stressed, the Federación Libre “defend[ed] . . . the American public education and liberties” that Iglesias claimed dependent citizenship would bring. Those liberties,

Iglesias vaguely indicated, encompassed some mix of rights to be free from active state coercions and to enjoy better economic outcomes. Thus, he explained, without U.S. citizenship “peaceful strike[rs]” were “subject[] to untold persecutions and shameful treatment at the hands of officials”; workers related to “sugar corporations” like so “many thousands of serfs” in Europe and faced “the same calamities, intermissions, and crises suffered by [the] American labor movement about forty years ago.” But with U.S. administrative help and U.S. citizenship, he argued, island laborers would

“mathematically repeat[]” the “history” of implicitly white U.S. and European laborers

and escape these conditions.283

283 1909 Federation Report, 217-218 (quote 1) (Iglesias Speech), 217 (quotes 2-4) (Resolution No. 87), 40-

42 (quotes 5, 10-12) (Report of President (quoting report of Iglesias)), 203-204 (quotes 6-7) (Resolution

 

By the end of 1909 the political backlash in Washington against Unionistas’ protest earlier that year had subsided, creating favorable conditions for those seeking liberalization of the Foraker Act. After Santiago Iglesias led an island labor delegation to petition President Taft for U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans on November 27, Taft asked the Treasury and War Departments to investigate, evaluate, and recommend reforms to

the laws for Puerto Rico. On December 21, 1909, Bureau of Insular Affairs law officer Paul Charlton wrote a memorandum contending that U.S. citizenship could be safely extended to Puerto Ricans. The “only rights which a citizen . . . acquires by reason of his federal citizenship,” he wrote, “are: (1) The protection of the United States . . . by a passport . . . ; and (2) Access to the federal Courts[, b]oth . . . rights . . . uniformly possessed by citizens of Porto Rico” already. Describing Puerto Rican political leaders as both beholden to “party bosses” and desirous of collective U.S. citizenship and an elected island senate, Secretary of War Jacob Dickinson then in January 1910 recommended to Taft a balance between islanders’ desire and purported incapacity for democratic

institutions. He proposed a senate of eight appointed and five elected senators;

No. 136); Iglesias and Peña to Taft, 27 Nov. 1909 (quotes 8-9); William E. Forbath, Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), 52-53; Laura Briggs, Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 2; John J. Johnson, Latin America in Caricature (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980); Eileen Suarez Findlay, “Love in the Tropics: Marriage, Divorce, and the Construction of Benevolent Colonialism in Puerto Rico,” in Gilbert M. Joseph, Catherine C. LeGrand, and Ricardo D. Salvatore eds., Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations (London: Duke University Press, 1998). On memories of Reconstruction and belief in Anglo-Saxon superiority, see, e.g., David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001); Mark S. Weiner, “Teutonic Constitutionalism: The Role of Ethno-Juridical Discourse in the Spanish-American War” in Christina Duffy Burnett and Burke Marshall, eds., Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion,

and the Constitution (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2001); Rebecca J. Scott, Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005) 159-166; Richard H. Pildes, “Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon,” Constitutional Commentary 17 (2000) 295-319. Dissenting voices always existed, especially in the black community, most notably in this context that of

  1. W. E. B. Du Bois. Black Reconstruction in America (New York: Atheneum, 1992 [1935]). Hartog

discusses the relationship between claims to rights and claims predicated upon dependence in “Constitution of Aspiration.” 1016-1020.

 

streamlined, individual naturalization; disfranchisement of non-U.S.-citizens and those who did not meet a literacy, property, or taxpaying requirement; and creation of Iglesias’s proposed Department of Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor.284

In the weeks that followed, new Governor of Puerto Rico George Colton wrote

Dickinson and his subordinates that politics in Puerto Rico resembled those of post- emancipation societies, urban political machines, and lands populated by people of color at the periphery of the U.S. empire-state. In the 1880s, Colton had ranched in New Mexico, a territory with both a large Spanish-speaking community of Mexican descent and ongoing conflicts between American Indians and the U.S. military. Later, he had joined the 1898 U.S. invasion of the Philippines as a Lieutenant Colonel in the First Nebraska Volunteers before organizing the Manila customs service and the customs receivership in the Dominican Republic. Drawing on this “personal experience dealing with similar people elsewhere,” he told Dickinson that “rules of action that might be appropriate in an Anglo-Saxon country would not always be expedient if adopted among a people of Spanish education and customs.” Rather, like Iglesias, he claimed that most Puerto Ricans’ interests would be served by the combination of an administrative state that checked elected elites and “education and property” voting qualifications. “[T]he principal trouble in Porto Rico,” he wrote, was that the “political machine” behind Unionista leader Luis Muñoz’s “intolerant bossism” won “the sympathy of the ignorant classes.” This, he contended, was the “condition [that] existed in our Southern States

284 Paul Charlton to Secretary of War, 21 Dec. 1909, MD NARA 350/5B/180G/1286-11; Hearings Upon the Bill Proposing to Amend the Present Organic Law of Porto Rico, Committee on Insular Affairs, House of Representatives, 61st Cong., 2d sess. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910), 1-47, 242, available at MD NARA 350/5A/339/3377-28 [hereinafter 1910 Hearings]; Extract from Cablegram, Copy, Colton to Secretary, March 2[5?], 1910, CDO:1; “Gov. Post Resigns to Taft,” New York Times, 8 Sep.

1909, 7; “May Gain Citizenship,” Washington Post, 22 Dec. 1909, 5; “Conditions in Porto Rico,” Chicago

Daily Tribune, 1 Dec. 1909, 8.

 

during the days of ‘reconstruction,’” where “those qualified to participate in self government” were “prevented from having any voice.” Drawing on the specter of Haiti and describing Puerto Ricans in animalistic terms, Colton argued that the danger was that an “ignorant class” who “followed their leaders blindly, with little more than an instinct,” “like sheep,” would let politicians “by their wild actions . . . make a veritable Haiti of the country.” Thus, despite their differences, Colton and Iglesias agreed “that labor will

receive no consideration whatever from the Cacique system in vogue.” 285

In February 1910 the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Insular Affairs opened hearings on Dickinson’s proposed bill. Puerto Rican witnesses and U.S. Congressmen tangled over the relationship of U.S. citizenship to honor, race, rights, and the status of Puerto Rico as a place. Unionistas Luis Muñoz and Cayetano Coll y Cuchi asked the committee for collective naturalization and an elected senate and denounced provisions requiring that islanders naturalize in order to vote or hold office. Explaining that Puerto Ricans had enjoyed national citizenship under Spain, they contended that

while U.S. citizenship was a “great honor” it was also a “right” that “the dignity of the people should not be begging for.” After prior annexations, they testified, the United States had collectively naturalized new residents or placed the matter in the hands of their territorial legislatures, and “no matter how good or high the civilization of Mexico,

Louisiana, and Florida were when they were ceded, they could not have equaled the

285 Cablegram, Colton to Dickinson, 3 Mar. 1910, MD NARA 350/5A/341/3377-53 (quotes 1-2); Cablegram, Colton to Edwards, 1 Mar. 1910, MD NARA 350/5A/341/3377-49 (quotes 4, 6, 9); Colton to Edwards, 23 Feb. 1910, MD NARA 350/ 5A/341/3377-46 (quotes 7, 11); Colton to Edwards, 2 Mar. 1910, MD NARA 350/5A/341/3377-57 (quotes 3, 5, 8, 10, 12); Cablegram, Colton to Dickinson, 23 Feb. 1910, MD NARA 350/5A/341/3377-40 (quotes 15-16); “George R. Colton Dead.: Ex-Gov. of Porto Rico, who Drafted New Tariff for Philippines,” New York Times, 8 Apr. 1916; Colton to Dickinson, 19 Jan. 1910, MD NARA 350/5A/339/3377-20. On American Indians and Mexican-Americans, see, e.g., John Nieto-Phillips, “Citizenship and Empire: Race, Language, and Self-Government in New Mexico and Puerto Rico, 1898-

1917,” Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies 11 (fall 1999): 51-74.

 

present civilization of Porto Rico.” Yet Dickinson’s plan treated each islander like a “foreigner or alien” and, by imposing a citizenship requirement for office holding that American Indians did not face, placed Puerto Ricans “in the federal laws below the Indians.” The resultant citizenship, Muñoz later explained, would be the “humiliating” result of a “despotic,” not “honorable” process. Moreover, Coll y Cuchi explained, failing to recognize Puerto Ricans collectively as U.S. citizens let islanders “think[] that Porto

Rico may [be] turned into a republic.”286

Muñoz’s and Coll y Cuchi’s claims provoked Republican Representative Albert

Douglas of Ohio, who drew the men into a discussion of the value of U.S. citizenship: Mr. Douglas. Is it not true that if the people of Porto Rico had the

opportunity voluntarily to become citizens of the United States and refused the privilege that they ought to be willing to relinquish the small right of holding office in Porto Rico?

Mr. [Muñoz]. That would be all right if American citizenship in Porto

Rico would mean what it means here in the United States.

Mr. Douglas. It does. It would not give you the right to vote in New York

City, but I can not do that.

Mr. Cuchi. I would not be able to vote for President or to send a man to

Congress.

Mr. Douglas. You could not do that if you lived in Washington. Mr. Cuchi. Washington is peculiarly governed.

286 1910 Hearings, 128-129 (quotes 4-6), 131 (quote 1), 145 (quotes 2-3), 141 (quote 7), 140 (quote 10); A Civil Government for Porto Rico: Hearings Before the Committee on Insular Affairs, House of Representatives, 63d Cong., 2d sess., on H. R. 13818, A Bill to Provide a Civil Government for Porto Rico, and for Other Purposes (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1914), 66-67 [hereinafter 1914

House Hearings], available at MD NARA 350/5A/340/3377-157 (quotes 8-9).

 

Mr. Douglas. So is Porto Rico—very peculiar.

The exchange was a microcosm of a dozen years of conflicting Puerto Rican and U.S. claims around U.S. citizenship. After Douglas described U.S. citizenship in aspirational terms as a “privilege” on which political rights ought to hinge, Muñoz reminded him that the status would not fulfill Puerto Rican hopes for equal rights. Switching to a more technical register, Douglas then sought to disassociate federal citizenship from state political rights. At this point, Coll y Cuchi interjected to remind him that federal law and not state law denied Puerto Ricans a voice in U.S. governance. That, both men agreed, linked the status of Puerto Ricans to the equally knotty tangle of the status of Puerto Rico as a place.287

Beginning in April 1910, Governor Colton encouraged Congress to act by rallying islanders and their administrators around a consensus set of proposed reforms. Writing Secretary Dickinson that former Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan had been warmly received by Unionistas during his ongoing tour of Puerto Rico, Colton proposed asking Bryan to help him broker a compromise between the administration, Iglesias’s Federación, and Unionistas. Negotiations and cables followed, until all sides supported: collective naturalization; disfranchisement; a department of agriculture, commerce, and labor; an elected senate; and an absolute gubernatorial veto. Now, rather than solicit a congressional enactment opposed by elected representatives of its purported beneficiaries, Dickinson and Colton lobbied Congress for the new bill

jointly with Iglesias, Unionistas, and American Federation of Labor President Samuel

Gompers. In June 1910, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a somewhat different

287 1910 Hearings, 146.

 

bill, proposing to make all Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens but not immediately extending them an elective senate.288

Opposition in the Senate remained. For example, Republican Senator Elihu Root of New York, the architect when Secretary of War of the initial U.S. policy in Puerto Rico, opposed U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans. As he told a confidant, “If we give citizenship to the Porto Ricans the next step inevitably would be a demand for statehood with the same kind of pressure which New Mexico and Arizona are now exerting.” Instead he proposed eventually making “our relations to her approximate our relations to Cuba, with a protectorate [like] that which we virtually have over Cuba.” Gridlock

ensued. The Senate did not act. The bill died.289

Iglesias made gains while attempting to ally with U.S. administrators. Dickinson’s draft legislation had sided with Iglesias against the island’s political class by putting little new power into elected Puerto Ricans’ hands, disfranchising many, and creating federally controlled administrative posts. Puerto Rican politicians had then focused their ire on the provision most contrary to Iglesias’s vision: individual naturalization. Colton’s compromise had placed island politicians and U.S. administrators behind collective naturalization, disfranchisement, and a department of agriculture, commerce, and labor. Though Iglesias had conceded his opposition to an elected senate, he had won support for a proposed absolute gubernatorial veto that would deprive elected Puerto Ricans of power

288 “Taft’s Message Urges Reforms,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 7 Dec. 1910, A15; “For Elective Citizenship,” Washington Post, 4 May 1910, 5; “Porto Ricans in City,” Washington Post, 27 Apr. 1910, 4; José A. Cabranes, “Citizenship and the American Empire: Notes on the Legislative History of the United States Citizenship of Puerto Ricans,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 127 (1978): 457; Colton to Secretary, 2[5?] Mar. 1910; Cablegram, Colton to Dickinson, 15 Apr. 1910, MD NARA 350/5A/341/3377-

82; Colton to Taft, 20 Apr. 1910, MD NARA 350/5A/341/3377-85; Colton to Dickinson, 1[?] Apr. 1910, MD NARA 350/5A/341/3377-84; Copy, Santiago Iglesias, [Title unknown], Unión Obrera, 29 Apr. 1910, CDO:1; Memorandum of [George Colton], [Apr. or May 1910], MD NARA 350/5A/341/3377-86.

289 Philip C. Jessup, Elihu Root, vol. 1 (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1938), 378-379 (quotes); Cabranes, “Citizenship and the American Empire,” 457.

 

to enact laws without the support of U.S. officials. That year Colton also advocated an Employers’ Liability law and made a supportive Labor Day proclamation. Iglesias recognized these advances, and in late 1910 sent Gompers positive reports about Colton. Weeks later Gompers deemed Colton “the first American official in Porto Rico who has ever taken up the labor problem intelligently and sympathetically.”290

During congressional consideration and non-enactment of Puerto Rico legislation

in 1910 differences had become visible between and among island leaders and federal officials concerning the desirability of self-government, sovereignty, and U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans. Unionistas favored immediate home rule in Puerto Rico unencumbered by federal oversight. Iglesias, his Federación Libre, Governor Colton, War Department officials, and Senator Root advocated ongoing federal control. Root proposed to control Puerto Rico as a separate, dependent nation, like Cuba. Iglesias, Colton, and War

preferred continuing U.S. administration. Iglesias envisioned protected workers becoming educated, autonomous political agents, while Colton and War officials sought to build island support for a modified colonial regime. Unionistas, who differed among themselves concerning the desirability of Puerto Rican sovereignty, asked in their platform that Puerto Rico be an independent nation, an autonomous territory, or a state. For all parties, U.S. citizenship was a language with which they built alliances, vilified

adversaries, and pursued legislative and administrative priorities.291

290 Report of Proceedings of the Thirtieth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor Held at St. Louis, Missouri, November 14 to 26, Inclusive, 1910 (Washington, D.C.: The Law Reporter Printing Company, 1910), 19-20 (report of Gompers); “Pto Rico: report del presidente de la American Federation of Labor ante la convención de San Luis. noviembre 14 de 1910,” Unión Obrera, 13 Dec. 1910, 1; Cabranes, “Citizenship and the American Empire,” 453-459; Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 30 Aug. 1910, SGL 159/1029; Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 7 Sep. 1910, SGL 160/208; Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 7 Oct. 1910, SGL 161/291.

291 Gonzalo Córdova, Resident Commissioner, Santiago Iglesias and His Times (Río Piedras: Editorial de la

Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1993), 117-121; Chapter 4 above, notes 227 (discussing Unionista aspirations

 

Iglesias and Colton formed a public partnership to seek collective naturalization of Puerto Ricans in late 1911, after Iglesias wrote Colton soliciting his support for the measure. In an October 30 reply that Iglesias circulated widely, Colton declared himself “unreservedly in favor of” the proposal, which he depicted as popular with islanders. Having privately criticized Unionistas as “machine” politicians, Colton now marginalized them, aligning himself and not them with Puerto Rican opinion by offering his “full co- operation” to a Federación Libre that he claimed “represent[ed] . . . the largest class of people in the Island.” He promoted this stand in ways both consistent with his advocacy

of continued administrative rule in Puerto Rico and responsive to some mainlanders’ worries that islanders were racially or politically unfit for U.S. citizenship. Making no mention of U.S. citizenship bringing Puerto Ricans rights or eventual statehood, Colton compared islanders to women, children, and immigrants—all peoples who were or were becoming U.S. citizens and either did not exercise or were thought by many mainlanders incapable of competently exercising full political rights. Islanders did not share mainlanders’ “rugged temperament,” he wrote, but were “sympathetic, lovable and loyal,” adding “a note of commingled sweetness, patience, and idealism.” Moreover, he added, “many thousands of foreigners, with to say the least no better qualifications than

[Puerto Ricans], have immigrated to the United States and individually become citizens.” Drawing on popular reverence for U.S. citizenship and its potentially narrow legal compass, Colton advocated collective naturalization of Puerto Ricans in terms that presupposed permanent U.S. rule of their island. They were “a part of us and our country,” he explained, “entitled . . . to all of the benefits of our institutions sentimental

and otherwise.” Conversely, Colton implied, withholding U.S. citizenship symbolically

for an island government like that of Cuba, Canada, or U.S. states).

 

marked Puerto Ricans as inferior outsiders, an indignity they felt keenly.292

Six weeks later Senator Root wrote the newly appointed Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, to counsel him not to join Governor Colton in publicly advocating U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans. Presuming that Stimson opposed statehood or substantial rights for Puerto Ricans, Root argued that naturalization would breed discontent and damage U.S. citizenship. Root depicted citizenship without self-rule as a greater indignity than the current ambiguous Puerto Rican status, predicting that naturalized islanders would “resent having the other citizens of the United States take part in governing them while they are refused the right to take part in governing any part of the rest of the country” and so would “demand all the rights of citizens.” Ignoring that many women, racial minorities, and lower-class whites could not vote on the mainland, he argued that making Puerto Ricans into U.S. citizens having “nothing to do with the government” of the United States would be “a revolution in . . . American citizenship” likely to “make serious trouble.” Instead, Root proposed resurrecting his policy as Secretary of War toward Cuba. “[T]he relations of [Puerto Rico] to the United States should be approximated as rapidly as is possible to a protectorate,” he wrote, thus freeing the

United States from the difficulties of possessing and governing the island. Under the

Monroe Doctrine and through threats of invasion and receivership, he explained, the

292 Geo. Colton to Santiago Iglesias, 30 Oct. 1911, DC NARA 46/91/Sen 62A-F17/Citizenship Granting of to Porto Ricans; Report of Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor Held at Atlanta, Georgia, November 13 to 25, Inclusive, 1911 (Washington, D.C.: The Law Reporter Printing Company, 1911) [hereinafter 1911 Federation Report] 300 (Resolution No. 39); Cablegram, Colton to Secretary of War, 5 Dec. 1911, MD NARA 350/5B/311/12886-26; George Colton to Clarence Edwards, 8 Dec. 1911, MD NARA 350/5B/311/12886-29; see also Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Glenda Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Johnson, Latin America in Caricature; José-Manuel Navarro, Creating Tropical Yankees: Social Science Textbooks and U.S. Ideological Control in Puerto Rico, 1898-1908 (New York: Routledge, 2002).

 

United States could exclude other powers from the island and control its governance.293

Stimson declined Root’s advice, and in his 1911 annual report publicly advocated continued U.S. administrative rule in Puerto Rico and collective naturalization of Puerto Ricans. Seeking federal legislation, he made what he termed sentimental and practical cases for U.S. citizenship. As a “sentimental” matter, he wrote, “continued refusal to grant [U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans] will gravely wound the[ir] sensibilities”; on the “practical” side, the Puerto Rican abroad was a “man without a country.” This latter

claim was a questionable one. While overseas, Puerto Ricans already enjoyed benefits of U.S. citizenship: U.S. passports, consular protections, and passage through U.S. immigration and customs as “American[s].” Juridically, they differed little from those who were unambiguously U.S. citizens. Instead, the reference seems to have been to Edward Hale’s 1868 pro-expansion story of the same name. That story opens with a judge sentencing a man raised on the borderlands of U.S. expansion never again to hear about or see the United States. Subsequently confined to U.S. naval vessels, the man becomes “nervous, tired,” and “heart-wounded” over his loss of nation. Though many sailors sympathize with his plight, bureaucratic indifference prevents his pardon. Puerto Rico faced a similar plight. An expansionist, nationalist United States caused substantial psychological harm to recently acquired peoples resident in territories “belonging” to the United States, then thoughtlessly used law to deprive those people of the right to act, be recognized, and see themselves as full members of the nation. Stimson indicated that Puerto Ricans, like Hale’s protagonist, had “earned” membership in the U.S. nation

through “sustained loyalty.” But by distinguishing Hale’s “practical” story from

293 Root to Stimson, 7 Dec. 1911, MD NARA 350/5B/180G/1286-36.5; see also Cyrus Veeser, A World Safe for Capitalism: Dollar Diplomacy and America’s Rise to Global Power (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 98-154; Scott, Degrees of Freedom, 200-269.

 

islanders’ desire for U.S. citizenship, Stimson implicitly feminized and racialized islanders, rendering them dissimilar from Hale’s white, male, mainland protagonist and disassociating them from the traits of capacity, action, and accomplishment associated with the word “practical.” Making their concerns “sentimental,” a term frequently placed in opposition to reason and a literary genre associated with women, reinforced the

impression.294

During their joint pursuit of U.S. citizenship, Iglesias, Governor Colton, and Secretary Stimson regarded each other well, made political gains, and maintained relative industrial peace. By the end of 1911, Iglesias publicly praised Stimson’s and Colton’s statements favoring U.S. citizenship, and Colton told War that Iglesias was an important ally who, “with some difficulty, kept the members of [the Federación] friendly to the American Government by holding out to them the hope that citizenship could come.” In these years, Iglesias focused resources on Washington, soliciting, publicizing, and praising statements from the president and congressmen supporting U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans and overseeing a lobbying effort in which dozens of island unions petitioned Congress for “a bill, declaring, THAL ALL CITIZENS OF PORTO RICO SHALL BE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES.” “[W]e have,” Iglesias told the Federation, bent “our efforts most assiduously to the conquest and consolidation of the civil rights and political guarantees of the people of Porto Rico rather than to struggling

294 Excerpt from War Department, Annual Report, 1911, CDO:2; Gonzales v. Williams, 192 U.S. 1, 13, 15 (1904) (quoting Immigration Act of 1891, Statutes at Large 26 (3 Mar. 1891): 1084); Opinion of the Attorney General, 24 Op. Atty. Gen. 40 (13 May 1902); Baldwin Project transcription of Edward Everett Hale, The Man Without a Country (New York: The Platt & Peck Co., 1910 [1863]), 46, passim, available at http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=hale&book=country&story=without(2000-2008); Brooke Thomas, “‘The Man without a Country’: The Patriotic Citizen, Lincoln, and Civil Liberties,” in Civic Myths: A Law-and-Literature Approach to Citizenship (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,

2007), 55-101; Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244, 287 (1901); [Stimson] to Samuel Gompers, 19 Dec.

1911, MD NARA 350/5B/180G/1286-31; OED Online (Oxford University Press, 2008), http://oed.com; Paul Charlton to Secretary of War, 21 Dec. 1909, MD NARA 350/5A/180G/File 1286-11.

 

in the industrial and economic field.”295

In fall 1912, Iglesias and his followers sought to transform their administrative alliance into electoral power by running labor candidates and attacking Unionista policies and leaders. To that end they produced two documents addressed to island workers and turned out one of them in an English edition, thereby also speaking to U.S. officials and other mainlanders. The choice that faced readers, the authors wrote, was between U.S. “good government” and a Unionista rule akin to racial slavery. Many Unionistas, they noted, had served in the Autonomous Cabinet of 1898, which Iglesias and his followers portrayed as a “tyrannical, . . . monarchical colonial government.” Before the U.S. invasion, they wrote, workers had been “submissive slaves,” “the proposed granting of

‘universal suffrage’” to whom some current Unionistas had opposed as likely to “hurt . . . whites” and “cause racial struggles.” Relief had only come with U.S. forces, and still Unionistas oppressed workers through local office holding, thereby controlling “at will the police, the judiciary and public offices.”296

Despite the good intentions and veto power of the governor and the mainlander-

dominated Executive Council, the authors argued, control of the House of Delegates by

295 Colton to Edwards, 15 Nov. 1911, MD NARA 350/5B/180G/1286-27 (quote 1); DC NARA

233/626/HR 62A-H13.1 (quote 2); Report of Proceedings of the Thirty-Third Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor Held at Seattle, Washington, Nov. 10 to 22, Inclusive, 1913 (Washington, D.C.: The Law Reporter Printing Company, 1913) [hereinafter 1913 Federation Report], 122-124 (quote 3) (Report of Santiago Iglesias in appendix to Report of President); 1911 Federation Report, 300 (Resolution No. 39); Santiago Iglesias, “La Federación Libre y el Secretario de la Guerra,” Unión Obrera, 26 Dec.

1911, 1; Report of Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor Held at Rochester, New York, November 11 to 23, Inclusive, 1912 (Washington, D.C.: The Law Reporter Printing Company, 1912), 17 (President Gompers’s Report); A People Without a Country (Washington, D.C.: American Federation of Labor, 1912) available at CDO:2; W. H. Taft to Mr. Iglesias,

15 Apr. 1912, CDO:2; DC NARA 46/91/Sen 62A-F17/Citizenship Granting of to Porto Ricans. It was Gompers’s normal practice to draw on a report submitted by Iglesias in preparing the parts of his annual reports to the Federation that concerned Puerto Rico. See correspondence with Iglesias in SGL.

296 Santiago Iglesias, The People and Their Civil and Political Rights – Period of Autonomous Government. Electoral Campaign, 1912, CDO:2; La Unión Obrera Central, Los Obreros Contra Herminio Díaz Navarro,

San Juan ,P.R., 2 Sep. 1912, CDO:2. Córdova, Resident Commissioner, 118.

 

Unionistas also posed a threat to island workers. Writing against a legal-cultural dynamic and history familiar to island workers, they cited laws of legitimacy, seduction, and marriage to make their case.

In Puerto Rico, legitimacy laws exemplified how hierarchies of class and race interwove with state power and social expectations to dishonor and economically disadvantage laborers. Lower-class Puerto Ricans regularly formed consensual unions rather than marrying. The practice dated to Spanish rule when complaints about religious fees for weddings were common, divorce was essentially impossible, and the church was largely absent. It had persisted after U.S. reforms had eased access to civil ceremonies and divorce. As elsewhere, many Puerto Ricans recognized a sexual double standard around honor. For women, honor meant sexual propriety. Men, by contrast, both recognized a duty to control female relations’ sexual practices and saw pursuit of nonmarital sexual relationships as a prerogative and affirmation of manhood. Elite men sometimes reconciled these norms by pursuing extramarital sexual relations with lower- class women. The practice infuriated many working-class men and produced out-of- wedlock births. Spanish laws had generally marked these disproportionately working- class, out-of-wedlock children as either natural or illegitimate, statuses that had reduced

those children’s inheritance rights.297

297 Division of Customs and Insular Affairs, War Department trans., Translation of the Civil Code in Force in Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1899), 21-28,

106-144, available at MD NARA 350/5A/31/246:1; Eileen J. Suárez Findlay, Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870-1920 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999); Sueann Caulfield, Sarah C. Chambers, and Lara Putnam eds., Honor, Status and Law in Modern Latin America (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005) (especially Lara Putnam, Sarah C. Chambers, and Sueann Caulfield, “Introduction: Transformation in Honor, Status, and Law over the Long Nineteenth Century,” 1-26); Sueann Caulfield, In Defense of Honor: Sexual Morality, Modernity, and Nation in Early-

Twentieth-Century Brazil (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000); Henry K. Carroll, Report of Porto

Rico (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1899), 35-36, 690-712; Briggs, Reproducing

 

Iglesias and his followers criticized what they termed “monarchical . . . privileges for the upper classes” as inconsistent with “[c]ivil equality and the equality of women to men.” They were partly counter-balanced, they claimed, by the Spanish law of seduction, under which “fathers who suffered the disgrace” of “villains” seducing their daughters could ensure that each “seducer” would either “immediately repair the offense” through marriage or suffer “punishment.” Either case, the authors wrote, “vindicat[ed] the purity and honor of Puerto Rican maidens and . . . punish[ed] debasers of the honor of the

daughters of the country.”298

According to Iglesias and the Federación, in years past it had been U.S. officials who had defended and Unionistas who had opposed the civil equality and honor of Puerto Rican workers. In 1902, a coalition between U.S. officials and Republicanos had legitimized consensual unions and offspring therefrom. Another law had given acknowledged natural children equal inheritance rights. After Unionistas took over the House of Delegates, they “overthr[ew]” these “American institutions” and “effectively annulled” the Spanish law of seduction, making it “nearly impossible to punish villains who outwit and dishonor the daughters of the country.” While castigating Unionistas, the argument did not implicate U.S. officials. Though U.S. judges had once liberally recognized consensual unions as common-law, or natural, marriages, the practice had

Empire, 57, passim; Samuel Silva Gotay, Catolicismo y política en Puerto Rico: bajo España y Estados

Unidos: siglos XIX y XX (San Juan: La Editorial Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2005), 74, 256-261.

298 Iglesias, People and Their Civil and Political Rights (quotes 1-2, 4); Unión Obrera Central, Los Obreros

Contra Herminio Díaz Navarro (quotes 3, 5-8 (excerpted from: “Herminio Díaz Navarro es responsable prácticamente, de haber anulado la efectividad del Art. Del Código Penal, que garantizaba completamente la reivindicación de la pureza y el honor de las doncellas puertorriqueñas y aseguraba la persecución y castigo de los seductores y envilecedores de la honra de las hijas del pueblo”; “Los padres de familia que tenían la desgracia de que sus inocentes hijas cayeran rendidas por amor, en los brazos de un malvado, el Código Penal contenía un artículo que protegía a estos padres a hijas, y no había seductor que pudiera escapar del castigo merecido, si no reparaba inmediatamente la ofensa”; “He[r]minio Díaz Navarro logró en la Cámara Legislativa, enmendar el artículo del Código Penal, en tal forma, que hoy es casi imposible castigar a los malvados que se burlan y deshonran a las hijas del pueblo.”)).

 

entered decline in the late-19th century. Iglesias and his followers argued that these limits were the rare U.S. innovations that proved poor fits for the island; years after implementing liberal U.S. marriage and divorce laws more than a third of island births remained out of wedlock.299

Though Iglesias and his colleague drew few adherents in the 1912 electoral

campaign, they provoked substantial Unionista ire. Prior to the election, Unionistas had come to see separatism as their best route to greater self-government. Contending that Congress would never make Puerto Rico a state, they had removed statehood from among the alternatives that they sought in their party platform. And long hopeful that Democrats favored extending greater autonomy to the island, they had also announced that were Democrats to win the national elections in 1912 and not extend Puerto Rico home rule, Unionistas would abandon that goal, leaving independence as the only status they sought for their island. Iglesias and his colleagues, with their insistence that island masses would benefit from continued U.S. administration, thus opposed Unionistas on their marquee issue: status. In January 1913, soon after the new House of Delegates convened, José de Diego, its speaker and a leading Unionista independista, attacked

Iglesias for effective and purportedly unpatriotic lobbying in Washington. Iglesias and his

colleagues, De Diego charged, “machinate in Washington, in the Department of War,

299 Iglesias, People and Their Civil and Political Rights (quotes 1-2); Unión Obrera Central, Los Obreros Contra Herminio Díaz Navarro (quotes 3-4); Michael Grossberg, Governing the Hearth: Law and Family in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985). For the Spanish

originals of the latter quotations, see note 298 above. On the rise and fall of the Republicano party in Puerto Rico, see chapters 1-3 above. On honor in the U.S. context, see Ariela Gross, Double Character: Slavery and Mastery in the Antebellum Courtroom (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000), 47 (describing cultures of honor as varying by time and place); Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor:

Ethics and Behavior in the Old South, 25th anniversary ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007 [1982]); J. Mills Thornton III, Review, American Historical Review 88 (Jun. 1983): 753-754; Julia Simon-

Kerr, “Unchaste and Incredible: The Use of Gendered Conceptions of Honor in Impeachment,” Yale Law

Journal 117 (2008): 1854-1898 (examining uses of the word “honor” in pre-1900 U.S. legal contexts).

 

before congressional committees,” accusing islanders “of immorality and despotism” to deny “the undeniable capacity and the indestructible right of the Puerto Ricans to rule their own destinies.” When it later summarized the speech, Unionista newspaper La Democracia further attacked Iglesias. Using Iglesias’s birth on the Iberian peninsula to impugn his loyalty, the paper described Iglesias’s advocacy of U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans as solicitation “by a Spaniard disloyal to his own citizenship, [of] the American citizenship for the Puerto Ricans.” Ignoring the difficulties of organizing the island’s more than half a million, overwhelmingly rural laborers, de Diego added in his speech that Federación Libre members numbered a mere handful of thousand artisans because “patriotic . . . Puerto Rican workers. . . will never join . . . those who . . . persecuted the

dignity and the liberty of our fatherland.”300

Federación Libre members responded by publishing the pamphlet The Tyranny of the House of Delegates of Porto Rico and distributing it among U.S. and Puerto Rican laborers and politicians. In it they countered De Diego’s appeal to Puerto Rican patriotism with a vision, Atlantic in scope, of emancipated citizens toppling monarchical slaveholders. While serving in the Autonomous Cabinet under Spain in 1898, the Feceración related, many current Unionistas had, like “aristocrats” “in the majority of Latin American Republics,” tried to set up an “oligarchy.” They had been “feudal

300 “Gran oración parlamentaria,” La Democracia, 12 Feb. 1913, 1 (quotes 1-3, 5 (“maquinan en Washington, en el Departamento de la Guerra, ante las Comisiones del Congreso”; “inmoralidad y despotismo”; “la innegable capacidad y el indiscutible derecho de los puertorriqueños a regir sus propios destinos”; “los obreros puertorriqueños . . . patriotas, no . . . ingresarán jamás . . . los que . . . persiguen la dignidad y la libertad de nuestra patria”)); “Cuestiones obreras,” La Democracia, 4 Feb. 1913, 1 (quote 4 (“por un español infiel a su propia ciudadanía, la ciudadanía americana para los puertorriqueños”)); Córdova, Resident Commissioner, 117-119; 1914 House Hearings, 5, 33, 62, 66-67; Cabranes, “Citizenship and the American Empire,” 464; Civil Government for Porto Rico: Hearings before the Committee on Pacific Islands and Porto Rico United States Senate, 63d Cong., 2d sess., on S. 4604 a Bill to Provide a Civil Government for Porto Rico, and for Other Purposes (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office,

1914), 4, 8-9, 16, 19, 36, 50-55 [hereinafter 1914 Senate Hearings], available at MD NARA 350/5B/

488/3377-216.

patriarchs,” the organization elaborated, each with a “lordly dominion” like that that “the memorable French Revolution swept away.” After U.S. military governors freed labor leaders, declared a free press, encouraged criticism of officials, and protected worker meetings, the Federación wrote, Unionistas still saw workers as “the pariahs and disfranchised in Europe, and the slave in America,” “declar[ing] from the very midst of the House of Delegates that” the “organized massed” “should be suppressed.” Unionistas aimed to “strangle . . . blessed [U.S.] freedom,” they continued, so that the “modern Porto Rican slaveholder . . . [could] walk tranquilly through these towns, his seigniorial

domain, while the freeman, the civilian, the energetic defender of the rights of his fellows citizens, has to leave.” But, the Federación argued, Unionistas would fail. Effacing the distinction between U.S. citizenship, which Iglesias still sought—and citizenship of Puerto Rico—which Puerto Rican already enjoyed, the Federación claimed that citizenship gave Puerto Rican workers “personality,” “elevate[d] and dignif[ied] them, and made them “respectable.” Iglesias and his Federación no longer cast workers as mere wards dependent on U.S. protection. They had become, in the words of the Federación, “free citizens, absolute masters of [their] acts and convictions,” and “energetic

defender[s] of the rights of [their] fellow citizens.301

The pressure that Iglesias and his colleagues applied to Unionistas had its

intended effect. Already in 1912, Iglesias had secured a Bureau of Labor for the island. In

1913,Iglesias told island and mainland workers that “representative members of the insular political parties and legislators came to realize that it was no longer possible to ignore the just demands of organized labor.” He detailed a raft of legislation supported by

301 Free Federation of Laborers of Porto Rico, The Tyranny of the House of Delegates of Porto Rico (1913), CDO:2.

 

the Federación that delegates had introduced and stated that six hundred new schools opened their doors to 30,000 children that year.302

Citizenship  Reborn: From Protection to Claims Making, 1913-17

The U.S. political landscape shifted on March 4, 1913, when for only the second time since the Civil War an elected Democrat became U.S. President. The American Federation of Labor welcomed Woodrow Wilson’s new administration, and quickly won from it key clauses in the Clayton Act, including one that declared that “the labor of a human being is not a commodity” and a second that the Federation hoped would curb

anti-labor injunctions by recalcitrant mainland judges. For Iglesias, these legislative victories mattered less than Wilson’s appointment of Arthur Yager as Governor of Puerto Rico and Lindley Garrison as Secretary of War, for in Puerto Rico it was administrators more than judges and legislatures who exercised autonomy, capacity, and authority. Iglesias, who now had to build new relationships with new leaders, faced potential losses of influence and friends in Washington following the change in administration. Unionistas, by contrast, welcomed and sought to exploit Democratic ascendance, which they had long predicted would bring greater self-government to their island. As in years past, administrators and congressmen also tried to formulate new policy for Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans and U.S. officials often claimed that a U.S. citizenship that had come unmoored from rights and democracy mattered most as an omen of the ultimate status of the island, though few agreed as to what exact status it portended. Island representatives

thus faced the challenge of formulating positions on a U.S. citizenship with a meaning

302 1913 Federation Report, 123-124 (Report of Iglesias in appendix to Report of President); Córdova,

Resident Commissioner, 115-116.

 

that depended on what U.S. congressmen intended by proposing to extend it.303

In 1914, the legislative fate of Puerto Rico in the House of Representatives lay in the hands of the Committee on Insular Affairs, especially those of its recently elevated chair, William Jones of Virginia. A veteran of the Confederate Army, Jones joined many congressional Democrats in interweaving romanticization of actions by U.S. southern whites during and after the Civil War with fierce criticism of what he called “the imperialistic and commercial policy of the Republican party.” In a 1900 floor speech, he had both savaged the Foraker Bill for withholding U.S. citizenship from a people “seven- tenths of [whom] belong to the Caucasian race” and argued that “no such dangerous and absolute power as this [proposed in the Foraker Bill] was ever before lodged in an irresponsible carpetbag government.” By 1914, the gap between Democrats and Republicans on Puerto Rican policy had narrowed, with many members in each camp agreeing that Puerto Rico would remain permanently part of the United States and should have a more liberal government. On February 24, 1914, consistent with this shift, Jones introduced a bill similar to the compromise that Puerto Rico Governor George Colton, a Taft appointee, had advanced in 1910. In it he proposed to naturalize Puerto Ricans collectively as U.S. citizens, create an almost wholly elected island senate, give the governor an absolute veto, establish a Puerto Rican Department of Agriculture and Labor, and impose literacy and property requirements on new voters. Later that month Jones’s Committee opened hearings. As in 1910, naturalization was a flashpoint. Arguments of witnesses and congressmen revealed that a decade and a half of judicial and political evasion concerning U.S. citizenship had simultaneously drained its content, generated confusion over its meaning, and failed to reduce interest in whether and how it should be

303 Clayton Act, Statutes at Large 38 (15 Oct. 1914): 730; Forbath, Law and Labor, 156-157.

 

distributed.304

Appearing before the Committee on Insular Affairs and before a Senate Committee hearing testimony on a similar bill on February 25-26, Governor Arthur Yager promoted U.S. citizenship as key to a permanent U.S. rule in Puerto Rico that would demonstrate U.S. good intentions to Latin America. Puerto Rico was “the only Latin-American country over which the United States has had an entire control for any considerable length of time,” Yager contended, so success there would “greatly improve the relations of the United States to the whole of Latin America.” He disfavored modeling U.S. rule on Latin American republics—“[N]o Latin-American people . . . seems satisfied with their government”—or what he portrayed as oppressive Spanish colonialism. Instead he favored British colonial models, which, he claimed, “governed many peoples successfully” “to the satisfaction of the people governed.” To that end he advanced a proposal backed by Secretary of War Lindley Garrison that Yager predicted would be popular among Puerto Ricans: streamlined, individual naturalizations. This voluntary approach, he argued, would foreclose independence and thereby end the impression among some Puerto Ricans “that the United States has not determined the future political status of the Porto Ricans.” Yet because it was not a collective naturalization it would not determine “whether [Puerto Rico] should ever become a State

304 Congressional Record 33 (1900) [app.]:232-235 (11 Apr. 1900, remarks of Rep. William Jones of Va.) (quotes); 1914 House Hearings; William Atkinson Jones (Late a Representative from Virginia) Memorial Addresses Delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States, 65th Cong. (Washington, D.C.: [Government Printing Office], 1919), 14 (address of Rep. Andrew Montague of Va.); Congressional Record 51 (1914) pt. 4:3874 (24 Feb. 1914); “El Bill de Pto-Rico,” La Democracia, 26 Feb. 1914; “El Bill de Pto-Rico,” La Democracia, 27 Feb. 1914, 1; “El Bill de Puerto Rico,” La Democracia, 7-10 Mar. 1914,

  1. 1. On ongoing judicial failure to clarify the U. citizenship status of Puerto Ricans, see, e.g., 1914 House Hearings, 61; 1914 Senate Hearings, 7. Jones gained his chairmanship following Democratic gains in the House in 1910.

 

or remain as a somewhat autonomous country.”305

Unionista leader Luis Muñoz, now also Resident Commissioner, opposed collective naturalization as well. He and his party characterized the policy as bringing Puerto Ricans no new rights, guaranteeing no eventual statehood for Puerto Rico, precluding Unionista aspirations for independence, and thus subjecting islanders to permanent colonial rule. The year before, in a unanimous memorial, the House of Delegates had told Congress that U.S. citizenship promised Puerto Ricans few rights at home or abroad. Muñoz now added that proponents of U.S. citizenship like former President Taft, former Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and Senator Miles Poindexter

had “state[d] clearly that American citizenship for Porto Ricans does not suggest the most remote intention on the part of the United States to ever grant statehood to my people.” Agreeing with Yager that U.S. citizenship would foreclose Puerto Rican independence, Muñoz argued that collective naturalization would make islanders “citizens of an inferior class” and Puerto Rico “perpetually a colony, a dependency.” Yager elaborated the argument for the committee. Were U.S. citizenship not to preclude it, Unionistas anticipated “that Congress will inevitably be forced by its own Constitution and its own

ideas to grant them some sort of independence.”306

Congressmen perceived the feedback loop—witnesses based recommendations to

Congress on perceptions of likely congressional actions—and tried to break it: The Chairman. Well, if the Congress decides upon statehood, there would be no reason, would there, why we should not make the Porto Ricans

305 1914 House Hearings, 7-8 (quote 6), 26-27 (quotes 3-5), 5, 13-16; 1914 Senate Hearings, 5 (quotes 1-

2), 4.

306 1914 House Hearings, 9 (last quote), 53-54 (other quotes), 5, 33, 62, 66-67; 1914 Senate Hearings, 4, 8-

9, 16, 19, 36, 50-55; Cabranes, “Citizenship and the American Empire,” 464; Córdova, Resident

Commissioner, 117; see also Taft to Iglesias, 15 Apr. 1912, published in A People Without a Country.

 

citizens of the United States now? . . . Mr. [Muñoz]. [agrees]

The Chairman. [T]here is no sentiment in the United States in favor of granting independence to the Porto Ricans?

. . .

Mr. [Muñoz]. There is no sentiment in favor of statehood for Porto Rico. The opinion is not definitely formed about the question. . . .

. . .

Mr. Brumbaugh. [W]ould you prefer, statehood [or] independence[?]

Mr. [Muñoz]. As a political body, we look toward national independence.

. . .

Mr. Call[a]way. We had national independence in Texas, but we thought it was better [to] become one of the States . . . [though] this Government will not grant statehood to Porto Rico within the next 100 years . . . .

Mr. Towner. [I]t is my judgment that . . . it will be granted statehood . . . . Mr. [Muñoz]. [I]f you tender statehood now, I, . . . accept statehood.307

The exchange reveals contingency on both sides. Representatives’ disagreement about

the likelihood of Puerto Rico becoming a state caught Muñoz between the possibility that Unionistas were wrong to consider statehood unachievable and the likelihood that embracing potential statehood would merely legitimize U.S. colonialism. He hedged, reiterating a platform ratified prior to this discussion, accepting immediate statehood, and withholding comment on eventual statehood.

307 1914 House Hearings, 56-60; Memorandum for the Secretary of War. (Diary), 4 May 1912, CDO:2.

 

For U.S. officials, the question of the relationship between the status of people and the status of place was hard to resolve in part because it involved the legacy of the Civil War. In Scott v. Sandford (1857), the Supreme Court had rejected a claim to freedom by the enslaved Dred Scott on two grounds. First, the Court had held that it had no jurisdiction to hear the claim because Scott was not a U.S. citizen. Chief Justice Roger

Taney had reasoned that U.S. citizenship was a status rich in rights. Positing an early U.S. Republic in which blacks did not vote or exercise other rights that he associated with citizenship, Taney had concluded that the Constitution presumed that free blacks were

not U.S. citizens. Second, the Court struck a federal bar on some territorial slavery, thereby nullifying Scott’s claim that he was free because he had resided in a free territory. Taney had explained that Congress had no power to hold U.S. territories as perpetual colonies, then determined that the Constitution barred Congress from certain

interferences with property rights, including rights over slaves, in U.S. territories. When the Civil War and 14th Amendment affirmed the principle of non-secession and partly overturned Dred Scott by declaring that “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States,” it had become possible to argue that all peoples in places that the United States annexed would become immediate U.S. citizens in eventual U.S. states. Some Democrats opposed to prior Republican imperial policies embraced this tradition, as when Representative Jacob Baker of New Jersey opined: “By the Constitution of the United States everybody under the flag is a citizen of the Republic,” and “the Government should recognize and

establish State government” in every “qualified” “territory.”308

308 Am. XIV, sec. 1, U.S. Const. (quote 1); 1914 House Hearings, 71 (quotes 2-5), 49-60; Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857).

 

But with Democrats now administering colonial Puerto Rico and Downes v. Bidwell (1901) and Gonzales v. Williams (1904) having weakened claims like Baker’s, others in the party took more flexible lines. Secretary Garrison, for example, described Puerto Ricans as U.S. “denizens,” “people not citizens of the United States.” For many Republicans, whose party had led both the fight to preserve the Union and the effort to annex Puerto Rico permanently to the United States, the Civil War taught a different lesson. Thus Representative Horace Towner of Iowa contended, “we have never allowed any part of our territory to get away from us, and the probabilities are that we never

will.”309

On March 11, new Bureau of Insular Affairs law officer Felix Frankfurter aimed to clarify matters with a legal memo to Congress reviewing recent federal decisions and laws involving status of people and places. In Neely v. Henkel (1901), the Court let the United States hold Cuba in temporary trust. Hawaii v. Mankichi (1903) allowed Congress to create what “was practically a territorial form of government, and yet not incorporat[e] systems of procedure deemed fundamental by our Bill of Rights.” A “unique form of executive government” in the Panama Canal Zone survived review in Wilson v. Shaw (1906), while Dorr v. United States (1904) and United States v. Heinszen (1907) affirmed delegation of Filipino legislative functions to agencies. Recent statutes had created a customs receivership in the Dominican Republic and given the United States influence over debt policy and a limited right of military intervention in Cuba. These precedents, Frankfurter argued, established that U.S. relations with dependent locales were “matters solely for congressional competence,” so Congress could “grant citizenship without

309 1914 House Hearings, 34-35 (quotes 1-2), 57 (quote 3), 49-60.

 

incorporation.”310

On April 14, Santiago Iglesias wrote Samuel Gompers to offer to “go to Washington myself . . . to present a statement” in support of collective naturalization. Drawing an analogy between Puerto Rico and U.S. states with sizeable populations of American Indians and Mexican-Americans, Iglesias recalled that U.S. citizens in “New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma . . . wait[ed] . . . generations before they were taken in as States.” The question of the status of Puerto Rico as a place, he wrote, was “very premature.” He worried, though, that Unionistas would win individualized naturalization, exploit “the great ignorance of countrymen” into “not adopting” it , and thereby advance their “secret . . .policy of” achieving an “independence” like that in “Santo Domingo or Venezuela” in which local elites could tyrannize workers without fear of U.S. limitations. Instead, the Washington Star soon reported, Unionista objections to “legislation for the island . . . to a very large measure caused Congress to delay any definite action.” So, as it had for a dozen years, Congress passed no bill.311

While Congress held hearings in 1914, strikes broke out in Puerto Rico that lasted four months and involved more than half of all workers employed in the manufacture of tobacco. As during prior strikes, police, mayors, and judges tied to Unionistas and subject

310 1914 Senate Hearings, 20-22; cf. Neely v. Henkel, 180 U.S. 109 (1901) (upholding an extradition from the United States to Cuba and concluding that though Cuba remained “foreign” to the United States, the United States was not obliged to recognize any particular government there during U.S. occupation); Hawaii v. Mankichi, 190 U.S. 197 (1903) (upholding the felony conviction of a Hawai‘ian by a majority of a non-unanimous jury); Wilson v. Shaw, 204 U.S. 24 (1906); Dorr v. United States, 195 U.S. 138 (1904); United States v. Heinszen, 206 U.S. 370 (1907)

311 Santiago Iglesias to Samuel Gompers, 20 Apr. 1914, CDO:2 (quotes 1-8); “Porto Ricans Hope for U.S. Citizenship,” Washington Star, 9 Jan. 1916, available at MD NARA 350/5B/492/3377A-4 (quote 9); Cabranes, “Citizenship and the American Empire,” 470-471; see also Santiago Iglesias to Arthur Yager, 31

Jan. 1914, CDO:2; Report of Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor Held at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 9 to 21, Inclusive, 1914 (Washington, D.C.: The Law Reporter Printing Company, 1914) [hereinafter 1914 Federation Report], 89 (Gompers

report), 197 (Iglesias report); H. R. Report 750, 61st Cong., 2d Sess., 15 Mar. 1910 (minority report),

available at CDO:1.

 

to oversight by presidential appointees in the island government barred labor demonstrations, disbanded Federación Libre meetings, and attacked and imprisoned strikers. When the governor and his cabinet did not rein in these local officials, Iglesias adapted his claims for protection to adversaries beyond the House of Delegates and to conflicts involving more than island legislation and electoral campaigns.312

Unlike in 1912, when Iglesias enjoyed longstanding alliances with the Governor

of Puerto Rico and the Secretary of War, he now had to build relationships with new appointees to these posts while seeking their support for laborers engaged in industrial conflicts. And unlike in 1909-1910, when Iglesias had first jointly pursued U.S. citizenship with then-Governor George Colton and Colton’s War Department allies, Iglesias now seemed unlikely to convince Governor Arthur Yager or his colleague Secretary of War Lindley Garrison to share either his position on U.S. citizenship or his main enemies. Before and during congressional hearings on Puerto Rico bills in 1914, Yager and Garrison had actively opposed Iglesias on collective U.S. citizenship. The employers and the investors from whom Iglesias’s Federación sought concessions also differed from the House of Delegates against whom Iglesias and previous U.S. officials had aligned. Governors and secretaries of war measured progress on the island by gross economic output, which they associated with mainland investment. Employers and property owners in Puerto Rico—especially those from the mainland—resembled high- ranking federal officials in being well connected on the mainland and familiar with how

312 1914 Federation Report, 193-195, 198 (Iglesias report); Gervasio L. García and A.G. Quintero Rivera, Desafío y solidaridad: breve historia del movimiento obreros puertorriqueño (Río Piedras, P.R.: Ediciones Huracán, 1991 [1987]), 60; José Trías Monge, Puerto Rico: The Trials of the Oldest Colony in the World (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997), 54; Pedro A. Cabán, Constructing a Colonial People: Puerto Rico and the United States, 1898-1932 (Boulder, Colo.: Westwood Press, 1999), 155-159; Chapter

4 above.

 

to advance their agendas within existing rules and norms. Police, mayors, and judges were similarly unlikely targets of U.S. ire. Police were executive-branch employees, hired by a governor-appointed commission and answering to a chief who reported

directly to the governor. Mayors and local judges in Puerto were elected at the municipal level, hence technically independent from U.S. officials. Yet, the governor and attorney general had broad powers of oversight and removal over them. Abuse by police, judges, or mayors would mean active wrongdoing or failures to supervise on the part of U.S. officials.313

In protesting official repression Iglesias drew on lessons learned during prior

strikes, especially those in the years just before 1907. Then, Federación leaders had observed U.S. officials offer blanket denials to complaints of official misconduct, a strategy that strikers had facilitated by failing to create a formal, detailed, investigable record. In 1914 Iglesias made specific charges in more than thirty telegrams, judicial filings, and “complaints and protests in the form of filed statements duly sworn to.” Yager responded hostilely, describing Iglesias to the Bureau of Insular Affairs as a troublemaker and ordering an investigation that concluded that all actions taken by accused officials had been justified. Iglesias, for his part, told the Bureau and the American Federation of Labor that Yager was anti-labor and that because he condoned state actors’ well-documented “transgressions of the law,” “the rigor of the law was not

313 Yager to Iglesias, 19 Apr. 1915, in Final Report and Testimony Submitted to Congress by the Commission on Industrial Relations (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1916), 11196-11197 [hereinafter Final Report on Industrial Relations]; Report of the Governor of Porto Rico Covering the Strike of Agricultural Laborers on Sugar Plantation in Porto Rico, 19 Apr. 1915, in Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11150-11153; Arthur Yager to Santiago Iglesias, 5 Oct. 1914, CDO:2; Cabán, Constructing a Colonial People, 156; Trías Monge, Trials, 54; César J. Ayala, American Sugar Kingdom: The Plantation Economy of the Spanish Caribbean, 1898-1934 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).

 

applied.”314

Unable to resolve their differences with Yager, Iglesias and the Federación sought to turn distant arms of the state against him and his associates through legal arguments in legal domains. Given “enormous” “gubernatorial and judicial corruption,” Iglesias told Gompers, “the only recourse that we have is to be constantly vigilant, to advise our lawyers, taking all the records and collecting all the proofs until seeing if in the end we can find some court where . . . justice for the workers in their fights will be recognized.” By courts, Iglesias appeared to mean official bodies providing procedural guarantees. He told Yager that he would accept an adjudicative entity that furnished witnesses opportunities to testify; provided a neutral forum in which to press constitutional and other legal claims; empowered parties to cause testimonial and other proofs to be produced; created a record; and made recommendations. Unlike the “terrorizing,”

“almost inquisitorial” investigations Yager conducted in response to complaints, Iglesias claimed, his imagined adjudicator would be neither private nor staffed by individuals biased in favor of the accused.315

In an October 5 letter to Iglesias, Yager also put a legal frame on their disputes.

The government, he wrote, had a duty to enforce laws equally and presume the regularity of judicial activities. The Federación was in a weak position to claim protection from the

314 1914 Federation Report, 198 (Iglesias report) (quotes); Arthur Yager to Frank McIntyre, 27 Mar. 1914, CDO:2; R. Simon Pacheco to [Santiago Iglesias], n.d., CDO:2; Santiago Iglesias to Frank McIntyre, 20

May 1914, CDO:2. Iglesias here resembles the subjects of Merry’s field studies in having learned that law

is an imperfect tool with which to vindicate rights while simultaneously becoming more sophisticated about how to use it to create opportunities. Getting Justice, 135-145.

315 [Santiago Iglesias] to Samuel Gompers, [Apr. or May 1915], CDO:2 (quotes 1-3); Iglesias to Yager, 24

Apr. 1915, in Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11197-11198 (quotes 4-5). On seeking to turn one arm of the state against another while in a position of relative electoral weakness see, e.g., Francesca Polletta, “The Structural Context of Novel Rights Claims: Southern Civil Rights Organizing, 1961-1966,” Law & Society Review 34 (2000): 367-406. On perpetuating inequality and subordination through legal processes that offer procedural but not substantive fairness, see Rebecca L Sandefur, “Access to Civil Justice and Race, Class, and Gender Inequality,” Annual Review of Sociology 34 (2008) 16.1 to 16.20.

 

state, he added, because judges had criminally convicted its members. Instead, Yager directed Iglesias to First Amendment claims, recognizing that “the foundation of a democracy rests on freedom of speech” and promising to protect it. That freedom, however, had a narrow, predominantly political compass for Yager: “the right of citizens to liberally discuss and criticize the form in which government functionaries carry out their official duties.” It ended where governmental obligations to preserve order and

protect property began.316

The men’s rival legal strategies came to a head after non-unionized laborers in Bayamón left the sugar fields and demanded higher wages in January 1915. Strikes quickly spread throughout the island, drawing in more than 20,000 workers before they ended in late February and March 1915. Workers sought a share of the profits that materialized as World War I shortages drove up sugar prices. Stepping forward to provide advice and encouragement, Federación leaders also seized the opportunity to found a Socialist Party to participate in island politics and to try and organize sugar laborers permanently.317

As promised, Yager acted to protect worker speech rights, though in ways that tended to defeat the strike. He instructed police to allow “peaceful and orderly” meetings “so long as the speakers” orate “within the limits of the law,” but to bar “[n]oisy and threatening parades of large bodies of workmen.” These ostensibly neutral rules worked

to the detriment of strikers, who sought to alter economic relations, a disruptive endeavor.

316 Yager to Iglesias, 5 Oct. 1914.

317 Report of the Governor, in Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11150-11153; Report of Proceedings of the Thirty-Fifth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor Held at San Francisco,

California, November 8 to 22, Inclusive, 1915 (Washington, D.C.: The Law Reporter Printing Company,

1915), 181-185 (Iglesias report); Iglesias to Gompers, 22 Feb. 1915, in Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11165-11168; García and Quintero, Desafío y solidaridad, 60-64; Ayala, American Sugar Kingdom, 216.

 

Unlike large employers, they had little property for the police to protect. And while Yager recognized people’s property interest in their labor, he understood it to be individual. Each laborer, Yager claimed, could work or not work as he saw fit. The role of the police was not to protect the emotional appeals, peer pressure, and consciousness- raising discussions that might lead workers to take unified action, but to insulate workers who chose to work from those who did not. In a subsequent letter to President Wilson, Governor Yager acknowledged ordering the “[t]he police . . . to preserve order and

protect property,” but insisted that although this policy brought the strike to a prompt end, “No constitutional or legal rights of laborers or of others have been contravened.” 318

In the meantime, Iglesias pursued a two-pronged strategy: create a record, then go to court. He had few alternatives. Unarmed, miserably poor, unaccustomed to demonstrating or organizing, and opposed by local industry and government officials, striking agricultural workers had little hope of meeting quasi- or extra-legal coercion and violence with successful arguments or in kind. So as anti-labor violence mounted,

Iglesias requested that the Commission on Industrial Relations—a congressionally created body charged with examining U.S. labor conditions, relations, and disputes— investigate. A month later the Federación instructed Iglesias also to ask Yager to create an independent, neutral commission to investigate events of the strike. Next Iglesias

solicited American Federation of Labor support for securing a congressional investigation

318 Arthur Yager to Chief of Insular Police, 25 Feb. 1914, in Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11154 (quotes 1-4); Report of the Governor in, Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11151 (quotes 5-6); Arthur Yager to Fiscals, Alcaldes, and District Chiefs of Police of Porto Rico, 20 Feb. 1914, in Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11153-11154; Ayala, American Sugar Kingdom, 121-147, 178-182; see also Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905); Forbath, Law and Labor, 37-58; Gary D. Rowe, “The Legacy of Lochner, Lochner Revisionism Revisited,” Law and Social Inquiry 24 (1999): 221-252; David M. Rabban,

 

and similar action by President Wilson.319

Were Iglesias to win any of the hearings he sought, his success would depend upon having created an extensive, detailed record of purported official abuses from the outset. To that end, telegrams from strikers and their supporters poured in throughout February, creating independently verifiable, written records that particular charges had been made at specific times and places. Strikers supplemented these telegrams with sworn, notarized affidavits in which they detailed which state officials had committed what acts in which times and places. A government official reported getting “dozens of complaints every day,” several from Iglesias. At a hearing in Washington, Iglesias offered to produce “[m]ore than 100 telegrams” and “perhaps . . . nearly 100 affidavits” from a broad swathe of workers and Federación leaders. In one town, Iglesias related, “More than 1,000 country workers . . . filed complaints.”320

As Iglesias and his colleagues built this record, they joined the American Federation of Labor in articulating broad speech rights. On the mainland, Federation members often criticized judicial injunctions as being illegitimate restrictions on laborers’ First Amendment rights to speak, walk and parade on public highways, peaceably persuade, hold meetings, publish, and picket. Iglesias advanced this more aggressive interpretation by reprinting in his labor newspaper Unión Obrera Gompers’s injunction

319 Santiago Iglesias et al. to P. Walsh, [17 Feb. 1915], CDO:2; Santiago Iglesias to Samuel Gompers, 5 Jul.

1915, CDO:2; Santiago Iglesias to Arthur Yager, 3 Apr. 1915 in Final Report on Industrial Relations,

11194; García and Quintero, Desafío y solidaridad; Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11094-11103,

11199-11204. On the relationships between legal consciousness, social fields, beliefs about the applicability of law to particular contexts, felt obligations to comply with legal norms or decisions, and calculations about which disputes are worth pursuing, see Erik W. Larson, “Institutionalizing Legal Consciousness: Regulation and the Embedding of Market Participants in the Securities Industry in Ghana and Fiji,” Law & Society Review 38 (Dec. 2004): 765, passim.

320 Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11123 (testimony of Travieso) (quote 1), 11043 (testimony of

Iglesias) (quotes 2-3), 11046 (testimony of Iglesias), passim; Santiago Iglesias to Samuel Gompers, 27 Feb.

1915, in Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11170 (quote 4); E. Marrero to Santiago Iglesias, 1 Apr.

1915, in Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11053.

 

that “the working people of the island” be advised “that every constitutional, statutory and inherent right should be exercised in the effort to associate, assemble, and meet and express their thoughts and views.” Unlike constitutional or statutory rights, inherent rights were not necessarily recognized by courts or present in official texts. Gompers and Iglesias thus appeared to argue, as had many organizers before them, that some rights

existed even in the absence of positive state authority.321

As marshaled by Iglesias, the complaints described police using violence and threats against “pacific,” “peaceful,” and “orderly” strikers exercising First Amendment rights. Alberto Fernandez, a theater patron whose movie let out as police broke up a labor meeting, swore before a notary that he

saw a policeman beating a man with a stick [and that] the poor victim begged the policeman to stop beating him (the victim), saying these words, “Don’t hit me more,” and then the policeman shot him, and the poor man said to said policeman, “Please don’t kill me, that I am going

out,” and then the policeman shot again the second time, killing him.322

321 Forbath, Law and Labor, 139-146, passim; Santiago Iglesias to Woodrow Wilson, 14 Jun. 1915, CDO:2; Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias and Prudencia Rivera Martinez, 10 Jun. 1915, in Unión Obrera, available at CDO:2; Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11029-11224; see also, e.g., Scott, Degrees of Freedom, 75-77, 88-89, 91, 269. On understandings of rights that sweep more broadly than existing laws among late-20th-century, working-class disputants in eastern Massachusetts, see Sally Engle Merry, Getting Justice and Getting Even: Legal Consciousness among Working-Class Americans (Chicago: The

University of Chicago Press, 1990); cf. John Phillip Reid, Law for the Elephant: Property and Social Behavior on the Overland Trail (San Marino, Calif.: The Huntington Library, 1980) (identifying a similar dynamic among travelers along the overland trail in the nineteenth century); Naomi Mezey, “Out of the Ordinary: Law, Power, Culture, and the Commonplace,” Law and Social Inquiry 26 (2001): 149-150 (implying that approaches to law like that of Iglesias and Gompers are less common than those in which people engage in legalistic social practices that only subtly, relatively unintentionally, and slowly change legal meanings); Hendrik Hartog, Man and Wife in America: A History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000) (similar).

322 Summary of Affidavit of Eloy Franquis, n.d., Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11181 (quote 1); Iglesias to Federationist, 2 Mar. 1915, Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11164 (quote 2); Excerpt,

Telegram, [?] to [Santiago Iglesias], 16 Feb. 1915, Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11167 (quote 3);

Affidavit of Alberto Fernandez, Mar. 1915, Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11188 (quote 4).

 

Focusing on expressive rights, workers charged that police repeatedly forbade and “disbanded, violently and illegally,” parades, public meetings, small gatherings, and acts of symbolic speech. They pulled speakers off platforms based on what they said, and in one case Chief of Insular Police George R. Shanton and the island District Attorney told volunteer-organizer Esteban Padilla that “meetings in the rural zone were prohibited as

well as any manifestations or group of more than ten persons.” 323

Claims involving U.S. flags made the point particularly strongly. Concerned about striker violence, insular officials treated flagpoles as weapons. Yager told police that “parades of laborers, armed with . . . clubs . . . must be strictly prohibited,” and Esteban Padilla reported Chief of Police Shanton telling him “it was also prohibited to carry flags.” Insular officials thus tried to maintain order and protect workers’ rights by

refusing them access to what one labor leader called expression via “symbols, . . . flags of the idea they represented.” The Federación responded by placing U.S. flags into the

hands of strikers and then reporting, for instance, how “an American flag was torn from the hands of an aged country striker, and he himself was hit by the policeman’s billy.” This strategy aligned Federación claims to expressive rights with defense and proclamation of general U.S. liberties, while forcing insular officials to choose between commitments to either property and order or to the patriotism that the U.S. flag represented. By electing the former, officers attacked a U.S. symbol and denied strikers

rights for which, the Federación purported, the United States stood.324

323 Santiago Iglesias to Samuel Gompers, 27 Feb. 1915, Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11168-11170 (summarizing report of P. Rivera Martinez) (quote 1); Testimony of Iglesias, Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11066-11067 (quoting Affidavits of Esteban Padilla) (quote 2), 11068, 11171, 11173, 11181-

11182, 11188-11190, 11194; see also Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11055, 11059, 11064, 11164,

11167-11169, 11181-11183, 11187-11188; Carlos Sanabria, “Samuel Gompers and the American

Federation of Labor in Puerto Rico,” Centro Journal (spring 2005): 156.

324 Arthur Yager to Fiscals, Alcaldes, and District Chiefs of Police, 20 Feb. 1915, Final Report on

 

On April 15, after the above record was largely complete, Gompers told Iglesias that he had won him an appearance before the congressional Commission on Industrial Relations. Five days later, Commission Chairman Frank Walsh invited Secretary Lindley Garrison to send representatives to address Iglesias’s “General Allegations.” The commission apparently envisioned an adjudicative “hearing,” later describing the event

as a “full and fair presentation” by both sides. On May 26, Iglesias claimed rights and protection, telling the commission that biased officials deprived strikers of liberties and that the U.S. nation had a duty to improve living conditions of island laborers. The presidential appointees serving in Puerto Rico who testified contested the first point and concurred in the second.325

When the Commission transmitted its final report to Congress on August 23,

1915, testimony and exhibits concerning Puerto Rico filled nearly 200 pages. A plurality of commissioners took positions favorable to the Federación, noting that all witnesses

had agreed that island laborers suffered severe deprivations. In language that harkened to

Iglesias’s 1910-12 demands for protection, the Commission described how a

Industrial Relations, 11153-11154 (quote 1); Affidavit of Esteban Padilla, Final Report on Industrial

Relations, 11067 (quote 2); Testimony of Santiago Iglesias before the Commission on Industrial Relations,

26 May 1915, in Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11052 (quoting Report of Jose de Jesus Tizol, 30

Mar. 1915) (quote 3); Santiago Iglesias to Samuel Gompers, 27 Feb. 1915, Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11169 (quote 4). Austin Sarat, who describes how the law backed by state power “catches” people in its rules, also observes that appeals to the higher ideals of those in power can sometimes provides bases for successful claims. “‘The Law is All Over’: Power, Resistance and the Legal Consciousness of the Welfare Poor,” Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities 2 (1990): 343-379.

325 Frank Walsh to Lindley Garrison, 20 Apr. 1915, CDO:2 (quote 1); Final Report of the Commission on Industrial Relations Including the Report of Basil M. Manly Director of Research and Investigation and the Individual Reports and Statements of the Several Commissioners (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing

Office, 1916), 145 [hereinafter Manly Report] (other quotes); Samuel Gompers to Santiago Iglesias, 15

Apr. 1915, CDO:2; Samuel Gompers to John Lennon, 12 Mar. 1915, CDO:2; Samuel Gompers to John Lennon, 17 Mar. 1915, CDO:2; Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11029-11224. In “Legal Consciousness: Some Observations,” Dave Cowans observes that presenting claims in legal terms often causes those called upon to respond to feel bound by the result. Modern Law Review 67 (2004): 939. On the relationship between the use of legalistic institutions and money, information, social networks, faith in the legitimacy and efficacy of those institutions, and the availability of such an institution willing to hear one’s claim, see Sandefur, “Access to Civil Justice,” 16.14.

 

“responsibility rests upon the American Nation for the conditions of the people in our colonial possession who occupy the position morally and legally of wards of the Nation.” The Commission also apologized for workers who “may have been guilty of excesses” after having been “provoked by the agents of the employers or by the police.” It found “no excuse,” however, for the actions of “the rural police and local magistrates,” which “violated the personal rights of the strikers” and “treated them . . . with wanton

brutality.”326

Iglesias’s legal-administrative strategy had produced political returns. By appearing before the commission, Iglesias raised his standing among officials and workers in Puerto Rico and on the mainland. The hearing and report increased mainland awareness of Puerto Rican laborers’ poverty under U.S. stewardship. By forcing them to acknowledge, justify, and document their decisions, the hearing made the words and acts of insular officials visible. Doing so showed workers, local officials, and employers that violators of workers’ rights could be investigated and condemned, albeit not yet punished, by a federal entity. Laborers also won standing at the hearings, the official record of which showcased documents authored by island workers and responses of U.S. officials to them. Given the myriad obstacles facing the Federación, these were large gains.327

326 Manly Report, 145-147; Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11029-11224.

327 Arthur Yager to Joseph Tumulty, 28 Jun. 1915, CDO:2. Polletta describes a similar dynamic involving legalistic claims making during the Civil Rights Movement in “Structural Context,” 385-388. On how

Iglesias benefited from and circulated reports of his interactions with government officials, see, for

example, Arthur Yager to Joseph Tumulty, 28 Jun. 1915, CDO:2. On how creation and receipt of legal texts can influence people’s sense of themselves and their relationships to law, see Mezey, “Out of the Ordinary,” 159. For more on the symbolic power of securing a gesture from a legal body, see Merry, Getting Justice, 86-87. Kostiner provides a framework for categorizing Iglesias’s progress. “Evaluating Legality.” By securing a highly visible, official pronouncement that the United States had failed in its obligations to Puerto Rico, Iglesias made progress toward his “cultural” goal of winning public sympathy. Ibid. In using workers’ claims to do so, he also made “political” process toward empowering laborers. Ibid.

 

Santiago Iglesias, U.S. officials, and Unionistas returned their attention to federal legislation for Puerto Rico during the 1915-17 congressional term. Taking what the Washington Star called “[t]he most important single step” toward passing a new organic law for Puerto Rico, Unionistas in 1915 moderated their calls for independence, stressing that home rule was their immediate goal. Governor of Puerto Rico Arthur Yager worked concurrently to build political support for a bill like that which had failed in 1914, and by the end of the year had “got it included in the Message of the President to Congress.” In late December Yager traveled to Washington to work with Congressmen to formulate proposed legislation, and on January 25, 1916, Chairman of the House Committee on Insular Affairs William Jones introduced a bill that Yager supported. Its provisions were familiar. It proposed to collectively naturalize all Puerto Ricans who did not take affirmative steps to retain their “present political status” and to create a department of agriculture and labor. In lieu of the absolute gubernatorial veto previously proposed, the governor would get a qualified veto backed up, in cases of legislative override, by an absolute presidential veto. The island legislature was to be wholly elective and literacy and taxpaying requirements would apply to all voters. As in years past, all sides focused on the citizenship provision of the bill and compared U.S.-Puerto Rican relations to

events during the U.S. Revolution, Spanish imperialism, and Reconstruction. But, in light of the recent island-wide strikes, shifting understandings of the relationships between the status of people and place in the U.S. constitutional system, and World War I, the parties

altered their arguments and in some cases their stands.328

But in failing to win concrete proscriptions on the state actions to which he objected he made less progress toward that “instrumental” goal. Ibid. (observing that in other circumstances activists have initially focused on instrumental goals and only subsequently turned to cultural ones).

328 “Porto Ricans Hope for U.S. Citizenship” (quote 1); Beckwith trans., Copy, Interview with the

 

In January 1916 the Senate Committee on the Philippine Islands and Porto Rico and the House Committee on Insular Affairs opened hearings on similar versions of Jones’s bill. In testimony to the committees, Yager supported an elected island legislature to be tempered with what he elsewhere termed “certain reasonable restrictions on the ballot.” In a nod to growing separatist sentiment among Puerto Ricans, Yager described them as “a homogenous race, with a civilization running back . . . to the Middle Ages,” and with distinct linguistic, literary, intellectual, and religious traditions. “[W]hen we attempt to apply to it an American background,” he contended, “we make a mistake.” Yager also now sought collective naturalization of Puerto Ricans as a means to shore up U.S. colonial rule. In line with Frankfurter’s 1914 memo, Yager depicted a U.S. citizenship that bore no necessary legal relationship to political rights or any particular status of place. It did “not imply suffrage or statehood” and would not block Congress from giving Puerto Rico “independence.” But it would, Yager contended, mean “that we have determined practically that the American flag will never be lowered in Porto Rico.” Doing so was also good public relations, he argued, because “the masses of the Porto Rican people[] would cheerfully accept citizenship” so long as “some increased participation in their own government” followed. Moreover, he claimed, it was a matter

of U.S. principles. Puerto Ricans merited “citizenship as . . . not a privilege, but a right”

Governor, MD NARA 350/5B/492/3377A-7, original printed at La Democracia, 5 Feb. 1916 (quote 2); House Committee on Insular Affairs, Civil Government for Porto Rico, Report No. 77, 64th Cong., 1st sess., [n.d], available at MD NARA 350/5B/489/3377-243 (quote 3); Congressional Record 53 (1916) [Bills]:1340; “Sobre el sufragio,” La Democracia, 29 Jan. 1916, 4; Mae M. Ngai, Impossible

Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004), 9-25; John Fabian Witt, Patriots & Cosmopolitans: Hidden Histories of American Law (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007), 155-209; David Kennedy, “International Law and the Nineteenth Century: History of an Illusion,” Quinnipiac Law Review 17 (1997-1998): 99-138; Francis Anthony Boyle, Foundations of World Order: The Legalist Approach to International Relations (1898-

1922) (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999), 137-139; Córdova, Resident Commissioner, 123, 135-

136.

 

both because they “permanently” “owe[d] allegiance . . . and [we]re open to all the pains and penalties imposed for their disobedience” and because “[w]e have no place in our Constitution for subjects.”329

When Muñoz and his co-partisan Cayetano Coll y Cuchi appeared before

Congress on behalf of Unionistas in early 1916, they also supported Jones’s bill as a whole, but asked legislators to remove the disfranchisement clause and not impose collective citizenship without eventual statehood. Explaining that “[we] “have been a colony for 400 years, and we do not want to be a colony,” the men observed that two forms of self-government—“statehood or independence”—“appear[ed] at the present time to be very remote measures.” As a result, they did “not take any systematic stand either against or for American citizenship.” “[I]f we are going to stay forever within the union,” “now is the time to grant American citizenship,” they explained, but if Congress may grant independence, naturalization now could later “confront[ Congress] with the very serious problem of unmaking 1,500,000 citizens of the United States.” Moreover, Puerto Ricans, who “have their dignity and self-respect to maintain,” they contended, “will preserve their conception of honor,” and “refuse to accept a citizenship of . . . the second class, which does not permit them to dispose of their own resources . . . nor to send to this Capitol their proportional representation.”330

Weaving arguments concerning the place of Puerto Rico in the Spanish-speaking

Americas with those about U.S. ideals and standing, Muñoz and Coll y Cuchi depicted

329 Beckwith, “Interview” (quote 1); A Civil Government for Porto Rico: Hearings before the Committee on Insular Affairs House of Representatives, 64th Cong., 1st sess., on H. R. 8501 A Bill to Provide a Civil Government for Porto Rico, and for Other Purposes (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office,

1916), 3 (quotes 2-4), 7 (quotes 5, 7-9, 11-13), 11 (quotes 6, 10) [hereinafter 1916 House Hearings], available at MD NARA 350/5B/489/3377-245.

330 1916 Senate Hearings, 55 (quotes 2, 5-7); 1916 House Hearings, 10 (quotes 1, 3-4); Congressional

Record 53 (1916) pt. 8:7470 (5 May 1916 remarks of Resident Commissioner Luis Muñoz of P.R.) (quotes

8-10); see also, e.g., “El Bill Jones es superior a la ley Foraker,” La Democracia, 11 Feb. 1916, 2.

 

U.S. denials of autonomy to Puerto Rico as a regrettable re-enactment of Reconstruction. All Spanish colonies in the Americans, they argued, had eventually gained a “free political life.” Most had come to “figure in the family of nations”; Puerto Rico won a

“complete form of self-government” from Spain. Asserting that Cuba and the Philippines, to whom the United States had respectively given and promised independence, were “not more civilized or wealthier in proportion to their respective areas” than Puerto Rico, the men reminded Congress of what they called “the democratic principles upon which the Republic of the United States has been founded.” Those principles, they contended, had been reaffirmed in response to World War I, with U.S. leaders “from Washington to Wilson” advocating “the ability of small countries to lead an independent life.” Now the men offered Congress imperial-American exceptionalism, the chance to “stand before humanity as the greatest of the great; that which neither Greece nor Rome nor England ever were, a great creator of new nationalities.” U.S. foreign relations were also at stake, they claimed. U.S. actions in Puerto Rico influenced Caribbean nations’ choices between “the influence of the American Government” and “London, Paris, or Berlin.” Yet self- government had not arrived. As the Congressional Record reported, they appealed to Democratic legislators by arguing that this was for “the same sad reason of war and conquest which let loose over the South after the fall of Richmond thousands and thousands of office seekers, hungry for power and authority, and determined to report to their superiors that the rebels of the South were unprepared for self-government. [Laughter.]” The men potentially overreached, however, when they concluded that Puerto Ricans “are the southerners of the twentieth century,” a remark that the Record did not

record occasioning applause or amusement.331

331 1916 House Hearings, 93-96 (quotes 1, 3-5, 7), 10 (quote 4), 98-100; Congressional Record 53 (1916)

 

The fragility of the analogy that Unionistas asked Democrats to draw was evident in the remarks of the notoriously white-supremacist Senator from Mississippi, James Vardaman, and Texas representative James Davis. In a floor speech supporting Jones’s bill, Vardaman described the “misfortune” of bringing “into the body politic” a people he claimed would “never, no, not in a thousand years, understand the genius of our government.” This was especially so, he elaborated, because “I think we have enough of that element in the body politic already to menace the nation with mongrelization.” But given that it was likely “the Porto Ricans are going to be held against their will,” he explained, he was more concerned about federal tyranny: “I am from the South, where for years we had a carpetbag government, and I know from experience how intensely disagreeable that is.” Representative Davis found the competing interpretations harder to reconcile. During committee hearings, he suggested that Puerto Ricans were like “the Tea Party that threw the British tea overboard,” denounced by an empire as “an irresponsible rabble,” but really “the foundation of the greatest republic on earth.” Yager instead compared them to Reconstruction-era blacks, and Davis initially took the hint:

Mr. Davis. . . . We have had that situation with the negroes. I have seen

500 negroes standing in a cabin, all waiting for their sack of flour. . . . Mr. Yager. Don’t you think it was a mistake to give them the ballot? Mr. Davis. I do.

Mr. Miller. [You have] answered the whole argument [with] that reference

to the history of the last 50 years.

  1. p 8:7471-7473 (quotes 2, 8-10) (5 May 1916 remarks of Resident Commissioner Luis Muñoz of P.R.);

1916 Senate Hearings, 58. On independence among former Spanish colonies in the Americas, see J.H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830 (New Haven, Conn.” Yale University Press, 2006), 325-404; Louis A. Pérez, Jr., Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 3d ed., 2006 [1988]).

 

But then during a House floor debate, Davis again reversed course, opposing federal disfranchisement of Puerto Ricans because he saw harm from federal intrusion into local affairs outweighing benefits of disfranchisement:

[Davis]. Every man in Texas has the same right to vote I have. [Miller of Minnesota]. But do they vote?

[Davis]. Black and white, thank God, if they want to. I have to pay $1.50 poll tax before I vote, and that goes into the school fund and helps educate the negro children . . . .

[Miller]. Does not the gentleman think some such property qualification would be proper for Porto Rico or—

[Davis]. We are acting for ourselves down there in Texas, and these

people are not acting for themselves. When they treat themselves that way

I have no objection, not a bit of it. [Applause.]”332

In communications to the American Federation of Labor, its President Samuel Gompers, Congress, and others, labor leader Santiago Iglesias reconceptualized U.S. citizenship and refused to support a bill that included disfranchisement. Unlike seven years earlier, when Iglesias had advocated U.S. citizenship as a way for dependent workers to secure the protection of an ostensibly benevolent administrative state, organized labor now lacked state support in its efforts to secure higher wages and faced official violence, censorship, and delegitimation. In 1916 Yager told the House

332 Congressional Record 54 (1916) pt. 3:2250 (quotes 1-5) (30 Jan. 1917 remarks of Sen. James Vardaman of Miss.), 4170 (quote 11) (24 Feb. 1917 remarks of Rep. James Davis of Tex.); 1916 Senate Hearings (quote 6); 1916 House Hearings (quotes 7-10). On Vardaman, see William F. Holmes, The White Chief: James Kimble Vardaman (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1970); Cal M. Logue and Howard Dorgan, The Oratory of Southern Demagogues (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,

1981).

 

Committee on Insular Affairs that “Federation of Labor . . . leaders . . . seem to be rather neglectful of the real interests of the laborers and inclined to look to their personal interests,” while Iglesias charged that a new set of “conspiracies of the corporation, politicians and local governmental officials” had led to five deaths and violations of expressive rights. Absent the administrative support Iglesias has envisioned, workers had gone on strike, made claims, and joined his organization, the Federación Libre, acting less as wards than as self-assertive political agents. In response, Iglesias now sought to win protection for workers in two ways: by winning elections on behalf of candidates for the Socialist Party that he had recently helped form and by turning distant arms of the state against those on the island. The latter required matching a friendly forum to a

legible claim, and he identified Congress or a congressionally created island Department of Agriculture and Labor as leading candidates.333

U.S. citizenship could advance both aims, and Iglesias evaluated the section of the Jones Bill “granting American citizenship to the Porto Ricans (collectively)” to be its “greatest and most important part.” Most immediately, it would preserve congressional jurisdiction by ensuring continued U.S. sovereignty. As Iglesias had written Gompers in

1914, proponents of independence described U.S. citizenship as “a chain which will tie

[Puerto Rico] forever” to the United States, precisely the result that Iglesias sought. Additionally, Iglesias had told the Commission on Industrial Relations, U.S. citizenship

333 Report of Proceedings of the Thirty-Sixth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor Held at Baltimore, Maryland, November 13 to 25, Inclusive, 1916 (Washington, D.C.: The Law Reporter

Printing Company, 1916) [hereinafter 1916 Federation Report], 166 (Iglesias report) (quote 2), 171-174 (Iglesias report) (citing the source of quote 1 as “Hearings on H. R. 8501, a bill to provide a civil government for Porto Rico and for other purposes. Pages 14 and 15, January 13 and 15, 1916”); Statement Made by Santiago Iglesias, Delegate of Porto Rico to the Convention of the A. F. of L., President of Free Federation of Working Men of Porto Rico, [November 12,] 1914, CDO:2; Córdova, Resident

Commissioner, 133-174; cf. Forbath, Law and Labor, 7 (describing how on the mainland, organized labor

suffered a form of “semioutlawry”).

 

could mean U.S. membership and U.S. laws, including those federal labor protections that Puerto Ricans did not yet enjoy:

Chairman Walsh. You want the same laws applied to the working people of Porto Rico as apply to the people of the United States?

Mr. Iglesias. Yes, sir. That is the best way to make true American citizens.”334

U.S. citizenship was also potentially valuable to Iglesias for claims making. Iglesias utilized a similar strategy based on sovereignty, governance, and American exceptionalism. Asserting that “America stands for an ideal,” he complained that “nearly two decades [after] the American flag [was] raised in Porto Rico,” islanders enjoyed only “a few of the outward forms of American rights and liberty.” Perhaps because some congressmen saw the ostensibly minimal content of U.S. citizenship as an argument in favor of extending it to Puerto Ricans, Iglesias generally did not claim that islanders would exercise new rights as U.S. citizens. He made an exception, however, to oppose disfranchisement, which he no longer accepted in exchange for naturalization. “[R]ecommending granting American citizenship disfranchisement,” he thus asserted, “g[ave] no credit to [the] American nation.” Federation President Samuel Gompers provided a model for more expansive claims based on citizenship when, in a letter concerning strikes in Puerto Rico, he complained to President Wilson that “the action of government agents . . . denied the workers the fundamental rights of free citizens”335

334 Santiago Iglesias to Samuel Gompers, 20 Apr. 1914, CDO:2 (quote 3); 1916 Federation Report, 172-

173 (Iglesias report) (quotes 1-2, 4); Final Report on Industrial Relations, 11091; cf. ibid. 11113 (mainlander serving in island government reporting that a federal 1913 worker’s compensation law does not apply to Puerto Rico).

335 [Santiago Iglesias?] “A Plea for Justice for Porto Rico,” American Federationist 23 (Apr. 1916): 263-

265, available at CDO:2 (quotes 1-3); Santiago Iglesias to H. B. Wilson, 22 Nov. 1916, CDO:2 (quotes 4-

 

With Unionistas, Governor Arthur Yager, Representative William Jones, and President Wilson all behind Jones’s Bill, and with Iglesias primarily objecting to the disfranchisement clause he had previously accepted, the bill’s backers were hopeful. The danger, Yager told Unionista newspaper La Democracia, was apathy and delay. Initially the bill made steady progress. Jones’s committee unanimously recommended it to the House, which then passed it on May 23, 1916. The Senate Committee on the Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico unanimously recommended an amended version to the Senate, and in September both house jointly called for Puerto Rico to delay its scheduled 1916 elections in anticipation of enactment of its new government. On December 5 President Wilson called on Congress to send him the bill. But then, with the final session of the Congress winding down in February 1917, senators like progressive leading light Robert La Follette of Wisconsin objected to the disfranchisement clause in the bill and prevented a vote. Possible U.S. entry into the Great War made passage more urgent. Though the United States could and would draft non-U.S.-citizen Puerto Ricans for the war effort, newly appointed Secretary of War Newton Baker nonetheless told the bill’s main handler in the Senate that “[t]he importance of this bill cannot be overstated. The whole moral dominance of the . . . United States in the American Mediterranean is involved in our treatment of the people of Porto Rico, and these unfortunate delays give . . . illustration for argument as to our neglect of . . . peoples associated with us.” Backers of the bill then

jettisoned the disfranchisement clause, securing a positive Senate vote on February 20.

5); Samuel Gompers to Woodrow Wilson, 29 Apr. 1916, CDO:2 (quoting Gompers’s March 16 letter) (quotes 6-7). On aspirational visions of rights, see Hartog, “Constitution of Aspiration,” 1020-1024. Silbey observes that systematically linking the legal consciousnesses of modestly situated individuals to broad pattersn of legal change has proven elusive. “After Legal Consciousness.” She suggests that the processes by which people’s concepts of law and the law itself change in tandem may be more apparent when we look to institutions—presumably including labor organizations like Iglesias’s Federación—as “middle levels” between individuals and law or the state. Ibid.

 

That change survived the conference between the chambers, with Jones later telling the House, “in my judgment, this bill could not have been passed by this Congress if the House conferees had held out for either a property or an education qualification.” Otherwise the bill remained much as Jones had introduced it. Both houses passed the

reconciled bill, and Wilson signed it into law on March 2.336

336 Newton Baker to John Shafroth, 16 Feb. 1917, MD NARA RG 350/5B/489/3377-327 (quote 1); Congressional Record 54 (1917) pt. 4:4171 (quote 2) (24 Feb. 1917 remarks of Rep. William Jones of Va.); Jones Act, Statutes at Large 39 (1917): 951; Cabranes, “Citizenship and American Empire,” 473-492;

María Eugenia Estades Font, La presencia militar de Estados Unidos en Puerto Rico 1898-1918 (Río Piedras, P.R.: Ediciones Huracán, 1999) 202-214; notes 309-310, 329-330 above and accompanying text; Epilogue below, notes 340-341 and accompanying text (discussing the relationship between U.S. citizenship and the draft). The citizenship provision in the Jones Act read, with certain qualifications, that “all citizens of Porto Rico . . . are hereby declared, and shall be deemed and held to be, citizens of the United States: Provided, That any person hereinbefore described may may retain his present political status

by making a declaration, under oath, of his decision to do so within six months.” Jones Act, Statutes at

Large 39 (1917): 953. On prohibition as a second potential stumbling block for the Jones Act, see Truman

  1. R. Clark, “Prohibition in Puerto Rico, 1917-1933,” Journal of Latin American Studies 28 (Feb. 1995): 77-
  2. 97. On La Follette, see Bernard A. Weisberger, The La Follettes of Wisconsin: Love and Politics in Progressive America (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994); Fred Greenbaum, Robert Marion La Follette (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1975); Carl R. Burgchardt, Robert La Follette Sr.: The Voice of Conscience (New York: Green wood Press, 1992); Robert S. Maxwell, La Follette and the Rise of the Progressives in Wisconsin (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1956).

 

 

CHAPTER 7

EPILOGUE

By 1917, the constitutional crisis that had been latent since the occupation of Puerto Rico was, if not solved, contained. Two decades earlier, many in the United States had argued that the U.S. occupations and potential annexations of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines had brought the nation to a crossroads between adherence to U.S. constitutional norms and emergence as a global imperial power. President William McKinley’s allies had battled self-styled Anti-Imperialists over the merits of a U.S. empire and the scope of the U.S. Constitution. In the two decades that followed, however, many U.S. officials sought to reconcile a constitutional tradition of individual rights, self- government, and legal equality to an imperialism that the prominent attorney Frederic Coudert called, “the domination over men of one order or kind of civilization, by men of

a different and higher civilization.” To do so, they divided big, hard issues into smaller, hopefully more manageable ones. And when some questions remained intractable, they deployed strategic vagueness to delay giving answers.

U.S. constitutional practice and doctrine did not emerge from the endeavor unscathed. Prior to 1898, U.S. citizenship had been intertwined with the legacy of Dred Scott (1857) and its subsequent repudiation by the Reconstruction-era Amendments to the

 

U.S. Constitution. In that case, writing in the shadow of decades of judicial ambiguity concerning the content and distribution of U.S. citizenship, Chief Justice Roger Taney had implied that U.S. citizenship was rich in rights. The Founders could not have intended free blacks to be U.S. citizens, he had argued, because states had long denied them civil and political rights associated with citizenship. Eleven years and a civil war

later, the 14th Amendment had made the contrary interpretation explicit, holding that “All

persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” Throughout the late 19th century, the U.S. Supreme Court had construed the 14th Amendment to mandate U.S. citizenship for all people subject to U.S. jurisdiction and born in lands under U.S. sovereignty. As to the substance of U.S. citizenship, the Court had spoken with two voices. In a series of cases involving specific rights, it had construed the “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” quite narrowly. In Downes v. Bidwell (1901), however, justices treated U.S. citizenship as a sufficiently robust status that the threat of its extension to peoples in the newly acquired territories would impede U.S. expansion. U.S. governance of Puerto Rico and the Philippines after 1917 capped the process of constitutional narrowing, pushing back against what remained of unitary and substantive visions of U.S. citizenship, both

by thinning out the content of the U.S. citizenship granted to Puerto Ricans, and by denying U.S. citizenship altogether to Filipinos. In cases like Rabang v. Boyd (1957), the Supreme Court eventually read the U.S. Constitution to permit the United States to hold millions of Filipinos as U.S. subjects or what Coudert would have called U.S. non-citizen “nationals.” Following Filipino independence, they thus could be and were deemed aliens and deported.337

337 Am. 14, sec. 1, U.S. Const. (quotes); Rabang v. Boyd, 353 U.S. 427 (1957); cases cited in notes 117,

 

Gonzales v. Williams (1904) marked a turning point in this narrowing of the potential of the 14th Amendment as a basis for claims involving U.S. citizenship. Before Gonzales, and notwithstanding the congressional decision to withhold recognition of Puerto Ricans as U.S. citizens in the Foraker Act (1900), it was plausible to expect that the Supreme Court would continue to find all peoples born in U.S. lands under U.S. sovereignty to be U.S. citizens. While justices had expressed concerns about recognizing recently annexed peoples as U.S. citizens in Downes v. Bidwell (1901), those concerns both struck some prominent mainland and island lawyers as answerable and indicated that a Supreme Court decision on Puerto Rican citizenship remained to be made. By

contrast, many legal experts read Gonzales to implicitly endorse the view that colonized peoples like Puerto Ricans and Filipinos were nationals but not citizens of the United

States. After that decision, Resident Commissioner Federico Degetau y González’s view

199 above. For studies of the Dred Scott case that characterize citizenship as a legal category, see Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics (Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 1978); Austin Allen, Origins of the Dred Scott Case: Jacksonian Jurisprudence and the Supreme Court, 1837-1857 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006); see also Sam Erman, “An

‘Unintended Consequence’: Dred Scott Reinterpreted,” review of Origins of the Dred Scott Case, by Allen, Michigan Law Review 106 (2008): 1157-1165; James H. Kettner, The Development of American Citizenship: 1608-1870 (Chapel Hill: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture by The University of North Carolina Press, 1978). Taney had also appeared to presume that U.S. citizenship carried with it substantial rights when he had objected to the possibility that free U.S. blacks would be encompassed by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article 4 of the U.S. Constitution:

It cannot be supposed that [the states] intended to secure to [free blacks] rights, and privileges, and rank, in the new political body throughout the Union, which every one of them denied within the limits of its own dominion. More especially, it cannot be believed that the large slaveholding States regarded them as included in the word citizens, or

would have consented to a Constitution which might compel them to receive them in that character from another State. For if they were so received, and entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens, it would exempt them from the operation of the special laws and from the police regulations which they considered to be necessary for their own safety. It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 416-417 (1857).

 

that courts could be convinced to recognize Puerto Ricans—or Filipinos—as U.S. citizens came to appear increasingly quixotic. Secure in the new conventional wisdom that the Supreme Court would not recognize Filipinos as U.S. citizens absent congressional action, federal lawmakers extended Puerto Ricans but not Filipinos U.S. citizenship in the Jones Act (1917).338

Gonzales is in some ways an unlikely legal landmark, a short opinion and narrow

holding that the Supreme Court has cited only occasionally. That the case nonetheless played a key role in the history of U.S. citizenship illuminates how that history sprawled beyond U.S. courtrooms and formal doctrine. It included claims and decisions by federal administrators, elected U.S. officials, and Puerto Rican leaders and litigants, all of whom characteristically drew creatively upon and thereby transformed prevalent ideologies and metaphors concerning race and empire.

Focusing on these dynamics reveals how Gonzales emerged out of and then shaped struggles in the United States around citizenship, empire, and the constitution. The case began when Isabel Gonzalez, a Puerto Rican seeking to relocate to New York, asserted that she was a U.S. citizen and thereby challenged immigration officials’ authority to deny her entry into the United States. By the time her claim reached the Supreme Court, the top administrator at the Ellis Island immigration station and leading lawyers from the private New York Bar, the federal government, and the Puerto Rican

political class had joined the fight. These advocates related the question of Puerto Ricans’

citizenship to the status and treatment of men, women, children, colonized and indigenous peoples, and ethnic minorities within the U.S., Spanish, French, and British

338 In the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916, the U.S. political branches declined to make residents of the

Philippines into U.S. citizens. Statutes at Large 39 (1916): 545-546.

 

empires. In 1904, the Supreme Court resolved Gonzalez’s claim, finding Puerto Ricans not to be alien to the United States and declining to clarify their U.S. citizenship status. Partly as a result, a new Puerto Rican political coalition secured durable majority status. It deemphasized test cases and focused instead on confronting federal authorities while seeking liberalization of congressional policy toward Puerto Rico. Within the U.S. state, Gonzales marked the transformation of the U.S. citizenship status of Puerto Ricans from a judicial matter to a legislative one. By decoupling Puerto Ricans’ fate from that of Filipinos, whom many in the U.S. state perceived to be truly degraded, the decision also

altered the relationship of Puerto Ricans’ U.S. citizenship status to ideologies of race and empire, to perceived exigencies of imperial governance, and to U.S. constitutional norms.

Though Gonzales and other Insular Cases accorded U.S. officials enormous discretion in governing U.S. nationals in unincorporated territories like Puerto Rico and the Philippines, it was the Cuban model that came to dominate U.S. foreign policy. Rather than place Cuba within and beyond the U.S. nation, as it had Puerto Rico and the Philippines, the United States eventually came to position its interactions with Cuba in the realm of foreign relations, but foreign relations reflecting “ties of singular intimacy.” The United States insisted that it was as a sovereign nation that Cuba had acceded to the Platt Amendment and to the prospect of U.S. intervention. Vis-à-vis the United States, Cubans thus did not have the same access to U.S. courts, officials, or constitutional arguments as Puerto Ricans. Militarily and economically subordinated to the United States, however, Cuba was also not in a position to use its sovereignty to assert itself forcefully in state-to-state dealings with the United States. Through force, threats, economic pressures, political interference, and negotiations, the United States similarly

 

expanded its sphere of influence in the Americas and elsewhere, ensuring that many neighbors there also became second-class sovereigns.339

U.S. citizenship after 1917 provided Puerto Ricans no guarantee that the U.S. government would refrain from colonial rule. It turned out not to be a pathway to territorial incorporation, a guarantee of constitutional rights, or a harbinger of self- government. Ubaldino Ramírez Quiñones learned that it was also not a prerequisite to compulsory U.S. military service. In 1917, he awaited receipt in Puerto Rico of a copy of his dentistry diploma. Without it, he could not qualify to participate in World War I as an officer in the U.S. Dental Reserves Corps. Instead, like all “male citizens, or male

persons not alien enemies who have declared their intention to become citizens” in the United States, Ramírez could be drafted into the general ranks. Hoping to avoid the draft long enough to receive his diploma, Ramírez declined U.S. citizenship. When his diploma subsequently arrived, military superiors announced that he could not join the

Dental Reserve Corps as a non-citizen. The Bureau of Insular Affairs added that he could not rescind his declination of U.S. citizenship.340

Concerned that other islanders might also refuse U.S. citizenship, Governor Arthur Yager asked the War Department to construe the selective-service law to apply equally to Puerto Ricans who became U.S. citizens under the Jones Act and islanders like Ramírez who retained their pre-Jones Act status. Initially, the War Department had

contemplated exempting all Puerto Ricans from the draft. But because the army planned

339 Louis A. Pérez, Jr., Cuba and the United States: Ties of Singular Intimacy (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997). On the relationship between the United States and Cuba and on U.S. relationships with other places along similar lines, see, e.g., sources cited in Chapter 5 above, note 264; Eileen P. Scully, Bargaining with the State from Afar: American Citizenship in Treaty Port China 1844-1942 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).

340 Act of May 18, 1917, Statutes at Large 40 (1917): 78 (quote); Jones Act, Statutes at Large 39 (1917):

953, 968; MD NARA 350/5B/1075/26490-42 to -43; José Trías Monge, Puerto Rico: The Trials of the

Oldest Colony in the World (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997), 79.

 

to shift to a wholly conscripted army, the Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs had objected that the plan would lead the island to “lose the great economic advantage which would come to it” “and to the young men in Porto Rico” “by the putting in the military service, for a period, of some thousands of its citizens.” Instead, the Judge Advocate General of the Army had ruled that Puerto Ricans who declined U.S. citizenship would not thereby become exempt from the draft. Soon afterward, Yager reported that only 288

islanders ultimately had turned down U.S. citizenship.341

José Balzac, a pro-labor journalist, found embracing U.S. citizenship to be equally unavailing. After Balzac criticized Governor of Puerto Rico Arthur Yager in print as a “diabolical incarnation of despotism” in 1918, the Prosecuting Attorney for the District of Arecibo charged Balzac with libel and the District Court of Arecibo—after denying his request to be tried by a jury—convicted him. Claiming a 6th Amendment right to a jury trial, Balzac appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He had reason to be hopeful. In 1901, a plurality of the Court had cited congressional failure to recognize Puerto Ricans explicitly as U.S. citizens as a key consideration when it classified Puerto Rico as an

unincorporated territory where residents enjoyed only fundamental constitutional rights.

By implication, the recognition of citizenship that had come with the Jones Act should

341 Frank McIntyre to Arthur Yager, 2 May 1917, AG/OG/CG/180/Justicia, Ciudadanía, dic. 1917-1918,

1390 (quote); Arthur Yager, Seventeenth Annual Report of the Governor of Porto Rico, in War Department Annual Reports, 1917, vol. 3 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1918), 2. In AG/OG/CG/180/Justicia, Ciudadanía, dic. 1917-1918, 1390, see Geo. Shanton to Governor of Porto Rico,

27 Jul. 1917; Cable, Yager to Secwar, 30 Apr. 1917; Arthur Yager to Frank McIntyre, 3 Oct. 1917; Cable, McIntyre to Yager, 18 Oct. 1917. I have not found evidence that the United States recognized Puerto Ricans as U.S. citizens in order to impose draft eligibility upon them. See José A. Cabranes, “Citizenship and the American Empire: Notes on the Legislative History of the United States Citizenship of Puerto Ricans,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 127 (1978): 405-406 (noting the limited uses to which the United States put Puerto Rican soldiers). On declining U.S. citizenship, see Jones Act, Statutes at Large 39 (1917): 951.

bring full constitutional protections.342

Instead, recognition of Puerto Ricans as U.S. citizens had not occasioned Puerto Rican incorporation but rather acknowledgement of ongoing island non-incorporation. In a unanimous rejection of Balzac’s appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court held that despite being U.S. citizens, residents of Puerto Rico had no constitutional right to trial by jury. Puerto Rico remained unincorporated territory entitled only to “fundamental” constitutional rights, Chief Justice William Taft wrote on behalf of the Court, and those rights did not include trial by jury. Taft thus rejected the claim that congressional extension of U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans had occasioned incorporation of Puerto Rico. He acknowledged that prior Court opinions had looked to the citizenship status of territorial residents in determining whether Congress had incorporated their territories. But those cases, he explained, had examined congressional actions that had taken place at a time when “the distinction between acquisition and incorporation was not regarded as important.” Now that the Insular Cases had changed the constitutional order, he

reasoned, only an “express declaration” of incorporation by Congress—and not mere collective naturalization of territorial residents—would suffice to incorporate territory. In reaching its conclusion in this way, the Court for the first time definitively embraced the doctrine of territorial non-incorporation that Justice Edward White had introduced in his plurality opinion in Downes v. Bidwell in 1901.343

342 Bartholomew H. Sparrow, The Insular Cases and the Emergence of American Empire (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2006), 197 (quote 1), 198-204; Ileana M. Rodríguez-Silva, “A Conspiracy of Silence: Blackness, Class, and National Identities in Post-Emancipation Puerto Rico (1850-1930),” (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 2004), 412; Balzac v. Porto Rico, 258 U.S. 298 (1922); Transcript of Record, Nos. 178-179, Balzac, 1-2.

343 Balzac (quotes); Juan R. Torruella, The Supreme Court and Puerto Rico: The Doctrine of Separate and

Unequal (Río Piedras: University of Puerto Rico, 1985), 184. Soon thereafter, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico held that the bar on sex discrimination in voting prescribed by the U.S. Constitution following ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 had no application in unincorporated Puerto Rico. Am. 19, U.S.

 

In the most glaring ommission, U.S. citizenship also left residents of Puerto Rico without a vote in the U.S. Congress to whose laws they were subject or for the U.S. President who appointed their governor. Consequently, even as the Jones Act opened positions within the Puerto Rican state to some politically connected men of Puerto Rican heritage, it blocked the kinds of elections that might have given voice to anti-colonial sentiments, and kept the appointment power closely tied to Washington. Domingo

Collazo encountered this dynamic when he sought appointment as Treasurer of Puerto Rico in 1917. Drawing on his prior partisan service—which included criticizing Republican imperialism and organizing voters behind Democratic candidates—he won backing for the job from Democratic Senator Kenneth McKellar and Democratic National Committee member Hugh Wallace. His vocal anti-colonial politics, however, were out of step with the U.S. colonial rule in Puerto Rico as Democratic President Woodrow Wilson envisioned it. Unsurprisingly, then, Governor Yager, also a Democrat, did not make Collazo his Treasurer. Afterward, Collazo criticized Yager and sought a

more modest post in the island government, an initiative that Yager moved to scuttle.344

Collazo’s niece, Isabel Gonzalez, continued to criticize U.S. governance of Puerto Rico, even twenty-three years after participating as a litigant in the citizenship case of Gonzales v. Williams (1904). Writing to the New York Times in 1927, Gonzalez attacked the system that the Jones Act had wrought. Drawing on progressive tropes, she characterized Puerto Rican politics in terms of apathetic voters electing corrupt

Const.; María de Fátima Barceló Miller, La lucha del sufragio femenino en Puerto Rico 1896-1935 (Río

Piedras and San Juan, P.R.: Ediciones Huracán, Inc. and Centro de Investigaciones Sociales, 1997), 161-

162, 225.

344 María Eugenia Estades Font, La presencia militar de Estados Unidos en Puerto Rico 1898-1918:

intereses estratégicos y dominación colonial (San Juan, P.R.: Ediciones Huracán, 1998), 220-221. On Collazo, see documents collected at MD NARA 350/21/121/Collazo, Domingo (especially documents dated 1916-1920); Jones Act, Statutes at Large 39 (1917): 951.

 

legislators, an ineffective and politically appointed governor, and a lack of expert governance. Though she had worked in a factory at least during her early years in the United States, Gonzalez now aligned herself with landowners and investors. Those “who took the trouble to go to the polls,” she wrote, had elected “politicians intoxicated with their own verbosity” who implemented policies of over-borrowing, over-spending, and over-taxing. Claiming that these politicians’ actions “cannot but lead to final disaster, though to their personal profit,” Gonzalez also criticized presidentially appointed Governor Horace Towner as “either too weak or too condescending with the politicians to tell them that unscientific running of Government undermines credit and frightens capital.” Because Towner “is utterly unable to stem the tide of radicalism which is now holding Porto Rico under its irresponsible sway” and became “anarchy is there which [Towner] cannot control,” she added, “a war of classes” was imminent. Under the

existing system, she implied, only presidential intervention would “bring back conditions to their original standing under the flag of the United States.”345

Senator Elihu Root, who had opposed the substantive citizenship for Puerto Ricans that Gonzalez had sought, now joined her in disparaging the results of the Jones Act, which had extended to islanders a formal U.S. citizenship without concomitant self- government. He wrote:

Citizenship in a democracy means something more than a decorative title. It means the right to share in government. What Porto Rico needs and really wants is not to take part in the government of the United States, but

to be protected in governing herself. . . . Her people cannot really be

345 Isabel Gonzalez, “Porto Rico’s Plight,” New York Times, 21 May 1927, 18 (quotes); Estades Font, La presencia militar, 220-221.

 

citizens of the United States, and, calling them so only delays the real liberty Porto Rico should have.346

Yet in defending a robust vision of citizenship as political participation and of Puerto Ricans as wholly excluded from U.S. governance, Root overstated his case. U.S. citizenship brought voting rights to many otherwise qualified Puerto Ricans resident on the mainland. It also ensured their freedom of movement within U.S. borders. Though Gonzales v. Williams (1904) held that U.S. immigration officials could not prevent Puerto Ricans’ migration to the mainland by labeling them aliens, it did not address

congressional power to exclude people who were neither aliens nor U.S. citizens. In

1934, Congress enacted the Philippine Independence Act, which both promised that archipelago eventual sovereignty and capped immigration from there by “citizens of the Philippine Islands who are not citizens of the United States” at fifty persons per year. As U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans remained exempt from such immigration rules, and in the years after World War II they migrated by the hundreds of thousands to the U.S. mainland. Today, more than four million U.S. citizens resident on the mainland self- identify as Puerto Rican.347

346 Elihu Root to Mrs. H. Fairfield Osborn, 24 Dec. 1917, in Philip C. Jessup, Elihu Root, vol. 2 (New

York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1938), 397.

347 Philippine Independence Act of 1934, Statutes at Large 48 (1934): 456, 462 (sec. 6) (quote); Veta Schlimgen, “Intermediate Citizens: ‘American Nationals,’ Filipino Americans, and U.S. Imperialism” (presented at the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, Seattle, Wash., 27-28 Mar. 1909); Rabang, 353 U.S. at 432-433 (confirming congressional power to (1) treat non-citizen U.S. national Filipinos like foreigners for immigration purposes prior to Filipino independence; and (2) to deport such Filipinos as aliens subsequent to Filipino independence); Paul v. Virginia, 75 U.S. 168, 180 (1869)

(explaining that the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article 4 of the U.S. Constitution guarantees U.S.

citizens “the right of free ingress into other States”); César J. Ayala and Rafael Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the

American Century: A History since 1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 179-182,

194-197; U.S. Census Bureau, 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, B03001. Hispanic or Latino Origin by Specific Origin – Universe: Total Population, available athttp://factfinder.census.gov. On identity papers testifying to the U.S. citizenship of Puerto Ricans, see Arcadio Santiago to Commissioner for Porto Rico in Washington, 19 Mar. 1919, AG/OG/CG/180/Justicia, Ciudadanía, 1919-1921, Exp. 1390, and surrounding correspondence; Archives of the Puerto Rican Migration, Identification and

 

Other legacies of the formalization of colonial disabilities persist. Puerto Rico remains an unincorporated territory with no clear indication of an end in sight to that odd status. The Insular Cases are still largely binding precedents, albeit vague and widely criticized ones. More than a century after introducing the principle that only “fundamental” constitutional rights apply to unincorporated U.S. territories, the Court has provided just piecemeal guidance concerning which rights qualify as “fundamental,” and on what grounds. And as in 1898, many in Puerto Rico draw on competing conceptions

of citizenship to struggle over the meanings of self-determination. The troubled legacies

of 1898, whether in San Juan, Havana, Washington, or Guantánamo, remain with us.348

Documentation Program, Applications for Certificate of Identification, boxes 1-5. On Puerto Rican voting rights in U.S. areas outside of Puerto Rico following passage of the Jones Act, see documents collected at MD NARA 350/5B/1075/26490-35 to -36 and the following from BCSPCEPHC X/21/1: “Porto Ricans Here Not Entitled to Vote in Territory,” Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 2 May 1917, 7; “Porto Rican Held American Citizen,” Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 23 Oct. 1917, 7.

348 Christina Duffy Burnett, “Untied States: American Expansion and Territorial Deannexation,” University of Chicago Law Review 72 (summer 2006): 797-879; Sparrow, The Insular Cases, 216, 220-225; Efrén Rivera Ramos, The Legal Construction of Identity: The Judicial and Social Legacy of American Colonialism in Puerto Rico (Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2001), 13; Raymond Carr, Puerto Rico: A Colonial Experiment (New York: New York University Press, 1984); Marco A.

Rigau, “El derecho a la ciudadanía y la ciudadanía Americana de los puertorriqueños. Afroyim v. Rusk,”

Revista Juridica de la Universidad de Puerto Rico 37 (1967): 817-830; Gary Lawson and Robert D. Sloane, “The Constitutionality of Decolonization: Puerto Rico’s Domestic and International Legal Status,” Boston College Law Review 50 (Sep. 2009): 1123-1193; John L.A. de Passalacqua, “Voluntary Renunciation of United States Citizenship by Puerto Rican Nationals,” Revista Jurídica Universidad de Puerto Rico 66 (1997): 269-304; Sanford Levinson, “Why the Canon Should Be Expanded to Include the Insular Cases and the Saga of American Expansionism,” Constitutional Commentary 17 (summer 2000):

241-266.

 

 

APPENDIX

Recurring Historical Actors

Charles Allen: Governor of Puerto Rico (1900-1901).

José Celso Barbosa: Leader of the Republicanos.

Henry Billings Brown: U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1891-1906).

William Jennings Bryan: Democratic candidate for President (1896, 1900, 1908). Domingo Collazo: New York-based Puerto Rican activist. Uncle of Isabel Gonzalez. George Colton: Governor of Puerto Rico (1909-1913).

Henry Cooper: Republican Representative from Ohio (1893-1919). Chairman, House

Committee on Insular Affairs (1899-1909).

Frederic Coudert: Attorney at the Coudert Brothers law firm.

Herminia Dávila: Wife of Domingo Collazo. Aunt of Isabel Gonzalez.

George Davis: U.S. military governor of Puerto Rico (1899-1900).

Federico Degetau y González: U.S. Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico (1900-

1905). Member of the Partido Republicano.

Chauncey Depew: Republican Senator from New York (1899-1910).

Jacob Dickinson: U.S. Secretary of War (1909-1911).

 

Clarence Edwards: Chief of the Division of Customs and Insular Affairs (later renamed Division of Insular Affairs and then Bureau of Insular Affairs) in the War Department (1900-1912).

Mateo Fajardo: Republicano nominee for Resident Commissioner (1904).

Joseph Foraker: Republican Senator from Ohio (1897-1909).

Jean des Garennes: Acquaintance and co-counsel of Federico Degetau. French Embassy counsel.

Lindley Garrison: Secretary of War (1913-16).

Samuel Gompers: President of the American Federation of Labor.

Isabel Gonzalez: Plaintiff in Gonzales v. Williams (1904). Niece of Domingo Collazo.

Luis Gonzalez: Brother of Isabel Gonzalez.

John Griggs: U.S. Attorney General (1898-1901).

Guy Henry: U.S. military governor of Puerto Rico (1898-99).

Henry Hoyt: U.S. Solicitor General (1903-1909).

William Hunt: Secretary of Puerto Rico (1900-1901). Governor of Puerto Rico (1901-

1904).

Santiago Iglesias Pantín: Puerto Rican labor leader.

Tulio Larrinaga: U.S. Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico (1905-1913). Member of the Partido Unionista.

Charles Magoon: Law Officer for the Division of Customs and Insular Affairs (renamed Division of Insular Affairs and then Bureau of Insular Affairs) in the War Department (189[9?]-1904). U.S. Military Governor of Cuba (1906-1909).

José Martí: Leader of Cuban Revolutionary Party (1892-95).

 

Frank McIntyre: Chief of Bureau of Insular Affairs in the War Department (1912-1929).

Nelson Miles: U.S. general who led the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico.

Luis Muñoz Rivera: U.S. Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico (1913-16). Member of House of Delegates (1907-1913). Leader of the Partido Federal (1899-1904) and the Partido Unionista (1904-1916).

Orrel Parker: Lawyer for Isabel Gonzalez.

Regis Post: Secretary of Puerto Rico (1904-1907). Governor of Puerto Rico (1907-1909).

Juan Rodríguez: Litigant in Rodriguez v. Bowyer (1905).

Theodore Roosevelt: U.S. President (1901-1909).

Elihu Root: U.S. Secretary of War (1899-1904). U.S. Secretary of State (1905-1909).

Republican Senator from New York (1909-1915).

Manuel Rossy: Republicano political leader. Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of

Delegates (1900-1904).

William Howard Taft: U.S. President (1909-1913).

Edward White: Democratic Senator from Louisiana (1891-94). U.S. Supreme Court

Justice (1894-1921). Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1910-1921). William Williams: Commissioner of Immigration at Ellis Island (1902-1905, 1909-1913). Woodrow Wilson: U.S. President (1913-1921).

Beekman Winthrop: Governor of Puerto Rico (1904-1907).

Arthur Yager: Governor of Puerto Rico (1913-1921).

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Archives and Repositories†

Archives of the Puerto Rican Migration, Identification and Documentation Program and

Blase Camacho Souza Papers. Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños. N.Y. Archivo General de Puerto Rico. San Juan, P.R.

Colección Angel M. Mergal. Centro de Investigaciones Históricas. Río Piedras, P.R. El Centro de Documentación Obrera Santiago Iglesias Pantín. Humacao, P.R.

Ellis Island Archives. New York, N.Y. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.

National Archives and Records Administration. Branches in College Park, Md.; New

York; and Washington, D.C.

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Newspapers and Periodicals

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El Globo of Spain.

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† For abbreviations used in footnotes, see Abbreviations above.

 

El Aguíla of P.R.

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La Correspondencia of P.R.

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65th Cong. Washington, D.C.: [Government Printing Office], 1919.

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Annual Report of the Governor of Porto Rico for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30[,] 1907.

Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1907.

Annual Reports of the War Department for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1898: Report of the Secretary of War. Miscellaneous Reports. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1898.

* Available from the Proquest Historical Newspapers online database.

 

Annual Reports of the War Department for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1899. Report of the Secretary of War. Miscellaneous Reports. Vol. 1, pt. 1. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1899.

Annual Reports of the War Department for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1899.

Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1900.

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