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American History Moment
On July 25, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, U.S. forces launched an invasion of Puerto Rico. The 108-mile long, 40-mile wide island was one of Spain’s two principal possessions in the Caribbean. By mid-August the U.S. troops under the command of General Nelson A. Miles were able to secure the island with little resistance. After an armistice was signed with Spain, the American troops raised the U.S. flag over the island, officially establishing authority over its one million inhabitants. The Treaty of Paris, signed in December, ended the Spanish-American War and officially approved Puerto Rico as a possession of the United States. For several years, an effort was made by the U.S. to Americanize the residents of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans were officially granted full U.S. citizenship in 1917 and a measure was considered that would establish English as the official language. A movement by Puerto Rican nationalists brought a halt to further assimilation efforts. Beginning in 1948, Puerto Ricans could elect their own governor, and in 1952 the U.S. Congress approved a new Puerto Rican constitution that made the island an autonomous U.S. commonwealth, with its citizens retaining their U.S. citizenship. The constitution was formally adopted on July 25, 1952, the 54th anniversary of the U.S. invasion. Although there have been movements with support for Puerto Rican statehood and independence, popular referendums in 1967 and 1993 demonstrated that the majority of Puerto Ricans still supported their special status as a U.S. commonwealth.
Correction: The July 9 article on the death of President Zachary Taylor should have read that Taylor died “after only 16 months in office” instead of 16 days. The writer apologizes for the error.
From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution