Built on an island in the middle of a shallow lake, its population numbered perhaps ,, with another , people in the urban network clustered around the lake shores. Drawing on period representations of the city in sculptures, texts, and maps, The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City builds a convincing case that this global capital remained, through the sixteenth century, very much an Amerindian city.
Barbara E. She demonstrates that the Aztec ruling elites, who retained power even after the conquest, were instrumental in building and then rebuilding the city. Mundy shows how the Nahua entered into mutually advantageous alliances with the Franciscans to maintain the city's sacred nodes. All of it blazes in flames of beauty, and renews itself like a phoenix. Built on an island in the middle of a shallow lake, its population numbered perhaps , It was the hub of an urban network clustered around the lake whose total population was perhaps half a million, as well as the cynosure of an indigenous empire that held power over much of central Mexico figure 1.
The collective size of these lakeshore cities exceeded European contemporaries: in the early sixteenth century, Paris had about , residents, Naples about ,, Seville and Rome, 55, each, and that of the latter would ebb to about 25, following the Sack of In , the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan died. In , Mexico City was born, and it lives today. In this strange and admirable kingdom of the Indies, they slew a countless number of people and burned alive many great chiefs. Later when the Spaniards had inflicted extraordinary abominations on the city of Mexico [i.
Taking on the form of an eagle, he flew to a perch on top of a nopal cactus where the exhausted and harried tribe was resting, on a rocky outcrop in the center of the great lake of Tetzcoco.
Bernardino de Sahagún - Wikipedia
These leaders founded their island city on this spot and gave it the name Tenochtitlan, a name drawn from the topography of the site of this miraculous event. Thus the name is not just a descriptive toponym but the location where Huitzilopochtli, a powerful warrior deity, chose Tenochtitlan as the island home for the Mexica, confirming their sense of themselves as his chosen people. But this name, central to the history of the Mexica city from its foundation, was erased by the name of the city that was founded upon it after its conquest in — The city Balbuena wrote about seemed to have little connection to its Aztec forebear.
It stood at the pivot of a new, now global, empire.
It was home to the viceroy of New Spain, second only in power to the Habsburg king himself, and was the hub of a vast trading network that threaded out to ports in Antwerp and Seville and reached as far as China. Because of these networks, Chinese merchants would pay their debts with silver coins minted in Bolivia, natives in the Valley of Mexico would plant grafted peaches from Spain, and courtiers in Nuremberg would decorate their salons with Japanese folding screens.
A painting created at the end of the seventeenth century captures, in both form and format, the early global empire that Balbuena had known some two or three generations earlier figure 1. This work is a biombo , a Japaneseinspired folding screen popular among painters and their patrons in Mexico City, who encountered such Asian works firsthand because of the brisk transpacific traffic of goods on the Spanish fleet known as the Manila galleon. It is an eight-paneled work perhaps two central panels are missing, which would originally have made a screen of ten panels , and the five panels on the right show us the eastern side of the Plaza Mayor with the palace where the viceroy lived as its backdrop, one of the many such nodes of royal power across the empire.
Its architecture was comparable to other Habsburg seats built in the seventeenth century, a reminder of the centralizing pull that Spain exerted on its far-flung domains. A carriage approaches the door of the palace, as black-garbed courtiers watch from second-story windows at the approach of the viceroy; golden clouds, inspired by Japanese works, float lazily over the surface of the scene. The death of Tenochtitlan and, with it, the destruction of the Aztec world has been an enduring topos of both New World and urban history.
The brutal war of conquest of — included a crippling siege led by Spanish forces on the island city, and after the Mexica emperor Cuauhtemoc surrendered, he ordered an evacuation. Its death was confirmed when a new city, this one called Mexico City, was founded within the island space it once occupied. But while Tenochtitlan as an indigenous imperial capital certainly came to an end with its conquest, the death of Tenochtitlan as an indigenous city is a myth. This book will argue that while the Conquest changed an indigenous New World capital, and it was remade into the hub of the global empire of the Habsburg kings in the sixteenth century, it did not destroy indigenous Tenochtitlan, either as an ideal, as a built environment, or as an indigenous population center.
Instead, indigenous Tenochtitlan lived on. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, Balbuena would liken the city to a phoenix, a mythical bird in Ovid that was believed to die in fire and then be miraculously reborn from the ashes. But just as many other certainties pixilate upon close view, the notion of the death of Tenochtitlan with the Conquest did too when I began to read historical narratives and look at images of this great city.
It was not just that the sharp edges of historical facts death and birth tend to blur when one sees the competing and conflicting accounts that comprise them. Instead, the very idea of rebirth seemed to be founded on an even more fundamental ontological error. Can cities die?
The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City
This is the idea of the city as a body, a politically constituted one, at whose head are its leaders, whose capitulation or decapitation brings the death of the whole. In a European context, such a notion of the city corresponds to emergent early-modern ideas of the state, where the political nation was closely identified with the body of the king. The annealing of the figure of the ruler to the city of Tenochtitlan is clear from the opening image of the Codex Mendoza. These artists worked in tandem with Spanish-language scribes to translate the visual information into alphabetic form; thus their images are accompanied by explanatory texts written in Spanish.
Folio 2r is one of the two pages of the book that are dominated by a single image, and so are visually distinctive within the larger volume figure 1. Its Mexica creators, who could draw on a long tradition of indigenous bookmaking wherein one could find important full-page statements like this one, were likely to have also been influenced by the illustrated frontispieces of printed European books that had been imported into the country.
These too offered visual introductions to the content that followed. Thus the Mendoza folio 2r serves as both an introductory statement and an opening scene, a painted preamble to the history on the pages that follow. It shows in simplified graphic form the city of Tenochtitlan, not as the full-grown city of ca. It is a simple settlement, a small island surrounded by a rectangular band of blue water, with canals dividing the space of the nascent city into four triangular plots. Rudimentary architecture is included: a little green thatched-roof hut is at top, while a skull-rack tzompantli , where a skull is pinioned at center right, shows the residue of ritual sacrifice.
The early city is unlikely to have had such an ordered appearance; instead, the artists employed the quadripartite scheme because it was conceptually and aesthetically important within the larger world of Nahuatl speakers, whom modern scholars call the Nahua. They held that quadripartite arrangements in politics and architectural design, as well as urban spaces, were conducive to harmony in those entire arenas. Here the eagle of Huitzilopochtli is seen alighting on the nopal cactus to tell his people to found their city on that spot.
In the quadrants, the ten tribal leaders of the Mexica cluster, each marked with a pictographic or hieroglyphic name written in the iconic script developed in the preHispanic period. The black-faced figure at the center left is named with a hieroglyph whose central component is the nopal cactus. Together, these hieroglyphs for te and noch yield the name of Tenoch, the tribal leader and priest who was the leader of the ethnic chiefs shown here as city founders. As such, Tenoch would lend his name to the city itself. The name of Tenoch, the tribal leader, is one with the emergent city.
His reign is also set into a near-ideal cycle of time. The brilliant band of turquoise years introduces another point: that the writer of this history has chosen to divide the continuous and seamless flow of time into even units of solar years and then to group those years irregularly, according to the lifespan of a seated ruler. Such division enables the imposition of a particular narrative shape and limit to the potentially infinite number of events a history could include.
Folio 15v is the first of three pages to document the reign of Moteuczoma II r. This page is like the other pages that chronicle these rulers in format and information: the figure of the ruler, contained within the general grid-like schema of the page, is seen at the middle left. He is distinguished by seat and crown, and a glyph for his name is attached to his head. In this case, the leftmost band of the page gives us the count of the first sixteen years of his reign, the bright blue year symbols corresponding in the Gregorian calendar to — ce.
In front of Moteuczoma is a round shield decorated with seven tufts of eagle down, with four spears visible behind it, a symbol of his prowess as a warrior. Each one of them is attached on the left to a place-name that identifies it as a distinct city or town, once independent but now being brought under the sway of Tenochtitlan and its ruling lords.
On this page as on others previous, the death of a ruler is marked by the cessation of the year symbols. It hardly needs saying how much the narrative structure and scale chosen by the historian determine our understanding of past events, what moment is chosen as a beginning and what is chosen as its close. This part of the Codex Mendoza, which begins with the founding of Tenochtitlan by Tenoch in and ends with the death of Moteuczoma, offers a neat historical package of 16 folios and years, and fuses the history of the city with the lifespans of it rulers.
Given the close alliance the Codex Mendoza forges between Tenochtitlan and its Mexica rulers, it would appear, from a Mexica perspective, that with the death of a monarch and the shutting down of the ruling line, the city and empire of which he was the embodiment would die with him. Or so it would seem. Because if we turn to the bottom of the neat band of turquoise years on this page, we see a prevarication, an uncertainty on the part of its artists about this tidy narrative linkage between city and political leadership promoted by the official history figure 1. The scribes creating this manuscript were living in Mexico City, the city whose history the book laid out, around They well knew of the death of Moteuczoma in But they also knew, firsthand, that the city it purported to chronicle had not ended, given that they had likely been born in it and walked its streets daily.
If indeed this history of the city and its empire was fully embodied by rulers, then there should have been no uncertainty about its end with the death of Moteuczoma in , and with the cessation of an indigenous ruling line. But if this is the history of an empire as embodied by its principal city, irrespective of the political class, then the scribes themselves seem to be grappling with a version of our ontological question: if the history of the city is not simply the history of its political elites, contingent upon their being seated in power, but instead is something else, perhaps the history of the Mexica as a people, then can it so neatly end?
The Codex Aubin, named after a nineteenth-century owner of the manuscript, offers an annals history of Tenochtitlan and Mexico City. Like the Codex Mendoza, the backbone of this history is a count of the years, but its text is written in Nahuatl, rather than in Spanish. This native-language text that was written between and does not insist that the history of the city is absolutely coincident with that of its rulers; instead, its writers were keenly attuned to the experiences of the urban populace: its images and text chronicle the famines, the plagues, the consecration of new buildings, the building of new waterworks.
Opening the book to pages 44v—45r reveals 2 Flint and 3 House, the same years that Codex Mendoza folio 15v shows us ambiguously as the years of the death of Moteuczoma figure 1. In the Codex Aubin, however, the even count of the years has not been ruptured by the Conquest. Instead, these years are followed by 4 Rabbit, 5 Reed, 6 Flint, 7 House, and so on in the following folios. The writer or writers of the Codex Aubin has unwittingly pointed us to the origin of our ontological error. They show in a work like the Codex Aubin that the city is not embodied by its ruler and thus cannot simply arrive at a mortal end, no matter how much the Mexica rulers themselves would have liked to convince their people of this point.
In other words, cities endured. So how should we think of the city? If we turn to an early page of the Codex Aubin, which offers a history of the city seen from the bottom up, unlike its top-down counterpart, the Codex Mendoza, and look at the page that marks the beginning of a new fifty-two-year period in the year 2 Reed, the glyph in the upper right, we see one way the Mexica thought of cities figure 1. Here, we see the green bell-shaped hill tepetl , and streaming from it is a flow of blue water atl ; at the top is the grasshopper chapolin that serves as a logograph for the place named Chapultepec, where the Mexica once lived.
And below is a shield and club, the necessary instruments for Mexica expansion. Such identification helped clarify the rules of the political life of central Mexico, particularly in the conquest state that the Mexica led. The death or capitulation of the ruler meant the defeat of the altepetl , which would then be required to pay tribute to conquering overlords. So how can we account for the city in a way that takes into account these sometimes competing, sometimes complementary vantages—the city as a political domain and the city as an ethnic community, bound by descent from a common ancestor?
It is useful to remember that, in addition to the ways its historians described it in political or ethnic terms, the city of Tenochtitlan was also a space, and a very unusual geographic one at that, an island set in a shallow, salty inland sea, connected to the surrounding lakeshore by causeways. And while rulers can die, spaces cannot. And while ethnic communities are conquered or ravaged by disease, spaces endure. Shifting our focus to the city as a space allows us a critical vantage onto this city that will be productive on a number of fronts.
First, treating the space of Tenochtitlan and Mexico City will allow us a temporal continuity that is denied us if we imagine the city as simply the political domain of a ruling class: by these lights, Tenochtitlan—ruled by an indigenous tlatoani — did die, and Mexico City—ruled by a Spanish town council— was born. Secondly, as an interpretive category, space has the capacity to contain both of these culturally specific political ideologies of the city, the Nahua altepetl and the Spanish ciudad , just as the spatial expanse of the island contained them both after the Conquest.
Moreover, approaching the city, which is a geographic space, as a socially created product allows us entry into some of its complications. For the ancient city had its own spatial practice: it forged its own—appropriated—space. Whence the need for a study of that space which is able to apprehend it as such, in its genesis and its form, with its own specific time or times the rhythm of daily life , and its particular centres and polycentrism agora, temple, stadium, etc. His elevation transfigures him into a voyeur.
In contrast to the city as representation or mental image is the city as experienced by a walker on its streets. The networks of these moving, intersecting writings compose a manifold story that has neither author nor spectator, shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alterations of spaces: in relation to representations, it remains daily and indefinitely other. In Manhattan, close to where I write now, one need only walk down 43rd Street near Times Square to see the dichotomy in action.
To him, the former draws on a wide body of precedents. A fixed sphere within a finite space, diametrically bisected by the surface of the Earth; below this surface, the fires of Hell. Together this triad will be invaluable to us in looking at Tenochtitlan and Mexico City. Free land was offered to those who wanted to populate the islands on the condition that they swear their loyalty to the Spanish Crown and allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church.
The first years of the 20th century were marked by the struggle to obtain greater democratic rights from the United States. However, the political status of Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth controlled by the United States remains an anomaly. The settlement of Puerto Rico began with the establishment of the Ortoiroid culture from the Orinoco region in South America. Some scholars suggest that their settlement dates back years. Between the seventh and 11th centuries, the Arawak are thought to have settled the island. They called it "Borinquen", "the great land of the valiant and noble Lord".
Their culture, however, remains part of that of contemporary Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was the historic first gateway to the discovery of Florida, which opened the door to the settlement of the southeastern United States. They introduced Christianity, cattle, horses, sheep, the Spanish language and more to the land Florida that later became the United States of America. This settlement occurred years before the Pilgrims landed. The Spanish settlers established the first repartimiento system, under which natives were distributed to Spanish officials to be used as slave labor.
On December 27, , under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church , Ferdinand II of Aragon issued the Burgos' Laws , which modified the repartimiento into a system called encomiendas , aimed at ending the exploitation. The laws prohibited the use of any form of punishment toward the indigenous people, regulated their work hours, pay, hygiene, and care, and ordered them to be catechized.
After drowning Salcedo, they kept watch over his body for three days to confirm his death. The Roman Catholic Church of chappel, realizing the opportunity to expand its influence, also participated in colonizing the island. On September 26, , before his arrival on the island, the first school of advanced studies was established by the bishop. Puerto Rico would also become the first ecclesiastical headquarters in the New World during the reign of Pope Leo X and the general headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition in the New World. As part of the colonization process, African slaves were brought to the island in The Caribs, a raiding tribe of the Caribbean, attacked Spanish settlements along the banks of the Daguao and Macao rivers in and again in but each time they were repelled by Spanish firepower.
However, these would not be the last attempts at control of Puerto Rico. The European powers quickly realized the potential of the newly discovered lands and attempted to gain control of them. The school was established by Bishop Alonso Manso in , in the area where the Cathedral of San Juan was to be constructed. The school was free of charge and the courses taught were Latin language, literature, history, science, art, philosophy, and theology.
Sparked by the possibility of immense wealth, many European powers made attempts to wrest control of the Americas from Spain in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Success in invasion varied, and ultimately all Spanish opponents failed to maintain permanent control of the island. The only settlement that remained was the capital, San Juan. Spain, determined to defend its possession, began the fortification of the inlet of San Juan in the early 16th century.
In , construction of the first fortifications began with La Fortaleza the Fortress near the entrance to San Juan Bay. Knowing Drake had failed to overcome the city's defenses by sea, on June 15, , the Royal Navy , led by George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland , landed troops from 21 ships to the east in Santurce. Clifford and his men met Spanish resistance while attempting to cross the San Antonio bridge from an area known today as Condado into the islet of San Juan. Nonetheless, the English conquered the island and held it for several months. They were forced to abandon the island owing to an outbreak of dysentery among the troops.
The following year Spain sent soldiers, cannons, and a new governor, Alonso de Mercado , to rebuild the city of San Juan. The 17th and 18th centuries saw more attacks on the island. In , the English assaulted the town of Arecibo, located on the north coast, west of San Juan, with no success. In , the French and Spanish declared war on the United Kingdom. The British attempted again to conquer the island, attacking San Juan with an invasion force of 7, troops and an armada consisting of 64 warships  under the command of General Ralph Abercromby.
Amidst the constant attacks, the first threads of Puerto Rican society emerged. A census conducted by Lt. General Alejandro O'Reilly showed a total population of 44,, of which 5, Louis and Mobile. The 19th century brought many changes to Puerto Rico, both political and social. While still swearing allegiance to the king, the Supreme Central Junta invited voting representatives from the colonies. On August 10, , the Royal Decree of Grace was issued, allowing foreigners to enter Puerto Rico including French refugees from Hispaniola , and opening the port to trade with nations other than Spain.
This was the beginning of agriculture-based economic growth, with sugar, tobacco, and coffee being the main products. The Decree also gave free land to anyone who swore their loyalty to the Spanish Crown and their allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. Thousands of families from all regions of Spain particularly Asturias, Catalonia, Majorca and Galicia , Germany , Corsica , Ireland , France , Portugal, the Canary Islands and other locations, escaping from harsh economic times in Europe and lured by the offer of free land, soon immigrated to Puerto Rico.
The integration of immigrants into the Puerto Rican culture and other events changed Puerto Rican society. The academy licensed primary school teachers, formulated school methods, and held literary contests that promoted the intellectual and literary progress of the island. In , Samuel Morse introduced wired communication to Latin America when he established a telegraph system in Puerto Rico.
Morse, who often spent his winters at the Hacienda with his daughter and son-in-law, who lived and owned the Hacienda Henriqueta, set a two-mile telegraph line connecting his son-in-law's hacienda to their house in Arroyo. The line was inaugurated on March 1, , in a ceremony flanked by the Spanish and American flags. Puerto Rico, beautiful jewel! When you are linked with the other jewels of the Antilles in the necklace of the world's telegraph, yours will not shine less brilliantly in the crown of your Queen!
Minor slave revolts had occurred in the island during this period, However the revolt planned and organized by Marcos Xiorro in , was the most important of them all. Even though the conspiracy was unsuccessful, he achieved legendary status among the slaves and is part of Puerto Rico's folklore. The last half of the 19th century was marked by the Puerto Rican struggle for sovereignty.
Of these, , Furthermore, Spain had begun to exile or jail any person who called for liberal reforms. On September 23, , hundreds of men and women in the town of Lares —stricken by poverty and politically estranged from Spain—revolted against Spanish rule, seeking Puerto Rican independence.
The uprising, although significant, was quickly controlled by Spanish authorities. Following the Grito de Lares revolt, political and social reforms occurred toward the end of the 19th century. In , the first political organizations on the island were formed as two factions emerged. In , Antonio Mattei Lluberas and the local leaders of the independence movement of the town of Yauco, organized another uprising, which became known as the " Intentona de Yauco ". This was the first time that the current Puerto Rican flag was unfurled in Puerto Rican soil.
The local conservative political factions, which believed that such an attempt would be a threat to their struggle for autonomy, opposed such an action. Rumors of the planned event spread to the local Spanish authorities who acted swiftly and put an end to what would be the last major uprising in the island to Spanish colonial rule. The charter maintained a governor appointed by Spain, who held the power to veto any legislative decision he disagreed with, and a partially elected parliamentary structure.
On February 9, , the new government officially began. Local legislature set its own budget and taxes. They accepted or rejected commercial treaties concluded by Spain. Subsequently, the governor had no authority to intervene in civil and political matters unless authorized to do so by the Cabinet. General elections were held in March and on July 17, Puerto Rico's autonomous government began to function, but not for long.
Part of his strategy called for the acquisition of colonies in the Caribbean Sea; these would serve as coaling and naval stations, as well as strategic points of defense after construction of a canal in the Isthmus. On March 10, , Dr. Julio J. Henna and Robert H.
Henna and Todd also provided the US government with information about the Spanish military presence on the island. Henry H. He provided maps and information on the Spanish military forces to the US government that would be useful for an invasion. The Spanish—American War broke out in late April.
William C. Sampson bombarded installations at San Juan. On July 18, General Nelson A. Miles , commander of US forces, received orders to sail for Puerto Rico and to land his troops. Opposition was met in the southern and central regions of the island but by the end of August the island was under United States control. On August 12, peace protocols were signed in Washington and Spanish Commissions met in San Juan on September 9 to discuss the details of the withdrawal of Spanish troops and the cession of the island to the United States.
Brooke became the first United States military governor of the island. This brought about significant changes: the name of the island was changed to Porto Rico it was changed back to Puerto Rico in and the currency was changed from the Puerto Rican peso to the United States dollar.
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A public school system was begun and the U. Postal service was extended to the island. The highway system was enlarged, and bridges over the more important rivers were constructed. The government lottery was abolished, cockfighting was forbidden, and a centralized public health service established. The beginning of the military government also marked the creation of new political groups. Both groups supported annexation by the United States as a solution to the colonial situation.
The island's Creole sugar planters, who had suffered from declining prices, hoped that U. Disaster struck in August , when two hurricanes ravaged the island: the San Ciriaco hurricane on August 8, and an unnamed hurricane on August Approximately 3, people died in the floods and thousands were left without shelter, food, or work. Afterwards, nearly Puerto Ricans migrated to Hawaii by to work in the sugar plantations of Hawaii.
The military government in Puerto Rico was short lived; it was disbanded on April 2, , when the U. The structure of the insular government included a governor appointed by the President of the United States , an executive council the equivalent of a senate , and a legislature with 35 members, though the executive veto required a two-thirds vote to override.
The first appointed civil governor, Charles Herbert Allen , was inaugurated on May 1, Teaching was conducted entirely in English with Spanish treated as a special subject.
Both languages, however, were official on the island. On November 6, the first elections under the Foraker Act were held and on December 3, the first Legislative Assembly took office. The American program included building up a modern economic infrastructure that included roads, ports, electric power systems, and telephones and telegraphs, as well as hospitals and programs to develop agriculture.
Sugar mill owners between the period of and turned their sugar mills into monocultural plantations in response to the economy of the 20th century.
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The sugar mills and tobacco, cigar, and cigarette factories gained the United States' attention due to their fast productions and large amount of produce. Women and children were the primary workers within these industries. By , the coffee production that once was steady failed. The sugar industry rose along with the economy. Puerto Rican mill owners and French and Spanish residents took the United States' corporate capital [ clarification needed ]. This had an effect of putting sugar producers into bankruptcy. The United States acquired jurisdiction over Puerto Rico where there was free trade between the two.
Capital flowed into Puerto Rico with the effect of modernizing its sugar processing mills due to the United States' influence. The United States had formed a Tobacco Trust that had basis rules for cigarettes, but Puerto Ricans had issues when it came to brand and local marketing. The Tobacco Trust controlled cigarettes and cigar production as well as controlled the tobacco leaf. There was a fall of the industry due to the exports.
During the time when sugar was not going well the coffee in the late s. What changed the coffee production started when the export production replaced the farming. People lost their land and properties, the amount of land disposal shrank and the people hoped that Europe would take part in the trade of coffee, but they did not. Coffee makers were not happy with them being controlled by the United States. In most of the people worked as families instead of individuals most likely due to 90 percent of the output due to them being poor. In , the United States took over rich lands that influenced Puerto Rico's economy that soon made Puerto Rico a state that was more capitalized in operation.
There was no limit in their treads to the United States, the sugar industry had expanded and irrigation payments. The taxes Hollander Act was taxing 2 percent on rural property in This made the people very angry and the people protested. The people were able to bring the tax down to 1 percent but this still forced landowners to sell their land. The American administrators put great emphasis on developing a modern school system. English-language instruction provoked fears of cultural genocide.
This effort generated resistance from teachers, parents, politicians, intellectuals and others. Resistance to the imposition of English was part of a larger effort to resist invasion and colonization. The schools became an important arena for cultural identity, as promoted by the middle-class local teachers who rejected the idea of creating Hispanic Yankees speaking only English, and instead sought to have an autonomous Puerto Rican culture that incorporated the best of modern pedagogy and learning, with a respect for the island's Hispanic language and cultural traditions.
By Spanish was firmly rooted in the population. Spanish was also one of the leading international languages, through which Puerto Ricans were in contact with the world. It was the language in which culture was communicated. The level of opposition to the imposition of English was such that it led to the failure of U.
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One shock came in , however, when a New York study found Puerto Rican schoolchildren in New York City to be seriously deficient in basic skills. After 39 years of the imposition of English at the University of Puerto Rico, Spanish became the preferred language of instruction in , and in the public schools the vernacular of Puerto Ricans became the language of teaching and learning in — Puerto Rico's agricultural economy was transformed into a sugar monoculture economy, supplemented by gardens for local consumption. American sugar companies had an advantage over the local sugar plantation owners.
The local plantation owner could finance his operations only at local banks which offered high interest rates, compared to the low rates that American companies received from the commercial banks in Wall Street. This factor, plus the tariffs imposed, forced many of the local sugar plantation owners to go bankrupt or to sell their holdings to the more powerful sugar companies. Sugar was considered one of the few strategic commodities in which the United States was not fully self-sufficient. An economically evolving Puerto Rico called for a new advancement in political status.
However, the birth of multiple political groups led to a diversion of the island's interests: uniting as a statehood with the US, becoming a US territory commonwealth, or declaring independence altogether. The Partido Federal favored immediate transformation of Puerto Rico into an organized unincorporated territory and eventually join US statehood. They wanted to fully integrate US law and government. Their plan was to become a territory and have representation through a delegate and eventually become a US state with no restrictions. The party was based on the principles of the Socialist Labor Party of America and received much support from American colonial authorities.
The Olmsted Amendment changed the Foraker Act , which was designed to switch the Puerto Rican government from a military one to a government ran by the civilians. The Puerto Rican status quo was again altered in when the Foraker Act, which replaced military rule with a civilian government in Puerto Rico, was modified by the Olmsted Amendment. Domenech Commissioner of Interiors , were assigned to the Executive Cabinet. This allowed for native Puerto Ricans to hold a majority in the Council, which consisted of five members selected by the president, for the first time in history.
The Partido Union had opposed extension of U. If they didn't become a state, U. For them, the promise of citizenship didn't affirm the promise of statehood, it excluded any considerations of independence. The act made Puerto Rico an "organized but unincorporated" United States territory , much like a colony. The Act also divided governmental powers into three branches: an executive appointed by the President of the United States , legislative, and judicial branch. The legislative branch was composed of the Senate , consisting of nineteen members, and a House of Representatives , consisting of 39 members.
A bill of rights, which established elections to be held every four years, was also created. Though the act created a more structured government for the island, the United States Congress still held the right to veto or amend bills and laws passed by the territorial legislature. On October 11, , an earthquake occurred, with an approximate magnitude of 7.
Tremors continued for several weeks. Approximately casualties were reported resulting from the earthquake and 40 from the tsunami. Some politicians were in favor of Puerto Rico becoming an incorporated state of the U. Amid this debate, a nationalist group emerged that encouraged radical activism for Puerto Rico to become independent from the United States. This party used advocated massive demonstrations and protests against any political activity that was not going to result in Puerto Rico gaining independence.
Being the president, he instilled many of his political ideologies into the party which was composed heavily of anticolonial politics and feelings of contempt against the United States. Increased conflict arose between their adherents and the authorities. On October 20, Albizu testified against the dean of the University of Puerto Rico, claiming that he wanted to Americanize the institution.
He was arrested for breaking the Smith Act of which declared that it was against the law for anyone to teach or be part of a group that encouraged the overthrow of the American government. Its officials asked Governor Blanton Winship to provide armed police officers for the campus, to forestall possible violence. Colonel Elisha Francis Riggs, the U. It resulted in the death of the four nationalists and one bystander. Francis Riggs in San Juan.
They were taken into custody where they were killed by policemen and officers while being held at the San Juan headquarters. After initially being found innocent in a jury with seven Puerto Ricans and two North Americans, the judge ordered a new jury which had ten North Americans and two Puerto Ricans, who found him guilty. They were sentenced to six to 10 years in a federal prison in the United States. On March 21, , a peaceful march was organized by the Nationalist Party, under Pedro Alibizu Campos, to commemorate the ending of slavery in Puerto Rico in by the governing Spanish National Assembly.
As a result, a police officer, Armando Martinez, ran from the corner in front of the Nationalist council and fired once into the air. This prompted many others to fire their arms. On July 25, , a little over a year after the Ponce massacre, Governor Winship ordered a military parade take place in the city of Ponce in celebration of the American invasion of Puerto Rico.
Such celebrations customarily took place in San Juan, the capital of the colonial government. At the parade, an attempt was made to assassinate Winship, allegedly by members of the Nationalist Party. It was the first time in Puerto Rico's long history that an attempt had been made against a governor. Although Winship escaped unscathed, a total of 36 people were wounded, including a colonel in the National Guard and the Nationalist gunman. In the years after World War II, social, political and economical changes began to take place that have continued to shape the island's character today.
The late s brought the beginning of a major migration to the continental United States, mainly to New York City. The main reasons for this were an undesirable economic situation brought by the Great Depression , as well as strong recruiting by the U. The Law made it illegal to display the Puerto Rican flag, sing a nationalist song, talk about independence or to campaign for the independence of the island.
It resembled the anti-communist Smith Law passed in the United States. The U. Congress passed an act allowing Puerto Ricans to elect their governor, and the first elections under this act were held on November 2, On July 3, , President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law , which allowed Puerto Ricans to draft their own constitution to establish their own internal government. It also authorized the President to forward the new constitution to the Congress, if he found it conformed to the provisions of the Act.
The Constitution, which took effect upon approval by the U. Four U. On October 30, , a group of Puerto Rican nationalists, led by Pedro Albizu Campos, staged several local attacks, known as the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party revolts of the s , the most successful of which is known as the Jayuya Uprising. The revolts included an attack on the governor's mansion , La Fortaleza. Puerto Rican military forces were called in to put down the Jayuya Uprising. In February , the Constitution of Puerto Rico was approved by voters in a referendum, and a federal law approved it, subject to striking Sec.
Luis A. On July 23, , the first plebiscite on the political status of Puerto Rico was held.