Its History, Products
A. D. HALL,
Author of "Cuba" and "The Philippines."
STREET & SMITH, Publishers
81 Fulton Street
|I||—The Aborigines of Porto Rico||7|
|II||—Struggles of the Past||18|
|III||—Topography and Climate||27|
|IV||—Population and Towns||36|
|VI||—Manners and Customs||53|
|VII||—The Dawn of Freedom||69|
|VIII||—Naval Lessons Taught by the War||77|
|IX||—What Our Army Achieved||88|
|X||—How the Porto Ricans Received Us||104|
|XI||—Our Claim to Porto Rico||128|
|XII||—What the Possession of Porto Rico Will Mean||143|
THE ABORIGINES OF PORTO RICO.
Porto Rico, or Puerto Rico, as it is sometimes called, has lately become of the first importance in the eyes of the world. To Americans it has assumed special interest, as it is now practically in the possession of the United States, and sooner or later will be represented by a new star in our beautiful flag, that flag which recently, by the magnificent exploits of our navy and army, has assumed a greater importance than ever among the standards of the universe.
Uncle Sam will certainly find this beautiful and fertile island a most valuable possession, every foot of which he could sell at a large substantial price, if he chose to do so.
Until recently there has been an impression in the United States that Porto Rico did not amount to much, that Cuba was the only island in the West Indies which was of any especial value. But this is the most grievous error, as we shall endeavor to show in the course of this little book.
The island, without much exaggeration, can really be called the garden spot of the world, and there is no doubt but that when the Stars and Stripes wave permanently over it, and there is an influx of American enterprise and wealth, there will be a marvelous increase in values of all kinds.
Like all Spanish colonies, Porto Rico has been wofully mismanaged. The Spaniards have looked upon it in the light of a more or less valuable cow from which every drop of milk must be squeezed. But now, under more fortuitous circumstances, under a more beneficent rule, the charming little island will undoubtedly "blossom as a rose"; for those who have looked into the subject have declared that more can be raised on an acre of land in Porto Rico than in any other portion of the globe. Later on we shall examine in detail the truth or falsehood of this statement.
Porto Rico is older than the United States, for it was discovered by Columbus on November 16, 1493, during his second voyage to America. The great discoverer remained there only two days in the port of Aquadilla, but he did not come in contact with any of the ingenuous natives, for they fled in terror when they saw his ship.
During their subsequent conquests in the West Indies, the Spaniards paid no attention to Porto Rico until 1509. At this time Ponce de Leon, then governor of Hispaniola, afterward known as Hayti, determined to extend his dominion. With the idea of obtaining fresh supplies of gold, he went to Porto Rico and made a long visit to the chief of the natives, by whom he was received and entertained with the greatest kindness and hospitality. The chief willingly pointed out to his Spanish guests all the great resources of the island, and when, with the greed which has ever distinguished the men of their country, they asked for gold, he took them to streams where the sands were loaded with the precious metal.
Ponce de Leon was so delighted with the beauty and fertility of the island that he imagined he could find there the fountain of perpetual youth for which he so long sought in vain. In this chimerical idea, however, as in Florida, he was doomed to disappointment.
The original name of the island is said to have been Borinquen, and the population of the natives, who were of the same race as the inhabitants of the other islands of the Greater Antilles, has been estimated at six hundred thousand.
Dr. C. T. Bedwell, recently British consul at Porto Rico, has published a most interesting report in regard to the aborigines, and from this report we have obtained considerable of the information which follows.
Among the Sibaros, or sallow people of to-day, one rarely sees a physical trace of Indian descent, although in their mode of living much of Indian character exists. Fray Inigo Abbad, who wrote a work on Porto Rico, published in Madrid in 1878, says that when the Spaniards first came to Porto Rico "it was as thickly populated as a beehive, and so beautiful that it resembled a garden." Fray Inigo says that the color of the Indians of Porto Rico was the copper color known to the aborigines of America, though they were of a sallow and somewhat darker complexion. They were shorter in stature than the Spaniards, stout and well-proportioned. They had flat noses with wide nostrils, bad teeth and narrow foreheads. Their heads were flat, both in front and at the back, "because," says the author, "they were pressed into this shape at the time of their birth." They had long, thin, coarse hair, and, according to Fray Inigo, they were without hair on their face or on other parts of their body. This, however, is disputed by some writers.
The small quantity and little substance of the food they used, the facility with which they supplied material wants without labor, the excessive heat of the climate, and the absence of quadrupeds for the exercise of hunting, caused them, he says, to be weak and indolent, and averse to labor of all kinds. Anything that was not necessary to satisfy the pangs of hunger, or that did not afford amusement, such as hunting or fishing, was regarded with indifference. Neither the hope of reward nor the fear of punishment would tempt them to seek the one or to avoid the other.
Fray Inigo admits, however, that there were some exceptions among them, and says that some of the Indians displayed much bravery and strength in the contests with the Spanish soldiers.
Their forms were light and free, and there were no cripples among them.
They were governed by Caciques, whose eldest sons inherited the succession. In the absence of a son the chief was succeeded by the eldest son of his sister, that there might be no doubt as to true descent.
The tutelary deity was Cerni, who was made to speak by the Buhitis or medicine men, who were at the same time the priests. The Buhites hid themselves behind the statue of Cerni and declared war or peace, arranged the seasons, granted sunshine or rain, or whatever was required, according to the will of the Cacique. When announcements were not fulfilled the Buhites declared that the Cerni had changed his mind for wise reasons of his own, "without on this account," says Fray Inigo, "the power or credit of the pretended deity, or his mendacious ministers being doubted, such being the simplicity and ignorance of the Indians."
The chiefdoms were divided into small provinces, which for the most part only comprised the inhabitants of a valley; but all were subject to the head Cacique, who at the time of the conquest was Aqueynoba. He was actually governor-in-chief, the others being his lieutenants, who carried out his orders in their respective districts.
Men and unmarried women wore no clothing, but painted their bodies abundantly, and with much skill, drawing upon them many varieties of figures with the ores, gums and resins which they extracted from trees and plants. In this uniform they presented themselves in their military expeditious, public balls, and other assemblies. To be well painted was to be well dressed, and they learned from experience besides that the resinous matter and vegetable oils with which they painted their bodies served to preserve them from excessive heat and superabundant perspiration. The paint also served to protect them from the changes of atmosphere, the dampness of climate, and the plague of the numerous varieties of mosquitoes and other insects, which, without this precaution, constantly annoyed them. They wore headdresses made of feathers with exquisite colors. They put small plates of gold on their cheeks, and hung shells, precious stones and relics from their ears and noses, and the image of their god Cerni was never forgotten. The chiefs used as a distinctive emblem a large golden plate worn on their breasts. Married women wore an apron which descended to about half their leg; but no clothing was worn on the rest of the body. The wives of the Caciques wore their aprons to their ankles except at the national game of ball, when they also wore short ones.
The men took two, three or more wives, according to their ability to support them. The chiefs possessed a larger number of wives than their subjects, but one of them was generally preferred over all others. The women, besides their domestic duties, had charge of the agricultural pursuits and worked in the fields. Those best loved were buried alive with their husband on his demise. The men did not intermarry with relatives of the first degree, from a belief that such marriages resulted in a bad death.
Their huts were similar in structure and in character to those of the North American Indians.
Their arms were a bow and arrow, in the use of which they were very skilful. They had canoes both for fishing and sea voyages. These were hewn out of the timber of enormous trees, the like of which, owing to fires and seasons of drouth, no longer exist upon the island. Some of the canoes were large enough to hold forty or fifty men.
When the Indians saw that the sick were near to death they suffocated them. Even the chiefs did not escape.
After death they opened and dried the body by fire, and buried it in a large cave, in which were interred also some live women, the arms of the deceased and provisions for the journey to the other world. Sticks and branches of trees were then placed on the top, and the whole was covered with earth, which was thus kept from the bodies of those interred.
They were accustomed to perform a national dance which was called the areito. At the conclusion of this dance, all became intoxicated with drinks made by the women of fruit, maize and other ingredients, and with the smoke of tobacco which they inhaled in their nostrils.
As has been said, at the time of the conquest the name of the native chief was Aqueynoba. He was friendly to the Spaniards at first and lived peaceably with them for some time.
There is no doubt but that the aborigines were confiding, generous and peaceful. But, like all savages, they were very superstitious. They worshipped a vast quantity of idols, but believed in one superior deity. With the exception of the Caribs, who occupied the eastern part of the island, they were not cannibals. They were in the habit of practicing quite a large number of domestic arts, such as the cultivation of the soil, the carving in wood and stone, and the manufacture of pottery and furniture.
The Spaniards have ever been treacherous, selfish and a nation of money-grubbers.
Now followed an instance which is only one of many to prove the truth of this statement.
After Ponce de Leon had won the confidence and had been the recipient of boundless hospitality from the islanders, he returned to Hayti and at once commenced to fit out an expedition for the invasion and subjugation of Porto Rico. From a purely selfish point of view, this was a most senseless proceeding on his part. He could have done much better without having any recourse to force, for at first the natives regarded the Spaniards as immortal visitors from Heaven, as superior beings whom they could not kill.
But they speedily recognized their mistake and discovered the abominable character of the invaders.
De Leon killed off all the natives that he could and made the rest slaves to work in the gold mines of Hayti.
When any one resisted he was killed, and if he attempted to escape he was hunted down by bloodhounds.
It is related that Ponce de Leon had a dog which became noted as a slave catcher. So valuable was he in this respect that his name was actually carried on the army payroll for the benefit of his master.
When the natives found that they were being slain or deprived of their liberty they naturally became exasperated and turned against their dastardly oppressors. But from their point of view it was absolutely necessary to find out if the Spaniards were mortal. If they were not, it would be an act of impiety to resist them.
This vital question must be settled, and therefore one of the native chiefs was detailed to try if he could kill a Spaniard. The trial was eminently successful. A young man named Salzedo was found alone and was drowned by the natives.
The action is thus related in the words of a competent authority:
"The guides conducted Salzedo to the bank of a small river through which they must pass, and to prevent his being exposed to the water one of the Indians kindly offered to take him on his shoulders and carry him over. Salzedo mounted to his high seat and was borne into the middle of the stream, when the Indian and his burden fell into the water. The other Indians immediately rushed into the river with the apparent purpose of rescuing their guest, but contrived, while professing to offer him assistance, to keep his head continually under water. The result of this practical biological experiment, so adroitly conducted, brought hope and joy to the despairing natives. The body was kept immersed until long after every sign of life had gone, but they still feared animation might return. Carrying the body to the bank, a new farce was acted; they lamented over him, they begged his pardon for the accident, and they protested their innocence of any design. In every way they provided themselves with a plausible defense in case he should recover or they should be suspected. After several days, putrefaction happily settled all their doubts about the mortality of their conquerors, and the glad news was communicated to their people."
The natives then at once commenced to massacre the Spaniards. But this did not last long. Ponce de Leon immediately sent for reinforcements, and the Indians believed that these newcomers were the resurrected bodies of those they had killed. This idea caused them to lose all hope and courage, and they fell an easy prey to their enemies. It was not many years before the aboriginal population, large as it was originally, was completely exterminated.
The Spaniards now began to colonize the island and the town of Capana was the first one settled by them. Its site was found, however, to be too high and inaccessible. It was therefore abandoned and in 1511 the present city of San Juan was founded.
In this city Ponce de Leon built the governor's palace called Casa Blanca, a structure which is still in use.
After de Leon's unsuccessful expedition to Florida, where he received a mortal wound at the hands of the Indians, his remains were brought to Porto Rico and interred in the Dominican church.
Mole sub hac fortis requiescunt ossa Leonis Qui vicit factis nomina magna suis.
These words may be translated into English as follows:
"This narrow grave contains the remains of a man who was a Lion by name, and much more so by his deeds."
STRUGGLES OF THE PAST.
Ever since the days of Ponce de Leon, Porto Rico has been a Spanish possession. It has never been captured, although many attempts have been made to take it both by external and internal forces.
None of these attacks seriously affected Spanish authority on the island.
But although the island has never been taken, it has been sacked. It may be said that it was pirates who did this, for while the commanders of several of the expeditions against the island bore great names, they were really little more or less than pirates.
The first to attack was no less than the famous English commander, Sir Francis Drake, who had Elizabeth behind him. This was in 1595, and Drake then scored his first failure, in spite of the fact that when he left his ballast consisted of ducatoons, and the shops of San Juan were in ruins.
It is rather a strange coincidence that Drake's failure was due to the fact that the Spaniards had recourse to the same scheme that was so daringly and successfully carried out by Lieutenant Hobson in the harbor of Santiago.
Dr. Griffin, the accomplished assistant librarian of the Congressional Library in Washington, has recently been making a study of Porto Rican literature which has been pregnant with interesting results.
Dr. Griffin discovered the following in an old English chronicle:
"Confession of John Austin, mariner of London, of the late company of Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins.
"Directions were given that if any of the fleet lost company they should make for Guadaloupe in the Indies; his ship did so, but having lost her rudder failed, and was taken by five Spanish frigates and the crew imprisoned in the Isle of St. John de Porto Rico. Sir Francis, who lost company of Sir John Hawkins, was told of this by a bark which saw the fight. The prisoners were examined and threatened with torture to tell what the English forces were. The Spaniards sunk ships in the harbor to hinder their entrance. Sir Francis summoned the town, and on their refusing to yield sent fifteen vessels to burn the frigates in the harbor. Two were fired, but the light thus made enabled the Spaniards to fire on the English ships and drive them away. The English attacked the fort, but Sir John Hawkins was killed. Sir Francis sent back to the governor five prisoners whom he had taken, and begged that the English might be well treated and sent home, in which there was an improvement in their diet, etc. Sir Francis then went to the south of the island, got provisions and water and went to Carthagena. This was reported by two frigates that watched him, and then the treasure ships in Porto Rico with $4,000,000 on board sailed for Spain, and reached St. Lucas, bringing the English prisoners, who still remain in prison, but the examinante escaped. Two fleets, each of twenty-five ships, and 5,000 men, are said to be sent out to follow Sir Francis Drake, March 25, 1599."
In Barrow's "Life of Drake," there are further particulars given of this unsuccessful attack on San Juan, which was under the command of Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins, the two greatest British naval commanders then living. Barrow says:
"The fitting out and equipment of this grand expedition were not surpassed by that of 1585 to the West Indies under Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral Forbesher and Rear Admiral Knolles. Its destination, in the first place, was intended for Porto Rico, where the queen had received information that a vast treasure had been brought, and intended to be sent home from thence for the use of the King of Spain in completing the third grand armament (the second having been destroyed by Drake) which he had in contemplation for the invasion of England. The object of the present fleet was to intercept the treasure and thereby cut off the main supply of his navy and army destined for that purpose.
"Their first intention, however, had been to land at Nombre de Dios and proceed direct from thence over the Isthmus of Panama in order to seize the treasure generally brought thither from the mines of Mexico and Peru; but in a few days before their departure from Plymouth they received letters sent by order of the queen informing them that advices had been received from Spain announcing the arrival of the West Indian or Plata fleet, but that one of them, a very valuable ship, had lost her mast and put into the Island of Puerto Rico, and it was therefore her majesty's recommendation that they should proceed direct to that island to secure the ship and treasure which was on her."
The expedition left Plymouth, August 28, 1595. Before going to Porto Rico, Drake, against the protest of Hawkins, tried to take the Canaries and failed. The voyage was then continued.
"On the 30th of September," the historian continues, "Captain Wegnot, on the Francis, a bark of thirty-five tons, being the sternmost of Sir John Hawkins' division, was chased by five of the king's frigates, or zobras, being ships of two hundred tons, which came with three other zobras for the treasure at San Juan de Puerto Rico. The Francis, mistaking them for companions, was taken in sight of our caraval. The Spaniards, indifferent to human suffering, left the Francis driving in the sea with three or four hurt and sick men, and took the rest of her people into their ships and returned to Porto Rico.
"The squadron now intended to pass through the Virgin Islands, but 'here,' says Hakluyt, 'Sir John Hawkins was extreme sick, which his sickness began upon neues of the taking of the Francis.' Remaining here two days, they tarried two days more in a sound, which Drake, in his barge had discovered. They then stood for the eastern end of Porto Rico, where Sir John Hawkins breathed his last.
"Sir Thomas Baskerville now took possession of the Garland as second in command. The fleet came to anchor at a distance of two miles, or less, at the eastern side of the town of San Juan de Porto Rico, where, says Hakluyt, 'we received from their forts and places, where they planted ordnance, some twenty-eight great shot, the last of which stroke the admiral's ship through the misen, and the last but one stroke through her quarter into the steerage, the general being there at supper, and stroke the stool from under him, but hurt him not, but hurt at the same table Sir Nicholas Clifford, Mr. Browne, Captain Stratford, with one or two more. Sir Nicholas Clifford, and Master Browne died of their hurts.'
"Drake," continues Barrow, "was certainly imprudent in suffering the squadron to take up anchorage so near to the means of annoyance; but his former visit had no doubt taught the enemy the prudence of being better prepared for any future occasion, and it is somewhat remarkable that Drake should not have observed his usual caution. Browne was an old and particular favorite of Drake.
"The following morning the whole fleet came to anchor before the point of the harbor without the town, a little to the westward, where they remained till nightfall, and then twenty-five pinnaces, boats and shallops, well manned, and furnished with fireworks and small shot, entered the road. The great castle, or galleon the object of the present enterprise, had been completely repaired, and was on the point of sailing, when certain intelligence of the intended attack by Drake reached the island. Every preparation had been made for the defense of the harbor and the town; the whole of the treasure had been landed; the galleon was sunk in the mouth of the harbor; a floating barrier of masts and spars was laid on each side of her, near to the forts and castles, so as to render the entrance impassable; within this breakwater were the five zabras, moored, their treasure also taken out; all the women and children and infirm people were moved to the interior, and those only left in the town who were able to aid in its defense. A heavy fire was opened on the English ships, but the adventurers persisted in their desperate attempt, until they had lost, by their own account, some forty or fifty men killed, and as many wounded; but there was consolation in thinking that by burning, drowning and killing, the loss of the Spaniards could not be less; in fact, a great deal more; for the five zabras and a large ship of 400 tons were burned, and their several cargoes of silk, oil and wine destroyed."
After thus being defeated in his main object, Drake did not return to San Juan. He contented himself with laying tribute upon Porto Rico, and burning the towns on the Caribbean side of the island.
He then sailed for Wombee de Dios, and, when the fleet was off the South American coast, he died on the 28th of January and was buried at sea. Drake was succeeded in command by Sir Thomas Baskerville.
When the latter was on his way back to England he encountered a Spanish fleet and engaged in battle off the Isle of Pines. The victory was decidedly with the English, but the Spaniards were apparently the same then as they are to-day. Everybody remembers Blanco's famous dispatches, famous for their absurd falseness. So then the Spanish admiral issued a bulletin in which he claimed a magnificent triumph. Baskerville was so angry that he publicly declared the admiral to be a liar and challenged him to a duel. Nothing, however, ever resulted from this challenge.
Three years later the Duke of Cumberland, who might also he called a corsair, but a private one, as he acted on his own hook, attacked San Juan, and after three days' fighting, laid the city in ruins. He was unable to follow up his victory, however, as the fever killed his men by the hundreds.
The English tried to take it in 1615, and again in 1678.
Once more in 1795, seeing the great advantage of owning the harbor of San Juan, the English attempted to capture it, but they were repulsed with great slaughter.
Spain has never given as much attention to Porto Rico as she has to her other colonies, and therefore the government, while practically of the same character, has not been so intolerable as in Cuba and the Philippines.
For nearly three hundred years the island was neglected. During all that time it was used chiefly as a watering station for ships and as a penal colony. In 1815 it was thrown open to colonization, and land was given free to all Spaniards who went there to settle. As a consequence a host of adventurers hastened to Porto Rico, as well as a number of Spanish loyalists, belonging to the better classes, who had been expelled by the decrees of other and rebellious colonies.
About this time there was a large importation of negro slaves to work on the sugar plantations. For these reasons the wealth and population rapidly increased.
Nevertheless there has been a large number of revolutions against the home government.
As early as 1820, long before Cuba had made any attempt to throw off the Spanish yoke, the Porto Ricans made an effort to obtain their independence. After a short guerilla war, this first rebellion was suppressed, as were also several other abortive attempts.
In 1868, the year of the great uprising in Cuba, the most formidable outbreak occurred in Porto Rico.
After two mouths of severe fighting the Spanish regulars were victorious, and the leader of the rebels, Dr. Ramon E. Bentances, who has since resided most of the time in Paris, was captured, as was also J. J. Henna, afterward a New York physician. All the prisoners were sentenced to be shot, November 4, 1868.
On the very day preceding that date news came to the island that Queen Isabella had been deposed, and in consequence the political prisoners were released.
TOPOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE.
Now that there is no doubt of the acquisition of Porto Rico by the United States, many of our people will be going there, and it is therefore of great interest to note how its general features will please and its climate be adapted to Americans.
The island is most eastern of the Greater Antilles, and it is the fourth in size and importance of all the islands of the West Indies. In fact, in point of density of population and general prosperity, it takes the first place. On the east, the Lesser Antilles extend in a curve toward Trinidad, on the South American coast, inclosing on the westward the Caribbean sea. A strait of seventy miles separates Porto Rico from Hayti on the west, and the distances from San Juan, the capital, to other points are 2,100 miles to the Cape Verde Islands, 1,050 miles to Key West and 1,420 miles to Hampton Roads.
Porto Rico lies near enough to the Gulf of Mexico to receive the benefit of the soft Gulf breezes and the very best and most desirable of the trade winds.
The island is almost a rectangle in shape. Its length from east to west is 108 miles and its breadth from north to south about 37 miles. Its area, including its dependencies, the isles of Vieques, Culebra and Mona is 3,530 square miles.
The coasts are generally regular, but there are a large number of bays and inlets, and the north coast is full of navigable lagoons.
The principal capes are San Juan, Mala Pascua, Rojo and Bruquen.
Generally speaking, the conformation of the island is slightly undulating, with the exception of a mountain range which traverses it from east to west, running through nearly its whole length in a zig-zag course, and on the average about twenty-five miles distant from the north coast.
This range divides the island into two unequal portions. The largest is on the north, and the rivers flowing through that section are much the longer. A part of the main range is called Sierra Grande or Barros. The northeast spur is known as the Sierra de Luquillo and the northwest as the Sierra Larea. The general height of these mountains is about 1,500 feet above the sea, but there is one peak, Yunque, which reaches a height of 3,678 feet. This can be seen seventy miles at sea, and would be a magnificent place for a shore signal for the benefit of the ships that sail the South Atlantic seas.
It is noticeable that there are no extensive lakes in the highlands of the interior, but there are many interesting caves in the mountains, the principal ones being those of Aguas Buenos and Ciales.
The elevated ridge which crosses the island intercepts the northeast trade winds which blow from the Atlantic and deprives them of their moisture. The consequence of this is that the rainfall in the northern portion of the island is very copious. It also has the effect of reducing the rain south of the mountains, so that there is a prevalence of droughts in that section and agriculture can be advantageously carried on by irrigation. Up to the present, however, this work of irrigation has been very imperfect and unsystematic, and the results on the whole have not been satisfactory.
The Luquillo range ends ten miles from San Juan. The capital is, therefore, to a certain degree sheltered by a mountain wall from the rain-bearing winds, which, in the warmest months blow mainly from easterly points. Still all the northern adjacent shores and lowlands are subject to flooding by torrents of rain.
Taking it as a whole, the island is approximately roof-shaped, so that the rainfall is rapidly drained off.
In the interior are extensive plains and there are level tracts from five to ten miles wide on the coast.
The soil of Porto Rico is exceedingly fertile. In the mountains it is a red clay, colored with peroxide of iron, in the valleys it is black and less compact, and on the coasts it is sandy, but capable of some culture.
The pasture lands in the northern and eastern parts of the island are superior to any others in the West Indies.
Porto Rico is essentially a land of rivers and streams. Of course none of them are of any great length, but of the entire number, some thirteen hundred, forty are navigable for more or less distances for commercial purposes.
Mr. John Beggs, a former planter of Porto Rico, says that the island is perfectly adapted for commerce. Sugar, coffee, cotton, corn and potatoes are constantly shipped down the navigable rivers, and were Porto Rico to be fully cultivated, many more streams could be opened and communication made between others by means of canals, so that the entire island would present a system of water ways which would make it an ideal place for the shipping of useful articles to the United States.
The water of the rivers and brooks and lakes is remarkably pure, and there is quite an industry in its shipment for sale to other West India islands. It is stated that more than twenty of these islands send to Porto Rico for water. Little boats sail up the harbor of San Juan, fill their tanks with water and sail away again, Havana's chief scourge is the lack of fresh water, but Porto Rico has all the water it can use and enough to supply islands hundreds of miles away.
The anchorages can not be said to be the best in the world, although a few of them are excellent, and most of them sufficiently deep for ordinary craft.
Mayaguez Bay on the west coast admits vessels of any size and is the best anchorage on the island. Guanica is the best on the south coast, of which it is the most western port. It was here that the American troops first landed. Still Guanica is not visited by much shipping. The district immediately surrounding it is low and swampy, and the roads leading from it are not good. Guanica has been the outlet for the produce of San German Sabana Grande and, to some extent, of Yanco, which is on the railroad. The western and southwestern parts of the island have been particularly over-run by the Porto Rican rebels, and this has undoubtedly done much to injure its commerce. But with the advent of the Americans all this will be changed.
The eastern coast is fairly indented and washed by a sea which is usually smooth.
On the rugged north side, where the ocean currents set to southward, there are no good anchorages between Arecibo and San Juan. The port of San Juan, however, affords good shelter and will be an important centre for merchant shipping as well as an attractive rendezvous for yachts on a pleasure cruise. The harbor is deep enough to admit large vessels, but its channel communicating with the sea is winding and difficult, and can be navigated safely only with the aid of a pilot.
One of the leading seaports of the island is Aquadilla on the west coast. This has the advantage of a spacious bay, which is sheltered from the trade winds. From this place are shipped the sugar and coffee produced in the northwest part of the island.
There are seven or eight other ports of minor importance.
The main highway of central Porto Rico runs from Ponce to San Juan, in a northeasterly direction, through Juana Diaz, Coamo and Abonito. From the latter place it proceeds almost eastward to Cayey, and there it takes a winding course to the north as far as Caquas. Thence it turns west to Aquas Buenos, and then goes straight north through Guaynola and Rio Piedras to San Juan. The entire length of this highway is about eighty-five miles.
The distance from Ponce to San Juan, as the bird flies, is only forty-five miles.
And now to take up a most important point—the climate. Of this much can be said in favor.
On the whole, it may be stated that Porto Rico, for a tropical region, is very healthful; in fact, by far the most so of any of the West India islands.
There have been no climatic observations which cover the whole of the Porto Rican territory, but the Spanish Weather Bureau has published certain observations which show the general conditions prevailing in San Juan and the vicinity.
The climate, though hot, is agreeably tempered by the prevailing northeast winds. At night there is always a pleasant breeze which carries sweet fragrance along the northern coast. A temperature as high as 117 degrees has been recorded, but this is most unusual. At San Juan, the average temperature in August is about 81 degrees Fahrenheit; in September, 80.5 degrees, and in October, 79.3 degrees. At night it sinks to 68 or 69 degrees, which is more than it frequently does in New York or Chicago during heated spells. The most marked feature of the climate is that the summer's heat and rainfall keep up until late autumn. In the hottest months the calm days average not far from ten a month, and these have a very relaxing effect. For this reason it is advisable for residents of temperate climes not to visit Porto Rico until November, when the weather becomes beautifully fine and settled, and almost always continues good during the winter and early spring.
The rainfall in San Juan, which can be taken as a fair index of that along the northeastern coast, averages about 6.65 inches during August, 5.30 during September and 7.10 during October. But in some years the heaviest fall was in September. Not infrequently the cultivated fields and plantations are inundated, and swamps are formed. As has been intimated, the southern part of the island is relatively much drier than the northern, though the former is apt to experience excessive rains during the passage of a hurricane.
It is fortunate for Porto Rico that it does not lie directly in the track of West Indian cyclones. It has been visited, however, at long intervals by devastating hurricanes, notably those of 1742 and 1825, which destroyed a vast deal of property, and during the passage of which many lives were lost. The terrible tornadoes of the tropics are very erratic in their course, and are so apt to be deviated from their accustomed paths that it is unsafe to assume that danger has passed for Porto Rico until late in the autumn. Captains of all vessels during the summer mouths should therefore exercise extraordinary vigilance to avoid being caught in a hurricane.
The prevailing diseases of the island are yellow fever, elephantiasis, tetanus, March fever and dysentery. There is no question but that a lack of proper sanitary measures is responsible for much of the illness. Even the most to be dreaded of these diseases, yellow fever, could in all probability be rooted out if proper precautions were taken and every available means employed to prevent its recurrence. As it is, yellow fever never scourges Porto Rico as it does parts of Cuba.
In the winter and early spring Porto Rico is less subject than Cuba to those chilling winds that blow from the freezing anticyclones moving east from the American coast toward Bermuda. Under American auspices and enlightened systems of sanitation, there will doubtless spring up a number of attractive winter resorts, which will prove formidable rivals to those of Florida, especially if, as is not unlikely, San Juan Bay becomes the headquarters of the North Atlantic naval station from November until April.
In this regard, the manager of a prominent life insurance company has spoken as follows:
"Let me raise my voice in prophecy and then wait and see if events do not bear me out. I want to prophesy right now that five years from date that island will be a great popular winter resort. No one can appreciate its natural attractions unless he has been there, and when to them have been added a few good American hotels it is bound to become a popular resort.
"I was in Porto Rico several years ago, and I then expressed surprise that it was not boomed as a winter resort. The Porto Ricans to whom I spoke shrugged their shoulders and smiled. The ground is high, the climate is fine, and the place is healthful.
"It has many attractions of its own that are lacking in the other West Indies.
POPULATION AND TOWNS.
According to the latest statistics, the entire population of the island of Porto Rico is estimated at 900,000. Of these about 140,000 are peninsulares, as the natives of Spain have been termed throughout her former colonies. From 12,000 to 14,000 are foreigners, mostly Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, Englishmen and Americans. Other nationalities have little or no representation. The so-called native population is composed of two-thirds whites who are descendants of Spaniards and people of other European countries, and one-third negroes and mulattoes or those of mixed blood, half castes, as they are denominated.
It is valuable to note the large proportion of whites, which is very unusual for a tropical country.
The census, which was taken December 31, 1887, states that the women outnumbered the men by about one thousand. As the immigrants from Spain are mostly men, however, the actual ratio between the two sexes, as far as the native population is concerned, would be greatly in favor of the feminine.
The area of Cuba is thirteen times larger than that of Porto Rico, and yet even before the butcher Weyler exterminated a third of the native Cubans, it contained not quite double as many people as the smaller island.
This will give some idea of the density of the population of Porto Rico.
Thirty per cent. of the whites and seventy-five per cent. of the negroes were classed in the census of 1887 as laborers.
The western part of the island is far more densely populated than the eastern. The reason for this probably lies in the fact that the east coast is on the windward side, and offers less protection for shipping. Consequently it is not so conveniently situated for trade. All the larger towns of the east are situated inland, or, at least, some distance from the coast. They are in the hilly portion of the island and surrounded by rich coffee plantations and grazing lands of large extent.
The inhabitants of Porto Rico are scattered all over the country, and the land is greatly subdivided. The Spanish authorities have made many efforts to collect the people into villages, but the people themselves have frequently resisted a change which they considered would not suit the conditions of their lives or tend to improve their finances.
Still, in the last fifty years more than half of the population has gravitated to and around the towns, especially those which are situated on the seashore. Most of these people live in comfortable houses, and have the means to provide themselves with all the necessities and many of the luxuries of life.
The population, by the way, has been steadily increasing since the beginning of the present century.
Ponce, named after Ponce de Leon, is the largest city and the one of the most commercial importance upon the island. It is beautifully situated about three miles north of the port of Ponce, in a fertile plain, and is surrounded by plantations and gardens. It is the terminus of one of the three short railroads which have been constructed, and along the beach in front of the port are large warehouses, where the produce, forwarded through Ponce, which is the trading centre, is stored for shipment. The population of Ponce has been estimated at 44,500 inhabitants, and this is probably not far from the actual truth.
Ponce has quite a number of fine buildings, including the town hall, the theatre, two churches, the charity and the woman's asylums, the barracks, the Cuban House and the market. Between the city and the seashore is an excellent road which forms a beautiful promenade.
Near Ponce are hot springs which are quite famous and held in high estimation by invalids.
The capital of Porto Rico is San Juan, which in many respects has always been the most important city. It is on the north coast, and as has already been stated, was founded by Ponce de Leon in 1510. It now has a population of 31,250 inhabitants, which includes the town and its suburbs.
The situation of San Juan is somewhat peculiar, as it is built on a high and narrow peninsula, which is separated from the mainland by shallow water spanned by a bridge known as the San Antonio.
The town is about half a mile wide, inclosed by high walls of masonry, which are very picturesque, and with their portcullis gates and battlements recall vividly to one's mind the description of mediæval times.
The bluff is crowned by Morro Castle, rendered familiar to Americans in the recent war.
San Juan is really quite a beautiful place with straight and narrow streets and many imposing buildings. It has a number of public institutions and colleges, several churches, and seven small parks. Among the latter may be mentioned the Plazuela de Santiago, in which is an excellent statue of Columbus.
It was on the western end of the island that Ponce de Leon built the governor's palace, which is enclosed within the Santa Catalina fortifications, where are also the cathedral, town house and theatre. This portion of the city is now known as Pueblo Viego, and is the seat of an Episcopal see, which is subordinate to the bishop of Santiago de Cuba.
The city is lighted by gas, which is controlled by an English company, and it also has an electric plant under local management.
There is a local telephone company.
There are eleven newspapers of various descriptions, the chief one being La Correspondencia, a local political paper, which has a circulation of seven thousand copies, more than that of all the other papers put together.
The water is obtained entirely from cisterns. About fifty years ago a project was formed to build a reservoir, and the plans were approved by the government. But, with that spirit of procrastination so characteristic of the Spanish, in all public and private walks of life, and which is known as manana, the reservoir has never been completed.
The harbor of San Juan is in almost all respects a very fine one. On the east and south it is surrounded by swamps, and on the west it is protected by the islands of Cabra and Cabrita, which are practically connected to the mainland by sandbars. There are strong fortifications which guard the entrance to the outer harbor.
The inner harbor is spacious and landlocked. It has been dredged to a uniform depth of twenty-nine feet from the docks to the anchorage.
The old city is divided into four wards, three of which are outside of the fortifications. The houses are of stone, or brick, and from the roofs beautiful sea views may be obtained. In the patio or court of almost every house there is a garden.
Besides Ponce and San Juan, the largest towns on the island are Arecibo (30,000 inhabitants), Utuado (31,000), Mauaguez (28,000), San German (20,000) Yanco (25,000), and Juana Diaz (21,000). There are also about a dozen other towns with a population of 15,000 or over.
These figures are only approximate, as no regular census has been taken in ten years, and even then the Spanish officials were none too correct.
Railways on the island can as yet be said to be only in their infancy. There is only about 150 miles of railroad, with about as much more in construction. It is intended to have stretches of railroad parallel with the coast, which shall make the entire circuit of the island. From these there will be short branches to all the seaports and inland markets.
The cart roads are very primitive, some of them being little better than cattle tracks. There is, however, be it remembered, one fine road, which extends across the island from San Juan to Ponce.
The telegraph system is also in a very incomplete state and is poorly managed.
There is one line of cable which runs to Cuba, Mexico, Panama and the coasts of the South American continent, and another which connects the island with St. Thomas, Jamaica, and thus the rest of the world.
It is somewhat difficult to tell exactly what is the commercial value of the new colonial possessions which the Spanish-American war has placed at the disposal of the United States. The figures are naturally based upon the conditions which prevailed under Spanish rule.
But, all for all, it may be said that Porto Rico, taking into consideration its area, has been the most valuable of all Spain's colonial possessions.
For some reason, which seems to be inscrutable, Spain has given the inhabitants of Porto Rico far better treatment than she accorded to the natives of Cuba. She dealt with the island more as if it were a Spanish province than a colony to be bled to the fullest extent possible for the financial benefit of Spanish officials and the mother country. Quite the contrary has been the case in Cuba and the Philippines.
It may be stated that, as a matter of fact, Porto Rico has been, in a political sense, a province of Spain for the past twenty years.
Spain has paid but little attention to internal improvements, but this has been an advantage. For with her heavy hand relaxed, the people have had a certain opportunity to develop such spirit of enterprise as they possessed.
With the island in the possession of the United States and with the abolishment of the differential duties in favor of the Spanish government, its geographical position will undoubtedly cause most of its commerce to flow to and from the ports of the United States.
There will be a market furnished for great quantities of food products, textile fabrics, iron, steel and coal. From the island the United States will chiefly receive coffee, tobacco and sugar. Indeed it may be said that in the line of coffee cultivation, the greatest development of Porto Rico may be expected in the near future.
Mr. John Beggs, whom we have quoted before, says that Porto Rico is one of the finest pieces of property on the earth's surface. May it prove so in the hands of the United States!
The soil of Porto Rico is of remarkable fertility. Its dominant industries may be said to be agriculture and lumbering.
In the elevated regions, most of the vegetable productions of the temperate zone can be grown.
More than five hundred varieties of trees can be found in the forests of the island, many of which are very valuable, and the plains are full of palms, oranges and other fruit-bearing trees. There are several very interesting trees, especially a beautiful Talauma, with immense white odorous flowers and silvery leaves. This tree is exceedingly ornamental. It is used for lumber and called Sabiuo. A Kirtella with crimson flowers is also rather common. A tree which is called Ortegon by the natives is found at high altitudes, but chiefly near the coast. It has immense purple spikes, more than a yard long, and is very striking. It seems to be confined to Porto Rico and Hayti. There are many varieties of cabinet and dye woods, including mahogany, ebony, lignum vitæ, cedar and logwood. Plants valuable in the arts and pharmacy abound. Tropical fruits grow everywhere to perfection.
The chief products of Porto Rico, outside of lumber, may be said to be sugar, coffee, tobacco, rice, honey and wax, and these have greatly enriched the island, making many of the people well-to-do.
Sugarcane is cultivated on the fertile plains, yielding three hogsheads on an average per acre without any manure.
An excellent grade of coffee is produced, and it does not appear that as yet any blight has perceptibly affected the shrubs.
Rice is very commonly cultivated on the hills in the Sierra. It must be a kind of mountain variety, as no inundation or other kind of watering is used.
Rice and plaintain are in fact the staple food of the natives.
Cotton and maize are also raised to a certain extent.
There should in the future be an industry from the manufacture of tannin extracts from the bark of Coccolala, Rhizophora and the pods of various acacias, the latter of which are a great nuisance on account of their rapid growth.
There are a long number of fruits on the island, such as cherries, guava plums, juicy mangoes and bell apples.
Edwin Emerson, Jr., a war correspondent, speaks of some of the fruits as follows:
"The most astonishing and the best of all was a fruit called pulmo—in our language, sour-sap. It is about as large as a quart bowl, and so nourishing and full that a single fruit was enough for a good meal, although that did not deter my horse from eating four. Later I found that they are also relished by dogs. Of springs and streams there were so many that I had no fear of dying of thirst. If water was not handy, I could always climb a cocoanut tree and throw down the green nuts, which were filled with an abundance of watery milk, more than I could drink at one time. Other nuts there were in plenty; but many were more curious than edible, even to my willing appetite. One had a delicious odor. I tasted a little, and thought it ideal for flavoring candy. But it soon dissolved in my mouth in a fine dust, absorbing all the moisture, so that I had to blow it out like flour. Nothing ever made me so thirsty in my life, and even after rinsing out my mouth I felt for a long time as if I were chewing punk or cotton. The fruit of the tamarind only added to my torments by setting all my teeth on edge. When we reached the next spring I fell off my horse for fear he would get all the water. Only after I had satisfied my thirst would I let him drink."
There is a great deficiency of what may be called native animals of any sort.
The most troublesome quadruped is the wild dog, which chiefly attack pigs and other small domestic animals. Mice are probably the greatest pest of the island, but they are considerably kept down by their natural enemies, the snakes. The latter not infrequently reach a length of from six to nine feet. There are a good many mosquitoes, but they are no worse than they are in New Jersey. Numerous species of ants and bees exist as well as fireflies. The latter occasionally fly in great masses, producing beautiful effects in the tropical nights.
It may be stated that, on the whole, Porto Rico is singularly free from those noxious reptiles and insects which seem to inherit the rest of the West Indies as their peculiar possession.
Immense pastures occupy a part of the lowland, and feed large herds of cattle of an excellent quality. St. Thomas and the French islands all obtain their butcher's meat from Porto Rico. Even Barbadoes comes there for cattle. Sheep always thrive in a hot country, and they grow big and fat in Porto Rico. Fresh lamb and mutton are constantly shipped from there. A very numerous class of the people are shepherds, and these live upon mutton and the kind of highland rice, already alluded to, which is very easily prepared for food.
Poultry is most abundant, and the seas and rivers are full of the finest fish.
Although the island is certainly well developed agriculturally, it certainly admits of considerable expansion in this direction. Under a different political system, and when it is freed from the oppressive and vexatious taxation, Porto Rico will certainly become far more productive and prosperous even than it is now.
There is no question but that the island, richly endowed as it is by Nature, has been miserably governed.
But agriculture in the near future will certainly not be the main industry of the island. For there are known to be gold, copper, iron, zinc and coal mines, which have never been developed. In fact, strange as it may appear, none of these valuable mines is worked at all. The vegetable productions have been considered so valuable that in order to cultivate them the minerals have been neglected. There are also extensive sponge fields, which are very valuable, but which have not been touched, owing to several causes, chiefly the lack of capital. The same can also be said of the quarries of white stone, granite and marble.
Then there is the question of salt, which is sure to be of importance. There are large quantities of salt obtained from the lakes. Salt works have been established at Guanica and Salinas, on the south coast, and at Cape Rojo, on the west. This constitutes the principal mineral industry of Porto Rico.
It is now interesting to see what the trade of Porto Rico has been with other countries, and especially the United States during recent years.
A very large part of the island's trade has been carried on with the United States, where corn, flour, salt-meat, fish and lumber have been imported in return for sugar, molasses and coffee.
The natives are not a sea faring people, and care little or nothing for ships of their own. Therefore, by far the larger part of their trade with other countries has been carried on by the means of foreign ships.
Porto Rico has paid into the Spanish treasury about 4,000,000 pesos annually, which is equivalent to about $800,000.
In normal years, that is, when no war was going on, the total value of imports into the island amounted to about $8,000,000, and the exports to about $16,000,000.
The latest Spanish statistics, that is, during 1896, give the importations into Porto Rico as amounting to $18,945,793, and the exports to $17,295,535.
The average entrances of ships into the ports have been 1919 vessels of an aggregate of 327,941 tons, of which 544 of 81,966 tons were British. Articles of import have been distributed by countries as follows:
From Spain come wines, rice, oils, flour and textiles; from England, machinery, textiles, salted provisions, rice and coal; from France, a small amount of textiles, some jewelry and perfumery, and some fine wines and liquors; from Italy, wines, vermicelli and rice; from Germany, glass and porcelain wares, textiles, paper, cheese, candied fruits, beer and liquors; from Holland, cheese; from Cuba, rum, sugar and tobacco; from the United States, petroleum, ironware, glassware, chemicals, textiles, paper, lumber, barrels, machinery, carriages, dried and salted meats, butter, grease, codfish, flour, coal, fruits, vermicelli and cheese.
A commercial arrangement was entered into between the United States and Spain in 1895, in consequence of which the following proclamation was issued by the Spanish Government:
The executive is authorized to apply to the products and manufactures of the United States which coming from the ports of the United States be admitted into the ports of Cuba and Porto Rico, the benefits of the second column of the tariffs in said islands; provided that the United States, in their turn apply their lowest rates of duty to the products of the soil and of the industry of Cuba and Porto Rico.
This modus vivendi shall be in force until a permanent commercial treaty between the two parties concerned is concluded, or until one of them gives notice to the other, three months in advance of the day on which it wishes to put an end of it.
Therefore, I command all the courts, justices, chiefs, governors and other authorities, civil, military and ecclesiastical, of all classes and dignities, to observe and cause to be observed, obeyed and executed this present law in all its parts. Given in the palace, February 4, 1895. I, the Queen Regent.
Alejandro Groizard, Secretary of State.
The above is translated from the Gaceta de Madrid of February 6, 1895.
This agreement, if so it can be called, is of course now at an end. Hereafter Porto Rico will enjoy all the privileges of a colony of the United States.
But still it is interesting to note the duty on the leading articles of export from the United States to Porto Rico, as expressed in the second column of the Spanish tariff.
This was as follows:
|Wheat flour, rice flour, buckwheat flour, cornmeal, oatmeal, barleymeal, ryemeal, per 100 kilograms, gross,||$4 00|
|Pork, per 100 kilograms, net||9 90|
|Beef and all other meats, per 100 kilograms, net||6 50|
|Sausage, per 100 kilograms, gross||20|
|Hay, per 100 kilograms, gross||80|
|Pig iron, per 100 kilograms, net||50|
|Bar iron, per 100 kilograms, net||2 15|
|Barb wire (for fencing), per 100 kilograms, net||40|
|Coal, per 100 kilograms, net||60|
|Patent medicines, including weight of container and wrapper||35|
The people on the island are rather luxurious, so much so that in one year five million dollars worth of goods were carried there. These goods consisted principally of manufactured products, such as clothing and household wares.
The principal exports from the United States have been flour, pork, lard, lumber and shooks.
But, of course, all this will be largely increased now that Porto Rico is practically a portion of the United States, and the increased commerce will be to the advantage of both.
During the five years from 1893 to 1897, the trade of Porto Rico with the United States has been as follows:
Whatever disadvantages Porto Rico may possess, and when all is said and done, they are beyond question few, it is certainly lovely enough and prolific enough to make one forget them all.
A writer in Ainslee's Magazine concludes his very clever article as follows, and undoubtedly every word he says is true:
"Unfortunately for the development of Spanish countries the mental activity of the people is principally manifested in an exuberant imagination which finds expression in superlative and poetical language. If there were any corresponding creative genius and executive ability in material affairs such a fertile and well-watered land as Puerto Rico would be the home of one of the richest communities on the globe. By her situation she is adapted to become the centre of a flourishing commerce whose goods might be carried down dozens of navigable rivers from the interior of the island. Under a good government, with enterprising colonists, the natural resources of the island, some of which have been scarcely touched, would bring comfort and wealth to a large population."
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
Let us examine briefly in the first place what has been the management of Porto Rico under Spanish rule, or, rather, perhaps we should call it mismanagement, for no one of Spain's colonies has ever been properly directed.
Porto Rico has been governed under a constitution voted by the Spanish Cortes in 1869. The government has been administered by a captain-general, assisted by an administrative council appointed at Madrid.
The revenue has been about four millions of dollars a year, considerably more than half of which has been derived from customs, and the rest from taxation, direct and indirect.
The captain-general was president of the superior tribunals of justice and of the superior juntas of the capital; but the fiscal administration had a special chief called intendant. The supreme judicial power lay in a royal audience. Justice was administered in the cities and in the country by judges of the first instance and by alcaldes. There were nine special tribunals: civil, ecclesiastical, war, marine, artillery, engineers, administration, probate and commerce.
Ecclesiastical affairs were presided over by a bishop chosen by the crown and approved by the pope.
The Spanish administration in Porto Rico, although not so bad as in other colonies, has, nevertheless, been one of cruelty and oppression. The Spaniards, as will be remembered, began by exterminating the native Indian population in less than a century.
There was not a branch of the administration which was not conducted under a system of corruption. The law was constantly violated by the Spaniards, and the natives deprived of their rights.
When elections took place the Spanish or Conservative party always won, and this in spite of the fact that this party was in a large minority. No more corrupt and farcical elections have even been known to take place.
Such a thing as liberty of the press was utterly unknown. Articles that had been printed in the Madrid or other Spanish papers attacking the government could not be reproduced in any Porto Rican papers, without the editors being arrested and punished. And this occurred even if the article in question had not been considered as offering ground for the prosecution by the authorities in Spain.
The papers, by the way, were ridiculously inadequate in every sense of the word. Only one attempt was ever made to establish a magazine. This was about eleven years ago. It was called the Revista Puertorriquena and was intended "to carry the highest expression of our intellectual culture to all the people of Europe and America where the magnificent Castilian language is spoken."
The magazine was conducted by a committee composed of a director, two editors, "and other illustrious persons" elected by the subscribers. The founder of the magazine lamented that the "race of artists" who first settled in Puerto Rico "were so overwhelmed by the exuberant and pompous beauty of the tropics that the natural means of artistic expression were exaggerated to the detriment of ideas," and that the crying evil of the periodical press of the island was "the abundance of sonorous and high-sounding articles having nothing to say to the understanding."
The founder of the magazine was Don Manuel Juncos, who is the author of several books of travel. He speaks of the Brooklyn bridge as "a magic vision of the Thousand and One Nights," while the smoke that rose from myriads of New York chimneys "formed the holy and blessed incense of a mighty and busy population, rising directly up to God from the fecund altar of labor." In the streets he was amazed at the "incessant avalanche of men, all having the purpose of certain or probable utility."
No more than nineteen persons, under the old regime, were allowed to meet in any place of the island, without special permission from the government, and the mayor of the town was obliged to attend the meetings to see that nothing was said or done against "the integrity of the nation."
Licenses were required for everything, even for an ordinary dancing party.
The manner of life in the large towns of Porto Rico is not dissimilar from that of European countries, with the exception of some slight differences due to the heat of the climate. The fashions for men and women alike are imported, especially from Paris and London. Those who are in comfortable circumstances dress just like people in European countries. The men wear woolen clothes all the year round. The young women dress very elaborately and all wear hats, the Spanish mantilla being adopted by elderly women only.
In the small towns, men dress after the fashion of the cities, except that their clothes are made of linen. Woolen fabrics are uncomfortable, and they are considered a luxury to be donned only on Sundays and holidays.
Laborers and farm hands wear neither coats nor shoes. They do not care to do so, in the first place, and, in the second, they could not afford to, as their earnings are very small.
In San Juan the streets are rectangular and are closely built with brick houses usually two or three stories, stuccoed on the outside, and painted in different colors. In one house live several families, and the degree of rent, as well as of social position, rises with the height of the floor above the ground.
Sanitary conditions, by the way, as in all Spanish possessions, are the very worst possible, and much will have to be done in this respect when the United States takes permanent possession.
There is one feature which strikes every foreigner, and that is the roof gardens. In many parts of the island, especially in the smaller towns, the whole population enjoys itself at night on the housetops. The houses are built a little off the ground, and they look not unlike castles in the air which have been built for pleasure rather than for living purposes.
In all tropical countries people have the habit of sleeping in the daytime, and do their shopping and attend to their social duties in the evening. In Porto Rico this custom is almost universal.
Every man of any means is the possessor of two houses, a town house and a country house. At carnival times, or when any special celebration is going on, he takes his family to town and brings them back again when the sport is over.
Poverty is almost unknown in Porto Rico, for almost every man owns his horse and every woman is the possessor of chickens. Horseback riding is an almost universal pastime. There are many fine horses on the island, and they are used daily by men and women.
The inhabitants have but few wants which are not satisfied by Nature without any effort on their part. They lead a dolce far niente existence, swinging to and fro in their hammocks all day long, smoking cigarettes and strumming guitars.
Life at San Juan and the other principal towns is more or less monotonous, amusements being few. There is a retreta or concert by the military bands twice a week and theatrical performances three or four evenings a week. Matinees are very seldom given. The theatres are owned by the cities and rented to European and American companies traveling through the island at so much an evening.
Unlike Cuba, there are no bull fights, but cock fighting may be called the national sport, and is universally indulged in. Game cocks are the greatest attraction of the markets. Every Sunday there are public fights in the cockpit, and these are invariably accompanied by betting, often very large amounts being involved.
Gambling, by the way, may be said to be universal. Every one, from the rich planter down to the lowest laborer and beggar, is given up to this vice, and will squander away every dollar if the mood takes him.
There is nothing but hospitality on the island. The people are exceedingly polite to strangers, and the traveler who offers money deeply offends his host.
A curious feature of the streets is the milk delivery, which is not unlike that prevailing in Cuba.
This takes place before and during the noon, or breakfast, hour, breakfast being taken here between 12 and 2 o'clock. Sometimes the milk is still being sold at 4 or 5 o'clock. The milkman drives from door to door from one to four or five cows, each branded with a number and usually one or more of them accompanied by a calf. The driver cries his approach, and the customer fetches sends out a pan, pail, bottle, or cup, which he hands to the milkman. The milkman puts into the receptacle the quantity of milk paid for, which he induces the cow to yield after the usual manner.
Mr. W. G. Morrisey gives an interesting description of how funerals are conducted in Porto Rico. He says that when a native dies preparations are immediately made for the burial.
No women are allowed to attend the funeral and the casket is carried on the shoulders of four natives. The cemetery being reached, the remains are deposited in one of the many vaults in the place, provided the sum of four pesos per year is paid to the authorities. If this sum is not forthcoming the corpse is placed in a corner of the graveyard and left there to decay. Mr. Morrisey said it was a common occurrence to see seven or eight funerals pass by every day.
Another thing that struck Mr. Morrisey was the railroad that runs from Ponce to Playo. The train is made up of an old-fashioned engine and three cars. There are first, second and third class coaches, the only difference between the first and second class being the seats in the first class coach, which are cushioned. It is first class in name only, and very few of the visitors and the better class of natives use it, because of the fact that the cushions are full of vermin. Everything seems to be filthy, from the Hotel Ingleterra, which is considered the best house in Ponce, to the most miserable of huts on the outskirts of the city.
The facilities for lighting the city at night were investigated, and it was found that very little light is used. The stores are lighted with one or two incandescent lights, which are put in by the managers of a small electric light plant that has been in operation for some time. Kerosene oil cannot be bought for less than forty cents a pint, and consequently is not used to any great extent. An ice plant has also been established in Ponce, where they manufacture ice in small cakes about the size of a brick. This sells at $1.50 per hundred-weight.
There is no public school system, and a large number of even the white population can neither read nor write. The daughters of the well-to-do are sent to convents on the island, while the sons go abroad to be educated. Among this latter class there is considerable culture and refinement, and most of them speak English.
The women are of medium size, but exquisitely formed. They have all the coquetry which is typical of the women of the tropics, and no one who visits Porto Rico can fail to be impressed with their beauty, delicacy and grace.
It has been affirmed that Porto Rico has been in the past a perfect Mecca for fugitives from justice. At one time no less than one hundred of this description were traced there.
It is really possible to live on very little money there, and lives are prolonged to an incredible period. Fugitives therefore find it a haven in which to turn over a new leaf and begin a better life.
The Porto Ricans are naturally Roman Catholics and are very devout.
The manner of keeping Sunday would be apt to shock our New Englanders of Puritan descent.
A correspondent of the New York Sun, who was with the army in Porto Rico speaks of this as follows:
"Sunday at Ponce, if it continues as at present, will add still further variety to the somewhat different observances of the day which now characterize the territory of the United States.
"'To-morrow,' said a native last Saturday, 'to-morrow I shall go to the theatre.'
"'It's Sunday,' said his American soldier companion. 'You should be going to church.'
"An elevation of the shoulders.
"'The same thing,' said the native.
"The show at the theatre that day, by the way, was given by an American troupe that has been touring the Indies.
"There is, of course, nothing new in the custom in Catholic countries of giving Sunday mornings to church and Sunday afternoons to pleasure. In Ponce the merchants are not willing to close their stores for the religious observances of the day, but hold that it would be wholly wrong to mar the hours of pleasure by business attentions. The stores are all open Sunday mornings as on other days, but shut tight Sunday afternoons. Vesper services are all but unknown. There may be a change regarding services presently. The priests have not been paid since the arrival of the American army. It was the Spanish custom to pay them from the customs receipts. Colonel Hill has refused to give them any money since he has been in charge of the custom-house, and has told them that hereafter their people will have to support them voluntarily. What the people will say to this at the start it is hard to guess. They may not wholly understand it. Under existing laws they are taxed for the support of the church. What their voluntary support of it will be remains to be seen. Protestants have almost a clear field for mission work here. The only Protestant church on the island is at Ponce, and that was opened on the Sunday after the Americans' arrival, for the first time, it is said, in ten years.
"The chief service at the cathedral is held at 9 o'clock Sunday mornings, mass being said hourly from 5 o'clock until then. At the 9 o'clock service many Americans drift in. Even the Catholics among the soldiers who have attended have appeared to drift in rather than go with the purpose of doing their devotions. It may be that there seemed something inconsistent in kneeling before the altar with a row of cartridges girded around the body. One man crept into the nave behind the seats, took off his cartridge belt and laid it beside him, and, kneeling, bowed his head very low, while he joined in the prayers. When the service was over he carried the war belt in his hand to the door and there stopped and buckled it on. Fifty yards from the door a company of the Nineteenth Infantry was encamped on guard duty in the principal public square, on one end of which the cathedral stands.
"While the services were going on late comers of the native congregation edged their way in at the rear doors, and, passing round the screen beneath the choir loft, dropped to their knees on the marble floor, there remaining until the close. Noticeable among these worshippers were the old and widowed and the very poor. The last recked little or not at all of the filthy floor, trailed with dirt and spotted with tobacco juice. Some of the others brought with them prayer rugs, even though they were but ragged strips of carpeting."
The same correspondent has also this to say about the shops, which is interesting:
"One of the things revealed by a shopping tour is the absence from the shops of anything distinctly characteristic of Porto Rico. The tourist has not made the island a favorite stopping place, and the people seem to prefer when buying anything not edible to buy foreign-made articles. The only things that even bore a stamp indicative of Porto Rico found by several hunters after curios were fit relics of a Spanish city—case knives inscribed "Viva Ponce." Fortunate seekers after mementoes secured a few of the peculiar native musical instruments called guiros. It is straining courtesy as well as language to call them musical instruments, but they are used by the natives to make what to the natives is music, and one of them is included in each group of street or cafe musicians. The instrument is a gourd shaped like some of our long-necked squashes, hollowed out through two vents cut in one side, and the surface over half the perimeter slashed or furrowed so as to offer a file-like resistance to a metal trident, which is scraped over it in time to the music made by the guitar, or whatever other instrument or instruments make up the orchestra. There are times when the result is suggestive of the couchee-couchee music and scratching."
For nearly three centuries slavery existed in Porto Rico, but it was finally abolished by the Spanish Cortes in March 1873.
The New York Herald in its special correspondence has much to say about the inhabitants that is of undoubted interest, and from this article we have culled considerable that follows. The article in question was written after the virtual surrender of Porto Rico.
These people have been accustomed to military rule all their lives, and to withdraw it in toto and tell them to go in and govern themselves is an experience which many regard as dangerous. Of a race excitable, with blood that courses quickly and with wrongs of many years' standing, the natives are intoxicated with their freedom. Their delirium has but one course—revenge—and when the entire population is fully awake to the opportunity offered there may come a break from all restraint, and then it may be shown that the depletion of our army was a blunder.
Without the menace of the Spanish soldiery, without the fear of the Church, and without the guiding hand of a good American officer and wisely-located American army of occupation, there may be trouble ahead.
With the going of the soldiers comes the influx of the mercantile classes. Salesmen are arriving in large numbers and promoters and speculators abound. Everything is being boosted from its former lethargic tropical calm. Prices of commodities are rising. Land has quadrupled in value in the owners' minds, and even the street gamins now demand twenty-five cents American money for a single button alleged to be cut from the coat of a Spanish soldier, which they formerly had trouble at disposing of at the rate of twelve and one-half cents per dozen.
These commercial avant couriers are bright, active 'hustlers,' who make the native nabobs gasp at their breezy ways, but, all the same, these nabobs are pretty shrewd persons and know how to buy closely.
There is one thing the native merchants have to learn, and that is to display their goods and wares. Not a single show window exists, and if some enterprising Yankee will just tear out the forbidding front of one of these business houses, replace it with one on the showcase style and set forth a dazzling array of merchandize, arranged by the deft hand of the artistic window decorator, there will be a revolution in trade in this place.
Another portion of the business life to be renovated is the sugar industry. The crudest system exists for the transformation of the juice of the cane into the saccharine crystals of commerce. Machinery so ponderous that it requires a volume of steam all out of proportion to the energy actually needed, and wasteful methods in the extraction of the syrup residue after crystallization, obtain. Yankee machinery, coupled with Yankee push, will cause a wonderful difference in the cost of the finished product.
"At the same time the manner of herding the hangs on these huge plantations must surely be changed. Such conditions exist in the quarters that a mere recital would be unprintable, and from an examination I made of the quarters of a very large estate I came away ill mentally and physically."
Members of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have a great field before them in this island. The inhabitants are the most cruel in their handling of beasts of burden and, in fact, of all living creatures below the grade of mankind that could be imagined.
Oxen and bulls furnish the principal means of merchandise transportation. They are yoked together with a huge horn rising upon the neck just back of the horns and held in place by bandages around the forehead. The driver carries a goad about five feet in length, in the end of which is inserted a sharp steel point about one inch long. This is used so freely that it is common to see streams of blood running down the sides of the poor maltreated beasts. Not satisfied with using the sharp end, the inhuman drivers frequently deliver terrific blows with the butt across the tender noses of their charges.
Many an American soldier has knocked down these cruel drivers for their abuse of the patient beasts, but the drivers do not improve with the thrashing. The American military authorities have imported several American yokes and an effort is to be made to compel their use instead of the timber of torture which now obtains.
An author of the last century has this to say about the Porto Ricans:
"They are well proportioned and delicately organized; at the same time they lack vigor, are slow and indolent, possess vivid imaginations, are vain and inconstant, though hospitable to strangers, and ardent lovers of liberty."
Referring to the mixture of races, the same author continues:
"From this variety of mixture has resulted a character equivocal and ambiguous, but peculiarly Porto Rican. The heat of the climate has made them lazy, to which end also the fertility of the soil has conduced; the solitary life of the country residents has rendered them morose and disputatious."
A writer of more recent times declares that they are "affable, generous, hospitable to a fault, loyal to their sovereign, and will to the last gasp defend their island from invasion. The fair sex are sweet and amiable, faithful as wives, loving as sisters, sweethearts and daughters, ornaments to any society, tasteful in dress, graceful in deportment, and elegant in carriage. In fact, visitors from old Spain have frequently remarked their resemblance to the doncellas of Cadiz, who are world-renowned for their grace and loveliness."
"The truth is that they all have the Spanish cortesia," says Frederick A. Ober, in the Century Magazine, when commenting upon the above opinions, "and are more like the polite Andalusians of the south of Spain than the boorish Catalans of the northeast. Even the lowliest laborer, unless he be one of the four hundred thousand illiterates, signs his name with a rubrica, or elaborate flourish and styles himself 'Don,' after the manner of the Spanish grandees, and the humblest innkeeper, when receipting a bill, will admit he 'avails himself with intense pleasure of this occasion for offering to such a distinguished gentleman the assurance of his most distinguished consideration!'
"This need not imply affectation, nor even insincerity, but merely a different conception of the social amenities from that of the all-conquering American, who, it is to be hoped, will not treat this foible with the contempt which, in his superior wisdom, he may think it merits."
THE DAWN OF FREEDOM.
When the United States declared war against Spain for the purpose of freeing Cuba from Spanish misrule under which she had suffered for so long, and also with the desire to avenge the dastardly blowing up of the Maine, but little or no thought was given to Porto Rico. That island was an unknown quantity, but still one which was destined to play a considerable part in the near future.
This was in the natural sequence of events. After the terrible havoc wrought by our navy at Manila and at Santiago de Cuba, attention was turned toward Porto Rico.
The feeling became widespread throughout the United States that the war would fail in its object if Spain were not driven from the possession of all her colonies in the West Indies. Even those who in the beginning thought that the war was unnecessary, gradually came round to this point of view. It was quite sure that the expulsion of Spain from the western hemisphere would prevent the provoking of another war of the same character, and this desirable result could not be achieved so long as Spanish rule was maintained in any part of the West Indies.
The Boston Herald aptly remarked:
"This may well stand in the place of any exaction of money. The United States is much too rich to desire to compel money payment from an exhausted and practically beggared nationality. Such a course would be belittling the war in the eyes of the nations of the world, and it is not at all in accordance with ideas of our own national dignity. Here is the substantial concession of Spain, and it involves all and more than all for which the war was declared."
The invasion of Porto Rico was not commenced until after the result of the war had been definitely decided.
But the Spaniards with that unfailing belief in "manana" (to-morrow) behaved like true Orientals, as they are in part, and acted as if time gained was half-way toward victory. With scarcely an exception, they are all indolent and fatalists.
The prime minister, Senor Sagasta, put off everything with that word which has proved so fatal to Spain, which undoubtedly precipitated the war, and which was at the bottom of all Senor Sagasta's policy—"manana."
It is related that one day in the Cortes, a deputy criticized the idleness and indolence of Senor Sagasta, and the latter replied:
"A nadie le ha sucedido nado por no hacer nada."
A free translation of this is: "Nothing happens to him who does nothing."
Both Sagasta and the Spaniards have doubtless found out by this time the falsity of the saying. To show the feeling prevailing in Spain, it may be well to quote a Madrid corresponded of the London Times:
"Though peace is regarded as assured, it may not be attained so quickly as is generally expected. Senor Sagasta objects to be hustled, and insists upon everything being done in a quiet, orderly and dignified manner. He considers it necessary to have full and satisfactory explanations as to all doubtful points, in order to enable him best to protect the national interests against the aggressive tendencies of the Washington Cabinet.
"He has also to examine very minutely the exigencies of the internal situation and home politics, so as to avoid popular dissatisfaction and political unrest. The Spanish people, though sincerely desirous of peace, are disposed to admire this hesitancy and tenacious holding out till the last, although aware that it implies greater sacrifices.
"As an illustration of this feeling, while General Toral is blamed for capitulating at Santiago, Captain-General Augustin, in continuing a hopeless resistance at Manila, bids fair to be a popular hero."
About this time, before any attack by the Americans, Macias, captain-general of Porto Rico, discovered a conspiracy, which if it had not been quickly checked would have placed the island in a state of insurrection.
Eduardo Baselge and Danian Castillo, both prominent Porto Ricans, were active leaders in the incipient insurrection.
The Spanish postal authorities discovered the conspiracy through a letter written by Castillo to Baselga. General Macias was informed of this discovery, and a quiet investigation disclosed the fact that there were involved in it all of the most prominent residents of the city of San Juan, both native and foreign.
The headquarters of the conspirators were located and a quantity of dynamite, arms and provisions was found.
It was the intention of the leaders, after their plans had been perfected, to give wide publication to a proclamation calling upon all native and patriotic Porto Ricans who hold liberty dearer than life, to join them and accomplish the overthrow of the Spanish government and the death of the governor and his officials. The plans of the conspirators were so carefully laid that had it not been for the accidental discovery of Castillo's letter, they would unquestionably have been carried out.
The discovery of the conspiracy occurred about the time of the visit to Washington of Dr. J. J. Henna and Ramon Todd, both prominent Porto Ricans, of whom we have had occasion to speak before, and whose purpose in going there was to hold a conference with President McKinley relative to the establishment of a provisional United States government in the island after the Spaniards had been driven out.
Within twenty-four hours after the arrest the two leaders, Baselga and Castillo, were shot.
The residents became very much excited over the affair, and feeling against the Spanish officials ran high.
From the very beginning the real Porto Ricans, as we shall see hereafter, were in favor of the Americans. The Spaniards, however, were most bitter, and as had been the case in Havana and Manila, kept up an absurd show of superior strength. This is well manifested by a proclamation which, signed by Jose Reyes, Celestins Dominguez and Genara Cautino, was issued to the people of Guayama on May 20, 1898. As one of the curiosities of the war, it can only be compared to the celebrated and laughable manifesto which Captain-General Augustin issued at Manila just before the appearance of Admiral Dewey's fleet.
The Porto Rican proclamation ran as follows:
"To the people of Guayama. Hurra for Spain!
"A nation that is our enemy, by its history, by its race, and because she is the principal cause of our misfortunes in Cuba, having fomented in this island that is our sister a war in which she supplied all kinds of resources, taking away at last the mask with which she concealed her fictitious friendship, has excited us to-day to vowed war.
"There is a deep abyss between the manner of being of that people and ours, which established antagonism that we should never be able to remove. Our sonorous language, our habits, the religion of our ancestors, and our necessities are conditions of our life so different from those of that race, so opposite to those of that people, that we are frightened in thinking that we should be constrained to accept a manner of being that is repugnant to our origin, our heart and our feelings. We are a people entirely Spanish, and we were born to a civilized life under a flag that was, and we hope ever will be, that of our wives and children. For four hundred years the warmth of the mother of our native country has given life to our organisms, ideas to our brains, majestic thoughts to our souls, and generous undertakings to our hearts, and in those four centuries the glories of the Spanish house have been our glories, her gayeties our gayeties, and her misfortunes our own misfortunes.
"We have been full of haughtiness when, being considered as the Conqueror's sons, we know that we had participation in the heroic actions of our brothers, and that the laurels with which they crowned their hero's front were also our laurels. When in tranquil hours we heard in our hearths our predecessors' epopee, describing as superfluously exact their achievements; giving them lively color that always inspires our tropical fancy, our nerves felt the thrill produced by enthusiasm; at those moments, our being all affected, our breast with its strong aspirations and our fiery tears rolling down the cheeks reminded us, obliging the cords of patriotism to vibrate, that we were Spaniards, and we neither could nor would like any other thing than to remain Spaniards.
"As if it could be that the country of Sergeant Diaz, of Andino, and Vascarrondo's, and all those conspicuous countrymen that irrigated with their blood Martin Pena and Rio Piedras camps could measure either the vigor or the haughtiness of an enemy who has not yet exhibited his face after so many ostentatious and angry vociferations. No! and thousand times no! The light fishermen of Porto Rico's shores, merchants, lawyers, musicians, mechanics, journeymen, all persons who may have strength to grasp a gun must ask for it. All united, with a solid front we shall go to intercept the invader. Behind us and as a reserve legion will come down from the highlands like a raging storm, if it is necessary, the jibaros, our fields' brothers, the most accomplished exemplar of abstinence, probity and bravery; the same that formed the urban militia; the same that were sent to Santo Domingo to defend gentile honor; they, who in number of more than 16,000, covered the plains of the north shore of the island, and compelled the Englishmen in 1797 to re-embark hastily, leaving their horses and artillery park.
"Porto Ricans! the moment is rising when not a single man of this country gives a step backwards, as it is said commonly; the hour of organizing ourselves for defense is sounded. The Spanish lion has shaken his dishevelled mane, and our duties calls us around him. Our temper is to fight, and we shall fight. Our fate is to overpower, and we shall overpower. Honor imposes upon us the obligation of saving home, and we shall save it in this land of our loves. Before North American people carry their boldness so far as to tread our sea-coasts it is necessary that we must be ready to receive them; that they may find in every Porto Rican an inexorable enemy, in every heart a rock, in each arm a weapon to drive them away; that that people feels that here it is detested intensely, and that Porto Rica's spirit is Spanish, and she will ever be so; therefore, inhabitants of Guayama, we invite you for a meeting at the Town House next Tuesday and offer our kind offices to the government, who will give us arms.
"It would be unworthy of our so gentle history, we should deny our blood, if in these moments of struggle we should endure indifferently. Let our enemies know that we are a brave people, and that if we are soft in peace days, we are also fit for war chances; that all his command, all his pride, and all his arrogance may fall out with a wall composed of all Porto Rican breasts."
In the light of ulterior and posterior events, this document is really as comical as anything in opera-bouffe.
"We have no means of knowing," says the New York Sun, in commenting upon this precious effusion, "whether Senor Jose Reyes, Senor Celestino Dominguez and Senor Genaro Cautino actually grasped their guns and immolated themselves upon the altar of four centuries and in the presence of the ostentatious and vociferous invader; or whether they prudently joined the light fishermen, merchants, lawyers, musicians and jibaros of Porto Rico, to whom they had vainly appealed in the name of Spain in yelling themselves hoarse as the Stars and Stripes went up in town after town. Perhaps they took the latter course. Perhaps they will turn out good Americans. In Porto Rico, as elsewhere, times change, and men's minds change with the changes of time and destiny."
NAVAL LESSONS TAUGHT BY THE WAR.
After the remarkable victory at Santiago de Cuba, where Admiral Cervera's fleet, which attempted to steal out of the harbor, with the loss of but one man on the American side, Admiral Sampson, with a portion of his fleet, proceeded to San Juan in Porto Rico. This city he bombarded, directing his principal fire against Morro Castle.
What followed bears strong testimony to the remarkable gunnery of our "jackies."
Morro Castle and the buildings on the high ground in its rear were simply riddled. Great holes were in places blown out by our large shells and the walls were pitted by the hail of the smaller ones.
There was one entire building which was blown to pieces, and a whole section of the Cuartel was laid in ruins. To be sure, many of our shells were wasted in the sea wall, but this is not to be wondered at, as the parapet had embrasures for guns, and from where our ships were lying, these would naturally be mistaken for a sea battery.
Neither in Morro Castle nor in the more pretentious fortifications known as San Cristobal, were there any great number of modern guns. There were a few Krupp guns, but the remainder consisted of muzzleloaders of an ancient pattern; most of the latter were mounted upon parapets of masonry. It may be said that the defences of San Juan were opposed to every theory of modern military science. The defenses might have been considered impregnable some fifty years or so ago, but to-day they are by no means formidable.
Our marvelous naval victories have taught a lesson to the entire world, and America to-day stands stronger than she ever did before. In fact, there is not a nation that does not respect us and fear us, which possibly could not have been said before the American-Spanish war. Prior to that, it was rather the fashion to sneer at the Yankee army and navy, but that will never be done again.
Foreign nations know now what the United States really is.
"Dewey's and Sampson's victories must be very depressing to French, German and Russian naval aspirations," observes a gentleman of Washington, who is a most competent authority. "For years they have been measuring up against England, and quietly calculating what combinations they could make to overthrow British sea power. France, particularly, has been building a navy which she hoped, in spite of past experience, might cope with England's. She has spent immense sums upon it, and relative to the interests it has to guard, it is larger and stronger than England's. But Spain's experience reiterates the old story that it is not so much the ships as the men on them who win victories. Had the Americans been on Spanish ships and the Spanish on the American there would have been a very different story to tell. While the French are very superior to the Spanish, they are of the same Latin blood, and there is just enough similiarity between the two peoples to hint at the success French ships would have in encountering with Anglo-Saxons, either sailing under the Star Spangled Banner or the Cross of St. George. Germany is likely to have the same sort of a chill. The Gentians have never been a maritime nation. A German war vessel has never fired a hostile shot, and Germans may well have solicitous thoughts as to the result of a struggle with men who have shown themselves past masters in the art of naval warfare. Russia is in the same situation. She has never actually fought anybody at sea but the Turks. The wiser among these peoples are very likely to begin thinking that their dreams of sea power are vain illusions, and that they had better save the money they have been spending on navies and resign the dominion of the sea to the English-speaking races."
There is no doubt that our naval victories have taught many and valuable lessons, and it is perhaps proper to make a slight digression here and show what some of these lessons are.
Let us then consider the deliberations of a board of naval officers, some of the ablest experts in the service, appointed by Admiral Sampson, after the battle of Santiago de Cuba, to report upon the condition of Cervera's sunken fleet, the extent of damages done by American shells and the lessons to be learned therefrom to guide the United States in its future ship construction.
The conclusions reached by the board were as follows:
The use of wood in the construction and equipment of war ships should be reduced to the utmost minimum possible.
Loaded torpedoes above the water line are a serious menace to the vessels carrying them, and they should not be so carried by vessels other than torpedo boats.
The value of rapid-fire batteries cannot be too highly estimated.
All water and steam pipes should be laid beneath the protective deck and below the water line and fitted with risers at such points as may be considered necessary.
The board also found that the ships Infanta Maria Teresa, Almirante Oquendo and Viscaya were destroyed by conflagration, caused by the explosion of shells in the interior, which set fire to the woodwork. The upper deck and all other woodwork on their ships was entirely consumed except the extremities. This shows the importance of fireproofing all woodwork on board ships.
Many of the guns on board the burned ships were found loaded at the time of the board's visit, indicating the haste with which the crews were driven from the guns.
With talks with experts the following was developed as to what the war showed:
First—That the gun is still the dominating factor in war.
Third—That smokeless powder is absolutely essential for modern warfare.
Fourth—That there should be a great reduction in the amount of woodwork on board ship and that that left on board should be fireproof, some going so far as to say that woodwork should be eliminated entirely, its place to be taken by some other substance.
Fifth—That armor should be distributed over the entire ship rather than be limited to the section where its vitals are located.
Sixth—That monitors are useless for cruising purposes or for fighting in rough waters.
Seventh—That the United States should have a larger navy, with speedier battleships and fast armored cruisers, and with coaling stations in different sections of the globe, where men-of-war can procure supplies and make repairs if necessary.
Captain Charles O'Neil, chief of the bureau of ordnance, gave his opinion as follows:
"I do not think the battle off Santiago de Cuba demonstrated that we should abandon the heavy calibres of guns. Serious injury to an enemy's thickly-armored battleships can be inflicted only by large-calibre guns.
"It is possible that with rapid-fire guns you may shoot away the lightly armored superstructure, but as long as the vitals are protected and the turret armor is intact the guns in the turret will be able to do execution, and large-calibred guns will be necessary to perforate the armor and disable those weapons. Even with her 12-inch guns the Texas can fire at the rate of one round per minute, and this record is as good as that made by any foreign ships. Rapid fire consists in good facilities for handling ammunition and loading the gun with a quick working breech mechanism.
"We are now building at the Washington gun factory an experimental 6-inch rapid-fire gun, different from the rapid-fire guns we have now in service, which are supplied with what is termed fixed ammunition. The powder and projectile to be used in the experimental gun will be separate, and two operations consequently will have to be employed in loading. This can be done so quickly that it is expected that a very rapid fire will be obtained.
"It is the policy of the Department to have our ships a little ahead of those of any other nation, to have them equipped with armor of greater resistive power, and guns capable of doing more execution. The 13-inch gun, as at present designed, is a more destructive gun than a 12-inch ordinarily, and its energy is very much greater, the result naturally being that it has superior armor-piercing powers.
"I think we should keep the 13-inch gun on board of our battleships. On account of the light armor which protected the Spanish men-of-war, it is difficult to compare the ships and the effect of their fire, or to draw conclusions. We would have learned more if the Spanish fleet had been made up of battleships, and the fire of their gunners had been more accurate. As it is, the value of the secondary battery was certainly demonstrated.
"The necessity of eliminating wood to the greatest extent possible and fireproofing what remains, was shown by the destruction of the Spanish men-of-war. Fire mains should be kept below the protective deck. The battle proved that ships moving rapidly can attack other vessels also under way and inflict serious injury.
"The excellent gunnery of the American sailors is entirely due to the practice which they had undergone, but the target fired at was stationary, while their ship was moving. The conditions were different in action. The Spanish were under way, yet the American gunners fired as well as if they were merely practising."
The New York Herald speaks as follows of our naval victories:
"Ramming, that expedient of despair, was not attempted. Torpedoing, despite the opportunities afforded, was estopped by the quick service of rapid-fire guns on board an inferior but superbly handled construction, and that final effort, a 'charge through,' was never allowed to challenge the combined energies of our fleet. If audacity could have merited success, these Spaniards deserved much, but here the marrow of the war proverb was not with them.
"Pitted against similar ships, even in superior numbers, some of the fleeing cruisers might have slipped seaward in hot haste for the breaking of the Havana blockade. Failing that, all might have concentrated an assault upon certain selected vessels and found consolation for final defeat in the foundering hulls of their enemy. But audacity did not count, individual bravery went for naught; because, while heavier constructions barred the way, and superior guns smashed the pathways of escape, energized skill overcame untrained courage and patient discipline crushed unorganized effort.
"The battleships not only fought the armored cruisers in a long, stern chase down the shore, but destroying as they ran, finally forced them blazing in their own wrecks upon a hostile coast. The torpedo boat destroyers engaged single handed by the Gloucester succumbed so quickly to inferior armament and speed that their value in a day attack, or, indeed, their value at any time save as weapons of surprise, need no longer be reckoned with. This will be a rude awakening to the zealots who had seen in this weapon the downfall of the ship of the fighting line, but it will be a heart-cheering confirmation to the loyal seamen who in season and out have never ceased to proclaim that the integrity of sea nations rests on battleships and the well-served guns of a fleet."
"I think sometimes if it had not been for the work of the Oregon the Colon might have got away," was the statement made by an admiral on the retired list. "I am not sure that the Brooklyn, with all her speed, could have stopped the Colon, but I think it quite likely that the New York would have finally overtaken the Colon and stopped her."
More emphasis was laid upon the speed of the Oregon and the closeness of her position than upon her 13-inch shells, one of which played such havoc. The admiral was not seemingly impressed with the difference in effectiveness between the guns of large and small calibre, but continued to lay stress on the admirable speed of the Oregon.
"But," he continued, "the war has proved nothing so far as the navy is concerned. The Spaniards showed no enterprise. If we had come up against the navy of England there would have been some basis for a conclusion, but shooting in the air, as the Spaniards did, proves nothing. They had a fine fleet, with most modern equipment, and yet they could kill only one man in the whole encounter."
Admiral Sir George Elliot, of the British Navy, considers that at least five important lessons have been taught by the war. His opinions are as follows:
"First, in state of peace be fully prepared for war in every respect; second, the value of adequately-protected coaling stations; third, the value of superior speed for the cruiser class, and especially for the more weakly-armored vessels; fourth, the naval defense of seaports by gunboats and the raising of the naval volunteer corps as an integral portion of the naval reserve forces; fifth, that great importance be attached to a steady gun platform for quick-firing guns, looking to the small number of hits compared with numerous shots fired.
"In this connection," said Sir George Elliot, "I am informed that the Americans are likely to adopt Captain Hodgett's form of bottom for their new ships, which must give greater steadiness than bilge keels."
"This war has taught us nothing. The state of the Spanish navy has been for years so hopelessly rotten that when the moment for action arrived its military value was nil. The Spanish gunners hardly seem to have got a hit in on any American ship. Nothing is taught us as to the relative value of the belt or deck armor."
As regards ships versus forts, he said:
"The Spanish forts seem to have been, probably from various reasons, as inefficient as their ships. Both the Spaniards and the Americans in their use of torpedo craft have shown very remarkable absence of dash. Practically neither side has made any use of this dreaded arm."
Captain Montagu Burrow, who is professor of modern history at the University of Oxford, had this opinion to offer:
"There are no new lessons to be learned, but only confirmation of some that are very old. The state of unreadiness in Spain when the war suddenly broke out might, from the unfortunate circumstances of that country, have been expected, but if the United States had had to deal with a Power anything like its own strength it would have found its own position intensely difficult. The war will probably have the effect of inducing their government to keep up a standing army and navy of a very superior kind to that of their present system. The recent warning of their admirable writer, Captain Mahau, will now have a chance of being listened to, but the Americans have only to expand what is already proved to be good. The training of their officers and men must have been of a superior kind to enable them to handle their ships and point their guns with such excellent effect. It was at one time considered doubtful whether modern guns could be as accurately fired at great distances as the old armament at shorter ranges, but they were laid quite as accurately, and were far more destructive."
As the New York Herald declared at the time, the United States had now attained their majority. They were now of age, and their voice must be heard in the council of nations.
There were misgivings all over Europe, especially in Germany and France, old and bitter foes though they are.
A prominent Parisian thus summed up these misgivings:
WHAT OUR ARMY ACHIEVED.
Now to turn from the navy to the army, and see what the latter achieved in Porto Rico.
On July 21, 1898, General Miles sailed from Guantanamo Bay with a force of 3,415 men. General Wilson had sailed the day before from Charleston with 4,000 men, and General Schwan and his command sailed from Port Tampa two days later.
The entire army of invasion numbered about eleven thousand men.
The hardships on the transports were very great.
The Massachusetts carried three troops of cavalry from New York and Pennsylvania to Porto Rico and the events of the voyage have been thus narrated by an eye-witness:
"With the penetrating of the tropics come days of languor and nights of inactivity so delicious it seems profanation to move. More than one thousand men, who boarded the Massachusetts with the vigor of the North in their veins, have succumbed, one by one, to the lethargy of the soft breeze of the Bahamas.
But an awakening is at hand. Pumps that have been running steadily day and night slow down and stop. Troopers had become so accustomed to the quick beating of the smaller machines that the cessation of throbs between the slower pulsations of the heavier engines is noticed instantly. A quick inquiry as to the cause brings the answer from one less well-informed: "Only the water pumps broken down." That is all, only eleven hundred parched horses awaiting the answer to the bugle call they had learned so well—"Water horses!"—which sounded at the moment of the fatal break in the pumps. Only a transport carrying ten hundred and thirty men, and no means of extinguishing a fire!
Twenty minutes; one-half hour, and Captain Read, who has gone down into "the hole," asks for five Troop A men. "No hurry," so the order said. Somebody knew better, and the troopers go, hand over hand, down into the ship's hold. A few bales of hay come up and over the side of the ship, and sizzle as they strike the water. The troopers nurse a few burned fingers, and Captain Read reappears on deck, smoked, wet with perspiration, and makes his usual answer to a question, "What's the trouble?" with "Nothing at all." But five men of Troop A and Captain Read knows that a dangerous fire has been extinguished for the third time in one day with men's bare hands.
"Three-quarters of an hour, and no sound from the engine-room, except the steady throb of the propeller.
"'Thirty men from Troop A, thirty men from City Troop, and thirty men from Troop C!' and ninety men in three squads silently are lined around that entrance to Hades—the hole. 'Another fire,' was the quick alarm, but it was worse than that. 'Water! water! water!" the cry comes from the sunken eyes that look pleadingly at men; from harsh breathing; from parched throats; from hanging heads of eleven hundred horses and mules that had not been watered since receiving a scant quart eighteen hours before. 'Let's see,' said the United States cavalrymen, quietly, 'the pumps are hopeless, but we can draw up one bucketful every minute from the hold aft, and one every minute from the forward hatch. We ought to water all in ten hours. Form lines and water solid. The horse you skip will be dead in the morning.'
"The horses stand with swollen legs far apart, instinctively to prevent a fall. Once down, they know they never can get up. Their heads hang low and their breathing comes in a whistle from parched lungs through a long, dry throat and dusty mouth. There is an occasional form in the black galleys. It is some trooper, his big arms around the neck of his beloved dying mount, with tears in his eyes, but petting and talking to the animal as if it understood. Then ropes over blocks begin to draw buckets of water from sixty feet below. Immediately each horse or mule has its draught, it is bathed in perspiration, and skin dry and shriveled becomes soft and pliable. One can feel in the dark, whether a horse has been missed or not.
"There is a delay and an anxious inquiry from above: 'What's the matter?' 'Haul away,' is the response, and the bucket comes heavy this time. Oh, it's only a man, stark naked, fainting, with a rope beneath his arms, and head away to one side. 'Hospital case, overcome, haul away,' and another bucket swings upward."
Of course the objective point of the whole campaign was the capital, San Juan, on the northeastern coast of the island. Nevertheless the troops were mostly landed on the southern coast not far from the southwestern corner. The plan was to drive all the Spanish troops upon the island into San Juan, where they could be captured upon the surrender of that city.
The Spaniards abandoned precipitately the whole southern coast line, and this seemed to promise an easy march for the Americans across Porto Rico.
But this was not exactly the case, as we shall proceed to demonstrate.
There were several causes why the Spaniards fled before the invading Americans.
One was that in the beginning the Spanish forces, from lack of knowledge as to where the Americans would land, were widely scattered. By retreating, the coast garrisons were brought together in bodies of more or less magnitude. More than this in the interior could be found stronger positions for defense, and there only land forces would have to be dealt with.
It is probable that the Spaniards in Porto Rico, knowing as they must have, that the war was virtually over, hoped by a show of resistance at the end to come out with a certain degree of credit, and had resolved to give up the fight only when they received an order to do so from Madrid.
At all events, the Spanish troops disputed the American advance at several points. At Fajardo the American forces raised the Stars and Stripes, but the Spaniards, several hundred in number, pulled it down and even sought to drive away the landing party that held the lighthouse on the shore. This attempt was most manifestly absurd, as in the harbor was a squadron, consisting of the monitor Amphitrite, the protected cruiser Cincinnati and the Leyden. No time was lost in landing men to support the lighthouse force, and to open fire from the ships. The Spaniards were driven back and suffered much from their foolish temerity.
In the beginning the plan of campaign included an advance along three lines.
The first division, under General Schwan, was to advance along the western coast to Aguadilla, in the north-western corner of the island, and then to push to the east until Arecibo, on the northern coast and about half-way between Aguadilla and San Juan, was reached. The second division, under General Henry, was to push directly to the north from Ponce, forming a union with Schwan at Arecibo. The main advance was to be along the military road from Ponce to San Juan. As this road runs for some distance parallel to the southern coast, a division was dispatched under General Brooke to land at Arroyo and capture Guayama, an important city on the military road, about forty miles east of Ponce. By this means, whatever detachments of Spanish troops might be stationed on the road between these two points were exposed to attack from both front and rear.
Much, though, had been accomplished before this, enough to show what American arms were capable of.
In the east, General Brooke, after landing at Arroyo, had taken Guayama; in the centre, General Wilson had advanced on the military road, occupied Coamo, and had made a demonstration before Aibonito, where there was a large Spanish force; further to the west, General Henry had marched to within fifteen miles of Arecibo; in the extreme west, General Schwan had marched along the coast and taken Mayaguez, the principal port in that end of the island, after a sharp skirmish with a force that outnumbered his own. The slight opposition met by General Brooke at Guayama, General Wilson at Coamo, and General Schwan near Mayaguez, indicated that there would be little difficulty in reaching the capital, and officers and men alike felt that the capture of San Juan was a matter of but a few days.
The third landing of American troops in Porto Rico took place on August 2, at Arroyo, from the St. Louis and the St. Paul. The army then took the place of the navy and accepted the surrender of the town. There was no defense and no Spanish flag was flying. The surrender of Arroyo was important, as there were a large number of manufacturing enterprises there.
The attitude of the civil authorities and the ineffective character of the defense made by the Spanish troops, says the San Francisco Argonaut, was illustrated by the advance made by General Henry's division. General Roy Stone was sent in advance with a small body of about one hundred men to reconnoiter the road and determine its fitness for military operations. The character of the expedition may be gathered from the fact that General Stone and his officers rode in carriages. Yet town after town surrendered to these outposts until they were encamped before Arecibo, on the northern coast of the island. The main body had nothing to do but follow and furnish flags for the surrendered municipalities.
One of the most extraordinary things in the whole campaign was the surrender of the city of Ponce. This was done in response to a telephone communication from Ensign Curtin. Not a single shot was fired.
After the surrender of Ponce it was reported that a large Spanish force had gathered about ten miles in the interior. Two companies of soldiers were sent out by General Ernst to see what this meant. On the outskirts of the town a party of Spanish soldiers, loaded down with guns and swords, was met with. As soon as the Spaniards caught sight of the Americans they ran toward them crying, "Don't shoot!"
They declared that they were coming in to surrender. Although the party was small, they had arms enough to stock a regiment. They were taken before General Wilson, gave up their arms and signed a parole.
There was quite a strong resistance made at Coamo, a town on the main military road between Juana Diaz and the Spanish mountain stronghold at Aibonito. General Wilson effected the capture of this place with the most consummate skill. His plan was simple enough. It was nothing more nor less than an ordinary flank movement, such as Grant and Sherman used so successfully during the Civil War.
General Wilson advanced against the town on the main road with sufficient infantry, cavalry and artillery to drive out the Spanish garrison. But when the latter attempted to retreat they found their way blacked by the Sixteenth Pennsylvania, under Colonel Hulings, which General Wilson had sent round to the rear of the town the night before.
The attack in front was timed so as to allow this force to get into position.
The Battle of Coamo, if indeed, it can be so called, for it was nothing more than a lively skirmish, has been thus described:
"Just as darkness fell, the regiment left the military road and struck at a right angle for the hills to the northward. Porto Rican guides led the way over paths so rough and narrow that the men could move only in single file. It was toilsome progress. Absolute silence was enjoined; no smoking was permitted lest the fitful flash of a match should betray the movement to the watchful Spaniards on the hills. For hours the men toiled on. The officers were compelled to walk and lead their horses. Creeks and rivulets were waded; lofty hills were climbed or skirted; yawning ravines were crossed. The men dripped with perspiration, although the night air was chilly.
"At dawn both General Wilson and General Ernest were in the saddle, and long before the shadows lifted from the valleys the main body of the army was in motion to drive the enemy out of the town and into Hulling's net. Nearer than the village and off to the right was the blockhouse of Llamo de Coamo. The blockhouse was the first place attacked. There was a heavy, jarring rumble over the macadam of the military road. Anderson's battery came along at a sharp trot. At a turn in the road where the blockhouse came into view it halted. Two minutes later the fight opened. For a few minutes the Spanish returned the fire with Mausers, but as shell after shell crashed through the blockhouse, they abandoned it and fell back toward Coamo. Soon flames leaped upward from the roof, and an hour later the fort was but a smoldering ruin.
"Meanwhile the infantry was pressing rapidly forward. General Wilson was wondering what had become of Hulings. Not a warlike sound came from the village, a mile and a half away. Had the garrison escaped? Suddenly from beyond the town came the rattle of musketry. Soon the sound swelled into a steady roar, which the mountains echoed again and again."
The same writer tells a story in regard to one whom he terms a real hero of the war, and he calls attention to the callous manner in which Spanish soldiers were sacrificed to protect political adventurers at home. To quote his own words:
"His name was Don Rafael Martinez. There was no military justification for attempting to hold Coamo under the circumstances. Yet Major Martinez stayed. He was still in the prime of youth and in fine health. In Spain his family is aristocratic and influential, and could have protected him from the consequences of a quixotic court-martial. Martinez knew that resistance was utterly hopeless. But Colonel San Martian had been practically disgraced by Governor-General Macias for evacuating Ponce, and all commanders of garrisons in the path of the American army were ordered to fight. So Major Martinez kissed his young wife and children good-by one day last week and sent them into San Juan for safety. His scouts brought word that an American column of double the garrison's strength was slowly creeping around to his rear. Then Martinez knew that he was trapped, and decided to go out and meet the enemy. He rode in advance of his slender column until he sighted Hulings's men, who were immediately apprised of the enemy's presence by a volley. Soon bullets were flying like hail. Martinez, mounted upon a gray horse, rode up and down in front of his troops, uttering encouraging words. The soldier's death which Martinez sought was not long coming. For a while he reeled in his saddle, maintaining his seat with evident difficulty. Then his horse went to his knees, and Martinez slowly slid from the saddle, a lifeless form. When Major Martinez was found, five wounds, three of which were mortal, were discovered. His horse was shot in four places."
The result of the attack on Coamo was the capture of about one hundred and eighty men, or most of the garrison except the cavalry who took to the mountains by paths better known to them than to the Americans. Of General Wilson's force, none was killed and only a few were wounded.
The whole affair was splendidly managed. As has been said before, all General Miles's plans could be put into action, the war was practically ended.
On the afternoon of August 12, Secretary of State Day and M. Cambou, the French ambassador, who was representing Spain, affixed their signatures to duplicate copies of a protocol establishing a basis upon which the two countries, acting through their respective commissioners, could negotiate terms of peace.
The provisions of the protocol were practically as follows:
1. That Spain will relinquish all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba.
2. That Porto Rico and other Spanish islands in the West Indies, and an island in the Ladrones, to be selected by the United States, shall be ceded to the latter.
3. That the United States will occupy and hold the city, bay and harbor of Manila, pending the conclusion of a treaty of peace which shall determine the control, disposition and government of the Philippines.
4. That Cuba, Porto Rico and other Spanish islands in the West Indies shall be immediately evacuated, and that commissioners, to be appointed within ten days, shall, within thirty days from the signing of the protocol, meet at Havana and San Juan respectively, to arrange and execute the details of the evacuation.
6. On the signing of the protocol, hostilities will be suspended and notice to that effect will be given as soon as possible by each Government to the commanders of its military and naval forces.
The President at once signed the following proclamation, declaring an armistice:
"By the President of the United States of America:
"Whereas, By a protocol concluded and signed August 12, 1898, by William R. Day, Secretary of State of the United States, and his Excellency Jules Cambon, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the republic of France at Washington, respectively representing for this purpose the Government of the United States and the Government of Spain, the United States and Spain have formally agreed upon the terms on which negotiations for the establishment of peace between the two countries shall be undertaken; and,
"Whereas, It is in said protocol agreed that upon its conclusion and signature hostilities between the two countries shall be suspended, and that notice to that effect shall be given as soon as possible by each government to the commanders of its military and naval forces;
"Now, therefore, I, William McKinley, President of the United States, do, in accordance with the stipulations of the protocol, declare and proclaim on the part of the United States a suspension of hostilities, and do hereby command that orders be immediately Driven through the proper channels to the commanders of the military and naval forces of the United States to abstain from all acts inconsistent with this proclamation.
"In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
"Done at the city of Washington, this 12th day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight, and of the independence of the United States the one hundred and twenty-third.
"By the President. William R. Day, Secretary of State."
It may be interesting to pause here for a moment and note what the London press had to say as to this suspension of hostilities. It will be observed that the comments were extraordinarily favorable to the United States.
The Standard, commenting on the signing of the protocol by the representatives of Spain and the United States, said: "Thus ends one of the most swiftly decisive wars in history. Spanish rule disappears from the West. The conquerors have problems of great difficulty before them. Doubtless they will face them with patriotic resolution."
The Daily News said: "August 12, 1898, will be a memorable day in the history of the world. It is the day which witnessed the death of one famous empire and the birth of another, destined perhaps to more enduring fame. It must be admitted that the results achieved are a substantial record for four mouths of war."
The Morning Post said that the protocol leaves open the two questions regarding which future difficulties that may not concern the United States and Spain alone are likely to arise. It advises Spain, assuming that the United States only holds Manila, to sell the Philippines.
The Daily Telegraph was impressed by the indifference of the bulk of the Spanish nation to the sentiment of national pride, which seems to be extinct. For this reason national life, in the true sense of the word, must sooner or later cease to exist.
The paper discussed the decadence of Spain in connection with the contention that France and Italy have become stationary, and predicts the ultimate disappearance of the Latin race as a factor in the human drama.
The Chronicle said that the American people will never regret the sacrifices they have made to remove the Spanish colonies from the map.
It added that many more difficulties and sacrifices await them, but the result will be the growth of freedom and the extension of human happiness and prosperity.
The Times said it hoped it was not a violation of neutrality to express the satisfaction felt by a great majority of Englishmen at the success of the United States. It added:
"Historians will wrangle for a long time respecting the propriety of the methods by which the war was brought about, but once begun it was eminently desirable for the interests of the world, and even, perhaps, ultimately to the interests of Spain herself, that it should result in the success of the Americans.
"The factor in the situation which is of the greatest immediate importance to ourselves is the fate of the Philippines."
The Times thought it very remarkable that the New York newspapers discovered on the same day that the United States were bound to put themselves in the best possible position for defending the common interests of themselves and Great Britain in China. It concluded:
"Providence in the nick of time has given them the Philippines."
The armistice proclamation was followed at once by orders from the War Department to the several commanding generals in the field directing that all military operations be suspended.
This was the text of the message to General Miles:
Washington, Aug. 12, 1898.
"Major-General Miles, Ponce, Porto Rico:
"The President directs that all military operations against the enemy be suspended. Peace negotiations are nearing completion, a protocol having just been signed by representatives of the two countries. You will inform the commander of the Spanish forces in Porto Rico of these instructions. Further orders will follow. Acknowledge receipt.
"By order Secretary of War.
"H. C. Corbin, Adjutant-General."
These orders, coming as they did, undoubtedly prevented the sacrifice of many valuable lives before San Juan. But they were anything but popular among the American troops, for they reached the various divisions just as each was about to strike a decisive blow.
The Spaniards, however, it is said, received the news with loud manifestations of delight.
In General Brook's division, a battery had just been advanced to position and the order to fire was about to be given, when a courier, his steed panting and covered with foam, dashed upon the field and informed the general that an armistice had been concluded.
General Brooke's sole reply was:
"Lieutenant, you arrived five minutes too soon. You should have been more considerate of your horse."
While our army did not have a chance to show all that it was capable of accomplishing, it was proven conclusively that the Yankees are good and brave fighters.
The sight of an army springing up out of nothing, the spectacle of the monumental work of military organization being pushed on to success in spite of mistakes, arrested the attention of all European nations.
One thing is certain—a noble victory has been nobly won; and won, happily at a cost, which, deplorable though it actually was, was relatively small, as must be acknowledged by every student of the warfare of the past.
HOW THE PORTO RICANS RECEIVED US.
Whatever may have been the attitude and feelings of the Spanish officials and Spanish troops, there can be no doubt that the Porto Ricans themselves welcomed most enthusiastically the advent of the Americans and the dawn of a new era. The joy manifested at the sight of invaders in a conquered country was most extraordinary, and we can affirm with truth that it has no parallel in history.
It was most fortunate that little or no fighting took place, as thus many valuable lives were saved. There was no question whatever as to the result.
The number and location of the Spanish troops on the island just before the armistice was declared were as follows:
Aibonito, 1,800 men, and two 4-inch field cannon; Cavey, 700 men; Caguas, 600; Rio Piedras, 180; Carolite, 320; Arecibo, 320, and two 4-inch field cannon; Aguadilla, 320; Crab Island, 100; Bayamon, 395; San Juan, 1,706, making a total of 5,441, to which may be added approximately 500 of the Guardia Civil, doing duty in their own villages all over the island, and 200 of the Orden Publico, doing similar police duty in San Juan. Many members of the Guardia Civil in or near the territory held by the American troops joined the Americans.
It cannot be told with any certainty how much resistance the Spaniards would have offered had hostilities continued, but most of the fighting would have undoubtedly taken place within sight of San Juan. The Spaniards themselves believed this, as the preparations they made sufficiently indicated.
The native people generally were thoroughly delighted with the news that the island was likely to be ceded to the United States. Wherever the American flag went up, it was cheered with a vigor that probably was never given to the Spanish flag during all the centuries it has been in evidence.
Everywhere, the people rushed forward to welcome the invaders, and showered them with hospitable attentions. Pretty women dressed themselves in their richest garments and smiled their sweetest smiles to charm the conquerors.
Food, cigars and wines were pressed upon the soldiers; the civil authorities issued florid proclamations over the glad event of becoming "Americanos," and the whole country blossomed with Star-Spangled banners. The only reason why even more of them were not displayed was because more of them could not be obtained.
It was one of the most unlooked-for and surprising things of this most surprising war, as a writer in the National Tribune of Washington observes.
The same writer goes on to say that really there is good reason for all this.
"The substantial people of Puerto Rico know that it is immensely to their interest to cut loose from Spain, and be grafted on to the United States. The greater part of their trade is with this country, and Spain has been bleeding them for the privilege of carrying it on. Now they can send their coffee, sugar, tobacco, tropical fruits, etc., directly to this market, get American prices for them, and buy American goods in return at regular American prices.
"They ought to be mighty glad to get into this country, but, being Spaniards, we hardly expected them to have so much sense."
Guanica was the first town taken by our soldiers.
The enthusiasm was unbounded, and numbers of the citizens called to pay their respects to the leading officers.
At Guanica the following proclamation was issued to the people of the island under the signature of General Miles:
"Guanica, Porto Rico, July 27, 1898.
"To the Inhabitants of Porto Rico:
"In the prosecution of the war against the Kingdom of Spain by the people of the United States, in the cause of liberty, justice and humanity, its military forces have come to occupy the islands of Porto Rico. They come bearing the banners of freedom, inspired by noble purposes, to seek the enemies of our government and of yours, and to destroy or capture all in armed resistance.
"They bring you the fostering arms of a free people, whose greatest power is justice and humanity to all living within their fold. Hence they release you from your former political relations, and it is hoped this will be followed by the cheerful acceptance of the government of the United States.
"The chief object of the American military forces will be to overthrow the armed authority of Spain and give the people of your beautiful island the largest measure of liberty consistent with this military occupation.
"They have not come to make war on the people of the country, who for centuries have been oppressed; but, on the contrary, they bring protection, not only to yourselves, but to your property, promote your prosperity and bestow the immunities and blessings of our enlightenment and liberal institutions and government. It is not their purpose to interfere with the existing laws and customs, which are wholesome and beneficial to the people, so long as they conform to the rules of the military administration, order and justice. This is not a war of devastation and dissolution, but one to give all within the control of the military and naval forces the advantages and blessings of enlightened civilization."
The mayor of Guanica also issued a proclamation, which was thus worded:
"Citizens: God, who rules the destinies of nations, has decreed that the Eagle of the North, coming from the waters of a land where liberty first sprang forth to life, should extend to us his protecting wings. Under his plumage, sweetly reposing, the Pearl of the Antilles, called Porto Rico, will remain from July 25.
"The starry banner has floated gayly in the valleys of Guanica, the most beautiful port of this downtrodden land. This city was selected by General Miles as the place in which to officially plant his flag in the name of his government, the United States of America. It is the ensign of grandeur and the guarantee of order, morality and justice. Let us join together to strengthen, to support and to further a great work. Let us clasp to our bosoms the great treasure which is generously offered to us while saluting with all our hearts the name of the great Washington.
"Augustin Barrenecha, Alcalde.
"Guanica, Porto Rico, U. S. A., July 26, 1898."
Yauco was the next to surrender.
When the troops took possession of the town the mayor promptly issued this proclamation:
"To-day the citizens of Porto Rico assist in one of her most beautiful festivals. The sun of America shines upon our mountains and valleys this day of July, 1898. It is a day of glorious remembrance for each son of this beloved isle, because for the first time there waves over it the flag of the Stars, planted in the name of the Government of the United States of America by the major-general of the American Army, General Miles.
"Porto Ricans, we are by the miraculous intervention of the God of the just given back to the bosom of our mother America, in whose waters Nature placed us as people of America. To her we are given back in the name of her government by General Miles, and we must send her our most expressive salutation of generous affection through our conduct toward the valiant troops represented by distinguished officers and commanded by the illustrious General Miles.
"Citizens: Long live the Government of the United States of America! Hail to their valiant troops! Hail Porto Rico, always American!
"Yauco, Porto Rico, United States of America.
"El Alcalde, Francisco Megia."
The alcalde is the judge who administers justice, and he also presides as mayor over the City Council.
The citizens of the town hugged the Americans, and some fell upon their knees and embraced the legs of the soldiers. It was a most remarkable spectacle.
On July 29, Ponce was formally given over to the Americans, without the firing of a single shot. The populace received the troops and saluted the flag with enthusiasm. When General Miles entered the city he was welcomed by the mayor, cheered to the echo by the citizens and serenaded by a band of music.
The mayor of Ponce issued a proclamation of the same tenor as that of the mayor of Yauco, although not quite so enthusiastic.
General Wilson was made military governor of Ponce.
A day or two after the taking of Ponce several local judges were sworn into office. This was the first time in the history of the United States that the judges of a foreign, hostile but conquered country, swore to support the Constitution of the United States.
The following was the form sworn to by the various officials:
"I declare under oath that, during the occupation of the island of Porto Rico by the United States, I will renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, particularly the Queen Regent and the King of Spain, and will support the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, and will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
"Further, I will faithfully support the Government of the United States, established by the military authorities in the island of Porto Rico, will yield obedience to the same and take the obligation freely, without mental reservation or with the purpose of evasion, so help me God."
On July 31, the commanding general sent a message to the War Department, the first official one received from Ponce. It read as follows:
"Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:
"Your telegrams 27th received and answered by letter. Volunteers are surrendering themselves with arms and ammunition; four-fifths of the people are overjoyed at the arrival of the army. Two thousand from one place have volunteered to serve with it. They are bringing in transportation, beef, cattle and other needed supplies.
"The Custom House has already yielded $14,000.
"Please send any national colors that can be spared, to be given to the different municipalities.
"I request that the question of the tariff rates to be charged in the parts of Porto Rico occupied by our forces be submitted to the President for his action, the previously existing tariff remaining meanwhile in force. As to the government under military occupation, I have already given instructions based upon the instructions issued by the President in the case of the Philippine Islands, and similar to those issued at Santiago de Cuba.
When the soldiers entered Ponce the people sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" in a mixture of Spanish and English, and every time this tune was heard the police forced everybody to remove his hat!
"The natives are, upon the whole, exceedingly friendly," says a correspondent of the New York Sun, "and almost all of them welcome the American army. The flag is voluntarily displayed from many of the principal stores. If there are any Spanish flags in the city they are kept carefully concealed. In the stores American goods are sometimes to be found, particularly in hardware stores. All fabrics, foods, and luxuries, however, have been imported from Europe, mostly from Spain. The Spanish Government forces its colonies to import from home by levying a heavy discriminating duty upon all goods not Spanish. Prices are very high, notwithstanding which fact business is brisk.
"The soldiers are good customers and buy all sorts of curios as souvenirs for friends at home. The officers, too, buy considerable quantities of light underclothing. It is safe to say that there has never before been as much money in circulation here. All the merchants favor annexation."
In an article in the National Magazine the following is said:
"The Porto Ricans have taken very quickly and kindly to American occupation. Some have been so quick in changing that their conversion may be doubted. For instance, the editor of La Nueva Era, a daily which in two scraggy leaves purports to be a 'journal of news, travel, science, literature and freedom,' was only a few weeks ago raving at the 'American Pigs'; while now he luxuriates under the eagle's ægis and writes eulogies upon Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and William McKinley. Nor is he alone in his devotion to the American idea. The small boy curses his neighbor by calling him 'un Espanol,' and treats you with disdain if you suggest that he is simply a poor Porto Rican. 'No, no,' he says, pointing at himself. 'No, Espanol, Porto-Rican Americano.' His motives are not, however, always of the sincerest, for the boys have learned a trick of saying to the passing Yankee; 'Viva America,' and then putting up the forefinger with this half-asked question, 'one cent?'"
"'Well, frankly, no,' he replied, 'the mass will welcome any change, but it is quite a question whether we shall gain by annexation to the United States. I have lived in America. Now the Spaniards taxed us heavily, but when they got their money they went off and let us alone. The custom-house officers stole nearly everything from the government. But then we have yet to see how the American custom-house officers will act. Spain knew us and we knew Spain; there were few complaints. The church tax was not heavy, and I never went to service. We do not want the negroes enfranchised till they are better educated. Then the money question is going to be bad for many of us here. We shall suffer dreadfully if the American government makes our dollar worth only fifty cents.'
"The man who uttered these words is a highly respected citizen, speaks English well, and understands America as well as Spain.
"While we were looking over the town we came upon the jail where there are about one hundred and sixty Spanish prisoners," the same writer goes on to say. "Many of these men were selling their chevrons and buttons and other marks of rank with an alacrity worthy of a better cause. One of our party, however, experienced a chill when upon asking one of the prisoners how much he would sell his chevrons for he got this reply, 'No, por el dinero en globo.' 'Not for all the money on earth."
"There spoke the true spirit of Spain. The Spain which sent armies to Jerusalem, patronized Columbus, conquered the half of America with a handful of men—that Spain, with all her black tragedies, never sold her chevrons. Let us be merciful to a fallen foe; at least, let us be truthful. Thank God Spain's power in this hemisphere is crushed. Yet there was chivalry in the old regime. We can afford to be magnanimous now; he who bends above the fallen forever stands erect."
On August 4, when rumors of Spain's submission reached Porto Rico, the editor of La Nueva Era wound up his leading editorial with these words:
"Hurra por la anexion a los Estados Unidos!"
He also gave this excellent sanitary advice to the invading army:
"TO THE BOYS!
"Keep away from fruit of every description and Rum, if you wish to keep your health in this climate."
Moreover, he published this:
"It is an undeniable fact that wherever the American forces have landed they have been welcomed by the people as liberators amid the greatest enthusiasm.
"A new era has dawned for this country and is the advent of happier times.
"The spectre of suspicion with which we were menaced has disappeared forever. We are now sure that the air we breathe is ours and we can breathe it to our fill.
"The labor accomplished by the people of the United States in taking this island, and we say accomplished, as nothing can oppose their arms, is truly a labor of humanity and redemption, and will be one of the greatest glories of the great republic.
"Let us render thanks to the Almighty for the blessing, and let us be well assured that Porto Rico has before it a future of unlimited progress and well-being."
The most rabid Spanish publication of all, La Democracia, issued an address to the public announcing the demise of the paper under its former name, and giving notice that it would reappear under the name of the Courier with a portion printed in English.
In making this announcement the editor promised in the new edition:
"To explain our ideas of brothership and harmony, answering to the ideas proclaimed to the press by our new military authority, such as that the American army has not come as our enemies, but with the purpose of harmonizing with the citizens of Porto Rico. We are pleased to make known that these ideas have been respected, and that all the acts of the forces occupying our city have been characterized by the most exquisite correctness, and that the American troops fraternize with our people."
At all events, these extracts serve to show the trend of public opinion.
"Mr. Morrisey in speaking of the Ponce of to-day says that 'the city is in a horrible sanitary condition, and I wondered how the United States troops stood it. I learned there had been an improvement since the soldiers' arrival, but there is room for considerable more, I think. I went to the Hotel Ingleterra, which is considered the best one in Ponce, and engaged a room. My first meal there was breakfast, which was served at 11 o'clock. My meal consisted of rice, black beans and coffee, all of which was fair. At dinner, which is always served at 6 o'clock, I had the same fare. I tried to get eggs after the first day, but was successful on only two occasions, and then had to pay 7 cents each for them. I learned that the soldiers had made a corner in eggs and had bought nearly all of them, which, of course, made them scarce at the hotels and eating places. All the water used in the hotel is filtered through a huge block of brownstone and even then it is pretty poor.'
"Mr. Morrisey visited the place known as the market in the heart of the city of Ponce, and saw some very interesting scenes. A few of the better class of the natives visited the market several times during the day and made their purchases. There are no butchers in the city, and it is a queer sight, Mr. Morrisey said, to see the way the merchants deliver meat to the purchasers. This article is bought by the penny and a piece about as long as one's finger is sold for 2 cents. The meat is not cut into steaks but in huge lumps. Another thing in reference to the meat is that it is all killed the day before used, which, of course, makes it very tough. The beer on the island is kept in a warm place without any ice and is served in that state. Most of the beer is imported from Germany, and it is only recently that American beer has found its way in the country. This is kept in bottles and when it is served to a customer a small piece of ice is dropped into it. The beer drinker may imagine the rest. The natives do not use much of the beer, but are satisfied with the black coffee and wine.
"The money question has not assumed any large proportions in Porto Rico. Very little money is in circulation on the island. The better class of the natives who are supposed to have some money, spend most of their time and money in Spain, and the stores and merchants, as a result, do not get much of their money. These stores are plentifully supplied with goods, but there is no one to buy them. As soon as the United States soldiers arrived on the island the shopkeepers saw visions of money rolling into their pockets. The price on every article in the stores was increased, and what a native would buy for ten cents the American would be compelled to pay one dollar for the same article. The fare on the railroad running from Ponce to Playo, a distance of about three miles, is one dollar for an excursion trip. The natives make the same trip for twelve cents. Every scheme that can be thought of is practiced by the natives in order to get money from the Americans. In the street and at the entrances to the hotels numerous beggars can be found, all asking for money. Nearly all the inhabitants seemed to be engaged in this sort of work, and the sight of them lounging around, even inside the hotels, is disgusting, says Mr. Morrisey. It is a hard matter to get them to work, and their appearance in scarcely any clothes on the streets is a sight.
"The women go about the roads and plantations smoking large cigars, and are not affected in any manner by the weed. Children of both sexes up to the age of twelve years are permitted to roam about the streets naked, while their parents are not much better off. Nothing but a skirt is worn by the women and the men wear ragged shirts and trousers. Shoes are rarely seen in Porto Rico and a native who is lucky enough to have them is the cynosure of all eyes. The women do not know what silks and satins are, and, it seems, are not desirous of knowing. When night comes the men prepare themselves for bed. This is not hard work, and takes very little time. They tie their heads up in large towels to protect them from the sting of the mosquito, and then lie down in the streets or roads and sleep. These people live mainly on the milk from the cocoanut. Bread is a stranger to them, and very little food is consumed by them, except the wild fruits and vegetables which abound in the outskirts of the cities.
"Mr. Morrisey said the soldiers at Ponce were in a fairly good condition, but it is his opinion that it is no fit place for them under the present condition of the country. He said when the soldier is taken down with typhoid malaria or dysentery he loses flesh rapidly, and he can never regain it as long as he stays in that climate."
All this, although it is in some respects different from some of the opinions we have quoted, is very interesting as it is from a recent eye witness, and shows how Porto Rico of the present impressed a very intelligent man.
The fourth town to surrender, previous to the news of the armistice and therefore the general capitulation of the island, was Juan Diaz. There was a report that there were some Spanish soldiers there, and four companies of the Sixteenth Pennsylvania were sent to find them. Couriers announced the coming of the Americans to the people of the town, and a brass band came out to meet them. The vast majority of the citizens assembled on the outskirts of the town and as the American volunteers appeared the band played "Yankee Doodle" and other patriotic American airs, while the people cried: "Vivan los Americanos."
A large number had presents of cigars, cigarettes, tobacco and various fruits which they loaded upon the soldiers, and many insisted upon taking the visitors to their homes. Everywhere, the American flag was waving. In the public square the mayor made a speech, in which he said that all the people of Juan Diaz were Americans now, and the crowd shouted:
"Death to the Spaniards!"
While speaking of Juan Diaz, perhaps it will prove of interest to insert the opinion of a correspondent of one of the New York papers as to the women of that town and of Porto Rico in general. He says:
"No one ever walks in Porto Rico. The mule's the thing here. The women ride a great deal. The better class use the English side saddle, although a few prefer the more picturesque and safer, but less graceful, Spanish saddle. In the country districts the pillion is occasionally employed, while among the lower classes many women ride astride without exciting comment. When the natives are both pretty and good riders they display considerable coquetry in the saddle.
"I noticed one rider near Juan Diaz who took my mind back to the old days of chivalry. She was a lovely girl of about fifteen or sixteen, with a face like a Madonna and a figure like an artist's model. One little foot crept out beneath her silk riding skirt, and to my surprise it was devoid of hosiery. The skin was like polished velvet, and was of a pinkish gold of an exquisite tint. It was shod with a slipper of satin or silk, embroidered in color and had an arched instep which made the foot all the more charming by its setting.
"The time to see the women at their best is on Sunday morning, when they ride from their homes to mass in the nearest church or cathedral. On one Sunday morning, while riding leisurely into a small village on my way to this town, I met a crowd of worshippers on their way to mass. Nearly all the women were on mule back, and sat or lolled as if they were in an easy chair in their own homes. A few, probably wealthier than the others, or else delicate in health, were accompanied by little darky boys, who held over them a parasol or an umbrella.
"On Sunday each woman wears a huge rosary, sometimes so large as to be uncomfortable. I saw several that were so unwieldy that they went over the shoulders and formed a huge line, larger indeed than a string of sleigh bells. These are ornamental rosaries and are not used for prayer. The praying rosary is as small and dainty as those used by fashionable women in our own Roman Catholic churches. Besides the fan and the rosary every woman was provided with a neat and often handsomely-bound prayer book and a huge lighted cigar or cigarette.
"This is indeed the land for women who love the weed. A few smoke cigarettes and pipes, but the majority like partajas, perfectos, Napoleons and other rolls of the weed larger than those usually seen in our own land. They smoke them at home and in the streets, at the table or on the balcony, lying in hammocks, or lolling on their steeds, and only desist when within the sacred walls of the church. The moment mass is over and they emerge into the sunlight the first thing the women do is to light a fresh cigar and then climb into the saddle.
"They make a beautiful picture upon the roads. Imagine an intensely blue sky above, with below rich green vegetables and startling dashes of scarlet, crimson, vermillion, orange and white from the flowers which seem to bloom the year through, setting off the bright hues of the costumes. It combines the picturesque side of New Orleans life, of Florida scenery, of the Maine lake country, and of the New Hampshire hills."
At Guayama there was even a greater reception than at Juan Diaz. In fact, everywhere, as soon as the people heard of the landing of our soldiers, the American flag was hoisted and kept hoisted, while the Spaniards were driven from the towns where soldiers were stationed.
A large number of Porto-Rican refugees now began to return to the island. These were men who had been engaged in revolution, and had been deported by the Spanish Government. Their progress to their homes was a continual ovation.
The returned refugees had a conference with the leading citizens and there was no doubt in any one's mind but that ninety per cent. of the people was in favor of annexation. They felt that the United States was their deliverer, and they would rather join the American Republic than have self-government.
There was also a conference between the most prominent citizens of Ponce, and Mr. Hanna, the American consul at San Juan.
The Porto Ricans had views which they wished to have presented to the United States, and were anxious to play some part in the new order of things and to hold some of the offices themselves. They were particularly desirous to know about the American school system and as to the possibility of introducing it into the island. They wished that their children should learn to speak English. Mr. Hanna explained the public school system of the United States, and the Porto Ricans were greatly pleased at what they heard. Then they again brought up the question of how they could participate in the reorganization of the island.
"Gentlemen," said Mr. Hanna, "the best thing you can do is to get together and find out just what you want. You have, of course, very good ideas as to what the American system of government is. You no doubt by this time know whether you desire to be attached to the United States as a territory, with a representative in our Congress. You may differ on the point of having Americans for your own officials here during the time that the government that is to prevail here is being put into shape. But you can safely leave your wishes in the hands of President McKinley."
A New York Herald correspondent has some interesting things to say as to the new Ponce, a town which is representative of the entire island:
"Ponce, only yesterday the base for our military invasion, is to-day the American capital in the West Indies. Ponce is deep in the second stage of political evolution.
"Ponce is learning the English language. Ponce is mastering the mysteries of American money. Ponce is inquiring into the methods of American politics. Ponce is preparing to abandon the church schools and adopt our system of education. Papeti, the chambermaid in the Hotel Francais, has already been taught to say, "Vive l'Americano!" Papeti's brother was shot by the Spanish a few years ago.
"El Capitan," the head waiter at the Hotel Inglaterra, has already mastered one hundred words of English, and his fortune is made. Passing down the street just now I heard a Porto Rican mother crooning her naked babe to sleep to the tune of 'Marching Through Georgia.' The Porto Ricans think that 'Marching Through Georgia' is a national anthem.
"As I write the advance guard of the American prospector to this tropical Klondike of ours are pouring up the broad highway from the playa to the town. They came on the Sylvia, the first merchant ship to reach Ponce from the United States since the town surrendered. They seem to have come literally by hundreds.
"I saw many familiar faces among the newcomers.
"Nearly all these men have come here on commercial enterprises. Porto Rico is a fruitful field. Her agricultural resources, taking the American standard, are as little developed as those of Ohio seventy-five years ago. I imagine the coffee production of the island will be doubled in two years.
"Much American capital will be put into sugar, tobacco and fruits. Many of these men are inquiring about estates in the interior that can be purchased or leased, and about facilities for transportation to the sea-board. This means the building of railroads. Banks are also to be opened in Ponce under our national banking law, and I fancy there will be the liveliest sort of race between rival capitalists as to who shall get the electric railway franchise for the city of Ponce.
"The leading citizens of the island are as wideawake to American enterprise as are these eager gentlemen of the pocketbook who came on the Sylvia."
Colonel Hill of General Wilson's staff was appointed Collector of the Port of Ponce, and he went very carefully into the subject of the probable resources of the island and what the new tariff should be.
In an interview with the Herald, he said:
"Most of my statistics are still incomplete, but I can give you a few facts, which will unquestionably be of great interest to the business men of the States. In Porto Rico everything is taxed, and most articles are taxed in several different ways. There is an impost duty on flour of $4 a barrel. I think that will be knocked off at once. As you know, this island paid no direct money to the former government of Spain. Everything in the way of salaries, pensions, etc., is paid directly out of the Custom House. The commander of the military forces on the island is a lieutenant-general, sent here from Spain. He gets an enormous salary. Many Spanish pensioners of prominence and rank have been sent to the island, and these pensions are paid by the island. Dignitaries of the church and priests are sent here in large numbers. They are paid out of the Custom House.
"Only yesterday I had an application from the widow of a Spanish general, who is pensioned, for the payment of her usual stipend. I had to take that matter under advisement. The priests here in Ponce applied for their usual salary for July. This, under the Spanish law, is a fixed charge. The matter came before me in my capacity of judge-advocate on General Wilson's staff. I had to report that inasmuch as we were operating under the Spanish civil law, which made the salaries of the padres a proper payment from the customs funds, the money was due and should be paid or else the Spanish civil law in that respect should be annulled or suspended.
"General Wilson refused to authorize the payment of the priests' salaries, and the matter went to General Miles, who sustained General Wilson. Now here is a very interesting and unprecedented question. As a matter of policy it might be well to pay these salaries for the present. The padres, of course, the next time they address the congregation will say: 'Here is this new American Government which you welcomed with such pleasure refusing to pay your priests. You thought you were going to be relieved of taxation. We must ask you to go into your pockets and pay us yourselves. Thus you have an additional tax placed upon you.'"
But still the clergy, as a rule, were in favor of the United States.
Father Janices, a well-known and most intelligent priest, had this to say in regard to the attitude of the Catholic Church in Porto Rico toward the United States:
"We are neither cowards nor liars. We do not deny that we have always been loyal Spanish subjects, but it is the duty of the Church to save souls and not to mingle in international quarrels.
"With all our hearts we welcome the Americans. Your constitution protects all religions. We ask only for the protection of our Church. The Archbishop of Porto Rico is now in Spain, and the Vicar General of San Juan is acting head of the Church in the island. But we no longer look to him as our ecclesiastical head; but as soon as possible we shall communicate with Cardinal Gibbons and we await his wishes.
"Should any American soldier desire the administrations of a priest, they always shall be at his service. We have determined to become loyal Americans."
Moreover, on September 23, Captain Gardner, in company of General Wilson, called upon the President and made a report in which he elaborated upon the relation of the Church to the government. He stated that while a large majority of the Porto Ricans were Catholics, by profession, they were not offensively zealous. He placed the number of priests at 240, and the annual cost to the public treasury of their support at about $120,000 in American money.
Colonel Gardner, in addition to his report, also presented to President McKinley, an address signed by many of the leading Porto Ricans. The signers expressed their pleasure at the prospect of becoming citizens of the United States, and announced their hope that the Porto Rican people might some day become worthy to organize a State of the Union.
OUR CLAIM TO PORTO RICO.
One great question raised by the recent war was that of territorial expansion, and this question called forth many expressions of opinion both for and against.
There is no doubt, however, but that Porto Rico is ours by the right of conquest, and that it would be a crime from every point of view for us not to retain it.
That we shall retain it, too, now seems certain.
Let us now, in the first place, look back and see what two of our most prominent statesmen have said in the past. They may be looked upon almost as prophets.
The idea of territorial expansion is not a new one. In fact, it dates back half a century, and the thought of this expansion has been silently hatched ever since.
In 1846, William H. Seward, afterward Secretary of State under the administration of Abraham Lincoln, published an open letter under the title, "We Should Carry Out Our Destiny."
To carry out that destiny, said Mr. Seward in this letter, the United States should prepare themselves for their mission by getting rid of the Old World which still continued with ideas of another age upon portions of the American soil.
This Mr. Seward called buying out the foreigners. In 1846 he counted the ruler of Cuba and Porto Rico among the foreigners which should sell out their possessions to the United States.
It was he who during his term of office purchased Alaska from the Czar of Russia for the sum of $7,200,000. He also negotiated for the acquisition of the Danish Antilles, but this project fell through, chiefly for the reason that at that time the President was opposed to it.
In politics Mr. Seward favored a system which he compared to the ripe pear that detaches itself and falls into your hand.
One thing seemed to him certain, and that was that the United States could not help annexing by force the people who would be too slow to come to them of their own free will.
"I abhor war," he wrote. "I would not give one single human life for any portion of the continent which remains to be annexed; but I cannot get rid of the conviction that popular passion for territorial aggrandizement is irresistible. Prudence, justice and even timidity may restrain it for a time, but its force will be augmented by compression."
It was a half century before the explosion occurred, but when it came its echoes resounded all over the world, carrying joy to some and fear to others, fear of this young giant of the New World.
"The discovery of this continent and of those islands and the organization upon their soil of societies and governments have been great and important events. After all, they are merely preliminaries, a preparation by secondary incidents, in comparison with the sublime result which is about to be consummated—the junction of the two civilizations upon the coast and in the islands of the Pacific. There certainly never happened upon this earth any purely human event which is comparable to that in grandeur and in importance. It will be followed by the levelling of social conditions and by the re-establishment of the unity of the human family. We now see clearly why it did not come about sooner and why it is coming now."
At a reception given to his honor in Paris, just after the close of the Franco-Prussian war, Mr. Seward found himself the centre of a group, mostly composed of young Americans.
He had just almost completed a tour around the world, and in answer to a question as to what had impressed him most during his travels, he answered practically as follows:
"Boys, the fact is the Americans are the only nation that has and understands liberty. With us a man is a man, absolutely free and politically equal with all, with special privileges for none. Every one has a chance, whereas, wherever I have been I was impressed with the subjugation and oppression of the people. I had all my life talked in public and private of the greatness of our mission of civilization and progress, of the ideas we represented, and the lessons we were teaching the world, but I never realized how true it was that we were of all others the representatives of human progress. Now I know it. I am sure now, from what I have myself seen, that nothing I have ever said or others have said, as to the destiny of our country was exaggerated. I am an old man now and may not see it, but some of you boys may live to see American ideas and principles and civilization spread around the world, and lift up and regenerate mankind."
The opinion of another old-time statesman, given some quarter of a century ago, is of vivid interest to-day.
In 1872, when the Geneva Convention was holding its deliberations, Mr. William M. Evarts spoke words of wisdom to a company of distinguished guests at a luncheon given by him at the house in which he was then living.
Among others present were Charles Francis Adams, Caleb Cushing, Morrison R. Waite, afterward Chief Justice; J. Bancroft Davis, Charles C. Beaman, and others of the American Commission.
What Mr. Evarts said was in substance as follows:
"Gentlemen, God has America in his direct keeping, and lets it work out its destinies in accordance with His own wishes and for His own purpose. When the time came and Europe needed an outlet for its surplus energy, God let down the bars and America was discovered. Then little colonies of enterprising and progressive men, seeking freedom from troubles and oppressions of their native land, founded homes along the Atlantic coast. He had let down the bars again for his own purposes. These men struggled and fought and progressed in civilization and liberty until the time came when again the bars were let down and we had the Revolution, and the colonies became a nation. Again the bars went down, and then came the Mexican war, giving the nation the room necessary for its expansion, the space necessary for the homes of the millions from the Old World who sought the freedom of the New. From Atlantic to Pacific that little fringe of people of the colonial times had evolved until they were a great nation. We needed the precious metals, and gold and silver were found sufficient for our purposes. God had let down the bars. But one thing remained, one canker and sore, one great evil which threatened and worried and troubled, but God in His own good time again let down the bars and it was forever swept away, for He allowed the rebellion. He gave humanity and justice and right the victory. He restored the Union, He will heal the sores, He will lead the people to its final destiny as the advance guard of civilization, progress and the upbuilding and elevation of mankind, and in good time the bars will be again let down for the benefit of humanity—when or why we know not, but He knows."
In the light of recent events, the utterances of these two great men are certainly deserving of the utmost consideration. Both of them really seem to be seers, who, from their observations of the past, saw visions of the future for the native land they loved so well.
The Paris Figaro, in a remarkable article, says that, willingly or forcibly, America must belong to the Americans. The New World must gird up its loins and be ready to fulfill its mission. And this must be done by force when persuasion is not sufficient. And when the Americans shall have rejoined Europe in some portion of Asia, concludes the Figaro, and closed the ring of white civilization around the globe, will they stop or can they stop? That is the secret of the future. Its solution will depend upon what they will find before them—a Europe torn and divided, or, as it has been said, the United States of Europe. At all events, they will have the right to be proud, because they will have carried out their destiny.
Now to turn to an opinion by an Englishman, and be it remembered that England stood by us in a remarkable way from the very beginning of the Spanish-American war and undoubtedly prevented the other European nations from interfering.
The opinion we are about to give is from the pen of Mr. Henry Norman, the special commissioner of the London Chronicle.
Among other things, Mr. Norman says in an article entitled "A War-Made New America":
"The vision of a new Heaven and a new earth is still unfulfilled, but there is a new America. The second American Revolution has occurred, and its consequences may be as great as those of the first. The American people are as sensitive to emotional or intellectual stimulus as a photographic film is to light, but they are also to a remarkable degree, a people of second thoughts. Their nerves are quick, but their convictions are slow. The apparent change was so great and so unexpected that at first I could not bring myself to believe in its reality or its endurance. Unless all signs fail, however, or I fail to interpret them, the old America, the America obedient to the traditions of the founders of the republic, is passing away, and a new America, an America standing armed, alert and exigent in the arena of the world-struggle, is taking its place.
"The change is three-fold:
"I. The United States is about to take its place among the great armed powers of the world.
"II. By the seizure and retention of territory not only not contiguous to the borders of the republic, but remote from them, the United States becomes a colonizing nation, and enters the field of international rivalries.
"III. The growth of good will and mutual understanding between Great Britain and the United States and the settlement of all pending disputes between Canada and America, now virtually assured, constitute a working union of the English-speaking people against the rest of the world for common ends, whether any formal agreement is reached or not."
Mr. Norman goes on to say, after speaking of the possible American army and navy of the present and the future:
"And look at the display of American patriotism. When the volunteers were summoned by the President they walked on the scene as if they had been waiting in the wings. They were subjected to a physical examination as searching as that of a life insurance company. A man was rejected for two or three filled teeth. They came from all ranks of life. Young lawyers, doctors, bankers, well-paid clerks are marching by thousands in the ranks. The first surgeon to be killed at Guantanamo left a New York practice of $10,000 a year to volunteer. As I was standing on the steps of the Arlington Hotel one evening a tall, thin man, carrying a large suitcase, walked out and got on the street car for the railway station on his way to Tampa. It was John Jacob Astor, the possessor of a hundred millions of dollars. Theodore Roosevelt's rough riders contain a number of the smartest young men in New York society. A Harvard class-mate of mine, a rising young lawyer, is working like a laborer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, not knowing when he may be ordered to Cuba or Manila. He is a naval reserve man and sent in his application for any post 'from the stoke hole upward.' The same is true of women. When I called to say good-by to Mrs. John Addison Porter, the wife of the Secretary to the President, whose charming hospitality I had enjoyed, she had gone to Tampa to ship as a nurse on the Red Cross steamer for the coast of Cuba. And all this, be it remembered, is for a war in which the country is not in the remotest danger, and when the ultimate summons of patriotism is unspoken. Finally, consider the reference to the war loan. A New York syndicate offered to take half of it at a premium which would have given the Government a clear profit of $1,000,000. But the loan was wisely offered to the people and the small investor gets all he can buy before the capitalist is even permitted to invest. And from Canada to the Gulf, from Long Island to Seattle, the money of the people is pouring in."
Mr. Norman concludes his article with these pregnant words, words which will force every man of any brains whatever to pause and think:
"Here, then, is the new America in one aspect—armed for a wider influence and a harder fight than any she has envisaged before. And what a fight she will make! Dewey, with his dash upon Manila; Hobson and his companions, going quietly to apparently certain death, and ships offering the whole muster roll as volunteers to accompany him; Rowan, with his life in his hand at every minute of his journey to Gomez and back, worse than death awaiting him if caught; Blue, making his 70-mile reconnoissance about Santiago; Whitney, with compass and notebook in pocket, dishwashing his perilous way round to Porto Rico—this is the old daring of our common race. If the old lion and the young lion should ever go hunting side by side——!"
Mr. Norman wisely leaves his last sentence unfinished. For no man can predict what the result would be. Would it be the subjugation of the entire world to the Anglo-Saxon race?
After considering what the French and the English have to say, now let us turn to the utterances of the Hon. Andrew H. Green, who spoke purely in the interests of a private citizen, one who desired the retention of the territory acquired by the American Government solely because he wished that the people of the United States should not underestimate the value of their grand opportunities for national enrichment.
"War with Spain," said Mr. Green, in the beginning of his interview in the Sun, "was declared by the authorized authorities, whether wisely or otherwise, it is not now of much profit to discuss. It has been prosecuted with vigor and brought to a successful issue with a dispatch unprecedented in conflicts of equal magnitude. What shall be done with its results? What, in this age of enlightenment and progress, shall we do with the territories and with their peoples and property that the fate of war has placed under our control and guardianship?"
Mr. Green concludes his interview as follows:
"As occasion offered heretofore the American people have insisted upon acquiring and holding territory when the interests of the country required it. Looking at all the precedents, at the present situation, at the signs and needs of the times, there is but little room to doubt that the permanent retention of all territory acquired from Spain will, in the interest of humanity and duty, be demanded with equal firmness. We shall go on in the same course of expansion which we have pursued from our earliest history as an independent nation. We have 'hoisted the mainsail' of the ship of state and started her about the world. While heeding Washington's warnings and the popular interpretation of the Monroe doctrine to keep the people of other nations from getting a foothold on this continent, we shall not pervert their spirit by stubbornly refusing to improve an opportunity to extend and increase our power and our commerce. Every extension of our territory hitherto made has been resisted by a spirit the same in essence as that which now timidly opposes our improving the wonderful opportunities put in our hands by the happy fortune of war; but such opposition has failed of its purpose invariably hitherto, and it will fail now with the American people. The sacrifices of the war will not have been in vain and the victories won by the valor of our navy and army will not fail of their legitimate and well-earned points."
We are a practical people. There can be no doubt about that, but still we are occasionally moved by sentiment, as when we undertook to free Cuba from oppression, but at the bottom of every national action there is a sound practical idea.
It was a pure and unselfish sentiment, however, that impelled us to prevent the extermination of the people of Cuba, a country so near to our own doors, and to demand for them by force of arms, the freedom and independence which was and is most unquestionably their right.
With Cuba freed, the rule of Spaniards in Porto Rico would be both absurd and dangerous. It would be a menace to the perpetual peace between Spain and the United States, which the latter are determined on for the future.
Moreover, as we have seen, Porto Rico wishes most strongly to become an integral portion of the Union, and we desire to receive her as such.
The rule of common sense should be applied, and both sentiment and practicality are united in calling for the conditions which the American Government has demanded as to the former Spanish possessions in the Western Hemisphere.
The war against Spain was inevitable, was just and necessary for the sake of humanity and the progress of the world. Both our army and navy have shown glorious bravery and heroism, and their marvelous achievements must not be allowed to bring forth no results.
By the fortunes of war a great responsibility has been placed in the hands of the United States, and it would be criminal to shirk in any respect this responsibility. We must not give back to Spain any portion of the earth in which to continue her abominable misrule. Let the United States move forward to its manifest destiny.
In a powerful editorial the New York Sun declares that our success will make for the world's peace. We alone were the nation to free Cuba and the other Spanish colonies. No one of the European powers could have come forward to the rescue of the colonies without provoking the enmity and jealousy of the other powers. If we had neglected to discharge our duty, then that duty would probably have fallen to a commission of the European nations. The consequence would have been that Spain would have been superseded in the Spanish Antilles by a strong European power, which would have led sooner or later to a partition of Spanish America. The United States alone could upset Spanish colonial rule without exciting an uncontrollable outburst of envy and greed in Europe, and occasion a general scramble for the spoils of the New World.
Neither Cuba nor Porto Rico could have been kept by Spain with any assurance of the general safety of nations. So long as the so-called mother country exercised any power there, both the islands would have been firebrands, which, if not aflame, would surely have been smouldering.
The Sun concludes its editorial with these words:
"It is, in a word, for the interest of the whole civilized world that all of Spain's colonies, with the possible exception of the Canaries, should be turned over to us. It is for the world's interests because, in her hands, they always have been, and always would be, a menace to the general peace. If this be true, and that it is cannot be gainsaid, the sooner the transfer is made the better. The fire, which now is localized, should be put out quickly, lest it spread. A thousand accidents, contingencies, inadvertencies, may lead to the very complications which all of the European powers, except Spain, are anxious to avoid. We except Spain because, in putting off the evil day and in postponing submission to the terms which our duty to mankind compels us to impose, she can have no other hope, no other purpose, than to bring about such international entanglements as may cause a general war. Spain alone has anything to gain from such a contest; in it she would at least have allies, and would expect to see her thirst for revenge upon us gratified. The great powers of Europe, however, do not mean to risk an œcumenical convulsion for the sake of a decadent monarchy, which, considered as the trustee of colonies, has been tried in the balance and found wanting. They recognize that, in seeking to evade the sentence of rigorous isolation which the conscience of mankind has passed upon her, she is jeopardizing the peace of the world. For that reason they are exerting and will continue to exert all the means of moral pressure at their command to induce the Spaniards to accept promptly such terms as our Government may offer."
The people of the United States, after the armistice was declared, were united in one thing, and that was, that apart from the question of indemnity, the one condition of peace, final and unvariable, would in the nature of the case be this:
The surrender and cession to the United States, now and forever, of all Spain's possessions in the western waters of both Atlantic and Pacific.
The fortune of a war begun for the liberation of one people has put it into the power of the United States to liberate several peoples. All this territory, which is ours by right, must henceforth be consecrated to freedom.
Colonel Alexander McClure, in an address at the laying of the cornerstone of the new State Capitol of Pennsylvania, expressed most eloquently the true American feeling in regard to the possessions which our naval and military prowess won from Spain:
"The same supreme power that demanded this war will demand the complete fulfillment of its purpose. It will demand, in tones which none can misunderstand and which no power or party can be strong enough to disregard, that the United States' flag shall never be furled in any Spanish province where it has been planted by the heroism of our army and navy.
"Call it imperialism if you will; but it is not the imperialism that is inspired by the lust of conquest. It is the higher and nobler imperialism that voices the sovereign power of this nation and demands the extension of our flag and authority over the provinces of Spain, solely that 'government of the people by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.'
"Such is the imperialism that has become interwoven with the destiny of our great free Government, and it will be welcomed by our people regardless of party lines, and will command the commendation of the enlightened powers of the Old World, as it rears, for the guidance of all, the grandest monuments of freedom as the proclaimed policy and purpose of the noblest Government ever reared by a man or blessed by Heaven."
WHAT THE POSSESSION OF PORTO RICO WILL MEAN.
The heading of this chapter presents a most difficult problem at this time. It would require an inspired prophet to answer the question, and all that we can do is to look at it as dispassionately as possible, and to show the opinions of those who are more or less informed upon the subject. From these opinions the reader must of necessity draw his own conjectures.
Of course, from the very nature of conditions the land is at the present time of writing in a most unsettled state, from a political, commercial and social point of view.
A new element has entered into the lives of the Porto Ricans, and this new element naturally brings with it an unknown future.
The Spaniards and Porto Ricans have but little idea of political tolerance. They are enemies, now, and both seem to think that the opposite party is to be abused, persecuted and even tortured.
Many of the Porto Ricans, on the word of a competent authority, believe that violence to the persons or property of the Spaniards will be acceptable to the Americans. The Spaniards, sharing this belief, live in a constant state of terror, fearing for their possessions and even for their lives.
The withdrawal to an extent of the Spanish troops gave the guerillas full license, and they burned a number of plantations before our forces were put in charge.
Both natives and Spanish, it might be said, were busy in cutting each other's throats. The people became more or less terrorized, and begged for American protection.
About the first of September, Major-General Wilson met at dinner a large number of prominent islanders, and in response to a toast, he made a rather long speech. As this speech was and is of great interest, we make no apology for reproducing almost in full here.
General Wilson said:
"The great Republic, unlike the governments of Europe, has no subjects. It extends its rights and privileges freely and equally to all men, regardless of race or color or previous condition, who reside within its far-reaching dominions. It makes citizens of all who forswear their allegiance to foreign Powers, princes and potentates, and promise henceforth to bear true faith and allegiance to the United States.
"The expulsion of the Spanish power from your beautiful and long-suffering island and the hoisting of the American flag will be followed shortly, let us hope, by the establishment of a stable civil administration, based on the American principle of local self-government.
"The government now exercising supreme authority in the island, you will understand, is a government of conquest, in which the will of the military commander is substituted for that of the Spanish king and Cortes. It does not pretend to interfere with the local laws, except in so far as may be necessary to protect the army of the United States and maintain peace and good order among the people of the island. It looks to the local courts to do justice as between man and man, and to the moderation and good sense of the people themselves for the maintenance of public tranquility, and for the cultivation of that perfect respect for the rights of persons and property which constitutes the foundation of the American system of government.
"It has been wisely said by one of the fathers of the republic that 'That government is best which governs least,' and this is the principle which Porto Rico should keep constantly in view. Government interference is necessary only when the people, instead of confining themselves exclusively to their own particular affairs, presume to interfere with the affairs of their neighbors.
"If every one, high and low, rich and poor, Porto Rican and Spaniard, devotes himself strictly and exclusively to his own private or official business, eschewing politics and public affairs, for the next year, everybody will find at the end of that time that the island has been well governed and prosperous, and your American fellow citizens will proclaim you worthy of the good fortune which has united your destinies to those of the great Republic.
"Permit me to add that as soon as the Spaniards have evacuated the island, and the sovereignty of the United States is fully established, a military governor will be appointed by the President, and he will govern in the main in accordance with the principles I have indicated. How long this military government will last must depend largely upon the people of Porto Rico themselves.
"In the natural and regular course of events the military government should be followed by a territorial government established by act of Congress, and this in time should be followed in a few years by a government which shall make Porto Rico a sovereign State of the great Republic, and give it all the rights guaranteed by the constitution of the United States.
"Permit me to add, before concluding, that you are likely to meet with delay in the realization of your hopes from two principal causes.
"It is well known in the United States that Porto Rico is a Roman Catholic country, and there is grave objection on the part of many good people against the admission of a purely Roman Catholic State into the Union. This is based not so much on opposition to that particular religion as on the feeling that the domination of any sect would be prejudicial to our principles of government. We have, perhaps, ten millions of Roman Catholics in the United States, but they are scattered throughout the various States, and intermingled everywhere with the Protestant sects, so that no one has a majority. We have no established Church, and under our policy Congress can pass no act concerning religion or limiting the right of any citizen to worship God as he pleases.
"Now that the Spanish government has been expelled, it can no longer support the Church in this island, hence the Church will necessarily have a hard struggle till it can establish itself on the basis of voluntary parochial support. Meanwhile the Protestant denominations in the United States will have the right to send their missionaries into this inviting field, where they will doubtless receive a hearty welcome, but still the advantage will remain with the Roman Catholic Church, in which the people have been born, married and buried for the last four hundred years.
"Besides, it must not be forgotten that the Church, like every other institution of the island, will surely realize its full share of the benefits arising from the union of the island with the great Republic. It will, therefore, become more liberal and independent, as well as more powerful than it has ever been.
"Fortunately for you, however, every other Christian denomination will from this time forth be free to make converts, establish churches, open schools and circulate religious books and newspapers, and generally to show that it is a worthy teacher and guide to a higher and better civilization than ever prevails where one Church holds undisputed sway.
"The second great menace to the future of the Porto Rican people is the danger of an outbreak of violence and intolerance on the part of one section of your people against another; the danger of insular turning against peninsular; of Porto Rican turning against Spaniard, with the torch and dagger, to avenge himself for the wrongs and oppressions, real or imaginary, which have so long characterized the Spanish domination in this beautiful island.
"It needs no argument to show that such an outbreak if it becomes general, cannot fail to bring discredit on your countrymen as a turbulent and law-breaking people who cannot be intrusted with the precious privilege of self-government, and must therefore be ruled by a military commander.
"I firmly believe that the Porto Ricans are a docile, orderly and kindly people, well prepared for a better government than they have ever enjoyed, but you must lose no opportunity to impress upon the United States that you are tolerant and magnanimous as well.
"Your wrongs, whatever they were, have been avenged by the expulsion of the Spanish flag and the Spanish dominion, without exertion or cost on your part, and the least you can do in return is to repress the spirit of revenge and resolve to live in peace and quietude with your Spanish neighbors, respecting their rights of persons and property, as you desire to have your own respected.
"In this way, and in this way only, can you show yourselves to be worthy of the great destiny which has overtaken you, and which, let us hope, is to speedily clothe your island with sovereignty as a member of the great continental Republic.
"Thus, and thus only, can we become fellow citizens indeed in perpetual enjoyment of our common and inestimable heritage as citizens of the freest, richest and most powerful nation in the world." The Hon. A. H. Green speaks as follows of the present condition of Porto Rico:
"The problems that force themselves upon the attention at the outset are those of government and of finance. The first question that naturally arises is, what shall be done with these possessions? How shall they, with their unassimilated populations, be cared for? The presence of a military force will doubtless be an immediate necessity. It should be administered in the mildest form, unless riot and disorder otherwise require, and be controlled by officers humane and intelligent, inclined to encourage at the earliest practical time the inauguration of a civil rule which shall gradually and as rapidly as may be found wise invite an official participation of representatives of the indigenous populations. Can this be done? Let the doubting and the timid recall what has been done, and is now doing toward improving the conditions of the peoples of the East and ask themselves whether America is not likely to be equally successful in caring for those whose destinies she has assumed to direct; whether it is not her duty to enforce order and to keep the peace among peoples who by her acts have been left disorganized and defenseless, a prey to the internecine strifes of barbarous chiefs and to the intrigues of roaming banditti? And have not experiences in assimilating Spanish territories hitherto successfully annexed or conquered proved abundantly our ability to do all this?
"It is natural enough that conservative minds should adhere to the traditions of the past, but times are changed, and the wisest of our forefathers were not able to foresee what the workings of centuries might effect. The atrocities to which the inhabitants of Cuba have been subjected in the past two or more years aroused the indignation of the civilized world.
"'Their moans, the vales redoubled to the hills,
And they to Heav'n.'
"The financial problem, which is already commanding the serious attention of the Government, is next in order. How are the great expenditures of the war to be recouped? Shall we, in addition to territory acquired, demand cash indemnity? If the care of these acquisitions is to be as costly as some suppose, it would not be an unreasonable requirement. While we shall lose the revenues derived from imposts upon importations into the United States from these possessions, which were not large, this will be more than compensated by the duties which we can impose upon importations from other nations into them. In making up the estimates of the whole financial situation it will be safe to assume that at first our Government outlays will exceed income; our people, however, will have the profit of furnishing products of the United States to an added population of 10,000,000 to 12,000,000, freed from the duty that we can impose upon the imports of other nations. Of the $10,000,000 in value of imports into the Philippines from all countries, we supplied less than $200,000, while we took from them nearly $5,000,000.
"The interests of the people who gain their living and manual labor are among the first to be considered and jealously guarded. Fortunately the far greater part of these in America are engaged in employments which will be benefited by annexation. A fresh and unrestrained market is to be opened for our products, and the indigenous products of these regions are to be brought here free of duty to give added employment to our factories. No competitions of labor are to arise."
As to our new acquisition of new colonies by the United States, Theodore S. Wolsey, Professor of International Law at Yale University, has this to say, and every word he utters is pregnant with meaning, for no one could be a more capable judge:
"It has already been said that England learned the lesson of the American Revolution, while Spain has never heeded it nor the loss of her own colonies. Yet it really was not until fifty years ago that their methods sharply diverged. As early as 1778 Spain had begun to open her dependencies to Foreign trade, and early in this century they were allowed to trade with one another. So, likewise, although great changes had been earlier made in the English colonies, the spirit of monopoly and of a restrictive policy was in force until about 1815. So far as relates to the evils of the colonial system, then, the two were not very unlike. But into the field of administrative reform and the grant of autonomous powers to her colonies, Spain never has entered. The abuses of the early part of the century characterize also its later years. Discrimination against the native-born, even of the purest Spanish stock; officials who regard the colony as a mine to be worked, not a trust to be administered; forced dependence upon the mother country for manufactures, even for produce, so far as duties can effect it; self-government stifled; representation in the Cortes denied or a nullity; a civil service unprogressive, ignorant, sometimes corrupt—compare these handicaps with the growth, the prosperity, the independence, above all, the decent and orderly administration, of the colonies of England. One of the wonderful things in this half century is that army of British youth, with but little special training or genius, or even, perhaps, conscious sympathy for the work, learning to administer the great and growing Indian and colonial empire honestly and wisely and well, with courage and judgment equal to emergencies, animated by an every-day working sense of duty and honor, but not very often making any fuss or phrases about it. It is not that Spanish colonial government is worse than formerly, which is costing it now so dear, but that it is no better, while the world's standard has advanced and condemns it. Never yet has Spain looked at her colonies with their own welfare uppermost in her mind. She has never outgrown the old mistaken theories. Her fault is medievalism, alias ignorance.
"It is not a cause for wonder, therefore, quite apart from special sources of discontent, that Cuba, which, by position is thrown into contact with progressive peoples, should chafe at her leading strings. Without reference to the corruption and cruelty, arrogance, injustice and repression which are alleged against the mother country, without rhetoric and without animosity, we may fairly say that Spain is losing Cuba, perhaps all her colonies, simply because she has not conformed to the standard of the time in the matter of colonial government. If England had not altered her own methods, her colonies would long since have abandoned her as opportunity offered. The wonder really is that Spain has held hers so long; for Cuba, at least, owing to its exceptional fertility and position, has relatively outstripped its declining mother.
"There remains the moral of the story.
"If we are not mistaken as to the fundamental causes of Spain's colonial weakness, other colonial powers must take warning also, and the United States in particular, if it yields to the temptations, or, as many say, assumes the divinely-ordered responsibilities, of the situation. For its protective system is a derivative of the mercantile system, as the colonial system was. If it becomes a colonial power, but attempts by heavy duties to limit the foreign trade of its colonies, if it administers those colonies through officials of the spoils type, if it fails to enlarge the local liberties and privileges of its dependencies up to the limit of their receptive powers—if, in short, it holds colonies for its own aggrandizement, instead of their well-being—it will be but repeating the blunders of Spain, and the end will be disaster."
Colonel Hill has declared that the heavy burdens under which the business world of Porto Rico has been staggering in the past have been almost inconceivable. Something of this has already been said, but it may be well to give Colonel Hill's views, as he is certainly a most competent judge. The colonel says that in the first place there has been a tax on every ship that comes in and goes out. There has been a heavy tax on all articles of impost and a special tax on all articles not enumerated in the tariff. In addition to that, an additional tax of ten per cent. on the bill was added. Each hackman who plied between the port and the town of Ponce had to pay a tax of eight dollars a month. No person could write a letter to an official without first going to the collector and purchasing a certain kind of official paper, for which he must pay fifty cents to one dollar a sheet. The price was regulated by the rank of the official who had to be written to.
The effect of all this was rather to increase the number of complaints from citizens than to increase the revenues of the island.
To General Ernst, who was the officer in command of the territory of Coamo, a large number of protests were made. In especial, a delegation of twelve to fifteen citizens called upon the general to request the removal of the alcalde, on the ground that he had been an officer in the Spanish volunteer army, and was unsatisfactory because of his former connections. The gentleman, however, had gracefully accepted the new condition of affairs and was performing the duties of his office earnestly and faithfully. These facts General Ernst was in possession of and he was forced in consequence to deny the request of the delegation.
For his own protection and to remove any false impression there might be in the public mind, General Ernst issued the following proclamation, which was printed in both English and Spanish:
"Headquarters 1st Brigade, 1st Div.,
1st Army Corps, Camp Near Coamo,
Porto Rico, September 3, 1898.
To the People of Coamo and Neighboring Districts:
"To prevent misunderstanding as to the rights and duties of the various members of this community, you are respectfully informed:
"1. That no change has been made in the civil laws of Porto Rico, and that none can be made except by the Congress of the United States. The present civil authorities are to be obeyed and respected.
"2. That no prejudice rests against any citizen, whether in office or not, for having served as a volunteer, if he now frankly accepts the authority of the United States.
"3. That the persecution of persons simply because they are Spaniards, or Spanish sympathizers, will not be tolerated. They, as well as the Porto Ricans, are all expected to become good American citizens, and, in any event, they are entitled to the protection of the law until they violate it.
O. H. Ernst,
In general, the regulations for Porto Rico were practically the same as those promulgated for Cuba and the Philippines. The one important difference was that trade between ports in the United States and ports and places in the possession of the United States in Porto Rico be restricted to registered vessels of the United States and prohibited to all others. It was provided that any merchandise transported in violation of this regulation should be subject to forfeiture, and that for every passenger transported and landed in violation of this regulation the transporting vessel should be subject to a penalty of $200.
This regulation should not be construed to forbid the sailing of other than registered vessels of the United States with cargo and passengers between the United States and Porto Rico, provided that they were not landed, but were destined for some foreign port or place.
It was further provided that this regulation should not be construed to authorize lower tonnage taxes or other navigation charges on American vessels entering the ports of Porto Rico from the United States than were paid by foreign vessels from foreign countries, nor to authorize any lower customs charges or tariff charges on the cargoes of American vessels entering from the United States than were paid on the cargoes of foreign vessels entering from foreign ports.
The regulations as to entering and clearing vessels and the penalties for the violation were the same as those fixed for Cuban ports in the possession of the United States. The tonnage dues were reduced, as in Cuba, to twenty cents per ton on vessels entering from ports other than Porto Rican ports in the possession of the United States, and two cents a ton on vessels from other ports in Porto Rico. The landing charge of $1 per ton was abolished, and the special tax of fifty cents on each ton of merchandise landed at San Juan and Mayaguez for harbor improvement was continued.
As in Cuba, the Spanish minimum tariff was to be collected. On most articles, however, this was much higher than the minimum tariff which was imposed by Spain in Cuba. The differential in Porto Rico imposed on goods imported from countries other than Spain was much smaller than in Cuba, so that under Spanish rule there was not a wide difference between duties on goods from countries other than Spain imported into the two islands. Under the operation of the President's orders imposing the minimum tariffs in both islands the effect would be to tax most articles much higher in Porto Rico than in Cuba. As in Cuba, a tariff was imposed on tobacco, manufactured tobacco, cigars and cigarettes equivalent to the internal revenue taxes imposed in the United States.
Richard Harding Davis says that there will be no such complications in Porto Rico as those which exist in Cuba for the United States troops there were not allies. They were men who came, were seen and conquered. The revolutionary leaders had no share or credit in their triumphal progress.
Now to examine into what Porto Rico offers for American enterprise and capital.
In the first place, United States Consul Hanna has been flooded with letters from fortune hunters. He strongly advised all of them to remain at home until the Americans were in complete control. Now, let us examine what one or two competent authorities have to say of Porto Rico, so far as American enterprise is concerned.
Here is the opinion of a man who has lived in Porto Rico for several years and who knows of what he is speaking:
"We take Porto Rico, too, at a time when everything favors increased prosperity. It has not been ravaged and wrecked, like Cuba, by war. Its foreign trade in 1896, amounting to $36,624,120, was the largest in its history, the value of the exports then, for the first time in over ten years, exceeding that of the imports. Of course the main trade has always been with Spain, but the trade with us stands next, and during the year in question was over two-thirds of that with Spain. Of late, it is true, our trade with Porto Rico has been relatively declining, being far less than it was a quarter of a century ago. During the reciprocity period of a few years since it increased somewhat, but after that it fell off again. It is important to note, however, that our exports to Porto Rico have kept well up of late years, the falling off in total trade being due to the decline of our imports, so that now the exports are not far from equal to the imports, instead of being much inferior as formerly. It is a noteworthy fact that the exchange from both countries is mostly of products of the soil. That is the case with ninety-nine hundredths of Porto Rico's exports to us, sugar and molasses comprising 85 per cent., with coffee coming next, and it is also true of over three-fifths of our exports to Porto Rico, among which breadstuffs and meat foods are prominent.
"But with Porto Rico fully ours, and the discriminations enforced by past laws in favor of Spanish trade wiped out, there must be a change in the currents of her commerce. We shall expect to furnish the chief markets for her products, and on the other hand to send to the island more food products than ever, more machinery, textile fabrics, iron and steel. Her capabilities will be developed, perhaps notably in coffee cultivation. Her peaceful and industrious people will welcome American enterprise and capital, American progressive methods, and free institutions. Indeed one of the most striking events of this year was the extraordinary enthusiasm with which American troops were greeted all along the southern shores of the island. It was as if the people could already forecast the great future in store for them, under American laws and the American flag."
A correspondent of the New York Evening Post, who signs himself by the initials A. G. R., speaks with authority as follows:
"The prominence given to the island by the events of recent months has led many of our people to think it of vastly greater importance, commercially, than it really is. Consul Hanna, who is back in his old quarters in San Juan, has a small wheelbarrow load of letters from all parts of the United States, asking detailed information upon all conceivable lines of trade, manufacture and profession. To answer them according to the terms of their requests would be the work of a short lifetime. But they indicate the widespread interest of American business men in Porto Rican mercantile affairs. Every steamer arriving here brings its group of American passengers. Some are visitors who make the trip only through curiosity. The majority come with an idea of some form of business, either in the shape of a speculative flyer, permanent investment, or a commercial or industrial establishment.
"A large percentage of those who come are young men, who have just about enough money to get them here, to keep them here for a week or two, and then get them home again. These come in the hope of finding immediate employment, of catching on to something which will maintain them. They invariably go home again. The island is no place for such. None but the capitalist, the investor, or the business man with money for his business, should come to Porto Rico with anything more in view than an outing or a vacation. As things are at present, there is little enough to interest the capitalist or the investor. The man who is looking for a job should look for it at home; his chances are infinitely better than they are here. There is absolutely nothing for the position hunter, for the clerk, or for the workman. In time there may be something, but it will be, at the least, many months before such opportunities are open, and even then they will be few. Until then the case is hopeless, and those who come will but do as their predecessors have done—go home again, poorer and wiser men. If a young man can afford to spend a couple of hundred dollars in the purchase of that particular form of wisdom, the opportunity is open to him here on this island. If he cannot afford it, he will do better not to risk it.
"Merchants will find nothing to do here, except to glean a certain amount of information of rather doubtful accuracy, until the question of tariff rates shall have been definitely settled. There is now nothing on which to base any plans or calculations for business operations. The native merchants are complaining seriously. They are waiting to place orders for hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of goods to replenish stocks which have been depleted through many mouths of uncertain trade conditions, and are losing business which they have been led to expect would be open to them almost immediately after the American occupation of the different cities in which they are located. Nor is it at all easy for an American to obtain any definite information or accurate details regarding any particular line of business and its possibilities. Local commercial methods are not reduced to the system which prevails among American business men. The Porto Rican merchant buys and sells, but I fail to find evidence of that close study of business and business methods by which the American merchant increases his trade and his profits.
"The entire trade of the island is of no very great magnitude. The local trade in local products is chiefly confined to the morning market for table supplies, which is held in all the cities and larger towns. The total imports and exports hardly reach a gross amount of thirty millions of dollars a year, and the imports exceed the exports by a couple of millions. I have been unable to find any statistics which I was willing to accept as wholly reliable. So far as I can learn, no complete report has been submitted by the United States Consul, and there are discrepancies which I cannot reconcile in the published reports of the English Consul and those of the Dutch Consul. I can, therefore, only give figures which are approximate, though they are sufficiently close for general purposes.
"Cotton goods appear to be the largest item among the imports, and they represent a trade of two or three millions of dollars, varying from year to year, according to the prices and the success or failure of the crop products of the island. Rice is imported to the value of one and a half to two millions of dollars. Flour, chiefly from the United States, approximates three-quarters of a million dollars. Dried, salt and pickled fish, of which Canada seems to obtain the lion's share of the trade, represents a million to a million and a quarter. The United States has the major portion of a trade in pork and pork products which about equals the fish business.
"Woollen goods are, naturally, of but limited consumption in so warm a climate, and the trade is probably less than $150,000 in amount. Agricultural implements represent a business of three to four hundred thousand dollars. Boots and shoes, almost exclusively from Spain, represent some five or six hundred thousand. Chinaware, glassware, lumber, coal, soap, furniture and other articles of general use and consumption represent amounts varying from one to three or four hundred thousand dollars.
"The most astonishing thing in the whole list of importations is the item of vegetable and garden products. These are imported into this country, which is in itself but a natural garden in which can and should be raised every form of vegetable necessary or desirable for consumption, and the annual value of the imports approximates $400,000 and the weight 7,000 tons. The island uses $150,000 worth of imported candles and $50,000 worth of imported butter yearly. It uses two to three hundred thousand dollars' worth of cheese, of which the Netherlands have, for the last few years, furnished much the greater part. Uruguay and the Argentine supply it with one to three thousand tons of jerked beef annually. Wines, beers, and liquors take something more than a half a million a year out of the country.
"Among Porto Rican exports coffee is the heaviest item. This reaches an average valuation of some $10,000,000 a year. Sugar ranks next, and approximates three to four million dollars. Tobacco goes to the extent of some half a million, and molasses touches about the same figure. Hides, cattle, timber and fruit are represented in the list, but their value is comparatively inconsiderable. Guano to the extent of half a million a year appears in the reports for some years, but I am unable to account for either the article or the amount. Some corn has been sent to Cuba, some native rum to Spain, and some bay rum to France and to the United States.
"It will thus be seen that, as yet, the island offers but a comparatively limited amount of business, either in buying or selling. Under wise laws, and a just and equitable system of taxation, with a suitable railway system and improved highways, and with the ports of the United States and of the islands open to the exchange of commodities, free of duty, a very material increase of the business of the island will inevitably follow. It is quite possible to double the trade within the next ten or fifteen years. There will be some wildcat speculation, some unwise investment and some loss to investors. The schemer and the promoter will find victims who will put their money into companies whose future is wholly hopeless. But along with that there may reasonably be expected a steady growth and improvement. But it will come by gradual increase and development, and not by a sudden bound."
According to Mr. William J. Morrisey, a prominent real estate dealer of Brooklyn, who spent some time in Porto Rico, the island is no place for an American to invest any money at present. He says that the place can be made to pay, provided the United States Government clears the entire island of Spaniards and fills the towns and cities with the American people.
Mr. Morrisey also states that the natives of the cities are desirous of becoming American citizens, but that out in the country, it is far different. These people are constantly in fear of the Americans, and their sole desire is to dispose of their property as soon as possible and return to Spain. The more enlightened of them are of the opinion that the United States Government will banish all the Spaniards from the island and thereby make it more agreeable for the residents.
A dispatch of the Evening Post says that in view of representations made to the War Department that the municipal councils in Porto Rico were making hay while the sun shines, and granting business franchises right and left under the Spanish law empowering them to do so, orders were recently issued to General Brooke to put a stop to the practice forthwith, and the announcement was given out that on the evacuation by the Spaniards, and our assumption of military authority in the island, no more of these loose grants would be made. Meanwhile American shippers were in a state of mind over a lack of ships with which to conduct the normal commerce of this country with Porto Rico. The change of status for the island, from being a foreign possession to a port of the United States coast, had made the rigid regulations of our coasting trade applicable to it, and the purchase of so many of our coasting vessels by the government for use as transports, coalers, and the like, had embarrassed the progress of coast commerce not a little. The regulations had to be suspended on two or three occasions to let in ships which seemed absolutely necessary, and now the question came up whether it would be best to suspend the regulations altogether or to have each separate vessel which needed American papers apply to Congress for special legislation.
There was another question, and a very important one, which came up, and that was how far Louisiana and other sugar-producing States would be affected by the annexation of Porto Rico.
In no State in the Union does a single interest play so important and so peculiar a part as the sugar industry in Louisiana. Fully two-fifths of the inhabitants of the State are more or less interested in sugar, and any great disaster to the crop would injure ninety per cent. of the population in southern Louisiana.
So far as Porto Rico goes, it is very doubtful if it will injure Louisiana in any way. As has been said before, the island is densely populated, small in area, and with little additional land available for sugar. It is by no means probable that it will increase materially in its sugar production. American laws will militate against the importation of contract labor, and will therefore prevent any undue competition. As the New York Sun very justly observes, the bugbear of the Louisiana sugar planter is not territorial expansion, but the war taxes and the possibility of their permanent adoption, bringing with it the reopening of the old tariff agitation, which they supposed was permanently closed.
Taking it all in all, territorial expansion has certainly no terrors for the Louisiana planters.
With their usual manana, the Spaniards have been slow to evacuate the island, but a decisive stand has been taken by the President.
The chief intent of the administration is to clear the island of Spaniards, put at work American methods in sanitary, civic and economic administration, and, for the purpose of doing this without annoyance, to have forces enough for police duty.
The day fixed for the hoisting of the American flag over San Juan and the complete and permanent occupation of Porto Rico by the military forces of the United States was October 18.
It was possible for the Administration of the United States to take this step by virtue of war powers and of the establishment of the fact that Porto Rico is to be wholly and permanently American.
At the present time of writing Porto Rico is still a foreign country, so far as the laws of the United States are concerned, and until changed by Congress, customs duties will be collected on imports from the island. So, too, with the navigation laws, and American ship-owners are warned to secure registers for foreign commerce before entering the Porto Rico trade, as vessels with only coasting enrollments and licenses will be subject to penalty on their return to the United States.
On the 18th of October, promptly at noon, the flag was raised over San Juan.
"The ceremony was quiet and dignified, unmarred by disorder of any kind.
"The 11th regular infantry, with two batteries of the 5th artillery, landed. The latter proceeded to the fort, while the infantry lined up on the docks. It was a holiday for San Juan, and there were many people in the streets.
"Rear Admiral Schley and General Gordon, accompanied by their staffs, proceeded to the palace in carriages. The 11th infantry regiment and band, with troop H of the 6th U. S. cavalry, then marched through the streets, and formed in the square opposite the palace. At 11.40 A. M. General Brooke, Admiral Schley and General Gordon, the United States evacuation commissioners, came out of the palace with many naval officers, and formed on the right side of the square. The street behind the soldiers was thronged with townspeople, who stood waiting in dead silence.
"At last the city clock struck the hour of 12, and the crowds, almost breathless, and with eyes fixed upon the flag pole, watched for developments. At the sound of the first gun from Fort Morro, Major Dean and Lieutenant Castle of General Brooke's staff hoisted the stars and stripes, while the band played the 'Star Spangled Banner.'
"All heads were bared, and the crowds cheered. Fort Morro, Fort San Cristobal and the United States revenue cutter Manning, lying in the harbor, fired 21 guns each.
"Congratulations and handshaking among the American officers followed. Ensign King hoisted the stars and stripes on the Intendencia, but all other flags on the various public buildings were hoisted by military officers. Simultaneously with the raising of the flag over the captain-general's palace many others were hoisted in different parts of the city.
"The work of the United States' evacuation commission was now over. The labors of both parties terminated with honor for all concerned."
After the parade the bands and various trade organizations went to General Henry's headquarters. General Henry in a speech said:
"Alcalde and Citizens: To-day the flag of the United States floats as an emblem of undisputed authority over the island of Porto Rico, giving promise of protection to life, of liberty, prosperity and the right to worship God in accordance with the dictates of conscience. The forty five States represented by the stars emblazoned on the blue field of that flag unite in vouchsafing to you prosperity and protection as citizens of the American Union.
"Your future destiny rests largely with yourselves. Respect the rights of each other. Do not abuse the government which accords opportunities to the individual for advancement. Political animosities must be forgotten in unity and in the recognition of common interests. I congratulate you all on beginning your public life under new auspices, free from governmental oppression, and with liberty to advance your own country's interests by your united efforts."
General Henry then introduced Colonel John B. Castleman, who spoke with great effect as an old Confederate.
The alcalde replied in part:
"We hope soon to see another star symbolic of our prosperity and of our membership in the great republic of States. Porto Rico has not accepted American domination on account of force. She suffered for many years the evils of error, neglect and persecution, but she had men who studied the question of government, and who saw in America her redemption and a guarantee of life, liberty and justice.
"Then we came willingly and freely, hoping, hand in hand with the greatest of all republics, to advance in civilization and progress, and to become part of the republic to which we pledge our faith forever."
When the Spanish flag was hauled down all over the island and the Stars and Stripes raised in its place, General Brooke became the chief executive of Porto Rico. Actually, but not in name, he was the military governor of the island. The plan of a military governor for Porto Rico, to hold until the Washington authorities deem it wise to substitute a purely civil administration, has not been fully arranged. From October 18 until the plan of the Government has been put into effect, General Brooke, or the military officer who will succeed him if he asks for detachment, will be in supreme control of civil and military affairs. It is the intention, however, of the Government here to have as little of the military element as possible in the administration of affairs, and so to all intents and purposes a civil administration will be in operation from the time the Spaniards surrendered authority.
Still, when all has been said, it is perfectly sure that in the end Porto Rico will become one of the most important of our possessions. Superstition and tyranny will be driven from this most fertile island, and hope and peace, under the Stars and Stripes, will be brought to the thousands so long under foot.
Hail, therefore to Porto Rico! And some day may it become a bright star in the flag that brings protection and freedom to all!