By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The History of Puerto Rico - From the Spanish Discovery to the American Occupation
Author: Van Middeldyk, R. A. (Rudolph Adams), 1832-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The History of Puerto Rico - From the Spanish Discovery to the American Occupation" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

  The Expansion of the Republic Series.






[Illustration: Columbus statue, San Juan.]


The latest permanent possession of the United States is also the
oldest in point of European occupation. The island of Puerto Rico was
discovered by Columbus in 1493. It was occupied by the United States
Army at Guanica July 25, 1898. Spain formally evacuated the island
October 18, 1898, and military government was established until
Congress made provision for its control. By act of Congress, approved
April 12, 1900, the military control terminated and civil government
was formally instituted May 1,1900.

Puerto Rico has an interesting history. Its four centuries under
Spanish control is a record of unusual and remarkable events. This
record is unknown to the American people. It has never been written
satisfactorily in the Spanish language, and not at all in the English
language. The author of this volume is the first to give to the reader
of English a record of Spanish rule in this "pearl of the Antilles."
Mr. Van Middeldyk is the librarian of the Free Public Library of San
Juan, an institution created under American civil control. He has had
access to all data obtainable in the island, and has faithfully and
conscientiously woven this data into a connected narrative, thus
giving the reader a view of the social and institutional life of the
island for four hundred years.

The author has endeavored to portray salient characteristics of the
life on the island, to describe the various acts of the reigning
government, to point out the evils of colonial rule, and to figure the
general historical and geographical conditions in a manner that
enables the reader to form a fairly accurate judgment of the past and
present state of Puerto Rico.

No attempt has been made to speculate upon the setting of this record
in the larger record of Spanish life. That is a work for the future.
But enough history of Spain and in general of continental Europe is
given to render intelligible the various and varied governmental
activities exercised by Spain in the island. There is, no doubt, much
omitted that future research may reveal, and yet it is just to state
that the record is fairly continuous, and that no salient factors in
the island's history have been overlooked.

The people of Puerto Rico were loyal and submissive to their parent
government. No record of revolts and excessive rioting is recorded.
The island has been continuously profitable to Spain. With even
ordinarily fair administration of government the people have been
self-supporting, and in many cases have rendered substantial aid to
other Spanish possessions. Her native life--the Boriquén
Indians--rapidly became extinct, due to the "gold fever" and the
intermarriage of races. The peon class has always been a faithful
laboring class in the coffee, sugar, and tobacco estates, and the
slave element was never large. A few landowners and the professional
classes dominate the island's life. There is no middle class. There is
an utter absence of the legitimate fruits of democratic institutions.
The poor are in every way objects of pity and of sympathy. They are
the hope of the island. By education, widely diffused, a great unrest
will ensue, and from this unrest will come the social, moral, and
civic uplift of the people.

These people do not suffer from the lack of civilization. They suffer
from the kind of civilization they have endured. The life of the
people is static. Her institutions and customs are so set upon them
that one is most impressed with the absence of legitimate activities.
The people are stoically content. Such, at least, was the condition in
1898. Under the military government of the United States much was done
to prepare the way for future advance. Its weakness was due to its
effectiveness. It did for the people what they should learn to do for
themselves. The island needed a radically new governmental
activity--an activity that would develop each citizen into a
self-respecting and self-directing force in the island's uplift. This
has been supplied by the institution of civil government. The outlook
of the people is now infinitely better than ever before. The progress
now being made is permanent. It is an advance made by the people for
themselves. Civil government is the fundamental need of the island.

Under civil government the entire reorganization of the life of the
people is being rapidly effected. The agricultural status of the
island was never so hopeful. The commercial activity is greatly
increased. The educational awakening is universal and healthy.
Notwithstanding the disastrous cyclone of 1898, and the confusion
incident to a radical governmental reorganization, the wealth per
capita has increased, the home life is improved, and the illiteracy of
the people is being rapidly lessened.

President McKinley declared to the writer that it was his desire "to
put the conscience of the American people into the islands of the
sea." This has been done. The result is apparent. Under wise and
conservative guidance by the American executive officers, the people
of Puerto Rico have turned to this Republic with a patriotism, a zeal,
an enthusiasm that is, perhaps, without a parallel.

In 1898, under President McKinley as commander-in-chief, the army of
the United States forcibly invaded this island. This occupation, by
the treaty of Paris, became permanent. Congress promptly provided
civil government for the island, and in 1901 this conquered people,
almost one million in number, shared in the keen grief that attended
universally the untimely death of their conqueror. The island on the
occasion of the martyr's death was plunged in profound sorrow, and at
a hundred memorial services President McKinley was mourned by
thousands, and he was tenderly characterized as "the founder of human
liberty in Puerto Rico."

The judgment of the American people relative to this island is based
upon meager data. The legal processes attending its entrance into the
Union have been the occasion of much comment. This comment has
invariably lent itself to a discussion of the effect of judicial
decision upon our home institutions. It has been largely a speculative
concern. In some cases it has become a political concern in the
narrowest partizan sense. The effect of all this upon the people of
Puerto Rico has not been considered. Their rights and their needs have
not come to us. We have not taken President McKinley's broad, humane,
and exalted view of our obligation to these people. They have
implicitly entrusted their life, liberty, and property to our
guardianship. The great Republic has a debt of honor to the island
which indifference and ignorance of its needs can never pay. It is
hoped that this record of their struggles during four centuries will
be a welcome source of insight and guidance to the people of the
United States in their efforts to see their duty and do it.

M. G. BRUMBAUGH. PHILADELPHIA, _January 1, 1903_.


Some years ago, Mr. Manuel Elzaburu, President of the San Juan
Provincial Atheneum, in a public speech, gave it as his opinion that
the modern historian of Puerto Rico had yet to appear. This was said,
not in disparagement of the island's only existing history, but rather
as a confirmation of the general opinion that the book which does duty
as such is incorrect and incomplete.

This book is Friar Iñigo Abbad's Historia de la Isla San Juan
Bautista, which was written in 1782 by disposition of the Count of
Floridablanca, the Minister of Colonies of Charles III, and published
in Madrid in 1788. In 1830 it was reproduced in San Juan without any
change in the text, and in 1866 Mr. José Julian Acosta published a new
edition with copious notes, comments, and additions, which added much
data relative to the Benedictine monks, corrected numerous errors, and
supplemented the chapters, some of which, in the original, are
exceedingly short, the whole history terminating abruptly with the
nineteenth chapter, that is, with the beginning of the eighteenth
century. The remaining 21 chapters are merely descriptive of the
country and people.

Besides this work there are others by Puerto Rican authors, each one
elucidating one or more phases of the island's history. With these
separate and diverse materials, supplemented by others of my own, I
have constructed the present history.

The transcendental change in the island's social and political
conditions, inaugurated four years ago, made the writing of an English
history of Puerto Rico necessary. The American officials who are
called upon to guide the destinies and watch over the moral, material,
and intellectual progress of the inhabitants of this new accession to
the great Republic will be able to do so all the better when they have
a knowledge of the people's historical antecedents.

I have endeavored to supply this need to the best of my ability, and
herewith offer to the public the results of an arduous, though
self-imposed task.


SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, _November 3, 1902._





      I.--THE DEPARTURE. 1493

     II.--THE DISCOVERY. 1493

    III.--PONCE AND CERON. 1500-1511


      V.--THE REBELLION. 1511

     VI.--THE REBELLION (_continued_.) 1511

            DISTRIBUTION OF INDIANS. 1511-1515


            EXPEDITION TO FLORIDA. 1511-1515


            AND DEATH. 1520-1537


            INTRODUCTION OF NEGRO SLAVES. 1515-1534

              FRANCE. CHARLES V. RUIN OF THE ISLAND. 1520-1556


              OF SAN JUAN. 1555-1641



               FILIBUSTERS. 1625-1780

               JUAN BY SIR RALPH ABERCROMBIE. 1678-1797


               POLITICAL EVENTS IN SPAIN FROM 1765 TO 1820


               IN PUERTO RICO. 1833-1874























     Columbus statue, San Juan

     Ruins of Capárra

     Columbus monument, near Aguadilla

     Statue of Ponce de Leon, San Juan

     Inner harbor, San Juan

     Fort San Geronimo, at Santurce, near San Juan

     Only remaining gate of the city-wall, San Juan

     A tienda, or small shop

     Planter's house, ceiba tree, and royal palms

     San Francisco Church, San Juan; the oldest church in the city

     Plaza Alphonso XII and Intendencia Building, San Juan

     Casa Blanca and the sea wall, San Juan




Eight centuries of a gigantic struggle for supremacy between the
Crescent and the Cross had devastated the fairest provinces of the
Spanish Peninsula. Boabdil, the last of the Moorish kings, had
delivered the keys of Granada into the hands of Queen Isabel, the
proud banner of the united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon floated
triumphant from the walls of the Alhambra, and Providence, as if to
recompense Iberian knighthood for turning back the tide of Moslem
conquest, which threatened to overrun the whole of meridional Europe,
had laid a new world, with all its inestimable treasures and millions
of benighted inhabitants, at the feet of the Catholic princes.

Columbus had just returned from his first voyage. He had been scorned
as an adventurer by the courtiers of Lisbon, mocked as a visionary by
the learned priests of the Council in Salamanca, who, with texts from
the Scriptures and quotations from the saints, had tried to convince
him that the world was flat; he had been pointed at by the rabble in
the streets as a madman who maintained that there was a land where the
people walked with their heads down; and, after months of trial, he
had been able to equip his three small craft and collect a crew of
ninety men only by the aid of a royal schedule offering exemption from
punishment for offenses against the laws to all who should join the

At last he had sailed amid the murmurs of an incredulous crowd, who
thought him and his companions doomed to certain destruction, and now
he had returned[1] bringing with him the living proofs of what he had
declared to exist beyond that mysterious ocean, and showed to the
astounded people samples of the unknown plants and animals, and of
_the gold_ which he had said would be found there in fabulous

It was the proudest moment of the daring navigator's life when, clad
in his purple robe of office, bedecked with the insignia of his rank,
he entered the throne-room of the palace in Barcelona and received
permission to be seated in the royal presence to relate his
experiences. Around the hall stood the grandees of Spain and the
magnates of the Church, as obsequious and attentive to him now as they
had been proud and disdainful when, a hungry wanderer, he had knocked
at the gates of La Rabida to beg bread for his son. It was the acme of
the discoverer's destiny, the realization of his dream of glory, the
well-earned recompense of years of persevering endeavor.

The news of the discovery created universal enthusiasm. When it was
announced that a second expedition was being organized there was no
need of a royal schedule of remission of punishment to criminals to
obtain crews. The Admiral's residence was besieged all day long by the
hidalgos[2] who were anxious to share with him the expected glories
and riches. The cessation of hostilities in Granada had left thousands
of knights, whose only patrimony was their sword, without
occupation--men with iron muscles, inured to hardship and danger,
eager for adventure and conquest.

Then there were the monks and priests, whose religious zeal was
stimulated by the prospect of converting to Christianity the benighted
inhabitants of unknown realms; there were ruined traders, who hoped to
mend their fortunes with the gold to be had, as they thought, for
picking it up; finally, there were the protégés of royalty and of
influential persons at court, who aspired to lucrative places in the
new territories; in short, the Admiral counted among the fifteen
hundred companions of his second expedition individuals of the bluest
blood in Spain.

As for the mariners, men-at-arms, mechanics, attendants, and servants,
they were mostly greedy, vicious, ungovernable, and turbulent

The confiscated property of the Jews, supplemented by a loan and some
extra duties on articles of consumption, provided the funds for the
expedition; a sufficient quantity of provisions was embarked; twenty
Granadian lancers with their spirited Andalusian horses were
accommodated; cuirasses, swords, pikes, crossbows, muskets, powder and
balls were ominously abundant; seed-corn, rice, sugar-cane,
vegetables, etc., were not forgotten; cattle, sheep, goats, swine, and
fowls for stocking the new provinces, provided for future needs; and a
breed of mastiff dogs, originally intended, perhaps, as watch-dogs
only, but which became in a short time the dreaded destroyers of
natives. Finally, Pope Alexander VI, of infamous memory, drew a line
across the map of the world, from pole to pole,[4] and assigned all
the undiscovered lands west of it to Spain, and those east of it to
Portugal, thus arbitrarily dividing the globe between the two powers.

At daybreak, September 25, 1493, seventeen ships, three carácas of one
hundred tons each, two naos, and twelve caravels, sailed from Cadiz
amid the ringing of bells and the enthusiastic Godspeeds of thousands
of spectators. The son of a Genoese wool-carder stood there, the equal
in rank of the noblest hidalgo in Spain, Admiral of the Indian Seas,
Viceroy of all the islands and continents to be discovered, and
one-tenth of all the gold and treasures they contained would be his!

Alas for the evanescence of worldly greatness! All this glory was soon
to be eclipsed. Eight years after that day of triumph he again landed
on the shore of Spain a pale and emaciated prisoner in chains.

It may easily be conceived that the voyage for these fifteen hundred
men, most of whom were unaccustomed to the sea, was not a pleasure

Fortunately they had fine weather and fair wind till October 26th,
when they experienced their first tropical rain and thunder-storm, and
the Admiral ordered litanies. On November 2d he signaled to the fleet
to shorten sail, and on the morning of the 3d fifteen hundred pairs of
wondering eyes beheld the mountains of an island mysteriously hidden
till then in the bosom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Among the spectators were Bernal Diaz de Pisa, accountant of the
fleet, the first conspirator in America; thirteen Benedictine friars,
with Boil at their head, who, with Morén Pedro de Margarit, the
strategist, respectively represented the religious and military
powers; there was Roldán, another insubordinate, the first alcalde of
the Española; there were Alonzo de Ojeda and Guevára, true
knights-errant, who were soon to distinguish themselves: the first by
the capture of the chief Caonabó, the second by his romantic
love-affair with Higuemota, the daughter of the chiefess Anacaóna.
There was Adrian Mojíca, destined shortly to be hanged on the ramparts
of Fort Concepción by order of the Viceroy. There was Juan de
Esquivél, the future conqueror of Jamaica; Sebastian Olano, receiver
of the royal share of the gold and other riches that no one doubted to
find; Father Marchena, the Admiral's first protector, friend, and
counselor; the two knight commanders of military orders Gallego and
Arroyo; the fleet's physician, Chanca; the queen's three servants,
Navarro, Peña-soto, and Girau; the pilot, Antonio de Torres, who was
to return to Spain with the Admiral's ship and first despatches.
There was Juan de la Cosa, cartographer, who traced the first map of
the Antilles; there were the father and uncle of Bartolomé de las
Casas, the apostle of the Indies; Diego de Peñalosa, the first notary
public; Fermin Jedo, the metallurgist, and Villacorta, the mechanical
engineer. Luis de Ariega, afterward famous as the defender of the fort
at Magdalena; Diego Velasquez, the future conqueror of Cuba; Vega,
Abarca, Gil Garcia, Marguéz, Maldonado, Beltrán and many other doughty
warriors, whose names had been the terror of the Moors during the war
in Granada. Finally, there were Diego Columbus, the Admiral's brother;
and among the men-at-arms, one, destined to play the principal rôle in
the conquest of Puerto Rico. His name was Juan Ponce, a native of
Santervas or Sanservas de Campos in the kingdom of Leon. He had served
fifteen years in the war with the Moors as page or shield-bearer to
Pedro Nuñez de Guzman, knight commander of the order of Calatráva, and
he had joined Columbus like the rest--to seek his fortune in the
western hemisphere.


[Footnote 1: March 15, 1493.]

[Footnote 2: Literally, "_hijos d'algo_," sons of something or

[Footnote 3: La Fuente. Hista. general de España.]

[Footnote 4: Along the 30th parallel of longitude W. of Greenwich.]




THE first island discovered on this voyage lies between 14° and 15°
north latitude, near the middle of a chain of islands of different
sizes, intermingled with rocks and reefs, which stretches from
Trinidad, near the coast of Venezuela, in a north-by-westerly
direction to Puerto Rico. They are divided in two groups, the Windward
Islands forming the southern, the Leeward Islands the northern portion
of the chain.

The Admiral shaped his course in the direction in which the islands,
one after the other, loomed up, merely touching at some for the
purpose of obtaining what information he could, which was meager

For an account of the expedition's experiences on that memorable
voyage, we have the fleet physician Chanca's circumstantial
description addressed to the Municipal Corporation of Seville, sent
home by the same pilot who conveyed the Admiral's first despatches to
the king and queen.

After describing the weather experienced up to the time the fleet
arrived at the island "de Hierro," he tells their worships that for
nineteen or twenty days they had the best weather ever experienced on
such a long voyage, excepting on the eve of San Simon, when they had a
storm which for four hours caused them great anxiety.

At daybreak on Sunday, November 3d, the pilot of the flagship
announced land. "It was marvelous," says Chanca, "to see and hear the
people's manifestations of joy; and with reason, for they were very
weary of the hardships they had undergone, and longed to be on land

The first island they saw was high and mountainous. As the day
advanced they saw another more level, and then others appeared, till
they counted six, some of good size, and all covered with forest to
the water's edge.

Sailing along the shore of the first discovered island for the
distance of a league, and finding no suitable anchoring ground, they
proceeded to the next island, which was four or five leagues distant,
and here the Admiral landed, bearing the royal standard, and took
formal possession of this and all adjacent lands in the name of their
Highnesses. He named the first island Dominica, because it was
discovered on a Sunday, and to the second island he gave the name of
his ship, Marie-Galante.

"In this island," says Chanca, "it was wonderful to see the dense
forest and the great variety of unknown trees, some in bloom, others
with fruit, everything looking so green. We found a tree the leaves
whereof resembled laurel leaves, but not so large, and they exhaled
the finest odor of cloves.[5]

"There were fruits of many kinds, some of which the men imprudently
tasted, with the result that their faces swelled, and that they
suffered such violent pain in throat and mouth[6] that they behaved
like madmen, the application of cold substances giving them some
relief." No signs of inhabitants were discovered, so they remained
ashore two hours only and left next morning early (November 4th) in
the direction of another island seven or eight leagues northward. They
anchored off the southernmost coast of it, now known as Basse Terre,
and admired a mountain in the distance, which seemed to reach into the
sky (the volcano "la Souffrière"), and the beautiful waterfall on its
flank. The Admiral sent a small caravel close inshore to look for a
port, which was soon found. Perceiving some huts, the captain landed,
but the people who occupied them escaped into the forest as soon as
they saw the strangers. On entering the huts they found two large
parrots (guacamayos) entirely different from those seen until then by
the Spaniards, much cotton, spun and ready for spinning, and other
articles, bringing away a little of each, "especially," says the
doctor, "four or five bones of human arms and legs."

From this the Admiral concluded that he had found the islands
inhabited by the redoubtable Caribs, of whom he had heard on his first
voyage, and who were said to eat human flesh. The general direction
in which these islands were situated had been pointed out to him by
the natives of Guanahani and the Española; hence, he had steered a
southwesterly course on this his second voyage, "and," says the
doctor, "by the goodness of God and the Admiral's knowledge, we came
as straight as if we had come by a known and continuous route."

Having found a convenient port and seen some groups of huts, the
inhabitants of which fled as soon as they perceived the ships, the
Admiral gave orders that the next morning early parties of men should
go on shore to reconnoiter. Accordingly some captains, each with a
small band of men, dispersed. Most of them returned before noon with
the tangible results of their expeditions; one party brought a boy of
about fourteen years of age, who, from the signs he made, was
understood to be a captive from some other island; another party
brought a child that had been abandoned by the man who was leading it
by the hand when he perceived the Spaniards; others had taken some
women; and one party was accompanied by women who had voluntarily
joined them and who, on that account, were believed to be captives
also. Captain Diego Marquiz with six men, who had entered the thickest
part of the forest, did not return that night, nor the three following
days, notwithstanding the Admiral had sent Alonzo de Ojeda with forty
men to explore the jungle, blow trumpets, and do all that could be
done to find them. When, on the morning of the fourth day, they had
not returned, there was ground for concluding that they had been
killed and eaten by the natives; but they made their appearance in
the course of the day, emaciated and wearied, having suffered great
hardships, till by chance they had struck the coast and followed it
till they reached the ships. They brought ten persons, with
them--women and boys.

During the days thus lost the other captains collected more than
twenty female captives, and three boys came running toward them,
evidently escaping from their captors. Few men were seen. It was
afterward ascertained that ten canoes full had gone on one of their
marauding expeditions. In their different expeditions on shore the
Spaniards found all the huts and villages abandoned, and in them "an
infinite quantity" of human bones and skulls hanging on the walls as
receptacles. From the natives taken on board the Spaniards learned
that the name of the first island they had seen was Cayri or Keiree;
the one they were on they named Sibuqueira, and they spoke of a third,
not yet discovered, named Aye-Aye. The Admiral gave to Sibuqueira the
name of Guadaloupe.

Anchors were weighed at daybreak on November 10th. About noon of the
next day the fleet reached an island which Juan de la Cosa laid down
on his map with the name Santa Maria de Monserrat. From the Indian
women on board it was understood that this island had been depopulated
by the Caribs and was then uninhabited. On the same day in the
afternoon they made another island which, according to Navarrete, was
named by the Admiral Santa Maria de la Redonda (the round one), and
seeing that there were many shallows in the neighborhood, and that it
would be dangerous to continue the voyage during the night, the fleet
came to anchor.

On the following morning (the 13th) another island was discovered (la
Antigua); thence the fleet proceeded in a northwesterly direction to
San Martin, without landing at any place, because, as Chanca observes,
"the Admiral was anxious to arrive at 'la Española.'"

After weighing anchor at San Martin on the morning of Thursday the
14th, the fleet experienced rough weather and was driven southward,
anchoring the same day off the island Aye-Aye (Santa Cruz).

Fernandez, the Admiral's son, in his description of his father's
second voyage, says that a small craft (a sloop) with twenty-five men
was sent ashore to take some of the people, that Columbus might obtain
information from them regarding his whereabouts. While they carried
out this order a canoe with four men, two women, and a boy approached
the ships, and, struck with astonishment at what they saw, they never
moved from one spot till the sloop returned with four kidnaped women
and three children.

When the natives in the canoe saw the sloop bearing down upon them,
and that they had no chance of escape, they showed fight. Two
Spaniards were wounded--an arrow shot by one of the amazons went clear
through a buckler--then the canoe was overturned, and finding a
footing in a shallow place, they continued the fight till they were
all taken, one of them being mortally wounded by the thrust of a

To regain the latitude in which he was sailing when the storm began to
drive his ships southwestward to Aye-Aye, the Admiral, after a delay
of only a few hours, steered north, until, toward nightfall, he
reached a numerous group of small islands. Most of them appeared bare
and devoid of vegetation. The next morning (November 15th) a small
caravel was sent among the group to explore, the other ships standing
out to sea for fear of shallows, but nothing of interest was found
except a few Indian fishermen. All the islands were uninhabited, and
they were baptized "the eleven thousand Virgins." The largest one,
according to Navarrete, was named Santa Ursula--"la Virgin Gorda" (the
fat Virgin) according to Angleria.

During the night the ships lay to at sea. On the 16th the voyage was
continued till the afternoon of the 17th, when another island was
sighted; the fleet sailed along its southern shore for a whole day.
That night two women and a boy of those who had voluntarily joined the
expedition in Sobuqueira, swam ashore, having recognized their home.
On the 19th the fleet anchored in a bay on the western coast, where
Columbus landed and took possession in the name of his royal patrons
with the same formalities as observed in Marie-Galante, and named the
island San Juan Bautista. Near the landing-place was found a deserted
village consisting of a dozen huts of the usual size surrounding a
larger one of superior construction; from the village a road or walk,
hedged in by trees and plants, led to the sea, "which," says
Muñoz,[7] "gave it the aspect of some cacique's place of seaside

After remaining two days in port (November 20th and 21st), and without
a single native having shown himself, the fleet lifted anchor on the
morning of the 22d, and proceeding on its northwesterly course,
reached the bay of Samaná, in Española, before night, whence, sailing
along the coast, the Admiral reached the longed-for port of Navidad on
the 25th, only to find that the first act of the bloody drama that was
to be enacted in this bright new world had already been performed.

Here we leave Columbus and his companions to play the important rôles
in the conquest of America assigned to each of them. The fortunes of
the yeoman of humble birth, the former lance-bearer or stirrup-page of
the knight commander of Calatráva, already referred to, were destined
to become intimately connected with those of the island whose history
we will now trace.


[Footnote 5: The "Caryophyllus pimienta," Coll y Toste.]

[Footnote 6: Navarrete supposes this to have been the fruit of the
Manzanilla "hippomane Mancinella," which produces identical effects.]

[Footnote 7: Historia del Nuevo Mundo.]




Friar Iñigo Abbad, in his History of the Island San Juan Bautista de
Puerto Rico, gives the story of the discovery in a very short chapter,
and terminates it with the words: "Columbus sailed for Santo Domingo
November 22, 1493, and thought no more of the island, which remained
forgotten till Juan Ponce returned to explore it in 1508."

This is not correct. The island was not forgotten, for Don José Julian
de Acosta, in his annotations to the Benedictine monk's history (pp.
21 and 23), quotes a royal decree of March 24, 1505, appointing
Vicente Yañez Pinzón Captain and "corregidor" of the island San Juan
Bautista and governor of the fort that he was to construct therein.
Pinzón transferred his rights and titles in the appointment to Martin
Garcia de Salazar, in company with whom he stocked the island with
cattle; but it seems that Boriquén did not offer sufficient scope for
the gallant pilot's ambition, for we find him between the years 1506
and 1508 engaged in seeking new conquests on the continent.

As far as Columbus himself is concerned, the island was certainly
forgotten amid the troubles that beset him on all sides almost from
the day of his second landing in "la Española." From 1493 to 1500 a
series of insurrections broke out, headed successively by Diaz,
Margarit, Aguado, Roldán, and others, supported by the convict rabble
that, on the Admiral's own proposals to the authorities in Spain, had
been liberated from galleys and prisons on condition that they should
join him on his third expedition. These men, turbulent, insubordinate,
and greedy, found hunger, hardships, and sickness where they had
expected to find plenty, comfort, and wealth. The Admiral, who had
indirectly promised them these things, to mitigate the universal and
bitter disappointment, had recourse to the unwarrantable expedients of
enslaving the natives, sending them to Spain to be sold, of levying
tribute on those who remained, and, worst of all, dooming them to a
sure and rapid extermination by forced labor.

The natives, driven to despair, resisted, and in the encounters
between the naked islanders and the mailed invaders Juan Ponce
distinguished himself so that Nicolos de Ovando, the governor, made
him the lieutenant of Juan Esquivél, who was then engaged in
"pacifying" the province of Higüey.[8] After Esquivél's departure on
the conquest of Jamaica, Ponce was advanced to the rank of captain,
and it was while he was in the Higüey province that he learned from
the Boriquén natives, who occasionally visited the coast, that there
was gold in the rivers of their as yet unexplored island. This was
enough to awaken his ambition to explore it, and having asked
permission of Ovando, it was granted.

Ponce equipped a caravel at once, and soon after left the port of
Salvaleon with a few followers and some Indians to serve as guides and
interpreters (1508).

They probably landed at or near the same place at which their captain
had landed fifteen years before with the Admiral, that is to say, in
the neighborhood of la Aguáda, where, according to Las Casas, the
ships going and coming to and from Spain had called regularly to take
in fresh water ever since the year 1502.

The strangers were hospitably received. It appears that the mother of
the local cacique, who was also the chief cacique of that part of the
island, was a woman of acute judgment. She had, no doubt, heard from
fugitives from la Española of the doings of the Spaniards there, and
of their irresistible might in battle, and had prudently counseled her
son to receive the intruders with kindness and hospitality.

Accordingly Ponce and his men were welcomed and feasted. They were
supplied with provisions; areitos (dances) were held in their honor;
batos (games of ball) were played to amuse them, and the practise,
common among many of the aboriginal tribes in different parts of the
world, of exchanging names with a visitor as a mark of brotherly
affection, was also resorted to to cement the new bonds of friendship,
so that Guaybána became Ponce for the time being, and Ponce Guaybána.
The sagacious mother of the chief received the name of Doña Inéz,
other names were bestowed on other members of the family, and to
crown all, Ponce received the chief's sister in marriage.

Under these favorable auspices Ponce made known his desire to see the
places where the chiefs obtained the yellow metal for the disks which,
as a distinctive of their rank, they wore as medals round their neck.
Guaybána responded with alacrity to his Spanish brother's wish, and
accompanied him on what modern gold-seekers would call "a prospecting
tour" to the interior. The Indian took pride in showing him the rivers
Manatuabón, Manatí, Sibucó, and others, and in having their sands
washed in the presence of his white friends, little dreaming that by
so doing he was sealing the doom of himself and people.

Ponce was satisfied with the result of his exploration, and returned
to la Española in the first months of 1509, taking with him the
samples of gold collected, and leaving behind some of his companions,
who probably then commenced to lay the foundations of Capárra. It is
believed that Guaybána accompanied him to see and admire the wonders
of the Spanish settlement. The gold was smelted and assayed, and found
to be 450 maravedis per peso fine, which was not as fine as the gold
obtained in la Española, but sufficiently so for the king of Spain's
purposes, for he wrote to Ponce in November, 1509: "I have seen your
letter of August 16th. Be very diligent in searching for gold mines in
the island of San Juan; take out as much as possible, and after
smelting it in la Española, send it immediately."

On August 14th of the same year Don Fernando had already written to
the captain thanking him for his diligence in the settlement of the
island and appointing him governor _ad interim_.

Ponce returned to San Juan in July or the beginning of August, after
the arrival in la Española of Diego, the son of Christopher Columbus,
with his family and a new group of followers, as Viceroy and Admiral.
The Admiral, aware of the part which Ponce had taken in the
insurrection of Roldán against his father's authority, bore him no
good-will, notwithstanding the king's favorable disposition toward the
captain, as manifested in the instructions which he received from
Ferdinand before his departure from Spain (May 13, 1509), in which his
Highness referred to Juan Ponce de Leon as being by his special grace
and good-will authorized to settle the island of San Juan Bautista,
requesting the Admiral to make no innovations in the arrangement, and
charging him to assist and favor the captain in his undertaking.

After Don Diego's arrival in la Española he received a letter from the
king, dated September 15, 1509, saying, "Ovando wrote that Juan Ponce
had not gone to settle the island of San Juan for want of stores; now
that they have been provided in abundance, let it be done."

But the Admiral purposely ignored these instructions. He deposed Ponce
and appointed Juan Ceron as governor in his place, with a certain
Miguel Diaz as High Constable, and Diego Morales for the office next
in importance. His reason for thus proceeding in open defiance of the
king's orders, independent of his resentment against Ponce, was the
maintenance of the prerogatives of his rank as conceded to his father,
of which the appointment of governors and mayors over any or all the
islands discovered by him was one.

Ceron and his two companions, with more than two hundred Spaniards,
sailed for San Juan in 1509, and were well received by Guaybána and
his Indians, among whom they took up their residence and at once
commenced the search for gold. In the meantime Ponce, in his capacity
as governor _ad interim_, continued his correspondence with the king,
who, March 2, 1510, signed his appointment as permanent governor.[9]
This conferred upon him the power to sentence in civil and criminal
affairs, to appoint and remove alcaldes, constables, etc., subject to
appeal to the government of la Española. Armed with his new authority,
and feeling himself strong in the protection of his king, Ponce now
proceeded to arrest Ceron and his two fellow officials, and sent them
to Spain in a vessel that happened to call at the island, confiscating
all their property.

Diego Columbus, on hearing of Ponce's highhanded proceedings,
retaliated by the confiscation of all the captain's property in la

These events did not reach the king's ears till September, 1510. He
comprehended at once that his protégé had acted precipitately, and
gave orders that the three prisoners should be set at liberty
immediately after their arrival in Spain and proceed to the Court to
appear before the Council of Indies. He next ordered Ponce (November
26, 1510) to place the confiscated properties and Indians of Ceron and
his companions at the disposal of the persons they should designate
for that purpose. Finally, after due investigation and recognition of
the violence of Ponce's proceedings, the king wrote to him June 6,
1511: "Because it has been resolved in the Council of Indies that the
government of this and the other islands discovered by his father
belongs to the Admiral and his successors, it is necessary to return
to Ceron, Diaz, and Morales their staffs of office. You will come to
where I am, leaving your property in good security, and We will see
wherein we can employ you in recompense of your good services."

Ceron and his companions received instructions not to molest Ponce nor
any of his officers, nor demand an account of their acts, and they
were recommended to endeavor to gain their good-will and assistance.
The reinstated officers returned to San Juan in the latter part of
1511. Ponce, in obedience to the king's commands, quietly delivered
the staff of office to Ceron, and withdrew to his residence in
Capárra. He had already collected considerable wealth, which was soon
to serve him in other adventurous enterprises.


[Footnote 8: The slaughter of rebellious Indians was called
"pacification" by the Spaniards.]

[Footnote 9: The document is signed by Ferdinand and his daughter,
Doña Juana, as heir to her mother, for the part corresponding to each
in the sovereignty over the island San Juan Bautista.]




Soon after Ponce's return from la Española Guaybána sickened and died.
Up to this time the harmony established by the prudent cacique between
his tribesmen and the Spaniards on their first arrival had apparently
not been disturbed. There is no record of any dissension between them
during Ponce's absence.

The cacique was succeeded by his brother, who according to custom
assumed the name of the deceased chief, together with his authority.

The site for his first settlement, chosen by Ponce, was a low hill in
the center of a small plain surrounded by hills, at the distance of a
league from the sea, the whole space between being a swamp, "which,"
says Oviedo, "made the transport of supplies very difficult." Here the
captain commenced the construction of a fortified house and chapel, or
hermitage, and called the place Capárra.[10]

[Illustration: Ruins of Capárra, the first capital.]

Among the recently arrived Spaniards there was a young man of
aristocratic birth named Christopher de Soto Mayor, who possessed
powerful friends at Court. He had been secretary to King Philip I,
and according to Abbad, was intended by Ferdinand as future governor
of San Juan; but Señor Acosta, the friar's commentator, remarks with
reason, that it is not likely that the king, who showed so much tact
and foresight in all his acts, should place a young man without
experience over an old soldier like Ponce, for whom he had a special

The young hidalgo seemed to aspire to nothing higher than a life of
adventure, for he agreed to go as Ponce's lieutenant and form a
settlement on the south coast of the island near the bay of Guánica.

"In this settlement," says Oviedo, "there were so many mosquitoes that
they alone were enough to depopulate it, and the people passed to
Aguáda, which is said to be to the west-nor'-west, on the borders of
the river Culebrinas, in the district now known as Aguáda and
Aguadilla; to this new settlement they gave the name Sotomayor, and
while they were there the Indians rose in rebellion one Friday in the
beginning of the year 1511."

       *       *       *       *       *

The second Guaybána[11] was far from sharing his predecessor's
good-will toward the Spaniards or his prudence in dealing with them;
nor was the conduct of the newcomers toward the natives calculated to
cement the bonds of friendship.

Fancying themselves secure in the friendly disposition of the
natives, prompted by that spirit of reckless daring and adventure that
distinguished most of the followers of Columbus, anxious to be first
to find a gold-bearing stream or get possession of some rich piece of
land, they did not confine themselves to the two settlements formed,
but spread through the interior, where they began to lay out farms and
to work the auriferous river sands.

In the beginning the natives showed themselves willing enough to
assist in these labors, but when the brutal treatment to which the
people of la Española had been subjected was meted out to them also,
and the greed of gold caused their self-constituted masters to exact
from them labors beyond their strength, the Indians murmured, then
protested, at last they resisted, and at each step the taskmasters
became more exacting, more relentless.

At the time of the arrival of the Spaniards the natives of Boriquén
seem to have led an Arcadian kind of existence; their bows and arrows
were used only when some party of Caribs came to carry off their young
men and maidens. Among themselves they lived at peace, and passed
their days in lazily swinging in their hammocks and playing ball or
dancing their "areytos." With little labor the cultivation of their
patches of yucca[12] required was performed by the women, and beyond
the construction of their canoes and the carving of some battle club,
they knew no industry, except, perhaps, the chipping of some stone
into the rude likeness of a man, or of one of the few animals they

These creatures were suddenly called upon to labor from morning to
night, to dig and delve, and to stand up to their hips in water
washing the river sands. They were forced to change their habits and
their food, and from free and, in their own way, happy masters of the
soil they became the slaves of a handful of ruthless men from beyond
the sea. When Ponce's order to distribute them among his men confirmed
the hopelessness of their slavery, they looked upon the small number
of their destroyers and began to ask themselves if there were no means
of getting rid of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The system of "repartimientos" (distribution), sometimes called
"encomiendas" (patronage), was first introduced in la Española by
Columbus and sanctioned later by royal authority. Father Las Casas
insinuates that Ponce acted arbitrarily in introducing it in Boriquén,
but there were precedents for it.

The first tribute imposed by Columbus on the natives of la Española
was in gold and in cotton[13](1495). Recognizing that the Indians
could not comply with this demand, the Admiral modified it, but still
they could not satisfy him, and many, to escape the odious imposition,
fled to the woods and mountains or wandered about from place to place.
The Admiral, in virtue of the powers granted to him, had divided the
land among his followers according to rank, or merit, or caprice, and
in the year 1496 substituted the forced labor of the Indians for the
tribute, each cacique being obliged to furnish a stipulated number of
men to cultivate the lands granted. Bobadilla, the Admiral's
successor, made this obligation to work on the land extend to the
mines, and in the royal instructions given to Ovando, who succeeded
Bobadilla, these abuses were confirmed, and he was expressly charged
to see to it "that the Indians were employed in collecting gold and
other metals for the Castilians, in cultivating their lands, in
constructing their houses, and in obeying their commands." The pretext
for these abuses was, that by thus bringing the natives into immediate
contact with their masters they would be easier converted to
Christianity. It is true that the royal ordinances stipulated that the
Indians should be well treated, and be paid for their work like free
laborers, but the fact that they were _forced_ to work and severely
punished when they refused, constituted them slaves in reality. The
royal recommendations to treat them well, to pay them for their work,
and to teach them the Christian doctrines, were ignored by the
masters, whose only object was to grow rich. The Indians were tasked
far beyond their strength. They were ill-fed, often not fed at all,
brutally ill-treated, horribly punished for trying to escape from the
hellish yoke, ruthlessly slaughtered at the slightest show of
resistance, so that thousands of them perished miserably. This had
been the fate of the natives of la Española, and there can be no doubt
that the Boriqueños had learned from fugitives of that island what
was in store for them when Ponce ordered their distribution among the

The following list of Indians distributed in obedience to orders from
the metropolis is taken from the work by Don Salvador Brau.[14] It was
these first distributions, made in 1509-'10, which led to the
rebellion of the Indians and the distributions that followed:

   To the general treasurer, Pasamonte, a man described by
   Acosta as malevolent, insolent, deceitful, and sordid...... 300

   To Juan Ponce de Leon...................................... 200

   To Christopher Soto Mayor[15]...............................100

   To Vicente Yañez Pinzón, on condition that he should settle
   in the island.............................................. 100

   To Lope de Conchillos, King Ferdinand's Chief Secretary,
   as bad a character as Pasamonte............................ 100

   To Pedro Moreno and Jerome of Brussels, the delegate and
   clerk of Conchillos in Boriquén, 100 each...................200

   To the bachelor-at-law Villalobos........................... 80

   To Francisco Alvarado.......................................80

A total of 1,060 defenseless Indians delivered into the ruthless hands
of men steeped in greed, ambition, and selfishness.


[Footnote 10: The scanty remains of the first settlement were to be
seen till lately in the Pueblo Viejo Ward, municipal district of
Bayamón, along the road which loads from Cataño to Gurabó.]

[Footnote 11: He may have been the tenth or the twentieth if what the
chroniclers tell us about the adoption of the defunct caciquess' names
by their successors be true.]

[Footnote 12: The manioc of which the "casaba" bread is made.]

[Footnote 13: A "cascabel" (a measure the size of one of the round
bells used in Spain to hang round the neck of the leader in a troop of
mules) full of gold and twenty-five pounds (an arroba) of cotton every
three months for every Indian above sixteen years of age.]

[Footnote 14: Puerto Rico y su historia, p. 173.]

[Footnote 15: Among the Indians given to Soto Mayor was the sister of
the cacique Guaybána second. She became his concubine, and in return
for the preference shown her she gave the young nobleman timely
warning of the impending rebellion.]




The sullen but passive resistance of the Indians was little noticed by
the Spaniards, who despised them too much to show any apprehension;
but the number of fugitives to the mountains and across the sea
increased day by day, and it soon became known that nocturnal
"areytos" were held, in which the means of shaking off the odious yoke
were discussed. Soto Mayor was warned by his paramour, and it is
probable that some of the other settlers received advice through the
same channels; still, they neglected even the ordinary precautions.

At last, a soldier named Juan Gonzalez, who had learned the native
language in la Española, took upon himself to discover what truth
there was in these persistent reports, and, naked and painted so as to
appear like one of the Indians, he assisted at one of the nocturnal
meetings, where he learned that a serious insurrection was indeed
brewing; he informed Soto Mayor of what he had heard and seen, and the
latter now became convinced of the seriousness of the danger.

Before Gonzalez learned what was going on, Guaybána had summoned the
neighboring caciques to a midnight "areyto" and laid his plan before
them, which consisted in each of them, on a preconcerted day, falling
upon the Spaniards living in or near their respective villages; the
attack, on the same day, on Soto Mayor's settlement, he reserved for
himself and Guariónez, the cacique of Utuáo.

But some of the caciques doubted the feasibility of the plan. Had not
the fugitives from Quisqueiá[16] told of the terrible effects of the
shining blades they wore by their sides when wielded in battle by the
brawny arms of the dreaded strangers? Did not their own arrows glance
harmlessly from the glittering scales with which they covered their
bodies? Was Guaybána quite sure that the white-faced invader could be
killed at all? The majority thought that before undertaking their
extermination they ought to be sure that they had to do with a mortal

Oviedo and Herrera both relate how they proceeded to discover this.
Urayoán, the cacique of Yagüeca, was charged with the experiment.
Chance soon favored him. A young man named Salcedo passed through his
village to join some friends. He was hospitably received, well fed,
and a number of men[17] were told to accompany him and carry his
luggage. He arrived at the Guaorába, a river on the west side of the
island, which flows into the bay of San German. They offered to carry
him across. The youth accepted, was taken up between two of the
strongest Indians, who, arriving in the middle of the river, dumped
him under water--then they fell on him and held him down till he
struggled no more. Dragging him ashore, they now begged his pardon,
saying that they had stumbled, and called upon him to rise and
continue the voyage; but the young man did not move, he was dead, and
they had the proof that the supposed demi-gods were mortals after all.

The news spread like wildfire, and from that day the Indians were in
open rebellion and began to take the offensive, shooting their arrows
and otherwise molesting every Spaniard they happened to meet alone or
off his guard.

The following episode related by Oviedo illustrates the mental
disposition of the natives of Boriquén at this period.

Aymamón, the cacique whose village was on the river Culebrinas, near
the settlement of Soto Mayor, had surprised a lad of sixteen years
wandering alone in the forest. The cacique carried him off, tied him
to a post in his hut and proposed to his men a game of ball, the
winner to have the privilege of convincing himself and the others of
the mortality of their enemies by killing the lad in any way he
pleased. Fortunately for the intended victim, one of the Indians knew
the youth's father, one Pedro Juarez, in the neighboring settlement,
and ran to tell him of the danger that menaced his son. Captain Diego
Salazar, who in Soto Mayor's absence was in command of the settlement,
on hearing of the case, took his sword and buckler and guided by the
friendly Indian, reached the village while the game for the boy's life
was going on. He first cut the lad's bonds, and with the words "Do as
you see me do!" rushed upon the crowd of about 300 Indians and laid
about him right and left with such effect that they had no chance even
of defending themselves. Many were killed and wounded. Among the
latter was Aymamón himself, and Salazar returned in triumph with the

But now comes the curious part of the story, which shows the character
of the Boriquén Indian in a more favorable light.

Aymamón, feeling himself mortally wounded, sent a messenger to
Salazar, begging him to come to his caney or hut to make friends with
him before he died. None but a man of Salazar's intrepid character
would have thought of accepting such an invitation; but _he_ did, and,
saying to young Juarez, who begged his deliverer not to go: "They
shall not think that I'm afraid of them," he went, shook hands with
the dying chief, changed names with him, and returned unharmed amid
the applauding shouts of "Salazar! Salazar!" from the multitude, among
whom his Toledo blade had made such havoc. It was evident from this
that they held courage, such as the captain had displayed, in high
esteem. To the other Spaniards they used to say: "We are not afraid of
_you_, for you are not Salazar."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was in the beginning of June, 1511. The day fixed by Guaybána for
the general rising had arrived. Soto Mayor was still in his grange in
the territory under the cacique's authority, but having received the
confirmation of the approaching danger from Gonzalez, he now resolved
at once to place himself at the head of his men in the Aguáda
settlement. The distance was great, and he had to traverse a country
thickly peopled by Indians whom he now knew to be in open rebellion;
but he was a Spanish hidalgo and did not hesitate a moment. The
morning after receiving the report of Gonzalez he left his grange with
that individual and four other companions.

Guaybána, hearing of Soto Mayor's departure, started in pursuit.
Gonzalez, who had lagged behind, was first overtaken, disarmed,
wounded with his own sword, and left for dead. Near the river Yauco
the Indians came upon Soto Mayor and his companions, and though there
were no witnesses to chronicle what happened, we may safely assert
that they sold their lives dear, till the last of them fell under the
clubs of the infuriated savages.

That same night Guárionex with 3,000 Indians stealthily surrounded the
settlement and set fire to it, slaughtering all who, in trying to
escape, fell into their hands.[18]

In the interior nearly a hundred Spaniards were killed during the
night. Gonzalez, though left for dead, had been able to make his way
through the forest to the royal grange, situated where now Toa-Caja
is. He was in a pitiful plight, and fell in a swoon when he crossed
the threshold of the house. Being restored to consciousness, he
related to the Spaniards present what was going on near the
Culebrinas, and they sent a messenger to Capárra at once.

Immediately on receipt of the news from the grange, Ponce sent Captain
Miguel del Toro with 40 men to the assistance of Soto Mayor, but he
found the settlement in ashes and only the bodies of those who had


[Footnote 16: La Española.]

[Footnote 17: The chroniclers say fifteen or twenty, which seems an
exaggerated number.]

[Footnote 18: Salazar was able in the dark and the confusion of the
attack on the settlement to rally a handful of followers, with whom he
cut his way through the Indians and through the jungle to Capárra.]


THE REBELLION _(continued)_


Salazar's arrival at Capárra with a handful of wounded and exhausted
men revealed to Ponce the danger of his situation. Ponce knew that it
was necessary to strike a bold blow, and although, including the
maimed and wounded, he had but 120 men at his disposal, he prepared at
once to take the offensive.

Sending a messenger to la Española with the news of the insurrection
and a demand for reenforcements, which, seeing his strained relations
with the Admiral, there was small chance of his obtaining, he
proceeded to divide his force in four companies of 30 men to each, and
gave command to Miguel del Toro, the future founder of San German, to
Louis de Añasco, who later gave his name to a province, to Louis
Almanza and to Diego Salazar, whose company was made up exclusively of
the maimed and wounded, and therefore called in good-humored jest the
company of cripples.

Having learned from his scouts that Guaybána was camped with 5,000 to
6,000 men near the mouth of the river Coayúco in the territory between
the Yauco and Jacágua rivers, somewhere in the neighborhood of the
city which now bears the conqueror's name, he marched with great
precaution through forest and jungle till he reached the river. He
crossed it during the night and fell upon the Indians with such
impetus that they believed their slain enemies to have come to life.
They fled in confusion, leaving 200 dead upon the field.

The force under Ponce's command was too small to follow up his victory
by the persecution of the terror-stricken natives; nor would the
exhausted condition of the men have permitted it, so he wisely
determined to return to Capárra, cure his wounded soldiers, and await
the result of his message to la Española.

Oviedo and Navarro, whose narratives of these events are repeated by
Abbad, state that the Boriquén Indians, despairing of being able to
vanquish the Spaniards, called the Caribs of the neighboring islands
to their aid; that the latter arrived in groups to make common cause
with them, and that some time after the battle of Coayúco, between
Caribs and Boriqueños, 11,000 men had congregated in the Aymacó

But Mr. Brau[19] calls attention to the improbability of such a
gathering. "Guaybána," he says, "had been able, after long
preparation, to bring together between 5,000 and 6,000 warriors--of
these 200 had been slain, and an equal number, perhaps, wounded and
made prisoners, so that, to make up the number of 11,000, at least as
many Caribs as the entire warrior force of Boriquén must have come to
the island in the short space of time elapsed since the first battle.
The islands inhabited by the Caribs--Santa Cruz, San Eustaquio, San
Cristobal, and Dominica--were too distant to furnish so large a
contingent in so short a time, and the author we are quoting justly
remarks that, admitting that such a feat was possible, they must have
had at their disposition a fleet of at least 200 canoes, each capable
of holding 20 men, a number which it is not likely they ever

There is another reason for discrediting the assertions of the old
chroniclers in this respect. The idea of calling upon their enemies,
the Caribs, to make common cause with them against a foe from whom the
Caribs themselves had, as yet, suffered comparatively little, and the
ready acceptance by these savages of the proposal, presupposes an
amount of foresight and calculation, of diplomatic tact, so to speak,
in both the Boriqueños and Caribs with which it is difficult to credit

The probable explanation of the alleged arrival of Caribs is that some
of the fugitive Indians who had found a refuge in the small islands
close to Boriquén may have been informed of the preparations for a
revolt and of the result of the experiment with Salcedo, and they
naturally came to take part in the struggle.

On hearing of the ominous gathering Ponce sent Louis Añasco and Miguel
del Toro with 50 men to reconnoiter and watch the Indians closely,
while he himself followed with the rest of his small force to be
present where and when it might be necessary. Their approach was soon
discovered, and, as if eager for battle, one cacique named
Mabodomáca, who had a band of 600 picked men, sent the governor an
insolent challenge to come on. Salazar with his company of cripples
was chosen to silence him. After reconnoitering the cacique's
position, he gave his men a much-needed rest till after midnight, and
then dashed among them with his accustomed recklessness. The Indians,
though taken by surprise, defended themselves bravely for three hours,
"but," says Father Abbad, "God fought on the side of the Spaniards,"
and the result was that 150 dead natives were left on the field, with
many wounded and prisoners. The Spaniards had not lost a man, though
the majority had received fresh wounds.

Ponce, with his reserve force, arrived soon after the battle and found
Salazar and his men resting. From them he learned that the main body
of the Indians, to the number of several thousand, was in the
territory of Yacüeca (now Añasco) and seemingly determined upon the
extermination of the Spaniards.

The captain resolved to go and meet the enemy without regard to
numbers. With Salazar's men and the 50 under Añasco and Toro he
marched upon them at once. Choosing an advantageous position, he gave
orders to form an entrenched camp with fascines as well, and as
quickly as the men could, while he kept the Indians at bay with his
arquebusiers and crossbowmen each time they made a rush, which they
did repeatedly. In this manner they succeeded in entrenching
themselves fairly well. The crossbowmen and arquebusiers went out from
time to time, delivered a volley among the close masses of Indians
and then withdrew. These tactics were continued during the night and
all the next day, much to the disgust of the soldiers, who, wounded,
weary, and hungry, without hope of rescue, heard the yells of the
savages challenging them to come out of their camp. They preferred to
rush among them, as they had so often done before. But Ponce would not
permit it.

Among the arquebusiers the best shot was a certain Juan de Leon. This
man had received instructions from Ponce to watch closely the
movements of Guaybána, who was easily distinguishable from the rest by
the "guanin," or disk of gold which he wore round the neck. On the
second day, the cacique was seen to come and go actively from group to
group, evidently animating his men for a general assault. While thus
engaged he came within the range of Leon's arquebus, and a moment
after he fell pierced by a well-directed ball. The effect was what
Ponce had doubtless expected. The Indians yelled with dismay and ran
far beyond the range of the deadly weapons; nor did they attempt to
return or molest the Spaniards when Ponce led them that night from the
camp and through the forest back to Capárra.

This was the beginning of the end. After the death of Guaybána no
other cacique ever attempted an organized resistance, and the partial
uprisings that took place for years afterward were easily suppressed.
The report of the arquebus that laid Guaybána low was the death-knell
of the whole Boriquén race.

The name of the island remained as a reminiscence only, and the island
itself became definitely a dependency of the Spanish crown under the
new name of San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico.


[Footnote 19: Puerto Rico y su Historia, p. 189.]




Friar Bartolomé de Las Casas, in his Relation of the Indies, says with
reference to this island, that when the Spaniards under the orders of
Juan Ceron landed here in 1509, it was as full of people as a beehive
is full of bees and as beautiful and fertile as an orchard. This
simile and some probably incorrect data from the Geography of Bayaeete
led Friar Iñigo Abbad to estimate the number of aboriginal inhabitants
at the time of the discovery at 600,000, a number for which there is
no warrant in any of the writings of the Spanish chroniclers, and
which Acosto, Brau, and Stahl, the best authorities on matters of
Puerto Rican history, reject as extremely exaggerated.

Mr. Brau gives some good reasons for reducing the number to about
16,000, though it seems to us that since little or nothing was known
of the island, except that part of it in which the events related in
the preceding chapters took place, any reasoning regarding the
population of the whole island, based upon a knowledge of a part of
it, is liable to error. Ponce's conquest was limited to the northern
and western littoral; the interior with the southern and eastern
districts were not settled by the Spaniards till some years after the
death of Guaybána; and it seems likely that there were caciques in
those parts who, by reason of the distance or other impediments, took
no part in the uprising against the Spaniards. For the rest, Mr.
Brau's reasonings in support of his reduction to 16,000 of the number
of aborigines, are undoubtedly correct. They are: First. The
improbability of a small island like this, _in an uncultivated state_,
producing sufficient food for such large numbers. Second. The fact
that at the first battle (that of Jacáguas), in which he supposes the
whole available warrior force of the island to have taken part, there
were 5,000 to 6,000 men only, which force would have been much
stronger had the population been anything near the number given by
Abbad; and, finally, the number of Indians distributed after the
cessation of organized resistance was only 5,500, as certified by
Sancho Velasquez, the judge appointed in 1515 to rectify the
distributions made by Ceron and Moscoso, and by Captain Melarejo in
his memorial drawn up in 1582 by order of the captain-general, which
number would necessarily have been much larger if the total aboriginal
population had been but 60,000, instead of 600,000.

       *       *       *       *       *

The immediate consequence to the natives of the panic and partial
submission that followed the death of their leader was another and
more extensive distribution. The first distributions of Indians had
been but the extension to San Juan of the system as practised in la
Española, which consisted in granting to the crown officers in
recompense for services or as an inducement to settle in the island, a
certain number of natives.[20] In this way 1,060 Boriqueños had been
disposed of in 1509 to 9 persons. The ill usage to which they saw them
subjected drove the others to rebellion, and now, væ victis, the king,
on hearing of the rebellion, wrote to Ceron and Diaz (July, 1511): "To
'pacify' the Indians you must go well armed and terrorize them. Take
their canoes from them, and if they refuse to be reduced with reason,
make war upon them by fire and sword, taking care not to kill more
than necessary, and send 40 or 50 of them to 'la Española' to serve us
as slaves, etc." To Ponce he wrote on October 10th: "I give you credit
for your labors in the 'pacification' and for having marked with an F
on their foreheads all the Indians taken in war, making slaves of them
and selling them to the highest bidders, separating the fifth part of
the product for Us."

This time not only the 120 companions of Ponce came in for their share
of the living spoils of war, but the followers of Ceron claimed and
obtained theirs also.

The following is the list of Indians distributed after the battle of
Yacüeca (if battle it may be called) as given by Mr. Brau, who
obtained the details from the unpublished documents of Juan Bautista


   To the estates (haciendas) of their royal Highnesses  500
       Baltasar de Castro, the factor                    200
       Miguel Diaz, the chief constable                  200
       Juan Ceron, the mayor                             150
       Diego Morales, bachelor-at-law                    150
       Amador de Lares                                   150
       Louis Soto Mayor                                  100
       Miguel Diaz, Daux-factor                          100
       the (municipal) council                           100
       the hospitals                                     100
       Bishop Manso                                      100
       Sebastian de la Gama                               90
       Gil de Malpartida                                  70
       Juan Bono (a merchant)                             70
       Juan Velasquez                                     70
       Antonio Rivadeneyra                                60
       Gracian Cansino                                    60
       Louis Aqueyo                                       60
       the apothecary                                     60
       Francisco Cereceda                                 50
       40 other individuals 40 each                    1,600
   Distributed in 1509                                 1,060
        Total                                          5,100

These numbers included women and children old enough to perform some
kind of labor. They were employed in the mines, or in the rivers
rather (for it was alluvium gold only that the island offered to the
greed of the so-called conquerors); they were employed on the
plantations as beasts of burden, and in every conceivable capacity
under taskmasters who, in spite of Ferdinand's revocation of the order
to reduce them to slavery (September, 1514), had acted on his first
dispositions and believed themselves to have the royal warrant to work
them to death.

The king's more lenient dispositions came too late. They were
powerless to check the abuses that were being committed under his own
previous ordinances. The Indians disappeared with fearful rapidity.
Licentiate Sancho Velasquez, who had made the second distribution,
wrote to the king April 27, 1515: " ... Excepting your Highnesses'
Indians and those of the crown officers, there are not 4,000 left." On
August 8th of the same year the officers themselves wrote: " ... The
last smeltings have produced little gold. Many Indians have died from
disease caused by the hurricane as well as from want of food...."

To readjust the proportion of Indians according to the position or
other claims of each individual, new distributions were resorted to.
In these, some favored individuals obtained all they wanted at the
expense of others, and as the number of distributable Indians grew
less and less, reclamations, discontent, strife and rebellion broke
out among the oppressors, who thus wreaked upon each other's heads the
criminal treatment of the natives of which they were all alike guilty.

Such had been the course of events in la Española. The same causes had
the same effects here. Herrera relates that when Miguel de Pasamente,
the royal treasurer, arrived in the former island, in 1508, it
contained 60,000 aboriginal inhabitants. Six years later, when a new
distribution had become necessary, there were but 14,000 left--the
others had been freed by the hand of death or were leading a
wandering life in the mountains and forests of their island. In this
island the process was not so rapid, but none the less effective.


[Footnote 20: The king's favorites in the metropolis, anxious to
enrich themselves by these means, obtained grants of Indians and sent
their stewards to administer them. Thus, in la Española, Conehillos,
the secretary, had 1,100 Indians; Bishop Fonseca, 800; Hernando de la
Vega, 200, and many others, "The Indians thus disposed of were, as a
rule, the worst treated," says Las Casas.]




We have seen how Diego Columbus suspended Ponce in his functions as
governor _ad interim_, and how the captain after obtaining from the
king his appointment as permanent governor sent the Admiral's nominees
prisoners to the metropolis. The king, though inclined to favor the
captain, submitted the matter to his Indian council, which decided
that the nomination of governors and mayors over the islands
discovered by Christopher Columbus corresponded to his son. As a
consequence, Ceron and Diaz were reinstated in their respective
offices, and they were on their way back to San Juan a few months
after Ponce's final success over the rebellious Indians.

Before their departure from Spain they received the following
instructions, characteristic of the times and of the royal personage
who imparted them:

"1. You will take over your offices very peaceably, endeavoring to
gain the good-will of Ponce and his friends, that they may become
_your_ friends also, to the island's advantage.

"2. This done, you will attend to the 'pacification' of the Indians.

"3. Let many of them be employed in the mines and be well treated.

"4. Let many Indians be brought from the other islands and be well
treated. Let the officers of justice be favored (in the distributions
of Indians).

"5. Be very careful that no meat is eaten in Lent or other fast days,
as has been done till now in la Española.

"6. Let those who have Indians occupy a third of their number in the

"7. Let great care be exercised in the salt-pits, and one real be paid
for each celemin[21] extracted, as is done in la Española.

"8. Send me a list of the number and class of Indians distributed, if
Ponce has not done so already, and of those who have distinguished
themselves in this rebellion.

"9. You are aware that ever since the sacraments have been
administered in these islands, storms and earthquakes have ceased. Let
a chapel be built at once with the advocation of Saint John the
Baptist, and a monastery, though it be a small one, for Franciscan
friars, whose doctrine is very salutary.

"10. Have great care in the mines and continually advise Pasamonte
(the treasurer) or his agent of what happens or what may be necessary.

"11. Take the youngest Indians and teach them the Christian doctrine;
they can afterward teach the others with better results.

"12. Let there be no swearing or blasphemy; impose heavy penalties

"13. Do not let the Indians be overloaded, but be well treated rather.

"14. Try to keep the Caribs from coming to the island, and report what
measures it will be advisable to adopt against them. To make the
natives do what is wanted, it will be convenient to take from them,
with cunning (con maña), all the canoes they possess.

"15. You will obey the contents of these instructions until further

Tordesillas, 25th of July, 1511.

F., King."

It is clear from the above instructions that, in the king's mind,
there was no inconsistency in making the Indians work in the mines and
their good treatment. There can be no doubt that both he and Doña
Juana, his daughter, who, as heir to her mother, exercised the royal
authority with him, sincerely desired the well-being of the natives as
far as compatible with the exigencies of the treasury.

For the increase of the white population and the development of
commerce and agriculture, liberal measures, according to the ideas of
the age, were dictated as early as February, 1511, when the same
commercial and political franchises were granted to San Juan as to la

On July 25th the price of salt, the sale of which was a royal
monopoly, was reduced by one-half, and in October of the same year the
following rights and privileges were decreed by the king and published
by the crown officers in Seville:

"1st. Any one may take provisions and merchandise to San Juan, which
is now being settled, and reside there with the same freedom as in la

"2d. Any Spaniard may freely go to the Indies--that is, to la
Española and to San Juan--by simply presenting himself to the
officials in Seville, _without giving any further information_ (about

"3d. Any Spaniard may take to the Indies what arms he wishes,
notwithstanding the prohibition.

"4th. His Highness abolishes the contribution by the owners of one
'castellano' for every Indian, they possess.

"5th. Those to whom the Admiral grants permission to bring Indians
(from other islands) and who used to pay the fifth of their value (to
the royal treasurer) shall be allowed to bring them free.

"6th. Indians once given to any person shall never be taken from him,
except for delinquencies, punishable by forfeiture of property.

"7th. This disposition reduces the king's share in the produce of the
gold-mines from one-fifth and one-ninth to one-fifth and one-tenth,
and extends the privilege of working them from one to two years.

"8th. Whosoever wishes to conquer any part of the continent or of the
gulf of pearls, may apply to the officials in Seville, who will give
him a license, etc."

The construction of a smelting oven for the gold, of hospitals and
churches for each new settlement, the making of roads and bridges and
other dispositions, wise and good in themselves, were also decreed;
but they became new causes of affliction for the Indians, inasmuch as
_they_ paid for them with their labor. For example: to the man who
undertook to construct and maintain a hospital, 100 Indians were
assigned. He hired them out to work in the mines or on the
plantations, and with the sums thus received often covered more than
the expense of maintaining the hospital.

The curious medley of religious zeal, philanthropy, and gold-hunger,
communicated the first governors under the title of "instructions" did
not long keep them in doubt as to which of the three--the observance
of religious practises, the kind treatment of the natives, or the
remittance of gold--was most essential to secure the king's favor. It
was not secret that the monarch, in his _private_ instructions, went
straight to the point and wasted no words on religious or humanitarian
considerations, the proof of which is his letter to Ponce, dated
November 11, 1509. "I have seen your letter of August 16th. Be very
diligent in searching for gold. Take out as much as you can, and
having smolten it in la Española, send it at once. Settle the island
as best you can. Write often and let Us know what happens and what may
be necessary."

It was but natural, therefore, that the royal recommendations of
clemency remained a dead letter, and that, under the pressure of the
incessant demand for gold, the Indians were reduced to the most abject
state of misery.

[Illustration: Columbus monument, near Aguadilla.]

Until the year 1512 the Indians remained restless and subordinate, and
in July, 1513, the efforts of the rulers in Spain to ameliorate their
condition were embodied in what are known as the Ordinances of

These ordinances, after enjoining a general kind treatment of the
natives, recommend that small pieces of land be assigned to them on
which to cultivate corn, yucca, cotton, etc., and raise fowls for
their own maintenance. The "encomendero," or master, was to construct
four rustic huts for every 50 Indians. They were to be instructed in
the doctrines of the Christian religion, the new-born babes were to be
baptized, polygamy to be prohibited. They were to attend mass with
their masters, who were to teach one young man in every forty to read.
The boys who served as pages and domestic servants were to be taught
by the friars in the convents, and afterward returned to the estates
to teach the others. The men were not to carry excessively heavy
loads. Pregnant women were not to work in the mines, nor was it
permitted to beat them with sticks or whips under penalty of five gold
pesos. They were to be provided with food, clothing, and a hammock.
Their "areytos" (dances) were not to be interrupted, and inspectors
were to be elected among the Spaniards to see that all these and
former dispositions were complied with, and all negligence on the part
of the masters severely punished.

The credit for these well-intentioned ordinances undoubtedly belongs
to the Dominican friars, who from the earliest days of the conquest
had nobly espoused the cause of the Indians and denounced the
cruelties committed on them in no measured terms.

Friar Antonia Montesinos, in a sermon preached in la Española in 1511,
which was attended by Diego Columbus, the crown officers, and all the
notabilities, denounced their proceedings with regard to the Indians
so vehemently that they left the church deeply offended, and that same
day intimated to the bishop the necessity of recantation, else the
Order should leave the island. The bishop answered that Montesinos had
but expressed the opinion of the whole community; but that, to allay
the scandal among the lower class of Spaniards in the island, the
father would modify his accusations in the next sermon. When the day
arrived the church was crowded, but instead of recantation, the
intrepid monk launched out upon fresh animadversion, and ended by
saying that he did so in the service not of God only, but of the king.

The officials were furious. Pasamonte, the treasurer, the most
heartless destroyer of natives among all the king's officers, wrote,
denouncing the Dominicans as rebels, and sent a Franciscan friar to
Spain to support his accusation. The king was much offended, and when
Montesinos and the prior of his convent arrived in Madrid to
contradict Pasamonte's statements, they found the doors of the palace
closed against them. Nothing daunted and imbued with the true
apostolic spirit, they made their way, without asking permission, to
the royal presence, and there advocated the cause of the Indians so
eloquently that Ferdinand promised to have the matter investigated
immediately. A council of theologians and jurists was appointed to
study the matter and hear the evidence on both sides; but they were so
long in coming to a decision that Montesinos and his prior lost
patience and insisted on a resolution, whereupon they decided that the
distributions were legal in virtue of the powers granted by the Holy
See to the kings of Castilla, and that, if it was a matter of
conscience at all, it was one for the king and his councilors, and not
for the officials, who simply obeyed orders. The two Dominicans were
ordered to return to la Española, and by the example of their virtues
and mansuetude stimulate those who might be inclined to act wickedly.

The royal conscience was not satisfied, however, with the sophistry of
his councilors, and as a quietus to it, the _well-meaning_ ordinances
just cited were enacted. They, too, remained a dead letter, and not
even the scathing and persevering denunciations of Las Casas, who
continued the good work begun by Montesinos, could obtain any
practical improvement in the lot of the Indians until it was too late,
and thousands of them had been crushed under the heel of the

       *       *       *       *       *

King Ferdinand's efforts to make Puerto Rico a prosperous colony were
rendered futile by the dissensions between the Admiral's and his own
partizans and the passions awakened by the favoritism displayed in the
distribution of Indians. That the king took a great interest in the
colonization of the island is shown by the many ordinances and decrees
issued all tending to that end. He gave special licenses to people in
Spain and in Santo Domingo to establish themselves in Puerto Rico.[22]
In his minute instructions to Ponce and his successors he regulated
every branch of the administration, and wrote to Ceron and Diaz: " ...I
wish this island well governed and peopled as a special affair of
mine." On a single day (February 26, 1511) he made, among others of a
purely private character, the following public dispositions: "That the
tithes and 'primicias'" [23] should be paid in kind only; that the
fifth part of the output of the mines should be paid only during the
first ten years; that he ceded to the colony for the term of four
years all fines imposed by the courts, to be employed in the
construction of roads and bridges; that the traffic between San Juan
and la Española should be free, and that this island should enjoy the
same rights and privileges as the other; that no children or
grandchildren of people executed or burned for crimes or heresy should
be admitted into the colony, and that an exact account should be sent
to him of all the colonists, caciques, and Indians and their

He occupied himself with the island's affairs with equal interest up
to the time of his death, in 1516. He made it a bishopric in 1512. In
1513 he disposed that the colonists were to build houses of adobe,
that is, of sun-dried bricks; that all married men should send for
their wives, and that useful trees should be planted. In 1514 he
prohibited labor contracts, or the purchase or transfer of slaves or
Indians "encomendados" (distributed). Finally, in 1515, he provided
for the defense of the island against the incursions of the Caribs.

If these measures did not produce the desired result, it was due to
the discord among the colonists, created by the system of
"repartimientos" introduced in an evil hour by Columbus, a system
which was the poisoned source of most of the evils that have afflicted
the Antilles.


[Footnote 21: The twelfth part of a "fanega," equal to about two
gallons, dry measure.]

[Footnote 22: Cedulas de vecindad.]

[Footnote 23: First-fruits.]




Ceron and Diaz returned to San Juan in November, 1511.

Before their departure from Seville they received sundry marks of
royal favor. Among these was permission to Diaz and his wife to wear
silken garments, and to transfer to San Juan the 40 Indians they
possessed in la Española.

We have seen that the first article of the king's instructions to them
enjoins the maintenance of friendly relations with Ponce, and in the
distribution of Indians to favor those who had distinguished
themselves in the suppression of the revolt.

They did nothing of the kind.

Their first proceeding was to show their resentment at the summary
treatment they had received at the captain's hands by depriving him of
the administration of the royal granges, the profits of which he
shared with King Ferdinand, because, as his Highness explained to
Pasamente in June, 1511, "Ponce received no salary as captain of the

They next sent a lengthy exposition to Madrid, accusing the captain of
maladministration of the royal domain, and, to judge by the tenor of
the king's letter to Ponce, dated in Burgos on the 23d of February,
1512, they succeeded in influencing him to some extent against his
favorite, though not enough to deprive him of the royal patronage. "I
am surprised," wrote the king, "at the small number of Indians and the
small quantity of gold from our mines. The fiscal will audit your
accounts, that you may be at liberty for the expedition to Bemini,
which some one else has already proposed to me; but I prefer _you_, as
I wish to recompense your services and because I believe that you will
serve us better there than in our grange in San Juan, _in which you
have proceeded with some negligence_."

In the redistribution of Indians which followed, Ceron and Diaz
ignored the orders of the sovereign and openly favored their own
followers to the neglect of the conquerors', whose claims were prior,
and whose wounds and scars certainly entitled them to consideration.
This caused such a storm of protest and complaint against the doings
of his protégés that Diego Columbus was forced to suspend them and
appoint Commander Moscoso in their place.

This personage only made matters worse. The first thing _he_ did was
to practise another redistribution of Indians. This exasperated
everybody to such an extent that the Admiral found it necessary to
come to San Juan himself. He came, accompanied by a numerous suite of
aspirants to different positions, among them Christopher Mendoza, the
successor of Moscoso (1514). After the restoration of Ceron and Diaz
in their offices, Ponce quietly retired to his residence in Capárra.
He was wealthy and could afford to bide his time, but the spirit of
unrest in him chafed under this forced inaction. The idea of
discovering the island, said to exist somewhere in the northwestern
part of these Indies, where wonderful waters flowed that restored old
age to youth and kept youth always young, occupied his mind more and
more persistently, until, having obtained the king's sanction, he
fitted out an expedition of three ships and sailed from the port of
Aguáda March 3, 1512.

Strange as it may seem, that men like Ponce, Zuñiga, and the other
leading expeditionists should be glad of an opportunity to risk their
lives and fortunes in the pursuit of a chimera, it must be remembered
that the island of Bemini itself was not a chimera.

The followers of Columbus, the majority of them ignorant and
credulous, had seen a mysterious new world rise, as it were, from the
depths of the ocean. As the islands, one after the other, appeared
before their astonished eyes, they discovered real marvels each day.
The air, the land, the sea, were full of them. The natives pointed in
different directions and spoke of other islands, and the adventurers'
imaginations peopled them with fancied wonders. There was, according
to an old legend, a fountain of perennial youth somewhere in the
world, and where was it more likely to be found than in this hitherto
unknown part of it?

Ponce and his companions believed in its existence as firmly as, some
years later, Ferdinand Pizarro believed in the existence of El Dorado
and the golden lake of Parimé.

The expedition touched at Guanakáni on the 14th of March, and on the
27th discovered what Ponce believed to be the island of which he was
in search. On April 2d Ponce landed and took possession in the king's
name. The native name of the island was Cansio or Cautix, but the
captain named it "la Florida," some say because he found it covered
with the flowers of spring; others, because he had discovered it on
Resurrection day, called "Pascua Florida" by the Spanish Catholics.

The land was inhabited by a branch of the warlike Seminole Indians,
who disputed the Spaniards' advance into the interior. No traces of
gold were found, nor did the invaders feel themselves rejuvenated,
when, after a wearisome march or fierce fight with the natives, they
bathed in, or drank of, the waters of some stream or spring. They had
come to a decidedly inhospitable shore, and Ponce, after exploring the
eastern and southern littoral, and discovering the Cayos group of
small islands, turned back to San Juan, where he arrived in the
beginning of October, "looking much older," says the chronicler, "than
when he went in search of rejuvenation."

Two years later he sailed for the Peninsula and anchored in Bayona in
April, 1514. King Ferdinand received him graciously and conferred on
him the titles of Adelantado of Bemini and la Florida, with civil and
criminal jurisdiction on land and sea. He also made him commander of
the fleet for the destruction of the Caribs, and perpetual "regidor"
(prefect) of San Juan Bautista _de Puerto Rico_. This last surname
for the island began to be used in official documents about this time
(October, 1514).

The fleet for the destruction of the Caribs consisted of three
caravels. With these, Ponce sailed from Bétis on May 14, 1515,[24] and
reached the Leeward Islands in due course. In Guadeloupe, one of the
Carib strongholds, he landed a number of men without due precaution.
They were attacked by the natives. Fifteen of them were wounded, four
of whom died. Some women who had been sent ashore to wash the soiled
linen were carried off. Ponce's report of the event was laconic: "I
wrote from San Lucas and from la Palma," he writes to the king (August
7th to 8th). "In Guadeloupe, while taking in water the Indians wounded
some of my men. They shall be chastised." Haro, one of the crown
officers in San Juan, informed the king afterward of all the
circumstances of the affair, and added: "He (Ponce) left the (wounded)
men in a deserted island on this side, which is Santa Cruz, and now he
sends a captain, instead of going himself ..."

Ponce's third landing occurred June 15, 1515. He found the island in a
deplorable condition. Discontent and disorder were rampant. The king
had deprived Diego Columbus of the right to distribute Indians
(January 23, 1513), and had commissioned Pasamonte to make a new
distribution in San Juan. The treasurer had delegated the task to
licentiate Sancho Velasquez, who received at the same time power to
audit the accounts of all the crown officers. The redistribution was
practised in September, 1514, with no better result than the former
ones. It was impossible to satisfy the demands of all. The
discontented were mostly Ponce's old companions, who overwhelmed the
king with protests, while Velasquez defended himself, accusing Ponce
and his friends of turbulence and exaggerated ambition.

As a consequence of all this strife and discord, the Indians were
turned over from one master to another, distributed like cattle over
different parts of the islands, and at each change their lot became

Still, there were large numbers of them that had never yet been
subjugated. Some, like the caciques of Humacáo and Daguáo, who
occupied the eastern and southeastern parts of the island, had agreed
to live on a peace footing with the Spaniards, but Ponce's impolitic
proceeding in taking by force ten men from the village of the
first-named chief caused him and his neighbor of Daguáo to burn their
villages and take to the mountains in revolt. Many other natives had
found a comparatively safe refuge in the islands along the coast, and
added largely to the precarious situation by pouncing on the Spanish
settlements along the coast when least expected. Governor Mendoza
undertook a punitive expedition to Vieques, in which the cacique
Yaureibó was killed; but the Indians had lost that superstitious dread
of the Spaniards and of their weapons that had made them submit at
first, and they continued their incursions, impeding the island's
progress for more than a century.


[Footnote 24: Washington Irving says January.]




The total number of Spaniards in the island at the time of the
rebellion did not exceed 200. Of these, between 80 and 100 were killed
by the Indians. The survivors were reenforced, first by the followers
of Ceron and Diaz, then by some stray adventurers who accompanied
Diego Columbus on his visit to the island. We may assume, therefore,
with Mr. Acosta,[25] that at the time of which we write the Spanish
population numbered about 400, who Arángo, in a memorial addressed to
the Cardinal Regent, classifies as Government officials, old
conquerors, new hirelings, and "marrános hijos de reconciliados,"
which, translated, means, "vile brood of pardoned criminals," the
latter being, in all probability, the immigrants into whose
antecedents the king had recommended his officers in Seville not to

This population was divided into different hostile parties. The most
powerful at the time was Ponce's party, led by Sedeño, the auditor,
and Villafranca, the treasurer; opposed to whom were the partizans of
Ceron and Diaz, the protégés of the Admiral, and those who had found
favor with Velasquez, all of them deadly enemies because of the
unequal division among them of the unhappy Indians.

The expedition to Florida and the honors conferred upon him by the
king naturally enhanced Ponce's prestige among his old companions.
Diego Columbus himself was fain to recognize the superior claim of him
who now presented himself with the title Adelantado of Bemini and
Florida, so that the captain's return to office was effected without

With his appointment as perpetual prefect, Ponce assumed the right to
make a redistribution of Indians, but could not exercise it, because
Sancho Velasquez had made one, as delegate of Pasamonte, only the year
before (September, 1515).

In virtue of his special appointment as judge auditor of the accounts
of all the crown officers, he had condemned Ponce during his absence
to pay 1,352 gold pesos for shortcomings in his administration of the
royal estates.[26]

The licentiate's report to the king, dated April 27, 1515, gives an
idea of the state of affairs in San Juan at the time. " ... I found
the island under tyranny, as will be seen from the documents I
enclose. Juan Ceron and Miguel Diaz are responsible for 100,000
Castellanos[27] for Indians taken from persons who held them by
schedule from your Highness."

"It would be well to send some bad characters away from here and some
of the Admiral's creatures, on whom the rest count for protection."

"The treasurer (Haro) and the auditor are honest men. The accountant
(Sedeño) is not a man to look after your Highness's interests. The
place of factor is vacant."

"To your Highness 200 Indians have been assigned in Puerto Rico and
300 in San German."

A few days later (May 1, 1515) Velasquez himself was accused of gross
abuse in the discharge of his duties by Iñigo de Zuñiga, who wrote to
the king: " ... This licentiate has committed many injustices and
offenses, as the attorney can testify. He gave Indians to many
officers and merchants, depriving conquerors and settlers of them. He
gambled much and always won, because they let him win in order to have
him in good humor at the time of distribution of Indians. He carried
away much money, especially from the 'Naborias.'" [28]

"He took the principal cacique, who lived nearest to the mines, for
himself, and rented him out on condition that he keep sixteen men
continually at work in the mines, and if any failed he was to receive
half a ducat per head a day."

"He has taken Indians from other settlers and made them wash gold for
himself, etc."

Before Ponce's departure for Spain the island had been divided into
two departments or jurisdictions, the northern, with Capárra as its
capital, under the direct authority of the governor, the southern
division, with San German as the capital, under a lieutenant-governor,
the chain of mountains in the interior being the mutual boundary.
This division was maintained till 1782.

Capárra, or Puerto Rico, as it was now called, and San German were the
only settlements when Ponce returned. The year before (1514) another
settlement had been made in Daguáo, but it had been destroyed by the
Caribs, and this ever-present danger kept all immigration away.

The king recognized the fact, and to obviate this serious difficulty
in the way of the island's settlement, he wrote to his officers in

" ... Spread reports about the great quantities of gold to be found in
Puerto Rico, and do not trouble about the antecedents of those who
wish to go, for if not useful as laborers they will do to fight."

That Ferdinand was well aware of the insecurity of his hold on the
island is shown by his subsequent dispositions. To the royal
contractors or commissaries he wrote in 1514: "While two forts are
being constructed, one in Puerto Rico and the other in San German,
where, in case of rebellion, our treasure will be secure, you will
give arms and ammunition to Ponce de Leon for our account, with an
artilleryman, that he may have them in his house, which is to do
duty as a fortress." And on May 14, 1515, he wrote from Medina del
Campo: " ... Deliver to Ponce six 'espingardas.'" [29]

During this same period the island was constituted a bishopric, with
Alonzo Manso, ex-sacristan of Prince John and cánon of Salamanca as
prelate. He came in the beginning of 1513, when the intestine troubles
were at their worst, bringing instructions to demand payment of tithes
_in specie_ and a royal grant of 150 Indians to himself, which, added
to the fact that his presence would be a check upon the prevalent
immorality, raised such a storm of opposition and intrigue against him
that he could not exercise his functions. There was no church fit for
services. This furnished him with a pretext to return to the
Peninsula. When Ponce arrived the bishop was on the point of
departure. There can be no doubt that King Ferdinand, in reappointing
Ponce to the government of the island, trusted to the captain's
military qualities for the reestablishment of order and the
suppression of the attacks of the Caribs, but the result did not
correspond to his Majesty's expectations.

Haro, the treasurer, reported to the king on October 6, 1515: " ...
From the moment of his arrival Ponce has fomented discord. In order to
remain here himself, he sent Zuñiga, his lieutenant, with the fleet.
He caused the caciques Humacáo and Daguáo, who had but just submitted,
to revolt again by forcibly taking ten men for the fleet."

The crown officers confirmed this statement in a separate report.

These accusations continued to the time of Ferdinand's death (February
23, 1516), when Cardinal Jimenez de Cisneros became Regent of Spain.
This renowned prelate, whom Prince Charles, afterward Emperor Charles
V, when confirming him in the regency, addressed as "the Very
Reverend Father in Christ, Cardinal of Spain, Archbishop of Toledo,
Primate of all the Spanish Territories, Chief Chancellor of Castilla,
our very dear and much beloved friend and master," was also Grand
Inquisitor, and was armed with the tremendous power of the terrible
Holy Office.

It was dangerous for the accusers and the accused alike to annoy such
a personage with tales inspired by petty rivalries from an
insignificant island in the West Indies. Nevertheless, one of the
first communications from Puerto Rico that was laid before him was a
memorial written by one Arángo, accusing Velasquez, among other
things, of having given Indians to soldiers and to common people,
instead of to conquerors and married men. "In Lent," says the accuser,
"he goes to a grange, where he remains without hearing mass on
Sundays, eating meat, and saying things against the faith ..."

The immediate effect of these complaints and mutual accusations was
the suspension in his functions of Diego Columbus and the appointment
of a triumvirate of Jerome friars to govern these islands. This was
followed two years later by the return of Bishop Manso to San Juan,
armed with the dreadful powers of General Inquisitor of the Indies and
by the nomination of licentiate Antonio de la Gama as judge auditor of
the accounts of Sancho Velasquez. The judge found him guilty of
partiality and other offenses, and on June 12, 1520, wrote to the
regent: "I have not sent the accounts of Sancho Velasquez, because it
was necessary that he should go with them, but the bishop of this
island has taken him for the Holy Inquisition _and he has died in

The Jerome fathers on their way to la Española, in 1516, touched at
what they describe as "the port of Puerto Rico, which is in the island
of San Juan de Boriquén," and the treasurer, Haro, wrote of them on
January 21, 1518: " ... They have done nothing during the year, and
the inhabitants are uncertain and fear changes. This is the principal
cause of harm to the Indians. It is necessary to dispose what is to be
done ... Although great care is now exercised in the treatment of the
Indians their numbers grow less for all that, because just as they are
ignorant of things concerning the faith, so do they ignore things
concerning their health, and they are of very weak constitution."

The frequent changes in the government that had been made by Diego
Columbus, the arrest of Velasquez and his death in the gloomy dungeons
of the Inquisition, the arrival of de la Gama as judge auditor and
governor _ad interim_, and his subsequent marriage with Ponce's
daughter Isabel, all these events but served to embitter the strife of
parties. "The spirit of vengeance, ambition, and other passions had
become so violent and deep-rooted among the Spaniards," says
Abbad,[30] "that God ordained their chastisement in various ways."

The removal of the capital from its swampy location to the islet which
it now occupies was another source of dissension. It appears that the
plan was started immediately after Ceron's accession, for the king
wrote to him November 9, 1511: "Juan Ponce says that he located the
town in the best part of the island. We fear that you want to change
it. You shall not do so without our special order. If there is just
reason for change you must inform us first."

Velasquez, in his report of April, 1515, mentions that he accompanied
the Town Council of Capárra to see the site for the new capital, and
that to him it seemed convenient.

In 1519 licentiate Rodrigo de Figueroa sent a lengthy exposition
accompanied by the certified declarations of the leading inhabitants
regarding the salubrity of the islet and the insalubrity of Capárra,
with a copy of the disposition of the Jerome fathers authorizing the
transfer, and leaving Ponce, who strenuously opposed it, at liberty to
live in his fortified house in Capárra as long as he liked.

On November 16, 1520, Baltazar Castro, in the name of the crown
officers of San Juan, reported to the emperor: "The City of Puerto
Rico has been transferred to an islet which is in the port where the
ships anchor, a very good and healthy location."


[Footnote 25: Annotations, p. 96.]

[Footnote 26: Ponce protested and appealed to the Audiencia, but did
not obtain restitution till 1520.]

[Footnote 27: A Castellano was the 150 part of a mark of gold. The
mark had 8 ounces.]

[Footnote 28: Indians distributed to be employed as domestic

[Footnote 29: Small pieces of ordnance.]

[Footnote 30:  XII, p. 89.]




Among the calamities referred to by Friar Abbad as visitations of
Providence was one which the Spaniards had brought upon themselves.
Another epidemic raged principally among the Indians. In January, 1519,
the Jerome friars wrote to the Government from la Española: " ... It
has pleased our Lord to send a pestilence of smallpox among the Indians
here, and nearly one-third of them have died. We are told that in the
island of San Juan the Indians have begun to die of the same disease."

Another scourge came in the form of ants. "These insects," says Abbad,
quoting from Herrera, "destroyed the yucca or casabe, of which the
natives made their bread, and killed the most robust trees by eating
into their roots, so that they turned black, and became so infected
that the birds would not alight on them. The fields were left barren
and waste as if fire from heaven had descended on them. These insects
invaded the houses and tormented the inmates night and day. Their bite
caused acute pains to adults and endangered the lives of children. The
affliction was general," says Abbad, "but God heard the people's vows
and the pests disappeared."  The means by which this happy result was
obtained are described by Father Torres Vargas: "Lots were drawn to
see what saint should be chosen as the people's advocate before God.
Saint Saturnine was returned, and the plague ceased at once."

"Some time after there appeared a worm which also destroyed the yucca.
Lots were again drawn, and this time Saint Patrick came out; but the
bishop and the ecclesiastical chapter were of opinion that this saint,
being little venerated, had no great influence in heaven. Therefore,
lots were drawn again and again, three times, and each time the
rejected saint's name came out. This was clearly a miracle, and Saint
Patrick was chosen as advocate. To atone for their unwillingness to
accept him, the chapter voted the saint an annual mass, sermon, and
procession, which was kept up for many years without ever anything
happening again to the casabe ..."

To the above-described visitations, nature added others and more cruel
ones. These were the destructive tempests, called by the Indians

The first hurricane since the discovery of the island by Columbus of
which there is any record happened in July, 1515, when the crown
officers reported to the king that a great storm had caused the death
of many Indians by sickness and starvation. On October 4, 1526, there
was another, which Juan de Vadillo described thus: " ... There was a
great storm of wind and rain which lasted twenty-four hours and
destroyed the greater part of the town, with the church. The damage
caused by the flooding of the plantations is greater than any one can
estimate. Many rich men have grown poor, among them Pedro Moreno, the

In July and August, 1530, the scourge was repeated three times in six
weeks, and Governor Lando wrote to Luis Columbus, then Governor of la
Española: " ... The storms have destroyed all the plantations, drowned
many cattle, and caused a great dearth of food. Half of the houses in
this city have been blown down; of the other half those that are least
damaged are without roofs. In the country and at the mines not a house
is left standing. Everybody has been impoverished and thinking of
going away. There are no more Indians and the land must be cultivated
with negroes, who are a monopoly, and can not be brought here for less
than 60 or 70 'castellanos' apiece. The city prays that the payment of
all debts may be postponed for three years."

Seven years later (1537), three hurricanes in two months again
completely devastated the island. " ... They are the greatest that
have been experienced here," wrote the city officers. " ... The floods
have carried away all the plantations along the borders of the rivers,
many slaves and cattle have been drowned, want and poverty are
universal. Those who wanted to leave the island before are now more
than ever anxious to do so."

The incursions of Caribs from the neighboring islands made the
existence of the colony still more precarious. Wherever a new
settlement was made,  they descended, killing the Spaniards,
destroying the plantations, and carrying off the natives.

[Illustration:  Statue of Ponce de Leon, San Juan]

       *       *       *       *       *

The first news of the wonderful achievements of Cortez in Mexico
reached San Juan in 1520, and stirred the old adventurer Ponce to
renewed action. On February 10, 1521, he wrote to the emperor: "I
discovered Florida and some other small islands at my own expense, and
now I am going to settle them with plenty of men and two ships, and I
am going to explore the coast, to see if it compares with the lands
(Cuba) discovered by Velasquez. I will leave here in four or five
days, and beg your Majesty to favor me, so that I may be enabled to
carry out this great enterprise."

Accordingly, he left the port of Aguáda on the 26th of the same month
with two ships, well provided with all that was necessary for

But the captain's star of fortune was waning. He had a stormy passage,
and when he and his men landed they met with such fierce resistance
from the natives that after several encounters and the loss of many
men, Ponce himself being seriously wounded, they were forced to
reembark. Feeling that his end was approaching, the captain did not
return to San Juan, but sought a refuge in Puerto Principe, where he

One of his ships found its way to Vera Cruz, where its stores of arms
and ammunition came as a welcome accession to those of Cortez.

The emperor bestowed the father's title of Adelantado of Florida and
Bemini on his son, and the remains of the intrepid adventurer, who had
found death where he had hoped to find perennial youth, rested in
Cuban soil till his grandchildren had them transferred to this island
and buried in the Dominican convent.

A statue was erected to his memory in 1882. It stands in the plaza of
San José in the capital and was cast from the brass cannon left behind
by the English after the siege of 1797.




The conquest of Boriquén was far from being completed with the death
of Guaybána.

The panic which the fall of a chief always produces among savages
prevented, for the moment, all organized resistance on the part of
Guaybána's followers, but _they_ did not constitute the whole
population of the island. Their submission gave the Spaniards the
dominion over that part of it watered by the Culebrinas and the
Añasco, and over the northeastern district in which Ponce had laid the
foundations of his first settlement. The inhabitants of the southern
and eastern parts of the island, with those of the adjacent smaller
islands, were still unsubdued and remained so for years to come. Their
caciques were probably as well informed of the character of the
newcomers and of their doings in la Española as was the first
Guaybána's mother, and they wisely kept aloof so long as their
territories were not invaded.

The reduced number of Spaniards facilitated the maintenance of a
comparative independence by these as yet unconquered Indians, at the
same time that it facilitated the flight of those who, having bent
their necks to the yoke, found it unbearably heavy. According to
"Regidor" (Prefect) Hernando de Mogollon's letter to the Jerome
fathers, fully one-third of the "pacified" Indians--that is, of those
who had submitted--had disappeared and found a refuge with their
kinsmen in the neighboring islands.

The first fugitives from Boriquén naturally did not go beyond the
islands in the immediate vicinity. Vieques, Culébras, and la Mona
became the places of rendezvous whence they started on their
retaliatory expeditions, while their spies or their relatives on the
main island kept them informed of what was passing. Hence, no sooner
was a new settlement formed on the borders or in the neighborhood of
some river than they pounced upon it, generally at night, dealing
death and destruction wherever they went.

In vain did Juan Gil, with Ponce's two sons-in-law and a number of
tried men, make repeated punitive expeditions to the islands. The
attacks seemed to grow bolder, and not till Governor Mendoza himself
led an expedition to Vieques, in which the cacique Yaureibó was
killed, did the Indians move southeastward to Santa Cruz.

That the Caribs[31] inhabiting the islands Guadeloupe and Dominica
made common cause with the fugitives from Boriquén is not to be
doubted. The Spaniard was the common enemy and the opportunity for
plunder was too good to be lost. But the primary cause of all the
so-called Carib invasions of Puerto Rico was the thirst for revenge
for the wrongs suffered, and long after those who had smarted under
them or who had but witnessed them had passed away, the tradition of
them was kept alive by the areytos and songs, in the same way as the
memory of the outrages committed by the soldiers of Pizarro in Peru
are kept alive _till this day_ among the Indians of the eastern slope
of the Andes. The fact that neither Jamaica nor other islands occupied
by Spaniards were invaded, goes to prove that in the case of Puerto
Rico the invasions were prompted by bitter resentment of natives who
had preferred exile to slavery, coupled, perhaps, with a hope of being
able to drive the enemies of their race from their island home, a hope
which, if it existed, and if we consider the very limited number of
Spaniards who occupied it, was not without foundation.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was Nemesis, therefore, and not the mere lust of plunder, that
guided the Boriquén Indians and their Carib allies on their invasions
of Puerto Rico.

Diego Columbus during his visit in 1514 had founded a settlement with
50 colonists along the borders of the Daguáo and Macáo rivers on the
eastern coast.

They had constructed houses and ranchos, introduced cattle, and
commenced their plantations, but without taking any precautions
against sudden attacks or providing themselves with extra means of

One night they were awakened by the glare of fire and the yells of the
savages. As they rushed out to seek safety they fell pierced with
arrows or under the blows of the terrible Macánas. Very few of them

The next attack was in the locality now constituting the municipal
district of Loiza.

This place was settled by several Spaniards, among them Juan Mexia, a
man said to have been of herculean strength and great courage. The
Indian woman with whom he cohabited had received timely warning of the
intended attack, a proof that communications existed between the
supposed Caribs and the Indians on the island. She endeavored to
persuade the man to seek safety in flight, but he disdained to do so.
Then she resolved to remain with him and share his fate. Both were
killed, and Alejandro Tapia, a native poet, has immortalized the
woman's devotion in a romantic, but purely imaginative, composition.

Ponce's virtual defeat in Guadeloupe made the Caribs bolder than ever.
They came oftener and in larger numbers, always surprising the
settlements that were least prepared to offer resistance. Five years
had elapsed since the destruction of Daguáo. A new settlement had
gradually sprung up in the neighborhood along the river Humacáo and
was beginning to prosper, but it was also doomed. On November 16,
1520, Baltazar Castro, one of the crown officers, reported to the

"It is about two months since 5 canoes with 150 Carib warriors came to
this island of San Juan and disembarked in the river Humacáo, near
some Spanish settlements, where they killed 4 Christians and 13
Indians. From here they went to some gold mines and then to some
others, killing 2 Christians at each place. They burned the houses and
took a fishing smack, killing 4 more. They remained from fifteen to
twenty days in the country, the Christians being unable to hurt them,
having no ships. They killed 13 Christians in all, and as many Indian
women, and '_carried off_' 50 natives. They will grow bolder for being
allowed to depart without punishment. It would be well if the Seville
officers sent two light-draft vessels to occupy the mouths of the
rivers by which they enter."

On April 15, 1521, a large number of Indians made a descent on the
south coast, but we have no details of their doings; and in 1529 their
audacity culminated in an attempt on the capital itself. La Gama's
report to the emperor of this event is as follows: "On the 18th of
October, after midnight, 8 large pirogues full of Caribs entered the
bay of Puerto Rico, and meeting a bark on her way to Bayamón, manned
by 5 negroes and some other people, they took her. Finding that they
had been discovered, they did not attempt a landing till sunrise, then
they scuttled the bark. Some shots fired at them made them leave.
Three negroes were found dead, pierced with arrows. The people of this
town and all along the coast are watching. Such a thing as this has
not been heard of since the discovery. A fort, arms, artillery, and 2
brigantines of 30 oars each, and no Caribs will dare to come. If not
sent, fear will depopulate the island."

In the same month of the following year (1530) they returned, and this
time landed and laid waste the country in the neighborhood of the
capital. The report of the crown officers is dated the 31st of
October: "Last Sunday, the 23d instant, 11 canoes, in which there may
have been 500 Caribs, came to this island and landed at a point where
there are some agricultural establishments belonging to people of this
city. It is the place where the best gold in the island is found,
called Daguáo and the mines of Llagüello. Here they plundered the
estate of Christopher Guzman, the principal settler. They killed him
and some other Christians,[32] whites, blacks, and Indians, besides
some fierce dogs, and horses which stood ready saddled. They burned
them all, together with the houses, and committed many cruelties with
the Christians. They carried off 25 negroes and Indians, _to eat them,
as is their wont_. We fear that they will attack the defenseless city
in greater force, and the fear is so great that the women and children
dare not sleep in their houses, but go to the church and the
monastery, which are built of stone. We men guard the city and the
roads, being unable to attend to our business.

"We insist that 2 brigantines be armed and equipped, as was ordered by
the Catholic king. No Caribs will then dare to come. Let the port be
fortified or the island will be deserted. The governor and the
officers know how great is the need, but they may make no outlays
without express orders."

As a result of the repeated requests for light-draft vessels, 2
brigantines were constructed in Seville in 1531 and shipped, in
sections, on board of a ship belonging to Master Juan de Leon, who
arrived in June, 1532. The crown officers immediately invited all who
wished to man the brigantines and make war on the Caribs, offering
them as pay half of the product of the sale of the slaves they should
make, the other half to be applied to the purchase of provisions.

The brigantines were unfit for service. In February, 1534, the emperor
was informed: "Of the brigantines which your Majesty sent for the
defense of this island only the timber came, and half of that was
unfit.... We have built brigantines with the money intended for

Governor Lando wrote about the same time: "We suffer a thousand
injuries from the Caribs of Guadeloupe and Dominica. They come every
year to assault us. Although the city is so poor, we have spent 4,000
pesos in fitting out an expedition of 130 men against them; but,
however much they are punished, the evil will not disappear till your
Majesty orders these islands to be settled."  The expedition referred
to sailed under the orders of Joan de Ayucar, and reached Dominica in
May, 1534. Fifteen or 16 villages of about 20 houses each were burned,
103 natives were killed, and 70 prisoners were taken, the majority
women and boys. The Spaniards penetrated a distance of ten leagues
into the interior of the island, meeting with little resistance,
because the warrior population was absent. Eight or 10 pirogues and
more than 20 canoes were also burned. With this punishment the fears
of the people in San Juan were considerably allayed.

In 1536 Sedeño led an expedition against the Caribs of Trinidad and
Bartholomé. Carreño fitted out another in 1539. He brought a number of
slaves for sale, and the crown officers asked permission to brand them
on the forehead, "as is done in la Española and in Cubágua."

The Indians returned assault for assault. Between the years 1564 and
1570 they were specially active along the southern coast of San Juan,
so that Governor Francisco Bahamonde Lugo had to take the field
against them in person and was wounded in the encounter. Loiza, which
had been resettled, was destroyed for the second time in 1582, and a
year or so later the Caribs made a night attack on Aguáda, where they
destroyed the Franciscan convent and killed 3 monks.

With the end of the sixteenth and the commencement of the seventeenth
centuries the West Indian archipelago became the theater of French and
English maritime enterprise. The Carib strongholds were occupied, and
by degrees their fierce spirit was subdued, their war dances
relinquished, their war canoes destroyed, their traditions forgotten,
and the bold savages, once the terror of the West Indian seas,
succumbed in their turn to the inexorable law of the survival of the


[Footnote 31: The West Indian islands were inhabited at the time of
discovery by at least three races of different origin. One of these
races occupied the Bahamas. Columbus describes them as simple,
peaceful creatures, whose only weapon was a pointed stick or cane.
They were of a light copper color, rather good-looking, and probably
had formerly occupied the whole eastern part of the archipelago,
whence they had been driven or exterminated by the Caribs, Caribós, or
Guáribos, a savage, warlike, and cruel race, who had invaded the West
Indies from the continent, by way of the Orinoco. The larger Antilles,
Cuba, la Española, and Puerto Rico, were occupied by a race which
probably originated from some southern division of the northern
continent. The chroniclers mention the Guaycures and others as their
ancestors, and Stahl traces their origin to a mixture of the
Phoenicians with the Aborigines of remote antiquity]

[Footnote 32: Abbad says 30.]




The natural consequence of natural calamities and invasions was the
rapid disappearance of the natives. "The Indians are few and serve
badly," wrote Sedeño in 1515, about the same time that the crown
officers, to explain the diminution in the gold product, wrote that
many Indians had died of hunger, as a result of the hurricane. " ...
The people in la Mona," they said, "have provided 310 loads of bread,
with which we have bought an estate in San German. It will not do to
bring the Indians of that island away, because they are needed for the
production of bread."

Strenuous efforts to prevent the extinction of the Indians were made
by Father Bartolomé Las Casas, soon after the death of King Ferdinand.
This worthy Dominican friar had come to the court for the sole purpose
of denouncing the system of "encomiendas" and the cruel treatment of
the natives to which it gave rise. He found willing listeners in
Cardinal Cisneros and Dean Adrian, of Lovaino, the regents, who
recompensed his zeal with the title of "Protector of the Indians." The
appointment of a triumvirate of Jerome friars to govern la Española
and San Juan (1517) was also due to Las Casas's efforts. Two years
later the triumvirate reported to the emperor that in compliance with
his orders they had taken away the Indians from all non-resident
Spaniards in la Española and had collected them in villages.

Soon after the emperor's arrival in Spain Las Casas obtained further
concessions in favor of the Indians. Not the least important among
these were granted in the schedule of July 12, 1520, which recognized
the principle that the Indians were born free, and contained the
following dispositions:

1st. That in future no more distributions of Indians should take

2d. That all Indians assigned to non-residents, from the monarch
downward, should be _ipse facto_ free, and be established in villages,
under the authority of their respective caciques; and

3d. That all residents in these islands, who still possessed Indians,
were bound to conform strictly, in their treatment of them, to the
ordinances for their protection previously promulgated.

Antonio de la Gama was charged with the execution of this decree. He
sent a list of non-residents, February 15,1521, with the number of
Indians taken from each, his Majesty himself heading the list with 80.
The total number thus liberated was 664.

These dispositions created fierce opposition. Licentiate Figueroa
addressed the emperor on the subject, saying: " ... It is necessary to
overlook the 'encomiendas,' otherwise the people will be unable to
maintain themselves, and the island will be abandoned."

However, the crown officers ascribe the licentiate's protest to other
motives than the desire for the good of the island. "He has done much
harm," they wrote. "He has brought some covetous young men with him
and made them inspectors. They imposed heavy fines and gave the
confiscated Indians to their friends and relations. He and they are
rich, while the old residents have scarcely wherewith to maintain

But Figueroa had foreseen these accusations, for he concludes his
above-mentioned letter to the emperor, saying: " ... Let your Majesty
give no credence to those who complain. Most of them are very cruel
with the Indians, and care not if they be exterminated, provided they
themselves can amass gold and return to Castilla."

Martin Fernandez Enciso, a bachelor-at-law, addressed to the emperor a
learned dissertation intended to refute the doctrine that the Indians
were born free, maintaining that the right of conquest of the New
World granted by the Pope necessarily included the right to reduce the
inhabitants to slavery.

And thus, in spite of the philanthropic efforts of Las Casas, of the
well-intentioned ordinances of the Catholic kings, and of the more
radical measures sanctioned by Charles V, the Indian's lot was not
bettered till it was too late to save him from extinction.

"The Indians are dying out!" This is the melancholy refrain of all the
official communications from 1530 to 1536. The emperor made a last
effort to save the remnant in 1538, and decreed that all those who
still had Indians in their possession should construct stone or adobe
houses for them under penalty of losing them. In 1543 it was ordained
by an Order in Council that all Indians still alive in Cuba, la
Española, and Puerto Rico, were as free as the Spaniards themselves,
and they should be permitted to loiter and be idle, "that they might
increase and multiply."

Bishop Rodrigo Bastidas, who was charged to see to the execution of
this order in Puerto Rico, still found 80 Indians to liberate.
Notwithstanding these terminant orders, so powerless were they to
abolish the abuses resulting from the iniquitous system, that as late
as 1550 the Indians were still treated as slaves. In that year
Governor Vallejo wrote to the emperor: "I found great irregularity in
the treatment of these few Indians, ... they were being secretly sold
as slaves, etc."

Finally, in 1582, Presbyter Ponce de Leon and Bachelor-at-Law Santa
Clara, in a communication to the authorities, stated: "At the time
when this island was taken there were found here and distributed 5,500
Indians, without counting those who would not submit, and to-day there
is not one left, excepting 12 or 15, who have been brought from the
continent. They died of disease, sarampion, rheum, smallpox, and
ill-usage, or escaped to other islands with the Caribs. The few that
remain are scattered here and there among the Spaniards on their
little plantations. Some serve as soldiers. They do not speak their
language, because they are mostly born in the island, and they are
good Christians." This is the last we read of the Boriquén Indians.

       *       *       *       *       *

With the gradual extinction of the natives, not only the gold output
ceased, but the cultivation of ginger, cotton, cacao, indigo, etc., in
which articles a small trade had sprung up, was abandoned. The Carib
incursions and hurricanes did the rest, and the island soon became a
vast jungle which everybody who could abandoned.

"We have been writing these last four years," wrote the crown
officers, February 26, 1534, "that the island is becoming depopulated,
the gold is diminishing, the Indians are gone. Some new gold deposits
were discovered in 1532, and as much as 20,000 pesos were extracted.
We thought this would contribute to the repeopling of the island, but
the contrary has happened. The people, ruined by the hurricanes of the
year 1530, thinking that they might find other gold deposits, bought
negroes on credit at very high prices to search for them. They found
none, and have not been able to pay their creditors. Some are fugitive
in the mountains, others in prison, others again have stolen vessels
belonging to the Administration and have gone with their negroes no
one knows where. With all this and the news from Peru, not a soul
would remain if they were not stopped."

When the news of the fabulous riches discovered in Peru reached this
island, the desire to emigrate became irresistible. Governor Lando
wrote to the emperor, February 27, 1534: " ... Two months ago there
came a ship here from Peru to buy horses. The captain related such
wonderful things that the people here and in San German became
excited, and even the oldest settlers wanted to leave. If I had not
instantly ordered him away the island would have been deserted. _I
have imposed the death penalty on whosoever shall attempt to leave the

On July 2d he wrote again: " ... Many, mad with the news from Peru,
have secretly embarked in one or other of the numerous small ports at
a distance from the city. Among the remaining settlers even the oldest
is constantly saying: 'God help me to go to Peru.' I am watching day
and night to prevent their escape, but can not assure you that I shall
be able to retain the people.

"Two months ago I heard that some of them had obtained possession of a
ship at a point on the coast two leagues from here and intended to
leave. I sent three vessels down the coast and twenty horsemen by
land. They resisted, and my presence was required to take them. Three
were killed and others wounded. _I ordered some of them to be flogged
and cut off the feet of others_, and then I had to dissimulate the
seditious cries of others who were in league with them and intended to
join them in la Mona, which is twelve leagues from here. If your
Majesty does not promptly remedy this evil, I fear that the island
will be entirely depopulated or remain like a country inn. This island
is the key and the entrance to all the Antilles. The French and
English freebooters land here first. The Caribs carry off our
neighbors and friends before our very eyes. If a ship were to come
here at night with fifty men, they could burn the city and kill every
soul of us. I ask protection for this noble island, now so
depopulated that one sees scarcely any Spaniards, only negroes ..."

But even the negro population was scarce. The introduction of African
slaves into la Española had proceeded _pari passu_ with the gradual
disappearance of the Indians. As early as 1502 a certain Juan Sanchez
had obtained permission to introduce five caravels of negro slaves
into that island free of duty, though Ovando complained that many of
them escaped to the mountains and made the Indians more insubordinate
than ever; but in San Juan a special permission to introduce negroes
was necessary. Geron in 1510 and Sedeño in 1512 were permitted to
bring in two negroes each only by swearing that they were for their
own personal service. In 1513 the general introduction of African
slaves was authorized by royal schedule, but two ducats per head had
to be paid for the privilege. Cardinal Cisneros suspended the export
of slaves from Spain in 1516, but the emperor sanctioned it again in
1517, to stop, if possible, the destruction of the natives.

Father Las Casas favored the introduction of African slaves for the
same reason, and obtained from the emperor a concession in favor of
his high steward, Garrebod, to send 4,000 negroes to la Española,
Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Garrebod sold the concession to a Genovese firm
(1517), but negroes remained very scarce and dear in San Juan till
1530, when, by special dispensation of the empress in favor of some
merchants, 200 negroes were brought to this island. They were greedily
taken up on credit at exorbitant prices, which caused the ruin of the
purchasers and made the city authorities of San Juan petition her
Majesty April 18, 1533, praying that no more negro ¡slaves might be
permitted to come to the island for a period of eighteen months,
because of the inability of the people to pay for them.

In Governor Lando's letter of July, 1534, above quoted, he informs the
emperor that in the only two towns that existed in the island at that
time (San Juan and San German) there were "very few Spaniards and only
6 negroes in each." The incursions of the French and English
freebooters, to which he refers in the same letter, had commenced six
years before, and these incursions bring the tale of the island's
calamities to a climax.




The depredations committed by the privateers, which about this time
began to infest the Antilles and prey upon the Spanish possessions,
were a result of the wars with almost every nation in Europe, in which
Spain became involved after the accession of Charles, the son of
Juana, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella and Philip I, Archduke of

The young prince had been educated amid all the pomp and splendor of
the imperial court. He was a perfect type of the medieval cavalier,
who could break a lance with the proudest knight in the empire, and
was worthy in every respect of the high destiny that awaited him. At
the age of twenty he became the heir to eight kingdoms,[33] the
recognized ruler of the Netherlands, lord of vast territories in
Africa, and absolute arbiter of the destinies of the Spanish division
of the New World.

Scarcely had this powerful young prince been accepted and crowned by
the last and most recalcitrant of his kingdoms (Cataluña), and while
still in Barcelona, the news arrived of the death of his grandfather,
Maximilian, King of the Romans and Emperor elect of Germany.
Intrigues for the possession of the coveted crown were set on foot at
once by the prince, now Charles I of Spain and by Francis I, King of
France. The powers ranged themselves on either side as their interests
dictated. Henry VIII of England declared himself neutral; Pope León X,
who distrusted both claimants, was waiting to see which of them would
buy his support by the largest concessions to the temporal power of
the Vatican; the Swiss Cantons hated France and sided with Charles;
Venice favored Francis I.[34]

The German Diet assembled at Frankfort June 17, 1519, and unanimously
elected Frederick of Saxony, surnamed the Prudent. He showed his
prudence by declining the honor, and in an address to the assembly
dwelt at some length on the respective merits of the two pretenders,
and ended by declaring himself in favor of the Spanish prince, one
reason for his preference being that Charles was more directly
interested in checking the advance of the Turks, who, under Soleiman
the Magnificent, threatened, at the time, to overrun the whole of
eastern Europe.

Charles I of Spain was elected, and thus became Charles V, King of the
Romans and Emperor of Germany--that is, the most powerful monarch of
his time, before he had reached the age of manhood. His success, added
to other political differences and ambitions, was not long in
provoking a war with France, which, with short intervals, lasted the
lifetime of the two princes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Spain was most vulnerable in her ultramarine possessions. They offered
tempting prizes to the unscrupulous, adventurous spirits of the
period, and the merchants on the coast of Normandy asked and obtained
permission to equip privateers to harass Spanish commerce and attack
the unprotected settlements.

San Juan was one of the first to suffer. An official report dated
September 26, 1528, informs us that "on the day of the Apostle Saint
John a French caravel and a tender bore down on the port of Cubágua
and attempted to land artillery from the ship with the help of Indians
brought from Margarita, five leagues distant. On the 12th of August
they took the town of San German, plundered and burned it; they also
destroyed two caravels that were there...."

French privateers were sighted off the coast continually, but it would
seem that the island, with its reputation for poverty, its two
settlements 40 leagues apart, and scanty population, offered too
little chance for booty, so that no other landing is recorded till
1538, when a privateer was seen chasing a caravel on her way to San
German. The caravel ran ashore at a point two leagues from the capital
and the crew escaped into the woods. The Frenchmen looted the vessel
and then proceeded to Guadianilla, where they landed 80 men, 50 of
them arquebusiers. They burned the town, robbed the church and
Dominican convent; but the people, after placing their families in
security, returned, and under favor of a shower of rain, which made
the arquebuses useless, fell upon them, killed 15 and took 3
prisoners, in exchange for whom the stolen church property was
restored. The people had only 1 killed.

The attack was duly reported to the sovereign, who ordered the
construction of a fort, and appointed Juan de Castellanos, the
treasurer, its commander (October 7, 1540). The treasurer's reply is
characteristic: "The fort which I have been ordered to make in the
town of San German, of which I am to be the commander, shall be made
as well as we may, though there is great want of money ... and of
carts, negroes, etc. It will be necessary to send masons from Sevilla,
as there is only 1 here, also tools and 20 negroes....

"Forts for this island are well enough, but it would be better to
favor the population, lending money or ceding the revenues for a few
years, to construct sugar-mills...."

On June 12th of the same year the treasurer wrote again announcing
that work on the San German fort had commenced, for which purpose he
had bought some negroes and hired others at _two and a half pesos per

But on February 12, 1542, the crown officers, including Castellanos,
reported that _the emperor's order to suspend work on the fort of San
German had been obeyed_.

In February, 1543, the bishop wrote to the emperor: "The people of San
German, for fear of the French privateers, have taken their families
and property into the woods. If there were a fort they would not be
so timid nor would the place be so depopulated."

As late as September, 1548, he reported: "I came here from la Española
in the beginning of the year to visit my diocese. I disembarked in San
German with an order from the Audiencia to convoke the inhabitants,
and found that there were a few over 30, who lived half a league from
the port for fear of the privateers. They don't abandon the important
place, but there ought to be a fort."

But the prelate pleaded in vain.

Charles V, occupied in opposing the French king's five armies, could
not be expected to give much attention to the affairs of an
insignificant island in a remote corner of his vast dominions. Puerto
Rico was left to take care of itself, and San German's last hour
struck on Palm Sunday, 1554, when 3 French ships entered the port of
Guadianilla, landed a detachment of men who penetrated a league
inland, plundering and destroying whatever they could. From that day
San German, the settlement founded by Miguel del Toro in 1512,
disappeared from the face of the land.

The capital remained. No doubt it owed its preservation from French
attacks to the presence of a battery and some pieces of artillery
which, as a result of reiterated petitions, had been provided. The
population also was more numerous. In 1529 there were 120 houses, some
of them of stone. The cathedral was completed, and a Dominican convent
was in course of construction with 25 friars waiting to occupy it.
Thus, one by one, all the original settlements disappeared. Guánica,
Sotomayor, Daguáo, Loiza, had been swept away by the Indians. San
German fell the victim of the Spanish monarch's war with his neighbor.
The only remaining settlement, the capital, was soon to be on the
point of being sacrificed in the same way. The existence of the island
seemed to be half-forgotten, its connection with the metropolis
half-severed, for the crown officers wrote in 1536 that _no ship from
the Peninsula had entered its ports for two years_.

"Negroes and Indians," says Abbad, "seeing the small number of
Spaniards and their misery, escaped to the mountains of Luquillo and
Añasco, whence they descended only to rob their masters."


[Footnote 33: Castilla and Aragón, Navarro, Valencia, Cataluña,
Mallorca, Sicily, and Naples.]

[Footnote 34: Hista. general de España por Don Modesto Lafuente.
Barcelona, 1889.]




A slight improvement in the gloomy situation of the people of San Juan
took place when, driven by necessity, they began to dedicate
themselves to agriculture. At this time, too (1535), Juan Castellanos,
the island's attorney at the court, returned with his own family and
75 colonists. Yet scarcely had they had time to settle when they were
invited to remigrate by one of Ponce's old companions.

This was Sedeño, a perfect type of the Spanish adventurer of the
sixteenth century--restless, ambitious, unscrupulous. The king had
made him "contador" (comptroller) of San Juan in 1512 and perpetual
"regidor" (alderman) in 1515. In 1518 we find him in prison under
accusation of having brought a woman and child from a convent in
Sevilla. He broke out of the prison and escaped in a ship. In 1521 he
was in prison again for debt to the Government. On this occasion the
judge auditor wrote to the emperor: " ... It is said of the
comptroller that he has put his hands deep into your Majesty's
treasure. He is the one who causes most strife and unrest in the
island, ... everybody says that it would be well if he were removed."
In 1524 Villasante accused him of malversation of public funds. In
1531 he appears as Governor of Trinidad, accused of capturing natives
of the neighboring continent, branding them and selling them as
slaves. In 1532, reinstated in his post as comptroller, he leaves
Alonzo de la Fuente as his deputy and goes on an expedition to conquer
Trinidad. In 1535 he complains to the emperor that the authorities in
San Juan have not assisted him in his enterprise, and in the following
year the governor and crown officers address a complaint against him
to the empress, saying: "Sedeño presented a schedule authorizing him
to bring 200 men from the Canary Islands to make war with fire and
sword on the Caribs of Trinidad, and permitting him, or any other
person authorized by him, to fit out an expedition for the same
purpose here.

"Under this pretext he has collected people to go to the conquest of
Meta. We wrote to the Audiencia in la Española, and an order came
that he should not go beyond the limits of his government, but he
continues his preparations and has already 50 horses and 120 men on
the continent, and is now going with some 200 men more and another 100
horses. He takes no notice of your Majesty's commands, collects people
from all parts without a license, and causes grave injury to the
island, because since the rage for going to Peru began the population
is very scarce and we can not remedy the evil...."

This restless adventurer died of fever on the continent in 1538.
Sedeño's emigration schemes deprived the island of many of its best
settlers. The wish to abandon it was universal. Lando's drastic
measures to prevent it roused the people's anger, and they clamored
for his removal. The Audiencia sent Juan Blasquez as judge auditor,
and Vasco de Tiedra was appointed Lando's successor in 1536. But in
the following year a radical change was made in the system of

The quarrels, the jealousies, and mutual accusations between the
colonists and the Government officials that kept the island in a
continual ferment, were the natural consequence of the prerogatives
exercised by Diego Columbus, which permitted him to fill all lucrative
positions in the island with his own favorites, often without any
regard to their aptitude.

The incessant communications to the emperor, and even to the empress,
on every subject more or less connected with the public service, but
dictated mostly by considerations of self-interest, coming, as they
did, from the smallest and poorest and least important of his
Majesty's possessions, must have been a source of great annoyance to
the imperial ministers, consequently they resolved to remove the
cause. The Admiral was deprived of the prerogative of appointing
governors, and henceforth the alcaldes (mayors) and "chief alguaciles"
(high constables), to be elected from among the colonists by a body of
eight aldermen (regidores), were to exercise the governmental
functions for one year at a time, and could not be reelected till two
years after the first nomination. The wisdom of this innovation was
not generally acknowledged. The crown officers wrote: " ... All are
not agreed on the point whether the governor should or should not be
elected among the residents of the island. For the country's good he
should, no doubt, be a resident."

Alonzo la Fuente was of a different opinion. He wrote in November,
1536: "It has been a great boon to take the appointment of governors
out of the Admiral's hands. As a rule, some neighbor or friend was
made supreme judge, and he usually proceeded with but little regard
for the island's welfare. All the rest were servants and employees of
the Admiral, which caused me much uneasiness, seeing the results.
Appoint a governor, but a man from abroad, not a resident." In the
following year he wrote regarding the elective system just introduced:
" ... If the alcaldes must take cognizance of everything, this will
become a place of confusion and disorder. A few will lord it over all
the rest, and the alcaldes themselves will but be their creatures."

The new system of government was unsatisfactory. Castro and
Castellanos asked for the appointment of a supreme judge in March,
1539, because an appeal to the authorities in la Española was made
against every decision of the alcalde. Alderman La Fuente and Martel
confirmed this in December, 1541. They wrote: " ... There is great
want of a supreme judge. More than fifteen homicides have been
committed in less than eight years, and only one of the delinquents
has been punished ..." In January, 1542, the city officers sent a
deputy to lay their grievances before the emperor, not daring to write
them "for their lives," and in February the island's attorney, Alonzo
Molina, stated the causes of the failure of the elective system to be
the ignorance of the laws of those in authority and the reduced number
of electors. "It is necessary," he said, "to name a mayor or governor
who is a man of education and conscience, _not a resident_, because
the judges have their 'compadres.'[35] The governor must be a man of
whom they stand in fear, and if some one of this class is not sent
soon, he will find few to govern, for the majority intend to abandon
the island."

A law passed, it appears, at the petition of a single individual, in
1542, increased the confusion and discord still more. This law made
the pastures of the island, as well as the woods and waters, public
property. The woods and waters had been considered such from the
beginning, but the pastures, included in the concessions of lands made
at different times by the crown, were private property. The result of
this law was aggression on the part of the landless and resistance on
the part of the proprietors, with the consequent scenes of violence
and civil strife.

Representations against the law were made by the ecclesiastical
chapter, by the city attorney, and by the three crown officers in
February, 1542; but the regidores, on the other hand, insisted on the
compliance with the royal mandate, and reported that when the law was
promulgated, all the possessors of cattle-ranges opposed it, and four
of their body who voted for compliance with the law were threatened to
be stoned to death and have their eyes pulled out. "We asked to have
the circumstance testified to by a notary, and it was refused. We
wanted to write to your Majesty, and to prevent any one conveying our
letters, they bought the whole cargo of the only ship in port, and did
the same with another ship that came in afterward...."

On the 2d of June following they wrote again: " ... An alcalde, two
aldermen, and ten or twelve wealthy cattle-owners wanted to kill us.
We had to lock ourselves up in our houses.... The people here are so
insubordinate that if your Majesty does not send some one to chastise
them and protect his servants, there will soon be no island of San

The system of electing annual governors among the residents was
abolished in 1544, and the crown resumed its prerogative with the
appointment of Gerónimo Lebrón, of la Española, as governor for one
year. He died fifteen days after his arrival, and the Audiencia
named licentiate Cervantes de Loayza in his place, who was compelled
to imprison some of the ringleaders in the party of opposition
against the pasture laws. This governor wrote to the emperor in July,
1545: " ... I came to this island with my wife and children to serve
your Majesty, but I found it a prey to incredible violences...."

Cervantes was well received at first, and the city officials asked the
emperor to prorogue his term of office, but as Bishop Bastidas said of
the islanders, it was not in their nature to be long satisfied with
any governor, and the next year they clamored for his "residencia." He
rendered his accounts and came out without blame or censure.

It appears that about the year 1549 the system of electing alcaldes as
governors was resumed, for in that year Bishop Bastidas thanks the
emperor, and tells him "the alcaldes were sufficient, considering the
small population." But in 1550 we again find a governor appointed by
the crown for five years, a Doctor Louis Vallejo, from whose
communications describing the conditions of the island we extract the
following: "It is a pity to see how the island has been ruined by the
attacks of Frenchmen and Caribs. The few people that remain in San
German live in the worst possible places, in swamps surrounded by
rough mountains, a league from the port...." And on the 4th of
December, 1550: " ... The island was in a languishing condition
because the mines gave out, but now, with the sugar industry, it is
comparatively prosperous. The people beg your Majesty's protection."

However, in October, 1553, we find Bishop Alonzo la Fuente and others
addressing King Philip II, and telling him that "the land is in great
distress, ... traffic has ceased for fear of the corsairs...." The
same complaints continue during 1554 and 1555. Then Vallejo is
subjected to "residencia" by the new governor, Estevéz, who, after a
few months' office, is "residentiated" in his turn by Caráza, who had
been governor in 1547.

After this the chronicles are so scanty that not even the diligent
researches of Friar Abbad's commentator enabled him to give any
reliable information regarding the government of the island. It
remained the almost defenseless point of attack for the nations with
which Spain was constantly at war, and this small but bright pearl in
her colonial crown was preserved only by fortunate circumstances on
the one hand and the loyalty of the inhabitants on the other.


[Footnote 35: Protectors or protégés--literally, "godfathers."]




San German disappeared for want of means of defense, and if the French
privateers of the time had been aware that the forts in San Juan were
without guns or ammunition it is probable that this island would have
become a French possession.

The defenses of the island were constructed by the home authorities in
a very dilatory manner. Ponce's house in Capárra had been fortified in
a way so ineffective that Las Casas said of it that the Indians might
knock it down butting their heads against it. This so-called fort soon
fell in ruins after the transfer of the capital to its present site.
There is no information of what became of the six "espingardas" (small
ordnance or hand-guns) with which it had been armed at King
Ferdinand's expense. They had probably been transferred to San Juan,
where, very likely, they did good service intimidating the Caribs.

In 1527 an English ship came prowling about San Juan bay, la Mona, and
la Española, and this warning to the Spanish authorities was
disregarded, notwithstanding Blas de Villasante's urgent request
for artillery and ammunition.

[Illustration: Inner harbor, San Juan.]

After the burning of San German by a French privateer in August, 1537,
Villasante bought five "lombardas" (another kind of small ordnance)
for the defense of San Juan. In 1529 and 1530 both La Gama, the acting
governor, and the city officers represented to the emperor the
necessity of constructing fortifications, "_because the island's
defenseless condition caused the people to emigrate_."

It appears that the construction of the first fort commenced about
1533, for in that year the Audiencia in la Española disposed of some
funds for the purpose, and Governor Lando suggested the following year
that if the fort were made of stone "it would be eternal." The
suggestion was acted upon and a tax levied on the people to defray the

This fort must have been concluded about the year 1540, for in that
same year the ecclesiastical and the city authorities were contending
for the grant of the slaves, carts, and oxen that had been employed,
the former wanting them for the construction of a church, the latter
for making roads and bridges.

This "Fortaleza" is the same edifice which, after many changes, was at
last, and is still, used as a gubernatorial residence, the latest
reconstruction being effected in 1846.[36] As a fort, Gonzalez
Fernandez de Oviedo denounced it as a piece of useless work which,
"if it had been constructed by blind men could not have been located
in a worse place," and in harmony with his advice a battery was
constructed on the rocky promontory called "the Morro."

San Juan had now a fort (1540) but no guns. The crown officers,
reporting an attack on Guayáma by a French privateer in 1541, again
clamor for artillery. Treasurer Castellanos writes in March and June
of the same year: "The artillery for this fort has not yet arrived.
How are we to defend it?"

Treasurer Salinas writes in 1554: "The French have taken several
ships. It would have been a great boon if your Majesty had ordered
Captain Mindirichága to come here with his four ships to defend this
island and la Española. He would have found Frenchmen in la Mona,
where they prepare for their expeditions and lay in wait. They declare
their intention to take this island, and it will be difficult for us
to defend it without artillery or other arms. If there is anything in
the fort it is useless, nor is the fort itself of any account. It is
merely a lodging-house. The bastion on the Morro, if well constructed,
could defend the entrance to the harbor with 6 pieces. We have 60
horsemen here with lances and shields, but no arquebusiers or pikemen.
Send us artillery and ammunition."

The demand for arms and ammunition continued in this way till 1555,
when acting Governor Caráza reported that 8 pieces of bronze ordnance
had been planted on the Morro.

The existing fortifications of San Juan have all been added and
extended at different periods. Father Torres Vargas, in his chronicles
of San Juan, says that the castle grounds of San Felipe del Morro
were laid out in 1584. The construction cost 2,000,000 ducats.[37] The
Boquerón, or Santiago fort, the fort of the Cañuelo, and the
extensions of the Morro were constructed during the administration of
Gabriel Royas (1599 to 1609). Governor Henriquez began the
circumvallation of the city in 1630, and his successor, Sarmiento,
concluded it between the years 1635 and 1641. Fort San Cristobal was
begun in the eighteenth century and completed in 1771. Some
fortifications of less importance were added in the nineteenth

When Caráza reported, in 1555, that the first steps in the
fortification of the capital had been taken, the West Indian seas
swarmed with French privateers, and their depredations on Spanish
commerce and ill-protected possessions continued till Philip II signed
the treaty of peace at Vervins in 1598.

But before that, war with England had been declared, and a more
formidable enemy than the French was soon to appear before the capital
of this much-afflicted island.


[Footnote 36: The inscription on the upper front wall of the building
is: "During the reign of her Majesty, Doña Isabel II, the Count of
Mirasol being Captain-General, Santos Cortijo, Colonel of Engineers,
reconstructed this royal fort in 1846."]

[Footnote 37: Ducat, a coin struck by a duke, worth, in silver, about
$1.15, in gold, twice as much. It was also a nominal money worth
eleven pesetas and one maravedi.]




Of all the English freebooters that preyed upon Spain and her colonies
from the commencement of the war in 1585 to the signing of peace in
1604, Francis Drake was the greatest scourge and the most feared.

Drake early distinguished himself among the fraternity of sea-rovers
by the boldness of his enterprises and the intensity of his hatred of
the Spaniards. When still a young man, in 1567-'68, he was captain of
a small ship, the Judith, one of a fleet of slavers running between
the coast of Africa and the West Indies, under the command of John
Hawkyns, another famous freebooter. In the harbor of San Juan de Ulúa
the Spaniards took the fleet by stratagem; the Judith and the Minion,
with Hawkyns on board, being the only vessels that escaped. Young
Drake's experiences on that occasion fixed the character of his
relations to the Dons forever afterward. He vowed that they should pay
for all he had suffered and all he had lost.

At that time the Spaniards were ostensibly still friends with England.
To Drake they were then and always treacherous and forsworn enemies.
In 1570 he made a voyage to the West Indies in a bark of forty tons
with a private crew. In the Chagres River, on the coast of Nombre de
Dios, there happened to be sundry barks transporting velvets and
taffetas to the value of 40,000 ducats, besides gold and silver. They
were all taken.

Two years later he made a most daring attempt to take the town of
Nombre de Dios, and would probably have succeeded had he not been
wounded. He fainted from loss of blood. His men carried him back on
board and suspended the attack. On his recovery he met with complete
success, and returned to Plymouth in 1573 with a large amount of
treasure openly torn from a nation with which England was at peace,
arriving at the very time that Philip's ambassador to Queen Elizabeth
was negotiating a treaty of peace. Drake had no letters of marque, and
consequently was guilty of piracy in the eyes of the law, the penalty
for which was hanging. The Spaniards were naturally very angry, and
clamored for restitution or compensation and Drake's punishment, but
the queen, who shared the pirate's hatred of the Spaniards, sent him
timely advice to keep out of the way.

In 1580 he returned from another voyage in the West Indies, just when
a body of so-called papal volunteers had landed in Ireland. They had
been brought by a Spanish officer in Spanish ships, and the queen,
pending a satisfactory explanation, refused to receive Mendoza, the
Spanish ambassador, and hear his complaints of Drake's piracies. When
his ships had been brought round in the Thames, she visited him on
board and conferred on him the honor of knighthood. From this time
onward he became a servant of the crown.[38]

It was this redoubtable sea-rover who, according to advices received
early in 1595, was preparing an expedition in England for the purpose
of wresting her West Indian possessions from Spain. The expedition was
brought to naught, through the disagreements between Drake and Hawkyns,
who both commanded it, by administrative blunders and vexatious delays
in England. The Spaniards were everywhere forewarned and goaded to
action by the terror of Drake's name.

Notwithstanding this, the island's fate, seeing its defenseless
condition, would, no doubt, have been sealed at that time but for a
most fortunate occurrence which brought to its shores the forces that
enabled it to repulse the attack. Acosta's annotations on Abbad's
history contains the following details of the events in San Juan at
the time:

"General Sancho Pardo y Osorio sailed from Havana March 10, 1595, in
the flagship of the Spanish West Indian fleet, to convoy some
merchantmen and convey 2,000,000 pesos in gold and silver, the greater
part the property of his Majesty the king. The flagship carried 300

"On the 15th, when in the Bermuda channel, a storm separated the
convoy from the other ships, sent her mainmast overboard, broke her
rudder, and the ship sprang a leak. In this condition, after a
consultation among the officers, it was decided to repair the damage
as well as possible and steer for Puerto Rico, which they reached on
the 9th of April. The treasure was placed in security in the fort and
messengers despatched to the king to learn his Majesty's commands.

"A few days later official advice of the preparations in England was
brought to the island in a despatch-boat. Governor Juarez, General
Sancho, and the commander of the local infantry held a council, in
which it was resolved to land the artillery from the dismasted ship
and sink her and another vessel in the channel at the entrance to the
harbor, while defenses should be constructed at every point where an
enemy could attempt a landing. The plan was carried out under the
direction of General Sancho, who had ample time, as no enemy appeared
during the next seven months.

"On the 13th of November 5 Spanish frigates arrived under the command
of Pedro Tello de Gúzman, with orders from the king to embark the
treasure forthwith and take it to Spain; but Tello, on his way hither,
had fallen in off Guadeloupe with two English small craft, had had a
fight with one of them, sank it, and while pursuing the other had come
suddenly in sight of the whole fleet, which made him turn about and
make his way to Puerto Rico before the English should cut him off.
From the prisoners taken from the sunken vessel he had learned that
the English fleet consisted of 6 line-of-battle ships of 600 to 800
tons each, and about 20 others of different sizes, with launches for
landing troops, 3,000 infantry, 1,500 mariners, all well armed and
provided with artillery, bound direct for Puerto Rico under the
command of Sir Francis Drake and John Hawkyns.

"Tello's 5 frigates made a very important addition to the island's
defenses. Part of his men were distributed among the land forces, and
his ships anchored in the bay, just behind the two sunken ships.

"All was now ready for a determined resistance. General Sancho had
charge of the shore defenses, Admiral Gonzalo Mendez de Cauzo
commanded the forts, Tello, with his frigates and 300 men, defended
the harbor. The bishop promised to say a mass and preach a sermon
every day, and placed a priest at every post to give spiritual aid
where necessary. Lastly, despatch-boats were sent to la Española and
to Cuba to inform the authorities there of the coming danger.

"The defensive forces consisted of 450 men distributed at different
points on shore with 34 pieces of ordnance of small caliber. In the
forts there were 36 pieces, mostly bronze ordnance, with the
respective contingent of men. On board of Tello's frigates there were
300 men.

"General Sancho, after an inspection of the defenses, assured the
governor that the island was safe if the men would but fight.

"At daybreak on the 22d of November the English fleet hove in sight.
The call to arms was sounded, and everybody," says the chronicler,
"ran joyfully to his post."

A caravel with some launches showing white flags came on ahead,
sounding, but on passing the Boquerón were saluted with a cannon shot,
whereupon they withdrew replacing the white flags by red ones.

The whole fleet now came to anchor in front of the "Caleta del Cabron"
(Goat's Creek), much to the surprise of the islanders, who had no idea
that there was anchoring ground at that point; but, being within range
of the 3 pieces of cannon on the Morrillo and of the 2 pieces planted
at the mouth of the creek, they were fired upon, with the result, as
became known afterward, of considerable damage to the flagship and the
death of 2 or 3 persons, among them Hawkyns, Drake's second in

This unexpectedly warm reception made it clear to the English admiral
that the islanders had been forewarned and were not so defenseless as
they had been reported. Some launches were sent to take soundings in
the vicinity of Goat Island, and at 5 in the afternoon the fleet
lifted anchor and stood out to sea. Next morning at 8 o'clock it
returned and took up a position under the shelter of the said island,
out of range of the artillery on the forts.

More soundings were taken during the day in the direction of Bayamón,
as far as the Cañuelo. That night, about 10 o'clock, 25 launches, each
containing from 50 to 60 men, advanced under cover of the darkness and
attacked Tello's frigates. The flames of 3 of the ships, which the
English succeeded in firing, soon lit up the bay and enabled the
artillery of the 3 forts to play with effect among the crowded
launches. The Spaniards on board Tello's ships succeeded in putting
out the fire on board 2 of the ships, the third one was destroyed.
After an hour's hard fighting and the loss by the English, as
estimated by the Spanish chronicler, of 8 or 10 launches and of about
400 men, they withdrew. The Spanish loss that night was 40 killed and
some wounded.

The next day the English fleet stood out to sea again, keeping to
windward of the harbor, which made Tello suspect that they intended to
return under full sail when the wind sprang up and force their way
into the harbor. To prevent this, 2 more ships and a frigate were sunk
across the entrance with all they had on board, there being no time to
unload them.

As expected, the fleet came down at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, but
did not try to force an entrance. It quietly took up the same position
between the Morro and Goat Island, which it had occupied the day
before, and this made the Spaniards think that another night attack on
the 3 remaining frigates was impending. After dark the frigates were
removed to a place of safety within the bay.

The night passed without an alarm. The next day the English launches
were busy all day sounding the bay as far as the Boquerón, taking care
to keep out of range of the artillery on shore. Night came on and when
next morning the sun lit up the western world there was not an enemy
visible. Drake had found the island too well prepared and deemed it
prudent to postpone the conquest.

Two days later news came from Arecibo that the English fleet had
passed that port. A messenger sent to San German returned six days
later with the information that the enemy had been there four days
taking in wood and water and had sailed southward on the 9th of

It is said that when Drake afterward learned that his abandonment of
the conquest of Puerto Rico had made him miss the chance of adding
2,000,000 pesos in gold and silver to the Maiden Queen's exchequer, he
pulled his beard with vexation.


[Footnote 38: Drake and his Successors. The Edinburgh Review, July,



Puerto Rico and his Majesty's treasure were now safe. When there was
no longer any fear of the enemy's return, haste was made to reembark
the money and get rid of General Sancho and Tello and their men who
were fast consuming the island's scanty resources.

Two years after Drake's ineffectual attack on the island another
English fleet, with a large body of troops under the orders of Lord
George Cumberland, came to Puerto Rico. A landing was effected at
Cangrejos (the present Santurce). The bridge leading to the capital
was not then fortified, but its passage was gallantly disputed by
Governor Antonio Mosquera, an old soldier of the war in Flanders. The
English were far superior in numbers and armament, and Mosquera had to
fall back. Captain Serralta, the brothers John and Simon Sanabria, and
other natives of the island, greatly distinguished themselves in this
action. The English occupied the capital and the forts without much
more opposition. An epidemic of dysentery and yellow fever carried off
400 Englishmen in less than three months and bid fair to exterminate
the whole invading force, so that, to save his troops, the English
commander was obliged to evacuate the island, which he did on the 23d
of November. He carried with him 70 pieces of artillery of all sizes
which he found in the fortifications. The city itself he left unhurt,
except that he took the church-bells and organ and carried off an
artistically sculptured marble window in one of the houses which had
taken his fancy.

Mr. Brau mentions some documents in the Indian archives of Spain, from
which it appears that another invasion of Puerto Rico took place a
year after Cumberland's departure. On that occasion the governor and
the garrison were carried off as prisoners, but as there was a cruel
epidemic still raging in the island at the time the English did not

The death of Philip II (September 13, 1598) and of his inveterate
enemy, Queen Elizabeth (March 24, 1603), brought the war with England
to a close. The ambassador of Philip III in London negotiated a treaty
of peace with James I, which was signed and ratified in the early part
of 1604.

So ended the sixteenth century in Boriquén. If the dictum of Las
Casas, that the island at the century's beginning was "as populous as
a beehive and as lovely as an orchard," was but a rhetorical figure,
there is no gainsaying the fact that at the time of Ponce's landing it
was thickly peopled, not only that part occupied by the Spaniards but
_the whole island_, with a comparatively innocent, simple, and
peaceably disposed native race. The end of the century saw them no
more. The erstwhile garden was an extensive jungle. The island's
history during these hundred years was condensed into the one word
"strife." All that the efforts of the king and his governors had been
able to make of it was a penal settlement, a presidio with a
population of about 400 inhabitants, white, black, and mongrel. The
littoral was an extensive hog-and cattle-ranch, with here and there a
patch of sugar-cane; there was no commerce.[39] There were no roads.
The people, morally, mentally, and materially poor, were steeped in
ignorance and vice. Education there was none. The very few who aspired
to know, went to la Española to obtain an education. The few spiritual
wants of the people were supplied by monks, many of them as ignorant
and bigoted as themselves. War and pestilence and tempest had united
to wipe the island from the face of the earth, and the very name of
"Rich Port," given to it without cause or reason, must have sounded in
the ears of the inhabitants as a bitter sarcasm on their wretched


[Footnote 39: A precarious traffic in hides and ginger did not deserve
the name of commerce.]




Holland emancipated itself from Spanish domination in 1582 and assumed
the title of "the United Provinces of Netherland." After nearly half a
century of an unequal struggle with the most powerful kingdom in
Europe, the people's faith in final success was unbounded, while Spain
was growing weary of the apparently interminable war. At this
juncture, proposals for a suspension of hostilities were willingly
entertained by both nations, and after protracted negotiations, a
truce of twelve years was signed in Bergen-op-Zoom, April 9, 1609. In
it the absolute independence of the United Provinces was recognized.

This gave the Spanish colonies a welcome respite from the ravages of
privateers till 1621, the first year of the reign of King Philip IV,
when hostilities immediately recommenced. France and England both came
to the assistance of the Provinces with money for the raising of
troops, and the wealthy merchants of Holland, following the example of
the French merchants in the former century, fitted out fleets of
privateers to prey upon the commerce and colonies of Spain and
Portugal. The first exploits of these privateers were the invasion of
Brazil and the sacking of San Salvador, of Lima and Callao (1624).

Puerto Rico was just beginning to recover from the prostration in
which the last invasion had left it, when on the morning of the 24th
of September, 1625, the guard on San Felipe del Morro announced 8
ships to windward of the port.

Juan de Haro, the governor, who had assumed the command only a few
months before, mounted to an outlook to observe them, and was informed
that more ships could be seen some distance down the coast. He sent
out horsemen, and they returned about 8 o'clock at night with the news
that they had counted 17 ships in all.

Alarm-bells were now rung and some cannon fired from the forts to call
the inhabitants together. They were directed to the plaza, where arms
and ammunition were distributed. During the night the whole city was
astir preparing for events, under the direction of the governor.

Next morning the whole fleet was a short distance to windward. Lest a
landing should be attempted at the Boquerón or at Goat's Creek, the
two most likely places, the governor ordered a cannon to be planted at
each and trenches to be dug. In the meantime, the people, who had
promptly answered the call to arms, and the garrison were formed into
companies on the plaza and received orders to occupy the forts,
marching first along the shore, where the enemy could see them, so as
to make a great show of numbers.

The artillery in the fort was in bad condition. The gun-carriages were
old and rotten. Some of the pieces had been loaded four years before
and were dismounted at the first firing. One of them burst on the
sixth or seventh day, killing the gunners and severely wounding the
governor, who personally superintended the defense.

In the afternoon of the day of their arrival the Hollanders came down
under full sail "with as much confidence," says the chronicler, "as if
they were entering a port in their own country."

That night the fort was provisioned as well as the scanty resources of
the island permitted. The defenders numbered 330, and the food supply
collected would not enable them to stand a long siege. The supply
consisted of 120 loads of casabe bread, 46 bushels of maize, 130 jars
or jugs of olive oil, 10 barrels of biscuit, 300 island cheeses, 1
cask of flour, 30 pitchers of wine, 200 fowls, and 150 small boxes of
preserved fruit (membrillo).

Fortunately during the night 50 head of cattle and 20 horses were
driven in from the surrounding country.

From the 26th to the 29th the enemy busied himself landing troops,
digging trenches, and planting 6 pieces of cannon on a height called
"the Calvary." Then he began firing at the fort, which replied, doing
considerable damage.

At 9 o'clock on the morning of the 30th, a drummer under a flag of
truce presented himself before the castle with a letter addressed to
the governor. It was couched in the following terms:

"Señor Governor Don Juan Faro, you must be well aware of the reasons
of our coming so near and of our intentions. Therefore, I, Bowdoin
Hendrick, general of these forces, in the name of the States General
and of his Highness the Prince of Orange, do hereby demand that you
deliver this castle and garrison into our hands, which doing we will
not fail to come to terms with you. And if not, I give you notice,
that from this day forward we will spare neither old nor young, woman
nor child; and to this we wait your answer in a few words.


To which epistle the governor replied:

"I have seen your paper, and am surprised that you should ask such a
thing of me, seeing that I have served thirteen years in Flanders,
where I have learned to value your boastings and know what sieges are.
On the contrary, if you will deliver the ships in which you have come
to me, I will let you have one to return with. And these are the
orders of my King and Master, and none other, with which I have
answered your paper, in the Castle of San Felipe del Morro, the 30th
of September, 1625.


The next day a heavy cannonading commenced, the Hollanders firing over
150 shots at the castle with small effect. The same day a Spanish ship
arrived with wine and provisions, but seeing the danger it ran of
being taken, did not enter the port, but steered to la Española, to
the great disappointment of the people in the fort.

On the 4th of October the governor ordered a sortie of 80 men in three
parties. On the 5th Captain Juan de Amezquita led another sortie, and
so between sorties, surprises, night attacks, and mutual cannonadings
things continued till the 21st of October.

On that day Bowdoin sent another letter announcing his intention of
burning the city if no understanding was arrived at. To which letter
the governor replied that there was building material enough in the
island to construct another city, and that he wished the whole army of
Holland might be here to witness Spanish bravery.

Bowdoin carried his threat into effect, and the next day over a
hundred houses were burned. Bishop Balbueno's palace and library and
the city archives were also destroyed. To put a stop to this wanton
destruction Captains Amezquita and Botello led a sortie of 200 men.
They attacked the enemy in front and rear with such _élan_ that they
drove them from their trenches and into the water in their haste to
reach their launches.

This, and other remarkable exploits, related by the native
chroniclers, so discouraged the Hollanders that they abandoned the
siege on the 2d of November, leaving behind them one of their largest
ships, stranded, and over 400 dead.

The fleet repaired to la Aguáda to refit. Bowdoin, who, apparently,
was a better letter writer than general, sent a third missive to the
governor, asking permission to purchase victuals, which was, of
course, flatly refused.

The king duly recompensed the brave defenders. The governor was made
Chevalier of the Order of Santiago and received a money grant of 2,000
ducats. Captain Amezquita received 1,000 ducats, and was later
appointed Governor of Cuba. Captain Botello also received 1,000
ducats, and others who had distinguished themselves received
corresponding rewards.

Puerto Rico's successful resistance to this invasion encouraged the
belief that, provided the mother country should furnish the necessary
means of defense, the island would end by commanding the respect of
its enemies and be left unmolested. But the mother country's wars with
England, France, and Holland absorbed all its attention in Europe and
consumed all its resources. The colonies remained dependent for their
defense on their own efforts, while privateers, freebooters, and
pirates of the three nations at war with Spain settled like swarms of
hornets in every available island in the West Indies.




The power of Spain received its death-blow during the course of the
war with England. The destruction of the Armada and of the fleets
subsequently equipped by Philip II for the invasion of Ireland were
calamities from which Spain never recovered.

The wars with almost every European nation in turn, which raged during
the reigns of the third and fourth Philips, swallowed up all the
blood-stained treasure that the colonial governors could wring from
the natives of the New World. The flower of the German and Italian
legions had left their bones in the marshes of Holland, and Spain, the
proudest nation in Europe, had been humiliated to the point of
treating for peace, on an equal footing, with a handful of rebels and
recognizing their independence. France had four armies in the field
against her (1637). A fleet equipped with great sacrifice and
difficulty was destroyed by the Hollanders in the waters of Brazil
(1630). Van Tromp annihilated another in the English Channel,
consisting of 70 ships, with 10,000 of Spain's best troops on board.
Cataluña was in open revolt (1640). The Italian provinces followed
(1641). Portugal fought and achieved her emancipation from Spanish
rule. The treasury was empty, the people starving. Yet, while all
these calamities were befalling the land, the king and his court,
under the guidance of an inept minister (the Duke of Olivares), were
wasting the country's resources in rounds of frivolous and immoral
pleasures, in dances, theatrical representations, and bull-fights. The
court was corrupt; vice and crime were rampant in the streets of

Under such a régime the colonists were naturally left to take care of
themselves, and this, coupled with the policy of excluding them from
all foreign commerce, justified Spain's enemies in seeking to wrest
from her the possessions from which she drew the revenues that enabled
her to make war on them. Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Hollanders made of
the Antilles their trysting-ground for the purpose of preying upon the
common enemy.

These were the buccaneers and filibusters of that period, the most
lawless class of men in an age of universal lawlessness, the refuse
from the seaports of northern Europe, as cruel miscreants as ever
blackened the pages of history.

The buccaneers derived their name from the Carib word "boucan," a
kind of gridiron on which, like the natives, they cooked their meat,
hence, bou-canier. The word filibuster comes from the Spanish
"fee-lee-bote," English "fly-boat," a small, swift sailing-vessel
with a large mainsail, which enabled the buccaneers to pursue
merchantmen in the open sea and escape among the shoals and shallows
of the archipelago when pursued in their turn by men-of-war.

They recognized no authority, no law but force. They obeyed a leader
only when on their plundering expeditions. The spoils were equally
divided, the captain's share being double that of the men. The maimed
in battle received a compensation proportionate to the injury
received. The captains were naturally distinguished by the qualities
of character that alone could command obedience from crews who feared
neither God nor man.

One of the most dreaded among them was a Frenchman, a native of Sables
d'Olonne, hence called l'Olonais. He had been a prisoner of the
Spaniards, and the treatment he received at their hands had filled his
soul with such deadly hatred, that when he regained his liberty he
swore a solemn oath to live henceforth for revenge alone. And he did.
He never spared sex or age, and took a hellish pleasure in torturing
his victims. He made several descents on the coast of this island,
burned Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello, Veragua, and other places, and was
killed at last by the Indians of Darien.

Sir Henry Morgan, a Welsh aristocrat turned pirate, was another famous
scourge of the Spanish colonies. His inhuman treatment of the
inhabitants of Puerto Principe, in 1668, is a matter of history. He
plundered Porto Bello, Chagres, Panamá, and extended his depredations
to the coast of Costa Rica. He used to subject his victims to torture
to make them declare where they had hidden their valuables, and many a
poor wretch who had no valuables to hide was ruthlessly tortured to

Pierre Legrand was another Frenchman who, after committing all kinds
of outrages in the West Indies, passed with his robber crew to the
Pacific and scoured the coasts as far as California.

The atrocities committed by a certain Montbras, of Languedoc, earned
him the name of "the Exterminator."

       *       *       *       *       *

When the first buccaneers made their appearance in the Antilles
(1520), the Windward Islands were still occupied by the Caribs. Here
they formed temporary settlements, which, by degrees, grew into
permanent pirates' nests. In some of these islands they found large
herds of cattle, the progeny of the first few heads introduced by the
early Spanish colonists, who afterward abandoned them. In 1625 a party
of English and French occupied the island San Cristobal. Four years
later Puerto Rico, being well garrisoned at the time, the governor,
Enrique Henriquez, fitted out an expedition to dislodge them, in which
he succeeded only to make them take up new quarters in Antigua.

The next year the French and English buccaneers who occupied the small
island of Tortuga made a descent upon the western part of la Española,
called Haiti by the natives (mountainous land), and maintained
themselves there till that part of the island was ceded to France by
the treaty of Ryswyk, in 1697.

Spain equipped a fleet to clear the West Indies from pirates in 1630,
and placed it under the command of Don Federico de Toledo. He was met
in the neighborhood of San Cristobal by a numerous fleet of small
craft, which had the advantage over the unwieldy Spanish ships in that
they could maneuver with greater rapidity and precision. There are no
reliable details of the result of the engagement. Abbad tells us that
the Spaniards were victorious, but the buccaneers continued to occupy
all the islands which they had occupied before.

In 1634 they took possession of Curagao, Aruba, and Bonaíre, near the
coast of Venezuela, and established themselves in 1638 in San
Eustaquio, Saba, San Martin, and Santa Cruz.

In 1640 the Governor of Puerto Rico sought to expel them from the
last-named island. He defeated them, killing many and taking others
prisoners; but as soon as he returned to Puerto Rico the Hollanders
from San Eustaquio and San Martin reoccupied Santa Cruz, and he was
compelled to equip another expedition to dislodge them, in which he
was completely successful. This time he left a garrison, but in the
same year the French commander, Poincy, came with a strong force and
compelled the garrison to capitulate. The island remained a French
possession under the name of Saint Croix until it was sold to Denmark,
in 1733, for $150,000. Another expedition set out from Puerto Rico in
1650, to oust the French and Hollanders from San Martin. The Spaniards
destroyed a fort that had been constructed there, but as soon as they
returned to this island the pirates reoccupied their nest. In 1657 an
Englishman named Cook came with a sufficient force and San Martin
became an English possession.

About 1665 the French Governor of Tortuga, Beltrán Ogeron, planned the
conquest of Puerto Rico. He appeared off the coast with 3 ships, but
one of the hurricanes so frequent in these latitudes came to the
island's rescue. The ships were stranded, and the surviving Frenchmen
made prisoners. Among them was Ogeron himself, but his men shielded
him by saying that he was drowned. On the march to the capital he and
his ship's surgeon managed to escape, and, after killing the owner of
a fishing-smack, returned to Tortuga, where he immediately commenced
preparations for another invasion of Puerto Rico. When he came back he
was so well received by the armed peasantry (jíbaros) that he was
forced to reembark.

From this time to 1679 several expeditions were fitted out in San Juan
to drive the filibusters from one or another of the islands in the
neighborhood. In 1780 a fleet was equipped with the object of
definitely destroying all the pirates' nests. The greater part of the
garrison, all the Puerto Ricans most distinguished for bravery,
intelligence, and experience, took part in the expedition. The fleet
was accompanied by the Spanish battle-ship Carlos V, which carried 50
cannon and 500 men. Of this expedition not a soul returned. It was
totally destroyed by a hurricane, and the island was once more plunged
in mourning, ruin, and poverty, from which it did not emerge till
nearly a century later.


[Footnote 40: In fifteen days 110 men and women were assassinated in
the capital alone, some of them persons of distinction. Cánovas,
Decadencia de España, Libro VI.]




The _entente cordiale_ which had existed between England under Charles
I and Spain under Philip IV ceased with the tragic death of the
first-named monarch.[41]

Immediately after Cromwell's elevation both France and Spain made
overtures for an alliance with England. But the Protector well knew
that in the event of war with either power, Spain's colonies and
treasure-laden galleons offered a better chance for obtaining booty
than the poor possessions of France. He favored an alliance with Louis
XIV, and ended by signing a treaty with him in 1657.

The first result of the hostilities that ensued was the capture by the
English Admirals Blake and Stayner of several richly laden galleons.

From that time to the end of the eighteenth century England's attempts
to secure the two most-coveted Antilles (Cuba and Puerto Rico)
continued with short intervals of peace.

In 1768 an English fleet of 22 ships, with a landing force under the
command of the Earl of Estren, appeared before San Juan and demanded
its surrender. Before a formal attack could be made a furious
hurricane wrecked the fleet on Bird Island, and everybody on board
perished excepting a few soldiers and marines, who escaped a watery
grave only to be made prisoners.[42]

It is certain, however, that on August 5, 1702, an English brigantine
and a sloop came to Arecibo and landed 30 men, who were forced to
reembark with considerable loss, though the details of this affair, as
given by Friar Abbad, and repeated by Mr. Neuman, are evidently
largely drawn from imagination.

In September of the following year (1703) there were landings of
Englishmen near Loiza and in the neighborhood of San German, of which
we know only that they were stoutly opposed; and we learn from an
official document that there was another landing at Boca Chica on the
south coast in 1743, when the English were once more obliged to
reembark with the loss of a pilot-boat.

These incessant attacks, not on Puerto Rico only, but on all the other
Spanish possessions, and the reprisals they provoked, created such
animosity between the people of both countries that hostilities had
practically commenced before the declaration of war (October 23,
1739). In November Admiral Vernon was already in the Antilles with a
large fleet. He took Porto Bello, laid siege to Cartagena, but was
forced to withdraw; then he made an ineffectual attack on Cuba, after
which he passed round Cape Horn into the Pacific, caused great
consternation in Chile, sacked and burned Payta, captured the galleon
Covadonga with a cargo worth $1,500,000, and finally returned to
England with a few ships only and less than half his men.

The next war between the two nations was the result of the famous
Bourbon family compact, and lasted from 1761 to 1763.

Two powerful fleets sailed from England for the Antilles; the one
under the orders of Admiral Rodney attacked the French colonies and
took Martinique, Granada, Santa Lucia, San Vicente, and Tabago; the
other under Admiral Pocock appeared before Havana, June 2, 1762, with
a fleet of 30 line-of-battle ships, 100 transports, and 14,000 landing
troops under the command of the Earl of Albemarle. In four days the
English took "la Cabaña," which Prado, the governor, considered the
key to the city. For some unexplained reason the Spanish fleet became
useless; but Captain Louis Velasco defended the Morro, and for two
months and ten days he kept the English at bay, till they undermined
the walls of the fort and blew them up. Then Prado capitulated (August
13), and Havana with its forts and defenses, with 60 leagues of
territory to the west of the city, with $15,000,000, an immense
quantity of naval and military stores, 9 line-of-battle ships and 3
frigates, was delivered into Albemarle's hands. It was Puerto Rico's
turn next, and preparations were made for an attack, when the
signing of the treaty of peace in Paris (February, 1763) averted the
imminent danger.

By the stipulations of that treaty England returned Havana and
Manila[43] to Spain in exchange for Florida and some territories on
the Mississippi; she also returned to France part of her conquered

In 1778 Charles III joined France in a war against England, the
motives for which, as explained by the king's minister, were frivolous
in the extreme. The real reason was England's refusal to admit Spain
as mediator in the differences with her North American colonies. This
war lasted till 1783, and though the Antilles, as usual, became the
principal scene of war, Puerto Rico happily escaped attack.

Not so during the hostilities that broke out anew in consequence of
Charles IV's offensive and defensive alliance with the French
Republic, signed in San Ildefonso on the 18th of August, 1796.

In February, 1797, Admiral Henry Harvey, with 60 ships, including
transports and small craft, and from 6,000 to 7,000 troops under the
orders of Sir Ralph Abercrombie, appeared before the island of
Trinidad and took possession of it with but little resistance from the
Spanish garrison. On the 17th of April the whole fleet appeared before
San Juan.

The capital was well prepared for defense. The forts, as now existing,
were completed, and the city surrounded by a wall the strength of
which may be estimated by the appearance of the parts still intact. On
these defenses 376 pieces of cannon of different caliber were planted,
besides 35 mortars, 4 howitzers, and 3 swivel guns. The garrison was
reduced to about 200 men, part of the troops having been sent to la
Española to quell the insurrection of the negro population led by
Toussaint L'Ouverture. There were, besides these 200 veteran troops,
4,000 militiamen, about 2,000 men from the towns in the interior
(urbános) armed with lances and machetes, 12 gunboats and several
French privateers, the crews of which numbered about 300.

Abercrombie landed on the 18th at Cangrejos (Santurce) with 3,000 men,
and demanded the surrender of the city. Governor Castro, in polite but
energetic language, refused, and hostilities commenced. For the next
thirteen days there were skirmishes and more or less serious
encounters on land and sea. On the morning of the 1st of May the
defenders of the city were preparing a general attack on the English
lines, when, lo! the enemy had reembarked during the night, leaving
behind his spiked guns and a considerable quantity of stores and

[Illustration: Fort San Geronimo, at Santurce, near San Juan.]

The people ascribed this unexpected deliverance from their foes to the
miraculous intervention of the Virgin, but the real reason for the
raising of the siege was the strength of the fortifications. "Whoever
has viewed these fortifications," says Colonel Flinter,[44] "must feel
surprised that the English with a force of less than 5,000 men should
lay siege to the place, a force not sufficient for a single line along
the coast on the opposite side of the bay to prevent provisions from
being sent to the garrison from the surrounding country. Sir Ralph's
object in landing, surely, could only have been to try whether he
could surprise or intimidate the scanty garrison. Had he not
reembarked very soon, he would have had to repent his temerity, for
the shipping could not safely remain at anchor where there was no
harbor and where a dangerous coast threatened destruction. His
communication with the country was cut off by the armed peasantry, who
rose _en masse_, and to the number of not less than 20,000 threw
themselves into the fortress in less than a week after the invasion,
so that the British forces would, most undoubtedly, have been obliged
to surrender at discretion had the commander not effected a timely

The enemy's retreat was celebrated with a solemn Te Deum in the
cathedral, at which the governor, the municipal authorities, and all
the troops assisted. The municipality addressed the king, giving due
credit to the brilliant military qualities displayed during the siege
by the governor and his officers. The governor was promoted to the
rank of field-marshal and the officers correspondingly. To the
municipality the privilege was granted to encircle the city's coat of
arms with the words: "For its constancy, love, and fidelity, this city
is yclept very noble and very loyal."


[Footnote 41: He was decapitated February 9, 1649.]

[Footnote 42: So says Abbad. No mention is made of this episode in
Señor Acosta's notes, nor is the name of Earl Estren to be found among
those of the British commanders of that period.]

[Footnote 43: Manila was taken in October, 1762.]

[Footnote 44: An Account of Puerto Rico. London, 1834,]




The raising of the siege of San Juan by Abercrombie did not raise at
the same time the blockade of the island. Communications with the
metropolis were cut off, and the remittances from Mexico which, under
the appellation of "situados," constituted the only means of carrying
on the Government, were suspended.[45] In San Juan the garrison was
kept on half pay, provisions were scarce, and the influx of immigrants
from la Española, where a bloody civil war raged at the time,
increased the consumption and the price. The militia corps was
disbanded to prevent serious injury to the island's agricultural
interests, although English attacks on different points of the coast
continued, and kept the inhabitants in a state of constant fear and

In December, 1797, an English three-decker and a frigate menaced
Aguadilla, but an attempt at landing was repulsed. Another attempt to
land was made at Guayanilla with the same result, and in June, 1801,
Guayanilla was again attacked. This time an English frigate sent
several launches full of men ashore, but they were beaten off by the
people, who, armed only with lances and machetes, pursued them into
the water, "swimming or wading up to their necks," says Mr. Neuman.[46]

From 1801 to 1808 England's navy and English privateers pursued both
French and Spanish ships with dogged pertinacity. In August, 1803,
British privateers boarded and captured a French frigate in the port
of Salinas in this island. Four Spanish homeward-bound frigates fell
into their hands about the same time. Another English frigate captured
a French privateer in what is now the port of Ponce (November 12,
1804) and rescued a British craft which the privateer had captured.
Even the negroes of Haiti armed seven privateers under British
auspices and preyed upon the French and Spanish merchant ships in
these Antilles.

Governor Castro, during the whole of his period of service, had vainly
importuned the home Government for money and arms and ships to defend
this island against the ceaseless attacks of the English. When he
handed over the command to his successor, Field-Marshal Toribio
Montes, in 1804, the treasury was empty. He himself had long ceased to
draw his salary, and the money necessary to attend to the most
pressing needs for the defense was obtained by contributions from the

While the people of Puerto Rico were thus giving proofs of their
loyalty to Spain, and sacrificing their lives and property to preserve
their poverty-stricken island to the Spanish crown, the other
colonies, rich and important, were breaking the bonds that united them
to the mother country.

The example of the English colonies had long since awakened among the
more enlightened class of creoles on the continent a desire for
emancipation, which the events in France on the one hand, and the
ill-advised, often cruel measures adopted by the Spanish authorities
to quench that aspiration, on the other hand, had only served to make
irresistible. But Puerto Rico did not aspire to emancipation. It never
had been a colony, there was no creole class, and the only indigenous
population--the "jíbaros," the mixed descendants of Indians, negroes,
and Spaniards--were too poor, too illiterate, too ignorant of
everything concerning the outside world to look with anything but
suspicion upon the invitations of the insurgents of Colombia and
Venezuela to join them or imitate their example. They, nor the great
majority of the masses whom Bolivar, San Martin, Hidalgo, and others
liberated from an oppressive yoke, cared little for the rights of man.
When the Colombian insurgents landed on the coast of Puerto Rico, to
encourage and assist the people to shake off a yoke which did not gall
them, they were looked upon by the natives as freebooters of another
class who came to plunder them.

On the 20th of December, 1819, an insurgent brigantine and a sloop
attempted a landing at Aguadilla. They were beaten back by a Spanish
sergeant at the head of a detachment of twenty men, while a Mr.
Domeneck with his servants attended to the artillery in Fort San
Carlos, constructed during Castro's administration. In February, 1825,
some insurgent ships landed fifty marines at night near Point
Boriquén, where the lighthouse now is. They captured the fort by
surprise and dismounted the guns, but the people of Aguadilla replaced
them on their carriages the next day and offered such energetic
resistance to the landing parties that they had to retreat.

Another landing was effected at Patillas in November, 1829. This port
was opened to commerce by royal decree December 30, 1821. There were
several small trading craft in the port at the time of the attack.
They fell a prey to the invaders; but when they landed they were met
by the armed inhabitants, and after a sharp fight, in which the
Colombians had 8 men killed, they reembarked.

       *       *       *       *       *

The beginning of the nineteenth century found Spain deprived of all
that beautiful island world which Columbus had laid at the foot of the
throne of Ferdinand and Isabel four centuries ago, of all but a part
of the "Española," since called Santo Domingo, and of the two
Antilles. Before the first quarter of the century had passed all the
continental colonies had broken the bonds that united them to the
mother country, and before the twentieth century the last vestiges of
the most extensive and the richest colonial empire ever possessed by
any nation refused further allegiance, as the logical result of four
centuries of political, religious, and financial myopia.


[Footnote 45: They ceased altogether in 1810, as a result of the
revolution in Mexico.]

[Footnote 46: Benefactores and Hombres Illustres de Puerto Rico, p.



1765 TO 1820

After the conquest of Mexico and Peru with their apparently inexhaustible
mineral wealth, Spain attached very little importance to the archipelago
of the Antilles. The largest and finest only of these islands were
selected for colonization, the small and comparatively sterile ones were
neglected, and fell an easy prey to pirates and privateers.

Puerto Rico, notwithstanding its advantages of soil and situation, was
considered for the space of three centuries only as a fit place of
banishment (a _presidio_) for the malefactors of the mother country.
Agriculture did not emerge from primitive simplicity. The inhabitants
led a pastoral life, cultivating food barely sufficient for their
support, because there was no stimulus to exertion. They looked
passively upon the riches centered in their soil, and rocked
themselves to sleep in their hammocks. The commerce carried on
scarcely deserved that name. The few wants of the people were supplied
by a contraband trade with St. Thomas and Santa Cruz. In the island's
finances a system of fraud and peculation prevailed, and the amount of
public revenue was so inadequate to meet the expenses of maintaining
the garrison that the officers' and soldiers' pay was reduced to
one-fourth of its just amount, and they often received only a
miserable ration.

His Excellency Alexander O'Reilly, who came to the Antilles on a
commission from Charles IV, in his report on Puerto Rico (1765) gives
the following description of the condition of the inhabitants at that

" ... To form an idea of how these natives have lived and still live,
it is enough to say that there are only two schools in the whole
island; that outside of the capital and San German few know how to
read; that they count time by changes in the Government, hurricanes,
visits from bishops, arrivals of 'situados,' etc. They do not know
what a league is. Each one reckons distance according to his own speed
in traveling. The principal ones among them, including those of the
capital, when they are in the country go barefooted and barelegged.
The whites show no reluctance at being mixed up with the colored
population. In the towns (the capital included) there are few
permanent inhabitants besides the curate; the others are always in the
country, except Sundays and feast-days, when those living near to
where there is a church come to hear mass. During these feast-days
they occupy houses that look like hen-coops. They consist of a couple
of rooms, most of them without doors or windows, and therefore open
day and night. Their furniture is so scant that they can move in an
instant. The country houses are of the same description. There is
little distinction among the people. The only difference between them
consists in the possession of a little more or less property, and,
perhaps, the rank of a subaltern officer in the militia."

Abbad makes some suggestions for increasing the population. He
proposes the distribution of the unoccupied lands among the
"agregados" or idle "hangers-on" of each family; among the convicts
who have served out their time and can not or will not return to the
Peninsula; among the freed slaves, who have purchased their own
freedom or have been manumitted by their masters; and, finally, among
the great number of individuals who, having deserted from ships or
being left behind, wandered about from place to place or became
contrabandists, pirates, or thieves.

"Their numbers are so small and the soil so fruitful they generally
have an abundance of bananas, maize, beans, and other food. Fish is
abundant, and few are without a cow or two. The only furniture they
have and need is a hammock and a cooking-pot. Plates, spoons, jugs,
and basins they make of the bark of the 'totumo,' a tree which is
found in every forest. A saber or a 'machete,' as they call it, is the
only agricultural implement they use. The construction of their houses
does not occupy them more than a day or two."

The good friar goes on to tell us that, through indolence, they have
not even learned from the Indians how to protect their plantations
from the fierce heat of the sun and avoid consequent failure of crops
in time of drought, by making the plantations in clearings in the
forest, so that the surrounding walls of verdure may give moisture
and shade to the plants. "Nor have they learned to build their bohíos
(huts) to windward of swamps or clearings to avoid the fever-laden

       *       *       *       *       *

The stirring events in Europe that marked the end of the eighteenth
and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries did not find these
conditions much changed, though _some_ advance had been made and was
being made in spite of the prohibitive measures of the Government,
which were well calculated to check all advance. To prevent the spread
of the ideas that had given birth to the French Revolution, absolute
powers were granted to the captains-general, odious restrictions were
placed upon all communication with the interior, sacrifices in men and
money were demanded on the plea of patriotism, and a policy of
suspicion and distrust adopted toward the colonies which in the end
fomented the very political aspirations it was intended to suppress.

From the outbreak of the French Revolution, Spain was entangled in a
maze of political difficulties. The natural sympathy of Charles IV for
the unfortunate King of France well-nigh provoked hostilities between
the two nations from the very beginning. The king gave public
expression to his opinion that to make war on France was as legitimate
as to make war on pirates and bandits; and the Directory, though it
took little notice at the time, remembered it when Godoy, the
favorite, in his endeavors to save the lives of Louis XVI and his
family entered into correspondence with the French emigres. Then war
was declared.

The war was popular. All classes contended to make the greatest
sacrifices to aid the Government. Men and money came in abundantly,
and before long three army corps crossed the Pyrenees into French
territory ... They had to recross the next year, followed by the
victorious soldiers of the Republic, who planted the tricolor on some
of the principal Spanish frontier fortresses. Then the peace of
Basilia was signed, and, as one of the conditions of that peace, Spain
ceded to France the part she still held of Santo Domingo.

From this period Charles, in the terror inspired by the excesses of
the Revolution and the probable fear for his own safety, forgot that
he was a Bourbon and began to seek an alliance with the executioners
of his family. As a result, the treaty of San Ildefonso was signed
(1796). Spain became the enemy of England, and the first effects
thereof which she experienced were the bombardment of Cadiz by an
English fleet, the loss of the island of Trinidad, and the siege of
Puerto Rico by Abercrombie.

Spain also became the willing vassal, rather than the ally, of the
military genius whom the French Revolution had revealed, and obeyed
his mandates without a murmur. In 1803 Napoleon demanded a subsidy of
6,000,000 francs per month as the price of Spain's neutrality, but in
the following year he insisted on the renewal of the alliance against
England (treaty of Paris, 1804). The total destruction of the Spanish
fleet at the battles of Saint Vincent and Trafalgar was the result.

Godoy, who in his ambitious dreams had seen a crown and a throne
somewhere in Portugal to be bestowed on him by the man to whose
triumphal car he had attached his king and his country, began to
suspect Napoleon's intentions.

Seeing the war-clouds gather in the north of Europe, he thought that
the coalition of the powers against the tyrant was the presage of his
downfall, and he now hastened to send an emissary to England.

The war-clouds burst, and from amid the thunder and smoke of battle at
Jena, Eylau, and Friedland, the victor's figure arose more imperious
than ever. All the crowned heads of Europe but one[47] hastened to do
him homage, among them Charles IV of Spain and the Prince of Asturias,
his son.

The next step in the grand drama that was being enacted was the
occupation of Spanish territory by what Bonaparte was pleased to call
an army of observation. This time Godoy's suspicions became confirmed,
and to save the royal family he counsels the king to withdraw to
Andalusia. Ferdinand conspires to dethrone his father, the people
become excited, riots take place, Godoy's residence in Aranguez is
attacked by the mob, and the king abdicates in favor of his son.
Napoleon himself now lands at Bayona. Charles and his son hasten
thither to salute Europe's master, and, after declaring that his
abdication was imposed on him by violence, the king resumes his
crown and humbly lays it at the feet of the arbiter of the fate of
kings, who stoops to pick it up only to offer it to his brother Louis,
who refuses it. Then he places it on the head of his younger brother

Thus fared the crown of Spain, the erstwhile proud mistress of half
the world, and the degenerate successors of Charles V accept an asylum
in France from the hands of a soldier of fortune.

But if their rulers had lost all sense of dignity, all feeling of
national pride, the Spanish nation remained true to itself, and when
the doings at Bayona became known a cry of indignation went up from
the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean. On May 2, 1808, the people of Spain
commenced a six years' struggle full of heroic and terrible episodes.
At the end of that period the necessity of withdrawing the French
troops from Spain to confront the second coalition, and the assistance
of the English under Lord Wellesley cleared the Peninsula of French
soldiers. After the battle of Leipzig (1813) a treaty between
Ferdinand VII and Napoleon was signed in Valencia, and Spain's
independence was recognized and guaranteed by the allies.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the beginning of the war many officers and privates, residents of
Puerto Rico, enlisted to serve against the French, and large sums of
money, considering the island's poverty, were subscribed among the
inhabitants to aid in the defense of the mother country.

Ferdinand VII reentered Madrid as king on March 24, 1814, accompanied
by a coterie of retrograde, revengeful priests, of whom his
confessor, Victor Saez, was the leader. He made this priest Minister
of State, and soon proved the truth of the saying that the Bourbons
forget nothing, forgive nothing, and learn nothing from experience.

He commenced by ignoring the regency and the Cortes. These had
preserved his kingdom for him while he was an exile. He refused to
recognize the constitution which they had framed, and at once
initiated an epoch of cruel persecution against such as had
distinguished themselves by their talents, love of liberty, and
progressive ideas. The public press was completely silenced, the
Inquisition reestablished, the convents reopened, provincial
deputations and municipalities abolished, distinguished men were
surprised in their beds at night and torn from the arms of their wives
and children, to be conducted by soldiers to the fortress of Ceuta--in
short, the Government was a civil dictatorship occupied in hanging the
most distinguished citizens, while the military authorities busied
themselves in shooting them.

In the colonies the king's lackeys repeated the same outrages. Puerto
Rico suffered like the rest, and many of the best families emigrated
to the neighboring English and French possessions.

The result of the royal turpitude was the revolution headed by Rafael
Diego, seconded by General O'Daly, a Puerto Rican by birth, who had
greatly distinguished himself in the war against the French. Other
generals and their troops followed, and when General Labisbal, sent by
Ferdinand to quell the insurrection, joined his comrades, the
trembling tyrant was only too glad to save his throne by swearing to
maintain the constitution of 1812. O'Daly's share in these events
raised him to the rank of field-marshal, and the people of Puerto Rico
elected him their deputy to Cortes by a large majority (1820).

The first constitutional régime in Puerto Rico was not abolished till
December 3, 1814. For the great majority of the inhabitants of the
island at that time the privileges of citizenship had neither meaning
nor value. They were still too profoundly ignorant, too desperately
poor, to take any interest in what was passing outside of their
island. Cock-fighting and horse-racing occupied most of their time.
Schools had not increased much since O'Reilly reported the existence
of two in 1765. There was an official periodical, the Gazette, in
which the Government offered spelling-books _for sale_ to those who
wished to learn to read.[48]

During the second constitutional period, Puerto Rico was divided by a
resolution in Cortes into 7 judicial districts, and tablets with the
constitutional prescriptions on them were ordered to be placed in the
plazas of the towns in the interior. Public spirit began to awaken,
several patriotic associations were formed, among them those of "the
Lovers of Science," "the Liberals, Lovers of their Country," and
others. But the dawn of progress was eclipsed again toward the end of
1823, when the news of the fall of the second constitutional régime
reached Puerto Rico a few months after the people had elected their
deputies to Cortes.


[Footnote 47: The King of England.]

[Footnote 48: Neuman, p. 354.]



FROM 1815 TO 1833

That Ferdinand should, while engaged in cruel persecution of his best
subjects in the Peninsula, think of dictating liberal laws for this
island is an anomaly which can be explained only by its small
political importance.

In August, 1815, there appeared a decree entitled "Regulations for
promoting the population, commerce, industry, and agriculture of
Puerto Rico." It embraced every object, and provided for all the
various incidents that could instil life and vigor into an infant
colony. It held out the most flattering prospects to industrious and
enterprising foreigners. It conferred the rights and privileges of
Spaniards on them and their children. Lands were granted to them
gratis, and no expenses attended the issue of titles and legal
documents constituting it private property. The quantity of land
allotted was in proportion to the number of slaves introduced by each
new settler. The new colonists were not to be subject to taxes or
export duty on their produce, or import duties on their agricultural
implements. If war should be declared between Spain and their native
country, their persons and properties were to be respected, and if
they wished to leave the island they were permitted to realize on
their property and carry its value along with them, paying 10 per cent
on the surplus of the capital they had brought. They were exempted
from the capitation tax or personal tribute. Each slave was to pay a
tax of one dollar yearly after having been ten years in the island.
During the first five years the colonists had liberty to return to
their former places of residence, and in this case could carry with
them all that they had brought without being obliged to pay export
duty. Those who should die in the island without heirs might leave
their property to their friends and relations in other countries. The
heirs had the privilege of remaining on the same conditions as the
testators, or if they preferred to take away their inheritance they
might do so on paying a duty of 15 per cent.

The colonists were likewise exonerated from the payment of tithes for
fifteen years, and at the end of that period they were to pay only 2
12 per cent. They were equally free, for the same period, from the
payment of alcabala,[49] and at the expiration of the specified term
they were to pay 2 12 per cent, but if they shipped their produce to
Spain, nothing. The introduction of negroes into the island was to be
perpetually free. Direct commerce with Spain and the other Spanish
possessions was to be free for fifteen years, and after that period
Puerto Rico was to be placed on the same footing with the other
Spanish colonies. These concessions and exemptions were contained in
thirty-three articles, and though, at the present day, they may seem
but the abolition of unwarrantable abuses, at the time the concessions
were made they were real and important and produced salutary effects.
They brought foreigners possessing capital and agricultural knowledge
into the country, whose habits of industry and skill in cultivation
soon began to be imitated and acquired by the natives.

The effects of the revolution of 1820 were felt in Puerto Rico as well
as in Spain. The concentration of civil and military power in the
hands of the captains-general ceased, but party spirit began to show
its disturbing influence. The press, hitherto muffled by political and
ecclesiastical censors, often went to the extremes of abuse and
personalities. Mechanics and artisans began to neglect their workshops
to listen to the harangues of politicians on the nature of governments
and laws. Agriculture and commerce diminished. Great but ineffectual
efforts were made to induce the people of Puerto Rico to follow the
example of the colonies on the continent and proclaim their

This state of affairs lasted till 1823, when, through French
intervention, the constitutional Government in Spain was overthrown,
and a second reactionary period set in even worse in its
manifestations of odium to progress and liberty than the one of 1814.
The leading men of the fallen government, to escape death or
imprisonment, emigrated. Among them was O'Daly, who, after living some
time in London, settled in Saint Thomas, where he earned a precarious
living as teacher of languages.[50]

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1825 the island's governor was Lieutenant-General Miguel de la
Torre, Count de Torrepando, who was invested by the king with
viceregal powers, which he used in the first place to put a stop to
the organized system of defalcation that existed. The proof of the
efficacy of the timely and vigorous proceedings which he employed was
the immediate increase of the public revenue, which from that day
continued rapidly to advance. The troops in garrison and all persons
employed in the public service were regularly paid, nearly half the
arrears of back pay were gradually paid off, confidence was restored,
and "more was accomplished for the island during the last seven years
of Governor La Torre's administration (from 1827 to 1834), and more
money arising from its revenues was expended on works of public
utility, than the total amounts furnished for the same object during
the preceding 300 years." [51]

The era of prosperity which marked the period of Count de Torrepando's
administration, and which at the same time prevailed in Cuba also, was
largely due to the advent in these Antilles of many of the best and
wealthiest citizens of Venezuela, Colombia, and Santo Domingo, who,
driven from their homes by the incessant revolutions, to escape
persecution settled in them, and infused a new and healthier element
in the lower classes of the population.

The condition of Puerto Rican society at this period, though much
improved since 1815, still left much to be desired. The leaders of
society were the Spanish civil and military officers, who, with little
prospect of returning to the Peninsula, married wealthy creole women
and made the island their home. Their descendants form the aristocracy
of today. Next came the merchants and shopkeepers, active and
industrious Catalans, Gallegos, Mallorquins, who seldom married but
returned to the Peninsula as soon as they had made sufficient money.
These and the soldiers of the garrison made a transitory population.
Tradesmen and artisans, as a rule, were creoles. Besides these, the
island swarmed with adventurers of all countries, who came and went as
fortune favored or frowned.

There was another class of "whites" who made up no inconsiderable
portion of the population--namely, the convicts who had served out
their time in the island's fortress. Few of them had any inducements
to return to their native land. They generally succeeded in finding a
refuge with some family of colored people, and it may be supposed that
this ingraftment did not enhance the morality of the class with whom
they mixed. The evil reputation which Puerto Rico had in the French
and English Antilles as being an island where rape, robbery, and
assassination were rife was probably due to this circumstance, and not
altogether undeserved, for we read[52] that in 1827 the municipal
corporation of Aguadilla discussed the convenience of granting or
refusing permission for the celebration of the annual Feast of the
Conception, which had been suspended since 1820 at the request of the
curate, "on account of the gambling, rapes, and robberies that
accompanied it."

Horse-racing and cock-fighting remained the principal amusement of the
populace. Every house and cabin had its game-cock, every village its
licensed cockpit. The houses of all classes were built of wood; the
cabins of the "jíbaros" were mere bamboo hovels, where the family,
males and females of all ages, slept huddled together on a platform of
boards. There were no inns in country or town, except one in the
capital. Schools for both sexes were wanting, a few youths were sent
by their parents to be educated in France or Spain or the United
States, and after two or three years returned with a little
superficial knowledge.

About this time the formation of a militia corps of 7,000 men was a
step in the right direction. The people, dispersed over the face of
the country, living in isolated houses, had little incentive to
industry. Their wants were few and easily satisfied, and their time
was spent swinging in a hammock or in their favorite amusements. The
obligation to serve in the militia forced them to abandon their
indolent and unsocial habits and appear in the towns on Sundays for
drill. They were thus compelled to be better dressed, and a salutary
spirit of emulation was produced. This created new wants, which had to
be supplied by increased labor, their manners were softened, and if
their morals did not gain, they were, at least, aroused from the
listless inactivity of an almost savage life to exertion and social

Such were the social conditions of the island when the death of
Ferdinand VII gave rise to an uninterrupted succession of political
upheavals, the baneful effects of which were felt here.


[Footnote 49: Duty on the sale of produce or articles of commerce.]

[Footnote 50: In 1834 the Queen Regent, Maria Christina, gave him
permission to reside in Puerto Rico. Two years later he was reinstated
in favor and was made Military Governor of Cartagena. He died in
Madrid a few years later.]

[Footnote 51: Colonel Flinter. An Account of the Present State of the
Island of Puerto Rico. London, 1834.]

[Footnote 52: Brau, p. 284.]




THE French Revolution of 1830 and the expulsion of Charles X revived
the hopes of the liberal party in Spain, which party the bigoted
absolutism of the king and his minister had vainly endeavored to
exterminate. The liberals saluted that event as a promise that the
nineteenth century should see the realization of their aspirations,
and the exiled members of the party at once came to France to attempt
an invasion of Spain, counting upon the sympathy of the French
Government, which was denied them. The attempt only brought renewed
persecution to the members at home.

Fortunately, the king's failing health and subsequent death
transferred the reins of government to the hands of the queen, who,
less absolutist than her consort, reopened the universities, which had
long been closed, and proclaimed a general amnesty, thus bringing the
expatriated and imprisoned Liberals back to political life.

After the king's death the pretensions of Don Carlos, his brother, lit
the torch of civil war, which blazed fiercely till 1836, when a
revolution changed the Government's policy and the constitution of
1812 was again declared in force. In 1837 the Cortes, though nearly
all the Deputies were Progressists, by a vote of 90 to 60, deprived
Cuba and Puerto Rico of the right of representation.

Another Carlist campaign was initiated in 1838. In 1839 Maria
Christina, having lost her prestige, was obliged to abdicate; then
followed the regency of the Duke de la Victoria Espartero, an
insurrection in Barcelona, the Cortes of 1843, an attack on Madrid,
and the fall of the regency, a period of seven years marked by a
series of military pronunciamentos, the last of which was headed by
General Prim.

Isabel II was now declared of age (1843), and from the date of her
accession two political parties, the Progressists and the Moderates,
under the leadership of Espartero and Narvaez respectively, contended
for control, until, in 1865, the insurrection of Vicalváro gave the
direction of affairs to O'Donnell, Canovas del Castillo, and others,
who represented the liberal Unionist party. They remained in power
till 1866, when Prim and Gonzales Bravo raised the standard of revolt
once more and Isabel II was dethroned. Then another provisional
government was formed under a triumvirate composed of Generals Prim,
Serrano, and Topete, who represented the Progressist and the
democratic parties (September, 1868). They steered the ship of state
till 1871, and, seeing the rocks of revolution still ahead, offered
the Spanish crown to Amadeo, who, after wearing it scarce two years,
found it too heavy for his brow, and abdicated. He had changed
ministeriums six times in less than two years, and came to the
conclusion that the modern Spaniards were ungovernable.

A republican form of government was now established (February 11,
1873), and it was understood by all parties that it should be a
Federal Republic, in which each of the provinces should enjoy the
largest possible amount of autonomy, subject to the authority of the
central government.

This proved to be the stumbling-block; the deputies could not agree on
the details, passions were aroused, violent discussions took place.
The Carlists, seeing a favorable opportunity, plunged the Basque
provinces, Navarra, Cataluña, lower Aragón, and part of Castilla and
Valencia, into civil war. At the same time, the Radicals promoted what
were called "cantonnal" insurrections in Cartagena, and Spain seemed
on the verge of social chaos and ruin.

A _coup d'état_ saved the country. General Pavia, the Captain-General
of Madrid, with a body of guards forced an entrance into the halls of
congress and turned the Deputies out (January 3, 1874). A provisional
government was once more constituted with Serrano at the head. His
first act was to dissolve the Cortes.

       *       *       *       *       *

The events just summarized exercised a baneful influence on the
social, political, and economic conditions of this and of its more
important sister Antilla.

Royalists, Carlists, Liberals, Reformists, Unionists, Moderates, and
men of other political parties disputed over the direction of the
nation's affairs at the point of the sword, and as each party obtained
an ephemeral victory it hastened to send its partizans to govern
these islands. The new governors invariably proceeded at once to undo
what their predecessors had wrought before them.

They succeeded each other at short intervals. From 1837 to 1874
twenty-six captains-general came to Puerto Rico, only six of whom left
any grateful memories behind. The others looked upon the people as
always watching for an opportunity to follow the example of the
continental colonies. They pursued a policy of distrust, suspicion,
and of uncompromising antagonism to the people's most legitimate

The reactionists, in their implacable odium of progress and liberty,
considered every measure calculated to give greater freedom to the
people or raise their moral and intellectual status as a crime against
the mother country; hence the utter absence of the means of education,
and a systematic demoralization of the masses.

Don Angel Acosta[53] mentions the Count de Torrepando as an example of
this. He came from Venezuela to govern this island in 1837, with the
express purpose, he declared, of diverting the attention of the
inhabitants from the revolutionary doings of Bolivar.

Gambling was, and is still, one of the ruling vices of the common
people. He encouraged it, established cockpits in every town and
instituted the carnival games. He also established the feast of San
Juan, which lasted, and still lasts, the whole month of June; and
when some respectable people, Insulars as well as Peninsulars,
protested against this official propaganda of vice and idleness, he
replied: "Let them be--while they dance and gamble they don't
conspire; ... these people must be governed by three B's--Barraja,
Botella, and Berijo." [54] General Pezuela, a man of liberal
disposition and literary attainments,[55] stigmatized the people of
Puerto Rico as a people without faith, without thought, and without
religion, and, though he afterward did something for the intellectual
development of the inhabitants, in the beginning of his administration
(1848-1851) thought it expedient not to discourage cock-fighting, but
regulated it.

In 1865 gambling was public and universal. In the capital there was a
gambling-house in almost every street. One in the upper story of the
house at the corner of San Francisco and Cruz Streets, kept by an
Italian, was crowded day and night. The bank could be distinctly seen
from the Plaza, and the noise, the oaths, the foul language, mixing
with the chink of money distinctly heard. When the governor's
attention (General Felix Messina) was called to the scandalous
exhibition, his answer was: "Let them gamble, ... while they are at it
they will not occupy themselves with politics, and if they get ruined
it is for the benefit of others."

This systematic villification of the people completely neutralized
the effect of the measures adopted from time to time by progressist
governors, such as the Count of Mirasol, Norzagaray, Cotoner, and
Pavia, and not even the revolution of September, 1868, materially
affected the disgraceful condition of affairs in the island. Only
those who paid twenty-five pesos direct contribution had the right of
suffrage. The press remained subject to previous censorship, its
principal function being to swing the incense-burner; the right of
public reunion was unknown, and if known would have been
impracticable; the majority of the respectable citizens lived under
constant apprehension lest they should be secretly accused of
disloyalty and prosecuted. Rumors of conspiracies, filibustering
expeditions, clandestine introductions of arms, and attempts at
insurrection were the order of the day. Every Liberal was sure to be
inscribed on the lists of "suspects," harassed and persecuted.

A seditious movement among the garrison on the 7th of June, 1867, gave
Governor Marchessi a pretext for banishing about a dozen of the
leading inhabitants of the capital, an arbitrary proceeding which was
afterward disapproved by the Government in Madrid.

Such a situation naturally affected the economic conditions of the
island. Confidence there was none. Credit was refused. Capital
emigrated with its possessors. Commerce and agriculture languished.
Misery spread over the land. The treasury was empty, for no
contributions could be collected from an impoverished population, and
the island's future was compromised by loans at usurious rates.

The dethronement of Isabel II, and the revolution of September, 1868,
brought a change for the better. The injustice done to the Antilles by
the Cortes of 1873 was repaired, and the island was again called upon
to elect representatives. The first meetings with that object were
held in February, 1869.

The ideas and tendencies of the Liberal and Conservative parties among
the native Puerto Ricans were now beginning to be defined. Each party
had its organ in the press[56] and advocated its principles; the
authorities stood aloof; the elections came off in an orderly manner
(May, 1869); the Conservatives carried the first and third districts,
the Liberals the second.

It may be said that the political education of the Puerto Ricans
commenced with the royal decree of 1865, which authorized the minister
of ultramarine affairs, Canovas del Castillo, to draw up a report from
the information to be furnished by special commissioners to be elected
in Puerto Rico and Cuba, which information was to serve as a basis for
the enactment of special laws for the government of each island. This
gave the commissioners an opportunity to discuss their views on
insular government with the leading public men of Spain, and they
profited by these discussions till 1867, when they returned.

The question of the abolition of slavery had not been brought to a
decision. The insular deputies were almost equally divided in their
opinions for and against, but the revolutionary committee in its
manifesto declared that from September 19, 1868, all children born of
a slave mother should be free.

In Puerto Rico this measure remained without effect owing to the
arbitrary and reactionist character of the governor who was appointed
to succeed Don Julian Pavia, during whose just and prudent
administration the so-called Insurrection of Lares happened. It was
originally planned by an ex-commissioner to Cortes, Don Ruiz Belviz,
and his friend Betánces, who had incurred the resentment of Governor
Marchessi, and who were banished in consequence. They obtained the
remission of their sentences in Madrid. Betánces returned to Santo
Domingo and Belviz started on a tour through Spanish-American
republics to solicit assistance in his secessionist plan; but he died
in Valparaiso, and Betánces was left to carry it out alone.

September 20, 1868, two or three hundred individuals of all classes
and colors, many of them negro slaves brought along by their masters
under promise of liberation, met at the coffee plantation of a Mr.
Bruckman, an American, who provided them with knives and machetes, of
which he had a large stock in readiness. Thus armed they proceeded to
the plantation of a Mr. Rosas, who saluted them as "the army of
liberators," and announced himself as their general-in-chief, in token
whereof he was dressed in the uniform of an American fireman, with a
tri-colored scarf across his breast, a flaming sash around his waist,
with sword, revolver, and cavalry boots. During the day detachments
of men from different parts of the district joined the party and
brought the numbers to from eight to ten hundred. The commissariat,
not yet being organized, the general-in-chief generously provided an
abundant meal for his men, which, washed down with copious drafts of
rum, put them in excellent condition to undertake the march on Lares
that same evening.

At midnight the peaceful inhabitants of that small town, which lies
nestled among precipitous mountains in the interior, were startled
from their sleep by loud yells and cries of "Long live Puerto Rico
independent! Down with Spain! Death to the Spaniards!" The alcalde and
his secretary, who came out in the street to see what the noise was
about, were made prisoners and placed in the stocks, where they were
soon joined by a number of Spaniards who lived in the town.

The contents of two or three wine and provision shops (pulperias) that
were plundered kept the "enthusiasm" alive.

The next day the Republic of Boriquén was proclaimed. To give
solemnity to the occasion, the curate was forced to hold a
thanksgiving service and sing a Te Deum, after which the Provisional
Government was installed. Francisco Ramirez, a small landholder, was
the president. The justice of the peace was made secretary of
government, his clerk became secretary of finance, another clerk was
made secretary of justice, and the lessee of a cockpit secretary of
state. The "alcaldia" was the executive's palace, and the queen's
portrait, which hung in the room, was replaced by a white flag with
the inscription: "Long live free Puerto Rico! Liberty or Death! 1868."

The declaration of independence came next. All Spaniards were ordered
to leave the island with their families within three days, failing
which they would be considered as citizens of the new-born republic
and obliged to take arms in its defense; in case of refusal they would
be treated as traitors.

The next important step was to form a plan of campaign. It was agreed
to divide "the army" in two columns and march them the following day
on the towns of Pepino and Camuy; but when morning came it appeared
that the night air had cooled the enthusiasm of more than half the
number of "liberators," and that, considering discretion the better
part of valor, they had returned to their homes.

However, there were about three hundred men left, and with these the
"commander-in-chief" marched upon Pepino. When the inhabitants became
aware of the approach of their liberators they ran to shut themselves
up in their houses. The column made a short halt at a "pulperia" in
the outskirts of the town, to take some "refreshment," and then boldly
penetrated to the plaza, where it was met by sixteen loyal militiamen.
A number of shots were exchanged. One "libertador" was killed and two
or three wounded, when suddenly some one cried: "The soldiers are
coming!" This was the signal for a general _sauve qui peut_, and soon
Commander Rojas with a few of his "officers" were left alone. It is
said that he tried to rally his panic-stricken warriors, but they
would not listen to him. Then he returned to his plantation a sadder,
but, presumably, a wiser man.[57]

As soon as the news of the disturbance reached San Juan, the Governor
sent Lieutenant-Colonel Gamar in pursuit of the rebels, with orders to
investigate the details of the movement and make a list of names of
all those implicated. Rosas and all his followers were taken prisoners
without resistance. Bruckman and a Venezuelan resisted and were shot

Here was an opportunity for the reactionists to visit on the heads of
all the members of the reform party the offense of a few misguided
jíbaros, and they tried hard to persuade the governor to adopt severe
measures against their enemies; but General Pavia was a just and a
prudent man, and he placed the rebels at the disposition of the civil
court. They were imprisoned in Lares, Arecibo, and Aguadilla, and,
while awaiting their trial, an epidemic, brought on by the unsanitary
conditions of the prisons in which they were packed, speedily carried
off seventy-nine of them.

Of the rest seven were condemned to death, but the governor pardoned
five. The remaining two were pardoned by his successor.

So ended the insurrection of Lares. During the trial of the rebels,
the same members of the reform party who had been banished by
Governor Marchessi, Don Julian Blanco, Don José Julian Acosta, Don
Pedro Goico, Don Rufino Goenaga, and Don Calixto Romero, were
denounced as the leaders of the Separatist movement. They were
imprisoned, but were soon after found to have been falsely accused and

[Illustration: Only remaining gate of the city wall, San Juan.]

Until the arrival of General Don Gabriel Baldrich as governor (May,
1870), Puerto Rico benefited little by the revolution of September,
1868. The insurrection in Cuba, which coincided with the movement in
Lares, made Sanz, the successor of Pavia, a man of arbitrary character
and reactionary principles, adopt a policy more suspicious and
intransigent than ever (from 1869 to 1870), but Governor Baldrich was
a staunch Liberal, and the Separatist phantom which had haunted
his predecessor had no terrors for him. From the day of his arrival,
the dense atmosphere of obstruction, distrust, and jealousy in which
the island was suffocating cleared. The rumors of conspiracies ceased,
political opinions were respected, the Liberals could publicly express
their desire for reform without being subjected to insult and
persecution. The gag was removed from the mouth of the press and each
party had its proper organ. The municipal elections came off
peaceably, and the Provincial Deputation, composed entirely of Liberal
reformists, was inaugurated April 1, 1871.

General Baldrich was terribly harassed by the intransigents here and
in the Peninsula. He was accused of being an enemy of Spain and of
protecting the Separatists. Meetings were held denouncing his
administration, menaces of expulsion were uttered, and he was insulted
even in his own palace. Violent opposition to his reform measures were
carried to such an extent that he was at last obliged to declare the
capital in a state of siege (July 26, 1871).

On September 27th of the same year he left Puerto Rico disgusted, much
to the regret of the enlightened part of the population, which had,
for the first time, enjoyed for a short period the benefits of
political freedom. As a proof of the disposition of the majority of
the people they had elected eighteen Liberal reformists as Deputies to
Cortes out of the nineteen that corresponded to the island.

Baldrich's successor was General Ramon Gomez Pulido, nicknamed "coco
seco" (dried coconut) on account of his shriveled appearance. Although
appointed by a Radical Ministry, he inaugurated a reactionary policy.
He ordered new elections to be held at once, and soon filled the
prisons of the island with Liberal reformists. He was followed by
General Don Simon de la Torre (1872). His reform measures met with
still fiercer opposition than that which General Baldrich encountered.
He also was forced to declare the state of siege in the capital and
landed the marines of a Spanish war-ship that happened to be in the
port. He posted them in the Morro and San Cristobal forts, with the
guns pointed on the city, threatening to bombard it if the
"inconditionals" who had tried to suborn the garrison carried their
intention of promoting an insurrection into effect. He removed the
chief of the staff from his post and sent him to Spain, relieved the
colonel of the Puerto Rican battalion and the two colonels in
Mayaguez and Ponce from their respective commands, and maintained
order with a strong hand till he was recalled by the Government in
Madrid through the machinations of his opponents.

During the interval between the departure of General Baldrich and the
arrival in April, 1873, of Lieutenant-General Primo de Rivero, there
happened what was called "the insurrection of Camuy," in which three
men were killed, two wounded, and sixteen taken prisoners, which
turned out to have been an unwarrantable aggression on the part of the
reactionists, falsely reported as an attempt at insurrection.

General Primo de Rivero brought with him the proclamation of the
abolition of slavery and Article I of the Constitution of 1869,
whereby the inhabitants of the island were recognized as Spaniards.

Great popular rejoicings followed these proclamations. In San Juan
processions paraded the streets amid "vivas" to Spain, to the
Republic, and to Liberty. In Ponce the people and the soldiers
fraternized, and the long-cherished aspirations of the inhabitants
seemed to be realized at last.

But they were soon to be undeceived. The Republican authorities in the
metropolis sent Sanz, the reactionist, as governor for the second
time. His first act was to suspend the individual guarantees granted
by the Constitution, then he abolished the Provincial Deputation,
dissolved the municipalities in which the Liberal reformists had a
majority, and a new period of persecution set in, in which teachers,
clergymen, lawyers, and judges--in short, all who were distinguished
by superior education and their liberal ideas--were punished for the
crime of having striven with deed or tongue or pen for the progress
and welfare of the land of their birth.


[Footnote 53: Estudio Historico. San Juan, 1899.]

[Footnote 54: Cards, rum, and women.]

[Footnote 55: He had been President of the Royal Academy.]

[Footnote 56: El Porvenir, for the Liberals, the Boletin Mercantíl,
for the Conservatives.]

[Footnote 57: Extracts from the History of the Insurrection of Lares,
by José Perez Moris.]




The Spanish Republic was but short lived. From the day of its
proclamation (February 11, 1873) to the landing in Barcelona of
Alphonso XII in the early days of 1876 its history is the record of an
uninterrupted series of popular tumults.

The political restlessness in the Peninsula, accentuating as it did
the party antagonisms in Cuba and Puerto Rico, led the governors, most
of whom were chosen for their adherence to conservative principles, to
endeavor, but in vain, to stem the tide of revolutionary and
Separatist ideas with more and more drastic measures of repression.

This persistence of the colonial authorities in the maintenance of an
obsolete system of administration, in the face of a universal
recognition of the principles of liberty and self-government, added to
the immediate effect on the economic and social conditions in this
island of the abolition of slavery, for which it was unprepared,[58]
brought it once more to the brink of ruin.

From 1873 to 1880 the resources of the island grew gradually less,
the country's capital was being consumed without profit, credit became
depressed, the best business forecasts turned out illusive, the most
intelligent industrial efforts remained sterile. The sun of prosperity
which rose over the island in 1815 set again in gloom during this
period of seven years.

The causes were clear to every unbiased mind and must have been so
even to the prejudiced officials of the Government. They consisted in
the anomalous restrictions on the coasting trade, the unjustifiable
difference in the duties on Spanish and island produce, the high duty
on flour from the United States, the export duties, the extravagant
expenditure in the administration, irritating monopolies, and
countless abuses, vexatious formalities, and ruinous exactions.

Mr. James McCormick, an intelligent Scotchman, for many years a
resident of the island, who, in 1880, was commissioned by the
Provincial Deputation to draw up a report on the causes of the
agricultural depression in this island and its removal by the
introduction of the system of central sugar factories, describes the
situation as follows:

" ... The truth is, that the country is in a pitiable condition.
Throughout its extent it resents the many drains upon its vitality.
Its strength is wasted, and the activities that utilized its favorable
natural conditions are paralyzed. The damages sustained have been
enormous and it is scarcely possible to appraise them at their true
value. With the produce of the soil diminished and the sale thereof at
losing prices the value of real estate throughout the island has
decreased in alarming proportions. Everybody's resources have been
wasted and spent uselessly, and many landholders, wealthy but
yesterday, have been ruined if not reduced to misery. The leading
merchants and proprietors, men who were identified with the progress
of the country and had vast resources at their command, after a long
and tenacious struggle have succumbed at last under the accumulation
of misfortunes banded against them."

Such was the situation in 1880.

To relieve the financial distress of the country a series of
ordinances were enacted[59] which culminated in the reform laws of
March 15, 1895, and if royal decrees had had power to cure the
incurable or remove the causes that for four centuries had undermined
the foundations of Spain's colonial empire, they might, possibly, have
sustained the crumbling edifice for some time longer.

But they came too late. The Antilles were slipping from Spain's grasp;
nor could Weyler's inhuman proceedings in Cuba nor the tardy
concession of a pseudo-autonomy to Puerto Rico arrest the movement.

The laws of March 15, 1895, for the administrative reorganization of
Cuba and Puerto Rico, the basis of which was approved by a unanimous
vote of the leaders of the Peninsula and Antillean parties in Cortes,
remained without application in Cuba because of the insurrection, and
in Puerto Rico because of the influence upon the inhabitants of this
island of the events in the neighboring island.

After the death of Macéo and of Marti, the two most influential
leaders of the revolution, and the terrible measures for suppressing
the revolt adopted by Weyler, the Spanish Colonial Minister, Don Tomas
Castellano y Villaroya, addressed the Queen Regent December 31, 1896.
He declared his belief in the proximate pacification of Cuba, and
said: That the moment had arrived for the Government to show to the
world (_vide licet_ United States) its firm resolution to comply with
the spontaneous promises made by the nation by introducing and
amplifying in Puerto Rico the reforms in civil government and
administration which had been voted by Cortes.

He further stated that the inconditional party in Puerto Rico, guided
by the patriotism which distinguished it, showed its complete
conformity with the reforms proposed by the Government, and that the
"autonomist" party, which, in the beginning, looked upon the proposed
reforms with indifference, had also accepted and declared its
conformity with them.

Therefore, the minister continued: "It would not be just in the
Government to indefinitely postpone the application in Puerto Rico of
a law which awakens so many hopes of a better future."

The minister assures the Queen Regent that the proposed laws respond
to an ample spirit of decentralization, and expresses confidence that,
as soon as possible, her Majesty will introduce in Cuba also, not
only the reforms intended by the law of March 15th, but will extend to
Puerto Rico the promised measures to provide the Antilles _with an
exclusively local administration and economic personnel_. "The reform
laws," the minister adds, "will be the foundation of the new regimen,
but an additional decree, to be laid before the Cortes, will amplify
them in such a way that a truly autonomous administration will be
established in our Antilles." Then follow the proposed laws, which are
to apply, explain, and complement in Puerto Rico, the reform laws of
March 15th--namely, the Provincial law, the Municipal law, and the
Electoral law.

The Peninsular electoral law of June, 1890, was adapted to Cuba and
Puerto Rico at the suggestion of Sagasta, who, in the exposition to
the Queen Regent, which accompanied the project of autonomy, stated:
That the inhabitants of the Antilles frequently complained of, and
lamented the irritating inequalities which alone were enough to
obstruct or entirely prevent the exercise of constitutional
privileges, and he concludes with these remarkable words: " ... So
that, if by arbitrary dispositions without appeal, by penalties
imposed by proclamations of the governors-general, or by simply
ignoring the laws of procedure, the citizen may be restrained,
harassed, deported even to distant territories, it is impossible for
him to exercise the right of free speech, free thought, or free
writing, or the freedom of instruction, or religious tolerance, nor
can he practise the right of union and association." These words
constitute a synopsis of the causes that made the Spanish
Government's tardy attempts at reform in the administration of its
ultramarine possessions illusive; that mocked the people's legitimate
aspirations, destroyed their confidence in the promises of the home
Government, and made the people of Puerto Rico look upon the American
soldiers, when they landed, not as men in search of conquest and
spoliation, but as the representatives of a nation enjoying a full
measure of the liberties and privileges, for a moderate share of which
they had vainly petitioned the mother country through long years of
unquestioning loyalty.

The royal decree conceding autonomy to Puerto Rico was signed on
November 25, 1897. On April 21, 1898, Governor-General Manuel Macias,
suspended the constitutional guarantees and declared the island in
state of war. A few months later Puerto Rico, recognized too late as
ripe for self-government by the mother country, became a part of the
territory of the United States.


[Footnote 58: The slaveholders were paid in Government bonds
(schedules), redeemable in ten years. They lost their labor supply,
and had neither capital nor other means to replace it. Their ruin
became inevitable. An English or German syndicate bought up the bonds
at 15 per cent.]

[Footnote 59: See Part II, chapter on Finances.]





The island of Puerto Rico, situated in the Atlantic Ocean, is
about 1,420 miles from New York, 1,000 miles from Havana, 1,050 miles
from Key West, 1,200 miles from Panama, 3,450 miles from Land's End in
England, and 3,180 from the port of Cadiz. It is about 104 miles in
length from east to west, by 34 miles in average breadth, and has an
area of 2,970 square miles. It lies eastward of the other greater
Antilles, Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica, and although inferior even to the
last of these islands in population and extent, it yields to none of
them in fertility.

By its geographical position Puerto Rico is peculiarly adapted to
become the center of an extensive commerce. It lies to the windward of
Cuba, Santo Domingo, and Jamaica, and of the Gulf of Mexico and Bay of
Honduras. It is contiguous to all the English and French Windward
Islands, only a few hours distant from the former Danish islands Saint
Thomas, Saint John, and Santa Cruz, and a few days' sail from the
coast of Venezuela.

Puerto Rico is the fourth in size of the greater Antilles. Its first
appearance to the eye of the stranger is striking and picturesque.
Nature here offers herself to his contemplation clothed in the
splendid vesture of tropical vegetation. The chain of mountains which
intersects the island from east to west seems at first sight to form
two distinct chains parallel to each other, but closer observation
makes it evident that they are in reality corresponding parts of the
same chain, with upland valleys and tablelands in the center, which
again rise gradually and incorporate themselves with the higher
ridges. The height of these mountains is lofty, if compared with those
of the other Antilles. The loftiest part is that of Luguillo, or
Loquillo, at the northeast extremity of the island, which measures
1,334 Castilian yards, and the highest point, denominated El Yunque,
can be seen at the distance of 68 miles at sea. The summit of this
ridge is almost always enveloped in mist, and when its sides are
overhung by white fleecy clouds it is the certain precursor of the
heavy showers which fertilize the northern coast. The soil in the
center of the mountains is excellent, and the mountains themselves are
susceptible of cultivation to their summits. Several towns and
villages are situated among these mountains, where the inhabitants
enjoy the coolness of a European spring and a pure and salubrious
atmosphere. The town of Alboníto, built on a table-land about eight
leagues from Ponce, on the southern coast, enjoys a delightful

To the north and south of this interior ridge of mountains, stretching
along the seacoasts, are the fertile valleys which produce the chief
wealth of the island. From the principal chain smaller ridges run
north and south, forming between them innumerable valleys, fertilized
by limpid streams which, descending from the mountains, empty
themselves into the sea on either coast. In these valleys the majestic
beauty of the palm-trees, the pleasant alternation of hill and dale,
the lively verdure of the hills, compared with the deeper tints of the
forest, the orange trees, especially when covered with their golden
fruit, the rivers winding through the dales, the luxuriant fields of
sugar-cane, corn, and rice, with here and there a house peeping
through a grove of plantains, and cattle grazing in the green pasture,
form altogether a landscape of rural beauty scarcely to be surpassed
in any country in the world.

The valleys of the north and east coasts are richest in cattle and
most picturesque. The pasturage there is always verdant and luxuriant,
while those of the south coast, richer in sugar, are often parched by
excessive drought, which, however, does not affect their fertility,
for water is found near the surface. This same alternation of rain and
drought on the north and south coasts is generally observed in all the
West India islands.

Few islands of the extent of Puerto Rico are watered by so many
streams. Seventeen rivers, taking their rise in the mountains, cross
the valleys of the north coast and fall into the sea. Some of these
are navigable for two or three leagues from their mouths for small
craft. Those of Manati, Loisa, Trabajo, and Arecibo are very deep and
broad, and it is difficult to imagine how such large bodies of water
can be collected in so short a course. Owing to the heavy surf which
continually breaks on the north coast, these rivers have bars across
their embouchures which do not allow large vessels to enter. The
rivers of Bayamón and Rio Piedras flow into the harbor of the capital,
and are also navigable for boats. At Arecibo, at high water, small
brigs may enter with perfect safety, notwithstanding the bar. The
south, west, and east coasts are also well supplied with water.

From the Cabeza de San Juan, which is the northeast extremity of the
island, to Cape Mala Pascua, which lies to the southeast, nine rivers
fall into the sea. From Cape Mala Pascua to Point Aguila, which forms
the southwest angle of the island, sixteen rivers discharge their
waters on the south coast.

On the west coast, three rivers, five rivulets, and several
fresh-water lakes communicate with the sea. The rivers of the north
coast are well stocked with edible fish.

The roads formed in Puerto Rico during the Spanish administration are
constructed on a substantial plan, the center being filled with gravel
and stones well cemented. Each town made and repaired the roads of its
respective district. Many excellent and solid bridges, with stone
abutments, existed at the time of the transfer of the island to the
American nation.

The whole line of coast of this island is indented with harbors, bays,
and creeks where ships of heavy draft may come to anchor. On the north
coast, during the months of November, December, and January, when the
wind blows sometimes with violence from the east and northeast, the
anchorage is dangerous in all the bays and harbors of that coast,
except in the port of San Juan.

On the western coast the spacious bay of Aguadilla is formed by Cape
Borrigua and Cape San Francisco. When the southeast winds prevail it
is _not_ a safe anchorage for ships.

Mayaguez is also an open roadstead on the west coast formed by two
projecting capes. It has good anchorage for vessels of large size and
is well sheltered from the north winds.

The south coast also abounds in bays and harbors, but those which
deserve particular attention are the ports of Guánica and Hobos, or
Jovos, near Guayama. In Guánica vessels drawing 21 feet of water may
enter with perfect safety and anchor close to the shore. Hobos or
Jovos is a haven of considerable importance; sailing vessels of the
largest class may anchor and ride in safety; it has 4 fathoms of water
in the shallowest part of the entrance, but it is difficult to enter
from June to November as the sea breaks with violence at the entrance
on account of the southerly winds which prevail at this season.

All the large islands in the tropics enjoy approximately the same
climate. The heat, the rains, the seasons, are, with trifling
variations, the same in all, but the number of mountains and running
streams, the absence of stagnant waters and general cultivation of the
land in Puerto Rico do, probably, powerfully contribute to purify the
atmosphere and render it more salubrious to Europeans than it
otherwise would be. In the mountains one enjoys the coolness of
spring, but the valleys, were it not for the daily breeze which blows
from the northeast and east, would be almost uninhabitable for white
men during part of the year. The climate of the north and south coasts
of this island, though under the same tropical influence, is
nevertheless essentially different. On the north coast it sometimes
rains almost the whole year, while on the south coast sometimes no
rain falls for twelve or fourteen months. On the whole, Puerto Rico is
one of the healthiest islands in the West Indies, nor is it infested
to the same extent as other islands by poisonous snakes and other
noxious reptiles. The laborer may sleep in peace and security in the
midst of the forest, by the side of the river, or in the meadow with
his cattle with no other fear than that of an occasional centipede or
guabuá (large hairy spider).

Unlike most tropical islands there are no indigenous quadrupeds and
scarcely any of the feathered tribe in the forests. On the rivers
there are a few water-fowl and in the forests the green parrot. There
are neither monkeys nor rabbits, but rats and mongooses infest the
country and sometimes commit dreadful ravages in the sugar-cane. Ants
of different species also abound.



The origin of the primitive inhabitants of the West Indian Archipelago
has been the subject of much learned controversy, ending, like all
such discussions, in different theories and more or less verisimilar

It appears that at the time of the discovery these islands were
inhabited by three races of different origin. One of these races
occupied the Bahamas. Columbus describes them as simple, generous,
peaceful creatures, whose only weapon was a pointed stick or cane.
They were of a light copper color, well-proportioned but slender,
rather good-looking, with aquiline noses, salient cheek-bones,
medium-sized mouths, long coarse hair. They had, perhaps, formerly
occupied the eastern part of the archipelago, whence they had
gradually disappeared, driven or exterminated by the Caribs, Caribós,
or Guáribos, a savage, warlike, and cruel race, which had invaded the
West Indies from the continent by way of the Orinoco, along the
tributaries of which river tribes of the same race are still to be
found. The larger Antilles, Cuba, Santo Domingo, and Puerto Rico, were
occupied by a race which probably originated from some part of the
southern division of the northern continent. The chroniclers mention
the Guaycures and others as their possible ancestors, and Stahl traces
their origin to a mixture of the Phoenicians with the aborigines of
remote antiquity.

The information which we possess with regard to the habits and customs
of the inhabitants of Boriquén at the time of discovery is too scanty
and too unreliable to permit us to form more than a speculative
opinion of the degree of culture attained by them.

Friar Abbad, in the fourth chapter of his history, gives us a
description of the character and customs of the people of Boriquén
taken wholly from the works of Oviedo, Herrera, Robertson, Raynal, and

Like most of the aboriginal inhabitants of America, the natives of
Boriquén were copper-colored, but somewhat darker than the inhabitants
of the neighboring islands. They were shorter of stature than the
Spaniards, but corpulent and well-proportioned, with flat noses, wide
nostrils, dull eyes, bad teeth, narrow foreheads, the skull
artificially flattened before and behind so as to give it a conical
shape, with long, black, coarse hair, beardless and hairless on the
rest of the body. Says Oviedo: " ... Their heads were not like other
people's, their skulls were so hard and thick that the Christians by
fighting with them have learned not to strike them on the head because
the swords break."

Their whole appearance betrayed a lazy, indolent habit, and they
showed extreme aversion to labor or fatigue of any kind. They put
forth no exertion save what was necessary to obtain food, and only
rose from their "hamácas" or "jamácas," or shook off their habitual
indolence to play a game of ball (batey) or attend the dances
(areytos) which were accompanied by rude music and the chanting of
whatever happened to occupy their minds at the time.

Notwithstanding their indolence and the unsubstantial nature of their
food, they were comparatively strong and robust, as they proved in
many a personal tussle with the Spaniards.

Clothing was almost unknown. Only the women of mature age used an
apron of varying length, the rest, without distinction of age or sex,
were naked. They took great pains in painting their bodies with all
sorts of grotesque figures, the earthy coloring matter being laid on
by means of oily or resinous substances extracted from plants or

These coats of paint, when fresh, served as holiday attire, and
protected them from the bites of mosquitoes and other insects. The
dandies among them added to this airy apparel a few bright feathers in
their hair, a shell or two in their ears and nostrils. And the
caciques wore a disk of gold (guarim) the size of a large medal round
their necks to denote their rank.

The huts were built square or oblong, raised somewhat above the
ground, with only one opening for entrance and exit, cane being the
principal building material. The chief piece of furniture was the
"hamáca," made with creepers or strips of bark of the "emajágua" tree.
The "totúmo" or "jigüera" furnished them with their domestic
utensils, as it furnishes the "jíbaro" of to-day with his cups and
jugs and basins. Their mode of making fire was the universal one
practised by savages. Their arms were the usual macána and bow and
arrows, but they did not poison the arrows as did the Caribs. The
largest of their canoes, or "piráguas," could contain from 40 to 50
men, and served for purposes of war, but the majority of their canoes
were of small size used in navigating the coast and rivers.

There being no mammals in the island, they knew not the use of flesh
for food, but they had abundance of fish, and they ate besides
whatever creeping or crawling thing they happened to find. These with
the yucca from which they made their casabe or bread, maize, yams, and
other edible roots, constituted their food supply.

There were in Boriquén, as there are among all primitive races,
certain individuals, the embryos of future church functionaries, who
were medicine-man, priest, prophet, and general director of the moral
and intellectual affairs of the benighted masses, but that is all we
know of them.[60]


[Footnote 60: For further information on this subject, see Estudios
Ethnologicos sobre los indios Boriqueños, by A. Stahl, 1888. Revista
Puertoriqueña, Año II, tomo II.]



"There is in this island a class of inhabitants, not the least
numerous by any means, who dwell in swamps and marshes, live on
vegetables, and drink muddy water." So wrote Dr. Richard Rey[61] a
couple of decades ago, and, although, under the changed political and
social conditions, these people, as a class, will soon disappear, they
are quite numerous still, and being the product of the peculiar social
and political conditions of a past era deserve to be known.

To this considerable part of the population of Puerto Rico the name of
"jíbaros" is applied; they are the descendants of the settlers who in
the early days of the colonization of the island spread through the
interior, and with the assistance of an Indian or negro slave or two
cleared and cultivated a piece of land in some isolated locality,
where they continued to live from day to day without troubling
themselves about the future or about what passed in the rest of the

The modern jíbaro builds his "bohío," or hut, in any place without
regard to hygienic conditions, and in its construction follows the
same plan and uses the same materials employed in their day by the
aboriginal inhabitants. This "bohío" is square or oblong in form,
raised on posts two or three feet from the ground, and the materials
are cane, the trunks of the coco-palm, entire or cut into boards, and
the bark of another species of palm, the "yaguas," which serves for
roofing and walls. The interior of these huts is sometimes divided by
a partition of reeds into two apartments, in one of which the family
sit by day. The other is the sleeping room, where the father, mother,
and children, male and female, of all ages, sleep, promiscuously
huddled together on a platform of boards or bar bacao.

The majority of the jíbaros are whites. Mestizoes, mulattos, and
negroes are numerous also. But we are here concerned with the jíbaro
of European descent only, whose redemption from a degraded condition
of existence it is to the country's interest should be specially
attended to.

Mr. Francisco del Valle Atilés, one of Puerto Rico's distinguished
literary men, has left us a circumstantial description of the
character and conditions of these rustics.[62] He divides them into
three groups: those living in the neighborhood of the large sugar and
coffee estates, who earn their living working as peons; the second
group comprises the small proprietors who cultivate their own patch of
land, and the third, the comparatively well-to-do individuals or
small proprietors who usually prefer to live as far as possible from
the centers of population.

The jíbaro, as a rule, is well formed, slender, of a delicate
constitution, slow in his movements, taciturn, and of a sickly aspect.
Occasionally, in the mountainous districts, one meets a man of
advanced age still strong and robust doing daily work and mounting on
horseback without effort. Such a one will generally be found to be of
pure Spanish descent, and to have a numerous family of healthy,
good-looking children, but the appearance of the average jíbaro is as
described. He looks sickly and anemic in consequence of the
insufficient quantity and innutritious quality of the food on which he
subsists and the unhealthy conditions of his surroundings. Rice,
plantains, sweet potatoes, maize, yams, beans, and salted fish
constitute his diet year in year out, and although there are Indian
races who could thrive perhaps on such frugal fare, the effect of such
a _régime_ on individuals of the white race is loss of muscular energy
and a consequent craving for stimulants.

His clothing, too, is scanty. He wears no shoes, and when drenched
with rain or perspiration he will probably let his garments dry on his
body. For the empty feeling in his stomach, the damp and the cold to
which he is thus daily exposed, his antidotes are tobacco and rum, the
first he chews and smokes. In the use of the second he seldom goes to
the extent of intoxication.

Under these conditions, and considering his absolute ignorance and
consequent neglect of the laws of hygiene, it is but natural that the
Puerto Rican peasant should be subject to the ravages of paludal
fever, one of the most dangerous of the endemic diseases of the

Friar Abbad observes: " ... No cure has yet been discovered (1781) for
the intermittent fevers which are often from four to six years in
duration. Those who happen to get rid of them recover very slowly;
many remain weak and attenuated; the want of nutritious food and the
climate conduce to one disease or another, so that those who escape
the fever generally die of dropsy."

However, the at first sight apathetic and weak jíbaro, when roused to
exertion or when stimulated by personal interest or passion, can
display remarkable powers of endurance. Notwithstanding his reputation
of being lazy, he will work ten or eleven hours a day if fairly
remunerated. Under the Spanish _régime_, when he was forced to present
himself on the plantations to work for a few cents from sunrise to
sundown, he was slow; or if he was of the small proprietor class, he
had to pay an enormous municipal tax on his scanty produce, so that it
is very likely that he may often have preferred swinging in his
hammock to laboring in the fields for the benefit of the municipal

Mr. Atilés refers to the premature awakening among the rustic
population of this island of the procreative instincts, and the
consequent increase in their numbers notwithstanding the high rate of
mortality. The fecundity of the women is notable; from six to ten
children in a family seems to be the normal number.

 [Illustration: A tienda, or small shop.]

Intellectually the jíbaro is as poor as he is physically. His
illiteracy is complete; his speech is notoriously incorrect; his
songs, if not of a silly, meaningless character, are often obscene;
sometimes they betray the existence of a poetic sentiment. These songs
are usually accompanied by the music of a stringed instrument of the
guitar kind made by the musician himself, to which is added the
"güiro," a kind of ribbed gourd which is scraped with a small stick to
the measure of the tune, and produces a noise very trying to the
nerves of a person not accustomed to it.

In religion the jíbaro professes Catholicism with a large admixture of
fetichism. His moral sense is blunt in many respects.

Colonel Flinter[63] gives the following description of the jíbaros of
his day, which also applies to them to-day:

"They are very civil in their manners, but, though they seem all
simplicity and humility, they are so acute in their dealings that they
are sure to deceive a person who is not very guarded. Although they
would scorn to commit a robbery, yet they think it only fair to
deceive or overreach in a bargain. Like the peasantry of Ireland, they
are proverbial for their hospitality, and, like them, they are ever
ready to fight on the slightest provocation. They swing themselves to
and fro in their hammocks all day long, smoking their cigars or
scraping a guitar. The plantain grove which surrounds their houses,
and the coffee tree which grows almost without cultivation, afford
them a frugal subsistence. If with these they have a cow and a horse,
they consider themselves rich and happy. Happy indeed they are; they
feel neither the pangs nor remorse which follow the steps of
disappointed ambition nor the daily wants experienced by the poor
inhabitants of northern regions."

This entirely materialistic conception of happiness which, it is
certain, the Puerto Rican peasant still entertains, is now giving way
slowly but surely before the new influences that are being brought to
bear on himself and on his surroundings. The touch of education is
dispelling the darkness of ignorance that enveloped the rural
districts of this island until lately; industrial activity is placing
the means of greater comfort within the reach of every one who cares
to work for them; the observance of the laws of health is beginning to
be enforced, even in the bohío, and with them will come a greater
morality. In a word, in ten years the Puerto Rican jíbaro will have
disappeared, and in his place there will be an industrious,
well-behaved, and no longer illiterate class of field laborers, with a
nobler conception of happiness than that to which they have aspired
for many generations.


[Footnote 61: Estudio sobre el paludismo en Puerto Rico.]

[Footnote 62: El campesino Puertoriqueño, sus condiciones, etc.
Revista Puertoriqueña, vols. ii, iii, 1887, 1888.]

[Footnote 63: An Account of the Present State of the Island of Puerto
Rico. London, 1834.]



During the initial period of conquest and colonization, no Spanish
females came to this or any other of the conquered territories.
Soldiers, mariners, monks, and adventurers brought no families with
them; so that by the side of the aboriginals and the Spaniards "pur
sang" there sprang up an indigenous population of mestizos.

The result of the union of two physically, ethically, and
intellectually widely differing races is _not_ the transmission to the
progeny of any or all of the superior qualities of the progenitor, but
rather his own moral degradation. The mestizos of Spanish America, the
Eurasians of the East Indies, the mulattoes of Africa are moral, as
well as physical hybrids in whose character, as a rule, the worst
qualities of the two races from which they spring predominate. It is
only in subsequent generations, after oft-repeated crossings and
recrossings, that atavism takes place, or that the fusion of the two
races is finally consummated through the preponderance of the
physiological attributes of the ancestor of superior race.

The early introduction of negro slaves, almost exclusively males, the
affinity between them and the Indians, the state of common servitude
and close, daily contact produced another race. By the side of the
mestizo there grew up the zambo. Later, when negro women were brought
from Santo Domingo or other islands, the mulatto was added.

Considering the class to which the majority of the first Spanish
settlers in this island belonged, the social status resulting from
these additions to their number could be but little superior to that
of the aboriginals themselves.

The necessity of raising that status by the introduction of white
married couples was manifest to the king's officers in the island, who
asked the Government in 1534 to send them 50 such couples. It was not
done. Fifty bachelors came instead, whose arrival lowered the moral
standard still further.

It was late in the island's history before the influx of respectable
foreigners and their families began to diffuse a higher ethical tone
among the creoles of the better class. Unfortunately, the daily
contact of the lower and middle classes with the soldiers of the
garrison did not tend to improve their character and manners, and the
effects of this contact are clearly traceable to-day in the manners
and language of the common people.

From the crossings in the first degree of the Indian, negro, and white
races, and their subsequent recrossings, there arose in course of time
a mixed race of so many gradations of color that it became difficult
in many instances to tell from the outward appearance of an individual
to what original stock he belonged; and, it being the established
rule in all Spanish colonies to grant no civil or military employment
above a certain grade to any but Peninsulars or their descendants of
pure blood, it became necessary to demand from every candidate
documentary evidence that he had no Indian or negro blood in his
veins. This was called presenting an "expediente de sangre," and the
practise remained in force till the year 1870, when Marshal Serrano
abolished it.

Whether it be due to atavism, or whether, as is more likely, the
Indians did not really become extinct till much later than the period
at which it is generally supposed their final fusion into the two
exotic races took place,[64] it is certain that Indian characteristics,
physical and ethical, still largely prevail among the rural population
of Puerto Rico, as observed by Schoelzer and other ethnologists.

The evolution of a new type of life is now in course of process. In
the meantime, we have Mr. Salvador Brau's authority[65] for stating
the general character of the present generation of Puerto Ricans to be
made up of the distinctive qualities of the three races from which
they are descended, to wit: indolence, taciturnity, sobriety,
disinterestedness, hospitality, inherited from their Indian ancestors;
physical endurance, sensuality, and fatalism from their negro
progenitors; and love of display, love of country, independence,
devotion, perseverance, and chivalry from their Spanish sires.

A somewhat sarcastic reference to the characteristics due to the
Spanish blood in them was made in 1644 by Bishop Damian de Haro in a
letter to a friend, wherein, speaking of his diocesans, he says that
they are of very chivalric extraction, for, "he who is not descended
from the House of Austria is related to the Dauphin of France or to
Charlemagne." He draws an amusing picture of the inhabitants of the
capital, saying that at the time there were about 200 males and 4,000
women "between black and mulatto." He complains that there are no
grapes in the country; that the melons are red, and that the butcher
retails turtle meat instead of beef or pork; yet, says he, "my table
is a bishop's table for all that."

To a lady in Santo Domingo he sent the following sonnet:

     This is a small island, lady,
     With neither money nor provisions;
     The blacks go naked as they do yonder,
     And there 're more people in the Seville prison.
     The Castilian coats of arms
     Are conspicuous by their absence,
     But there are plenty cavaliers
     Who deal in hides and ginger,
     There's water in the tanks, when 't rains,
     A cathedral, but no priests,
     Handsome women, but not elegant,
     Greed and envy are indigenous.
     Plenty of heat and palm-tree shade,
     And best of all a refreshing breeze.

Of the moral defects of the people it would be invidious to speak.
The lower classes are not remarkable for their respect for the
property of others. On the subject of morality among the rural
population we may cite Count de Caspe, the governor's report to the
king: " ... Destitute as they are of religious instruction and moral
restraint, their unions are without the sanction of religious or civil
law, and last just as long as their sensual appetites last; it may
therefore be truly said, that in the rural districts of Puerto Rico
the family, morally constituted, does not exist."

Colonel Flinter's account of the people and social conditions of
Puerto Rico in 1834 is a rather flattering one, though he acknowledges
that the island had a bad reputation on account of the lawless
character of the lower class of inhabitants.

All this has greatly changed for the better, but much remains to be
done in the way of moral improvement.


[Footnote 64: Abbad points out that in 1710-'20 there were still two
Indian settlements in the neighborhood of Añasco and San German.]

[Footnote 65: Puerto Rico y su historia, p. 369.]



From the early days of the conquest the black race appeared side by
side with the white race. Both supplanted the native race, and both
have marched parallel ever since, sometimes separately, sometimes
mixing their blood.

The introduction of African negroes into Puerto Rico made the
institution of slavery permanent. It is true that King Ferdinand
ordered the reduction to slavery of all rebellious Indians in 1511,
but he revoked the order the next year. The negro was and remained a
slave. For centuries he had been looked upon as a special creation for
the purpose of servitude, and the Spaniards were accustomed to see him
daily offered for sale in the markets of Andalusia.

Notwithstanding the practical reduction to slavery of the Indians of
la Española by Columbus, under the title of "repartimientos," negro
slaves were introduced into that island as early as 1502, when a
certain Juan Sanchez and Alfonso Bravo received royal permission to
carry five caravels of slaves to the newly discovered island. Ovando,
who was governor at the time, protested strongly on the ground that
the negroes escaped to the forests and mountains, where they joined
the rebellious or fugitive Indians and made their subjugation much
more difficult. The same thing happened later in San Juan.

In this island special permission was necessary to introduce negroes.
Sedeño and the smelter of ores, Giron, who came here in 1510, made
oath that the two slaves each brought with them were for their
personal service only. In 1513 their general introduction was
authorized by royal schedule on payment of two ducats per head.

Cardinal Cisneros prohibited the export of negro slaves from Spain in
1516; but the efforts of Father Las Casas to alleviate the lot of the
Indians by the introduction of what he believed, with the rest of his
contemporaries, to be providentially ordained slaves, obtained from
Charles II a concession in favor of Garrebod, the king's high steward,
to ship 4,000 negroes to la Española, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica
(1517). Garrebod sold the concession to some merchants of Genoa.

With the same view of saving the Indians, the Jerome fathers, who
governed the Antilles in 1518, requested the emperor's permission to
fit out slave-ships themselves and send them to the coast of Africa
for negroes. It appears that this permission was not granted; but in
1528 another concession to introduce 4,000 negroes into the Antilles
was given to some Germans, who, however, did not comply with the terms
of the contract.

Negroes were scarce and dear in San Juan at this period, which caused
the authorities to petition the emperor for permission to each settler
to bring two slaves free of duty, and, this being granted, it gave
rise to abuse, as the city officers in their address of thanks to the
empress, stated at the same time that many took advantage of the
privilege to transfer or sell their permit in Seville without coming
to the island. Then it was enacted that slaves should be introduced
only by authorized traffickers, who soon raised the price to 60 or 70
Castilian dollars per head. The crown officers in the island
protested, and asked that every settler might be permitted to bring 10
or 12 negroes, paying the duty of 2 ducats per head, which had been
imposed by King Ferdinand in 1513. A new deposit of gold had been
discovered about this time (1533), and the hope that others might be
found now induced the colonists to buy the negroes from the authorized
traders on credit at very high prices, to be paid with the gold which
the slaves should be made instrumental in discovering. But the
longed-for metal did not appear. The purchasers could not pay. Many
had their property embargoed and sold, and were ruined. Some were
imprisoned, others escaped to the mountains or left the island.

From 1536 to 1553 the authorities kept asking for negroes; sometimes
offering to pay duty, at others soliciting their free introduction;
now complaining that the colonists escaped _with their slaves_ to
Mexico and Peru, then lamenting that the German merchants, who had the
monopoly of the traffic, took them to all the other Antilles, but
would bring none to this island. However, 1,500 African slaves entered
here at different times during those seventeen years, without
reckoning the large numbers that were introduced as contraband.

Philip II tried to reduce the exorbitant prices exacted by the German
monopolists of the West Indian slave-trade, but, finding that his
efforts to do so diminished the importation, he revoked his

A Genoese banking-house, having made him large advances to help equip
the great Armada for the invasion of England, obtained the next
monopoly (1580).

During the course of the seventeenth century the privilege of
introducing African slaves into the Antilles was sold successively to
Genoese, Portuguese, Holland, French, and Spanish companies. The
traffic was an exceedingly profitable one, not so much on account of
the high prices obtained for the negroes as on account of the
contraband trade in all kinds of merchandise that accompanied it. From
1613 to 1621 during the government of Felipe de Beaumont, 11
ship-loads of slaves entered San Juan harbor.

During the eighteenth century the traffic expanded still more. To
induce England to abandon the cause of the House of Austria, for which
that nation was fighting, Philip V offered it the exclusive privilege
of introducing 140,000 negro slaves into the Spanish-American colonies
within a period of thirty years; the monopolists to pay 33-13 silver
crowns for each negro introduced, to the Spanish Government.[66]

War interrupted this contract several times, and long before the
termination of the thirty years the English ceased to import slaves.

Several contracts for the importation of slaves into the Antilles were
made from 1760 to the end of the century. First a contract was made
with Miguel Uriarte to take 15,000 slaves to different parts of
Spanish America. In 1765 the king sanctioned the introduction by the
Carácas company of 2,000 slaves to replace the Indians in Carácas and
Maraeaíbo, who had died of smallpox. All duties on the introduction of
negroes into Santo Domingo, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Margarita, and Trinidad
were commuted in the same year for a moderate capitation tax, and the
Spanish firm of Aguirre, Aristegui & Co. was authorized to provide the
Antilles with negroes, on condition of reducing the price 10 pesos per
head, besides the amount of abolished duty.

This firm abused the privileges granted, and the inhabitants of all
the colonies, excepting Peru, Chile, and the Argentina, were allowed
to provide themselves, as best they could, with slaves from the French
colonies while the war lasted (1780).

Four years later, January 16, 1784, a certain Lenormand, of Xantes,
received the king's permission to take a ship-load of African slaves
to Puerto Rico on condition of paying 6 per cent of the product to the

In this same year the barbarous custom of branding the slaves was

The abominable traffic was declared entirely free in Santo Domingo,
Cuba, and Puerto Rico by royal decree, February 28, 1789. Foreign
ships were placed under certain restrictions, but a bounty of 4 pesos
per head was paid for negroes brought in Spanish bottoms, to meet
which a per capita tax of 2 pesos per head on domestic slaves was

By this time the famous debates in the British Parliament and other
signs of the times announced the dawn of freedom for the oppressed
African race. Wilberforce, Clarkson, and Buxton, the English
abolitionists, continued their denunciations of the demoralizing
institution. Their effects were crowned with success in 1833. The
traffic was abolished, and ten years later Great Britain emancipated
more than twelve million slaves in her East and West Indian
possessions, paying the masters over one hundred millions of dollars
as indemnity.

Spain agreed in 1817 to abolish the slave-trade in her dominions by
May 30,1820. By Articles 3 and 4 of the convention, England offered to
pay to Spain $20,000,000 as complete compensation to his Catholic
Majesty's subjects who were engaged in the traffic.

The Spanish Government illegally employed this money to purchase from
Russia a fleet of five ships of the line and eight frigates.

The slaves in Puerto Rico were not emancipated until March 22, 1873,
when 31,000 were manumitted in one day, at a cost to the Government of
200 pesos each, plus the interest on the bonds that were issued.

The nature of the relations between the master and the slave in Puerto
Rico probably did not differ much from that which existed between them
in the other Spanish colonies. But these relations began to assume an
aspect of distrust and severity on the one hand and sullen resentment
on the other when the war of extermination between whites and blacks
in Santo Domingo and the establishment of a negro republic in Haiti
made it possible for the flame of negro insurrection to be wafted
across the narrow space of water that separates the two islands.

There was sufficient ground for such apprehension. The free colored
population in Puerto Rico at that time (1830-'34) numbered 127,287,
the slaves 34,240, as against 162,311 whites, among whom many were of
mixed blood.[67] Prim, the governor-general, to suppress every attempt
at insurrection, issued the proclamation, of which the following is a

"I, John Prim, Count of Ecus, etc., etc., etc.

"Whereas, The critical circumstances of the times and the afflictive
condition of the countries in the neighborhood of this island, some of
which are torn by civil war, and others engaged in a war of
extermination between the white and black races; it is incumbent on me
to dictate efficacious measures to prevent the spread of these
calamities to our pacific soil.... I have decreed as follows:

"ARTICLE 1. All offenses committed by individuals of African race,
whether free or slaves, shall be judged by court-martial.

"ART. 2. Any individual of African race, whether free or slave, who
shall offer armed resistance to a white, shall be shot, if a slave,
and have his right hand cut off by the public executioner, if a free
man. Should he be wounded he shall be shot.

"ART. 3. If any individual of African race, whether slave or free,
shall insult, menace, or maltreat, in any way, a white person, he will
be condemned to five years of penal servitude, if a slave, and
according to the circumstances of the case, if free.

"ART. 4. The owners of slaves are hereby authorized to correct and
chastise them for slight misdemeanors, without any civil or military
functionary having the right to interfere.

"ART. 5. If any slave shall rebel against his master, the latter is
authorized to kill him on the spot.

"ART. 6 orders the military commanders of the 8 departments of the
island to decide all cases of offenses committed by colored people
within twenty-four hours of their denunciation."

This Draconic decree is signed, Puerto Rico, May 31, 1843.


[Footnote 66: Treaty of Madrid, March 16, 1713, ratified by the treaty
of Utrecht. There were two kinds of silver crowns, one of 8 pesetas,
the other of 10, worth respectively 4 and 5 English shillings.]

[Footnote 67: Flinter, p. 211.]



ALL statements of definite numbers with respect to the aboriginal
population of this island are essentially fabulous. Columbus touched
at only one port on the western shore. He remained there but a few
days and did not come in contact with the inhabitants. Ponce and his
men conquered but a part of the island, and had no time to study the
question of population, even if they had had the inclination to do so.
They did not count the enemy in time of war, and only interested
themselves in the number of prisoners which to them constituted the
spoils of conquest. Any calculation regarding the numbers that
remained at large, based on the number of Indians distributed, can not
be correct.

The same may be said of the computations of the population of the
island made by Abbad, O'Reilly, and others at a time when there was
not a correct statistical survey existing in the most civilized
countries of Europe. None of these computations exceed the limits of
mere conjecture.

With regard to the attempts to explain the causes of the decay and
ultimate disappearance of the aboriginal race, this subject also
appears to be involved in considerable doubt and obscurity,
notwithstanding the positive statements of native writers regarding
it. It has been impossible to ascertain in what degree they became
amalgamated by intermarriage with the conquerors; yet, that it has
been to a much larger degree than generally supposed, is proved by the
fact that many of the inhabitants, classed as white, have, both in
their features and manners, definite traces of the Indian race.[68]

With respect to the census taken by the Spanish authorities at
different times, though they may have taken great pains to obtain
correct statistical accounts, there is little doubt that the real
numbers greatly exceeded those which appear in the official returns.
The reason for this discrepancy is supposed by the author mentioned to
have been the _direct contribution_ which was levied on agricultural
property, inducing the landed proprietors to conceal the real number
of their slaves in order to make their crops appear to have been
_smaller_ than they were.

Nor does it appear that the increase in the population of Puerto Rico
is so much indebted to immigration as is generally supposed; for,
notwithstanding the advantages offered to colonists by the Government
in 1815, and the influx of settlers from Santo Domingo and Venezuela
during the civil wars in these republics, there were only 2,833
naturalized foreigners in the island in 1830. It appears also that the
Spanish immigration from the revolted colonies did not exceed 7,000

Puerto Rico had the reputation of being very poor, consequently, no
immigrants were attracted by the prospect of money-making. The
increase in the population of this island is sufficiently accounted
for by the fact that three-fourths of the inhabitants are engaged in
agricultural pursuits, which, of all occupations, are most conducive
to health. To which must be added the people's frugal habits, the easy
morals, the effect of climate, and the fecundity of the women of all
mixed races. These, and the peace which the island enjoyed in the
beginning of the nineteenth century, together with the abolition of
some of the restrictions on commerce and industry, promoted an era of
prosperity the like of which the inhabitants had never before known,
and the natural consequence was increase in numbers.

"In those days," says Colonel Flinter, "if some perfect stranger had
dropped from the clouds as it were, on this island, naked, without any
other auxiliaries than health and strength, he might have married the
next day and maintained a family without suffering more hardships or
privations than fall to the lot of every laborer in the ordinary
process of clearing and cultivating a piece of land."

The earliest information on the subject was given by Alexander
O'Reilly, the royal commissioner to the Antilles in 1765, who
enumerates a list of 24 towns and settlements with a total population

  _Free_ men, women, and children of all colors....39,846
  Slaves of both sexes, including their children ........5,037

Abbad, in his "general statistics of the island," corresponding to
the end of the year 1776, gives the details of the population in 30
"partidas," or ecclesiastical districts, as follows:

     Whites                          29,263
     Free colored people             33,808
     Free blacks                      2,803
     Other free people ("agregados")  7,835
     Slaves                           6,537
           Total                     80,246

That is to say, an increase of 7-311 per cent per annum during the
eleven years elapsed since O'Reilly's computation, which was a period
of constant apprehension of attacks by pirates and privateers.

From 1782 to 1802 there were three censuses taken showing the
following totals:

     In 1782                    81,180 souls.
     "  1792                   115,557   "
     "  1802                   163,192   "

From 1800 to 1815, there was universal poverty and depression in the
island in consequence of the prohibitive system introduced by the
Spanish authorities in all branches of commerce and industry, and the
sudden failure of the annual remittances from Mexico in consequence of
the insurrection. Still, the population had increased from 163,192 in
1802 to 220,892 in 1815.

From this year forward a great improvement in the island's general
condition set in, thanks to the efforts of Don Ramon Power, Puerto
Rico's delegate to Cortes, who obtained for the island, in November,
1811, the freedom of commerce with foreign nations, and by the
appointment of Intendant Ramirez procured the suppression of many
abuses and monopolies.

The royal schedule of August 13, 1815, called "the schedule of
graces," also contributed to the general improvement by the opening of
the ports to immigrants, though short-sighted restrictions destroyed
the beneficent effects of the measure to no small extent. However,
immigrants came, and among them 83 practical agriculturists from
Louisiana, with slaves and capital.

The census of 1834 gives the total population on an area of 330 square
leagues, in the proportion of 981-16 inhabitants per square league,
as follows:

Whites.......................... 188,869


Slaves........................... 41,817

Troops and prisoners.............. 1,730

Total........................... 358,836

This year shows an increase in the proportion of the slave population
over the free population since 1815, due to the free introduction of
slaves and the slaves brought by the immigrants.

A statistical commission for the island of Puerto Rico was created in
1845. The census taken under its auspices in the following year may be
considered reliable. The total figures are:

Whites........................... 216,083

Free colored......................175,791

Slaves............................ 51,265

Total............................ 443,139

In 1855 cholera morbus raged throughout the island, especially among
the colored population, and carried off 9,529 slaves alone.

The next census shows the progressive increase of inhabitants. It was
conducted by royal decree of September 30,1858, on the nights of
December 25 and 26, 1860. The official memorial gives the following

Whites................................ 300,430
Free colored..........................      341,015
Slaves................................  41,736
Unclassified..........................     127

Total.............................     583,308

or 1,802.2 inhabitants per square league; one of the densest
populations on the globe, and the densest in the Antilles at the time
except Barbados.

The annual increase of population in Puerto Rico, according to the
calculations of Colonel Flinter, was:

  From 1778-1802 ... 24 years ... 5-12 per cent per annum.
    "  1802-1812 ... 10   "   ... 1-15       "        "
       1812-1820 ...  8   "   ... 3-14       "        "
    "  1820-1830 ... 10   "   ... 4           "        "
    "  1830-1846 ... 16   "   ... 3-15       "        "
    "  1846-1860 ... 14   "   ... 3.72        "        "

or an average annual increase of a little less than 4 per cent in a
period of eighty-two years.

From 1860 to 1864 the increase was small, but from that year to the
end of Spanish domination the percentage of increase was larger than
in any of the preceding periods.

The treaty of Paris brought 894,302 souls under the protection of the
American flag. They consisted of 570,187 whites, 239,808 of mixed
race, and 75,824 negroes.


[Footnote 68: Flinter.]



After the cessation of the gold produce, when the colonists were
forced by necessity to dedicate themselves to agriculture, they met
with many adverse conditions:

The incursions of the Caribs, the hurricanes of 1530 and 1537, the
emigration to Peru and Mexico, the internal dissensions, and last, but
not least, the heavy taxes. The colonists had found the soil of Puerto
Rico admirably adapted to sugar-cane, which they brought from Santo
Domingo, where Columbus had introduced it on his second voyage, and
the nascent sugar industry was beginning to prosper and expand when a
royal decree imposing a heavy tax on sugar came to strangle it in its
birth. Bishop Bastidas called the Government's attention to the fact
in a letter dated March 20, 1544, in which he says: " ... The new tax
to be paid on sugar in this island, as ordained by your Majesty, will
still further reduce the number of mills, which have been diminishing
of late. Let this tax be suspended and the mills in course of
construction will be finished, while the erection of others will be

The prelate's efforts seem to have produced a favorable effect.
Treasurer Castellanos, in 1546, loaned 6,000 pesos for the
Government's account, to two colonists for the erection of two
sugar-cane mills. In 1548 Gregorio Santolaya built, in the
neighborhood of the capital, the first cane-mill turned by
water-power, and two mills moved by horse-power. Another water-power
mill was mounted in 1549 on the estate of Alonzo Perez Martel with the
assistance of 1,500 pesos lent by the king. Loans for the same purpose
continued to be made for years after.

But if the Government encouraged the sugar industry with one hand,
with the other it checked its development, together with that of other
agricultural industries appropriate to the island, by means of
prohibitive legislation, monopolies, and other oppressive measures.
The effects of this administrative stupidity were still patent a
century later. Bishop Fray Lopez de Haro wrote in 1644: " ... The only
crop in this island is ginger, and it is so depreciated that nobody
buys it or wants to take it to Spain.... There are many cattle farms
in the country, and 7 sugar mills, where the families live with their
slaves the whole year round."

Canon Torres Vargas, in his Memoirs, amplifies the bishop's statement,
stating that the principal articles of commerce of the island were
ginger, hides, and sugar, and he gives the location of the
above-mentioned 7 sugar-cane mills. The total annual produce of ginger
had been as much as 14,000 centals, but, with the war and excessive
supply, the price had gone down, and in the year he wrote (1646) only
4,000 centals had been harvested. He informs us, too, that cacáo had
been planted in sufficient quantity to send ship-loads to Spain
within four years. The number of hides annually exported to Spain was
8,000 to 10,000. Tobacco had begun to be cultivated within the last
ten years, and its exportation had commenced. He pronounces it better
than the tobacco of Havana, Santo Domingo, and Margarita, but not as
good as that of Barinas.

The cultivation of tobacco in Puerto Rico was permitted by a special
law in 1614, but the sale of it to foreigners was prohibited _under
penalty of death and confiscation of property._[69] These and other
stringent measures dictated in 1777 and 1784 by their very severity
defeated their own purpose, and the laws, to a great extent, remained
a dead letter.

The cultivation of cacáo in Puerto Rico did not prosper for the reason
that the plant takes a long time in coming to maturity, and during
that period is exceedingly sensible to the effects of strong winds,
which, in this island, prevail from July to October. The first
plantations being destroyed by hurricanes, few new plantations were

Of the other staple products of Puerto Rico, the most valuable,
coffee, was first planted in Martinique in 1720 by M. Declieux, who
brought the seeds from the Botanical Garden in Paris. The coco-palm
was introduced by Diego Lorenzo, a canon in the Cape de Verde Islands,
who also brought the first guinea-fowls; and, possibly, the plantain
species known in this island under the name of "guinéo" came from the
same part of the world. According to Oviedo, it was first planted in
Santo Domingo in 1516 by a monk named Berlangas.

Abbad gives the detailed agricultural statistics of the island in
1776, from which it appears that the cultivation of the new articles
introduced was general at the time, and that, under the influence of
climate and abundant pastures, the animal industry had become one of
the principal sources of wealth for the inhabitants.

There were in that year 5,581 farms, and 234 cattle-ranches (hatos).

On the farms or estates there were under cultivation:

     Sugar-cane              3,156 cuerdas[70]
     Plantains               8,315    "
     Coffee-trees        1,196,184
     Cotton-plants         103,591

On the cattle-ranches there were:

     Head of horned cattle          77,384
     Horses                         23,195
     Mules                           1,534
     Asses, swine, goats, and sheep 49,050

This was a comparatively large capital in stock and produce for a
population of 80,000 souls, but the reverend historian severely
criticizes the agricultural population of that day, and says of them:
" ... They scarcely know what implements are; ... they bring down a
tree, principally by means of fire; with a saber, which they call a
'machete,' they clear the jungle and clean the ground; with the point
of this machete, or a pointed stick, they dig the holes or furrows in
which they set their plants or sow their seeds. Thus they provide for
their subsistence, and when a hurricane or other mishap destroys their
crops, they supply their wants by fishing or collect edible roots.

"Indolence, rather than want of means, makes them confine their
cultivation to the level lands, which they abandon as soon as they
perceive that the fertility of the soil decreases, which happens very
soon, because they do not plow, nor do they turn over the soil, much
less manure it, so that the superficies soon becomes sterile; then
they make a clearing on some mountainside. Neither the knowledge of
the soil and climate acquired during many years of residence, nor the
increased facilities for obtaining the necessary agricultural
implements, nor the large number of cattle they possess that could be
used for agricultural purposes, nor the Government's dispositions to
improve the system of cultivation, have been sufficient to make these
islanders abandon the indolence with which they regard the most
important of all arts, and the first obligation imposed by God on
man--namely, the cultivation of the soil. They leave this to the
slaves, who are few and ill-fed, and know no more of agriculture than
their masters do; ... their great laziness, together with a silly,
baseless vanity, makes them look upon all manual labor as degrading,
proper only for slaves, and so they prefer poverty to doing honest
work. To this must be added their ambition to make rapid fortunes, as
some of them do, by contraband trading, which makes good sailors of
them but bad agriculturists.

"These are the reasons why they prefer the cultivation of produce that
requires little labor. Most proprietors have a small portion of their
land planted with cane, but few have made it their principal crop,
because of the expense of erecting a mill and the greater number of
slaves and implements required; yet this industry alone, if properly
fostered, would soon remove all obstacles to their progress.

"It is useless, therefore, to look for gardens and orchards in a
country where the plow is yet unknown, and which has not even made the
first step in agricultural development."

       *       *       *       *       *

Under the royal decree of 1815 commerce, both foreign and inland,
rapidly developed.

From the official returns made to the Government in 1828 to 1830,
Colonel Flinter drew up the following statement of the agricultural
wealth of the island in the latter year (1830):

     Wooden sugar-cane mills       1,277
     Iron sugar-cane mills           800
     Coffee estates with machinery   148
     Stills for distilling rum       340
     Brick ovens                      80
     Lime kilns                       45

_Land under Cultivation_

     Cane          14,803 acres.
     Plantains     30,706 "
     Rice          14,850 "
     Maize         16,194 "
     Tobacco        2,599 "
     Manioc         1,150 "
     Sweet potatoes 1,224 "
     Yams           6,696 "
     Pulse          1,100 "
     Horticulture      31 "

    Coffee-plants  16,750 acres      16,992,857
    Cotton-trees    3,079 "           3,079,310
    Coco-palms      2,402 "              60,050
    Orange-trees    3,430 "              85,760
    Aguacate-trees  2,230 "              55,760
    Pepper or chilli or aji trees           500

The live stock of the island in the same year consisted of:

     Cows         42,500 head.
     Bulls         6,720 "
     Oxen         20,910 "
     Horses       25,760 "
     Mares        27,210 "
     Asses           315 "
     Mules         1,112 "
     Sheep         7,560 "
     Goats         5,969 "
     Swine        25,087 "
     Turkeys       8,671 "
     Other fowls 838,454 "

This agricultural wealth of the island, houses, lands, and slaves
_not_ included, was valued at $37,993,600, and its annual produce at
$6,883,371, half of which was exported. These statistics may be
considered as only _approximately correct,_ as the returns made by the
proprietors to the Government, in order to escape taxation, were less
than the real numbers existing.

The natural wealth of Puerto Rico may be divided into agricultural,
pastoral, and sylvan. According to the Spanish Government measurements
the island's area is 2,584,000 English acres. Of these, there were

     Under cultivation in 1830, as above
       detailed                          117,244 acres.
     In pastures                         634,506   "
     In forests                          728,703   "
     Total _tax-paying lands_     1,480,453   "

The pasture lands on the north and east coasts are equal to the best
lands of the kind in the West Indies for the breeding and fattening of
cattle. On the south coast excessive droughts often parch the grass,
in which case the cattle are fed on cane-tops at harvest time. There
are excellent and nutritive native grasses of different species to be
found in every valley. The cattle bred in the island are generally

From 1865 to 1872 was the era of greatest prosperity ever experienced
in Puerto Rico under Spanish rule. The land was not yet exhausted,
harvests were abundant, labor cheap, the quality of the sugar produced
was excellent, prices were high, contributions and taxes were
moderate. There were no export duties, and although, during this
period, the growing manufacture of beet-root sugar was lowering the
price of "mascabado" all over the world, no effect was felt in Puerto
Rico, because it was the nearest market to the United States, where
the civil war had put an end to the annual product by the Southern
States of half a million bocoyes,[71] or about 675,000,000 gallons;
and the abolition of all import duties on sugar in England also
favored the maintenance of high prices for a number of years.

However, the production of beet-root sugar and the increase of cane
cultivation in the East[72] caused the fall in prices which, in
combination with the numberless oppressive restrictions imposed by the
Spanish Government, brought Puerto Rico to the verge of ruin.

"The misfortunes that afflict us," says Mr. James McCormick to the
Provincial Deputation in his official report on the condition of the
sugar industry in this island in 1880, "come under different forms
from different directions, and _every inhabitant knows what causes
have contributed to reduce this island, once prosperous and happy, to
its actual condition of prostration and anguish_."

That condition he paints in the following words: "Mechanical arts and
industries languish because there is no demand or profitable market
for its products; commerce is paralyzed by the obstacles placed in its
way; the country never has had sufficient capital and what there is
hides itself or is withdrawn from circulation; foreign capital has
been frightened away; Puerto Rican landowners are looked upon with
special disfavor and credit is denied them, unfortunately with good
reason, seeing the lamentable condition of our agriculture. The
production of sugar scarcely amounts to half of what it was in former
years. From the year 1873 a great proportion of the existing sugar
estates have fallen to ruin; in 8 districts their number has been
reduced from 104 to 38, and of these the majority are in an agonizing
condition. In other parts of the island many estates, in which large
capitals in machinery, drainage, etc., have been invested, have been
abandoned and the land is returning to its primitive condition of
jungle and swamp. Ten years ago the island exported 100,000 tons of
sugar annually, the product of 553 mills; during the last three years
(1878-1880) the average export has been 60,000 tons, the product of
325 mills that have been able to continue working. Everywhere in this
province the evidences of the ruin which has overtaken the planters
meet the eye, and nothing is heard but the lamentations of proprietors
reduced to misery and desperation."

This state of things continued notwithstanding the representations
made before the "high spheres of Government" by the leading men in
commerce and agriculture, by the press of all political colors, and by
Congress. The Minister of Ultramar in Madrid recognized the gravity of
the situation, and it is said that the lamentations of the people of
Puerto Rico found an echo even at the foot of the throne.

And there they died. Nothing was done to remedy the growing evil, and
the writer of the pamphlet, not daring openly to accuse the Government
as the only cause of the island's desperate situation, counsels
patience, and timidly expresses the hope that the exorbitant taxes
and contributions will be lowered; that economy in the Government
expenditures will be practised; that monopolies will be abolished, and
odious, oppressive practises of all kinds be discontinued.

Such was the condition of Puerto Rico in 1880. The Government's
oppressive practises, and they only, were the causes of the ruin of
this and all the other rich and beautiful colonies that destiny laid
at the feet of Ferdinand and Isabel four centuries ago.

The following statement of the proportion of sugar to each acre of
land under cane cultivation in the Antilles, compared with Puerto
Rico, may be of interest.

The computation of the average sugar produce per acre, according to
the best and most correct information from intelligent planters, who
had no motives for deception, was, in 1830:[73]

     For Jamaica    10 centals per acre.
     Dominica       10  "           "
     Granada        15  "           "
     St. Vincent    25  "           "
     Tobago         20  "           "
     Antigua         7-12  "       "
     Saint Kitts    20  "           "
     Puerto Rico    30  "           "


[Footnote 69: Leyes de Indias, Ley IV, Libro IV, Titulo XVIII.]

[Footnote 70: The actual cuerda is a square of 75 varas each side,
about one-tenth less than an acre. Abbad understood by a cuerda a
rectangle of 75 varas front by 1,500 varas depth, that is, 20 cuerdas
superficies of those actually in use.--_Acosta._]

[Footnote 71: The bocoy in Puerto Rico, equal from 12 to 20 centals of
sugar, according the quality.]

[Footnote 72: British India produced about that time over 1,500,000
tons of cane-sugar per annum.]

[Footnote 73: Colonel Flinter, An Account of the Island of Puerto
Rico. London, 1834]



Until the year 1813 the captains-general of Puerto Rico had the
superintendence of the revenues. The capital was the only authorized
port open to commerce. No regular books were kept by the authorities.
A day-book of duties paid and expended was all that was considered
necessary. Merchandise was smuggled in at every part of the coast,[74]
the treasury chest was empty, and the Government officers and troops
were reduced to a very small portion of their pay.

The total revenues of the island, including the old-established taxes
and contributions, produced 70,000 pesos, and half of that sum was
never recovered on account of the abuses and dishonesty that had been
introduced in the system of collection.

An intendancy was deemed necessary, and the Home Government appointed
Alexander Ramirez to the post in February, 1813. He promptly
introduced important reforms in the administration, and caused regular
accounts to be kept. He made ample and liberal concessions to
commerce, opened five additional ports with custom-houses, freed
agriculture from the trammels that had impeded its development, and
placed labor, instruments, seeds, and modern machinery within its
reach. He printed and distributed short essays or manuals on the
cultivation of different products and the systems adopted by other
nations, promoted the immigration of Canary Islanders, founded the
Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country, and edited the
Diario Económico de Puerto Rico, the first number of which appeared
February 28, 1814.

The first year after the establishment of these improvements,
notwithstanding the abolition of some of the most onerous taxes, the
revenues of the capital rose to $161,000, and the new custom-houses
produced $242,842.

Having placed this island's financial administration on a sound basis,
Ramirez was called upon by the Government to perform the same valuable
services for Cuba. Unfortunately, his successors here soon destroyed
the good effects of his measures by continual variations in the
system, and in the commercial tariffs. They attempted to prevent
smuggling by increasing the duties, the very means of encouraging
contraband trade, and the old mismanagement and malversations in the
custom-houses revived. One intendant, often from a mere spirit of
innovation, applied to the court for a decree canceling the
regulations of his predecessor, so that, from the concurring effects
of contraband and mismanagement, commerce suffered, and the country
became once more impoverished.

The revenues fell so low and the malversation of public money reached
such a height that the captain-general found it necessary in 1825 to
charge the military commanders of the respective districts with the
prevention of smuggling. He placed supervisors of known intelligence
and probity in each custom-house to watch and prevent fraud and
peculation. These measures almost doubled the amount of revenue in the
following year (1826).

As late as 1810 the imports in Puerto Rico exceeded three times the
sum of the produce exported. The difference was made up by the
"situados," or remittances in cash from Mexico, which began early in
the seventeenth century, when the repeated attacks on the island by
French and English privateers forced the Spanish Government to choose
between losing the island or fortifying it. The king chose the latter,
and made an assignment on the royal treasury of Mexico of nearly half
a million pesos per annum. With these subsidies all the fortifications
were constructed and the garrison and civil and military employees
were paid, till the insurrection in Mexico put a stop to the fall of
this pecuniary manna.

It was fortunate for Puerto Rico that it ceased. The people of the
island had become so accustomed to look to this supply of money for
the purchase of their necessities that they entirely neglected the
development of the rich resources in their fertile soil. When a
remittance arrived in due time, all was joy and animation; when it was
delayed, as was often the case, all was gloom and silence, and
recourse was had to "papeletas," a temporary paper currency or
promises to pay.

With the cessation of the "situados" the scanty resources of the
treasury soon gave out. The funds of the churches were first
requisitioned; then the judicial deposits, the property of people who
had died in the Peninsula, and other unclaimed funds were attached;
next, donations and private loans were solicited, and when all these
expedients were exhausted, the final resort of bankrupt communities,
paper money, was adopted (1812).

Then Puerto Rico's poverty became extreme. In 1814 there was at least
half a million paper money in circulation with a depreciation of 400
per cent. To avoid absolute ruin, the intendant had recourse to the
introduction of what were called "macuquinos," or pieces of rudely
cut, uncoined silver of inferior alloy, representing approximately the
value of the coin that each piece of metal stood for. With these he
redeemed in 1816 all the paper money that had been put in circulation;
but the emergency money gave rise to agioist speculation and remained
the currency long after it had served its purpose. It was not replaced
by Spanish national coin till 1857.

The royal decree of 1815, and the improvements in the financial
situation, as a result of the new administrative system established by
Ramirez, gave a strong impulse to foreign commerce. Though commerce
with the mother country remained in a languishing condition, because
the so-called "decree of graces" had fixed the import duty on Spanish
merchandise at 6 per cent _ad valorem_, while the valuations which
the custom-house officials made exceeded the market prices to such an
extent that many articles really paid 8 per cent and some 10, 12, and
even 15 per cent.

An estimate of the commerce of this island about the year 1830 divides
the total imports and exports which, in that year, amounted to
$5,620,786 among the following nations:

                                    Per cent.      Per cent.

     West Indian Islands imports      53-12 Exports  26
     United States imports            27-14    "     49
     Spanish imports                  12-18    "      7
     English imports                   2-34    "      6-12
     French imports                    2-58    "      6-58
     Other nations' imports            1-34    "      8-34

The American trade at that time formed nearly one-third of the whole
of the value of the imports and nearly half of all the exports.

An American consul resided at the capital and all the principal ports
had deputy consuls. The articles of importation from the United States
were principally timber, staves for sugar-casks, flour and other
provisions, and furniture.[75]

       *       *       *       *       *

The financial history of Puerto Rico commences about the middle of the
eighteenth century. In 1758 the revenues amounted to 6,858 pesos. In
1765, to 10,814, and in 1778 to 47,500. Their increase up to 1,605,523
in 1864 was due to the natural development of the island's resources,
which accompanied the increase of population; yet financial distress
was chronic all the time, and not a year passed without the
application of the supposed panacea of royal decrees and ordinances,
without the expected improvement.

From 1850 to 1864, for the first time in the island's history, there
happened to be a surplus revenue. The authorities wasted it in an
attempt to reannex Santo Domingo and in contributions toward the
expenses of the war in Morocco. The balance was used by the Spanish
Minister of Ultramar, the Government being of opinion that surpluses
in colonial treasuries were a source of danger. To avoid a plethora of
money contributions were asked for in the name of patriotism, which
nobody dared refuse, and which were, therefore, always liberally
responded to. Of this class was a contribution of half a million pesos
toward the expenses of the war with the Carlists to secure the
succession of Isabel II, and Sunday collections for the benefit of the
Spanish soldiers in Cuba, for the sufferers by the inundations in
Murcia, the earthquakes in Andalusia, etc. From 1870 to 1876 a series
of laws and ordinances relating to finances were promulgated. February
22d, a royal decree admitted Mexican silver coin as currency. December
3, 1880, another royal decree reformed the financial administration of
the island. This was followed in 1881 by instructions for the
collection of personal contributions. In 1882 the Intendant Alcázar
published the regulations for the imposition, collection, and
administration of the land tax; from 1882 to 1892 another series of
laws, ordinances, and decrees appeared for the collection and
administration of different taxes and contributions, and October 28,
1895, another royal decree withdrew the Mexican coin from circulation.
In the same year (March 15th) the reform laws were promulgated, which
were followed in the next year by the municipal law.[76]

In the meantime commerce languished. The excessively high export
duties on island produce imposed by Governor Sanz in 1868 to 1870
brought 600,000 pesos per annum into the treasury, but ruined
agriculture, and this lasted till the end of Spanish rule.

The directory of the Official Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and
Navigation of San Juan, at the general meeting of members in 1895,
reported that it had occupied itself during that year, through the
medium of the island's representative in Cortes, with the promised
tariff reform, but without result. Nor had its endeavors to obtain the
exchange of the Mexican coin still in circulation for Peninsular money
been successful on account of the opposition of those interested in
the maintenance of the system. The abolition of the so-called
"conciertos" of matches and petroleum had also occupied them, and in
this case successfully; but the directors complained of the apathy and
the indifference of the public in general for the objects which the
Chamber of Commerce was organized to advocate and promote, and they
state that within the last year the number of associates had

The Directors' report of January, 1897, was even more gloomy. They
complain of the want of interest in their proceedings on the part of
many of the leading commercial houses, of the lamentable condition of
commerce, of the inattention of their "mother," Spain, to the
plausible pretentions of this her daughter, animated though she was by
the most fervent patriotism.


[Footnote 74: Rafael Conty, subdelegate of the treasury of Aguadilla,
sailed round the island in a sloop in 1790 and confiscated eleven
vessels engaged in smuggling.]

[Footnote 75: For commercial statistics of Puerto Rico from 1813 to
1864, see Señor Acosta's interesting notes to Chapter XXVIII of
Abbad's history.]

[Footnote 76: _Vide_ Reseña del Estado Social, Económico é Industrial
de la Isla de Puerto Rico por el Dr. Cayetano Coll y Toste, 1899.]



In Chapter XXIII of this history we gave an extract from his
Excellency Alexander O'Reilly's report to King Charles IV, wherein,
referring to the intellectual status of the inhabitants of Puerto Rico
in 1765, he informs his Majesty that there were only two schools in
the whole island and that, outside of the capital and San German, few
knew how to read.

In the mother country, at that period, even primary instruction was
very deficient. It remained so for a long time. As late as 1838
reading, writing, and arithmetic only were taught in the best public
schools of Spain. The other branches of knowledge, such as geography,
history, physics, chemistry, natural history, could be studied in a
few ecclesiastical educational establishments.[77] The illiteracy of
the inhabitants of this, the least important of Spain's conquered
provinces, was therefore but natural, seeing that the conquerors who
had settled in it belonged to the most ignorant classes of an
illiterate country in an illiterate age. Something was done in Puerto
Rico by the Dominican and Franciscan friars in the way of preparatory
training for ecclesiastical callings. They taught Latin and philosophy
to a limited number of youths; the bishop himself gave regular
instruction in Latin.

A few youths, whose parents could afford it, were sent to the
universities of Carácas and Santo Domingo, where some of them
distinguished themselves by their aptitude for study. One of these,
afterward known as Father Bonilla, obtained the highest academic
honors in Santo Domingo.

From 1820 to 1823, under the auspices of a constitutional government,
intellectual life in Puerto Rico really began. A Mr. Louis Santiago
called public attention to the necessity of attending to primary
education. "The greatest evil," he said, "that which demands the
speediest remedy, is the general ignorance of the art of reading and
writing. It is painful to see the signatures of the alcaldes to public
documents." He wrote a pamphlet of instructions in the art of teaching
in primary schools, which was printed and distributed through the
interior of the island. The governor, Gonzalo Arostegui, addressed an
official note to the Provincial Deputation charging that body to
propose to him "without rest or interruption, and as soon as
possible," the means to establish primary schools in the capital and
in the towns of the interior; to the municipalities he sent a
circular, dated September 28, 1821, recommending them to facilitate
the coming to the capital of the teachers in their respective
districts who wished to attend, for a period of two months, a class in
the Lancasterian method of primary teaching, to be held in the Normal
School by Ramon Carpegna, the political secretary. A certain amount of
instruction, talent, and disposition for magisterial work was required
of the pupils, and those who already had positions as teachers could
assist at the two months' course without detriment to their salaries.

The fall of the constitutional government in Spain, brought about by
French intervention and the reaction that followed, extinguished the
light that had just begun to shine, and this unfortunate island was
again plunged into the intellectual darkness of the middle ages.
Persecution became fiercer than ever, and the citizens most
distinguished for their learning and liberal ideas had to seek safety
in emigration.

For the next twenty years the education of the youth of Puerto Rico
was entirely in the hands of the clergy. With the legacies left to
the Church by Bishop Arizmendi and other pious defuncts, Bishop Pedro
Gutierrez de Cos founded the Conciliar Seminary in 1831, and appointed
as Rector Friar Angel de la Concepción Vazquez, a Puerto Rican by
birth, educated in the Franciscan Convent of Carácas.

In the same year there came to Puerto Rico, as prebendary of the
cathedral, an ex-professor of experimental physics in the University
of Galicia, whose name was Rufo Fernandez. He founded a cabinet of
physics and a chemical laboratory, and invited the youth of the
capital to attend the lectures on these two sciences which he gave

Fray Angel, as he was familiarly called, the rector of the seminary,
at Dr. Rufo's suggestion, asked permission of the superior
ecclesiastical authorities to transfer the latter's cabinet and
laboratory to the seminary for the purpose of adding the courses of
physics and chemistry to the curriculum, but failed to obtain it, the
reasons given for the adverse decision being, "that the science of
chemistry was unnecessary for the students, who, in accordance with
the dispositions of the Council of Trent, were to dedicate themselves
to ecclesiastical sciences only." The rector, while expressing his
regret at the decision, adds: "I can not help telling you what I have
always felt--namely, that there is some malediction resting on the
education of youth in this island, which evokes formidable obstacles
from every side, though there are not wanting generous spirits ready
to make sacrifices in its favor." [78]

Some of these generous spirits had organized, as early as 1813, under
the auspices of Intendant Ramirez, the Economic Society of Friends of
the Country. Puerto Rico owes almost all its intellectual progress to
this society. Its aim was the island's moral and material advancement,
and, in spite of obstacles, it has nobly labored with that object in
view to the end of Spanish domination. From its very inception it
established a primary school for 12 poor girls, and classes in
mathematics, geography, French, English, and drawing, to which a class
of practical or applied mechanics was added later. In 1844 the society
asked and obtained permission from the governor, the Count of
Mirasol, to solicit subscriptions for the establishment and endowment
of a central college. The people responded with enthusiasm, and in
less than a month 30,000 pesos were collected.

The college was opened. In 1846 four youths, under the guidance of Dr.
Rufo, were sent to Spain to complete their studies to enable them to
worthily fill professorships in the central school. Two of them died
shortly after their arrival in Madrid. When the other two returned to
Puerto Rico in 1849 they found the college closed and the
subscriptions for its maintenance returned to the donors by order of
Juan de la Pezuela, Count Mirasol's successor in the governorship.

If the unfavorable opinion of the character of the Puerto Ricans to
which this personage gave expression in one of his official
communications was the motive for his proceeding in this case, it
would seem that he changed it toward the end of his administration,
for he founded a Royal Academy of Belles-Lettres, and a library which
was provided with books by occasional gifts from the public. He
introduced some useful reforms in the system of primary instruction,
and inaugurated the first prize competitions for poetical compositions
by native authors.

From the returns of the census of 1860 it appears that at that time
only 17-12 per cent of the male population of the island knew how to
read, and only 12-12 per cent of the female population. Four years
later, at the end of 1864 there were, according to official data,
98,817 families in Puerto Rico whose intellectual wants were supplied
by 74 public schools for boys and 48 for girls, besides 16 and 9
private schools for boys and girls respectively.

In 1854 General Norzagery, then governor, assisted by Andres Viña, the
secretary of the Royal Board of Commerce and Industry, had founded a
school of Commerce, Agriculture, and Navigation. After sixteen years
of existence, this establishment was unfavorably reported upon by
Governor Sanz, who wished to suppress it on account of the liberal
ideas and autonomist tendencies of its two principal professors, José
Julian Acosta (Abbad's commentator) and Ramon B. Castro. In the
preamble to a secret report sent by this governor to Madrid he says:
"This supreme civil government has always secured professors who, in
addition to the required ability for their position, possess the moral
and political character and qualities to form citizens, lovers of
their country, i.e., lovers of Puerto Rico as a Spanish province, _not
of Puerto Rico as an independent state annexed to North America_."

Female education had all along received even less attention than the
education of boys. Alexander Infiesta, in an article on the subject
published in the Revista in February, 1888, states, that according to
the latest census there were 399,674 females in the island, of whom
293,247 could neither read nor write, 158,528 of them being white
women and girls. The number of schools for boys was 408, with an
attendance of 18,194, and that for girls 127, with 7,183 pupils.

From the memorial published by the Director of the Provincial
Institute for Secondary Education, regarding the courses of study in
that establishment during the year 1888-'89, we learn that the number
of primary schools in the island had increased to 600, but, according
to Mr. Coll y Toste's Reseña, published in 1899, there were, among a
total population of 894,302 souls, only 497 primary schools in the
island at the time of the American occupation. The total attendance
was 22,265 pupils, 15,108 boys and 7,157 girls.


[Footnote 77: See Franco del Valle Atilés, Causas del atras
Intellectual del campesino Puertoriqueño. Revista Puertoriqueña, Año
II, tomo II, p. 7.]

[Footnote 78: Letter to Dr. Rufo Fernandez from Fray Angel de la
Concepcion Vazquez. See Acosta's notes to Abbad's history, pp. 412,
413, foot note.]



Books for the people were considered by the Spanish colonial
authorities to be of the nature of inflammable or explosive
substances, which it was not safe to introduce freely.

From their point of view, they were right. The Droits de l'homme of
Jean Jacques Rousseau, for example, translated into every European
language, had added more volunteers of all nationalities to the ranks
of the Spanish-American patriots than was generally supposed--and so,
books and printing material were subjected to the payment of high
import duties, and a series of annoying formalities, among which the
passing of the political and ecclesiastical censors was the most

The result among the poorer classes of natives was blank illiteracy. A
pall of profound ignorance hung over the island, and although, with
the revival of letters in the seventeenth century the light of
intellect dawned over western Europe, not a ray of it was permitted to
reach the Spanish colonies.

The ruling class, every individual of whom came from the Peninsula,
kept what books each individual possessed to themselves. To the people
all learning, except such as it was considered safe to impart, was
forbidden fruit.

Under these conditions it is not strange that the idea of founding
public libraries did not germinate in the minds of the more
intelligent among the Puerto Ricans till the middle of the nineteenth
century; whereas, the other colonies that had shaken off their
allegiance to the mother country, had long since entered upon the road
of intellectual progress with resolute step.

Collegiate libraries, however, had existed in the capital of the
island as early as the sixteenth century. The first of which we have
any tradition was founded by the Dominican friars in their convent. It
contained works on art, literature, and theology.

The next library was formed in the episcopal palace, or "casa
parochial," by Bishop Don Bernardo de Valbuena, poet and author of a
pastoral novel entitled the Golden Age, and other works of literary
merit. This library, together with that of the Dominicans, and the
respective episcopal and conventual archives were burned by the
Hollanders during the siege of San Juan in 1625.

The Franciscan friars also had a library in their convent (1660). The
books disappeared at the time of the community's dissolution in 1835.

Bishop Pedro Gutierres de Cos, who founded the San Juan Conciliar
Seminary in 1832, established a library in connection with it, the
remains of which are still extant in the old seminary building, but
much neglected and worm-eaten.

A library of a semipublic character was founded by royal order dated
June 19, 1831, shortly after the installation of the Audiencia in San
Juan. It was a large and valuable collection of books on juridical
subjects, which remained under the care of a salaried librarian till
1899, when it was amalgamated with the library of the College of

This last is a rich collection of works on jurisprudence, and the
exclusive property of the college, but accessible to professional men.
The library is in the former Audiencia building, now occupied by the
insular courts.

The period from 1830 to 1850 appears to have been one of greatest
intellectual activity in Puerto Rico. Toward its close Juan de la
Pezuela, the governor, founded the Royal Academy of Belles-Lettres, an
institution of literary and pedagogical character, with the functions
of a normal school. It was endowed with a modest library, but it only
lived till the year 1860, when, in consequence of disagreement between
the founder and the professors, the school was closed and the library
passed into the possession of the Economic Society of Friends of the

This, and the library of the Royal Academy, which the society had also
acquired, formed a small but excellent nucleus, and with, the produce
of the public subscription of 1884 it was enabled to stock its library
with many of the best standard works of the time in Spanish and
French, and open to the Puerto Ricans of all classes the doors of the
first long-wished-for public library.

Since then it has contributed in no small degree to the enlightenment
of the better part of the laboring classes in the capital, till it was
closed at the commencement of the war.

During the transition period the books were transferred from one
locality to another, and in the process the best works disappeared,
until the island's first civil governor, Charles H. Allen, at the
suggestion of Commissioner of Education Martin G. Brumbaugh, rescued
the remainder and made it the nucleus of the first _American_ free

The second Puerto Rican public library was opened by Don Ramon
Santaella, October 15, 1880, in the basement of the Town Hall. It
began with 400 volumes, and possesses to-day 6,361 literary and
didactic books in different languages.

The Puerto Rican Atheneum Library was established in 1876. Its
collection of books, consisting principally of Spanish and French
literature, is an important one, both in numbers and quality. It has
been enriched by accessions of books from the library of the extinct
Society of Friends of the Country. It is open to members of the
Atheneum only, or to visitors introduced by them.

The Casino Español possesses a small but select library with a
comfortable reading-room. Its collection of books and periodicals is
said to be the richest and most varied in the island. It was founded
in 1871.

The religious association known under the name of Conferences of St.
Vincent de Paul had a small circulating library of religious works
duly approved by the censors. The congregation was broken up in 1887
and the library disappeared.

The Provincial Institute of Secondary Education, which was located in
the building now occupied by the free library and legislature,
possessed a small pedagogical library which shared the same fate as
that of the Society of Friends of the Country.

The Spanish Public Works Department possessed another valuable
collection of books, mostly on technical and scientific subjects. A
number of books on other than technical subjects, probably from the
extinct libraries just referred to, have been added to the original
collection, and the whole, to the number of 1,544 volumes in excellent
condition, exist under the care of the chief of the Public Works

Besides the above specified libraries of a public and collegiate
character, there are some private collections of books in the
principal towns of the island. Chief among these is the collection of
Don Fernando Juncos, of San Juan, which contains 15,000 volumes of
classic and preceptive literature and social and economic science,
1,200 volumes of which bear the author's autographs.

The desire for intellectual improvement began to manifest itself in
the interior of the island a few years after the establishment of the
first public library in the capital. The municipality of Ponce founded
a library in 1894. It contains 809 bound volumes and 669 pamphlets in
English, German, French, and Spanish, many of them duplicates. The
general condition of the books is bad, and the location of the library
altogether unsuitable. There was a municipal appropriation of 350
pesos per annum for library purposes, but since 1898 it has not been

Mayaguez founded its public library in 1872. It possesses over 5,000
volumes, with a small archeological and natural history museum
attached to it.

Some of the smaller towns also felt the need of intellectual
expansion, and tried to supply it by the establishment of
reading-rooms. Arecibo, Véga-Baja, Toa-Alta, Yauco, Cabo-Rojo,
Aguadilla, Humacáo, and others made efforts in this direction either
through their municipalities or private initiative. A few only
succeeded, but they did not outlive the critical times that commenced
with the war, aggravated by the hurricane of August, 1898.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since the American occupation of the island, four public libraries
have been established. Two of them are exclusively Spanish, the
Circulating Scholastic Library, inaugurated in San Juan on February
22, 1901, by Don Pedro Carlos Timothe, and the Circulating Scholastic
Library of Yauco, established a month later under the auspices of S.
Egózene of that town. The two others are, one, largely English, the
Pedagogical Library, established under the auspices of the
Commissioner of Education, and the San Juan Free Library, to which Mr.
Andrew Carnegie has given $100,000, and which is polyglot, and was
formally opened to the public April 20, 1901. There is also a growing
number of libraries in the public schools. From the above data it
appears that, owing to the peculiar conditions that obtained in this
island, the people of Puerto Rico were very slow in joining the
movement of intellectual expansion which began in Spanish America in
the eighteenth century. They did so at last, unaided and with their
own limited resources, even before the obstacles placed in their way
by the Government were removed. If they have not achieved more, it is
because within the last few decades the island has been unfortunate in
more than one respect. Now that a new era has dawned, it may
reasonably be expected that the increased opportunities for
intellectual development afforded them will be duly appreciated and
taken advantage of by the people, and if we may judge from the
eagerness with which the youth of the capital reads the books of the
San Juan Free Library, it seems clear that the seed so recently sown
has fallen in fruitful soil.

       *       *       *       *       *

The history of the Press in Puerto Rico is short. The first printing
machine was introduced by the Government in 1807 for the purpose of
publishing the Official Gazette. No serious attempt at publication of
any periodical for the people was made till the commencement of the
second constitutional period (1820-'23), when, for the first time in
the island's history, public affairs could be discussed without the
risk of imprisonment or banishment. The right of association was also
recognized. The Society of Liberal Lovers of the Country and the
Society of Lovers of Science were formed about this time. The
Investigator and the Constitutional Gazette were published and gave
food for nightly discussions on political and social questions in the
coffee-house on the Marina.

The period of freedom of spoken and written thought was short, but an
impulse had been given which could not be arrested. In 1865 there were
eight periodicals published in the island. On September 29th of that
year a law regulating the publication of newspapers indirectly
suppressed half of them. It contained twenty articles, each more
stringent than the other. To obtain a license to publish or to
continue publishing a paper, a deposit of 2,000 crowns had to be made
to cover the fines that were almost sure to be imposed. The
publications were subject to the strictest censorship. They could not
appear till the proofs of each article had been signed by the censor,
and the whole process of printing and publishing was fenced in by such
minute and annoying regulations, the smallest infraction of which was
punished by such heavy fines that it was a marvel how any paper could
be published under such conditions. These conditions were relaxed a
decade or two later, and a number of publications sprang into
existence at once. When the United States Government took possession
of the island, there were 9 periodicals published in San Juan, 5 in
Ponce, 3 in Mayaguez, 1 in Humacáo, and a few others in different
towns of the interior.



In Catholic countries the monastic orders constitute the regular
clergy. The secular clergy is not bound by monastic rules. Both
classes exercise their functions independently, the former under the
authority of their respective superiors or generals, the latter under
the bishops.

When, after the return of Columbus from his first voyage, the
existence of a new world was demonstrated and preparations for
occupying it were made, the Pope, to assure the Christianization of
the inhabitants, gave to the monks of all orders who wished to go the
privilege, pertaining till then to the secular clergy exclusively, of
administering parishes and collecting tithes without subjection to the
authority of the bishops.

The Dominicans and the Franciscans availed themselves of this
privilege at once. There was rivalry for power and influence between
these two orders from the time of their first installation, and they
carried their quarrels with them to America, where their differences
of opinion regarding the enslaving and treatment of the Indians
embittered them still more. The Dominicans secured a footing in Santo
Domingo and in Puerto Rico almost to the exclusion of their rivals,
notwithstanding the king's recommendation to Ceron in 1511 to build a
monastery for Franciscans, whose doctrines he considered "salutary."

[Illustration: San Francisco Church, San Juan; the oldest church in
the city.]

Puerto Rico was scantily provided with priests till the year 1518,
when the treasurer, Haro, wrote to Cardinal Cisneros: "There are no
priests in the granges as has been commanded; only one in Capárra, and
one in San German. The island is badly served. Send us a goodly number
of priests or permission to pay them out of the produce of the

The "goodly number of priests" was duly provided. Immediately after
the transfer of the capital to its present site in 1521, the
Dominicans began the construction of a convent, which was nearly
completed in 1529, when there were 25 friars in it. They had acquired
great influence over Bishop Manso, and obtained many privileges and
immunities from him. Bishop Bastidas, Manso's successor, was less
favorably disposed toward them, and demanded payment of tithes of the
produce of their agricultural establishments. He reported to the king
in 1548: "There is a Dominican monastery here large enough for a city
of 2,000 inhabitants,[79] and there are many friars in it. They
possess farms, cattle, negroes, Indians, and are building horse-power
sugar-mills; meanwhile, I know that they are asking your Majesty for
alms to finish their church ... It were better to oblige them to sell
their estates and live in poverty as prescribed by the rules of their

The Franciscans came to Puerto Rico in 1534, but founded no convent
till 1585, when one of their order, Nicolas Ramos, was appointed to
the see of San Juan. Then they established themselves in "la Aguáda,"
and named the settlement San Francisco de Asis. Two years later it was
destroyed by the Caribs, and five of the brothers martyrized. No
attempt at reconstruction of the convent was made. The order abandoned
the island and did not return till 1642, when they obtained the Pope's
license to establish themselves in the capital. Like the Dominicans,
they soon acquired considerable wealth.

The privilege of administering parishes and collecting tithes, which
was the principal source of monastic revenues, was canceled by royal
schedule June 13, 1757. The monks continued in the full enjoyment of
their property till 1835, when all the property of the regular clergy
throughout the Peninsula and the colonies was expropriated by the
Government. In this island the convents were appropriated only after
long and tedious judicial proceedings, in which the Government
demonstrated that the transfer was necessary for the public good. Then
the convents were used--that of the Dominicans as Audiencia hall, that
of the Franciscans as artillery barracks. The intendancy took charge
of the administration of the estate of the two communities, the
mortmain was canceled, and the transfer duly legalized. A promised
indemnity to the two brotherhoods was never paid, but in 1897 a sum of
5,000 pesos annually was added to the insular budget, to be paid to
the clergy as compensation for the expropriated estate of the
Dominicans in San German. Succeeding political events prevented the
payment of this also. The last representatives in this island of the
two dispossessed orders died in San Juan about the year 1865.

Bishop Monserrate made an effort to reestablish the order of
Franciscans in 1875-'76. Only three brothers came to the island and
they, not liking the aspect of affairs, went to South America.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first head of the secular clergy in Puerto Rico was nominated in
1511. The Catholic princes besought Pope Julius II to make it a
bishopric, and recommended as its first prelate Alonzo Manso, canon of
Salamanca, doctor in theology, a man held in high esteem at court. His
Holiness granted the request, and designated the whole of the island
as the diocese, with the principal settlement in it as the see.

The subsequent conquests on the mainland kept adding vast territories
to this diocese till, toward the end of the eighteenth century, it
included the whole region extending from the upper Orinoco to the
Amazon, and from Guiana to the plains of Bogotá. Manso's successors
repeatedly represented to the king the absolute impossibility of
attending to the spiritual wants of "the lambs that were continually
added to the flock." They requested that the see might be transferred
to the mainland or that the diocese might be divided in two or more.
This was done in 1791, when the diocese of Guiana was created, and
Puerto Rico with the island of Vieyques remained as the original one.

The bishop came to San Juan in 1513, and at once began to dispose all
that was necessary to give splendor and good government to the first
episcopal seat in America. Unfortunately, he arrived at a time when
dissension, strife, and immorality were rampant; and when it became
known that he was authorized to collect his tithes _in specie_, the
opposition of the quarrelsome and insubordinate inhabitants became so
violent that the prelate could not exercise his functions, and was
forced to return to the Peninsula in 1515. He came back in 1519,
invested with the powers of a Provincial Inquisitor, which he
exercised till 1539, when he died and was buried in the cathedral,
where a monument with an alabaster effigy marked his tomb till 1625,
when it was destroyed by the Hollanders.

Rodrigo Bastidas, a native of Santo Domingo, was Manso's successor. He
was appointed Bishop of Coro in Venezuela in 1532, but solicited and
obtained the see of Puerto Rico in 1542. He was a man of great
capacity, virtuous and benevolent. He advised the suppression of the
Inquisition, asked the Government for facilities to educate the youth
and advance the agricultural interests of his diocese, and commenced
the construction of the cathedral. He died in Santo Domingo in 1561,
very old and very rich.

Friar Diego de Salamanca, of the order of Augustines, succeeded
Bastidas. He continued the construction of the cathedral, but soon
returned to the metropolis, leaving the diocese to the care of the
Vicar-General, Santa Olaya, till 1585, when the Franciscan friar
Nicolas Bamos was appointed to the see. He was the last Bishop of
Puerto Rico who united the functions of inquisitor with those of the
episcopate, and a zealous burner of heretics. After him the see
remained vacant for fourteen years; since then, to the end of the
eighteenth century there were 39 consecrated prelates, 9 of whom
renounced, or for some other reason did not take possession. The most
distinguished among the remaining 30 were: Bernardo Balbuena, poet and
author, 1623-'27; Friar Manuel Gimenez Perez, pious, active, and
philanthropist, 1770-'84; and Juan Alejo Arismendi, who, according to
the Latin inscription on his tomb, was an amiable, religious, upright,
zealous, compassionate, learned, decorous, active, leading,
benevolent, paternal man. Of the rest little more is known than their
names and the dates of their assumption of office and demise.

       *       *       *       *       *

The year 1842 was, for the secular clergy, one of anxiety for the
safety of their long and assiduously accumulated wealth. The members
to the number of 17 individuals, including the bishop, drew annual
stipends from the insular treasury to the amount of 36,888 pesos,
besides which they possessed and still possess a capital of over one
and a half millions of pesos, represented by: 1. Vacant chaplaincies.
2. Investments under the head Ecclesiastical Chapter. 3. Idem for
account of the Carmelite Sisterhood. 4. Legacies to saints for the
purpose of celebrating masses and processions in all the parishes of
the island. 5. Pious donations. 6. Fraternities and religious
associations for the worship of some special saint. 7. Revenues from
an institution known by the name of Third Orders. 8. Capital invested
by the founders of the Hospital of the Conception, the income of which
is mostly consumed by the nuns of that order. And 9. The
ecclesiastical revenues of different kinds in San German.

All this was put in jeopardy by the following decree:

"Doña Isabel II, by the grace of God and the Constitution of the
Spanish Monarchy, Queen of Spain, and during her minority Baldomero
Espartero, Duke of 'la Victoria' and Morella, Regent of the kingdom,
to all who these presents may see and understand, makes known that the
Cortes have decreed, and we have sanctioned, as follows:

"ARTICLE I. All properties of the secular clergy of whatever class;
rights or shares of whatever origin or denomination they may be, or
for whatever application or purpose they may have been given, bought,
or acquired, are national properties.

"ART. II. The properties, rights, and shares corresponding in any
manner to ecclesiastical unions or fraternities, are also national

"ART. III. All estates, rights, and shares of the cathedral,
collegiate and parochial clergy and ecclesiastical unions and
fraternities referred to in the preceding articles, are hereby
declared _for sale_."

       *       *       *       *       *
The 15 articles that follow specify the properties
in detail, the manner of sale, the disposition of the
products, administration of rents, etc.

The law was not carried into effect. Espartero, very popular at first,
by adopting the principles of the progressist party, forfeited the
support of the conservatives--that is, of the clerical party, and the
man is not born yet who can successfully introduce into Spain a
radical reform of the nature of the one he sanctioned with his
signature September 2, 1841. From that moment his overthrow was
certain. Narvaez headed the revolution against him, his own officers
and men abandoned him, and on July 30, 1843, he wrote his farewell
manifesto to the nation on board a British ship of war.


[Footnote 79: San Juan had only about 100 "vecinos"--that is, white




Bishop Manso, on his arrival in 1513, found Puerto Rico in a state
bordering on anarchy, and after vain attempts to check the prevalent
immorality and establish the authority of the Church, he returned to
Spain in 1519. The account he gave Cardinal Cisneros of the island's
condition suggested to the Grand Inquisitor the obvious remedy of
clothing the bishop with the powers of Provincial Inquisitor, which he

Diego Torres Vargas, the canon of the San Juan Cathedral, says in his
memoirs: "Manso was made inquisitor, and he, being the first, may be
said to have been the Inquisitor-General of the Indies; ... the
delinquents were brought from all parts to be burned and punished
here ... The Inquisition building exists till this day (1647), and until
the coming of the Hollanders in 1625 many sambenitos could be seen in
the cathedral hung up behind the choir."

These "sambenitos" were sacks of coarse yellow cloth with a large red
cross on them, and figures of devils and instruments of torture among
the flames of hell. The delinquents, dressed in one of these sacks,
bareheaded and barefooted, were made to do penance, or, if condemned
to be burned, marched to the place of execution. It is said that in
San Juan they were not tied to a stake but enclosed in a hollow
plaster cast, against which the faggots were piled,[80] so that they
were roasted rather than burned to death. The place for burning the
sinners was outside the gate of the fort San Cristobal. Mr. M.F.
Juncos believes that the prisons were in the lower part of the
Dominican Convent, later the territorial audience and now the supreme
court, but Mr. Salvador Brau thinks that they occupied a plot of
ground in the angle formed by Cristo Street and the "Caleta" of San

Of Nicolas Ramos, the last Bishop of Puerto Rico, who united the
functions of inquisitor with the duties of the episcopate, Canon
Vargas says: " ... He was very severe, burning and punishing, _as was
his duty_, some of the people whose cases came before him ..."

It seems that the records of the Inquisition in this island were
destroyed and the traditions of its doings suppressed, because nothing
is said regarding them by the native commentators on the island's
history. Only the names of a few of the leading men who came in
contact with the Tribunal have come down to us. Licentiate Sancho
Velasquez, who was accused of speaking against the faith and eating
meat in Lent, appears to have been Manso's first victim, since he died
in a dungeon. A clergyman named Juan Carecras was sent to Spain at the
disposition of the general, for the crime of practising surgery. In
the same year (1536) we find the treasurer, Blas de Villasante, in an
Inquisition dungeon, because, though married in Spain, he cohabited
with a native woman--an offense too common at that time not to leave
room for suspicion that the treasurer must have made himself obnoxious
to the Holy Office in some other way. In 1537, a judge auditor was
sent from the Española, but the parties whose accounts were to be
audited contrived to have him arrested by the officers of the
Inquisition on the day of his arrival. Doctor Juan Blazquez, having
attempted to correct some abuses committed by the Admiral's employees
in connivance with the Inquisition agents, suffered forty days'
imprisonment, and was condemned to hear a mass standing erect all the
time, besides paying a fine of 50 pesos.

These are the only cases on record. Only the walls of the Inquisition
building, could they speak, could reveal what passed within them from
the time of Manso's arrival in 1520 to the end of the sixteenth
century, when the West Indian Superior Tribunal was transferred to
Cartagena, and a special subordinate judge only was left in San Juan.
Bishop Rodrigo de Bastidas, who visited San Juan on a Government
commission in 1533, perceiving the abuses that were committed in the
inquisitor's name, proposed the abolition of the Holy Office; but the
odious institution continued to exist till 1813, when the
extraordinary Cortes of Cadiz removed, for a time, this blot on
Spanish history. The decree is dated February 22d, and accompanied by
a manifesto which is an instructive historical document in itself. It
shows that the Cortes dared not attempt the suppression of the dreaded
Tribunal without first convincing the people of the disconnection of
the measure with the religious question, and justifying it as one
necessary for the public weal.

"You can not doubt," they say, "that we endeavor to maintain in this
kingdom the Catholic, Apostolic, Roman religion, which you have the
happiness to profess; ... the deputies elected by you know, as do the
legislators of all times and all nations, that a social edifice not
founded on religion, is constructed in vain; ... the true religion
which we profess is the greatest blessing which God has bestowed on
the Spanish people; we do not recognize as Spaniards those who do not
profess it ... It is the surest support of all private and social
virtues, of fidelity to the laws and to the monarch, of the love of
country and of just liberty, which are graven in every Spanish heart,
which have impelled you to battle with the hosts of the usurper,
vanquishing and annihilating them, while braving hunger and nakedness,
torture, and death."

The Inquisition is next referred to. It is stated that in their
constant endeavor to hasten the termination of the evils that afflict
the Spanish nation, the people's representatives have first given
their attention to the Inquisition; that, with the object of
discovering the exact civil and ecclesiastical status of the Holy
Office, they have examined all the papal bulls and other documents
that could throw light on the subject, and have discovered that only
the Inquisitor-General had ecclesiastical powers; that the Provincial
Inquisitors were merely his delegates acting under his instructions;
that no supreme inquisitorial council had ever been instituted by
papal brief, and that the general, being with the enemy (the French
troops), no Inquisition really existed. From these investigations the
Cortes had acquired a knowledge of the mode of procedure of the
tribunals, of their history, and of the opinion of them entertained by
the Cortes of the kingdom in early days. " ... We will now speak
frankly to you," continues the document, "for it is time that you
should know the naked truth, and that the veil be lifted with which
false politicians have covered their designs.

"Examining the instructions by which the provincial tribunals were
governed, it becomes clear at first sight that the soul of the
institution was inviolable secrecy. This covered all the proceedings
of the inquisitors, and made them the arbiters of the life and honor
of all Spaniards, without responsibility to anybody on earth. They
were men, and as such subject to the same errors and passions as the
rest of mankind, and it is inconceivable that the nation did not exact
responsibility since, in virtue of the temporal power that had been
delegated to them, they condemned to seclusion, imprisonment, torture,
and death. Thus the inquisitors exercised a power which the
Constitution denies to every authority in the land save the sacred
person of the king.

"Another notable circumstance made the power of the
Inquisitors-General still more unusual; this was that, without
consulting the king or the Supreme Pontiff, they dictated laws,
changed them, abolished them, or substituted them by others, so that
there was within the nation a judge, the Inquisitor-General, whose
powers transcended those of the sovereign.

"Here now how the Tribunal proceeded with the offenders. When an
accusation was made, the accused were taken to a secret prison without
being permitted to communicate with parents, children, relations, or
friends, till they were condemned or absolved. Their families were
denied the consolation of weeping with them over their misfortunes or
of assisting them in their defense. The accused was not only deprived
of the assistance of his relations and friends, but in no case was he
informed of the name of his accuser nor of the witnesses who declared
against him; and in order that he might not discover who they were,
they used to truncate the declarations and make them appear as coming
from a third party.

"Some one will be bold enough to say that the rectitude and the
religious character of the inquisitors prevented the confusion of the
innocent with the criminal; but the experiences of many years and the
history of the Inquisition give the lie to such assurances. They show
us sage and saintly men in the Tribunal's dungeons. Sixtus IV himself,
who, at the request of the Catholic kings, had sanctioned the creation
of the Tribunal, complained strongly of the innumerable protests that
reached him from persecuted people who had been falsely accused of
heresy. Neither the virtue nor the position of distinguished men could
protect them. The venerable Archbishop of Grenada, formerly the
confessor of Queen Isabel, suffered most rigorous persecutions from
the inquisitors of Cordóva, and the same befell the Archbishop of
Toledo, Friar Louis de Leon, the venerable Avila, Father Siguenza, and
many other eminent men.

"In view of these facts, it is no paradox to say that _the ignorance,
the decadence of science, of the arts, commerce and agriculture, the
depopulation and poverty of Spain, are mainly due to the Inquisition._

"How the Inquisition could be established among such a noble and
generous people as the Spanish, will be a difficult problem for
posterity to solve. It will be more difficult still to explain how
such a Tribunal could exist for more than three hundred years.
Circumstances favored its establishment. It was introduced under the
pretext of restraining the Moors and the Jews, who were obnoxious to
the Spanish people, and who found protection in their financial
relations with the most illustrious families of the kingdom. With such
plausible motives the politicians of the time covered a measure which
was contrary to the laws of the monarchy. Religion demanded it as a
protection, and the people permitted it, though not without strong
protest. As soon as the causes that called the Inquisition into
existence had ceased, the people's attorneys in Cortes demanded the
establishment of the legal mode of procedure. The Cortes of Valladolid
of 1518 and 1523 asked from the king that in matters of religion the
ordinary judges might be declared competent, and that in the
proceedings the canons and common codes might be followed; the Cortes
of Saragossa asked the same in 1519, and the kings would have acceded
to the will of the people, expressed through their representatives,
especially in view of the indirect encouragement to do so which they
received from the Holy See, but for the influence of those with whom
they were surrounded who had an interest in the maintenance of the
odious institution."

The manifesto terminates with an assurance to the Spanish people that,
under the new law, heresy would not go unpunished; that, under the new
system of judicial proceedings, the innocent would no longer be
confounded with the criminal. " ... There will be no more voluntary
errors, no more suborned witnesses, offenders will henceforth be
judged by upright magistrates in accordance with the sacred canons and
the civil code ... Then, genius and talent will display all their
energies without fear of being checked in their career by intrigue and
calumny; ... science, the arts, agriculture, and commerce will
flourish under the guidance of the distinguished men who abound in
Spain ... The king, the bishops, all the venerable ecclesiastics will
instruct the faithful in the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion without
fear of seeing its beauty tarnished by ignorance and superstition,
and, who knows, this decree may contribute to the realization, some
day, of religious fraternity among all nations!"

From this beautiful dream the Cortes were rudely awakened the very
next year when King Ferdinand VII, replaced on his throne by the
powers who formed the holy alliance, entered Madrid surrounded by a
host of retrograde, revengeful priests. Then the Regency, the Cortes,
the Constitution were ignored. The deputies were the first to suffer
exile, imprisonment, and death in return for their loyalty and
liberalism; the public press was silenced; the convents reopened,
municipalities and provincial deputations abolished, the Jesuits
restored, the Inquisition reestablished, and priestcraft once more
spread its influence over the mental and social life of a naturally
generous, brave, and intelligent people.


[Footnote 80: Neumann, p. 205.]



The proceedings in the formation of a Spanish settlement in the
sixteenth century were the same everywhere. For the choice of a site
the presence of gold was a condition _sine quâ non_, without gold, no
matter how beautiful or fertile the region, no settlement was made.

When a favorable locality was found the first thing done was to
construct a fort, because the natives, friendly disposed at first,
were not long in becoming the deadly enemies of the handful of
strangers who constituted themselves their masters. The next requisite
was a church or chapel in which to invoke the divine blessing on the
enterprise, or maybe to appease the divine wrath at the iniquities
committed. Last, but certainly not least in importance, came the
smelting-house, where the King of Spain's share of the gold was

Around these the settlers grouped their houses or huts as they

The first settlement on this island was made in 1508, on the north
coast, at the distance of more than a league from the present port of
San Juan, the space between being swampy. Ponce called it Capárra.
When the promising result of Ponce's first visit to the island was
communicated to King Ferdinand by Ovando, the Governor of la Española,
his Highness replied in a letter dated Valladolid, September 15, 1509:
"I note the good services rendered by Ponce and that he has not gone
to settle the island for want of means. Now that they are being sent
from here in abundance, let him go at once with as many men as he
can." To Ponce himself the king wrote: "I have seen your letter of
August 16th. Be very diligent in the search for gold-mines. Take out
as much as possible, smelt it in la Española and remit it instantly.
Settle the island as best you can. Write often and let me know what is
needed and what passes."

Armed with these instructions, and with his appointment as governor
_ad interim_, Ponce returned to San Juan in February, 1510, with his
wife and two daughters, settled in Capárra, where, before his
departure in 1509, he had built a house of stamped earth (tapia), and
where some of the companions of his first expedition had resided ever
since. Ponce's house, afterward built of stone, served as a fort. A
church or chapel existed already, and we know that there was a
smelting-house, because we read that the first gold-smelting took
place in Capárra in October, 1510, and that the king's one-fifth came
to 2,645 pesos.

[Illustration: Plaza Alphonso XII and Intendencia Building, San Juan.]

With the reinstatement of Ceron and Diaz, complaints about the
distance of the settlement from the port, and its unhealthy location,
soon reached the king's ears, accompanied by requests for permission
to transfer it to an islet near the shore. No action was taken. In
November, 1511, the monarch wrote to Ceron: "Ponce says that he
founded the town of Capárra in the most favorable locality of the
island. I fear that you want to change it. You shall not do so without
our special approval. If there is just reason for moving you must
first inform me."

Capárra remained for the time the only settlement, and was honored
with the name of "City of Puerto Rico." A municipal council was
installed, and the king granted the island a coat of arms which
differed slightly from that used by the authorities till lately.

The next settlement was made on the south shore, at a place named
Guánica, "where there is a bay," says Oviedo, "which is one of the
best in the world, but the mosquitoes were so numerous that they alone
were sufficient to depopulate it." [81] The Spaniards then moved to
Aguáda, on the northwestern shore, and founded a settlement to which
they gave the name of their leader Soto Mayor.

This was a young man of aristocratic birth, ex-secretary of King
Philip, surnamed "the Handsome." He had come to the Indies with a
license authorizing him to traffic in captive Indians, and Ponce,
wishing, no doubt, to enlist the young hidalgo's family influence at
the court in his favor, made him high constable (_alguacil mayor_) of
the southern division (June, 1510).

The new settlement's existence was short. It was destroyed by the
Indians in the insurrection of February of the following year, when
Christopher Soto Mayor and 80 more of his countrymen, who had
imprudently settled in isolated localities in the interior, fell
victims of the rage of the natives.

Diego Columbus proposed the reconstruction of the destroyed
settlement, with the appellation of San German. The king approved, and
near the end of the year 1512, Miguel del Torro, one of Ponce's
companions, was delegated to choose a site. He fixed upon the bay of
Guayanilla, eastward of Guánica, and San German became the port of
call for the Spanish ships bound to Pária. Its proximity to the "pearl
coast," as the north shore of Venezuela was named, made it the point
of departure for all who wished to reach that coast or escape from the
shores of poverty-stricken Puerto Rico--namely, the dreamers of the
riches of Peru, those who, like Sedeño, aspired to new conquests on
the mainland, or crown officers who had good reasons for wishing to
avoid giving an account of their administration of the royal revenues.
The comparative prosperity which it enjoyed made San German the object
of repeated attacks by the French privateers. It was burned and
plundered several times during the forty-three years of its existence,
till one day in September, 1554, three French ships of the line
entered the port and landed a detachment of troops who plundered and
destroyed everything to a distance of a league and a half into the
interior. From that day San German, founded by Miguel del Torro,
ceased to exist.

The town with the same name, existing at present on the southwest
coast, was founded in 1570 by Governor Francisco Solis with the
remains of the ill-fated settlement on the bay of Guayanilla. The
Dominican friars had a large estate in this neighborhood, and the new
settlement enhanced its value. Both the governor and the bishop were
natives of Salamanca, and named the place New Salamanca, but the name
of New San German has prevailed. In 1626 the new town had 50 citizens

_San Juan_.--Licentiate Velasquez, one of the king's officers at
Capárra, wrote to his Highness in April, 1515: " ... The people of
this town wish to move to an islet in the port. I went to see it with
the town council and it looks well"; and some time later: " ... We
will send a description of the islet to which it is convenient to
remove the town of Puerto Rico."

Ponce opposed the change. His reasons were that the locality of
Capárra was dry and level, with abundance of wood, water, and pasture,
and that most of the inhabitants, occupied as they were with
gold-washing, had to provide themselves with provisions from the
neighboring granges. He recognized that the islet was healthier, but
maintained that the change would benefit only the traders.

The dispute continued for some time. Medical certificates were
presented declaring Capárra unhealthy. The leading inhabitants
declared their opinion in favor of the transfer. A petition was signed
and addressed to the Jerome friars, who governed in la Española, and
they ordered the transfer in June, 1519. Ponce was permitted to
remain in his stone house in the abandoned town as long as he liked.
In November, 1520, Castro wrote to the emperor expressing his
satisfaction with the change, and asked that a fort and a stone
smelting-house might be constructed, because the one in use was of
straw and had been burned on several occasions. Finally, in 1521, the
translation of the capital of Puerto Rico to its present site was
officially recognized and approved.

There were now two settlements in the island. There were 35 citizens
in each in 1515, but the gold produced attracted others, and in 1529
the Bishop of la Española reported that there were 120 houses in San
Juan, "some of stone, the majority of straw. The church was roofed
while I was there." He says, "a Dominican monastery was in course of
construction, nearly finished, with more than 125 friars in it."

During the next five years the gold produce rapidly diminished; the
Indians, who extracted it, escaped or died. Tempests and epidemics
devastated the land. The Caribs and the French freebooters destroyed
what the former spared. All those who could, emigrated to Mexico or
Peru, and such was the depopulated condition of the capital, that
Governor Lando wrote in 1534: "If a ship with 50 men were to come
during the night, they could land and kill all who live here."

With the inhabitants engaged in the cultivation of sugar-cane, some
improvement in their condition took place. Still, there were only 130
citizens in San Juan in 1556, and only 30 in New San German. In 1595,
when Drake appeared before San Juan with a fleet of 26 ships, the
governor could only muster a few peons and 50 horsemen, and but for
the accidental presence of the Spanish frigates, Puerto Rico would
probably be an English possession to-day. It _was_ taken by the Duke
of Cumberland four years later, but abandoned again on account of the
epidemic that broke out among the English troops. When the Hollanders
laid siege to the capital in 1625 there were only 330 men between
citizens and jíbaros that could be collected for the defense. In 1646
there were 500 citizens and 400 houses in San Juan, and 200 citizens
in New San German. Arecibo and Coámo had recently been founded.

Scarcely any progress in the settlement of the country was made during
the remaining years of the seventeenth century. Toward the middle of
the eighteenth century great steps in this direction had been made.
From Governor Bravo de Rivera's list of men fit for militia service,
we discover that in 1759 there were 18 new settlements or towns in the
island with a total of 4,559 men able to carry arms; exclusive of San
Juan and San German, they were:

     Ponce      with    356   men.
     Aguáda     with    564    "
     Manatí       "     357    "
     Añasco       "     460    "
     Yauco        "     164    "
     Coámo        "     342    "
     La Tuna      "     104    "
     Arecibo      "     647    "
     Utuado       "     126    "
     Loiza        "     179    "
     Toa-Alta     "     188    "
     Toa-Baja     "     294    "
     Piedras      "     104    "
     Bayamón      "     256    "
     Cáguas       "     100    "
     Guayama      "     211    "
     Rio Piedras with    46    "
     Cangrejos   with   120    "

The oldest of these settlements is

_La Aguáda_.--The name signifies "place at which water is taken," and
_Aguadilla_, which is to the north of the former and the head of the
province, is merely the diminutive of Aguáda. The first possesses
abundant springs of excellent water, one of them distant only five
minutes from the landing-place. In Aguadilla a famous spring rises in
the middle of the town and runs through it in a permanent stream.

In 1511 the king directed his officers in Seville to make all ships,
leaving that port for the Indies, call at the island of San Juan in
order to make the Caribs believe that the Spanish population was much
larger than it really was, and thus prevent or diminish their attacks.
The excellence of the water which the ships found at Aguáda made it
convenient for them to call, and the Spanish ships continued to do so
long after the need of frightening away the Caribs had passed.

The first regular settlement was founded in 1585 by the Franciscan
monks, who named it San Francisco de Asis. The Caribs surprised the
place about the year 1590, destroyed the convent, and martyrized five
of the monks, which caused the temporary abandonment of the
settlement. It was soon repeopled, notwithstanding the repeated
attacks of Caribs and French and English privateers. Drake stopped
there to provide his fleet with water in 1595. Cumberland did the same
four years later. The Columbian insurgents attempted a landing in 1819
and another in 1825, but were beaten off. Their valiant conduct on
these occasions, and their loyalty in contributing a large sum of
money toward the expenses of the war in Africa, earned for their
town, from the Home Government, the title of "unconquerable" (villa
invicta) in 1860.

Aguáda, or rather the mouth of the river Culebrinas, which flows into
the sea near it, is the place where Columbus landed in 1493. The
fourth centenary of the event was commemorated in 1893 by the
erection, on a granite pedestal, of a marble column, 11 meters high,
crowned with a Latin cross. On the pedestal is the inscription:

     19th of November

_Loiza._--Along the borders of the river which bears this name there
settled, about the year 1514, Pedro Mexia, Sancho Arángo, Francisco
Quinaós, Pedro Lopez, and some other Spaniards, with their respective
Indian laborers. In one of the raids of the Indians from Vieyques or
Aye-Aye, which were so frequent at the time, a cacique named Cacimár
met his death at the hands of Arángo. The fallen chief's brother
Yaureibó, in revenge, prepared a large expedition, and penetrating at
night with several pirogues full of men by way of the river to within
a short distance of the settlement, fell upon it and utterly destroyed
it, killing many and carrying off others. Among the killed were Mexia
and his Indian concubine named Louisa or Heloise. Tradition says that
this woman, having been advised by some Indian friend of the intended
attack, tried to persuade her paramour to flee. When he refused, she
scorned his recommendation to save herself and remained with him to
share his fate.

In the relation of this episode by the chroniclers, figures also the
name of the dog Becerrillo (small calf), a mastiff belonging to
Arángo, who had brought the animal from the Española, where Columbus
had introduced the breed on his second voyage. In the fight with the
Indians Arángo was overpowered and was being carried off alive, when
his dog, at the call of his master, came bounding to the rescue and
made the Indians release him. They sprang into the river for safety,
and the gallant brute following them was shot with a poisoned

_Arecibo_ is situated on the river of that name. It was founded by
Felipe de Beaumont in 1616, with the appellation San Felipe de

_Fajardo._--Governor Bravo de Rivero, with a view to found a
settlement on the east coast, detached a number of soldiers from their
regiment and gave to them and some other people a caballeria[83] of
land each, in the district watered by the river Fajardo. Alexander
O'Reilly, the king's commissioner, who visited the settlement in 1765,
found 474 people, and wrote: " ...They have cleared little ground and
cultivated so little that they are still in the very commencements.
The only industry practised by the inhabitants is illicit trade with
the Danish islands of Saint Thomas and Saint Cross. The people of
Fajardo are the commission agents for the people there. What else
could be expected from indolent soldiers and vagabonds without any
means of clearing forests or building houses? If no other measures are
adopted this settlement will remain many years in the same unhappy
condition and be useful only to foreigners." In 1780 there were 243
heads of families in the district; the town proper had 9 houses and a

With regard to the remaining settlements mentioned in Governor Bravo
de Rivero's list, there are no reliable data.

From 1759, the year in which a general distribution of Government
lands was practised and titles were granted, to the year 1774, in
which Governor Miguel Muesas reformed or redistributed some of the
urban districts, many, if not most of the settlements referred to were
formed or received the names they bear at present.


[Footnote 81: The first landing of the American troops was effected
here on July 25, 1898.]

[Footnote 82: These two episodes have given rise to several fantastic
versions by native writers.]

[Footnote 83: Ten by twenty "cuerdas." The cuerda is one-tenth less
than an English acre.]



1509 TO 1536

If a systematic exploration were practised to-day, by competent
mineralogists, of the entire chain of mountains which intersects the
island from east to west, it is probable that lodes of gold-bearing
quartz or conglomerate, worth working, would be discovered. Even the
alluvium deposits along the banks of the rivers and their tributaries,
as well as the river beds, might, in many instances, be found to

The early settlers compelled the Indians to work for them. These poor
creatures, armed with the simplest tools, dug the earth from the river
banks. Their wives and daughters, standing up to their knees in the
river, washed it in wooden troughs. When the output diminished another
site was chosen, often before the first one was half worked out. The
Indians' practical knowledge of the places where gold was likely to be
found was the Spanish gold-seeker's only guide, the Indians' labor the
only labor employed in the collection of it.

As for the mountains, they have never been properly explored. The
Indians who occupied them remained in a state of insurrection for
years, and when the mountain districts could be safely visited at
last, the _auri sacra fames_ had subsided. The governors did not
interest themselves in the mineral resources of the island, and the
people found it too difficult to provide for their daily wants to go
prospecting. So the surface gold in the alluvium deposits was all that
was collected by the Spaniards, and what there still may be on the
bed-rocks of the rivers or in the lodes in the mountains from which it
has been washed, awaits the advent of modern gold-seekers.

The first samples of gold from Puerto Rico were taken to the Española
by Ponce, who had obtained them from the river Manatuabón, to which
the friendly cacique Guaybána conducted him on his first visit (1508).
This river disembogues into the sea on the south coast near Cape
Malapascua; but it appears that the doughty captain also visited the
north coast and found gold enough in the rivers Cóa and Sibúco to
justify him in making his headquarters at Capárra, which is in the
neighborhood. That gold was found there in considerable quantities is
shown by the fact that in August of the same year of Ponce's return to
the island (he returned in February, 1509), 8,975 pesos corresponded
to the king's fifth of the first _washings_. The first _smelting_ was
practised October 26, 1510. The next occurred May 22, 1511, producing
respectively 2,645 and 3,043 gold pesos as the king's share. Thus, in
the three first years the crown revenues from this source amounted to
14,663 gold pesos, and the total output to 73,315 gold pesos, which,
at three dollars of our money per peso, approximately represented a
total of $219,945 obtained from the rivers in the neighborhood of
Capárra alone.

In 1515 a fresh discovery of gold-bearing earth in this locality was
reported to the king by Sancho Velasquez, the treasurer, who wrote on
April 27th: " ... At 4 leagues' distance from here rich gold deposits
have been found in certain rivers and streams. From Reyes (December
4th) to March 15th, with very few Indians, 25,000 pesos have been
taken out. It is expected that the output this season will be 100,000

The streams in the neighborhood of San German, on the south coast, the
only other settlement in the island at the time, seem to have been
equally rich. The year after its foundation by Miguel del Toro the
settlers were able to smelt and deliver 6,147 pesos to the royal
treasurer. The next year the king's share amounted to 7,508 pesos, and
Treasurer Haro reported that the same operation for the years 1517 and
1518 had produced $186,000 in all--that is, 3,740 for the treasury.

A good idea of the island's mineral and other resources at this period
may be formed from Treasurer Haro's extensive report to the
authorities in Madrid, dated January 21, 1518.

" ... Your Highness's revenues," he says, "are: one-fifth of the gold
extracted and of the pearls brought by those who go (to the coast of
Venezuela) to purchase them, the salt produce and the duties on
imports and exports. Every one of the three smeltings that are
practised here every two years produces about 250,000 pesos, in San
German about 186,000 pesos. But the amounts fluctuate.

"The product of pearls is uncertain. Since the advent of the Jerome
fathers the business has been suspended until the arrival of your
Highness. Two caravels have gone now, but few will go, because the
fathers say that the traffic in Indians is to cease and the greatest
profit is in that ... On your Highness's estates there are 400 Indians
who wash gold, work in the fields, build houses, etc.; ... they
produce from 1,500 to 2,000 pesos profit every gang (demora).... I
send in this ship, with Juan Viscaino, 8,000 pesos and 40 marks of
pearls. There remain in my possession 17,000 pesos and 70 marks of
pearls, which shall be sent by the next ship in obedience to your
Highness's orders, not to send more than 10,000 pesos at a time. The
pearls that go now are worth that amount. Until the present we sent
only 5,000 pesos' worth of pearls at one time."

The yearly output of gold fluctuated, but it continued steadily, as
Velasquez wrote to the emperor in 1521, when he made a remittance of
5,000 pesos. Six or seven years later, the placers, for such they
were, were becoming exhausted. Castellanos, the treasurer, wrote in
1518 that only 429 pesos had been received as the king's share of the
last two years' smelting. Some new deposit was discovered in the river
Daguáo, but it does not seem to have been of much importance. From the
year 1530 the reports of the crown officers are full of complaints of
the growing scarcity of gold; finally, in 1536, the last remittance
was made; not, it may be safely assumed, because there was no more
gold in the island, but because those who had labored and suffered in
its production, had succumbed to the unaccustomed hardships imposed on
them and to the cruel treatment received from their sordid masters.

Besides the river mentioned, the majority of those which have their
sources in the mountains of Luquillo are more or less auriferous.
These are: the Rio Prieto, the Fajardo, the Espíritu Santo, the Rio
Grande, and, especially, the Mameyes. The river Loiza also contains
gold, but, judging from the traces of diggings still here and there
visible along the beds of the Mavilla, the Sibúco, the Congo, the Rio
Negro, and Carozal, in the north, it would seem that these rivers and
their affluents produced the coveted metal in largest quantities. The
Duey, the Yauco, and the Oromico, or Hormigueros, on the south coast
are supposed to be auriferous also, but do not seem to have been

The metal was and is still found in seed-shaped grains, sometimes of
the weight of 2 or 3 pesos. Tradition speaks of a nugget found in the
Fajardo river weighing 4 ounces, and of another found in an affluent
of the Congo of 1 pound in weight.

_Silver_.--In 1538 the crown officers in San Juan wrote to the Home
Government: " ... The gold is diminishing. Several veins of lead ore
have been discovered, from which some silver has been extracted. The
search would continue if the concession to work these veins were given
for ten years, with 1.20 or 1.15 royalty." On March 29th of the
following year the same officers reported: " ... Respecting the silver
ores discovered, we have smolten some, but no one here knows how to
do it. Veins of this ore have been discovered in many parts of the
island, but nobody works them. We are waiting for some one to come who
knows how to smelt them."

The following extract from the memoirs and documents left by Juan
Bautista Muñoz, gives the value in "gold pesos"[84] of the bullion and
pearls, corresponding to the king's one-fifth share of the total
produce remitted to Spain from this island from the year 1509 to 1536:

     In 1509, gold pesos   8,975
        1510,     "          2,645
        1511,     "         10,000
        1512,     "          3,043
        1513,     "         27,291
        1514,     "         18,000
        1515,     "         17,000
        1516,     "         11,490
        1517-18,  "         38,497
        1519,     "         10,000
        1520,     "         35,733
     In 1521,     "         10,000
        1522,     "          7,979
        1523-29,  "         40,000
        1530,     "         12,440
        1531,     "          6,500
        1532,     "          9,000
        1533,     "          4,000
        1534,     "          8,500
        1535,     "          1,848
        1536,     "         10,000
        Total, 15 share   277,941

The entire output for this period was 1,389,705 gold pesos, or
$4,169,115 Spanish coin of to-day, as the total produce in gold and
pearls of the island of San Juan de Puerto Rico during the first
twenty-seven years of its occupation by the Spaniards.


[Footnote 84: Washington Irving estimates the value of the "gold peso"
of the sixteenth century at $3 Spanish money of our day.]



1515 TO 1899

Whoever has witnessed the awful magnificence of what the primitive
inhabitants of the West Indian islands called _ou-ra-cán,_ will never
forget the sense of his own utter nothingness and absolute
helplessness. With the wind rushing at the rate of 65 or more miles an
hour, amid the roar of waves lashed into furious rolling mountains of
water, the incessant flash of lightning, the dreadful roll of thunder,
the fierce beating of rain, one sees giant trees torn up by the roots
and man's proud constructions of stone and iron broken and scattered
like children's toys.

The tropical latitudes to the east and north of the West Indian
Archipelago are the birthplace of these phenomena. According to Mr.
Redfield[85] they cover simultaneously an extent of surface from 100
to 500 miles in diameter, acting with diminished violence toward the
circumference and with increased energy toward the center of this

In the Weather Bureau's bulletin cited, there is a description of the
most remarkable and destructive among the 355 hurricanes that have
swept over the West Indies from 1492 to 1899. Not a single island has
escaped the tempest's ravages. I have endeavored in vain to make an
approximate computation of the human life and property destroyed by
these visitations of Providence. Such a computation is impossible when
we read of entire towns destroyed not once but 6, 8, and 10 times; of
crops swept away by the tempest's fury, and the subsequent starvation
of untold thousands; of whole fleets of ships swallowed up by the sea
with every soul on board, and of hundreds of others cast on shore like
coco shards.

To give an idea of the appalling disasters caused by these too oft
recurring phenomena, the above-mentioned bulletin gives Flammarion's
description of the great hurricane of 1780.[86]

"The most terrible cyclone of modern times is probably that which
occurred on October 10, 1780, which has been specially called the
great hurricane, and which seems to have embodied all the horrible
scenes that attend a phenomenon of this kind. Starting from Barbados,
where trees and houses were all blown down, it engulfed an English
fleet anchored before St. Lucia, and then ravaged the whole of that
island, where 6,000 persons were buried beneath the ruins. From thence
it traveled to Martinique, overtook a French transport fleet and sunk
40 ships conveying 4,000 soldiers. The vessels _disappeared_."

Such is the laconic language in which the governor reported the
disaster. Farther north, Santo Domingo, St. Vincent, St. Eustatius,
and Puerto Rico were devastated, and most of the vessels that were
sailing in the track of the cyclone were lost with all on board.
Beyond Puerto Rico the tempest turned northeast toward Bermuda, and
though its violence gradually decreased, it nevertheless sunk several
English vessels. This hurricane was quite as destructive inland. Nine
thousand persons perished in Martinique, and 1,000 in St. Pierre,
where not a single house was left standing, for the sea rose to a
height of 25 feet, and 150 houses that were built along the shore were
engulfed. At Port Royal the cathedral, 7 churches, and 1,400 houses
were blown down; 1,600 sick and wounded were buried beneath the ruins
of the hospital. At St. Eustatius, 7 vessels were dashed to pieces on
the rocks, and of the 19 which lifted their anchors and went out to
sea, only 1 returned. At St. Lucia the strongest buildings were torn
up from their foundations, a cannon was hurled a distance of more than
30 yards, and men as well as animals were lifted off their feet and
carried several yards. The sea rose so high that it destroyed the fort
and drove a vessel against the hospital with such force as to stave in
the walls of that building. Of the 600 houses at Kingston, on the
island of St. Vincent, 14 alone remained intact, and the French
frigate Junon was lost. Alarming consequences were feared from the
number of dead bodies which lay uninterred, and the quantity of fish
the sea threw up, but these alarms soon subsided...."

"The aboriginal inhabitants," says Abbad, "foresaw these catastrophes
two or three days in advance. They were sure of their approach when
they perceived a hazy atmosphere, the red aspect of the sun, a dull,
rumbling, subterranean sound, the stars shining through a kind of mist
which made them look larger, the nor'west horizon heavily clouded, a
strong-smelling emanation from the sea, a heavy swell with calm
weather, and sudden changes of the wind from east to west." The
Spanish settlers also learned to foretell the approach of a hurricane
by the sulphurous exhalations of the earth, but especially by the
incessant neighing of horses, bellowing of cattle, and general
restlessness of these animals, who seem to acquire a presentiment of
the coming danger.

"The physical features of hurricanes are well understood. The approach
of a hurricane is usually indicated by a long swell on the ocean,
propagated to great distances, and forewarning the observer by two or
three days. A faint rise in the barometer occurs before the gradual
fall, which becomes very pronounced at the center. Fine wisps of
cirrus-clouds are first seen, which surround the center to a distance
of 200 miles; the air is calm and sultry, but this is gradually
supplanted by a gentle breeze, and later the wind increases to a gale,
the clouds become matted, the sea rough, rain falls, and the winds are
gusty and dangerous as the vortex comes on. Then comes the
indescribable tempest, dealing destruction, impressing the imagination
with the wild exhibition of the forces of nature, the flashes of
lightning, the torrents of rain, the cold air, all the elements in an
uproar, which indicate the close approach of the center. In the midst
of this turmoil there is a sudden pause, the winds almost cease, the
sky clears, the waves, however, rage in great turbulence. This is the
eye of the storm, the core of the vortex, and it is, perhaps, 20 miles
in diameter, or one-thirtieth of the whole hurricane. The respite is
brief, and is soon followed by the abrupt renewal of the violent wind
and rain, but now coming from the opposite direction, and the storm
passes off with the several features following each other in the
reverse order." [87]

The distribution over the months of the year of the 355 West Indian
hurricanes which occurred during the four hundred and six years
elapsed since the discovery, to the last on the list, is as follows:

          Months.        No of hurricanes.

          January           5
          February          7
          March            11
          April             6
          May               5
          June             10
          July             42
          August           96
          September        80
          October          69
          November         17
          December          7


Puerto Rico has been devastated by hurricanes more than 20 times since
its occupation by the Spaniards. But the records, beyond the mere
statement of the facts, are very incomplete. Four stand out
prominently as having committed terrible ravages. These are the
hurricanes of Santa Ana, on July 26, 1825; Los Angeles, on
August 2,1837; San Narciso, on October 29, 1867, and San Ciriaco,
on August 8, 1899.

The first mention of the occurrence of a hurricane in this island we
find in a letter from the crown officers to the king, dated August 8,
1515, wherein they explain: " ... In these last smeltings there was
little gold, because many Indians died in consequence of sickness
caused by the tempest as well as from want of food ..."

The next we read of was October 8, 1526, and is thus described by
licentiate Juan de Vadillo:

"On the night of the 4th of October last there broke over this island
such a violent storm of wind and rain, which the natives call
'_ou-ra-cán'_ that it destroyed the greater part of this city (San
Juan) with the church. In the country it caused such damage by the
overflow of rivers that many rich men have been made poor."

On September 8, 1530, Governor Francisco Manuel de Lando reported to
the king: "During the last six weeks there have been three storms of
wind and rain in this island (July 26, August 23 and 31). They have
destroyed all the plantations, drowned many cattle, and caused much
hunger and misery in the land. In this city the half of the houses
were entirely destroyed, and of the other half the least injured is
without a roof. In the country and in the mines nothing has remained
standing. Everybody is ruined and thinking of going away."

_1537_.--July and August. The town officers wrote to the king in
September: "In the last two months we have had three storms of wind
and rain, the greatest that have been seen in this island, and as the
plantations are along the banks of the rivers the floods have
destroyed them all. Many slaves and cattle have been drowned, and this
has caused much discouragement among the settlers, who before were
inclined to go away, and are now more so."

_1575_.--September 21 (San Mateo), hurricane mentioned in the memoirs
of Father Torres Vargas.

_1614_.--September 12, mentioned by the same chronicler in the
following words: "Fray Pedro de Solier came to his bishopric in the
year 1615, the same in which a great tempest occurred, after more than
forty years since the one called of San Mateo. This one happened on
the 12th of September. It did so much damage to the cathedral that it
was necessary partly to cover it with straw and write to his Majesty
asking for a donation to repair it. With his accustomed generosity he
gave 4,000 ducats."

_1678_.--Abbad states that a certain Count or Duke Estren, an English
commander, with a fleet of 22 ships and a body of landing troops
appeared before San Juan and demanded its surrender, but that, before
the English had time to land, a violent hurricane occurred which
stranded every one of the British ships on Bird Island. Most of the
people on board perished, and the few who saved their lives were made
prisoners of war.

_1740_.--Precise date unknown. Monsieur Moreau de Jonnès, in his
work,[88] says that this hurricane destroyed a coco-palm grove of 5 or
6 leagues in extent, which existed near Ponce. Other writers confirm

_1772, August 28_.--Friar Iñigo Abbad, who was in the island at the
time, gives the following description of this tempest: "About a
quarter to eleven of the night of the 28th of August the storm began
to be felt in the capital of the island. A dull but continuous roll of
thunder filled the celestial hemisphere, the sound as of approaching
torrents of rain, the frightful sight of incessant lightning, and a
slow quaking of the earth accompanied the furious wind. The tearing up
of trees, the lifting of roofs, smashing of windows, and leveling of
everything added terror-striking noises to the scene. The tempest
raged with the same fury in the capital till after one o'clock in the
morning. In other parts of the island it began about the same hour,
but without any serious effect till later. In Aguáda, where I was at
the time, nothing was felt till half-past two in the morning. It blew
violently till a quarter to four, and the wind continued, growing less
strong, till noon. During this time the wind came from all points of
the compass, and the storm visited every part of the island, causing
more damage in some places than others, according to their degree of

_1780, June 13, and 1788, August 16._--No details of these two
hurricanes are found in any of the Puerto Rican chronicles.

_1804, September 4._--A great cyclone, a detailed description of
which is given in the work of Mr. Jonnés.

_1818 and 1814_--Both hurricanes happened on the same date, that
is, the 23d of July. Yauco and San German suffered most. A description
of the effects of these storms was given in the Dario Económico of the
11th of August, 1814.

_1819, September 21_.--(San Mateo.) This cyclone is mentioned by
Jonnés and by Córdova, who says that it caused extraordinary damages
on the plantations.

_1825, July 26_.--(Santa Ana.) Córdova (vol. ii, p. 21 of his Memoirs)
says of this hurricane: "It destroyed the towns of Patillas, Maunabó,
Yabucóa, Humacáo, Gurabó, and Cáguas. In the north, east, and center
of the island it caused great damage. More than three hundred people
and a large number of cattle perished; 500 persons were badly wounded.
The rivers rose to an unheard of extent, and scarcely a house remained
standing. In the capital part of the San Antonio bridge was blown
down, and the city wall facing the Marina on Tanca Creek was cracked.
The royal Fortaleza (the present Executive Mansion) suffered much,
also the house of Ponce. The lightning-conductors of the
powder-magazine were blown down."

_1837, August 2_.--(Los Angeles.) This cyclone was general over the
island and caused exceedingly grave losses of life and property. All
the ships in the harbor of San Juan were lost.

_1840, September 16_.--No details.

_1851, August 18_.--No details, except that this hurricane caused
considerable damage.

_1867, October 29_.--(San Narciso.) No details.

 [Illustration: Casa Blanca and the sea wall, San Juan.]

 _1871, August 23_.--(San Felipe.) No details. _1899, August
8_.--(San Ciriaco.) When this hurricane occurred there was a
meteorological station in operation in San Juan, and we are therefore
enabled to present the following data from Mr. Geddings's report: "The
rainfall was excessive, as much as 23 inches falling at Adjuntas
during the course of twenty-four hours. This caused severe inundations
of rivers, and the deaths from drowning numbered 2,569 as compared
with 800 killed by injuries received from the effects of the wind.
This number does not include the thousands who have since died from
starvation. The total loss of property was 35,889,013 pesos."

The United States Government and people promptly came to the
assistance of the starving population, and something like 32,000,000
rations were distributed by the army during the ten months succeeding
the hurricane.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such are the calamities that are suspended over the heads of the
inhabitants of the West Indian Islands. From July to October, at any
moment, the sapphire skies may turn black with thunder-clouds; the
Eden-like landscapes turned into scenes of ruin and desolation; the
rippling ocean that lovingly laves their shores becomes a roaring
monster trying to swallow them. The refreshing breezes that fan them
become a destructive blast. Yet, such is the fecundity of nature in
these regions that a year after a tempest has swept over an island, if
the debris be removed, not a trace of its passage is visible--the
fields are as green as ever, the earth, the trees, and plants that
were spared by the tempest double their productive powers as if to
indemnify the afflicted inhabitants for the losses they suffered.


[Footnote 85: See Bulletin H, Weather Bureau, West Indian Hurricanes,
by E.B. Garriott, Washington, 1900.]

[Footnote 86: L'Atmosphère, p. 377 and following.]

[Footnote 87: Enrique del Monte, Havana University, On the Climate of
the West Indies and West Indian Hurricanes.]

[Footnote 88: Histoire physique des Antilles Françaises.]



The origin of the Caribs, their supposed cannibalism and other customs
have occasioned much controversy among West Indian chroniclers. The
first question is undecided, and probably will remain so forever. With
regard to cannibalism, in spite of the confirmative assurances of the
early Spanish chroniclers, we have the testimony of eminent
authorities to the contrary; and the writings of Jesuit missionaries
who have lived many years among the Caribs give us a not unfavorable
idea of their character and social institutions.

The first European who became intimately acquainted with the people of
the West Indian Islands, on the return from his first voyage, wrote to
the Spanish princes: " ... In all these islands I did not observe much
difference in the faces and figures of the inhabitants, nor in their
customs, nor in their language, seeing that they all understand each
other, which is very singular." On the other hand the readiness with
which the inhabitants of Aye-Aye and the other Carib islands gave
asylum to the fugitive Boriquén Indians and joined them in their
retaliatory expeditions, also points to the existence of some bond of
kinship between them, so that there is ground for the opinion
entertained by some writers that all the inhabitants of all the
Antilles were of the race designated under the generic name of Caribs.

The theory generally accepted at first was, that at the time of the
discovery two races of different origin occupied the West Indian
Archipelago. The larger Antilles with the groups of small islands to
the north of them were supposed to be inhabited by a race named
Guaycures, driven from the peninsula of Florida by the warlike
Seminoles; the Guaycures, it is said, could easily have reached the
Bahamas and traversed the short distance that separated them from Cuba
in their canoes, some of which could contain 100 men, and once there
they would naturally spread over the neighboring islands. It is
surmised that they occupied them at the time of the advent of the
Phoenicians in this hemisphere, and Dr. Calixto Romero, in an
interesting article on Lucúo, the god of the Boriquéns,[89] mentions a
tradition referring to the arrival of these ancient navigators, and
traces some of the Boriquén religious customs to them. The Guaycures
were a peacefully disposed race, hospitable, indolent, fond of dancing
and singing, by means of which they transmitted their legends from
generation to generation. They fell an easy prey to the Spaniards.
Velasquez conquered Cuba without the loss of a man. Juan Esquivél made
himself master of Jamaica with scarcely any sacrifice, and if the
aborigines of the Española and Boriquén resisted, it was only after
patiently enduring insupportable oppression for several years.

The other race which inhabited the Antilles were said to have come
from the south. They were supposed to have descended the Orinoco,
spreading along the shore of the continent to the west of the river's
mouths and thence to have invaded one after the other all the lesser
Antilles. They were in a fair way of occupying the larger Antilles
also when the discoveries of Columbus checked their career.

In support of the theory of the south-continental origin of the Caribs
we have, in the first place, the work of Mr. Aristides Rojas on
Venezuelan hieroglyphics, wherein he treats of numerous Carib
characters on the rocks along the plains and rivers of that republic,
marking their itinerary from east to west. He states that the
Acháguas, the aboriginals of Columbia, gave to these wanderers, on
account of their ferocity, the name of Chabi-Nabi, that is, tiger-men
or descendants of tigers.

In the classification of native tribes in Codazzi's geography of
Venezuela, he includes the Caribs, and describes them as "a very
numerous race, enterprising and warlike, which in former times
exercised great influence over the whole territory extending from
Ecuador to the Antilles. They were the tallest and most robust Indians
known on the continent; they traded in slaves, and though they were
cruel and ferocious in their incursions, they were not cannibals like
their kinsmen of the lesser Antilles, who were so addicted to the
custom of eating their prisoners that the names of cannibal and Carib
had become synonymous." [90]

Another theory of the origin of the Caribs is that advanced by M.
d'Orbigny, who, after eight years of travel over the South American
continent, published the result of his researches in Paris in 1834. He
considers them to be a branch of the great Guaraní family. And the
Jesuit missionaries, Fathers Raymond and Dutertre, who lived many
years among the Antillean Caribs, concluded from their traditions that
they were descended from a people on the continent named Galibis, who,
according to M. d'Orbigny, were a branch of the Guaranís.

But the Guaranís, though a very wide-spread family of South American
aborigines, were neither a conquering nor a wandering race. They
occupied that part of the continent situated between the rivers
Paraguay and Paraná, from where these two rivers join the river Plate,
northward, to about latitude 22° south. This region was the home of
the Guaranís, a people indolent, sensual, and peaceful, among whom the
Jesuits, in the eighteenth century founded a religious republic, which
toward the end of that period counted 33 towns with a total population
of over one hundred thousand souls. A glance at the map will show the
improbability of any Indian tribe, no matter how warlike, making its
way from the heart of the continent to the Orinoco through 30° of
primitive forests, mountains, and rivers, inhabited by hostile

The French missionaries who lived many years with the Caribs of
Guadeloupe and the other French possessions, do not agree on the
subject of their origin. Fathers Dutertre and Raymond believe them to
be the descendants of the Galibis, a people inhabiting Guiana. Fathers
Rochefort, Labat, and Bristol maintain that they are descended from
the Apalaches who inhabited the northern part of Florida. Humboldt is
of the same opinion, and suggests that the name Carib may be derived
from Calina or Caripuna through transformation of the letters _l_ and
_p_ into _r_ and _b_, forming Caribi or Galibi.[92] Pedro Martyr
strongly opposes this opinion, the principal objection to which is
that a tribe from the North American continent invading the West
Indies by way of Florida would naturally occupy the larger Antilles
before traveling east and southward. Under this hypothesis, as we have
said, all the inhabitants of the Antilles would be Caribs, but in that
case the difference in the character of the inhabitants of the two
divisions of the archipelago would have to be accounted for.

Most of the evidence we have been able to collect on this subject
points to a south-continental origin of the Caribs. On the maps of
America, published in 1587 by Abraham Ortellus, of Antwerp, in 1626 by
John Speed, of London, and in 1656 by Sanson d'Abbeville in Paris, the
whole region to the north of the Orinoco is marked Caribana. In the
history of the Dutch occupation of Guiana we read that hostile Caribs
occupied a shelter[93] constructed in 1684 by the governor on the
borders of the Barima, which shows that the vast region along the
Orinoco and its tributaries, as well as the lesser Antilles, was
inhabited by an ethnologically identical race.

       *       *       *       *       *

Were the Caribs cannibals? This question has been controverted as much
as that of their origin, and with the same doubtful result.

The only testimony upon which the assumption that the Caribs were
cannibals is founded is that of the companions of Columbus on his
second voyage, when, landing at Guadeloupe, they found human bones and
skulls in the deserted huts. No other evidence of cannibalism of a
positive character was ever after obtained, so that the belief in it
rests exclusively upon Chanca's narrative of what the Spaniards saw
and learned during the few days of their stay among the islands. Their
imagination could not but be much excited by the sight of what the
doctor describes as "infinite quantities" of bones of human
creatures, who, they took for granted, had been devoured, and of
skulls hanging on the walls by way of receptacles for curios. It was
the age of universal credulity, and for more than a century after the
most absurd tales with regard to the people and things of the
mysterious new continent found ready credence even among men of
science. Columbus, in his letter to Santangel (February, 1493),
describing the different islands and people, wrote: "I have not yet
seen any of the human monsters that are supposed to exist here." The
descriptions of the customs of the natives of the newly discovered
islands which Dr. Chanca sent to the town council of Seville were
unquestioned by them, and afterward by the Spanish chroniclers; but
there is reason to believe with Mr. Ignacio Armas, an erudite Cuban
author, who published a paper in 1884 entitled the Fable of the
Caribs, that the belief in their cannibalism originated in an error of
judgment, was an illusion afterward, and ended by being a
calumny[97]. Father Bartolomé de las Casas was the first to contradict
this belief. "They [the Spaniards] saw skulls," he says, "and human
bones. These must have been of chiefs or other persons whom they held
in esteem, because, to say that they were the remains of people who
had been eaten, if the natives devoured as many as was supposed, the
houses could not contain the bones, and there is no reason why, after
eating them, they should preserve the relics. All this is but
guesswork." Washington Irving agrees with the reverend historian, and
describes the general belief in the cannibalism of the Caribs to the
Spaniards' fear of them. Two eminent authorities positively deny it.
Humboldt, in his before-cited work, in the chapter on Carib missions,
says: "All the missionaries of the Carony, of the lower Orinoco, and
of the plains of Cari, whom we have had occasion to consult, have
assured us that the Caribs were perhaps the least anthropophagous of
any tribes on the new continent, ..." and Sir Robert Schomburgh, who
was charged by the Royal Geographical Society with the survey of
Guiana in 1835, reported that among the Caribs he found peace and
contentment, simple family affections, and frank gratitude for
kindness shown.[94]

       *       *       *       *       *

The narratives of the French, English, and Dutch conquerors of the
Guianas and the lesser Antilles accord with the observations of
Humboldt in describing the Caribs as an ambitious and intelligent
race, among whom there still existed traces of a superior social
organization, such as the hereditary power of chiefs, respect for the
priestly caste, and attachment to ancient customs. Employed only in
fishing and hunting, the Carib was accustomed to the use of arms from
childhood; war was the principal object of his existence, and the
proofs through which the young warrior had to pass before being
admitted to the ranks of the braves, remind us of the customs of
certain North American Indians.

They were of a light yellow color with a sooty tint, small, black
eyes, white and well-formed teeth, straight, shining, black hair,
without a beard or hair on any other part of their bodies. The
expression of their face was sad, like that of all savage tribes in
tropical regions. They were of middle size, but strong and vigorous.
To protect their bodies from the stings of insects they anointed them
with the juice or oil of certain plants. They were polygamous. From
their women they exacted the most absolute submission. The females did
all the domestic labor, and were not permitted to eat in the presence
of the men. In case of infidelity the husband had the right to kill
his wife. Each family formed a village by itself (carbet) where the
oldest member ruled.

Their industry, besides the manufacture of their arms and canoes, was
limited to the spinning and dyeing of cotton goods, notably their
hammocks, and the making of pottery for domestic uses. Though
possessing no temples, nor religious observances, they recognized two
principles or spirits, the spirit of good (boyee) and the spirit of
evil (maboya). The priests invoked the first or drove out the second
as occasion required. Each individual had his good spirit.

Their language resembled in sound the Italian, the words being
sonorous, terminating in vowels. By the end of the eighteenth century
the missionaries had made vocabularies of 50 Carib dialects, and the
Bible had been translated into one of them, the Arawak. A remarkable
custom was the use of two distinct languages, one by the males,
another by the females. Tradition says that when the Caribs first
invaded the Antilles they put to death all the males but spared the
females. The women continued speaking their own tongue and taught it
to their daughters, but the sons learned their fathers' language. In
time, both males and females learned both languages.

"It is true," says the Jesuit Father Rochefort, in his Histoire des
Antilles, "that the Caribs have degenerated from the virtues of their
ancestors, but it is also true that the Europeans, by their pernicious
examples, their ill-treatment of them, their villainous deceit, their
dastardly breaking of every promise, their pitiless plundering and
burning of their villages, their beastly violation of their girls and
women, have taught them, to the eternal infamy of the name of
Christian, to lie, to betray, to be licentious, and other vices which
they knew not before they came in contact with us."

Father Dutertre declares that at the time of the arrival of the
Europeans the Caribs were contented, happy, and sociable. Physically
they were the best made and healthiest people of America. Theft was
unknown to them, nothing was hidden; their huts had neither doors nor
windows, and when, after the advent of the French, a Carib missed
anything in his hut, he used to say: "A Christian has been here!"
Dutertre says that in thirty-five years all the French missionaries
together, by taking the greatest pains, had not been able to convert
20 adults. Those who were thought to have embraced Christianity
returned to their practises as soon as they rejoined their fellows.
"The reason for this want of success," says the father, "is the bad
impression produced on the minds of these intelligent natives by the
cruelties and immoralities of the Christians, which are more barbarous
than those of the islanders themselves. They have inspired the Caribs
with such a horror of Christianity that the greatest reproach they can
think of for an enemy is to call him a Christian."

The reason the Spaniards never attempted the conquest of the Caribs is
clear. There was no gold in their islands. They defended their homes
foot by foot, and if, by chance, they were taken prisoners, they
preferred suicide to slavery. Toward the end of the eighteenth century
there still existed a few hundred of the race in the island of St.
Vincent. They were known as the black Caribs, because they were
largely mixed with fugitive negro slaves from other islands and with
the people of a slave-ship wrecked on their coast in 1685. They lived
there tranquil and isolated till 1795, when the island was settled by
French colonists, and they were finally absorbed by them. They were
the last representatives in the Antilles of a race which, during five
centuries, had ruled both on land and sea. On the continent, along the
Esequibo and its affluents, they are numerous still; but in their
contact with the European settlers in those regions they have lost
the strength and the virtues of their former state without acquiring
those of the higher civilization. Like all aboriginals under similar
conditions, they are slowly disappearing.


[Footnote 89: Revista Puertoriqueña, Tomo I, Año I, 1887.]

[Footnote 90: The word "cannibal" is but a corruption of guaribó, is,
"brave or strong," changed into Caribó, Caríba, and finally that
Carib. The name Galibi, also applied to the Caribs, means equally
strong or brave.]

[Footnote 91: The author visited this region and sketched some of the
ruins of these Jesuit-Guarani missions, of which scarcely one stone
has remained on the other. They were destroyed by the Brazilians after
the suppression of the Society of Jesus by Pope Clement XIV in 1773;
the defenseless Indians were cruelly butchered or carried off as
slaves. The sculptured remains of temples, of gardens and orchards
grown into jungles still attest the high degree of development
attained by these missions under the guidance of the Jesuit fathers.]

[Footnote 92: Voyage aux Regions Equinoctiales du Nouveau Continent,
Paris, 1826.]

[Footnote 93: "Kleyn pleysterhuisye," small plaster house.]

[Footnote 94: As an example of the credulity of the people of the
period, see Theodore Bry's work in the library of Congress in
Washington, in which there is a map of Guiana, published in Frankfort
in 1599. On it are depicted with short descriptions the lake of Parmié
and the city of Manáo, which represent El Dorado, in search of which
hundreds of Spaniards and thousands of Indians lost their lives. There
is a picture of one of the Amazons, with a short notice of their
habits and customs, and there is the portrait of one of the
inhabitants of the country Twai-Panoma, who were born without heads,
but had eyes, nose, and mouth conveniently located in their breast.]

BIBLIOGRAPHY  The history of Puerto Rico has long since been a
subject of study and research by native writers and others, to whose
works we owe many of the data contained in this book. Their names, in
alphabetical order, are:

ABBAD, FRAY IÑIGO.--Historia geográfica, civil y natural de San Juan
Bautista de Puerto Rico. Madrid, 1788.

AGOSTA, D. JOSÉ JULIÁN.--New edition of Abbad's history, with notes
and commentaries. Puerto Rico, 1866.

BRAU, D. SALVADOR.--Puerto Rico y su historia. (Critical
investigations.)Valencia, 1894.

CEDÓ, D. SANTIAGO.--Compendio de geografía para instrucción de la
juventud portoriqueña. Mayaguez, 1855.

COELLO, D. FRANCISCO.--Mapa de la isla de Puerto Rico, ilustrado con
notas históricas y estadísticas escritas por Don Pascual Madoz.
Madrid, 1851.

COLL Y TOSTE, D. CAYETANO.--Colón en Puerto Rico. (Disquisiciones
histórico-filológicas.) Puerto Rico, 1894. Repertorio histórico de
Puerto Rico. A monthly publication.

CÓRDOVA, D. PEDRO TOMÁS.--Memorias geográficas, históricas, económicas
y estadísticas de la isla de Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, 1830. Memoria
sobre todos los ramos de la administración de la isla de Puerto Rico.
Madrid, 1838.

CORTÓN, D. ANTONIO.--La separación de mandos en Puerto Rico. Discurso
escrito y comenzado á leer ante la Comisión del Congreso de los
Diputados. Habana, 1890.

FLINTER, COLONEL.--An Account of the Present State of the Island of
Puerto Rico. London, 1834.

JIMENO AGIUS, J.--Puerto Rico. Madrid, 1890. LEDRU, ANDRÉ
PIERRE.--Voyage aux iles Ténériffe, la Trinité, St. Thomas, Ste. Croix
et Porto Rico, avec des notes et des additions par Sonnini, Paris,
1810. (A work full of fantastic and imaginary data, without any
historical value.)

MELENDEZ Y BRUNA, D. SALVADOR.--Puerto Rico. Representation of the
Governor of the Island to the King. Cadiz, 1811.

NAZARIO, D. JOSÉ MARÍA.--Guayanilla y la historia de Puerto Rico.
Ponce, 1893.

PÉREZ MORIS, D. JOSÉ, Y CUETO, D. LUIS.--Historia de la insurrección
de Lares.

SAMA, D. MANUEL MARÍA.--El desembarco de Colón en Puerto Rico y el
Monumento de Culebrinas, Mayaguez, 1895.

STAHL, D. AGUSTIN.--Los Indios Borinqueños. Puerto Rico, 1887.

TAPIA, D. ALEJANDRO.--Biblioteca histórica de Puerto Rico. Puerto
Rico, 1854.

TORRES, D. LUIS LLORENS.--América. Estudios históricos y filológicos.
Madrid y Barcelona, 1897.

UBEDA Y DELGADO, D. MANUEL.--Isla de Puerto Rico, Estudio
histórico-geográfico. Puerto Rico, 1878.

VIZCARRONDO, D. JULIO.--Elementos de historia y geografía de la isla
de Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, 1863.

There are other writings on subjects connected with the island's
history by native authors, some published in book or pamphlet form,
others, like those of Zeno Gandía, Neumann, Dr. Dominguez, and
Navarrete, have appeared in the columns of periodicals at different
times before the American occupation of the island.


     Abbad, Friar Iñigo, his history of
       Puerto Rico; cited; on
       state of agriculture in 1776.

     Abercrombie, Sir Ralph, attacks San

     Aborigines, see Indians.

     Agriculture, inhabitants of Puerto
       Rico forced to turn to;
       condition of, in 1776.

     Aguáda, its history.

     Albemarle, Earl of, captures

     Alexander VI, Pope, divides the
       world between Spain and

     American army, landing of;
       recognized as liberators,; also
       see preface v.

     Americans, interest of, in the
       insurrection of Lares, 1868.

     Antigua, discovery of.

     Arecibo, town of.

     Armada, effects of destruction of.

     Autonomy granted to Puerto Rico.

     Bastidas, Bishop Rodrigo, charged
       with liberating Indian slaves in
       Puerto Rico.

     Beet-sugar, its injurious
       competition with cane-sugar, 228.

     Bemini (Florida), island of, King
       Ferdinand wants Ponce to explore
       it, 59; Indian reports of, 60;
       discovery of, 61.

     Blake, English admiral, captures
       Spanish galleons, 136.

     Blasquez, Juan, judge-auditor of
       Puerto Rico, 102.

     Boabdil, last of the Moorish kings.

     Boriquén, first known name of
       Puerto Rico; seat of Guaybána; Boriqueños
       restless; revolt in; last of the Boriquén
       Indians; the republic of, proclaimed; falls;
       native inhabitants of.

     Bowdoin, Hendrick, commands
       Dutch fleet in attack on San Juan.

     Brau, his history of Puerto Rico quoted.

     Bruckman, an American, takes
       active part in insurrection;

     Buccaneers, their origin.


     Cannibals, supposed to be found among
       the Caribs.

     Capárra, first settlement of Spaniards
       in Puerto Rico; capital transferred
       from, to San Juan; the old capital.

     Capital, transferred from Capárra to Sun Juan.

     Caribs, supposed by Columbus to be
       on Guadeloupe; annoy Spaniards in Puerto
       Rico; assist the Boriquén Indians; raids in
       Puerto Rico; in Dominica punished by the
       Spaniards; in the Windward Islands; their
       extermination of aborigines of the West
       Indies; origin of; characteristics; were they
       cannibals?; disappearing.

     Castellano y Villaroya, Spanish Colonial
       Minister, intercedes in behalf of Puerto

     Castellanos, Juan, brings 75 colonists
       to Puerto Rico; attorney for Puerto
       Rico at the court of Spain.

     Castellanos, Juan de, treasurer of Puerto Rico.

     Castro, Baltazar, reports depredations of Caribs.

     Ceron, Juan, Governor of Puerto Rico;
       arrested by Juan Ponce;
       restored to office;
       returns to Puerto Rico as governor.

     Cervantes de Loayza, governor.

     Charles V, King of Spain;
       quarrels with Francis I of France;
       orders the fortification of San German.

     Cholera, epidemic of.

     Church, in general.

     Cities, growth of.

       the island made a diocese;
       Alonzo Manso, first prelate;
       decree of Isabel II affecting clergy.

     Coco-palm introduced.


     Columbus, Christopher, returns from his first
       voyage; received by the court at Barcelona;
       second expedition organized; his second
       expedition sails from Cadiz; discovers the
       Windward Islands; introduces system of
       enslaving the Indians by "distribution" of
       them among settlers.

     Columbus, Diego, with Christopher
       Columbus's second expedition; viceroy and
       admiral, in la Española; deposes Ponce;
       authority of, suspended; deprived of the
       power of appointing Governor of Puerto Rico.

     Commerce, its development; imports
       and exports.

     Cortéz, his conquest of Mexico.

     Cromwell, his alliance with France
       against Spain.

     Cuba, influence of Cuban revolution on
       Puerto Rico; reforms in, suggested by

     De la Gama, Antonio, charged with executing
       the royal decree against the "distribution" of Indians.

     Diaz, Bernal, de Pisa, with Columbus's
       second expedition.

     Diego, Rafael, organizer of the revolution
       of 1812.

     Distribution of Indians among the Spanish
       conquerors as slaves;
       system introduced by Columbus.

     Dominica, discovery of;
       Caribs in, aid Puerto Rico Indians against
       the Spaniards; Spanish expedition against
       Caribs in.

     Dominicans, order of.

     Drake, Francis, his expeditions in the

       illiteracy and general ignorance; in hands of
       clergy; new interest in; first college;

     Elective system.

     England contracts to take slaves into
       the Spanish-American colonies.

     English, ship visits Puerto Rico and
       alarms inhabitants; war with, fleet sent
       against Spaniards in West Indies; fleet
       anchors off "Caleta del Cabron," and is fired
       on by Spaniards; abandons the attack;
       alliance with France against Spain; capture
       Havana; attack San Juan.

     Española (Santo Domingo).

     Fajardo, town of.

     Ferdinand, King of Spain, his interest
       in Puerto Rico.

     Fetichism in the religion of the peasantry.

     Filibusters, origin of.


     Florida, discovery of;
       Ponce's last expedition to.

     Francis I, King of France, quarrel
       with Charles V of Spain.

     Franciscans, order of.

     French, send privateers to attack the Antilles;
       capture San German twice and destroy it;
       attack Guayama; fail in an attack on Puerto
       Rico; alliance with English against Spain;
       pirates in the Caribbean.

     Fuente, Alonso la, his letters to the
       Spanish Government.


     Gold, in Puerto Rico;
       early search for; first discovery;
       gold-bearing streams; production of

     Government of Puerto Rico, instructions
       by the King of Spain.

     Guadeloupe, discovery of;
       Caribs in, aid Puerto Rico Indians
       against the Spaniards.

     Guaybána, cacique in Puerto Rico;
       death of.

     Guaybána second, heads revolt against
       the Spaniards; massacres Spaniards;
       is defeated; killed.

     Haro, Juan de, governor, defends San
       Juan against the Dutch.

     Havana, captured by the English under
       the Earl of Albemarle and Admiral

     Hawkyns, John, his freebooting
       voyages among the Antilles; his fleet
       captured; killed.

     Holland, Spain's war with;
       sends fleet against Puerto Rico;
       it is defeated.

     Hurricanes in the West Indies;
       in Puerto Rico.

     Indians, system of "distribution" of,
       introduced; in revolt; slaughter Spaniards;
       defeated by Ponce; number of, in Puerto Rico;
       "distribution" of; rapid decrease of;
       condition of; efforts to prevent extinction
       of; "distribution" of, among settlers
       forbidden;  the last 80 survivors liberated
       from slavery; last report of the Boriquén

     Inquisition, the, in Puerto Rico;
       Nicolas Ramos, the last Inquisitor;
       abolition of the Inquisition;

     Isabel II, her decree declaring property
       of the secular clergy national property.

     Jews, property of, confiscated to supply
       funds for Columbus's second expedition.

     Jíbaro, the Puerto Rican peasant;
       customs of.

     Lando, Governor of Puerto Rico, tries
       to prevent persons leaving the island.

     Lares, the insurrection of.

     Las Casas, Bartolomé de, his "Relations
       of the Indies" cited; seeks to prevent
       extinction of Indians; favors introduction of
       negro slaves.

     Laws, reform, promised;

     Leeward Islands, discovery of.

     Le Grand, Pierre, the French pirate.

     Libraries; since American occupation.

     Loiza, settlement of.

     l'Olonais, sobriquet of Sables d'Olone,

     Macias, Manuel, governor-general, declares
       the island in a state of war.

     Manso, Alonzo, first bishop of Puerto

     Marie-Galante, discovery of.

     Mayor, Soto, forms a settlement at Guánica;
       killed by Indians.

     McCormick, James, his report on Puerto
       Rico in 1880.

     Mestizos, or mixed races.

     Military service, number of men in Puerto
       Rico able to carry arms.

     Mixed races;
       prejudice against.

     Montbras, French pirate.

     Morals in the island under Spanish rule.

     Morgan, Sir Henry, the pirate.

     Mulattoes in the Spanish colony.

     Napoleon, his influence over Spain.

     Natives, see Indians.

     Negroes, introduced into Santo Domingo
       as slaves; into Puerto Rico; as slaves in
       Puerto Rico; introduced to save the Indians
       from extermination; intermix with Indians;
       number of, in the island; severe laws


     O'Daly, General, leads successful
       revolution in Puerto Rico.

     Palm, coco-, introduced.

     Papers, see Newspapers.

     Peasants of Puerto Rico.

     Peru, gold discoveries there serve to
       attract many settlers from Puerto

     Philip I, his character.

     Philip II, death of.

     Pirates, see Buccaneers and Filibusters.

     Pocock, English admiral, and the Earl
       of Albemarle, capture Havana.

     Political rights.

     Ponce, Juan, de Leon, with Columbus's
       second expedition; lands on Puerto Rico;
       appointed governor; deposed; restored;
       arrests Ceron; recalled by the King of Spain;
       defeats Guaybána with 5,000 to 6,000 Indians;
       deprived of his privileges; retires to
       Capárra; prepares for exploring the island of
       Bemini; discovers Florida; honored by the
       king; ordered to destroy the Caribs; accused
       of fomenting discord in Puerto Rico; last
       expedition to Florida, wounded, dies;
       monument to him in San Juan.

     Population, growth of.

     Portugal, Alexander VI divides world
       between Portugal and Spain.

     Press, the;
       first printing-press.

     Prim, John, Count of Reus, his severe
       proclamation against the negroes.

     Primitive inhabitants.


     Puerto Rico, discovery of;
       first settlement, at Capárra; made a
       bishopric; name of Puerto Rico first used
       October, 1514; divided into two departments;
       capital transferred from Capárra to present
       location, San Juan; disease and pestilence;
       destructive storms; news of gold discoveries
       in Peru causes many settlers to leave;
       inhabitants try to leave the island for the
       Peru gold fields; devastated by French and
       Indians; the inhabitants turn to agriculture,
       100; expedition sent against the French in
       Santa Cruz; English fleet, under the Earl of
       Estren, appears off San Juan; used as a
       "presidio," or place of banishment for
       political prisoners for three centuries;
       condition of, in 1765, described by Alexander
       O'Reilly; revolution headed by Rafael Diego
       and General O'Daly, 153; divided into seven
       judicial districts; political rights in the
       island; efforts of Spain to promote
       development of the island; state of society,
       159; effects of Carlist troubles in Spain;
       resources of, diminished; description of the
       island in 1880; reform laws to relieve
       financial distress; promise of reforms; the
       new electoral law; conditions in the island
       immediately before the American occupation;
       becomes part of the United States; its
       advantageous situation; soil and products;
       harbors; climate; primitive inhabitants;
       present inhabitants; era of greatest
       prosperity under Spanish rule.

     Races in Puerto Rico.

     Ramirez, Francisco, President of the
      "Republic of Boriquén,".

     Reforms, promise of, by Spanish
       Government; granted too late.

     Religion of the peasantry.

     Republic of Boriquén proclaimed.

     Revolution, against Spanish oppression.

     Rodney, English admiral, attacks French
       West Indies.

     Sables d'Olone, French pirate.

     Sagasta, suggests reforms in Puerto Rico
       and Cuba.


     Salazar, Diego do, heroic conduct of;
       defeats Indians.

     San German founded.

     San Juan, only settlement in Puerto
       Rico not destroyed by the French;
       the fort, "Fortaleza," still used as
       governor's residence, built in 1540;
       fortification and improvement of;
       attacked by English fleet, under Drake;
       captured by English, 120; evacuated by the
       English; attacked by English;
       history of; replaces Capárra as the

     San Juan Bautista, island of (Puerto

     Santa Cruz taken and held by the French.

     Santo Domingo, discovery of.

     Schools, number and attendance of, in

     Sedeño, Contador of Puerto Rico; his
       peculations and death.

     Slavery, Indians placed in, through the
       system of "distribution.".

     Slavery, negro, introduced into Santo
       Domingo; favored by Church and State;  first
       negro slaves in Puerto Rico; discussion of
       its abolition; abolition of; its history in
       the island; introduced to replace lost labor
       of the Indians; England contracts to take
       140,000 slaves into the Spanish-American
       colonies in thirty years; slaves emancipated.

     Spain, Alexander VI divides the world
       between Spain and Portugal; effects of her
       disastrous wars; sends fleet against
       pirates in the West Indies; abolishes
       the slave-trade.

     Spaniards, number of, in Puerto Rico;
       as colonists in Puerto Rico; no women
       among early settlers.

     Storms, damages by.

       the industry injured by production of

     Tiedra, Vasco de, Governor of Puerto

     Tobacco, its cultivation permitted by a
       special law.

     Trade, its growth.

     United States sends army to Puerto Rico;
       acquires the island.

     Weyler, General, his inhuman proceedings
       in Cuba.

     Windward Islands, discovered by Columbus.

     Women, none among early Spanish settlers;
       education of, neglected.

     Zambos, mixture of negro and Indian.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The History of Puerto Rico - From the Spanish Discovery to the American Occupation" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.