The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War (Hispanic Division, Library of Congress)
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Chronology of Puerto Rico in the Spanish-American War


23 September
Manuel Rojas organized the Separatist Party and pledged to create the independent Republic of Puerto Rico as part of an uprising known as the Grito de Lares ("The Cry of Lares"). His plantation in the town of Lares became the headquarters for like-minded revolutionaries who would push for a split from Spain.


The Spanish provincial government in Puerto Rico established the Liberal Reform Party and the Liberal Conservative Party as the first true political organizations. The Liberal Conservatives opposed any movement for reform while debate raged among the Liberal Reformers between those who sought to be as much like Spain as possible and those who sought autonomy from the mother country.


22 March
The Spanish Crown abolished slavery in Puerto Rico.


Ramón Baldorioty de Castro formed the Autonomous Party that tried to create a political and legal identity for Puerto Rico while emulating Spain in all political matters.


U.S. foreign policy is influenced by Alfred T. Mahan who wrote The Influence of Sea Power upon history, 1660-1783 which advocated the taking of the Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, and the Philippine Islands for bases to protected U.S. commerce, the building of a canal to enable fleet movement from ocean to ocean, and the building of the Great White fleet of steam-driven armor plated battleships.


12 June
U.S. President Grover Cleveland proclaimed U.S. neutrality in the Cuban Insurrection.


28 February
The U.S. Senate recognized Cuban belligerency when it passed overwhelmingly the joint John T. Morgan/Donald Cameron resolution calling for recognition of Cuban belligerency and Cuban independence. This resolution signaled to President Cleveland and Secretary of State Richard Olney that the Cuban crisis needed attention.

March 2
The U.S. House of Representatives passed decisively its own version of the Morgan-Cameron Resolution which called for the recognition of Cuban belligerency.

August 9
Great Britain foiled Spain's attempt to organize European support for Spanish policies in Cuba.

December 7
U.S. President Grover Cleveland declared that the U.S. might take action in Cuba if Spain failed to resolve the crisis there.


William Warren Kimball, U.S. Naval Academy graduate and intelligence officer, completed a strategic study of the implications of war with Spain. His plan called for an operation to free Cuba through naval action, which included blockade, attacks on Manila, and attacks on the Spanish Mediterranean coast.


January 19
Both William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, through its sensational reporting on the Cuban Insurrection, helped strengthen anti-Spanish sentiment in the United States. On this date the execution of Cuban rebel Adolfo Rodríguez by a Spanish firing squad, was reported in the article "Death of Rodríguez" in the New York Journal by Richard Harding Davis. On October 8, 1897, Karl Decker of the New York Journal reported on the rescue of Cuban Evangelina Cisneros from a prison on the Isle of Pines.

March 4
Inauguration of U.S. President William McKinley.

August 8
Anarchist Miguel Angiolillo Assassinated Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Cánovas del Castillo at Santa Agueda, Spain. Práxides Mateo Sagasta became prime minister of Spain.

25 November
Bowing to U.S. pressure to improve its relationships with its colonies, Spain, under the leadership of Prime Minister Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, agreed to an autonomous constitution for Puerto Rico. It allowed the island to retain its representation in the Spanish Cortes, and provided for a bicameral legislature. This legislature consisted of a Council of Administration with eight elected and seven appointed members, and a Chamber of Representatives with one member for every 25,000 inhabitants.


1 January
Spain granted limited autonomy to Cuba.

8 February
Enrique Dupuy de Lôme resigned as Ambassador of Spain in the United States.

9 February
Governor General Manuel Macías inaugurated the new government of Puerto Rico under the Autonomous Charter which gave town councils complete autonomy in local matters. Subsequently, the governor had no authority to intervene in civil and political matters unless authorized to do so by the Cabinet.

New York Journal published the confidential letter of Spanish Ambassador Dupuy de Lôme critical of President McKinley. This letter's revelation was one of the incidents to push Spain and the United States towards war.

14 February
Luís Polo de Bernabé named Minister of Spain in Washington.

15 February
Explosion sank the battleship U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor.

9 March
U.S. Congress approved a credit of $50,000,000 for national defense.

10 March
Dr. Julio J. Henna and Robert H. Todd, prominent leaders of the Puerto Rican section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, began to correspond with United States President McKinley and Senate in hopes that they would consider including Puerto Rico in whatever intervention was planned for Cuba. Henna and Todd also provided the U.S. government with information about the Spanish military presence on the island.

17 March
Senator Redfield Proctor (Vermont) pushed Congress and the U.S. business community toward war with Spain. He had traveled at his own expense in February 1898 to Cuba to investigate the effects of the reconcentration policy and returned to report on his findings before the Senate.

19 March
The battleship U.S.S. Oregon left the port of San Francisco, California on its famous voyage to the Caribbean Sea and Cuban waters.

28 March
U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry published its findings that the U.S.S. Maine was destroyed by mine.

29 March
The United States Government issued an ultimatum to the Spanish Government to leave Cuba. Spain rejected the ultimatum on April 1, 1898.

4 April
The New York Journal in a press run of 1 million copies dedicated to the war in Cuba and called for the immediate entry of the U.S. into war with Spain.

11 April
U.S. President William McKinley requested authorization from the U.S. Congress to intervene in Cuba, to stop the war between Cuban revolutionaries and Spain.

13 April
The U.S. Congress agreed to President McKinley's request for intervention in Cuba, but without recognizing the Cuban Government.

The Spanish government declared that U.S. policy jeopardized the sovereignty of Spain and prepared a special budget for war.

19 April
The U.S. Congress by a vote of 311 to 6 in the House and 42 to 35 in the Senate adopted the Joint Resolution for war with Spain which included the Teller Amendment, named after Senator Henry Moore Teller (Colorado) which disclaimed any intention of the U.S. to exercise jurisdiction or control over Cuba except in a pacification role and promised to leave the island as soon as the war was over. President McKinley signed the resolution on April 20, 1898 and the ultimatum was forwarded to Spain.

20 April
Spanish Minister in Washington Polo de Bernabé demanded his passport and , along with the personnel of the Legation, left Washington for Canada.

21 April
The Spanish Government considered the Joint Resolution of the United States of April 20 a declaration of war. U.S. minister in Madrid General Steward L. Woodford received his passport before presenting the ultimatum of the United States.

A state of war existed between Spain and the United States and all diplomatic relations were suspended. U.S. President McKinley ordered blockade of Cuba.

23 April
President McKinley called for 125,000 volunteers.

24 April
Spanish Minister of Defense Segismundo Bermejo sent instructions to Spanish Admiral Cervera to proceed with his fleet from Cape Verde to the Caribbean, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

25 April
A formal declaration of war recognized between Spain and the United States.

29 April

The Portuguese government declared itself neutral in the conflict between Spain and the United States.

Lt. Henry H. Whitney of the Fourth Artillery was sent to Puerto Rico on a reconnaisance mission, sponsored by the Army's Bureau of Military Intelligence. He provided maps and information on the Spanish military forces to the U.S. government prior to the invasion.

2 May
The U.S. Congress voted a war emergency credit increase of $34,625,725.

10 May
Spanish forces in the fortress of San Cristóbal in San Juan exchanged fire with the U.S.S. Yale under the command of Capt. William Clinton Wise.

12 May
A squadron of 12 U.S. ships commanded by Rear Adm. William T. Sampson bombarded San Juan.

18 May
Spanish Prime Minister Sagasta formed a new cabinet.

28 May
General William Rufus Shafter, U.S. Army, received orders to mobilize his forces in Tampa, Florida for the attack on Cuba.

11 June
McKinley administration reactivated debate on Hawaiian annexation. Debate in Congress: "we must have Hawaii to help us get our share of China."

15 June
U.S. Congress passed the Hawaii annexation resolution, 209-91. Three weeks later the Senate affirmed measure.

25 June
The U.S.S. Yosemite arrived off San Juan harbor, Puerto Rico, to blockade the port.

2 July
Admiral Cervera and the Spanish fleet prepared to leave Santiago Bay.

3 July
The Spanish fleet attempt to leave the bay was halted as the U.S. squadron under Admiral Schley destroyed the Spanish destroyer Furor, the torpedo boat Plutón, and the armored cruisers Infanta María Teresa, Almirante Oquendo, Vizcaya, and Cristóbal Colón. The Spanish lost all their ships, 350 dead, and 160 wounded.

4 July
News of the defeat of the Spanish naval squadron under Cervera reached the United States.

8 July
U.S. acquired Hawaii.

18 July
The Spanish government, through French Ambassador in Washington Jules Cambon, forwarded a message to President McKinley asking for hostilities to be suspended and the start of negotiations to end the war. Spanish Minister of State Duque de Almodóvar del Río (Juan Manuel Sánchez y Gutiérrez de Castro), Spanish Minister of State, had wired the Spanish Ambassador in Paris charging him to negotiate the suspension, through the French Government, as a preliminary measure to final negotiations for pleace.

21 July
A convoy of 3,300 soldiers and nine transports escorted by the U.S.S. Massachusetts sailed for Puerto Rico from Guantánamo, Cuba.

25 July
U.S. troops under the command of Gen. Nelson Miles disembarked in Guánica on the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

26 July
Brig. Gens. George Garretson and Guy V. Henry arrived at Yauco and gained control of the key railroad line connecting it with Ponce, the largest city on the island.

General Miles' troops arrived in Ponce. Miles remained in the city until early August presiding over civil and military affairs on the island.

French Government contacted the McKinley Administration regarding the Spanish request for a suspension of hostilities.

27 July
Major Gen. James H. Wilson's division arrived in Ponce.

28 July
Miles issued a public proclamation in Ponce stating that the purpose of the U.S. invasion was to bring Puerto Rico a "banner of freedom."

Duque de Almodóvar del Río called for the U.S. annexation of Cuba.

U.S. officials instruct General Shafter to return troops immediately to the United States to prevent an outbreak of yellow fever.

31 July
Major Gen. Theodore Schwan and his men landed in Guánica and moved west. Major General Brooke disembarked in Arroyo.

5 August
Brooke's forces seized Guayama.

8 August
General Brooke's troops advanced to Cayey.
Brigadier General Henry, in command of troops from the 6th Massachusetts and 6th Illinois Volunteer Infantries, left Ponce to meet with Schwan's division in Arecibo.

9 August
Wilson's division (the 16th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry) reached Coamo. U.S. forces inflicted heavy losses on the Spanish garrison there, killing two of its ranking officers and taking 167 prisoners.
Afterwards, Wilson continued toward Aibonito where he encountered heavy resistance from the Spanish troops in the mountains.

10 August
Schwan defeated the Spanish line near Hormigueros and continued toward Mayagüez.

11 August
General Schwan's troops occupied the city of Mayagüez.

U.S. Secretary of State Day and French Ambassador Cambon, representing Spain, negotiated the Protocol of Peace.

12 August
U.S. President William McKinley and French Ambassador Jules Cambon, acting on behalf of the Spanish government, signed an armistice whereby Spain relinquished its sovereignty over the territories of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Phillippines. The fate of these countries would be decided during the peace talks.

13 August
General Brooke halted the attack on Aibonito after receiving the U.S. President's message that an armistice had been signed the previous day. General Henry's division reached Utuado where it halted the advance on Arecibo due to the ceasefire.

9 September
U.S. and Spanish Commissions met in San Juan, Puerto Rico to discuss the details of the withdrawal of Spanish troops and the cession of the island to the United States.

13 September
The Spanish Cortes ratified the Protocol of Peace.

16 September
The Spanish and U.S. Commissioners for the Peace Treaty were appointed. U.S. Commissioners were William R. Day (U.S. Secretary of State), William P. Frye (President pro tempore of Senate, Republican-Maine), Whitelaw Reid, George Gray (Senator, Democrat-Delaware) and Cushman K. Davis (Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican-Minnesota). The Spanish Commissioners were Eugenio Montero Ríos (President, Spanish Senate), Buenaventura Abarzuza (Senator), José de Garnica y Díaz (Associate Justice of the Supreme Court), Wenceslao Ramírez de Villa Urrutia (Envoy Extraordinary), and Rafael Cerero y Saenz (General of the Army).

William R. Day resigned as U.S. Secretary of State and was succeeded by John Hay.

29 September
Governor Macías officially announced that Puerto Rico had been ceded to the United States.

1 October
The Spanish and United States commissioners held their initial meeting in Paris to draft the Peace Treaty.

18 October
The Spanish withdrawal from Puerto Rico was completed as the final troops left San Juan for Spain. General Brooke became the governor of the island, head of the U.S. military government established there.

28 November
The Spanish Commission for Peace accepted the United States demands in the Peace Treaty.

9 December
Gen. Guy V. Henry succeeded General Brooke as military governor of Puerto Rico.

10 December
The Treaty of Paris ended the Spanish-American War of 1898. As a result of this treaty, Spain lost the last of its empire in the New World. The United States was ceded Puerto Rico and Guam, liquidated its possessions in the West Indies, agreed to pay 20 million dollars for the Phillippines, while Cuba became independent.


1 January
Spanish forces left Cuba.

6 February
U.S. Senate approved the Treaty of Paris by a vote of 52 to 27. President McKinley signed it on that day.

19 March
Spain ratified the Treaty of Paris when the queen regent María Cristina signed the agreement to break the impasse of the deadlocked Cortes.

11 April
The Treaty of Paris was proclaimed. 9 May
Gen. George W. Davis succeeded Gen. Guy V. Henry as military governor of Puerto Rico.

8 August
Hurricane San Ciriaco hit Puerto Rico. One of the most destructive hurricanes in the history of the island, it resulted in several thousand deaths and provoked a major economic crisis.


12 April
The U.S. Congress passed the Foraker Act, establishing a civilian government in Puerto Rico under U.S. control. The Act provided for an elected House of Representatives on the island, but not for a vote in Washington.

1 May
With the inauguration of Gov. Charles H. Allen, the U.S. civilian government of Puerto Rico begins.

5 June
President McKinley named an Executive Cabinet under Gov. Charles H. Allen that included five Puerto Rican members--José Celso Barbosa, Rosendo Matienzo Cintrón, José de Diego, Manuel Camuñas and Andrés Crosas, and six U.S. members--William H. Hunt, Secretary; J.H. Hollander, Treasurer; J.R. Garrison, Auditor; W.B. Eliot, Interiors; James A. Harlan, Attorney General; and Dr. M.G. Brumbaugh, Secretary of Education.


4 March
Federico Degetau takes office in Washington as the first Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.


Luis Muñoz Rivera and José de Diego founded the Unionist Party of Puerto Rico to fight against the colonial government established under the Foraker Act.

4 July
Beeckman Winthrop became the governor of Puerto Rico and served until 1907.


6 November
A new electoral law gave the vote to all males 21 and older. The Unionist Party won the elections to the Legislative Assembly and sent Tulio Larrinaga to Washington as Resident Commissioner.

11 December
During a visit to Puerto Rico, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt addressed the Puerto Rican Congress and recommended that Puerto Ricans become United States citizens.


The Olmsted Amendment to the Foraker Act was passed by both houses of Congress. The legislation was a response to a governmental crisis in Puerto Rico in early 1909.


Rosendo Matienzo Cintrón, Manuel Zeno Gandía, Luis Llorens Torres, Eugenio Benítez Castaño, y Pedro Franceschi found the Independence party which was the first party in the history of the island to exclusively want Puerto Rican independence. Though short-lived, it established a precedent for future organizations with similar ideologies.


The first Puerto Rican officers are assigned to the Executive Cabinet, allowing islanders a majority. The officers were Martin Travieso, Secretary, and Manuel V. Domenech, Comissioner of Interiors.


A delegation from Puerto Rico, accompanied by the Gov. Arthur Yager, traveled to Washington in order to ask Congress to grant the island more autonomy.


5 December
President Woodrow Wilson urged Congress to pass the Jones Act which would allow Puerto Ricans to become U.S. citizens.


2 March
President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act. It gave Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship and a bill of rights and also established a locally elected Senate and House of Representatives. However, the Foraker Act still determined economic and fiscal aspects of government.


In the case of Balzac v. Porto Rico, 258 U.S. 308, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that Puerto Rico was a territory rather than a part of the Union. The decision stated that the U.S. constitution did not apply in Puerto Rico.

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