The Jones-Shafroth Act

The Jones-Shafroth Act

Written on 09/10/2023

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act, more commonly known as the Jones Act, which made residents of Puerto Rico, a Spanish-speaking U.S. possession, American citizens. It replaced the Foraker Act of 1900, which established a civilian government on the island and was named after its chief sponsor, Sen. Joseph Foraker (R-Ohio).

The new legislation was crafted by Rep. William Jones (D-Va.), chairman of the House Committee on Insular Affairs, and Sen. John Shafroth (D-Colo.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico.

It separated the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government and provided for individual civil rights. It called for a governor and an executive council appointed by the U.S. president, a revised judicial system with a Supreme Court and a U.S. District Court, and a popularly elected nonvoting resident commissioner in Washington with a four-year term.

The first administrative cabinet under the Jones Act. From left: A. Ruíz Soler (Health), José E. Benedicto (Treasurer), Ramón Siaca Pacheco (Secretary), Hon. Arthur Yager (Governor, 1914-1921), Paul G. Miller (Education), Manuel Camuñas (Labor and Agriculture), Salvador Mestre (Attorney General), Guillermo Esteves (Interior), Jesse W. Bonner (Auditor), Pedro L. Rodríguez (Governor's Secretary).

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