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).
Let us know what you think of our stories by leaving a comment.