This is a guest post by Felix Muniz. Felix is working with the education team at the Library of Congress as part of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Internship Program.
Many teachers use the Spanish-American War as an entry point to discuss the changing role of the United States in world affairs. Like the U.S., in 1898 the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico experienced large and rapid transformations in its political and economic landscape. Explore these changes using primary sources from the Library of Congress collection Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age: Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Perspectives.
First-person accounts, political writings, maps, and pamphlets can be used to study both world and U.S. history. Topics include the native peoples, land, and resources; relations with Spain; competition among political parties; reform efforts; and recollections by veterans of the Spanish-American War.
World history students can explore the political and economic transformation of a former Spanish colony. The collection also provides insights into the changing role of the United States in world affairs and can be used as a case study to debate ideas of American expansionism. Did ideas of Manifest Destiny provide impetus to annex Puerto Rico or was it the result of an unintended consequence? Did the island possess any strategic military or economic value? What role did humanitarian concerns play in the conflict?
For U.S. history, this collection provides first-hand accounts of the experiences of Americans engaged in the conflict, their evaluation of the roots of military engagement, and their encounters with Yellow Fever, a major cause of death during the war.
Students may use the primary sources in this collection to:
- Examine the “Evening Post Map of the West Indies” to determine Puerto Rico’s location and its strategic value.
- Read Rudolph Adams Middeldyk’s History of Puerto and Salvador Brau’s Puerto Rico y su Historia: investigaciones criticas. Determine each author’s perspective and evaluate each one’s appraisal of Spanish colonization.
- Read “A recent Campaign in Puerto Rico by the Independent Regular Brigade Under the Command of Brig. General Schwan” to understand the perspective of Americans participating in the Spanish American War.
- Translate and read José Pérez Moris’ “Historia de la insurrección de Lares” to learn more about Puerto Rican nationalist movements.
Additional resources include:
- The Spanish American War; the United States Becomes a World Power primary source set.
- A historical essay covering Spanish American War, from the Spanish conflict with Cuba, the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine, to the Treaty of Paris which formally ended hostilities.
- A chronology of significant events.