"The change is three-fold:
"I. The United States is about to take its place among the great armed powers of the world.
"II. By the seizure and retention of territory not only not contiguous to the borders of the republic, but remote from them, the United States becomes a colonizing nation, and enters the field of international rivalries.
"III. The growth of good will and mutual understanding between Great Britain and the United States and the settlement of all pending disputes between Canada and America, now virtually assured, constitute a working union of the English-speaking people against the rest of the world for common ends, whether any formal agreement is reached or not."
Mr. Norman goes on to say, after speaking of the possible American army and navy of the present and the future:
"And look at the display of American patriotism. When the volunteers were summoned by the President they walked on the scene as if they had been waiting in the wings. They were subjected to a physical examination as searching as that of a life insurance company. A man was rejected for two or three filled teeth. They came from all ranks of life. Young lawyers, doctors, bankers, well-paid clerks are marching by thousands in the ranks. The first surgeon to be killed at Guantanamo left a New York practice of $10,000 a year to volunteer. As I was standing on the steps of the Arlington Hotel one evening a tall, thin man, carrying a large suitcase, walked out and got on the street car for the railway station on his way to Tampa. It was John Jacob Astor, the possessor of a hundred millions of dollars. Theodore Roosevelt's rough riders contain a number of the smartest young men in New York society. A Harvard class-mate of mine, a rising young lawyer, is working like a laborer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, not knowing when he may be ordered to Cuba or Manila. He is a naval reserve man and sent in his application for any post 'from the stoke hole upward.' The same is true of women. When I called to say good-by to Mrs. John Addison Porter, the wife of the Secretary to the President, whose charming hospitality I had enjoyed, she had gone to Tampa to ship as a nurse on the Red Cross steamer for the coast of Cuba. And all this, be it remembered, is for a war in which the country is not in the remotest danger, and when the ultimate summons of patriotism is unspoken. Finally, consider the reference to the war loan. A New York syndicate offered to take half of it at a premium which would have given the Government a clear profit of $1,000,000. But the loan was wisely offered to the people and the small investor gets all he can buy before the capitalist is even permitted to invest. And from Canada to the Gulf, from Long Island to Seattle, the money of the people is pouring in."
Mr. Norman concludes his article with these pregnant words, words which will force every man of any brains whatever to pause and think:
"Here, then, is the new America in one aspect—armed for a wider influence and a harder fight than any she has envisaged before. And what a fight she will make! Dewey, with his dash upon Manila; Hobson and his companions, going quietly to apparently certain death, and ships offering the whole muster roll as volunteers to accompany him; Rowan, with his life in his hand at every minute of his journey to Gomez and back, worse than death awaiting him if caught; Blue, making his 70-mile reconnoissance about Santiago; Whitney, with compass and notebook in pocket, dishwashing his perilous way round to Porto Rico—this is the old daring of our common race. If the old lion and the young lion should ever go hunting side by side——!"
Mr. Norman wisely leaves his last sentence unfinished. For no man can predict what the result would be. Would it be the subjugation of the entire world to the Anglo-Saxon race?
After considering what the French and the English have to say, now let us turn to the utterances of the Hon. Andrew H. Green, who spoke purely in the interests of a private citizen, one who desired the retention of the territory acquired by the American Government solely because he wished that the people of the United States should not underestimate the value of their grand opportunities for national enrichment.
"War with Spain," said Mr. Green, in the beginning of his interview in the Sun, "was declared by the authorized authorities, whether wisely or otherwise, it is not now of much profit to discuss. It has been prosecuted with vigor and brought to a successful issue with a dispatch unprecedented in conflicts of equal magnitude. What shall be done with its results? What, in this age of enlightenment and progress, shall we do with the territories and with their peoples and property that the fate of war has placed under our control and guardianship?"
Mr. Green concludes his interview as follows:
"As occasion offered heretofore the American people have insisted upon acquiring and holding territory when the interests of the country required it. Looking at all the precedents, at the present situation, at the signs and needs of the times, there is but little room to doubt that the permanent retention of all territory acquired from Spain will, in the interest of humanity and duty, be demanded with equal firmness. We shall go on in the same course of expansion which we have pursued from our earliest history as an independent nation. We have 'hoisted the mainsail' of the ship of state and started her about the world. While heeding Washington's warnings and the popular interpretation of the Monroe doctrine to keep the people of other nations from getting a foothold on this continent, we shall not pervert their spirit by stubbornly refusing to improve an opportunity to extend and increase our power and our commerce. Every extension of our territory hitherto made has been resisted by a spirit the same in essence as that which now timidly opposes our improving the wonderful opportunities put in our hands by the happy fortune of war; but such opposition has failed of its purpose invariably hitherto, and it will fail now with the American people. The sacrifices of the war will not have been in vain and the victories won by the valor of our navy and army will not fail of their legitimate and well-earned points."
We are a practical people. There can be no doubt about that, but still we are occasionally moved by sentiment, as when we undertook to free Cuba from oppression, but at the bottom of every national action there is a sound practical idea.
It was a pure and unselfish sentiment, however, that impelled us to prevent the extermination of the people of Cuba, a country so near to our own doors, and to demand for them by force of arms, the freedom and independence which was and is most unquestionably their right.
With Cuba freed, the rule of Spaniards in Porto Rico would be both absurd and dangerous. It would be a menace to the perpetual peace between Spain and the United States, which the latter are determined on for the future.
Moreover, as we have seen, Porto Rico wishes most strongly to become an integral portion of the Union, and we desire to receive her as such.
The rule of common sense should be applied, and both sentiment and practicality are united in calling for the conditions which the American Government has demanded as to the former Spanish possessions in the Western Hemisphere.
The war against Spain was inevitable, was just and necessary for the sake of humanity and the progress of the world. Both our army and navy have shown glorious bravery and heroism, and their marvelous achievements must not be allowed to bring forth no results.
By the fortunes of war a great responsibility has been placed in the hands of the United States, and it would be criminal to shirk in any respect this responsibility. We must not give back to Spain any portion of the earth in which to continue her abominable misrule. Let the United States move forward to its manifest destiny.
In a powerful editorial the New York Sun declares that our success will make for the world's peace. We alone were the nation to free Cuba and the other Spanish colonies. No one of the European powers could have come forward to the rescue of the colonies without provoking the enmity and jealousy of the other powers. If we had neglected to discharge our duty, then that duty would probably have fallen to a commission of the European nations. The consequence would have been that Spain would have been superseded in the Spanish Antilles by a strong European power, which would have led sooner or later to a partition of Spanish America. The United States alone could upset Spanish colonial rule without exciting an uncontrollable outburst of envy and greed in Europe, and occasion a general scramble for the spoils of the New World.
Neither Cuba nor Porto Rico could have been kept by Spain with any assurance of the general safety of nations. So long as the so-called mother country exercised any power there, both the islands would have been firebrands, which, if not aflame, would surely have been smouldering.
The Sun concludes its editorial with these words:
"It is, in a word, for the interest of the whole civilized world that all of Spain's colonies, with the possible exception of the Canaries, should be turned over to us. It is for the world's interests because, in her hands, they always have been, and always would be, a menace to the general peace. If this be true, and that it is cannot be gainsaid, the sooner the transfer is made the better. The fire, which now is localized, should be put out quickly, lest it spread. A thousand accidents, contingencies, inadvertencies, may lead to the very complications which all of the European powers, except Spain, are anxious to avoid. We except Spain because, in putting off the evil day and in postponing submission to the terms which our duty to mankind compels us to impose, she can have no other hope, no other purpose, than to bring about such international entanglements as may cause a general war. Spain alone has anything to gain from such a contest; in it she would at least have allies, and would expect to see her thirst for revenge upon us gratified. The great powers of Europe, however, do not mean to risk an oecumenical convulsion for the sake of a decadent monarchy, which, considered as the trustee of colonies, has been tried in the balance and found wanting. They recognize that, in seeking to evade the sentence of rigorous isolation which the conscience of mankind has passed upon her, she is jeopardizing the peace of the world. For that reason they are exerting and will continue to exert all the means of moral pressure at their command to induce the Spaniards to accept promptly such terms as our Government may offer."
The people of the United States, after the armistice was declared, were united in one thing, and that was, that apart from the question of indemnity, the one condition of peace, final and unvariable, would in the nature of the case be this:
The surrender and cession to the United States, now and forever, of all Spain's possessions in the western waters of both Atlantic and Pacific.
The fortune of a war begun for the liberation of one people has put it into the power of the United States to liberate several peoples. All this territory, which is ours by right, must henceforth be consecrated to freedom.
Colonel Alexander McClure, in an address at the laying of the cornerstone of the new State Capitol of Pennsylvania, expressed most eloquently the true American feeling in regard to the possessions which our naval and military prowess won from Spain:
"The same supreme power that demanded this war will demand the complete fulfillment of its purpose. It will demand, in tones which none can misunderstand and which no power or party can be strong enough to disregard, that the United States' flag shall never be furled in any Spanish province where it has been planted by the heroism of our army and navy.
"Call it imperialism if you will; but it is not the imperialism that is inspired by the lust of conquest. It is the higher and nobler imperialism that voices the sovereign power of this nation and demands the extension of our flag and authority over the provinces of Spain, solely that 'government of the people by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.'
"Such is the imperialism that has become interwoven with the destiny of our great free Government, and it will be welcomed by our people regardless of party lines, and will command the commendation of the enlightened powers of the Old World, as it rears, for the guidance of all, the grandest monuments of freedom as the proclaimed policy and purpose of the noblest Government ever reared by a man or blessed by Heaven."
WHAT THE POSSESSION OF PORTO RICO WILL MEAN.
The heading of this chapter presents a most difficult problem at this time. It would require an inspired prophet to answer the question, and all that we can do is to look at it as dispassionately as possible, and to show the opinions of those who are more or less informed upon the subject. From these opinions the reader must of necessity draw his own conjectures.
Of course, from the very nature of conditions the land is at the present time of writing in a most unsettled state, from a political, commercial and social point of view.
A new element has entered into the lives of the Porto Ricans, and this new element naturally brings with it an unknown future.
The Spaniards and Porto Ricans have but little idea of political tolerance. They are enemies, now, and both seem to think that the opposite party is to be abused, persecuted and even tortured.
Many of the Porto Ricans, on the word of a competent authority, believe that violence to the persons or property of the Spaniards will be acceptable to the Americans. The Spaniards, sharing this belief, live in a constant state of terror, fearing for their possessions and even for their lives.
The withdrawal to an extent of the Spanish troops gave the guerillas full license, and they burned a number of plantations before our forces were put in charge.
Both natives and Spanish, it might be said, were busy in cutting each other's throats. The people became more or less terrorized, and begged for American protection.
About the first of September, Major-General Wilson met at dinner a large number of prominent islanders, and in response to a toast, he made a rather long speech. As this speech was and is of great interest, we make no apology for reproducing almost in full here.
General Wilson said:
"The great Republic, unlike the governments of Europe, has no subjects. It extends its rights and privileges freely and equally to all men, regardless of race or color or previous condition, who reside within its far-reaching dominions. It makes citizens of all who forswear their allegiance to foreign Powers, princes and potentates, and promise henceforth to bear true faith and allegiance to the United States.
"The expulsion of the Spanish power from your beautiful and long-suffering island and the hoisting of the American flag will be followed shortly, let us hope, by the establishment of a stable civil administration, based on the American principle of local self-government.
"The government now exercising supreme authority in the island, you will understand, is a government of conquest, in which the will of the military commander is substituted for that of the Spanish king and Cortes. It does not pretend to interfere with the local laws, except in so far as may be necessary to protect the army of the United States and maintain peace and good order among the people of the island. It looks to the local courts to do justice as between man and man, and to the moderation and good sense of the people themselves for the maintenance of public tranquility, and for the cultivation of that perfect respect for the rights of persons and property which constitutes the foundation of the American system of government.
"It has been wisely said by one of the fathers of the republic that 'That government is best which governs least,' and this is the principle which Porto Rico should keep constantly in view. Government interference is necessary only when the people, instead of confining themselves exclusively to their own particular affairs, presume to interfere with the affairs of their neighbors.
"If every one, high and low, rich and poor, Porto Rican and Spaniard, devotes himself strictly and exclusively to his own private or official business, eschewing politics and public affairs, for the next year, everybody will find at the end of that time that the island has been well governed and prosperous, and your American fellow citizens will proclaim you worthy of the good fortune which has united your destinies to those of the great Republic.
"Permit me to add that as soon as the Spaniards have evacuated the island, and the sovereignty of the United States is fully established, a military governor will be appointed by the President, and he will govern in the main in accordance with the principles I have indicated. How long this military government will last must depend largely upon the people of Porto Rico themselves.
"In the natural and regular course of events the military government should be followed by a territorial government established by act of Congress, and this in time should be followed in a few years by a government which shall make Porto Rico a sovereign State of the great Republic, and give it all the rights guaranteed by the constitution of the United States.
"Permit me to add, before concluding, that you are likely to meet with delay in the realization of your hopes from two principal causes.
"It is well known in the United States that Porto Rico is a Roman Catholic country, and there is grave objection on the part of many good people against the admission of a purely Roman Catholic State into the Union. This is based not so much on opposition to that particular religion as on the feeling that the domination of any sect would be prejudicial to our principles of government. We have, perhaps, ten millions of Roman Catholics in the United States, but they are scattered throughout the various States, and intermingled everywhere with the Protestant sects, so that no one has a majority. We have no established Church, and under our policy Congress can pass no act concerning religion or limiting the right of any citizen to worship God as he pleases.
"The result is that all the churches are absolutely free, and none concerns itself with politics. Each watches to see that the other does not get control of the State.
"Now that the Spanish government has been expelled, it can no longer support the Church in this island, hence the Church will necessarily have a hard struggle till it can establish itself on the basis of voluntary parochial support. Meanwhile the Protestant denominations in the United States will have the right to send their missionaries into this inviting field, where they will doubtless receive a hearty welcome, but still the advantage will remain with the Roman Catholic Church, in which the people have been born, married and buried for the last four hundred years.
"Besides, it must not be forgotten that the Church, like every other institution of the island, will surely realize its full share of the benefits arising from the union of the island with the great Republic. It will, therefore, become more liberal and independent, as well as more powerful than it has ever been.
"Fortunately for you, however, every other Christian denomination will from this time forth be free to make converts, establish churches, open schools and circulate religious books and newspapers, and generally to show that it is a worthy teacher and guide to a higher and better civilization than ever prevails where one Church holds undisputed sway.
"The second great menace to the future of the Porto Rican people is the danger of an outbreak of violence and intolerance on the part of one section of your people against another; the danger of insular turning against peninsular; of Porto Rican turning against Spaniard, with the torch and dagger, to avenge himself for the wrongs and oppressions, real or imaginary, which have so long characterized the Spanish domination in this beautiful island.
"It needs no argument to show that such an outbreak if it becomes general, cannot fail to bring discredit on your countrymen as a turbulent and law-breaking people who cannot be intrusted with the precious privilege of self-government, and must therefore be ruled by a military commander.
"I firmly believe that the Porto Ricans are a docile, orderly and kindly people, well prepared for a better government than they have ever enjoyed, but you must lose no opportunity to impress upon the United States that you are tolerant and magnanimous as well.
"Your wrongs, whatever they were, have been avenged by the expulsion of the Spanish flag and the Spanish dominion, without exertion or cost on your part, and the least you can do in return is to repress the spirit of revenge and resolve to live in peace and quietude with your Spanish neighbors, respecting their rights of persons and property, as you desire to have your own respected.
"In this way, and in this way only, can you show yourselves to be worthy of the great destiny which has overtaken you, and which, let us hope, is to speedily clothe your island with sovereignty as a member of the great continental Republic.
"Thus, and thus only, can we become fellow citizens indeed in perpetual enjoyment of our common and inestimable heritage as citizens of the freest, richest and most powerful nation in the world." The Hon. A. H. Green speaks as follows of the present condition of Porto Rico:
"The problems that force themselves upon the attention at the outset are those of government and of finance. The first question that naturally arises is, what shall be done with these possessions? How shall they, with their unassimilated populations, be cared for? The presence of a military force will doubtless be an immediate necessity. It should be administered in the mildest form, unless riot and disorder otherwise require, and be controlled by officers humane and intelligent, inclined to encourage at the earliest practical time the inauguration of a civil rule which shall gradually and as rapidly as may be found wise invite an official participation of representatives of the indigenous populations. Can this be done? Let the doubting and the timid recall what has been done, and is now doing toward improving the conditions of the peoples of the East and ask themselves whether America is not likely to be equally successful in caring for those whose destinies she has assumed to direct; whether it is not her duty to enforce order and to keep the peace among peoples who by her acts have been left disorganized and defenseless, a prey to the internecine strifes of barbarous chiefs and to the intrigues of roaming banditti? And have not experiences in assimilating Spanish territories hitherto successfully annexed or conquered proved abundantly our ability to do all this?
"It is natural enough that conservative minds should adhere to the traditions of the past, but times are changed, and the wisest of our forefathers were not able to foresee what the workings of centuries might effect. The atrocities to which the inhabitants of Cuba have been subjected in the past two or more years aroused the indignation of the civilized world.
"'Their moans, the vales redoubled to the hills, And they to Heav'n.'
"The financial problem, which is already commanding the serious attention of the Government, is next in order. How are the great expenditures of the war to be recouped? Shall we, in addition to territory acquired, demand cash indemnity? If the care of these acquisitions is to be as costly as some suppose, it would not be an unreasonable requirement. While we shall lose the revenues derived from imposts upon importations into the United States from these possessions, which were not large, this will be more than compensated by the duties which we can impose upon importations from other nations into them. In making up the estimates of the whole financial situation it will be safe to assume that at first our Government outlays will exceed income; our people, however, will have the profit of furnishing products of the United States to an added population of 10,000,000 to 12,000,000, freed from the duty that we can impose upon the imports of other nations. Of the $10,000,000 in value of imports into the Philippines from all countries, we supplied less than $200,000, while we took from them nearly $5,000,000.
"The interests of the people who gain their living and manual labor are among the first to be considered and jealously guarded. Fortunately the far greater part of these in America are engaged in employments which will be benefited by annexation. A fresh and unrestrained market is to be opened for our products, and the indigenous products of these regions are to be brought here free of duty to give added employment to our factories. No competitions of labor are to arise."
As to our new acquisition of new colonies by the United States, Theodore S. Wolsey, Professor of International Law at Yale University, has this to say, and every word he utters is pregnant with meaning, for no one could be a more capable judge:
"It has already been said that England learned the lesson of the American Revolution, while Spain has never heeded it nor the loss of her own colonies. Yet it really was not until fifty years ago that their methods sharply diverged. As early as 1778 Spain had begun to open her dependencies to Foreign trade, and early in this century they were allowed to trade with one another. So, likewise, although great changes had been earlier made in the English colonies, the spirit of monopoly and of a restrictive policy was in force until about 1815. So far as relates to the evils of the colonial system, then, the two were not very unlike. But into the field of administrative reform and the grant of autonomous powers to her colonies, Spain never has entered. The abuses of the early part of the century characterize also its later years. Discrimination against the native-born, even of the purest Spanish stock; officials who regard the colony as a mine to be worked, not a trust to be administered; forced dependence upon the mother country for manufactures, even for produce, so far as duties can effect it; self-government stifled; representation in the Cortes denied or a nullity; a civil service unprogressive, ignorant, sometimes corrupt—compare these handicaps with the growth, the prosperity, the independence, above all, the decent and orderly administration, of the colonies of England. One of the wonderful things in this half century is that army of British youth, with but little special training or genius, or even, perhaps, conscious sympathy for the work, learning to administer the great and growing Indian and colonial empire honestly and wisely and well, with courage and judgment equal to emergencies, animated by an every-day working sense of duty and honor, but not very often making any fuss or phrases about it. It is not that Spanish colonial government is worse than formerly, which is costing it now so dear, but that it is no better, while the world's standard has advanced and condemns it. Never yet has Spain looked at her colonies with their own welfare uppermost in her mind. She has never outgrown the old mistaken theories. Her fault is medievalism, alias ignorance.
"It is not a cause for wonder, therefore, quite apart from special sources of discontent, that Cuba, which, by position is thrown into contact with progressive peoples, should chafe at her leading strings. Without reference to the corruption and cruelty, arrogance, injustice and repression which are alleged against the mother country, without rhetoric and without animosity, we may fairly say that Spain is losing Cuba, perhaps all her colonies, simply because she has not conformed to the standard of the time in the matter of colonial government. If England had not altered her own methods, her colonies would long since have abandoned her as opportunity offered. The wonder really is that Spain has held hers so long; for Cuba, at least, owing to its exceptional fertility and position, has relatively outstripped its declining mother.
"There remains the moral of the story.
"If we are not mistaken as to the fundamental causes of Spain's colonial weakness, other colonial powers must take warning also, and the United States in particular, if it yields to the temptations, or, as many say, assumes the divinely-ordered responsibilities, of the situation. For its protective system is a derivative of the mercantile system, as the colonial system was. If it becomes a colonial power, but attempts by heavy duties to limit the foreign trade of its colonies, if it administers those colonies through officials of the spoils type, if it fails to enlarge the local liberties and privileges of its dependencies up to the limit of their receptive powers—if, in short, it holds colonies for its own aggrandizement, instead of their well-being—it will be but repeating the blunders of Spain, and the end will be disaster."
Colonel Hill has declared that the heavy burdens under which the business world of Porto Rico has been staggering in the past have been almost inconceivable. Something of this has already been said, but it may be well to give Colonel Hill's views, as he is certainly a most competent judge. The colonel says that in the first place there has been a tax on every ship that comes in and goes out. There has been a heavy tax on all articles of impost and a special tax on all articles not enumerated in the tariff. In addition to that, an additional tax of ten per cent. on the bill was added. Each hackman who plied between the port and the town of Ponce had to pay a tax of eight dollars a month. No person could write a letter to an official without first going to the collector and purchasing a certain kind of official paper, for which he must pay fifty cents to one dollar a sheet. The price was regulated by the rank of the official who had to be written to.
The effect of all this was rather to increase the number of complaints from citizens than to increase the revenues of the island.
To General Ernst, who was the officer in command of the territory of Coamo, a large number of protests were made. In especial, a delegation of twelve to fifteen citizens called upon the general to request the removal of the alcalde, on the ground that he had been an officer in the Spanish volunteer army, and was unsatisfactory because of his former connections. The gentleman, however, had gracefully accepted the new condition of affairs and was performing the duties of his office earnestly and faithfully. These facts General Ernst was in possession of and he was forced in consequence to deny the request of the delegation.
For his own protection and to remove any false impression there might be in the public mind, General Ernst issued the following proclamation, which was printed in both English and Spanish:
"Headquarters 1st Brigade, 1st Div., 1st Army Corps, Camp Near Coamo, Porto Rico, September 3, 1898.
To the People of Coamo and Neighboring Districts:
"To prevent misunderstanding as to the rights and duties of the various members of this community, you are respectfully informed:
"1. That no change has been made in the civil laws of Porto Rico, and that none can be made except by the Congress of the United States. The present civil authorities are to be obeyed and respected.
"2. That no prejudice rests against any citizen, whether in office or not, for having served as a volunteer, if he now frankly accepts the authority of the United States.
"3. That the persecution of persons simply because they are Spaniards, or Spanish sympathizers, will not be tolerated. They, as well as the Porto Ricans, are all expected to become good American citizens, and, in any event, they are entitled to the protection of the law until they violate it.
O. H. Ernst, "Brigadier-General Commanding."
About this time President McKinley promulgated through the War Department the revised customs tariff and regulations to be enforced by the military authorities in the ports of Porto Rico.
In general, the regulations for Porto Rico were practically the same as those promulgated for Cuba and the Philippines. The one important difference was that trade between ports in the United States and ports and places in the possession of the United States in Porto Rico be restricted to registered vessels of the United States and prohibited to all others. It was provided that any merchandise transported in violation of this regulation should be subject to forfeiture, and that for every passenger transported and landed in violation of this regulation the transporting vessel should be subject to a penalty of $200.
This regulation should not be construed to forbid the sailing of other than registered vessels of the United States with cargo and passengers between the United States and Porto Rico, provided that they were not landed, but were destined for some foreign port or place.
It was further provided that this regulation should not be construed to authorize lower tonnage taxes or other navigation charges on American vessels entering the ports of Porto Rico from the United States than were paid by foreign vessels from foreign countries, nor to authorize any lower customs charges or tariff charges on the cargoes of American vessels entering from the United States than were paid on the cargoes of foreign vessels entering from foreign ports.
The regulations as to entering and clearing vessels and the penalties for the violation were the same as those fixed for Cuban ports in the possession of the United States. The tonnage dues were reduced, as in Cuba, to twenty cents per ton on vessels entering from ports other than Porto Rican ports in the possession of the United States, and two cents a ton on vessels from other ports in Porto Rico. The landing charge of $1 per ton was abolished, and the special tax of fifty cents on each ton of merchandise landed at San Juan and Mayaguez for harbor improvement was continued.
As in Cuba, the Spanish minimum tariff was to be collected. On most articles, however, this was much higher than the minimum tariff which was imposed by Spain in Cuba. The differential in Porto Rico imposed on goods imported from countries other than Spain was much smaller than in Cuba, so that under Spanish rule there was not a wide difference between duties on goods from countries other than Spain imported into the two islands. Under the operation of the President's orders imposing the minimum tariffs in both islands the effect would be to tax most articles much higher in Porto Rico than in Cuba. As in Cuba, a tariff was imposed on tobacco, manufactured tobacco, cigars and cigarettes equivalent to the internal revenue taxes imposed in the United States.
Richard Harding Davis says that there will be no such complications in Porto Rico as those which exist in Cuba for the United States troops there were not allies. They were men who came, were seen and conquered. The revolutionary leaders had no share or credit in their triumphal progress.
Now to examine into what Porto Rico offers for American enterprise and capital.
In the first place, United States Consul Hanna has been flooded with letters from fortune hunters. He strongly advised all of them to remain at home until the Americans were in complete control. Now, let us examine what one or two competent authorities have to say of Porto Rico, so far as American enterprise is concerned.
Here is the opinion of a man who has lived in Porto Rico for several years and who knows of what he is speaking:
"We take Porto Rico, too, at a time when everything favors increased prosperity. It has not been ravaged and wrecked, like Cuba, by war. Its foreign trade in 1896, amounting to $36,624,120, was the largest in its history, the value of the exports then, for the first time in over ten years, exceeding that of the imports. Of course the main trade has always been with Spain, but the trade with us stands next, and during the year in question was over two-thirds of that with Spain. Of late, it is true, our trade with Porto Rico has been relatively declining, being far less than it was a quarter of a century ago. During the reciprocity period of a few years since it increased somewhat, but after that it fell off again. It is important to note, however, that our exports to Porto Rico have kept well up of late years, the falling off in total trade being due to the decline of our imports, so that now the exports are not far from equal to the imports, instead of being much inferior as formerly. It is a noteworthy fact that the exchange from both countries is mostly of products of the soil. That is the case with ninety-nine hundredths of Porto Rico's exports to us, sugar and molasses comprising 85 per cent., with coffee coming next, and it is also true of over three-fifths of our exports to Porto Rico, among which breadstuffs and meat foods are prominent.
"But with Porto Rico fully ours, and the discriminations enforced by past laws in favor of Spanish trade wiped out, there must be a change in the currents of her commerce. We shall expect to furnish the chief markets for her products, and on the other hand to send to the island more food products than ever, more machinery, textile fabrics, iron and steel. Her capabilities will be developed, perhaps notably in coffee cultivation. Her peaceful and industrious people will welcome American enterprise and capital, American progressive methods, and free institutions. Indeed one of the most striking events of this year was the extraordinary enthusiasm with which American troops were greeted all along the southern shores of the island. It was as if the people could already forecast the great future in store for them, under American laws and the American flag."
A correspondent of the New York Evening Post, who signs himself by the initials A. G. R., speaks with authority as follows:
"The prominence given to the island by the events of recent months has led many of our people to think it of vastly greater importance, commercially, than it really is. Consul Hanna, who is back in his old quarters in San Juan, has a small wheelbarrow load of letters from all parts of the United States, asking detailed information upon all conceivable lines of trade, manufacture and profession. To answer them according to the terms of their requests would be the work of a short lifetime. But they indicate the widespread interest of American business men in Porto Rican mercantile affairs. Every steamer arriving here brings its group of American passengers. Some are visitors who make the trip only through curiosity. The majority come with an idea of some form of business, either in the shape of a speculative flyer, permanent investment, or a commercial or industrial establishment.
"A large percentage of those who come are young men, who have just about enough money to get them here, to keep them here for a week or two, and then get them home again. These come in the hope of finding immediate employment, of catching on to something which will maintain them. They invariably go home again. The island is no place for such. None but the capitalist, the investor, or the business man with money for his business, should come to Porto Rico with anything more in view than an outing or a vacation. As things are at present, there is little enough to interest the capitalist or the investor. The man who is looking for a job should look for it at home; his chances are infinitely better than they are here. There is absolutely nothing for the position hunter, for the clerk, or for the workman. In time there may be something, but it will be, at the least, many months before such opportunities are open, and even then they will be few. Until then the case is hopeless, and those who come will but do as their predecessors have done—go home again, poorer and wiser men. If a young man can afford to spend a couple of hundred dollars in the purchase of that particular form of wisdom, the opportunity is open to him here on this island. If he cannot afford it, he will do better not to risk it.
"Merchants will find nothing to do here, except to glean a certain amount of information of rather doubtful accuracy, until the question of tariff rates shall have been definitely settled. There is now nothing on which to base any plans or calculations for business operations. The native merchants are complaining seriously. They are waiting to place orders for hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of goods to replenish stocks which have been depleted through many mouths of uncertain trade conditions, and are losing business which they have been led to expect would be open to them almost immediately after the American occupation of the different cities in which they are located. Nor is it at all easy for an American to obtain any definite information or accurate details regarding any particular line of business and its possibilities. Local commercial methods are not reduced to the system which prevails among American business men. The Porto Rican merchant buys and sells, but I fail to find evidence of that close study of business and business methods by which the American merchant increases his trade and his profits.
"The entire trade of the island is of no very great magnitude. The local trade in local products is chiefly confined to the morning market for table supplies, which is held in all the cities and larger towns. The total imports and exports hardly reach a gross amount of thirty millions of dollars a year, and the imports exceed the exports by a couple of millions. I have been unable to find any statistics which I was willing to accept as wholly reliable. So far as I can learn, no complete report has been submitted by the United States Consul, and there are discrepancies which I cannot reconcile in the published reports of the English Consul and those of the Dutch Consul. I can, therefore, only give figures which are approximate, though they are sufficiently close for general purposes.
"Cotton goods appear to be the largest item among the imports, and they represent a trade of two or three millions of dollars, varying from year to year, according to the prices and the success or failure of the crop products of the island. Rice is imported to the value of one and a half to two millions of dollars. Flour, chiefly from the United States, approximates three-quarters of a million dollars. Dried, salt and pickled fish, of which Canada seems to obtain the lion's share of the trade, represents a million to a million and a quarter. The United States has the major portion of a trade in pork and pork products which about equals the fish business.
"Woollen goods are, naturally, of but limited consumption in so warm a climate, and the trade is probably less than $150,000 in amount. Agricultural implements represent a business of three to four hundred thousand dollars. Boots and shoes, almost exclusively from Spain, represent some five or six hundred thousand. Chinaware, glassware, lumber, coal, soap, furniture and other articles of general use and consumption represent amounts varying from one to three or four hundred thousand dollars.
"The most astonishing thing in the whole list of importations is the item of vegetable and garden products. These are imported into this country, which is in itself but a natural garden in which can and should be raised every form of vegetable necessary or desirable for consumption, and the annual value of the imports approximates $400,000 and the weight 7,000 tons. The island uses $150,000 worth of imported candles and $50,000 worth of imported butter yearly. It uses two to three hundred thousand dollars' worth of cheese, of which the Netherlands have, for the last few years, furnished much the greater part. Uruguay and the Argentine supply it with one to three thousand tons of jerked beef annually. Wines, beers, and liquors take something more than a half a million a year out of the country.
"Among Porto Rican exports coffee is the heaviest item. This reaches an average valuation of some $10,000,000 a year. Sugar ranks next, and approximates three to four million dollars. Tobacco goes to the extent of some half a million, and molasses touches about the same figure. Hides, cattle, timber and fruit are represented in the list, but their value is comparatively inconsiderable. Guano to the extent of half a million a year appears in the reports for some years, but I am unable to account for either the article or the amount. Some corn has been sent to Cuba, some native rum to Spain, and some bay rum to France and to the United States.
"It will thus be seen that, as yet, the island offers but a comparatively limited amount of business, either in buying or selling. Under wise laws, and a just and equitable system of taxation, with a suitable railway system and improved highways, and with the ports of the United States and of the islands open to the exchange of commodities, free of duty, a very material increase of the business of the island will inevitably follow. It is quite possible to double the trade within the next ten or fifteen years. There will be some wildcat speculation, some unwise investment and some loss to investors. The schemer and the promoter will find victims who will put their money into companies whose future is wholly hopeless. But along with that there may reasonably be expected a steady growth and improvement. But it will come by gradual increase and development, and not by a sudden bound."
According to Mr. William J. Morrisey, a prominent real estate dealer of Brooklyn, who spent some time in Porto Rico, the island is no place for an American to invest any money at present. He says that the place can be made to pay, provided the United States Government clears the entire island of Spaniards and fills the towns and cities with the American people.
Mr. Morrisey also states that the natives of the cities are desirous of becoming American citizens, but that out in the country, it is far different. These people are constantly in fear of the Americans, and their sole desire is to dispose of their property as soon as possible and return to Spain. The more enlightened of them are of the opinion that the United States Government will banish all the Spaniards from the island and thereby make it more agreeable for the residents.
A dispatch of the Evening Post says that in view of representations made to the War Department that the municipal councils in Porto Rico were making hay while the sun shines, and granting business franchises right and left under the Spanish law empowering them to do so, orders were recently issued to General Brooke to put a stop to the practice forthwith, and the announcement was given out that on the evacuation by the Spaniards, and our assumption of military authority in the island, no more of these loose grants would be made. Meanwhile American shippers were in a state of mind over a lack of ships with which to conduct the normal commerce of this country with Porto Rico. The change of status for the island, from being a foreign possession to a port of the United States coast, had made the rigid regulations of our coasting trade applicable to it, and the purchase of so many of our coasting vessels by the government for use as transports, coalers, and the like, had embarrassed the progress of coast commerce not a little. The regulations had to be suspended on two or three occasions to let in ships which seemed absolutely necessary, and now the question came up whether it would be best to suspend the regulations altogether or to have each separate vessel which needed American papers apply to Congress for special legislation.
There was another question, and a very important one, which came up, and that was how far Louisiana and other sugar-producing States would be affected by the annexation of Porto Rico.
In no State in the Union does a single interest play so important and so peculiar a part as the sugar industry in Louisiana. Fully two-fifths of the inhabitants of the State are more or less interested in sugar, and any great disaster to the crop would injure ninety per cent. of the population in southern Louisiana.
So far as Porto Rico goes, it is very doubtful if it will injure Louisiana in any way. As has been said before, the island is densely populated, small in area, and with little additional land available for sugar. It is by no means probable that it will increase materially in its sugar production. American laws will militate against the importation of contract labor, and will therefore prevent any undue competition. As the New York Sun very justly observes, the bugbear of the Louisiana sugar planter is not territorial expansion, but the war taxes and the possibility of their permanent adoption, bringing with it the reopening of the old tariff agitation, which they supposed was permanently closed.
Taking it all in all, territorial expansion has certainly no terrors for the Louisiana planters.
With the evidence we have given, it is easy to see what Porto Rico has to offer, or not to offer, to Americans.
With their usual manana, the Spaniards have been slow to evacuate the island, but a decisive stand has been taken by the President.
The chief intent of the administration is to clear the island of Spaniards, put at work American methods in sanitary, civic and economic administration, and, for the purpose of doing this without annoyance, to have forces enough for police duty.
The day fixed for the hoisting of the American flag over San Juan and the complete and permanent occupation of Porto Rico by the military forces of the United States was October 18.
It was possible for the Administration of the United States to take this step by virtue of war powers and of the establishment of the fact that Porto Rico is to be wholly and permanently American.
At the present time of writing Porto Rico is still a foreign country, so far as the laws of the United States are concerned, and until changed by Congress, customs duties will be collected on imports from the island. So, too, with the navigation laws, and American ship-owners are warned to secure registers for foreign commerce before entering the Porto Rico trade, as vessels with only coasting enrollments and licenses will be subject to penalty on their return to the United States.
On the 18th of October, promptly at noon, the flag was raised over San Juan.
An excellent description of the proceedings has been given in the Boston Herald, and reads as follows:
"The ceremony was quiet and dignified, unmarred by disorder of any kind.
"The 11th regular infantry, with two batteries of the 5th artillery, landed. The latter proceeded to the fort, while the infantry lined up on the docks. It was a holiday for San Juan, and there were many people in the streets.
"Rear Admiral Schley and General Gordon, accompanied by their staffs, proceeded to the palace in carriages. The 11th infantry regiment and band, with troop H of the 6th U. S. cavalry, then marched through the streets, and formed in the square opposite the palace. At 11.40 A. M. General Brooke, Admiral Schley and General Gordon, the United States evacuation commissioners, came out of the palace with many naval officers, and formed on the right side of the square. The street behind the soldiers was thronged with townspeople, who stood waiting in dead silence.
"At last the city clock struck the hour of 12, and the crowds, almost breathless, and with eyes fixed upon the flag pole, watched for developments. At the sound of the first gun from Fort Morro, Major Dean and Lieutenant Castle of General Brooke's staff hoisted the stars and stripes, while the band played the 'Star Spangled Banner.'
"All heads were bared, and the crowds cheered. Fort Morro, Fort San Cristobal and the United States revenue cutter Manning, lying in the harbor, fired 21 guns each.
"Senor Munoz Rivera, who was president of the recent autonomist council of secretaries, and other officials of the late insular government were present at the proceedings.
"Congratulations and handshaking among the American officers followed. Ensign King hoisted the stars and stripes on the Intendencia, but all other flags on the various public buildings were hoisted by military officers. Simultaneously with the raising of the flag over the captain-general's palace many others were hoisted in different parts of the city.
"The work of the United States' evacuation commission was now over. The labors of both parties terminated with honor for all concerned."
After the parade the bands and various trade organizations went to General Henry's headquarters. General Henry in a speech said:
"Alcalde and Citizens: To-day the flag of the United States floats as an emblem of undisputed authority over the island of Porto Rico, giving promise of protection to life, of liberty, prosperity and the right to worship God in accordance with the dictates of conscience. The forty five States represented by the stars emblazoned on the blue field of that flag unite in vouchsafing to you prosperity and protection as citizens of the American Union.
"Your future destiny rests largely with yourselves. Respect the rights of each other. Do not abuse the government which accords opportunities to the individual for advancement. Political animosities must be forgotten in unity and in the recognition of common interests. I congratulate you all on beginning your public life under new auspices, free from governmental oppression, and with liberty to advance your own country's interests by your united efforts."
General Henry then introduced Colonel John B. Castleman, who spoke with great effect as an old Confederate.
The alcalde replied in part:
"We hope soon to see another star symbolic of our prosperity and of our membership in the great republic of States. Porto Rico has not accepted American domination on account of force. She suffered for many years the evils of error, neglect and persecution, but she had men who studied the question of government, and who saw in America her redemption and a guarantee of life, liberty and justice.
"Then we came willingly and freely, hoping, hand in hand with the greatest of all republics, to advance in civilization and progress, and to become part of the republic to which we pledge our faith forever."
When the Spanish flag was hauled down all over the island and the Stars and Stripes raised in its place, General Brooke became the chief executive of Porto Rico. Actually, but not in name, he was the military governor of the island. The plan of a military governor for Porto Rico, to hold until the Washington authorities deem it wise to substitute a purely civil administration, has not been fully arranged. From October 18 until the plan of the Government has been put into effect, General Brooke, or the military officer who will succeed him if he asks for detachment, will be in supreme control of civil and military affairs. It is the intention, however, of the Government here to have as little of the military element as possible in the administration of affairs, and so to all intents and purposes a civil administration will be in operation from the time the Spaniards surrendered authority.
Still, when all has been said, it is perfectly sure that in the end Porto Rico will become one of the most important of our possessions. Superstition and tyranny will be driven from this most fertile island, and hope and peace, under the Stars and Stripes, will be brought to the thousands so long under foot.
Hail, therefore to Porto Rico! And some day may it become a bright star in the flag that brings protection and freedom to all!