Chapter One: “People of Different Shades”: An Examination of the Nineteenth-Century Population of Puerto Rico
“People of Different Shades”: An Examination of the Nineteenth-Century Population of Puerto Rico
A Contemporary View of the Island
On the way to Mexico in 1822, U.S. diplomat Joel Poinsett’s ship made a supply stop in Puerto Rico.1 Poinsett spent four days on the island making diplomatic visits and obtaining food supplies for the ship. On one foray into the countryside to collect fresh meat and vegetables, he observed that
In the course of this ride, I met two whites only, but a great many people of different shades of colour … If they were surprised at our appearance, I was equally so to see such crowds of men, women and children …2
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