Chapter Five: A Fusion of the Races: Free People of Color and the Growth of Puerto Rican Society
A Fusion of the Races: Free People of Color and the Growth of Puerto Rican Society
At the end of December 1873, mere months after the abolition of slavery, the Spanish government inquired whether the Puerto Rican military had provided arms to the people of color on the island in an effort to protect public tranquility. Perhaps remembering the concerns of Governor Prim in 1848, Spain was keen to avoid possible uprisings by recently liberated slaves within Puerto Rico, as had happened throughout the Caribbean only a few decades prior. Puerto Rican government officials replied in early January 1874 that they had not given arms to people of color, nor to anyone else, in their effort to enforce the new laws. Puerto Rico was an island of “perfect tranquility.”1 According to the officials, people of color constituted half of the population and were “in reality, more Spanish than the whites.”2 Puerto Rico, unlike its sister island of Cuba, had no antagonism between social or racial classes because “all work together, without regard to color, only to education and social position, and it can well be said that in almost the entire land there exists a fusion of the races.”3
Even though this observation was made in 1874, it demonstrates an undercurrent of social thought that existed on the island throughout ← 85 | 86 → much of the nineteenth century. Puerto Ricans believed themselves to have a fair society based on social...
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