• Puerto Rico remained a US commonwealth after World War II. This illustrated gazetteer from 1948 features a small map of the island which "prospered greatly" since its annexation. Courtesy of David Rumsey.

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    (Text Page) Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States and Territories (continued)
    • Date
    • 1948
    • Creator
    • Hammond, C.S.
    • Description
    • Lavishly illustrated state-by-state and territory-by-territory descriptions of geography (including a map) and history. Territories include: Alaska, American Samoa, Panama Canal Zone, Guam, Hawaii, Midway Islands, Philippine Islands, Puerto Rico, Vir... more
      Lavishly illustrated state-by-state and territory-by-territory descriptions of geography (including a map) and history. Territories include: Alaska, American Samoa, Panama Canal Zone, Guam, Hawaii, Midway Islands, Philippine Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and Wake Island. Most maps in full color. Many maps have an identification number in a bottom corner - meaning unknown since they are sometimes repeated on different maps. less
    • Rights
    • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
    • Partner
    • David Rumsey

  • Despite Puerto Rico's precarious place in US mainland politics, politicians still toured the Caribbean. In this photo, Vice President Richard Nixon (center) waves to window watchers overhead after his arrival in San Juan. Courtesy of  Chapman University, Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives via California Digital Library.

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    Nixon in Puerto Rico
    • Date
    • 1955-02-28T08:00:00Z
    • Description
    • San Juan, P.R.: Vice President Richard Nixon (center) waves a greeting to window watchers overhead after his arrival in San Juan, February 27th. At left, holding bouquet, is Mrs. Nixon. Behind the Vice President, in white coat, is Puerto Rican Govern... more
      San Juan, P.R.: Vice President Richard Nixon (center) waves a greeting to window watchers overhead after his arrival in San Juan, February 27th. At left, holding bouquet, is Mrs. Nixon. Behind the Vice President, in white coat, is Puerto Rican Governor Luis Munoz Marin. Thousands cheered the Nixons as they drove through San Juan and made brief stops at Columbus Plaza and City Hall. Later in the day, they were entertained by Gov. and Mrs. Marin at a state dinner. The visit to Puerto Rico winds up the Vice President's goodwill junket through Central America. less
    • Rights
    • Copyrighted. UPI retains the copyright on all photographs. Permission to use photographs must be obtained from United Press International.
    • Partner
    • California Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Chapman University, Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives

  • Politicians, academics, citizens, and activsts frequently deliberated the best course of action for Puerto Rico. In this clip of a public broadcasting debate, a representative for the Puerto Rican Independence Party argues in favor of Puerto Rican sovereignty. Courtesy of WGBH via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Should Puerto Rico Become a State, a Commonwealth, or an Independent Nation?
    • Date
    • 1979-05-06
    • Creator
    • Berríos Martínez, Rubén
    • Description
    • A special, bi-lingual edition of the Advocates Moderator: Michael Dukakis Advocate: Jaime Fuster Advocate: Joaquin Marquez Advocate: Fernando Martin Witnesses: Jose Arsenio Torres - Professor, University of Puerto Rico and Former Senator Reinaldo Pan... more
      A special, bi-lingual edition of the Advocates Moderator: Michael Dukakis Advocate: Jaime Fuster Advocate: Joaquin Marquez Advocate: Fernando Martin Witnesses: Jose Arsenio Torres - Professor, University of Puerto Rico and Former Senator Reinaldo Paniagua - Former Secretary of State Ruben Berrios Martinez - President, Puerto Rican Independence Party Co-produced with the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. less
    • Rights
    • Rights status not evaluated. Contact host institution for more information.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • WGBH

  • Supporters of Puerto Rican independence lobbied the US government. In this news clip from July 1963, picketers rally outside a federal building with signs. One reads: "Puerto Rico is a captive nation since 1898. Apply Freedom to Puerto Rico Now. Free our political prisoners." Courtesy of WSB-TV, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection via Digital Library of Georgia.

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    PICKETS FOR PUERTO RICAN INDEPENDENCE
    • Date
    • 1963-07-26
    • Creator
    • WSB-TV (Television station : Atlanta, Ga.)
    • Description
    • Title supplied by cataloger. Original found in the WSB-TV newsfilm collection.
    • Rights
    • Http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/. Cite as: wsbn32059, (No title), WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0716, 57:39/58:06, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga.
    • Partner
    • Digital Library of Georgia
    • Contributing Institution
    • Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection

Since its annexation in 1898, Puerto Rico has challenged America's imperial legacy. In 1916, Resident Commissioner Luis Muñoz Rivera demanded: "Give us the field of experiment...that we may show it is easy for us to constitute a stable republic government...give us our independence and [America] will stand...a great liberator of oppressed peoples."

In spite of this resistance, the island has remained a US commonwealth since 1952. Puerto Ricans have the power to vote for their governor and executive council but, due their nation’s legal status, lack many of the same rights allotted to other US citizens. Puerto Ricans cannot vote for president, though they may be drafted. They have no voting representative in Congress, yet are still taxed under US law. Debate continues: statehood, independence, commonwealth? The government held plebiscitespublic polls on Puerto Rico's federal statusin 1967, 1991, 1993, and 1998. In 2012, President Barack Obama, approved yet another plebiscite, with 61 percent of Puerto Ricans favoring statehood in light of enduring economic troubles. Those in Congress, however, fear the labor of restructuring the House, Senate, and even the flag, around a fifty-first state. For now, Puerto Rico remains at the edges of the union and on the cusp of sovereignty.