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[Detail] General view of harbor at San Juan, Porto Rico looking South.

Historical Research: Obtaining Historical Data

When and why did the United States express an interest in Cuba and Puerto Rico? To what extent was the concept of manifest destiny a factor in American interests? To what extent was sugar cane a factor in promoting U.S. annexation of Puerto Rico?

How might you go about answering these questions? Obviously, you will need historical data from a variety of sources. Begin by tracing the history of Puerto Rico from the independence movements in Latin America in the 1820s to the annexation of the island by the United States following the Spanish-American War. Use sources from the collection, as well as other sources, to determine why the United States was willing to have Spain maintain its control over Cuba and Puerto Rico following the revolutions of the early nineteenth century. Consider how the Monroe Doctrine applied to Cuba and Puerto Rico. One potential source of information is A Century of Lawmaking, 1774-1873. If you search the collection using Puerto Rico as your search term, you will find such documents as "The Journal of the Senate of the United States, January 16, 1826," which includes several references to the Panama Congress called by Simón Bolivar. A search of Nineteenth-Century Periodicals, will provide information on the role missionaries played in the Americanization of Puerto Rico, as well as the debate about how the possessions gained through the Spanish-American War fit into the framework provided by the U.S. Constitution.