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A Page from History: Thanksgiving for Puerto Rico

“Puerto Rico… has lately become of first importance in the eyes of the world. To Americans in particular it has assumed special interest, as it now practically in possession of the United States, and sooner or later will be represented by a new star in our beautiful flag.”

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, we can enjoy these words from Porto Rico: Its History, Products and Possibilities, by Arthur D. Hall. Written in 1898, the book is a brief history and description of Puerto Rico sharing excitement about its natural beauty, the dignity and grace of its people, and its commercial possibilities, among other things.

“Uncle Sam will certainly find this beautiful and fertile island a most valuable possession… The island, without much exaggeration, can really be called the garden spot of the world and there is no doubt but that when the Stars and Stripes wave permanently over it, and there is an influx of American enterprise and wealth, there will be a marvelous increase in values of all kinds.”

Hall predicted that “some enterprising American hotel man” would soon come along, and that Puerto Rico would become a popular resort. This was an accurate prediction. Hall reported that agriculture was strong, but expected that mining would be more important in the long run. He spoke negatively of the greedy way Spain had stripped away the island’s resources, and anticipated that the United States would behave differently, providing good stewardship that would enrich the United States as a whole and Puerto Rico in particular.

Puerto Rico, he said, “wishes most strongly to become an integral portion of the Union, and we desire to receive her as such.”

The pamphlet concludes with pious thanksgiving for the acquisition of Puerto Rico by the United States:

“Let us render thanks to the Almighty for the blessing, and let us be assured that Puerto Rico has before it a future of unlimited progress and well-being.”

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