Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Slave Rebellions

“In 1527 the first major slave rebellion occurred in Puerto Rico, as dozen of slaves fought against the colonist in a brief revolt.  The few slaves who escaped retreated to the mountains, where they resided as maroons with surviving Taínos. By 1873, slaves had carried out more than twenty revolts, including some of great political importance, such as the Ponce and Vega Baja conspiracies.  By 1570 the gold mines were declared depleted and mining came to an end in Puerto Rico.   

The majority of the white Spanish settlers left the island to seek their fortunes in the richer colonies such as Mexico and the island of Puerto Rico became a Spanish garrison. The majority of those who stayed behind were either black or mulattos (of mixed race). Spain maintained Puerto Rico as a colony for over 400 years recurring slave revolts and repeated attempts by the French, Dutch, and British to seize the island for themselves.  In the 19th century the Spanish Crown reissued a Royal Decree of Graces offering free land as an incentive to any European settler who would swear loyalty to the Spanish Crown and allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. 

Thus, the population rose with a steady influx of European immigration until Spain ceded Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the United States as a result of its defeat in the Spanish–American War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1898.  With the withdrawal of Spain from Puerto Rico many problems arose affecting the welfare of Catholics on the island.  Civil and religious authorities had been intimately associated prior to the accession of Isabella II.  When Bishop Pedro Gutierrez de Cos died in 1833 his post was left vacant and the Church was despoiled of its property.  By 1846 most of the Dominicans and Franciscans had been driven out and their convents and holdings had been taken over by the local government.