The History of Puerto Rico
R.A. Van Middeldyk
Part 5 out of 5
ores discovered, we have smolten some, but no one here knows how to
do it. Veins of this ore have been discovered in many parts of the
island, but nobody works them. We are waiting for some one to come who
knows how to smelt them."
The following extract from the memoirs and documents left by Juan
Bautista Munoz, gives the value in "gold pesos" of the bullion and
pearls, corresponding to the king's one-fifth share of the total
produce remitted to Spain from this island from the year 1509 to 1536:
In 1509, gold pesos 8,975
1510, " 2,645
1511, " 10,000
1512, " 3,043
1513, " 27,291
1514, " 18,000
1515, " 17,000
1516, " 11,490
1517-18, " 38,497
1519, " 10,000
1520, " 35,733
In 1521, " 10,000
1522, " 7,979
1523-29, " 40,000
1530, " 12,440
1531, " 6,500
1532, " 9,000
1533, " 4,000
1534, " 8,500
1535, " 1,848
1536, " 10,000
Total, 15 share 277,941
The entire output for this period was 1,389,705 gold pesos, or
$4,169,115 Spanish coin of to-day, as the total produce in gold and
pearls of the island of San Juan de Puerto Rico during the first
twenty-seven years of its occupation by the Spaniards.
[Footnote 84: Washington Irving estimates the value of the "gold peso"
of the sixteenth century at $3 Spanish money of our day.]
WEST INDIAN HURRICANES IN PUERTO RICO FROM
1515 TO 1899
Whoever has witnessed the awful magnificence of what the primitive
inhabitants of the West Indian islands called _ou-ra-can,_ will never
forget the sense of his own utter nothingness and absolute
helplessness. With the wind rushing at the rate of 65 or more miles an
hour, amid the roar of waves lashed into furious rolling mountains of
water, the incessant flash of lightning, the dreadful roll of thunder,
the fierce beating of rain, one sees giant trees torn up by the roots
and man's proud constructions of stone and iron broken and scattered
like children's toys.
The tropical latitudes to the east and north of the West Indian
Archipelago are the birthplace of these phenomena. According to Mr.
Redfield they cover simultaneously an extent of surface from 100
to 500 miles in diameter, acting with diminished violence toward the
circumference and with increased energy toward the center of this
In the Weather Bureau's bulletin cited, there is a description of the
most remarkable and destructive among the 355 hurricanes that have
swept over the West Indies from 1492 to 1899. Not a single island has
escaped the tempest's ravages. I have endeavored in vain to make an
approximate computation of the human life and property destroyed by
these visitations of Providence. Such a computation is impossible when
we read of entire towns destroyed not once but 6, 8, and 10 times; of
crops swept away by the tempest's fury, and the subsequent starvation
of untold thousands; of whole fleets of ships swallowed up by the sea
with every soul on board, and of hundreds of others cast on shore like
To give an idea of the appalling disasters caused by these too oft
recurring phenomena, the above-mentioned bulletin gives Flammarion's
description of the great hurricane of 1780.
"The most terrible cyclone of modern times is probably that which
occurred on October 10, 1780, which has been specially called the
great hurricane, and which seems to have embodied all the horrible
scenes that attend a phenomenon of this kind. Starting from Barbados,
where trees and houses were all blown down, it engulfed an English
fleet anchored before St. Lucia, and then ravaged the whole of that
island, where 6,000 persons were buried beneath the ruins. From thence
it traveled to Martinique, overtook a French transport fleet and sunk
40 ships conveying 4,000 soldiers. The vessels _disappeared_."
Such is the laconic language in which the governor reported the
disaster. Farther north, Santo Domingo, St. Vincent, St. Eustatius,
and Puerto Rico were devastated, and most of the vessels that were
sailing in the track of the cyclone were lost with all on board.
Beyond Puerto Rico the tempest turned northeast toward Bermuda, and
though its violence gradually decreased, it nevertheless sunk several
English vessels. This hurricane was quite as destructive inland. Nine
thousand persons perished in Martinique, and 1,000 in St. Pierre,
where not a single house was left standing, for the sea rose to a
height of 25 feet, and 150 houses that were built along the shore were
engulfed. At Port Royal the cathedral, 7 churches, and 1,400 houses
were blown down; 1,600 sick and wounded were buried beneath the ruins
of the hospital. At St. Eustatius, 7 vessels were dashed to pieces on
the rocks, and of the 19 which lifted their anchors and went out to
sea, only 1 returned. At St. Lucia the strongest buildings were torn
up from their foundations, a cannon was hurled a distance of more than
30 yards, and men as well as animals were lifted off their feet and
carried several yards. The sea rose so high that it destroyed the fort
and drove a vessel against the hospital with such force as to stave in
the walls of that building. Of the 600 houses at Kingston, on the
island of St. Vincent, 14 alone remained intact, and the French
frigate Junon was lost. Alarming consequences were feared from the
number of dead bodies which lay uninterred, and the quantity of fish
the sea threw up, but these alarms soon subsided...."
"The aboriginal inhabitants," says Abbad, "foresaw these catastrophes
two or three days in advance. They were sure of their approach when
they perceived a hazy atmosphere, the red aspect of the sun, a dull,
rumbling, subterranean sound, the stars shining through a kind of mist
which made them look larger, the nor'west horizon heavily clouded, a
strong-smelling emanation from the sea, a heavy swell with calm
weather, and sudden changes of the wind from east to west." The
Spanish settlers also learned to foretell the approach of a hurricane
by the sulphurous exhalations of the earth, but especially by the
incessant neighing of horses, bellowing of cattle, and general
restlessness of these animals, who seem to acquire a presentiment of
the coming danger.
"The physical features of hurricanes are well understood. The approach
of a hurricane is usually indicated by a long swell on the ocean,
propagated to great distances, and forewarning the observer by two or
three days. A faint rise in the barometer occurs before the gradual
fall, which becomes very pronounced at the center. Fine wisps of
cirrus-clouds are first seen, which surround the center to a distance
of 200 miles; the air is calm and sultry, but this is gradually
supplanted by a gentle breeze, and later the wind increases to a gale,
the clouds become matted, the sea rough, rain falls, and the winds are
gusty and dangerous as the vortex comes on. Then comes the
indescribable tempest, dealing destruction, impressing the imagination
with the wild exhibition of the forces of nature, the flashes of
lightning, the torrents of rain, the cold air, all the elements in an
uproar, which indicate the close approach of the center. In the midst
of this turmoil there is a sudden pause, the winds almost cease, the
sky clears, the waves, however, rage in great turbulence. This is the
eye of the storm, the core of the vortex, and it is, perhaps, 20 miles
in diameter, or one-thirtieth of the whole hurricane. The respite is
brief, and is soon followed by the abrupt renewal of the violent wind
and rain, but now coming from the opposite direction, and the storm
passes off with the several features following each other in the
reverse order." 
The distribution over the months of the year of the 355 West Indian
hurricanes which occurred during the four hundred and six years
elapsed since the discovery, to the last on the list, is as follows:
Months. No of hurricanes.
Puerto Rico has been devastated by hurricanes more than 20 times since
its occupation by the Spaniards. But the records, beyond the mere
statement of the facts, are very incomplete. Four stand out
prominently as having committed terrible ravages. These are the
hurricanes of Santa Ana, on July 26, 1825; Los Angeles, on
August 2,1837; San Narciso, on October 29, 1867, and San Ciriaco,
on August 8, 1899.
The first mention of the occurrence of a hurricane in this island we
find in a letter from the crown officers to the king, dated August 8,
1515, wherein they explain: " ... In these last smeltings there was
little gold, because many Indians died in consequence of sickness
caused by the tempest as well as from want of food ..."
The next we read of was October 8, 1526, and is thus described by
licentiate Juan de Vadillo:
"On the night of the 4th of October last there broke over this island
such a violent storm of wind and rain, which the natives call
'_ou-ra-can'_ that it destroyed the greater part of this city (San
Juan) with the church. In the country it caused such damage by the
overflow of rivers that many rich men have been made poor."
On September 8, 1530, Governor Francisco Manuel de Lando reported to
the king: "During the last six weeks there have been three storms of
wind and rain in this island (July 26, August 23 and 31). They have
destroyed all the plantations, drowned many cattle, and caused much
hunger and misery in the land. In this city the half of the houses
were entirely destroyed, and of the other half the least injured is
without a roof. In the country and in the mines nothing has remained
standing. Everybody is ruined and thinking of going away."
_1537_.--July and August. The town officers wrote to the king in
September: "In the last two months we have had three storms of wind
and rain, the greatest that have been seen in this island, and as the
plantations are along the banks of the rivers the floods have
destroyed them all. Many slaves and cattle have been drowned, and this
has caused much discouragement among the settlers, who before were
inclined to go away, and are now more so."
_1575_.--September 21 (San Mateo), hurricane mentioned in the memoirs
of Father Torres Vargas.
_1614_.--September 12, mentioned by the same chronicler in the
following words: "Fray Pedro de Solier came to his bishopric in the
year 1615, the same in which a great tempest occurred, after more than
forty years since the one called of San Mateo. This one happened on
the 12th of September. It did so much damage to the cathedral that it
was necessary partly to cover it with straw and write to his Majesty
asking for a donation to repair it. With his accustomed generosity he
gave 4,000 ducats."
_1678_.--Abbad states that a certain Count or Duke Estren, an English
commander, with a fleet of 22 ships and a body of landing troops
appeared before San Juan and demanded its surrender, but that, before
the English had time to land, a violent hurricane occurred which
stranded every one of the British ships on Bird Island. Most of the
people on board perished, and the few who saved their lives were made
prisoners of war.
_1740_.--Precise date unknown. Monsieur Moreau de Jonnes, in his
work, says that this hurricane destroyed a coco-palm grove of 5 or
6 leagues in extent, which existed near Ponce. Other writers confirm
_1772, August 28_.--Friar Inigo Abbad, who was in the island at the
time, gives the following description of this tempest: "About a
quarter to eleven of the night of the 28th of August the storm began
to be felt in the capital of the island. A dull but continuous roll of
thunder filled the celestial hemisphere, the sound as of approaching
torrents of rain, the frightful sight of incessant lightning, and a
slow quaking of the earth accompanied the furious wind. The tearing up
of trees, the lifting of roofs, smashing of windows, and leveling of
everything added terror-striking noises to the scene. The tempest
raged with the same fury in the capital till after one o'clock in the
morning. In other parts of the island it began about the same hour,
but without any serious effect till later. In Aguada, where I was at
the time, nothing was felt till half-past two in the morning. It blew
violently till a quarter to four, and the wind continued, growing less
strong, till noon. During this time the wind came from all points of
the compass, and the storm visited every part of the island, causing
more damage in some places than others, according to their degree of
_1780, June 13, and 1788, August 16._--No details of these two
hurricanes are found in any of the Puerto Rican chronicles.
_1804, September 4._--A great cyclone, a detailed description of
which is given in the work of Mr. Jonnes.
_1818 and 1814_--Both hurricanes happened on the same date, that
is, the 23d of July. Yauco and San German suffered most. A description
of the effects of these storms was given in the Dario Economico of the
11th of August, 1814.
_1819, September 21_.--(San Mateo.) This cyclone is mentioned by
Jonnes and by Cordova, who says that it caused extraordinary damages
on the plantations.
_1825, July 26_.--(Santa Ana.) Cordova (vol. ii, p. 21 of his Memoirs)
says of this hurricane: "It destroyed the towns of Patillas, Maunabo,
Yabucoa, Humacao, Gurabo, and Caguas. In the north, east, and center
of the island it caused great damage. More than three hundred people
and a large number of cattle perished; 500 persons were badly wounded.
The rivers rose to an unheard of extent, and scarcely a house remained
standing. In the capital part of the San Antonio bridge was blown
down, and the city wall facing the Marina on Tanca Creek was cracked.
The royal Fortaleza (the present Executive Mansion) suffered much,
also the house of Ponce. The lightning-conductors of the
powder-magazine were blown down."
_1837, August 2_.--(Los Angeles.) This cyclone was general over the
island and caused exceedingly grave losses of life and property. All
the ships in the harbor of San Juan were lost.
_1840, September 16_.--No details.
_1851, August 18_.--No details, except that this hurricane caused
_1867, October 29_.--(San Narciso.) No details.
[Illustration: Casa Blanca and the sea wall, San Juan.]
_1871, August 23_.--(San Felipe.) No details. _1899, August
8_.--(San Ciriaco.) When this hurricane occurred there was a
meteorological station in operation in San Juan, and we are therefore
enabled to present the following data from Mr. Geddings's report: "The
rainfall was excessive, as much as 23 inches falling at Adjuntas
during the course of twenty-four hours. This caused severe inundations
of rivers, and the deaths from drowning numbered 2,569 as compared
with 800 killed by injuries received from the effects of the wind.
This number does not include the thousands who have since died from
starvation. The total loss of property was 35,889,013 pesos."
The United States Government and people promptly came to the
assistance of the starving population, and something like 32,000,000
rations were distributed by the army during the ten months succeeding
* * * * *
Such are the calamities that are suspended over the heads of the
inhabitants of the West Indian Islands. From July to October, at any
moment, the sapphire skies may turn black with thunder-clouds; the
Eden-like landscapes turned into scenes of ruin and desolation; the
rippling ocean that lovingly laves their shores becomes a roaring
monster trying to swallow them. The refreshing breezes that fan them
become a destructive blast. Yet, such is the fecundity of nature in
these regions that a year after a tempest has swept over an island, if
the debris be removed, not a trace of its passage is visible--the
fields are as green as ever, the earth, the trees, and plants that
were spared by the tempest double their productive powers as if to
indemnify the afflicted inhabitants for the losses they suffered.
[Footnote 85: See Bulletin H, Weather Bureau, West Indian Hurricanes,
by E.B. Garriott, Washington, 1900.]
[Footnote 86: L'Atmosphere, p. 377 and following.]
[Footnote 87: Enrique del Monte, Havana University, On the Climate of
the West Indies and West Indian Hurricanes.]
[Footnote 88: Histoire physique des Antilles Francaises.]
The origin of the Caribs, their supposed cannibalism and other customs
have occasioned much controversy among West Indian chroniclers. The
first question is undecided, and probably will remain so forever. With
regard to cannibalism, in spite of the confirmative assurances of the
early Spanish chroniclers, we have the testimony of eminent
authorities to the contrary; and the writings of Jesuit missionaries
who have lived many years among the Caribs give us a not unfavorable
idea of their character and social institutions.
The first European who became intimately acquainted with the people of
the West Indian Islands, on the return from his first voyage, wrote to
the Spanish princes: " ... In all these islands I did not observe much
difference in the faces and figures of the inhabitants, nor in their
customs, nor in their language, seeing that they all understand each
other, which is very singular." On the other hand the readiness with
which the inhabitants of Aye-Aye and the other Carib islands gave
asylum to the fugitive Boriquen Indians and joined them in their
retaliatory expeditions, also points to the existence of some bond of
kinship between them, so that there is ground for the opinion
entertained by some writers that all the inhabitants of all the
Antilles were of the race designated under the generic name of Caribs.
The theory generally accepted at first was, that at the time of the
discovery two races of different origin occupied the West Indian
Archipelago. The larger Antilles with the groups of small islands to
the north of them were supposed to be inhabited by a race named
Guaycures, driven from the peninsula of Florida by the warlike
Seminoles; the Guaycures, it is said, could easily have reached the
Bahamas and traversed the short distance that separated them from Cuba
in their canoes, some of which could contain 100 men, and once there
they would naturally spread over the neighboring islands. It is
surmised that they occupied them at the time of the advent of the
Phoenicians in this hemisphere, and Dr. Calixto Romero, in an
interesting article on Lucuo, the god of the Boriquens, mentions a
tradition referring to the arrival of these ancient navigators, and
traces some of the Boriquen religious customs to them. The Guaycures
were a peacefully disposed race, hospitable, indolent, fond of dancing
and singing, by means of which they transmitted their legends from
generation to generation. They fell an easy prey to the Spaniards.
Velasquez conquered Cuba without the loss of a man. Juan Esquivel made
himself master of Jamaica with scarcely any sacrifice, and if the
aborigines of the Espanola and Boriquen resisted, it was only after
patiently enduring insupportable oppression for several years.
The other race which inhabited the Antilles were said to have come
from the south. They were supposed to have descended the Orinoco,
spreading along the shore of the continent to the west of the river's
mouths and thence to have invaded one after the other all the lesser
Antilles. They were in a fair way of occupying the larger Antilles
also when the discoveries of Columbus checked their career.
In support of the theory of the south-continental origin of the Caribs
we have, in the first place, the work of Mr. Aristides Rojas on
Venezuelan hieroglyphics, wherein he treats of numerous Carib
characters on the rocks along the plains and rivers of that republic,
marking their itinerary from east to west. He states that the
Achaguas, the aboriginals of Columbia, gave to these wanderers, on
account of their ferocity, the name of Chabi-Nabi, that is, tiger-men
or descendants of tigers.
In the classification of native tribes in Codazzi's geography of
Venezuela, he includes the Caribs, and describes them as "a very
numerous race, enterprising and warlike, which in former times
exercised great influence over the whole territory extending from
Ecuador to the Antilles. They were the tallest and most robust Indians
known on the continent; they traded in slaves, and though they were
cruel and ferocious in their incursions, they were not cannibals like
their kinsmen of the lesser Antilles, who were so addicted to the
custom of eating their prisoners that the names of cannibal and Carib
had become synonymous." 
Another theory of the origin of the Caribs is that advanced by M.
d'Orbigny, who, after eight years of travel over the South American
continent, published the result of his researches in Paris in 1834. He
considers them to be a branch of the great Guarani family. And the
Jesuit missionaries, Fathers Raymond and Dutertre, who lived many
years among the Antillean Caribs, concluded from their traditions that
they were descended from a people on the continent named Galibis, who,
according to M. d'Orbigny, were a branch of the Guaranis.
But the Guaranis, though a very wide-spread family of South American
aborigines, were neither a conquering nor a wandering race. They
occupied that part of the continent situated between the rivers
Paraguay and Parana, from where these two rivers join the river Plate,
northward, to about latitude 22 deg. south. This region was the home of
the Guaranis, a people indolent, sensual, and peaceful, among whom the
Jesuits, in the eighteenth century founded a religious republic, which
toward the end of that period counted 33 towns with a total population
of over one hundred thousand souls. A glance at the map will show the
improbability of any Indian tribe, no matter how warlike, making its
way from the heart of the continent to the Orinoco through 30 deg. of
primitive forests, mountains, and rivers, inhabited by hostile
The French missionaries who lived many years with the Caribs of
Guadeloupe and the other French possessions, do not agree on the
subject of their origin. Fathers Dutertre and Raymond believe them to
be the descendants of the Galibis, a people inhabiting Guiana. Fathers
Rochefort, Labat, and Bristol maintain that they are descended from
the Apalaches who inhabited the northern part of Florida. Humboldt is
of the same opinion, and suggests that the name Carib may be derived
from Calina or Caripuna through transformation of the letters _l_ and
_p_ into _r_ and _b_, forming Caribi or Galibi. Pedro Martyr
strongly opposes this opinion, the principal objection to which is
that a tribe from the North American continent invading the West
Indies by way of Florida would naturally occupy the larger Antilles
before traveling east and southward. Under this hypothesis, as we have
said, all the inhabitants of the Antilles would be Caribs, but in that
case the difference in the character of the inhabitants of the two
divisions of the archipelago would have to be accounted for.
Most of the evidence we have been able to collect on this subject
points to a south-continental origin of the Caribs. On the maps of
America, published in 1587 by Abraham Ortellus, of Antwerp, in 1626 by
John Speed, of London, and in 1656 by Sanson d'Abbeville in Paris, the
whole region to the north of the Orinoco is marked Caribana. In the
history of the Dutch occupation of Guiana we read that hostile Caribs
occupied a shelter constructed in 1684 by the governor on the
borders of the Barima, which shows that the vast region along the
Orinoco and its tributaries, as well as the lesser Antilles, was
inhabited by an ethnologically identical race.
* * * * *
Were the Caribs cannibals? This question has been controverted as much
as that of their origin, and with the same doubtful result.
The only testimony upon which the assumption that the Caribs were
cannibals is founded is that of the companions of Columbus on his
second voyage, when, landing at Guadeloupe, they found human bones and
skulls in the deserted huts. No other evidence of cannibalism of a
positive character was ever after obtained, so that the belief in it
rests exclusively upon Chanca's narrative of what the Spaniards saw
and learned during the few days of their stay among the islands. Their
imagination could not but be much excited by the sight of what the
doctor describes as "infinite quantities" of bones of human
creatures, who, they took for granted, had been devoured, and of
skulls hanging on the walls by way of receptacles for curios. It was
the age of universal credulity, and for more than a century after the
most absurd tales with regard to the people and things of the
mysterious new continent found ready credence even among men of
science. Columbus, in his letter to Santangel (February, 1493),
describing the different islands and people, wrote: "I have not yet
seen any of the human monsters that are supposed to exist here." The
descriptions of the customs of the natives of the newly discovered
islands which Dr. Chanca sent to the town council of Seville were
unquestioned by them, and afterward by the Spanish chroniclers; but
there is reason to believe with Mr. Ignacio Armas, an erudite Cuban
author, who published a paper in 1884 entitled the Fable of the
Caribs, that the belief in their cannibalism originated in an error of
judgment, was an illusion afterward, and ended by being a
calumny. Father Bartolome de las Casas was the first to contradict
this belief. "They [the Spaniards] saw skulls," he says, "and human
bones. These must have been of chiefs or other persons whom they held
in esteem, because, to say that they were the remains of people who
had been eaten, if the natives devoured as many as was supposed, the
houses could not contain the bones, and there is no reason why, after
eating them, they should preserve the relics. All this is but
guesswork." Washington Irving agrees with the reverend historian, and
describes the general belief in the cannibalism of the Caribs to the
Spaniards' fear of them. Two eminent authorities positively deny it.
Humboldt, in his before-cited work, in the chapter on Carib missions,
says: "All the missionaries of the Carony, of the lower Orinoco, and
of the plains of Cari, whom we have had occasion to consult, have
assured us that the Caribs were perhaps the least anthropophagous of
any tribes on the new continent, ..." and Sir Robert Schomburgh, who
was charged by the Royal Geographical Society with the survey of
Guiana in 1835, reported that among the Caribs he found peace and
contentment, simple family affections, and frank gratitude for
* * * * *
The narratives of the French, English, and Dutch conquerors of the
Guianas and the lesser Antilles accord with the observations of
Humboldt in describing the Caribs as an ambitious and intelligent
race, among whom there still existed traces of a superior social
organization, such as the hereditary power of chiefs, respect for the
priestly caste, and attachment to ancient customs. Employed only in
fishing and hunting, the Carib was accustomed to the use of arms from
childhood; war was the principal object of his existence, and the
proofs through which the young warrior had to pass before being
admitted to the ranks of the braves, remind us of the customs of
certain North American Indians.
They were of a light yellow color with a sooty tint, small, black
eyes, white and well-formed teeth, straight, shining, black hair,
without a beard or hair on any other part of their bodies. The
expression of their face was sad, like that of all savage tribes in
tropical regions. They were of middle size, but strong and vigorous.
To protect their bodies from the stings of insects they anointed them
with the juice or oil of certain plants. They were polygamous. From
their women they exacted the most absolute submission. The females did
all the domestic labor, and were not permitted to eat in the presence
of the men. In case of infidelity the husband had the right to kill
his wife. Each family formed a village by itself (carbet) where the
oldest member ruled.
Their industry, besides the manufacture of their arms and canoes, was
limited to the spinning and dyeing of cotton goods, notably their
hammocks, and the making of pottery for domestic uses. Though
possessing no temples, nor religious observances, they recognized two
principles or spirits, the spirit of good (boyee) and the spirit of
evil (maboya). The priests invoked the first or drove out the second
as occasion required. Each individual had his good spirit.
Their language resembled in sound the Italian, the words being
sonorous, terminating in vowels. By the end of the eighteenth century
the missionaries had made vocabularies of 50 Carib dialects, and the
Bible had been translated into one of them, the Arawak. A remarkable
custom was the use of two distinct languages, one by the males,
another by the females. Tradition says that when the Caribs first
invaded the Antilles they put to death all the males but spared the
females. The women continued speaking their own tongue and taught it
to their daughters, but the sons learned their fathers' language. In
time, both males and females learned both languages.
"It is true," says the Jesuit Father Rochefort, in his Histoire des
Antilles, "that the Caribs have degenerated from the virtues of their
ancestors, but it is also true that the Europeans, by their pernicious
examples, their ill-treatment of them, their villainous deceit, their
dastardly breaking of every promise, their pitiless plundering and
burning of their villages, their beastly violation of their girls and
women, have taught them, to the eternal infamy of the name of
Christian, to lie, to betray, to be licentious, and other vices which
they knew not before they came in contact with us."
Father Dutertre declares that at the time of the arrival of the
Europeans the Caribs were contented, happy, and sociable. Physically
they were the best made and healthiest people of America. Theft was
unknown to them, nothing was hidden; their huts had neither doors nor
windows, and when, after the advent of the French, a Carib missed
anything in his hut, he used to say: "A Christian has been here!"
Dutertre says that in thirty-five years all the French missionaries
together, by taking the greatest pains, had not been able to convert
20 adults. Those who were thought to have embraced Christianity
returned to their practises as soon as they rejoined their fellows.
"The reason for this want of success," says the father, "is the bad
impression produced on the minds of these intelligent natives by the
cruelties and immoralities of the Christians, which are more barbarous
than those of the islanders themselves. They have inspired the Caribs
with such a horror of Christianity that the greatest reproach they can
think of for an enemy is to call him a Christian."
The reason the Spaniards never attempted the conquest of the Caribs is
clear. There was no gold in their islands. They defended their homes
foot by foot, and if, by chance, they were taken prisoners, they
preferred suicide to slavery. Toward the end of the eighteenth century
there still existed a few hundred of the race in the island of St.
Vincent. They were known as the black Caribs, because they were
largely mixed with fugitive negro slaves from other islands and with
the people of a slave-ship wrecked on their coast in 1685. They lived
there tranquil and isolated till 1795, when the island was settled by
French colonists, and they were finally absorbed by them. They were
the last representatives in the Antilles of a race which, during five
centuries, had ruled both on land and sea. On the continent, along the
Esequibo and its affluents, they are numerous still; but in their
contact with the European settlers in those regions they have lost
the strength and the virtues of their former state without acquiring
those of the higher civilization. Like all aboriginals under similar
conditions, they are slowly disappearing.
[Footnote 89: Revista Puertoriquena, Tomo I, Ano I, 1887.]
[Footnote 90: The word "cannibal" is but a corruption of guaribo, is,
"brave or strong," changed into Caribo, Cariba, and finally that
Carib. The name Galibi, also applied to the Caribs, means equally
strong or brave.]
[Footnote 91: The author visited this region and sketched some of the
ruins of these Jesuit-Guarani missions, of which scarcely one stone
has remained on the other. They were destroyed by the Brazilians after
the suppression of the Society of Jesus by Pope Clement XIV in 1773;
the defenseless Indians were cruelly butchered or carried off as
slaves. The sculptured remains of temples, of gardens and orchards
grown into jungles still attest the high degree of development
attained by these missions under the guidance of the Jesuit fathers.]
[Footnote 92: Voyage aux Regions Equinoctiales du Nouveau Continent,
[Footnote 93: "Kleyn pleysterhuisye," small plaster house.]
[Footnote 94: As an example of the credulity of the people of the
period, see Theodore Bry's work in the library of Congress in
Washington, in which there is a map of Guiana, published in Frankfort
in 1599. On it are depicted with short descriptions the lake of Parmie
and the city of Manao, which represent El Dorado, in search of which
hundreds of Spaniards and thousands of Indians lost their lives. There
is a picture of one of the Amazons, with a short notice of their
habits and customs, and there is the portrait of one of the
inhabitants of the country Twai-Panoma, who were born without heads,
but had eyes, nose, and mouth conveniently located in their breast.]
BIBLIOGRAPHY The history of Puerto Rico has long since been a
subject of study and research by native writers and others, to whose
works we owe many of the data contained in this book. Their names, in
alphabetical order, are:
ABBAD, FRAY INIGO.--Historia geografica, civil y natural de San Juan
Bautista de Puerto Rico. Madrid, 1788.
AGOSTA, D. JOSE JULIAN.--New edition of Abbad's history, with notes
and commentaries. Puerto Rico, 1866.
BRAU, D. SALVADOR.--Puerto Rico y su historia. (Critical
CEDO, D. SANTIAGO.--Compendio de geografia para instruccion de la
juventud portoriquena. Mayaguez, 1855.
COELLO, D. FRANCISCO.--Mapa de la isla de Puerto Rico, ilustrado con
notas historicas y estadisticas escritas por Don Pascual Madoz.
COLL Y TOSTE, D. CAYETANO.--Colon en Puerto Rico. (Disquisiciones
historico-filologicas.) Puerto Rico, 1894. Repertorio historico de
Puerto Rico. A monthly publication.
CORDOVA, D. PEDRO TOMAS.--Memorias geograficas, historicas, economicas
y estadisticas de la isla de Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, 1830. Memoria
sobre todos los ramos de la administracion de la isla de Puerto Rico.
CORTON, D. ANTONIO.--La separacion de mandos en Puerto Rico. Discurso
escrito y comenzado a leer ante la Comision del Congreso de los
Diputados. Habana, 1890.
FLINTER, COLONEL.--An Account of the Present State of the Island of
Puerto Rico. London, 1834.
JIMENO AGIUS, J.--Puerto Rico. Madrid, 1890. LEDRU, ANDRE
PIERRE.--Voyage aux iles Teneriffe, la Trinite, St. Thomas, Ste. Croix
et Porto Rico, avec des notes et des additions par Sonnini, Paris,
1810. (A work full of fantastic and imaginary data, without any
MELENDEZ Y BRUNA, D. SALVADOR.--Puerto Rico. Representation of the
Governor of the Island to the King. Cadiz, 1811.
NAZARIO, D. JOSE MARIA.--Guayanilla y la historia de Puerto Rico.
PEREZ MORIS, D. JOSE, Y CUETO, D. LUIS.--Historia de la insurreccion
SAMA, D. MANUEL MARIA.--El desembarco de Colon en Puerto Rico y el
Monumento de Culebrinas, Mayaguez, 1895.
STAHL, D. AGUSTIN.--Los Indios Borinquenos. Puerto Rico, 1887.
TAPIA, D. ALEJANDRO.--Biblioteca historica de Puerto Rico. Puerto
TORRES, D. LUIS LLORENS.--America. Estudios historicos y filologicos.
Madrid y Barcelona, 1897.
UBEDA Y DELGADO, D. MANUEL.--Isla de Puerto Rico, Estudio
historico-geografico. Puerto Rico, 1878.
VIZCARRONDO, D. JULIO.--Elementos de historia y geografia de la isla
de Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, 1863.
There are other writings on subjects connected with the island's
history by native authors, some published in book or pamphlet form,
others, like those of Zeno Gandia, Neumann, Dr. Dominguez, and
Navarrete, have appeared in the columns of periodicals at different
times before the American occupation of the island.
Abbad, Friar Inigo, his history of
Puerto Rico; cited; on
state of agriculture in 1776.
Abercrombie, Sir Ralph, attacks San
Aborigines, see Indians.
Agriculture, inhabitants of Puerto
Rico forced to turn to;
condition of, in 1776.
Aguada, its history.
Albemarle, Earl of, captures
Alexander VI, Pope, divides the
world between Spain and
American army, landing of;
recognized as liberators,; also
see preface v.
Americans, interest of, in the
insurrection of Lares, 1868.
Antigua, discovery of.
Arecibo, town of.
Armada, effects of destruction of.
Autonomy granted to Puerto Rico.
Bastidas, Bishop Rodrigo, charged
with liberating Indian slaves in
Beet-sugar, its injurious
competition with cane-sugar, 228.
Bemini (Florida), island of, King
Ferdinand wants Ponce to explore
it, 59; Indian reports of, 60;
discovery of, 61.
Blake, English admiral, captures
Spanish galleons, 136.
Blasquez, Juan, judge-auditor of
Puerto Rico, 102.
Boabdil, last of the Moorish kings.
Boriquen, first known name of
Puerto Rico; seat of Guaybana; Boriquenos
restless; revolt in; last of the Boriquen
Indians; the republic of, proclaimed; falls;
native inhabitants of.
Bowdoin, Hendrick, commands
Dutch fleet in attack on San Juan.
Brau, his history of Puerto Rico quoted.
Bruckman, an American, takes
active part in insurrection;
Buccaneers, their origin.
Cannibals, supposed to be found among
Caparra, first settlement of Spaniards
in Puerto Rico; capital transferred
from, to San Juan; the old capital.
Capital, transferred from Caparra to Sun Juan.
Caribs, supposed by Columbus to be
on Guadeloupe; annoy Spaniards in Puerto
Rico; assist the Boriquen Indians; raids in
Puerto Rico; in Dominica punished by the
Spaniards; in the Windward Islands; their
extermination of aborigines of the West
Indies; origin of; characteristics; were they
Castellano y Villaroya, Spanish Colonial
Minister, intercedes in behalf of Puerto
Castellanos, Juan, brings 75 colonists
to Puerto Rico; attorney for Puerto
Rico at the court of Spain.
Castellanos, Juan de, treasurer of Puerto Rico.
Castro, Baltazar, reports depredations of Caribs.
Ceron, Juan, Governor of Puerto Rico;
arrested by Juan Ponce;
restored to office;
returns to Puerto Rico as governor.
Cervantes de Loayza, governor.
Charles V, King of Spain;
quarrels with Francis I of France;
orders the fortification of San German.
Cholera, epidemic of.
Church, in general.
Cities, growth of.
the island made a diocese;
Alonzo Manso, first prelate;
decree of Isabel II affecting clergy.
Columbus, Christopher, returns from his first
voyage; received by the court at Barcelona;
second expedition organized; his second
expedition sails from Cadiz; discovers the
Windward Islands; introduces system of
enslaving the Indians by "distribution" of
them among settlers.
Columbus, Diego, with Christopher
Columbus's second expedition; viceroy and
admiral, in la Espanola; deposes Ponce;
authority of, suspended; deprived of the
power of appointing Governor of Puerto Rico.
Commerce, its development; imports
Cortez, his conquest of Mexico.
Cromwell, his alliance with France
Cuba, influence of Cuban revolution on
Puerto Rico; reforms in, suggested by
De la Gama, Antonio, charged with executing
the royal decree against the "distribution" of Indians.
Diaz, Bernal, de Pisa, with Columbus's
Diego, Rafael, organizer of the revolution
Distribution of Indians among the Spanish
conquerors as slaves;
system introduced by Columbus.
Dominica, discovery of;
Caribs in, aid Puerto Rico Indians against
the Spaniards; Spanish expedition against
Dominicans, order of.
Drake, Francis, his expeditions in the
illiteracy and general ignorance; in hands of
clergy; new interest in; first college;
England contracts to take slaves into
the Spanish-American colonies.
English, ship visits Puerto Rico and
alarms inhabitants; war with, fleet sent
against Spaniards in West Indies; fleet
anchors off "Caleta del Cabron," and is fired
on by Spaniards; abandons the attack;
alliance with France against Spain; capture
Havana; attack San Juan.
Espanola (Santo Domingo).
Fajardo, town of.
Ferdinand, King of Spain, his interest
in Puerto Rico.
Fetichism in the religion of the peasantry.
Filibusters, origin of.
Florida, discovery of;
Ponce's last expedition to.
Francis I, King of France, quarrel
with Charles V of Spain.
Franciscans, order of.
French, send privateers to attack the Antilles;
capture San German twice and destroy it;
attack Guayama; fail in an attack on Puerto
Rico; alliance with English against Spain;
pirates in the Caribbean.
Fuente, Alonso la, his letters to the
Gold, in Puerto Rico;
early search for; first discovery;
gold-bearing streams; production of
Government of Puerto Rico, instructions
by the King of Spain.
Guadeloupe, discovery of;
Caribs in, aid Puerto Rico Indians
against the Spaniards.
Guaybana, cacique in Puerto Rico;
Guaybana second, heads revolt against
the Spaniards; massacres Spaniards;
is defeated; killed.
Haro, Juan de, governor, defends San
Juan against the Dutch.
Havana, captured by the English under
the Earl of Albemarle and Admiral
Hawkyns, John, his freebooting
voyages among the Antilles; his fleet
Holland, Spain's war with;
sends fleet against Puerto Rico;
it is defeated.
Hurricanes in the West Indies;
in Puerto Rico.
Indians, system of "distribution" of,
introduced; in revolt; slaughter Spaniards;
defeated by Ponce; number of, in Puerto Rico;
"distribution" of; rapid decrease of;
condition of; efforts to prevent extinction
of; "distribution" of, among settlers
forbidden; the last 80 survivors liberated
from slavery; last report of the Boriquen
Inquisition, the, in Puerto Rico;
Nicolas Ramos, the last Inquisitor;
abolition of the Inquisition;
Isabel II, her decree declaring property
of the secular clergy national property.
Jews, property of, confiscated to supply
funds for Columbus's second expedition.
Jibaro, the Puerto Rican peasant;
Lando, Governor of Puerto Rico, tries
to prevent persons leaving the island.
Lares, the insurrection of.
Las Casas, Bartolome de, his "Relations
of the Indies" cited; seeks to prevent
extinction of Indians; favors introduction of
Laws, reform, promised;
Leeward Islands, discovery of.
Le Grand, Pierre, the French pirate.
Libraries; since American occupation.
Loiza, settlement of.
l'Olonais, sobriquet of Sables d'Olone,
Macias, Manuel, governor-general, declares
the island in a state of war.
Manso, Alonzo, first bishop of Puerto
Marie-Galante, discovery of.
Mayor, Soto, forms a settlement at Guanica;
killed by Indians.
McCormick, James, his report on Puerto
Rico in 1880.
Mestizos, or mixed races.
Military service, number of men in Puerto
Rico able to carry arms.
Montbras, French pirate.
Morals in the island under Spanish rule.
Morgan, Sir Henry, the pirate.
Mulattoes in the Spanish colony.
Napoleon, his influence over Spain.
Natives, see Indians.
Negroes, introduced into Santo Domingo
as slaves; into Puerto Rico; as slaves in
Puerto Rico; introduced to save the Indians
from extermination; intermix with Indians;
number of, in the island; severe laws
O'Daly, General, leads successful
revolution in Puerto Rico.
Palm, coco-, introduced.
Papers, see Newspapers.
Peasants of Puerto Rico.
Peru, gold discoveries there serve to
attract many settlers from Puerto
Philip I, his character.
Philip II, death of.
Pirates, see Buccaneers and Filibusters.
Pocock, English admiral, and the Earl
of Albemarle, capture Havana.
Ponce, Juan, de Leon, with Columbus's
second expedition; lands on Puerto Rico;
appointed governor; deposed; restored;
arrests Ceron; recalled by the King of Spain;
defeats Guaybana with 5,000 to 6,000 Indians;
deprived of his privileges; retires to
Caparra; prepares for exploring the island of
Bemini; discovers Florida; honored by the
king; ordered to destroy the Caribs; accused
of fomenting discord in Puerto Rico; last
expedition to Florida, wounded, dies;
monument to him in San Juan.
Population, growth of.
Portugal, Alexander VI divides world
between Portugal and Spain.
Prim, John, Count of Reus, his severe
proclamation against the negroes.
Puerto Rico, discovery of;
first settlement, at Caparra; made a
bishopric; name of Puerto Rico first used
October, 1514; divided into two departments;
capital transferred from Caparra to present
location, San Juan; disease and pestilence;
destructive storms; news of gold discoveries
in Peru causes many settlers to leave;
inhabitants try to leave the island for the
Peru gold fields; devastated by French and
Indians; the inhabitants turn to agriculture,
100; expedition sent against the French in
Santa Cruz; English fleet, under the Earl of
Estren, appears off San Juan; used as a
"presidio," or place of banishment for
political prisoners for three centuries;
condition of, in 1765, described by Alexander
O'Reilly; revolution headed by Rafael Diego
and General O'Daly, 153; divided into seven
judicial districts; political rights in the
island; efforts of Spain to promote
development of the island; state of society,
159; effects of Carlist troubles in Spain;
resources of, diminished; description of the
island in 1880; reform laws to relieve
financial distress; promise of reforms; the
new electoral law; conditions in the island
immediately before the American occupation;
becomes part of the United States; its
advantageous situation; soil and products;
harbors; climate; primitive inhabitants;
present inhabitants; era of greatest
prosperity under Spanish rule.
Races in Puerto Rico.
Ramirez, Francisco, President of the
"Republic of Boriquen,".
Reforms, promise of, by Spanish
Government; granted too late.
Religion of the peasantry.
Republic of Boriquen proclaimed.
Revolution, against Spanish oppression.
Rodney, English admiral, attacks French
Sables d'Olone, French pirate.
Sagasta, suggests reforms in Puerto Rico
Salazar, Diego do, heroic conduct of;
San German founded.
San Juan, only settlement in Puerto
Rico not destroyed by the French;
the fort, "Fortaleza," still used as
governor's residence, built in 1540;
fortification and improvement of;
attacked by English fleet, under Drake;
captured by English, 120; evacuated by the
English; attacked by English;
history of; replaces Caparra as the
San Juan Bautista, island of (Puerto
Santa Cruz taken and held by the French.
Santo Domingo, discovery of.
Schools, number and attendance of, in
Sedeno, Contador of Puerto Rico; his
peculations and death.
Slavery, Indians placed in, through the
system of "distribution.".
Slavery, negro, introduced into Santo
Domingo; favored by Church and State; first
negro slaves in Puerto Rico; discussion of
its abolition; abolition of; its history in
the island; introduced to replace lost labor
of the Indians; England contracts to take
140,000 slaves into the Spanish-American
colonies in thirty years; slaves emancipated.
Spain, Alexander VI divides the world
between Spain and Portugal; effects of her
disastrous wars; sends fleet against
pirates in the West Indies; abolishes
Spaniards, number of, in Puerto Rico;
as colonists in Puerto Rico; no women
among early settlers.
Storms, damages by.
the industry injured by production of
Tiedra, Vasco de, Governor of Puerto
Tobacco, its cultivation permitted by a
Trade, its growth.
United States sends army to Puerto Rico;
acquires the island.
Weyler, General, his inhuman proceedings
Windward Islands, discovered by Columbus.
Women, none among early Spanish settlers;
education of, neglected.
Zambos, mixture of negro and Indian.
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