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Printed document on paper.

Jones-Shafroth Act Enacted by the 64th United States Congress, signed by President Wilson

Politicians William A. Jones and John Shafroth attempted to pass several bills to extend U.S. citizen- ship to Puerto Rican residents. However, lawmakers feared that this would set a precedent for enfran- chisement in the Philippines. Warning that “we are not willing to surrender our civilization,” in 1901 the Democratic Party platform asserted: “The Filipinos ... cannot be subjects without imperiling our form of government." Nevertheless, in 1914, the completion of the Panama Canal and the draft for World War I added to Puerto Rico’s value. 

The Jones-Shafroth Act was signed by President Woodrow Wilson on March 2, 1917, granting citizen- ship to Puerto Ricans. However, the U.S. president continued to appoint the political offices, including the governor, to Puerto Rico—and retained the power to veto laws passed by the local legislature.

William Atkinson Jones (1849–1918) John F. Shafroth (1854–1922)
Printed paper
38.1 x 25.4 cm (15 x 10 in.)
National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.