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Puerto Rico's History

1800 - 1849


On October 16, the Municipal Library of San Juan was inaugurated.


In 1803, Denmark abolished the slave trade, and Britain followed in 1807, France in 1817, Holland in 1818, Spain in 1820, and Sweden in 1824. Slavery itself is finally abolished in the British colonies in 1833, in the French colonies in 1848, and in the Dutch colonies in 1863; it is abolished in the Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico in 1873 and Cuba in 1880.


The printing press was brought to the island by the Government for the purpose of publishing the Official Gazette.


As a result of Napoleon's invasion of Spain, the resistance government took the first step further and recognized Puerto Rico and other Spanish colonies in America as an over sea provinces with the right to send representatives to the Spanish government. Now Puerto Rico has the opportunity to choose a Puerto Rican to represents the Island, with right to a vote, in the Spanish Cortes ("Cortes de Cádiz" or "Junta Suprema").

On August 3, a hurricane strikes the island. Few weeks later, on August 17-19, another hurricane strikes the island.


Ramón Power y Giralt was elected and sent to Spain as delegate.

Rafael Cordero opened a free primary school for poor children.


The Power Law was approved, by which outfits 5 ports for free commerce (Fajardo, Mayaguez, Aguadilla, Cabo Rojo and Ponce).

Don Salvador Melendez, then governor of Puerto Rico, sent military commander Juan Rosello to begin what later became the take-over of Vieques by the people of Puerto Rico.


Public lighting with olive oil lamps was established in the streets of San Juan.

Cadiz Constitution was adopted, established the division of Spain and its territories into provinces, each with a local corporation or council to promote its prosperity and defend its interests, which granted Puerto Ricans conditional citizenship.

The first book of poems was printed.


The Puerto Rico Lottery was founded.


El Capitolio
Photo: Santiago Sanchez

On August 10, the Royal Decree of Grace (commerce liberty) was issued, allowing all foreigners to be admitted to Puerto Rico and Islanders to trade with other nations. At the same time Puerto Rico's meager gold supply was exhausted, islanders struggled to develop an agricultural economy. Cattle, sugar cane, tobacco and coffee were the main investments.

Spain restored absolute power to the king, revoking the Cadiz Constitution and reinstating Puerto Rico to its former condition of a colony subject to the unrestricted power of the Spanish monarch.


Simón Bolivar, from Venezuela, the Great Liberator of the Americas, lands on Vieques.

On October 16-17, a hurricane strikes the island.


On September 21-22, a hurricane strikes the island.


Fernando VII King of Spain proclaimed the restitution of the Cadiz Constitution.


In December, after seizing the force of the two Spanish Floridas (east and west), James Monroe, President of the United States promulgated Monroe Doctrine, a United States policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas beginning in 1823. The doctrine was aimed to prevent other European nations from helping Spain regain lost control of their colonies in the Indies. It stated that further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as "the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States."


Adding to Spain enemies of the Crown, the Island became a host to an assortment of pirates and smugglers. One of the more famous was the Puerto Rican Roberto Cofresi, who is said to have shared his spoils with the poor. Pirate Roberto Cofresí and his crew attacked 8 ships one of them an American Ship. As a result, the US Naval Forces send the schooner Grampus to pursue him. After a ferocious battle Cofresi and his crew were captured by Captain John Sloat.


Henry Clay, Secretary of State of the United States, sent a formal note to the government of Spain urging them to put an end to their attempts to regain their sovereignty over their territories, reassuring that Spain could continue to hold possession of Cuba and Puerto Rico since the United States preferred that Cuba and Puerto Rico continue to be Spanish colonies with the condition the colonies will pass into the power of some other less friendly nations.

On March 25, Pirate Roberto Cofresí was executed on the fields of El Morro castle.

Puerto Rico governors receive absolute governing faculties.

On July 6, a hurricane strikes the island. Six villages were destroyed.


In June 22, the Congress of Panama of 1826 (also known as Amphictyonic Congress) was a convention organized by Simon Bolivar , president of Gran Colombia, held in Panama City. In response to the concern that the Holy Alliance (France, Austria, Prussia, and Russia) was encouraging Spain to reclaim its lost possessions in the Americas. The goal was to promote unity among the new republics of the Americas to develop a unified policy towards Spain.

The convention included delegates of Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Peru, and San Martin. Great Britain sent delegates to study the proceedings. United States reluctantly send delegates, who did not arrive in time.


On June 25, Queen Maria Cristina abolished the slave trade to Spanish colonies.

On August 12, a hurricane strikes the island.


On August 2-4, a hurricane strikes the island.


La Perla Theater was inaugurated in Ponce.


First lighthouse in Puerto Rico constructed atop El Morro.

The first book, "Aguinaldo Puertorriqueño" was published in the island.


A statistical commission was created, conducting a reliable census. The total figures are:
Whites........................... 216,083
Free colored......................175,791
Slaves............................ 51,265
Total............................ 443,139


The book, "Cancionero de Borinquen" was published.

On September 1st, 1846 a chart of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands by Charles Wilson was published.


The book "El Jibaro" by Manuel Alonso was published.

The first horse races were founded sponsored by the local government.

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Did You Know?

The biggest JC Penney in the world is located in Plaza Las Américas mall in Puerto Rico.