Puerto RicoThe Caribbean before the landing of Columbus served almost as a bridgebetween the north coast of South America and Florida for the Amazoniantribes in the south and the north american inhabitants. When ChristopherColumbus on his second trip in 1493 landed in Puerto Rico and claimed it forSpain, he found the island populated by as many as 60,000 Arawak or Tainoindians, which for the most part, were friendly compared to the Carib indians insome of the more southerly islands which were warlike and to some degreecannibalistic. The conquest of the island didn’t take long, and the peaceful Tainos were putto the task as slaves for the purpose of mining the gold that was found on theisland. The gold didn’t last long and in 1511 there was an uprising of theTainos, who up to this point had believed that the Spaniards were Gods, andtook a soldier by the name of Sotomayor and dunked him head first in a riverfor several hours to see if he would die. Just in case, they had prepared a feastfor the Spaniard if he came out alive. However, it wasn’t the Spanish swordthat took most of the lives of the Arawaks, but the diseases that were broughtfrom Europe and for which the indians had no defenses.Order now
In 1508 the first governor arrived, Juan Ponce de Le?n (who is more famousas the searcher for the fountain of youth and discoveror of the state of Florida). The island remained Spanish despite harassment and numerous conquestattempts by buccaneers and pirates and English and Dutch expeditions. Todefend the island against these threats, two forts, El Morro and SanCrist?bal,were built to guard the approaches to San Juan harbor. Defense ofthese forts foiled attempts by Sir Francis Drake in 1595, by another Englishfleet in 1598, and by the Dutch in 1625 to capture Puerto Rico for theirrespective empires.
The defeat of the British in 1797 finally thwarted thatcountry’s designs on the island, and the Spanish colony was kept intact. During the 16th to the 19th century Puerto Rico was characterized primarily byunderpopulation, poverty and neglect by Spain. It was mainly a garrison for theships that would pass on their way to or from the other and richer colonies. During this time as much as 10 or 11 years would pass between the arrival ofships from Spain and as trade with other countries was prohibited, the islandreverted to contraband trading with ships from England, Netherlands orwhomever would trade for the main produce of the island, which at that timewas ginger. This peasant agriculture continued until the early 19th century,when Spanish law was changed to allow unrestricted trade with the neighbors.
The 19th century in Puerto Rico was characterized by a series of strict if notbrutal military governors which stifled the independence movements in PuertoRico that were shaking the foundations of its other American colonies. Slaveryand the importation of slaves reached its peak, with the need for workers onthe sugar and coffee plantations. Slavery, however, never reached the alarmingproportions of freemen to slaves as it did on the other colonies or even onparts of the United States. While in Haiti in 1789 the slaves comprised 90% ofthe population and in Jamaica 85%, in Puerto Rico in 1834 the censusestablished that 11% of the population were slaves, 35% were coloredfreemen and 54% were white. It was only until 1873, however, that slaverywas finally abolished in Puerto Rico.History Essays