Puerto Rico was a small island colony heavily dependent on its mother country.
Perhaps for that reason, it stayed loyal to Spain when other larger, more self-sufficient colonies were fighting wars of independence.
In fact, in the early 1800s, the island was a haven for loyalists fleeing revolutions in other Spanish American colonies.
By the 1820s, Puerto Rico and Cuba were the last remnants of Spain’s once great American empire.
Puerto Rican patriots such as Ramon Power and Jose Maria Quinones wanted greater autonomy, or self-rule. But they were willing to work within the framework of the Spanish constitution, which had recently been made more liberal.
The king’s power was curtailed by the Cortes, or parliament. Spain, however, was slow in treating Puerto Ricans as citizens entitled to political representation.
For decades, Puerto Rico was ruled by military governors.