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World of 1898: International Perspectives on the Spanish American War

Eugenio María de Hostos y Bonilla


Born in Rio Cañas in Mayagüez, Hostos received his elementary schooling in San Juan and then went to Spain for both secondary studies and law school. While there, he joined the Spanish republicans, only to become disillusioned when they abandoned their pledge to make Puerto Rico independent. Hostos moved to New York City in 1869 where he became a member of the Cuban Revolutionary Junta. In 1870 he began a four-year trip throughout Latin America propagandizing for his themes of the abolition of slavery and a federation of Antillean nations. His championing of maltreated Chinese laborers in Peru helped change public opinion as did his hostility toward the Oruro railway project. His writings in Chile helped women gain admittance to professional schools and his advocacy of a transandean railway in Argentina resulted in its first locomotive being named after him. From 1875 to 1888 he devoted his energies to reforming the educational systems in both the Dominican Republic and in Chile.

He returned to New York City in 1898 and for the next two years pursued his advocacy of establishing the future status of Puerto Rico through popular vote throughout the island. He was a member of a delegation that delivered such demands to U.S. President William McKinley. In 1900 he returned to the Dominican Republic. Of his fifty books and countless essays, his most important was La Peregrinación de Bayoán, a seminal work promoting Cuban independence. He was also known as a supporter of women's rights. He even wrote his own epitaph:

"I wish that they will say: In that island [Puerto Rico] a man was born who loved truth, desired justice, and worked for the good of men."