First administrative cabinet under the Jones Act. From left: A. Ruíz Soler (Health), José E. Benedicto (Treasurer), Ramón Siaca Pacheco (Secretary), Hon. Arthur Yager (Governor, 1914-1921), Paul G. Miller (Education), Manuel Camuñas (Labor and Agriculture), Salvador Mestre (Attorney General), Guillermo Esteves (Interior), Jesse W. Bonner (Auditor), Pedro L. Rodríguez (Governor's Secretary).

First admin­is­tra­tive cab­i­net under the Jones Act. From left: A. Ruíz Sol­er (Health), José E. Bene­dic­to (Trea­sur­er), Ramón Sia­ca Pacheco (Sec­re­tary), Hon. Arthur Yager (Gov­er­nor, 1914–1921), Paul G. Miller (Edu­ca­tion), Manuel Camuñas (Labor and Agri­cul­ture), Sal­vador Mestre (Attor­ney Gen­er­al), Guiller­mo Esteves (Inte­ri­or), Jesse W. Bon­ner (Audi­tor), Pedro L. Rodríguez (Governor’s Sec­re­tary).

The Jones–Shafroth Act (1917) was a 1917 Act of the Unit­ed States Con­gress by which,  Puer­to  Ricans  were col­lec­tive­ly made U.S. cit­i­zens, the peo­ple of Puer­to Rico were empow­ered to have a pop­u­lar­ly-elect­ed Sen­ate, estab­lished a bill of rights, and autho­rized the elec­tion of a Res­i­dent Com­mis­sion­er to a four year term. Also known as the “Jones Act of Puer­to Rico” or “Jones Law of Puer­to Rico”, it amend­ed the “Organ­ic Act of Puer­to Rico” cre­at­ed by the Forak­er Act of 1900. (This “Jones Act” applies only to Puer­to Rico.) The act was signed into law by Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son on March 2, 1917

Luis Munoz Rivera

Luis Munoz Rivera

The impe­tus for this leg­is­la­tion came from a com­plex of both local and main­land inter­ests. Puer­to Ricans lacked inter­na­tion­al­ly rec­og­nized cit­i­zen­ship; but the local coun­cil was wary of “impos­ing cit­i­zen­ship.”  Luis Munoz Rivera, The  Res­i­dent  Com­mis­sion­er  in Wash­ing­ton, argued in its favor, giv­ing sev­er­al sig­nif­i­cant speech­es in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.   On 5 May 1916 he demand­ed: “Give us now the field of exper­i­ment which we ask of you.… It is easy for us to set up a sta­ble repub­li­can gov­ern­ment with all pos­si­ble guar­an­tees for all pos­si­ble inter­ests. And after­wards, when you … give us our inde­pen­dence … you will stand before human­i­ty as a great cre­ator of new nation­al­i­ties and a great lib­er­a­tor of oppressed peo­ple.”

The Act made all cit­i­zens of Puer­to Rico U.S. cit­i­zens col­lec­tive­ly and revised the sys­tem of gov­ern­ment in Puer­to Rico. In some respects, the gov­ern­men­tal struc­ture par­al­leled that of a state of the Unit­ed States. Pow­ers were sep­a­rat­ed among an Exec­u­tive, Judi­cial, and Leg­isla­tive branch.  The law also rec­og­nized cer­tain civ­il rights through a bill of rights to be observed by the gov­ern­ment of Puer­to Rico (although tri­al by jury, which did not exist in Puer­to Rico’s civ­il law sys­tem, was not among them).

When the Selec­tive Ser­vice Act of 1917 was passed two months lat­er, it allowed con­scrip­tion to be extend­ed to the island. Some 20,000 Puer­to Rican sol­diers were sent to World War I. Before the Act was signed, Puer­to Ricans res­i­dents of the island who were not cit­i­zens of the Unit­ed States (their cit­i­zen­ship since 1898 was Puer­to Rican) were con­sid­ered as aliens. But then Isabel Gon­za­lez arrived in New York from Puer­to Rico. US Immi­gra­tion attempt­ed to deport her back to Puer­to Rico, but she appealed her case up to the Supreme Court  and won immi­gra­tion rights for all Puer­to Ricans from that point for­ward. How­ev­er, the Court fell just short of grant­i­ng US Cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus. As such Puer­to Ricans were inel­i­gi­ble for the draft. Pri­or to the Act, Puer­to Ricans in the main­land Unit­ed States who were per­ma­nent res­i­dents were required to reg­is­ter with the Selec­tive Ser­vice Sys­tem and could be draft­ed

Por­tions of the Jones Act were super­seded in 1948, after which the Gov­er­nor was pop­u­lar­ly elect­ed. In 1948, U.S. Con­gress allowed Puer­to Rico to draft its own Con­sti­tu­tion  which, when imple­ment­ed in 1952, pro­vid­ed greater auton­o­my as a Com­mon­wealth