Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter on Self-Government for Puerto Rico.

August 29, 1944

My dear Judge Bell:

Last year I appointed a committee of Puerto Rican and continental Americans to explore the problem of increasing self-government in Puerto Rico.

S. 1407, which is now before your Committee, incorporates the conclusions of that committee. The measure as originally submitted would amend the Organic Act of Puerto Rico by allowing the people to elect their own Governor, who is now appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the United States Senate. It would also lodge in the elected Governor the power of selecting other officials, who are now Federal appointees. Broadly, it would increase local self-government and local responsibilities. This bill, with certain amendments, has been unanimously passed by the Senate.

The Puerto Ricans have long since reached political maturity. Under our traditional policy and practice they are entitled to go beyond the rudiments of democracy that they now have.

The passage of this bill is advocated by all of the political parties in Puerto Rico. It has met with almost unanimous approval in the Island and among students of Puerto Rican affairs on the continent. Its passage would be another illustration of the liberal American policy towards dependent areas. By extending home rule in Puerto Rico, we would multiply the good will we have already gained throughout the Western Hemisphere, as we did among the peoples of the East by our liberal policy towards the Philippines.

I strongly recommend the passage of this legislation; and I hope that the House Insular Affairs Committee will find it possible to give early and favorable consideration to it.

Hon. C. Jasper Bell,

Chairman, Committee on Insular Affairs,

House of Representatives

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter on Self-Government for Puerto Rico. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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