Q:

What was the purpose of the Foraker Act?

A:

The purpose of the Foraker Act was to establish a limited government in the recently acquired territory of Puerto Rico. The act also outlawed cockfighting in the territory.

Puerto Rico had been acquired by the United States from Spain as a part of the terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1898, and the Foraker Act of 1900 was the first limited application of civilian government on the island. It was named for its chief sponsor, Ohio senator Joseph Foraker. It is also sometimes called the Organic Act of 1900.

The act gave Puerto Rico a governmental structure somewhat similar to the states, with a governor, an 11-member executive council, a 35-member House of Representatives, a Supreme Court and District Court, and a Resident Commissioner in Congress. None of these positions were subject to elections, however, with the exception of the House of Representatives. All other positions were appointed by the federal government and only five members of the executive council could be residents of Puerto Rico. Residents of Puerto Rico also did not receive United States citizenship at this time. The act also made all federal laws applicable in the territory.

The governmental system created by the Foraker Act was in place until 1917, when it was replaced by the Jones-Shafroth Act.


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