Emmet Montgomery Reily did not have much of a resume. He had been assistant postmaster of Kansas City, Missouri…but this was enough for Pres. Warren Harding to appoint him as Governor of Puerto Rico.
The trouble started almost immediately. Before he was even sworn in, Reily had already informed the insular press that:
His inauguration speech went even further, with Reily proclaiming that:
In lengthy letters to Pres. Harding, Reily wrote: “Every Porto Rican politician carries a pistol,” and “Porto Ricans are children,” and “they cannot be trusted.”
Unfortunately, it was Reily who could not be trusted. He got caught appointing his family and friends from Kansas City, to top jobs in the Puerto Rican government. “This is most embarrassing,” wrote Congressman Horace Mann Towner to President Harding.
The embarrassment grew when Reily got caught stealing from the Puerto Rico Treasury, and was forced to pay it back.
Reporters called him “filth,” “thief,” and numerous obscenities. Within four months, Reily became so detested that on Nov. 21, 1921 he ran out of the S.S. Tanamo yelling:
“There’s a fire on the ship! They’re trying to kill me!”
According to Reily, an “infernal machine” had been secreted in the bowels of the S.S. Tanamo by a Puerto Rican patriot, in order to sink the ship and kill the governor.
S.S. Tanamo, the ship with Reily’s “infernal machine”
No one ever found the “infernal machine,” but the governor now became the laughing stock of Puerto Rico. The entire island started calling him Moncho Reyes.
In Puerto Rico, the word “Moncho” means mongoloid idiot.
Suckling pigs called Moncho Reyes, were barbecued and devoured.
Songs and plays about Moncho Reyes were performed throughout the island.
When an entire island is laughing at its colonial governor, that governor has outlived their usefulness. It is impossible to subjugate people who are laughing at you.
Moncho Reyes tendered his letter of resignation on February 16, 1923.
After the Teapot Dome Scandal, the colonial administration of Emmet Montgomomery Reily, aka Moncho Reyes, was the greatest scandal of Warren Harding’s presidency.