White Man’s Burden: How the US perceived Puerto Ricans

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony


When the US invaded Puerto Rico in 1898, it had little prior contact with its people. This transatlantic ignorance was compounded by the inherent racism of southern congressmen.

Here are some of their memorable opinions – declared on the floor of the US congress, in the New York Times, and in Scribner’s magazine.

“Puerto Ricans are a heterogeneous mass of mongrels, incapable of self-government and hostile to Christianity. They are savages addicted to head-hunting and cannibalism.”

–US Senator William B. Bate

Eating FeastBlanquito asado festival in 19th century Puerto Rico

According to Scribner’s magazine, “all Puerto Ricans are totally lacking in moral values.”

After extensive research, the New York Times confirmed that “Puerto Ricans are uneducated, simple-minded and harmless people who are only interested in wine, women, music and dancing.”  

Pieter_Bruegel_de_Oude_-_De_bruiloft_dans_(Detroit)Puerto Rican lunch break in Old San Juan, circa 1898

In 1931, a Harvard-educated cancer doctor named Cornelius Rhoads had this to say: “Porto Ricans are the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men…they are even lower than Italians.” 

In a hand-written letter, signed and dated by him, Dr. Rhoads wrote that what the island really needs, is to “totally exterminate the population.”

He then boasted of killing eight Puerto Ricans, and transplanting cancer into several others.

Here is a transcription of that letter:

This did not hurt the career of Dr. Cornelius Rhoads. He continued to receive many research contracts from the US government and private foundations, and was appointed as Director of the Sloane-Kettering Institute.

A few years after “killing off eight Puerto Ricans and transplanting cancer into several more,” Dr. Rhoads was honored on the cover page of Time Magazine.


13 Comments on “White Man’s Burden: How the US perceived Puerto Ricans

  1. is true, puertorricans are the mock of other latinamerican pals
    cause they are fighting each other without brain. just take a close look, come to the island
    and see by yourself. a mix with taino, african and caribs indians.

    they event have a own dissease called “mal de pelea”

    you can see all boricuas (puertorricans) raged on this comment secctions.

    the way you control a puertorrican is with call them rage but thats a waste of time with a kind of human event
    cant think by itself.

    making all people look bad at them.


  2. We were not invaded. They were asked to come. My grandfather and great grandfather worked with them to get Spain out. (Talk abut racists! ).
    There are horrible people in every nationality.
    I am tired of being called a “race”. Puertorricans are all races and most are a mixture of 2 or more. Not all of us had to go work in the garment district. My parents, my siblings and I got a fantastic educations in Puerto Rico, and cheaply, I might add!
    Helen ArzolaEmmanuelli


  3. Now I know what to eat when I run out of carne. Can you pls post the recipe.



  4. Enjoy the freedom!?
    This freedom is an illusion!
    I would say, enjoy more your assimilation!


  5. I don’t understand why people keeps trying to bring back the treatment they received a long time ago? the real people that suffer all those injustice are dead they are not suffering now, all we have to do is enjoy the sacrifice they did for us today, there is no country on this earth that has suffered in the hands of another country, it has always been that the big fish will eat the smaller fish, just accept their sacrifice and enjoy todays freedom to pursues your happiness in what we have today.


  6. Its crazy how some people like Jorge Rivera commented believes things have changed. The US has and continues to manipulate the people of Puerto Rico clising there eyes to the injustice that it has delivered to all indigenous people around the world. Remrmber the biggest genocide in history was committed in the western hemisphere starting in Borinquen 100 million killed at the gands of the europeans and US. Hitler studied the native american concentration camps in the US before he started his own.


  7. We , sometimes get surpraised about the savage government of the US. Theu kill themselves at universities. Have no respect for Humanity; killing childrens an women at Midle East, because they want their black gold an d water. They killed the naturals (Indians) when they came from Europe as degenerated men and woman. They start in the world the African slavery whe the natural don’t want work for them any more. They have a singular indecent way of sex life. As puertorricans grow healthy, beautiful and happy; the hostile and dirty people that founded at a tea party, the most cruel empire in the world, they keep depending on our intelligence as naturals of this beautiful island of Puerto Rico. They also depend of the money they take every year on taxes and pharmaceutical products . Many jews stores around the island take about 45 million dollars a year. I believe they fall in their dirty love with this savages of us; that only got for sure they are the must cruel, hateful and unrespectful nation in the Planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So he was a “SERIAL KILLER” of Puerto Ricans, and he gets honored by times magazine? Don Pedro Albizu Campos tries to liberate Puerto Rico and he gets irradiation (radiation) all over his body for trying to free his people from invaders who are ransacking the island. “What injustice”.

    Liked by 1 person

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