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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 February 2022
The United States occupations of Cuba and Puerto Rico following the War of 1898 instituted immediate reforms to the educational systems of the islands. The imposition of public school systems modeled on those of the United States and a concurrent wave of Protestant schools established by American missionaries are well-known features of the imperialist project. Yet American reforms were shaped by what was known in the nineteenth century as “the school question,” or the controversy over the appropriate relationship between schooling, religion, and the government that had pitted the Protestant majority against Catholics and resulted in a consensus that religious-affiliated education should be permitted but relegated to the private sphere. The implementation of this consensus as the basis of occupation policy in Cuba and Puerto Rico, majority Catholic societies, contributed to the significant growth of a system of private Catholic schools and sparked debate about the relationship between religion, education, and nationalism. In an imperial context, “the school question” led to political polarization in the face of persistent US hegemony.
1 I use the term “War of 1898” here following Louis Pérez in his book with that title to denote the armed conflict in which the United States went to war against Spain and fought with but failed to recognize the Cuban Army of Liberation or Filipino forces who rose up against the US occupation. “Spanish-Cuban-American War” and “Philippine-American War” describe longer conflicts, of which the American intervention was but a part. See Pérez, Louis A. Jr., The War of 1898: The United States and Cuba in History and Historiography (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), xiiGoogle Scholar.
2 Harris, D. M., “Educational Notes and Current Events: Schools in Cuba,” American Journal of Education 32, no. 1 (Jan. 1899), 13Google Scholar.
3 For an overview of what was known at the time as “the school question,” see Green, Steven K., “Church and State in Nineteenth-Century America,” in The Oxford Handbook of Church and State in the United States, ed. Davis, Derek H. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 80–84Google Scholar.
4 “Report of the Board Appointed by General Orders, No. 2 Headquarters Department of Santiago de Cuba, Civil Department, January 4, 1899, for the Purpose of Formulating a Scheme for Public Education in This Province,” Annual Reports of the War Department for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1899 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1900), 857.
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15 Yoel Cordoví Núñez and Dayana Murguia Méndez, “La regulación de la enseñanza privada en Cuba. Principales proyectos, normativas y polémicas,” Historia Caribe 12, no. 30 (January-June 2017), 215–19.
16 Translation (by author): “An educated people will always be strong and free.” José Martí, “Educación popular,” reprinted in Herminio Almendrez Ibáñez, José Martí: Ideario Pedagógico (Havana: Editorial Pueblo y Educación, 2021), 163; Pérez, On Becoming Cuban, 56.
17 Translation (by author): “mentally dominated and enslaved by an intellectual regime that cares for nothing but at any cost to sicken and satiate the youthful understanding [of the colonized]. Hostos quoted in Ángel R. Villarini, “La enseñanza orientada al desarrollo del pensamiento según Eugenio María de Hostos,” in Hostos: Sentido y proyección de su obra en América. Ponencias presentadas en el Primer Encuentro Internacional sobre el Pensamiento de Eugenio María de Hostos, celebrado en Puerto Rico del 2 al 7 de abril de 1989 (San Juan: Instituto de Estudios Hostianos; Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1995), 312.
18 Gotay, Samuel Silva, Catolicismo y política en Puerto Rico: Bajo España y Estados Unidos: Siglos XIX y XX (San Juan: Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2005), 177–201Google Scholar.
19 “[Catholic; Cuba; Porto Rico],” Sioux City Journal (Sioux City, Iowa), November 12, 1898, 10, available at Readex: America's Historical Newspapers. For an overview of the providentialism of the US press in regard to the war, see Gotay, Samuel Silva, Protestantismo y política en Puerto Rico, 1898–1930: hacia una historia del protestantismo evangélico en Puerto Rico (San Juan: La Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1997), 75–81Google Scholar.
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23 Reuter, Catholic Influence, 5–12.
24 “Old Issues in Newer Forms,” Northwestern Christian Advocate (Chicago, Illinois), May 10, 1899, 4.
26 Wood quoted in Laurie Johnston, “Por la Escuela Cubana en Cuba Libre: Themes in the History of Primary and Secondary Education in Cuba, 1899–1958” (PhD diss., University College of London, 1996), 25; Utset, Marial Iglesias, A Cultural History of Cuba during the U.S. Occupation, 1898–1902, trans. Davidson, Russ (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 71–75Google Scholar.
27 Mario John Minichino, “In Our Image: The Attempted Reshaping of the Cuban Educational System by the United States Government, 1898–1912” (PhD diss., University of South Florida, 2014), 177, https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6471&context=etd .
28 “Private Education,” Circular No. 4, Military Government of Cuba, Headquarters, Department of Cuba (Havana, January 6, 1902), 5, in General Classified Files, Bureau of Insular Affairs, Container 69, Record Group 365, National Archives of the United States, College Park, MD.
29 “Constitution of the Republic of Cuba,” printed in Leonard Wood, Civil Report of the Military Governor of Cuba, vol. 2 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902), 229.
30 Yaremko, U.S. Protestant Missions in Cuba, 31–32.
32 “School Conditions in Cuba,” Cambridge Tribune (Boston, MA), April 21, 1900, 6.
33 Reuter, Catholic Influence, 50–51, 113.
34 Lyman Abbott, “Santiago,” Outlook, July 9, 1898, quoted in Benjamin J. Wetzel, “Onward Christian Soldiers: Lyman Abbott's Justification of the Spanish-American War,” Journal of Church and State 54, no. 3 (July 2012), 415.
35 S. T. Willis, “Cuba as a Mission Field,” New York Observer, December 29, 1898, 874.
36 See, for instance, the letters to and from the Cuban American League in December of 1898 in General Classified Files, Bureau of Insular Affairs, Container 4, Record Group 365, National Archives of the United States, College Park, MD.
37 Quoted in Martínez-Fernández, Protestantism and Political Conflict, 164.
38 Helg, Aline, Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886–1912 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), pp. 91–116Google Scholar.
39 Louis A. Pérez Jr., Essays on Cuban History: Historiography and Research (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1994), 53–72.
40 Yaremko, U.S. Protestant Missions in Cuba, 71–73.
41 Ângelo Ezequiel Leubet, Evaldo Luis Pauly, and Valdir Leonardo da Silva, “Jean-Baptiste de La Salle's Contributions to the Formation of the Modern School,” Revista Brasileña de Historia de la Educación 16, no. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 2016), 88–89; Alfredo A. Morales, Itinerario de los Hermanos de La Salle en el Distrito de las Antillas (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Amigos del Hogar, 1978).
42 Georgia Tzortzaki, “La revolución mexicana como huella ideológica en el pensamiento anticlerical cubano (1914–1934),” in Damián A. González et al., Lost in Translation? Actas del XXIII Congreso de la Asociación de Historia Contemporánea (Cuenca, Spain: Universidad Castilla-La Mancha, 2017), 2476–79.
43 Epstein, “The Peril of Paternalism,” 2.
44 Tzortzaki, “Los colegios católicos en La Habana,” 219. For a complete overview of Catholic schools established in Cuba from the colonial era through 1961, see Soneira, Teresa Fernández, Cuba: Historia de la educación católica, 1582–1961 (Miami: Ediciones Universales, 1997)Google Scholar.
45 Tzortzaki, “Los colegios católicos en La Habana,” 228.
46 Tzortzaki, “Los colegios católicos en La Habana,” 215–16.
47 Tzortzaki, “Los colegios católicos en La Habana,” 228–30. Private school students were largely White, especially at the most prestigious schools, and it was widely recognized that one reason wealthy families chose private education was to avoid the racial integration of the public school system. However, while Afro-Cubans had better access to public schools, they sometimes faced informal exclusion or had little access to schools due to the largely White neighborhoods where they were built. For a case study, see Lucero, Bonnie A., “The Great Equalizer? Education, Racial Exclusion, and the Transition from Colony to Republic in Cienfuegos, Cuba,” Cuban Studies 49, no. 1 (2020), 153–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
48 Lincoln de Zayas, “Report from the Period from September 29, 1906 to November 1, 1907,” in Charles E. Magoon, Republic of Cuba: Report of Provisional Administration from Oct. 13th, 1906 to December 1st, 1907 (Havana: Rambla and Bouza Printers, 1908), 328, 348.
49 Richard Aumerle Maher, “Protestantism in Cuba,” Catholic World 100 (Nov. 1914), 206–14.
50 For a comprehensive history of Protestantism in Cuba and the complicated relationship between Americans and Cuban Protestants, see Baer, James A., A Social History of Cuba's Protestants: God and the Nation (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019)Google Scholar.
51 Amílcar Antonio Barreto, “Enlightened Tolerance or Cultural Capitulation? Contesting Notions of American Identity,” in Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State, ed. Alfred W. McCoy and Francisco A. Scarano (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009), 147–48; Alan McPherson, “Anti-Americanism in Latin America,” in Anti-Americanism: History, Causes, Themes, vol. 3, Comparative Perspectives, ed. Brendan O'Connor (Oxford: Greenwood Press, 2007), 77–87; Pike, The United States and Latin America, 75–86, 193–201; Haas, Ernst B., Nationalism, Liberalism, and Progress: The Dismal Fate of New Nations (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000), 226–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
52 Tzortzaki, “Los colegios católicos en La Habana,” 36–37. For a similar case in which the policies of the US occupation in regard to religion had contradictory effects on the development of competing Cuban nationalisms, see Logan, Enid Lynette, “The 1899 Cuban Marriage Law Controversy: Church, State and Empire in the Crucible of Nation,” Journal of Social History 42, no. 2 (Winter 2008), 469–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
53 Johnston, “Por la Escuela Cubana en Cuba Libre,” 50.
54 Translation (by the author): “the most delicate of our problems . . . that should merit the attention of those who truly care about the health of our country and its growth and consolidation: the education problem.” Clark, Ismael, “El problema religioso [The Religious Problem],” Cuba Contemporánea 8, no. 3 (July 1915), 210Google Scholar. The article also appeared in the major national newspaper Heraldo de Cuba, on July 9, 1915.
55 Translation (by the author): “are not Cuban and love neither our great men or our country, nor do they know our history.” Clark, “El problema religioso,” 213.
56 Primelles, León, Crónica Cubana, 1915–1918 (Havana: Editorial Lex, 1955), 87–88Google Scholar, accessed at https://archive.org/stream/LeonPrimellesCronicaCubana191518T1/Leon_Primelles_-_Cronica_cubana_1915-18_t_1_djvu.txt.
57 Translation (by the autor): “pedagogical anti-nationalism.” Tzortzaki, “Los colegios católicos en La Habana,” 51
58 Translation (by the author): “based on the most advanced pedagogical thought,” “disorganization and decadence.” Montori, Arturo, “El problema de la educación nacional [The Problem of National Education],” Cuba Contemporánea 14, no. 96 (Dec. 1920), 330Google Scholar.
59 Johnston, “Por la Escuela Cubana en Cuba Libre,” 68–69.
60 Translation (by the author): “Did not the Christian religion anoint the first arms raised in Bayamo for the independence of Cuba and were not Catholic prayers raised at the tomb of Maceo and of all the great liberators of Cuba?” Tzortzaki, “Los colegios católicos en La Habana,” 98; Laurie Johnston, “Cuban Nationalism and Responses to Private Education in Cuba, 1902–1958,” in Ideologues and Ideologies in Latin America, ed. Will Fowler (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997), 31–34.
61 Tzortzaki, “Los colegios católicos en La Habana,” 93–154.
62 Tzortzaki, “Los colegios católicos en La Habana,” 27–44; Rolando Buenavilla Recio et al., Historia de la pedogogía en Cuba (La Habana: Editorial Pueblo y Educación, 1995), 59–75.
63 Katia Figueredo Cabrera, “La polémica educacional de los años 40 en Cuba,” En Revista Temas. Cultura, ideología y Sociedad 56 (October-December 2008), 184–95.
64 Super, “Interpretations of Church and State in Cuba,” 525–27. See also Lisa Jarvinen and Conrad Gleber, “Leaving Cuba,” Revolution, Diaspora and Return: The Journey of the Cuban De La Salle Brothers, https://www.revolution-diaspora-return.com/.
65 “How to Make Them Americans through Long Lines of Spreading Palms,” Grand Rapids Herald (MI), October 8, 1899, 10; Groff, G. G., “Report of Superior Board of Health of Porto Rico,” Military Government of Porto Rico from October 18, 1898 to April 30, 1900 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1901), 175Google Scholar.
66 Del Moral, Negotiating Empire, 31–33; Navarro, Creating Tropical Yankees, 3–30.
67 Yustos, Alfonso López, Historia documental de la educación en Puerto Rico (Hato Rey, PR: Publicaciones Puertorriqueñas, 1997), 99–103Google Scholar.
68 Letter, John Eaton to President, San Juan, PR, April 12, 1899, General Classified Files, 1898–1913, Bureau of Insular Affairs, RG 0350, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD.
69 Navarro, Creating Tropical Yankees, 44–50; López Yustos, Historia documental, 97–99.
70 Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo, “The Catholic Worldview in the Political Philosophy of Pedro Albizu Campos: The Death Knoll of Puerto Rican Insularity,” U.S. Catholic Historian 20, no. 4 (Fall 2002), 55–56.
71 For a succinct overview of the imposition of English on Puerto Rico's public school system, see Solsiree Del Moral, “Language and Empire: Elizabeth Kneipple's Colonial History of Puerto Rico,” Centro Journal 31, no. 1 (Spring 2019), 60–62. For a detailed account of each commissioner's language policies, see Negrón de Montilla, La americanización en Puerto Rico y el sistema de instrucción pública.
72 Silva Gotay, Protestantismo y política en Puerto Rico, 198–99; López Yustos, Historia documental, 103–5.
73 Ellen Walsh, “‘Advancing the Kingdom,’ Missionaries and Americanization in Puerto Rico, 1898–1930s” (PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 2008), 111–17.
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75 The first bishop named to Cuba post-1898 was Monsignor Donato Sbarretti, an Italian, whose selection disappointed Cuban nationalists who felt that Cubans should fill the highest ecclesiastical positions in the country. Utset, Marial Iglesias, A Cultural History of Cuba during the U.S. Occupation, 1898–1902 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 48CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
76 Translation (by the author): “if this would ‘mean moral and material benefits’ for Puerto Ricans.” Silva Gotay, Catolicismo y política en Puerto Rico, 338.
77 Samuel Silva Gotay, La iglesia católica de Puerto Rico en el proceso político de americanización, 1898–1930 (San Juan, PR: Publicaciones Gaviota, 2012), 147.
78 Sister Miriam Therese O’Brien, “Puerto Rico's First American Bishop.” Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia 91, no. 1/4 (Mar.-Dec. 1980), 14.
79 López Yustos, Historia documental, 103–4.
80 Gerardo Alberto Hernández Aponte, La Iglesia Católica en Puerto Rico ante la Invasión de los Estados Únidos de América (San Juan, PR: Editorial Tiempo Nuevo, 2013), 190–208.
81 “Bishop Gives the Lie,” New York Times, June 28, 1900, 1; “The Recent Teacher's Conference at San Juan,” Christian Advocate, 75 (September 1900), 1534.
82 Aníbal Colón-Rosado, Crisis de la identidad de la educación católica en Puerto Rico (Santurce, PR: Distribución Cultural Puertorriqueña Inc., 1981), 28.
84 Colón-Rosado, Crisis de la identidad de la educación católica en Puerto Rico, 29–34, 42; Silva Gotay, Catolicismo y política en Puerto Rico, 410–19.
85 David Maldonado Riviera, “‘A Perfect, Irrevocable Gift’: Recognizing the Proprietary Church in Puerto Rico, 1898–1908,” in At Home and Abroad: The Politics of American Religion, ed. Elizabeth Shakman Hurd and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2021), 37–50.
86 Stevens-Arroyo, “The Catholic Worldview in the Political Philosophy of Pedro Albizu Campos,” 54, 69–70. Translation of the quotation found on page 70 is by Stevens-Arroyo.
87 Silva Gotay, Catolicismo y política en Puerto Rico, 264–85.
89 Silva Gotay, La iglesia católica de Puerto Rico, 145.
90 See note 6 above.
91 López Yustos, Historia documental, 169–72; Moran, “Beyond the Black Legend,” 50–51.
92 Martínez-Fernández, Protestantism and Political Conflict, 163–64.
93 Bender, Courtney and Klassen, Pamela E., “Introduction: Habits of Pluralism,” in After Pluralism: Reimagining Religious Engagement, ed. Bender and Klassen (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), 1–30Google Scholar.
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