TIMELINES: What group of people were granted US citizenship on March 2, 1917?

March 2, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

Friday, March 2, 2012


On March 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signs the Jones-Shafroth Act, making the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico a U.S. territory and granting its residents U.S. citizenship. Just over two months later, Congress grants the federal government the authority to draft citizens into compulsory military service. Roughly 20,000 Puerto Ricans are drafted to serve during World War I. The Jones-Shafroth Act also created a bill of rights for Puerto Ricans, split governmental power into legislative, executive, and judicial branches, and established elections every four years.


On March 18, all four candidates for the Republican presidential nomination will be on the ballot in Puerto Rico’s own primary election, which is expected to attract 300,000 voters, reports National Public Radio. Although Puerto Rico cannot vote in the general election, as it is not a state, the over 3 million Puerto Ricans can vote in the Democratic and Republican party primaries. With 23 delegates to award, the territory has at times becomes an important battleground. For Puerto Ricans, a candidate’s position on statehood for the territory can be the deciding factor. Puerto Rico’s republican, pro-statehood Gov. Luis Fortuno, has endorsed Mitt Romney.