The last of the Spanish possessions fell away after the Spanish-American War. All but one of them declared independence. The one that didn’t was Puerto Rico. Not that Puerto Rico had no independence leanings — like Cuba, they battled for decades against a repressive Spanish colonial regime — but that annexation by the United States fulfilled the dreams of many. So it was, when a defeated Spain turned over their colony of Puerto Rico to the United States, many of the island’s residents cheered.
On this day, October 18, in 1898, the Stars and Stripes went up over Puerto Rico, signifying the the United States took military control of the island.
Early Puerto Rico lay at a strategic military water crossing, and served as an outlet for excess U.S. goods. By 1917 the Jones Act made the island a United States territory, meaning its residents were now U.S. citizens, and could be conscripted to the army (an estimated 20,000 served in WW II). By 1952 the island was granted self-rule, as a commonwealth of the United States.