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Ramón Power y Giralt

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Ramón Power y Giralt
Captain Ramón Power y Giralt
Born(1775-10-07)October 7, 1775
San Juan, Puerto Rico,
Viceroyalty of New Spain
DiedJune 10, 1813(1813-06-10) (aged 37)
Cadiz, Spain
AllegianceSpanish Navy
Years of service1795–1809
RankNaval Captain
Battles/warsSanto Domingo against an invasion by French forces

Captain Ramón Power y Giralt (October 7, 1775 – June 10, 1813) was, according to Puerto Rican historian Lidio Cruz Monclova, among the first native-born Puerto Ricans to refer to himself as a "Puerto Rican" and to fight for the equal representation of Puerto Rico before the Cortes of Cádiz, the parliamentary government of Spain at the time.

Early years[edit]

Power was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to Joaquín Power y Morgan, a Spaniard from the Basque Country (of Irish and French descent) who came to Puerto Rico in connection with the Compañía de Asiento de Negros, which regulated the slave trade in the island, and María Josefa Giralt y Santaella a Catalan from Barcelona, Spain.[1][2][3] His great-grandfather Peter Power was Irish from Waterford, he moved to Bordeaux, France and had a son Jean Baptiste Power Dubernet. He settled in Bilbao, where Ramon’s father Joaquín was born.[4] In San Juan he received his primary education at a private school. In 1788, when he was 13 years old, he was sent to Bilbao, Spain to continue his educational studies.[5]

Spanish Naval service[edit]

At the age of 16, Power began his studies of Naval sciences in Spain. Upon graduation he was commissioned a lieutenant in the Spanish Navy and eventually rose to the rank of Captain.

In 1808, following Napoleon's invasion of Spain, the criollos of Santo Domingo revolted against French rule. Colonel Rafael Conti, a fellow Puerto Rican, organized an expedition to return Hispaniola back to Spain. Col Conti together with naval Captain Power y Giralt distinguished themselves with the defense of the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo against an invasion from the French forces by enforcing a blockade with the aid of Great Britain (Spain's ally at the time) and Haiti,[6] returning Santo Domingo back to Spanish control.[7]

Political career[edit]

"The Rescue of Don Ramón Power y Giralt",
a 1790 painting by José Campeche

On May 4, 1809, in the midst of Peninsular War and Napoleon Bonaparte's occupation of Spain, Power was elected by the five, local cabildos (town councils) to represent Puerto Rico in the Junta Suprema Central y Gubernativa del Reino (Supreme Central and Governing Board of the Kingdom). (In 1808 Napoleon had deposed Ferdinand VII and named his eldest brother, Joseph I, King of Spain. The Junta Suprema was leading the resistance against the Bonapartes.) The Junta Suprema dissolved itself before Power could arrive, nevertheless, the following year on April 16, he was again elected to represent Puerto Rico, this time in the Cortes of Cádiz, the parliamentary assembly serving as a Regency while awaiting Ferdinand VII's return, that had been convened by the Junta and was gathering in the Southern Spanish port of Cádiz. One of his greatest supporters was Bishop Juan Alejo de Arizmendi, who during the official farewell Mass, gave Power his episcopal ring as a reminder that he should never forget his countrymen. After arriving in Cádiz on June 8, 1810, he joined the growing number of delegates, which finally reached a quorum in September.

Power was an avid advocate for Puerto Rico during his tenure (September 24, 1810 — June 10, 1813) as a delegate in the Cortes.[8] On September 25, 1810, the second day of regular meetings, he was elected as vice-president of the Cortes and succeeded in obtaining powers which would benefit the economy of the Puerto Rico. The most well-known product of the assembly was the Constitution of 1812.[9]

Before the Constitution was written, Power convinced the Cortes to reverse a decree of the Council of Regency which had given the governor of Puerto Rico extraordinary powers in reaction to the establishment of juntas in South America.[10] The highlight of his legislative career was the Ley Power ("the Power Act"), which designated five ports for free commerce. Thus, the ports of Fajardo, Mayagüez, Aguadilla, Cabo Rojo and Ponce established the reduction of most tariffs and eliminated the flour monopoly, in addition to establishing other economic reforms with the goal of developing a more efficient economy. It also called for the establishment of a Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País en Puerto Rico on the island, which was approved in 1814. Many of these reforms remained in effect even after Ferdinand VII revoked the Spanish Constitution.[11]


Power died while still in Cádiz on June 10, 1813, from the yellow fever epidemic which had spread throughout Europe. He was succeeded in the Cortes by José María Quiñones who served from November 25, 1813, to May 10, 1814.[12] He was buried at the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri church in Cádiz.

Repatriation of remains[edit]

The Spanish ship Juan Sebastián Elcano in the distance leaving Las Palmas transferring the remains to San Juan (2013)[13][14]

According to The San Juan Star (Puerto Rico's English-language newspaper), a movement led by the Archbishop of San Juan, Roberto González Nieves, was successful in its attempt to bring Power's remains back to Puerto Rico. Power's remains were exhumed where he was interred along with other delegates' to the Cortes, at the church in Cadiz.

After DNA testing, the remains were brought by the Spanish tall ship Juan Sebastián Elcano. On March 2, 2013, it left the port of Cádiz, stopping at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands before leaving on March 10 across the Atlantic Ocean taking 28 days to return Power y Giralt's body to San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 6, 2013. It was escorted by the United States Coast Guard into the port and received with a 21 gun salute. Present to receive the remains were the Governor of Puerto Rico, and presidents of all branches of government.[15] His resting place now is at the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista next to Bishop Juan Alejo de Arizmendi.

Honors and tributes[edit]

Plaque honoring Power in San Germán

Both Puerto Rico and Spain have honored Power's memory, by naming several avenues after him.[16][17] San Juan also has a school named after Power the "Ramon Power y Giralt School" located in Calle Loiza Final.[18] The city of Ponce has a street named after him; it runs west to east and is located between (i.e., parallel to) Calle Ferrocarril and Avenida Las Américas, and has its western terminus at Calle Concordia and its eastern terminus at Avenida Hostos.

His former residence was restored and currently houses the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust in Old San Juan.[19] Power's contemporary, José Campeche, honored him in a painting entitled The Shipwreck of Power.[20] Graphic artist Lorenzo Homar has also dedicated one of his artistic works to Ramón Power.[21]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fanning, Tim (2018). Paisanos: The Irish and the Liberation of Latin America. ISBN 9780268104924. Retrieved August 13, 2022.
  2. ^ "De madre catalana y padre bilbaíno con ascendencia irlandesa" (Catalan mother and Bilbao-born father of Irish descent).
  3. ^ "Ramón Power y Giralt, el reformista puertorriqueño". Elmundo.es. Retrieved August 13, 2022.
  5. ^ Chinea, Jorge L. "Irish Indentured Servants, Papists and Colonists in Spanish Colonial Puerto Rico, ca. 1650-1800" in Irish Migration Studies in Latin America, 5:3 (November 2007), pp. 171-182. Consulted on November 29, 2008.
  6. ^ "Dominican Republic – Haiti and Santo Domingo". Country Studies. Library of Congress; Federal Research Division. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  7. ^ "Dominican Republic". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved June 20, 2007.
  8. ^ Rieu-Millan, Marie Laure. Los diputados americanos en las Cortes de Cádiz: Igualdad o independencia. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1990. 41. ISBN 978-84-00-07091-5
  9. ^ Diario de Sesiones de las Cortes Generales y Extraordinarias, No. 2, "FUNDACIÓN - Centro de Estudios Constitucionales 1812". Archived from the original on June 20, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
  10. ^ González Vales, Luis, "Towards a Plantation Society" in Arturo Morales Carrión. Puerto Rico: A Political History. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1983), 83-88. ISBN 0-393-30193-1
  11. ^ "Aspectos políticos en Puerto Rico: 1765–1837" (in Spanish). Retrieved March 4, 2006.
  12. ^ Rieu-Millan, Marie Laure. Los diputados americanos en las Cortes de Cádiz: Igualdad o independencia. 41
  13. ^ El buque escuela 'Juan Sebastián de Elcano' parte este sábado del Puerto de Cádiz en su 84 crucero de instrucción.
  14. ^ Armada Española - Juan Sebastián Elcano arrives in San Juan.
  15. ^ El Nuevo Día, 6 de abril de 2013.
  16. ^ Calle Ramon Power in Madrid
  17. ^ Colegio Sgrado Corazon located in Calle Ramon Power in Ponce
  18. ^ Ramon Power Y Giralt School
  19. ^ Casa de Ramon Power
  20. ^ Rafael Trelles
  21. ^ Ramon Power Por Lorenzo Homar
  22. ^ Ana María MORGAN HÓR Born: May 23, 1702, Bilbao, Biscay. Spain, Marriage: Jean Baptiste POWER DUBERNET on June 5, 1718 in Parroquia del Señor San Nicolas, Bordeaux, Gironde, FRANCE, Died: February 17, 1745, Bilbao, Biscay. Spain at age 42.
  23. ^ Ana María MORGAN HÓR Born: May 23, 1702, Bilbao, Biscay. Spain, Marriage: Jean Baptiste POWER DUBERNET on June 5, 1718 in Parroquia del Señor San Nicolas, Bordeaux, Gironde, FRANCE, Died: February 17, 1745, Bilbao, Biscay. Spain at age 42.
  25. ^ Ana María MORGAN HÓR Born: May 23, 1702, Bilbao, Biscay. Spain, Marriage: Jean Baptiste POWER DUBERNET on June 5, 1718 in Parroquia del Señor San Nicolas, Bordeaux, Gironde, FRANCE, Died: February 17, 1745, Bilbao, Biscay. Spain at age 42.

External links[edit]