Ramón Power y Giralt

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Ramón Power y Giralt
Ramón Power y Giralt.png
Captain Ramón Power y Giralt
Born October 7, 1775
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Died June 10, 1813
Cadiz, Spain
Allegiance Spanish Navy
Years of service 1795-1809
Rank Naval Captain
Battles/wars Santo Domingo against an invasion from French forces

Captain Ramón Power y Giralt [note 1] (October 7, 1775 – June 10, 1813), commonly known as Ramón Power, 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 in front of the parliamentary government of Spain.

Early years[edit]

Power was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Joaquín Power y Morgan, a Spaniard from the Basque Country (of Spanish, 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 Santaelle a Catalan from Barcelona, Spain.[1] His great-grandfather Peter Power moved from Waterford, Ireland to Bordeaux, France, the grandfather Jean Baptiste Power Dubernet from Bordeaux to Bilbao, and the father Joaquín Power y Morgan from Bilbao to Puerto Rico.[2] 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.[3]

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,[4] returning Santo Domingo back to Spanish control.[5]

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 Spanish Cortes, the parliamentary assembly 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.[6] In 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.[7]

Plaque honoring Power in San German, Puerto Rico

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.[8] The highlight of his legislative career was the Ley Power ("the Power Act"), which designated five ports for free commerce—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 los Amigos del País on the island, which was approved in 1814. Many of these reforms remained in effect even after Ferdinand VII revoked the Spanish Constitution.[9]

Power y Giralt died while still in Cádiz (he would be succeeded in the Cortes by José María Quiñones who served from November 25, 1813— May 10, 1814)[10] on June 10, 1813 from the yellow fever epidemic which had spread throughout Europe. According to The San Juan Star (Puerto Rico's English language newspaper), a movement led by the Archibishop 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 Oratorio San Felipe Neri in Cadiz. After DNA testing the remains were brought by the Spanish Tall Ship Juan Sebastián Elcano, who returned Power and Giralt's body to San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 6, 2013, having been 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.[11]

Honors and tributes[edit]

Both Puerto Rico and Spain have honored Power's memory, by naming several avenues after him.[12][13] San Juan also has a school named after Power the "Ramon Power Y Giralt School" located in Calle Loiza Final.[14] His former residence was restored and currently houses the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust in Old San Juan.[15] Power's contemporary, José Campeche, honored him in a painting entitled The Shipwreck of Power.[16] Graphic artist Lorenzo Homar has also dedicated one of his artistic works to Ramón Power.[17]

Ancestry of Ramón Power y Giralt[edit]


  1. ^
    This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Power and the second or maternal family name is Giralt.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ramón Power y Giralt, el reformista puertorriqueño ww.elmundo.es - "De madre catalana y padre bilbaíno con ascendencia irlandesa" (Catalan mothter and Bilbao-born father of Irish descent).
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Dominican Republic – Haiti and Santo Domingo". Country Studies. Library of Congress; Federal Research Division. Retrieved 2008-10-17. 
  5. ^ "Dominican Republic". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Diario de Sesiones de las Cortes Generales y Extraordinarias, No. 2, http://www.constitucion1812.org/leerlibro.asp?id=512&orden=2&secuencia=001&ir=siguiente&tipo_libro=3
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ "Aspectos políticos en Puerto Rico: 1765–1837" (in Spanish). Retrieved March 4, 2006. 
  10. ^ Rieu-Millan, Marie Laure. Los diputados americanos en las Cortes de Cádiz: Igualdad o independencia. 41
  11. ^ El Nuevo Día, 6 de abril de 2013.
  12. ^ Calle Ramon Power in Madrid
  13. ^ Colegio Sgrado Corazon located in Calle Ramon Power in Ponce
  14. ^ Ramon Power Y Giralt School
  15. ^ Casa de Ramon Power
  16. ^ Rafael Trelles
  17. ^ Ramon Power Por Lorenzo Homar

External links[edit]