Islanders in the Empire
Filipino and Puerto Rican Laborers in Hawaiâ€˜i
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: The Asian American Experience
Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
For more than ten years of my life, I have been lucky to work with many amazing people to develop, create, and publish this project. I was fortunate to gain critical funding for this multisite research effort from a variety of programs and institutions, including the UC Pacific Rim Research...
Introduction: Defining U.S. Colonial Experiences: The Long History of U.S. Expansionism
In 1901, Puerto Rican Alberto E. Minvielle played overlapping and contradictory roles as a hospital assistant, interpreter, and general helper for the Ola‘a plantation on the east side of the island of Hawai‘i while also unofficially leading Puerto Rican laborers at this location and contributing...
1. Letters Home: The Failure of Puerto Rican Recruitment
On August 7 and 8, 1899, the San Ciriaco hurricane swept through Puerto Rico with winds up to one hundred miles per hour. Twenty-eight days of torrential rain caused approximately thirty-four hundred fatalities, massive flooding, and at least $7 million dollars in agricultural damage. Tens...
2. Flexible and Accomodating: Successful Recruitment and Renention of Filipinos
On January 8, 1921, Matias Miguel arrived at the Port of Honolulu as a sugar plantation labor recruit from San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. In 1926, he returned to the Philippines to get married, then traveled back to the Hawaiian Islands with his wife Lorraine that same year. In 1930...
3. Indefinite Dependence: U.S. Control over Puerto Rican Labor Complaints
In 1919, after eighteen years of difficult sugar plantation field work, Pedro Guzman signed a labor complaint with twenty-five other Puerto Ricans at the Honoka‘a plantation about twenty-eight miles up the coast from Hakalau on the island of Hawai‘i. During this era of growing immigration...
4. Tensions of Colonial Cooperation: Philippine Authority over Labor Complaints
When boiling tar accidentally fell on Victorino Laino’s leg while he worked at the Ola‘a plantation, Laino sent a complaint about his treatment to Cayetano Ligot. As the new Philippine resident labor commissioner living and working in Honolulu, Ligot read Laino’s letter in his Honolulu office...
5. Conflicting Convictions; Filipino Ethnic Minister Interactions with the Plantation Community
In reaction to the low value of sugar in 1921, Hawai‘i sugar plantations cut worker wages up to 20 percent. Before such pay reductions, intra-colonial Filipino laborers already struggled to save enough of their salary to send monetary remittances to their loved ones in the Philippines. These...
6. Limited Leadership: Roles of Puerto Rican Labor Agents in the Plantation Community
In 1901, many Puerto Ricans on the island of Hawai‘i approached Florentin Souza for help. He said, “Knowing their country, their habits and their language, the Porto Ricans have found their way to me, with a great variety of requests.”1 As Spanish speakers in the English-speaking U.S. Territory...
Conclusion: Current Struggles against U.S. Colonialism and Empire
Islanders in the Empire challenges studies of U.S. history to move beyond the standard narrative that centers on the forty-eight contiguous states. Most people view the history of sugar plantation labor in Hawai‘i as an interesting sidebar to U.S. history. Such a marginalization of this chain of...