1917

Opsahl v. Johnson

In 1917 the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Opsahl v. Johnson that American Indians did not have the right to vote because they lived on reservations and were not considered part of the “civilized” population. Indians were only considered “civilized” if they were living off-reservation and were assimilated.

Jones-Shafroth Act

On March 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act. This law granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship.

The Jones Act separated the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches of Puerto Rican government, provided civil rights for the individual, and began a locally elected bicameral legislature. The two houses included a Senate comprised of 19 members and a 39-member House of Representatives.

Additionally, the Governor and the President of the United States had veto power over any law passed by the legislature. Also, the United States Congress had the power to stop any action taken by the legislature in Puerto Rico.

The U.S. maintained control over fiscal and economic matters and exercised authority over mail services, immigration, defense and other basic governmental matters.