Transnational Freedom Movements: A History of the American League for Puerto Rico Independence, 1944-1950

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Date of Award

Summer 2015


A meeting in 1943 between Puerto Rican nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos and a group of U.S. pacifists initiated a relationship built on shared opposition to global imperialism. The association centered on the status of Puerto Rico as a colonial possession of the United States. The nationalists argued that Puerto Rico the island???s definition as a U.S. possession violated their sovereignty and called for aggressive resistance against the United States after attempting to initiate change through the electoral process in 1930. Campos developed his brand of nationalism through collaborations with independence activists from India and Ireland while a student at Harvard. Despite the Puerto Rican nationalists??? rhetorically aggressive stance against U.S. imperialism, conversation occurred with groups of Americans who disapproved of their country???s imperial objective.Despite differences in culture, religion, and ideology, a common transnational connection allowed these groups to establish a dialogue about the issue of imperialism. The U.S. pacifists, inspired by Mohandas K. Gandhi and the Free India movement, studied the tenants of Gandhi???s non-violent philosophy employed by the U.S. civil rights movement during the 1940s and 1950s. Connections to India and the pacifist community???s arguments against imperialism led to collaboration between both groups. The creation of the American League for Puerto Rico Independence in 1944 exemplified the significance of this transnational connection. From establishment in 1944 until disbandment in 1950, the purpose of this group of American citizens was to articulate complaints about colonialism to the United States government and the United Nations. The contribution of women within the organization played a significant factor, highlighted by the leadership role of ALPRI secretary Ruth Reynolds. Although the ALPRI and the NP worked to combat regional imperialism, both organizations operated as separate entities and attempted to craft the message for the cause. This thesis investigates the collaboration between the two groups and examines whose vision of independence eventually dominated the narrative.


Jessica Brannon-Wranosky

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | History