IT WAS MY GREAT PRIVILEGE, in 1952, to take a class of seniors and graduate students from the University of Delaware, including one high official from the Dominion of Pakistan, to Puerto Rico for a summer-school course, the object of which was to study Puerto Rico as an integrated, living social organism.
We were especially fortunate in being able to go there that particular year. For 1952 marked the greatest political turning point in the island's history. It was the Birth of a Nation year, when Puerto Rico finally emerged from centuries of colonialism and became a self-governing Commonwealth, within the American Union and in compact with the federal government.
Academically, the course was an interesting experiment in the teaching of human geography as expressed through regionalism and was based on the premise that once you dissect any one society or region, and divide it into such compartmentalized specialties as physiography, history, sociology, economics, politics, technology, and folkways, you also kill it and can no longer deal with a vital social organism.
Better than any other document I know, the memorandum of tribute and appreciation, drafted at the time by my students, expresses the deep emotions which were stirred by the emergence of a new political unit within the American scheme of things.