President Truman and Governor Jesús Piñero of Puerto Rico in their automobile as their motorcade departs Aguas Buenas for San Juan (2/21/1948).
Jesús T. Piñero, the first native Puerto Rican to be appointed governor of the island by the US government following the Spanish-American War, was born in the city of Carolina on April 6, 1897. After studying at the University of Pennsylvania and earning a degree from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, Piñero entered local politics, becoming one of the founders of the island’s Popular Democratic Party. He also represented the island’s interests in Washington, DC after being elected Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in 1944. In 1946, US president Harry S. Truman appointed Piñero to the position of governor of Puerto Rico at a time before the island’s governors were elected by popular vote. During his tenure, Piñero signed the infamous Law 53, the Ley de Mordaza (gag law), which aimed to squash the independence movement in Puerto Rico. Piñero was eventually replaced by Luis Muñoz Marín, the island’s first elected head of government, before dying in Puerto Rico at age 55 in 1952.