Hostos y Bonilla, Eugenio María de (1839–1903)

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Hostos y Bonilla, Eugenio María de (1839–1903)

Eugenio María de Hostos y Bonilla (b. 11 January 1839; d. 11 August 1903), Puerto Rican philosopher, sociologist, educator, patriot, and man of letters. Born in Río Cañas, Hostos attended elementary school in San Juan, secondary school at the Institute of Balboa in Spain, and enrolled in law school in Madrid. He joined the Spanish republican movement and gained their promise of independence for Puerto Rico and Cuba. When the republicans abandoned that promise, Hostos moved to the United States in 1869.

In New York, he joined the Cuban Revolutionary Junta and became managing editor of its official periodical. Realizing that Cuban independence could not be fought from New York, he began a four-year journey in 1870 that would take him throughout South America to win support for the independence cause. Long an advocate of abolition of slavery and of Antillean federation after independence, Hostos involved himself during his travels with various social injustices. In Lima, his writings proved instrumental in turning public opinion against the mistreatment of Chinese laborers and against the Oroya railway project, despite the fact that its builders offered to donate $200,000 to the movement. In 1872, he taught at the University of Chile in Santiago, where his writings helped gain women the right of admission to professional programs. While in Argentina in 1873, he became a spokesman for a transandean railroad to Chile. In honor of his efforts, the first locomotive to complete the journey was named the Eugenio María de Hostos.

In 1875, he settled in Santo Domingo, where he founded a newspaper that echoed one of his strongest dreams, a federation of the Hispanic West Indies. After a brief trip to Venezuela where he married, he returned to Santo Domingo and revamped the education system, introducing the scientific method to the curriculum. He stated that the only revolution that had not taken place in Latin America was in education and he added the reformation of educational systems to his political agenda. After a disagreement with the Dominican dictator, Ulises Heureaux in 1888, he accepted an invitation from officials to return to Chile and reform its educational system.

Hostos returned to New York in 1898 and for two years unsuccessfully agitated for a plebiscite to determine the future status of Puerto Rico, even participating in a delegation that presented demands to President William McKinley. After the assassination of Heureaux, he returned to the Dominican Republic as inspector general of schools.

Hostos wrote fifty books and numerous essays. The impact of his novel, La peregrinación de Bayoán, is said to be as profound for Cuban independence as Uncle Tom's Cabin was for the abolitionist movement in the United States. His treatise on the scientific education of women made him a precursor of later feminist causes and his political writings made him a forerunner of the doctrine of self-determination in his homeland. It is said that no national literature evolved in the Dominican Republic until after his service to that country. His educational endeavors included founding schools, writing textbooks, and authoring the laws governing education. He wrote best of his own beliefs when he said in La peregrinación, "I wish that they will say: In that Island [Puerto Rico] a man was born who loved truth, desired justice, and worked for the good of men."

See alsoChinese Labor (Peru); Liberalism; Puerto Rico.


Juan Bosch, Hostos, el sembrador (1976).

Eugenio Carlos De Hostos, ed., Eugenio María de Hostos: Promoter of Pan-Americanism (1954).

Loida Figueroa, Hostos, el angustiado (1988).

Adelaida Lugo Guernelli, Eugenio María de Hostos, ensayista y crítico literario (1970).

Eugenio María de Hostos y Bonilla Obras Completas.

Arturo Morales Carrión, Puerto Rico: A Political and Cultural History (1983).

Emilio Rodríguez Demorizi, Luperón y Hostos (1975).

Emilio Roig De Leuchsenring, Hostos y Cuba, 2d ed. (1974).

Additional Bibliography

Arpini, Adriana. Eugenio María de Hostos, un hacedor de libertad. Mendoza: Editorial de la Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, 2002.

Méndez, José Luis. Hostos y las ciencias sociales. San Juan: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2003.

Rivera, Angel A. Eugenio María de Hostos y Alejandro Tapia y Rivera: avatares de una modernidad caribeña. New York: P. Lang, 2001.

Rosa, Richard. Los fantasmas de la razón: Una lectura material de Hostos. San Juan: Isla Negra, 2003.

                                  Jacquelyn Briggs Kent