The results of the Spanish-American War included Cuban independence and the U.S. acquisition of Puerto Rico as a territory. Connections between Puerto Rico and South Carolina formed in the next few decades. The construction of an army base in the midlands of South Carolina, Camp Jackson, began in 1917; the following year, roughly 2,000 Puerto Ricans arrived to help with base construction. Shortly after they arrived, an epidemic of influenza struck the area, and many of these laborers died. Most survivors were shipped back to Puerto Rico after the armistice was signed, and work on Camp Jackson slowed, although some laborers remained in the area.
Puerto Rican soldiers were stationed at Fort Jackson (formerly Camp Jackson) in preparation for their participation in World War II. Increased numbers of Puerto Rican soldiers arrived at the base in the 1950s as the U.S. Army ended segregation of most Puerto Rican soldiers into the Sixty-Fifth Infantry Regiment, a Spanishspeaking unit. In the late 1960s, some Puerto Rican soldiers at the fort made national news as part of the anti-Vietnam War group GIs United Against the War in Vietnam.
After the Castro revolution in Cuba in 1959, Cuban refugees arrived on U.S. shores by the thousands, and some were relocated to South Carolina and other states in the Southeast. Further, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, hundreds of the Cuban ex-patriots who had participated in the failed invasion were inducted into the U.S. Army and relocated to Fort Jackson in South Carolina in 1963, where they created an organization titled Ex-Combatientes Cubanos de Ft. Jackson. According to some sources, the group’s mission briefly included planning another invasion of Cuba.
South Carolina’s large Colombian population began to arrive in the 1970s, most with plans to work in the state’s textile industry. Owners of some of the
state’s largest mills also owned mills in Colombia and began to bring workers here from that country. Since that time, the immigration of the majority of South Carolina’s Colombian population can be attributed to social networks, educational reasons, or professional ambitions.
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