Federico Asenjo y Arteaga was born in Mayagüez on April 12, 1837, the son of Gertrudis Arteaga and Francisco Asenjo. He began his primary education in his home town and continued his studies in San Juan, when his family moved there after his father, a career military officer, was transferred to the capital city. He completed his secondary education at the Council Seminary.
Asenjo began writing while he was still very young. In 1845, he began writing articles published in the weekly El Ramillete and later in the Boletín Mercantil. He was also a writer and editor for El Mercurio, which focused on agricultural and trade issues. Through his articles in these and other publications on the island, he was able to disseminate his ideas on economic, educational and agricultural development, among others.
To further that purpose, Asenjo founded various publications, such as El Fomento de Puerto Rico (1863-1866), a bimonthly magazine that proposed economic reforms; El Municipio (1873) and El Agente de Negocios (1875). La Revista de Agricultura, Industria y Comercio, which he founded in 1885 and directed until 1893, was one of his biggest contributions because it promoted ideas for transforming the people's economic situation.
Asenjo also published various works in which he used a plain and direct style, just as he did in his journalistic work. Among his works were Estudios económicos: El comercio de la Isla y la influencia que en él ha de ejercer el Banco Español de Puerto Rico (1862); Ligeras nociones de Industria (1866); Las fiestas de San Juan (1868); Elementos de orden social y deberes del ciudadano (1869); Nociones de agricultura para uso de las escuelas de instrucción primaria (1870); Viaje de circunvalación por la plaza principal de esta ciudad, a satire written under the pseudonym of Claro Oscuro; Páginas para los jornaleros de Puerto Rico (1879); Un pequeño libro de actualidad (1883), selected and translated works by Abate Moigno; Efemérides de la isla de Puerto Rico and El catastro de Puerto Rico: Necesidad de su formación y posibilidad de llevarlo a cabo (no date is available for these latter works).
Federico Asenjo was also very active in public service. In 1865, he was appointed to the newly created Superior Board of Public Education. He was part of the Province Schools General Inspection Team (1870); was a consultant to Governor Conde de Caspe in his efforts to improve education on the island, particularly by creating the primary education regulations; and participated in the process of establishing the Professional School (1883), of which he was also secretary. On more than one occasion he was a member of the San Juan City Council and an appointee to various administrative boards.
He collaborated with the Economic Society of Friends of Puerto Rico, a private organization that promoted the economic and intellectual development of the island. With the Society's support, he undertook the task of compiling a huge quantity of historical documents and data related to Puerto Rico. Before his death, he left to the institution's library 31 volumes of notes, which were divided by topic, including Justice, Politics, War, Council, Ecclesiastical, Public Works, Trade and Industry, Education, Administration, Civil Government, History and Literature.
Federico Asenjo y Arteaga died on August 30, 1893, in San Juan.
By the PROE Editorial Group
Autor: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: December 04, 2009.