March 1954 is a month diplomatic historians know well. It was when the Viet Minh attacked the French air base at Dien Bien Phu, which ultimately pulled the United States into the Vietnam War. But we speak less of another anticolonial revolt that broke out in another part of the world. Two weeks before Dien Bien Phu, four nationalists entered the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., made their way to the upstairs Ladies’ Gallery, unfurled a Puerto Rican flag, pulled out pistols, and fired 29 rounds into the body politic below them. They shot five Congressmen, nearly killing one. 1

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To this day, the drawer in the mahogany table used by the Republican leadership to address the House has a jagged...

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