The Blood of Government

Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines

By Paul A. Kramer

552 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 29 illus., 2 maps, notes, bibl., index

Not for Sale in the Philippines

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5653-6
    Published: April 2006
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7717-3
    Published: December 2006
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7334-7
    Published: December 2006

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Awards & distinctions

2007 Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

2007 James A. Rawley Prize, Organization of American Historians

In 1899 the United States, having announced its arrival as a world power during the Spanish-Cuban-American War, inaugurated a brutal war of imperial conquest against the Philippine Republic. Over the next five decades, U.S. imperialists justified their colonial empire by crafting novel racial ideologies adapted to new realities of collaboration and anticolonial resistance. In this pathbreaking, transnational study, Paul A. Kramer reveals how racial politics served U.S. empire, and how empire-building in turn transformed ideas of race and nation in both the United States and the Philippines.

Kramer argues that Philippine-American colonial history was characterized by struggles over sovereignty and recognition. In the wake of a racial-exterminist war, U.S. colonialists, in dialogue with Filipino elites, divided the Philippine population into "civilized" Christians and "savage" animists and Muslims. The former were subjected to a calibrated colonialism that gradually extended them self-government as they demonstrated their "capacities." The latter were governed first by Americans, then by Christian Filipinos who had proven themselves worthy of shouldering the "white man's burden." Ultimately, however, this racial vision of imperial nation-building collided with U.S. nativist efforts to insulate the United States from its colonies, even at the cost of Philippine independence. Kramer provides an innovative account of the global transformations of race and the centrality of empire to twentieth-century U.S. and Philippine histories.

About the Author

Paul A. Kramer is associate professor of history at Vanderbilt University.
For more information about Paul A. Kramer, visit the Author Page.


"Compelling. . . . The author shows impressive command of . . . the sources in the United States and the Philippines, ranging from personal papers, newspapers, and military civilian archives. . . . Highly recommend[ed]."--CENTRO Journal

"An important work not only to the field of Philippine-American studies, but also to the studies of race and imperialism in general."--Journal of American Studies

"Blood of Government does valuable work in laying out the intricacies of racial (re)formations in the service of and against colonialism. . . . This book has much to offer those interested in Phillipine-American relations as well as postcolonial studies, and, surprisingly, given its length, leaves one wishing for more."--Journal of American History

"The Blood of Government is a very important work. . . . It [approaches] its subject in a fresh and provocative way."--American Historical Review

"A formidable assessment of the intertwined nature of race and U.S. imperialism."--Journal of Southern History

"Moves easily--and often brilliantly--across geographic and disciplinary boundaries to probe the dynamics of racial formation in the context of the U.S. Empire. . . . A truly transnational study of empire in which forces in the metropole and colony carry equally explanatory weight. . . . Sure to be a touchstone of transnational history for years to come."--Journal of American Ethnic History