ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

dinsdag 17 juli 2018

BOOK: Sam ERMAN, Almost Citizens: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Constitution, and Empire [Studies in Legal History] (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018). ISBN 9781108415491, £ 39.99

Via the American Society for Legal History, we learned of a new forthcoming book (November 2018) in their “Studies in Legal History” series. The book deals with the US annexation of Puerto Rico in 1898 and the imperial governance issues this created. The book can be pre-ordered here


Almost Citizens lays out the tragic story of how the United States denied Puerto Ricans full citizenship following annexation of the island in 1898. As America became an overseas empire, a handful of remarkable Puerto Ricans debated with US legislators, presidents, judges, and others over who was a citizen and what citizenship meant. This struggle caused a fundamental shift in constitution law: away from the post-Civil War regime of citizenship, rights, and statehood and toward doctrines that accommodated racist imperial governance. Erman's gripping account shows how, in the wake of the Spanish-American War, administrators, lawmakers, and presidents together with judges deployed creativity and ambiguity to transform constitutional meaning for a quarter of a century. The result is a history in which the United States and Latin America, Reconstruction and empire, and law and bureaucracy intertwine.


Sam Erman, University of Southern California
Sam Erman is Associate Professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.


1. 1898: 'The constitutional lion in the path'
2. The Constitution and the new US expansion: debating the status of the Islands
3. 'We are naturally Americans': Federico Degetau and Santiago Iglesias pursue citizenship
4. 'American aliens': Isabel Gonzalez, Domingo Collazo, Federico Degetau, and the Supreme Court, 1902–1905
5. Reconstructing Puerto Rico, 1904–1909
6. The Jones Act and the long path to collective naturalization

More information here

(source: ESCLH Blog)