Constructing Colonial People provides a new and comprehensive interpretation of how the United States attempted to transform Puerto Rico from a neglected backwater of the Spanish empire into one of its key props in establishing hegemony in the western hemisphere. The book looks at the formative three-and-one-half decades of U.S. colonial rule, when the colony's key institutions, economic structures, and legal doctrines were transformed. Policy papers, speeches, newspaper articles, and memoirs from the period inform the study with particular detail and insight. Cabán further examines the dynamics of U.S. expansionism during the Progressive Era and examines the normative and ideological constructions that were used to rationalize a campaign of territorial acquisition and colonial administration. He also demonstrates how the military and subsequent civilian regimes directed a process of institutional transformation, state building, and capitalist development.