This article contributes to histories of formal American imperialism by telling the stories of Filipinas/os and Puerto Ricans who, after 1899, became “noncitizen American nationals.” Drawing on congressional, legal, and administrative sources, the article argues that noncitizen nationality was colonial subjecthood, a status invented to prevent island peoples from becoming U.S. citizens. Filipinas/os and Puerto Ricans were not the first U.S. colonial subjects, and this article shows how the similar status of “ward” had recently come to define the relationship between the U.S. and Native Americans. The article closes with an examination of some of the rights, liberties, opportunities, and obligations that gave substance and meaning to American colonial subjecthood in the early twentieth century.

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