Uncle Sam’s Policemen

Extraordinary rendition—the practice of abducting criminal suspects in locations around the world—has been criticized as an unprecedented expansion of U.S. police powers. But America’s aggressive pursuit of fugitives beyond its borders far predates the global war on terror. Uncle Sam’s Policemen investigates the history of international manhunts, arguing that the extension of U.S. law enforcement into foreign jurisdictions at the turn of the twentieth century forms an important chapter in the story of American empire.

In the late 1800s, expanding networks of railroads and steamships made it increasingly easy for criminals to evade justice. Recognizing that domestic law and order depended on projecting legal authority abroad, President Theodore Roosevelt declared in 1903 that the United States would “leave no place on earth” for criminals to hide.

Written by SHGAPE Member Katherine Unterman
Assistant Professor of History
Texas A&M University

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