This historical study examines the role of government accounting systems as a formal mode of rationality in pursuit of a substantive end. In the early years of the Philippine tobacco monopoly, from 1766 to 1799, accounting played an enabling role in an elaborate system of control, surveillance and punishment deployed by the Spanish colonial state to increase its revenues. The Philippine tobacco monopoly reported cash surpluses which were remitted to the Royal treasury in Spain. Whilst the full potential of accounting appears not to have been fully attained, it was complicit in perpetuating a colonial project of domination and extraction of revenues from its colonized peoples. 'Power' does not necessarily mean just the capacity to apply force. More exactly, it can be applied to the underlying structures that made empire possible (Kamen 2002, pxxiii).