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FACT SHEET: U.S.-Africa Relations Chronology
<b>Half a century of official ties, four and a half centuries of engagement</b> <br /> <br /><b>1565</b> <br />St. Augustine, Florida, is founded. The oldest permanent European settlement in what would later become the United States, it counts
Half a century of official ties, four and a half centuries of engagement 1565 St. Augustine, Florida, is founded. The oldest permanent European settlement in what would later become the United States, it counts among its first settlers several colonists of African descent -- both freemen and slaves. 1619 The first African "bondsmen" arrive in the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia. 1777 Morocco becomes first country to recognize United States. 1798-1808 Approximately 200,000 African slaves are brought to the United States during the decade of greatest slave importation in the United States. While the United States officially outlawed the slave trade in 1808, the law was not enforced. 1801-1805 In the years following the creation of the United States of America, a newly formed U.S. Navy has numerous encounters with Barbary pirates on the North African coast while attempting to protect American merchants. 1816 American Colonization Society, which espoused the return of African Americans to Africa, is established; it later contributes to the founding of Liberia. 1819 Congress passes an "Act in addition to the acts prohibiting the Slave Trade," which authorizes the president to send a naval squadron to African waters to apprehend illegal slave traders. It also appropriates $100,000 to resettle recaptured slaves in Africa, finally enforcing the 1808 ban on the slave trade. 1820 On May 15, Congress enacts a law which equates slave trading with piracy, making it punishable by death. 1820-23 Naval units raid the slave traffic off African coasts, pursuant to the 1819 act of Congress. 1822 The first African-American settlement is founded in Liberia. 1825 The Antelope Case: The U.S. revenue cutter Dallas seizes a slave ship, the Antelope, sailing under a Venezuelan flag. The Antelope is carrying a cargo of 281 Africans, claimed by Portuguese and Spanish owners, in international waters. The U.S. Supreme Court hears five days of arguments before packed courtrooms. On March 16, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall delivers a unanimous opinion declaring the slave trade a violation of natural law. However, he asserts that the United States still must respect the right of other nations to create their own laws regarding the slave trade. 1837-39 The Amistad Case: African slaves seize control of a Spanish slave ship and win their freedom in a U.S. Supreme Court decision. 1843 Four United States naval vessels patrol Africa's coast and deploy landing parties to discourage piracy and the slave trade along the Ivory Coast and punish attacks by the natives on American seamen and shipping. 1847 Liberia declares independence July 26. 1862 The United States establishes diplomatic relations with Liberia. 1865 Slavery is abolished in the United States by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 1871 Carrying an American flag before him, U.S. citizen Henry Morton Stanley "finds" British explorer and missionary David Livingstone in Ujiji, Tanganyika. Stanley's expedition was financed by the New York Herald, which subsequently publishes exclusive reports and illustrations that dramatize Stanley and Africa to the American public. Stanley's books are best-sellers in the United States and heavily influence the image of Africa as "the dark continent" for decades to come. 1884-1885 The Berlin Conference: Hosted by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the event marks the beginning of European colonization in Africa. The United States sends a representative, but is not considered a major entity in the talks. Henry Morton Stanley, made famous by his New York Herald>financed African expedition, subsequently collaborates with Belgian King Leopold to establish the "Congo Free State." 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson: U.S. Supreme Court decision that upholds the constitutionality of racial segregation under the principle of "separate but equal." It climaxes a campaign in the South to reinstate white supremacy, and parallels European imperialism in Africa. 1899-1902 The Boer War, also known as the South African War or the Anglo-Boer War: Extensive press coverage in the United States tends to favor the Boers as anti-imperialist yeomen freedom fighters. As a result, the American public internalizes an enduring image of South Africa as a white man's country on the edge of a "dark" continent. 1914 Jamaica-born Marcus Garvey founds the Universal Negro Improvement Association as a means of uniting all people of African ancestry. In the 1920s, he would start the "Liberia Project," to encourage development of Liberia. 1915 The Birth of a Nation: Based on the Thomas Dixon novel and play The Clansman, a silent film adaptation by D.W. Griffith makes cinematic history as the first Hollywood blockbuster. The story glorifies the role of the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist secret society of white supremacists, in the years following the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery, and negatively stereotypes African Americans in ways that reflect racial attitudes among white Americans during the era. Even President Woodrow Wilson enjoys a private White House showing. The film's success stimulates the rebirth of the Klan during the 1920s as a national movement. In the years ahead, African-American communities, particularly in America's poor, rural South, will face growing threats of violence in addition to the pervasive atmosphere of discrimination and segregation they experience under the era's discriminatory "Jim Crow" laws. 1918 Tarzan of the Apes: The first of 88 Tarzan films released, as well as subsequent radio and television programs. Based on the fantasy novels of Chicago-born author Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan inadvertently popularizes a false image among Western audiences of Africans as primitive and brutal. Tarzan's whiteness not only makes it easy for the majority American public to relate to the character, but also reflects and reinforces the negative racial stereotypes of the era. 1936 Jesse Owens captures four gold meals at the Olympics held in Berlin, Germany, challenging before the world Adolph Hitler's ideology of racial superiority. The news of Owens' accomplishment is spread by radio, wire and newsreel around the world, including Africa, communicating a message of African-American success in the United States. 1936 African-American scholar Ralph Bunche publishes A World View of Race, which links European imperialism in Africa with segregation in the United States. Bunche would become a top U.S. diplomat, a leading architect in creating the United Nations, where he worked for peace in the Congo, Yemen, Kashmir and Cyprus, and would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the 1949 Israeli-Palestinian armistice agreement. 1941 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston L.S. Churchill sign the Atlantic Charter, calling for the freedom of nations. Africans would interpret the charter as a call to end colonialism. The United States is now seen as the champion of liberation movements around the world, including Africa. 1942 Operation Torch: An Anglo-American army under the command of General and future President Dwight David Eisenhower invades Vichy French Morocco, Algeria and eventually Tunisia, driving Axis forces out of Africa. 1943 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt becomes the first sitting U.S. president to visit Africa when he flies to Morocco and The Gambia for the January 14424 Casablanca Conference with Churchill and Free French General Charles de Gaulle. Roosevelt visits informally with Liberian President Edwin Barclay following the conference. 1944 Swedish scholar Gunnar Myrdal publishes An American Dilemma. The Carnegie Endowmenttfunded study of American race relations, which includes contributions from African-American scholar and diplomat Ralph Bunche, questions fundamental attitudes, assumptions and public policy toward African Americans in the United States. 1948 Shelley v. Kraemer: A landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision rules racially restrictive housing covenants unconstitutional. The U.S. Department of Justice files a friend-of-the-court brief that uses foreign policy arguments provided by the State Department. The brief asserts that legally sanctioned segregation weakened America's international influence by contradicting its most powerful human rights principle: equality before the law. 1948 African-American scholar and diplomat Ralph Bunche rejects President Harry S Truman's offer to serve as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern, South Asian and African affairs over objections to a continuing climate of racism within the State Department at the time, as well as housing discrimination against African Americans seeking homes in Washington. 1954 Brown v. Topeka Board of Education: Landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision bans racially segregated public schools and overrules the principle of "separate but equal" facilities practiced widely in the United States at the time. The State Department provides language in a friend-of-the-court brief that argues that legally sanctioned racial discrimination damages the nation's national security by reducing its moral authority overseas. The decision is applauded universally, especially in Africa. 1955 Martin Luther King Jr. leads a successful campaign against racial discrimination on public buses in Montgomery, Alabama, beginning his career as a world-renowned civil rights leader. 1956 The Suez Crisis: A British, French and Israeli attack on Egypt ends disastrously when President Eisenhower forcefully rebukes his NATO allies. The powerful image of America standing against the two great European colonial nations bolsters U.S. prestige in Africa as a leader in decolonization. African-American scholar and U.N. diplomat Ralph Bunche joins Canadian diplomat and future prime minister Lester Pearson to organize a U.N. peacekeeping force for the Suez region. 1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower sends Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon to Africa for a visit that leads to establishment of the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. State Department. Ghana, under the leadership of pan-Africanist and U.S.-educated Kwame Nkrumah, becomes the first nation in sub-Saharan colonial Africa to achieve independence in a ceremony attended by U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon, U.N. Under Secretary Ralph Bunche and Martin Luther King Jr. 1957 President Eisenhower deploys U.S. Army soldiers to provide security for African-American students integrating a previously white-only school in Little Rock, Arkansas - a powerful message to several U.S. states that sought to resist the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. The crisis receives extensive international coverage, notably in Africa. 1958 The U.S. State Department creates the Bureau of African Affairs. Joseph Satterthwaite, the first assistant secretary of state for African affairs, is sworn in September 2. 1958-61 Cases arise of African diplomats serving in the United States facing discrimination while seeking housing in the Washington region. In 1961 the Kennedy administration establishes the Special Protocol Service Section within the Department of State to work with local and state governments to resolve and prevent cases of discrimination against Africans. It represents the connection of foreign policy to local politics. 1960 Congo Crisis: As Congo gains independence from Belgium, the United States refuses to support Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba because the Eisenhower administration believes he is a communist. Instead, the United States backs Belgium and retention of a U.N. peacekeeping force as the best alternative to a pro-Soviet Congo. As Congo slides into chaos, much of Africa perceives the U.S. position as favoring NATO ally Belgium's economic interests in Katanga and opposing a strong, united Congo. Suspicions of U.S. complicity in Lumumba's death would taint the U.S. image in Africa for many years. 1961 Newly elected President John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps on March 1; the first American Peace Corps volunteers depart for the African nations of Ghana and Tanzania August 28. On November 3, Kennedy establishes the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to administer economic foreign assistance programs. 1962 June 25: The Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) is founded in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Its leader, until his assassination in 1969, is Eduardo Mondlane, a product of Presbyterian mission schooling who went on to graduate from Oberlin College in Ohio, earn a doctoral degree from Northwestern University, and teach at Syracuse University before returning to Africa. The woman he married, from a small town in Illinois -- Janet Rae Johnson -- still lives in Maputo, Mozambique. 1963 The Organization of African Unity (OAU) is formed May 25. 1964 Civil Rights Act of 1964: Landmark American law bans racial discrimination in public accommodations, effectively ending legalized racial discrimination in the United States. 1965 Immigration Reform Act of 1965: By ending a quota system that heavily favored European countries, the law launches an era of large-scale legal immigration from African and Asian countries into the United States. 1966 U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy makes a historic June 449 visit to South Africa -- arguably the most important visit made by an American to South Africa. Kennedy arrives during the darkest years of the apartheid era, when Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, the architect of the apartheid system, is prime minister. Nelson Mandela, Chief Albert Luthuli and other opposition leaders are in prison on Robben Island or in exile. Kennedy is invited by the anti-apartheid National Union of South African Students to deliver its Annual Day of Affirmation speech at the University of Cape Town. The visit emphasizes the connections between the fight against racism and for civil rights in both the United States and South Africa. 1974 Portugal's "Carnation Revolution": An April 25 military officers' revolt leads to independence of Portugal's African territories. Fear of Soviet-backed leftist liberation movements leads the Nixon and Ford administrations to place Angola and Mozambique at the top of U.S. concerns in Africa. September: Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is overthrown by the Derg, a secretive group of military officers, whose brutally repressive Marxist regime would prompt thousands to leave the country over the next decade. Many Ethiopian families would settle in the United States, whose vibrant Ethiopian-American community can be traced to this period. October: World heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman loses to challenger and former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire, in a match billed as "The Rumble in the Jungle." Ali's win cements his image as the most popular and perhaps most recognized American in Africa and provides evidence of a tolerant, pluralist America with the success of a black and Muslim American. November: Cuban forces reach Angola via Soviet air transports in time to help MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) halt a South African incursion from the south and a U.S.- and Zairean-backed assault from the north. MPLA declares Angolan independence November 11. 1975 On July 18, President Gerald Ford approves $6 million in covert aid for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), two allied factions who opposed the Soviet-backed Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the Angolan civil war. 1976 Congress passes the Clark Amendment, prohibiting U.S. assistance to Angolan rebel movements. 1977 Roots: Alex Haley's fictionalized African-American family history is made into a hugely popular television miniseries that airs over eight consecutive nights in January 1977. The series garners enormous ratings and becomes an overnight sensation as approximately 130 million Americans tune in at some time during the eight broadcasts, galvanizing African-American interest in Africa. 1978 President Jimmy Carter makes the first official state visit by a U.S. president to sub-Saharan Africa March 31 - April 3, meeting with President Olusegun Obasanjo in Lagos, Nigeria, and with President William Tolbert in Monrovia, Liberia. 1980 Zimbabwe achieves independence April 18, ending the era of white-minority rule; Robert Mugabe wins election to head first government. 1981-90 Anti-Apartheid Movement: The anti-apartheid movement gains momentum in the United States -- a grassroots campaign built among a coalition of African-American groups, student activists, political groups and churches that came together to pressure U.S. businesses and state and local governments to oppose the white-minority government's apartheid policies by withdrawing investments in South Africa. 1984 Guinean President Ahmed Sekou Toure dies at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, after undergoing heart surgery. Toure had ruled Guinea since its independence in 1958 and often had been at loggerheads with the United States. He invited civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael to live in Guinea. Carmichael and his then-wife, South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba, moved to Conakry in 1969, where he lived until his death in 1998. Cuban troop strength in Angola reaches at least 40,000. Their presence fuels Reagan administration hostility to MPLA and support of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA (supported by South Africa) in what much of Africa views as a U.S.-USSR proxy war. Meanwhile, U.S.-owned and -operated Gulf Oil pumps oil in MPLA-controlled Cabinda province. Gulf eventually becomes ChevronTexaco, currently the foreign company with the most extensive holdings in Angola. 1986 The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act: U.S. anti-apartheid activists score a major victory when Congress passes a new law imposing U.S. sanctions on South Africa until it releases Nelson Mandela and establishes a timetable for the end of apartheid, among other conditions. 1988 The New York Accords: After 24 months of negotiations chaired by Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Chester A. Crocker, Angola, Cuba and South Africa formally agree to a December 22 cease-fire. These accords also grant Namibian independence and provide for the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola. 1990 South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela is released from prison February 11 after serving 27 years. 1992 The Rome General Peace Accords are signed in October, ending the 17-year-long civil war in Mozambique. December: U.S. forces enter Somalia at the beginning of Operation Restore Hope, a joint U.N.-U.S. effort to provide food relief to starving victims of Somalia's civil war. 1993 Eighteen U.S. troops are killed in an October raid in Mogadishu, Somalia. Soon after, President Clinton withdraws troops from Somalia. The incident enters into the American popular imagination with the movie Black Hawk Down. 1994 The genocide in Rwanda begins after the Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyarimana, is killed when his plane is shot down April 6. By July 18, more than 800,000 Rwandans are killed in the conflict as the international community fails to agree on taking action. April: In South Africa's first fully democratic elections, Nelson Mandela is elected as the first black president in the nation's history, signaling an end to apartheid and white-minority rule. 1995 The United States backs a February 2 U.N. resolution to establish a special international war crimes tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, for perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. 1996 A U.S. military program is launched to train troops in Mali, Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria. 1998 Bill Clinton pays the first visit by a U.S. president to sub-Saharan Africa in 20 years, March 23 - April 2. August: Two massive car bombs are detonated at the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya August 7, killing more than 220 people and injuring more than 4,000, mostly area residents and passers-by. Both attacks are later linked to al-Qaida. 1999 The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): The Clinton administration introduces an initiative to create new economic opportunities by increasing African exports to the United States. 2001 The Africa Education Initiative: An effort to strengthen basic education in Africa is created in July. 2002 UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi is killed in Angola February 22. Six weeks later, a cease-fire is reached, bringing the 27-year Angolan civil war to an end. July: The Organization of African Unity (OAU) merges with the African Economic Community (EAC) to form the African Union (AU) July 9. November: Camp Lemonnier, a former French military base in Djibouti, becomes site of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), an extension of the Central Command and operated by the U.S. Navy. The 1,500 military and civilian personnel based there would become the first permanent U.S. base in modern Africa. 2003 President George W. Bush announces the launch of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in his January 28 State of the Union address. February: President Bush announces an important new effort to combat famine and hunger worldwide, recognizing that 30 million people in Africa are at risk of starvation or are facing severe food shortages, including 14 million people in Ethiopia alone. July: President Bush visits Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda in his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa July 8-12. August: Liberian President Charles Taylor goes into exile under pressure from the United States and other nations, and a small American force joins Nigerian peacekeepers in an effort to bring stability to war-torn Liberia. 2004 President Bush establishes the Millennium Challenge Corporation to reduce global poverty through the promotion of sustainable economic growth. Thirty-two African countries are on the list of 63 countries eligible to submit proposals for funding. June: President Bush leads his G8 partners in a meeting with African leaders from Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. Their discussion focuses on the challenges faced by Africa, including promoting private-sector-led growth, combating HIV/AIDS and poverty. 2005 The January 9 Nairobi Comprehensive Peace Agreement ends the civil war in southern Sudan. June: President Bush announces the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI). 2007 The U.S. Department of Defense announces the creation of a new Africa Command (AFRICOM) to coordinate U.S. military and security interests throughout the continent, promote security partnerships in the region and support humanitarian aid efforts. The February 6 announcement generates controversy across the continent. In October, AFRICOM establishes its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, as a unified subcommand of the European Command (EUCOM). 2008 President Bush makes his second trip to Africa, visiting Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Rwanda and Tanzania February 15-21. August: Barack Obama, whose father was from Kenya, becomes the first African-American presidential nominee of a major political party. The campaign is watched closely around the world as a sign of a major change in U.S. racial attitudes. Africans especially follow the campaign, which tends to reinforce already strong pro-American opinions in the region.