The United States and the Decolonization of Black Africa, 1945–63

  • John Kent


The Second World War produced an upsurge of anti-colonialism on a global scale. In the US, imperial trading blocs were seen as causes of conflict and war, while colonialism, with its denial of self-determination, was at odds with American values and the struggle for freedom in the face of Fascist tyranny. Sumner Welles, Secretary of State Cordell Hull’s rival and deputy, was particularly keen to end colonialism when in charge of postwar planning in the State Department. He hoped to replace colonial administrations with international bodies responsible for the development of dependent peoples. Such institutions would have to prepare the way for independence particularly in Africa, as Welles believed that ‘Negroes are in the lowest rank of human beings.’1


African State Colonial Power Record Group European Power African Leader 
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  1. 1.
    US National Archives and Records Administration (NA), Record Group (RG) 59, Notter Files Box 66, P minutes, 3 October 1942. Cited in Wm Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay 1941–1945 (Oxford, 1977), p. 170.Google Scholar
  2. 17.
    CO 936/318/176, ‘Pre-General Assembly UK/US talks on colonial questions’, 11–12 October 1956 cited in D. Goldsworthy, ‘Britain and the International Critics of British Colonialism, 1951–1956’ Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Vol. 29, p. 15; FRUS 1955–1957, XVIII, memorandum of Bermuda conversation, 23 March 1957, pp. 53–6.Google Scholar
  3. 40.
    C. Douglas-Home, Evelyn Baring: the Last Pro-consul (1978), pp. 283–4, cited inGoogle Scholar
  4. John D. Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa (Harlow, 1996), p. 179.Google Scholar
  5. 57.
    On the Congo, see Madeleine G. Kalb, The Congo Cables: the Cold War in Africa from Eisenhower to Kennedy (New York, 1982),Google Scholar
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  8. 58.
    See, for example, James N. Giglio, The Presidency of John F. Kennedy (Lawrence, 1991).Google Scholar
  9. 59.
    It is still not clear whether the troubles in Luanda, the cotton-growing area of Malange and the coffee-growing areas in the north-west were inspired by Holden Roberto’s UPA or were spontaneous protests against Portuguese forced labour and the more unfavourable economic conditions which were then exploited by the UPA. See JFKPL, NSF, Country Series Angola, Box 5, Report of Presidential Task Force on Portuguese territories in Africa, 12 June 1961; John Marcum, The Angolan Revolution, Vol. 1, 1950–1962 (Baltimore, 1969) chapter 4; NA, RG 59, SDCDF 753n.00, 1960–1963, Box 1821.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Kent

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