Brandon Mills, PhD, an instructor at the University of Colorado Denver in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, recently released his book The World Colonization Made: The Racial Geography of Early American Empire, which chronicles the rise and fall of the colonization movement as a political force within the United States.
The World Colonization Made
In his new book, Mills questions the stated goal of the African Colonization Society (ACS), which was founded to
return freed slaves to Africa. Founded in 1816, the ACS was an alternative to emancipation in the United States. The U.S. created a settlement along the west coast of Africa where freed slaves believed they would have a better opportunity for freedom and prosperity than in the New World. However, according to Mills, the foundation of the ACS was rooted in a much wider pattern of national and international expansion. Its foundation also illustrated just how difficult the problems of race and slavery had become in the 19th-century United States.
“The colonization movement largely failed in its efforts to create settlements for African Americans,” said Mills. “By tracing its ideology, we can see how evolving fantasies of domestic and international racial order appealed to white Americans during the United States’ first century.”
The World Colonization Made examines the broader issues of U.S. expansion, including the progression of federal Indian policy, the foundations and effects of the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny, and the growth of U.S. commercial and military power throughout the Western Hemisphere. Mills shows how it enabled Americans to envision a world of self-governing republics that harmonized with the racialized political institutions at home.
“I wrote the book to better understand why this movement was so popular, resilient, and pervasive,” said Mills. “To this day, we can see traces of its mixture of racism and republicanism when the United States nominally supports representative governments while treating their sovereignty as provisional, subject to oversight, and ripe for intervention.”
About Professor Mills
Brandon Mills teaches in the history department in the College of Liberal Arts and Science at the University of Colorado Denver. He also serves as the undergraduate advisor for Individually Structured Majors (Integrated Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies). Mills’ research and teaching focuses on 19th century U.S. history with an emphasis on the relationship between, race, imperialism, and nationhood.
You can listen to Brandon Mills discuss the new book on The Polis Project’s Virtual Book Saloon here. The World Colonization Made: The Racial Geography of Early American Empire is available at the University of Pennsylvania Press and Amazon.