CLAS Faculty & Staff Directory
Brandon Mills, Ph.D.
Ph.D. History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.A. History and English, Michigan State University
My research and teaching focuses on 19th century U.S. history with an emphasis on the global processes that shape race and nationhood in the United States. I have taught courses on U.S. Social Movements, the United States in the World, Colonialism/Post-Colonialism, Immigration and Ethnicity, the American Revolution, North American Colonial History, the “Age of Lincoln,” and Colorado History.
My book manuscript, Exporting the Racial Republic: African Colonization and the Transformation of U.S. Expansion, investigates one of the United States’ first attempts to engineer democracy abroad: the creation of Liberia in West Africa as a settlement for African Americans during the first half of the 19th century. While historians have primarily understood this project as part of domestic anti-slavery politics, my book is the first to directly address how the movement for this colony bridged different strands of U.S. expansionism—from the settler colonialism of the late 18th century to the ideology of global empire that would develop by the turn of the 20th century. Itexamines how debates about the colonization of Liberia among policymakers, reformers, and citizens legitimized white nationhood by suggesting that the United States could reproduce its own model of racial statehood abroad. By exploring how African colonization was positioned within U.S. political culture before the Civil War, my book shows how white leaders routinely used the ideas of the colonization movement to undermine black citizenship rights in the United States while they simultaneously promised to extend political sovereignty to African Americans within the confines of the Liberian nation. My research for this book has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the University of Illinois.
“‘The United States of Africa’: Liberian Independence and the Contested Meaning of a Black Republic” Journal of the Early Republic 33, no. 1 (Spring 2014).
“The Colonization Movement” and “The American Colonization Society,” Dictionary of American History, America in the World, 1776 to the Present edited by Edward J. Blum. 3rd Edition. New York: Scribner’s, 2016.
“Situating the African Colonization Movement in the History of U.S. Expansion” in New Directions in the Study of African American Recolonization edited by Beverly Tomek and Matthew Hetrick, University Press of Florida, Southern Dissent Series, 2017
Book manuscript in Progress:
Exporting the Racial Republic: African Colonization and the Transformation of U.S. Expansion [under contract with University of Pennsylvania Press]
U.S. Core Readings
American Social Movements in the 20th Century
Immigration and Ethnicity in U.S. History
The United States since 1877
Age of the American Revolution
The United States in the World
U.S. Colonial History
Myth, Memory, and the United States in the “Age of Lincoln”