Brandon Mills

Head shot photo of Dr. Brandon Mills
Associate Professor CTT

Office: Student Commons Building, Room 3115

Mailing address:
CU Denver History Department
Campus Box 182
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location:
1201 Larimer Street
Room 3102
Denver, CO 80204

Fall 2023 Office Hours: 10- noon on Tuesdays & Thursdays and by appointment, which can be scheduled by appointment here: 

Expertise Areas:
I teach in the History Department and am the undergraduate advisor for Individually Structured Majors (Integrated Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies) in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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 relationship between, race, imperialism, and nationhood. I have taught courses on U.S. Social Movements, the United States in the World, Colonialism/Post-Colonialism, Immigration and Ethnicity, the American Revolution, U.S. Colonial History.

My book The World Colonization Made: The Racial Geography of Early American Empire chronicles the rise and fall of the colonization movement as a political force within the United States—from its roots in the crises of the Revolutionary Era, to its peak with the creation of the ACS, to its ultimate decline with emancipation and the Civil War. According to accepted historical wisdom, the goal of the African Colonization Society (ACS), founded in 1816 to return freed slaves to Africa, was borne of desperation and illustrated just how intractable the problems of race and slavery had become in the nineteenth-century United States. I argue that the ACS was part of a much wider pattern of national and international expansion. Similar efforts on the part of the young nation to create, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, an “empire of liberty,” spanned Native removal, the annexation of Texas and California, filibustering campaigns in Latin America, and American missionary efforts in Hawaii, as well as the founding of Liberia in 1821. I contend that these diverse currents of U.S. expansionism were ideologically linked and together comprised a capacious colonization movement that both reflected and shaped a wide range of debates over race, settlement, citizenship, and empire in the early republic. By contextualizing the colonization movement in this way, The World Colonization Made shows how it enabled Americans to envision a world of self-governing republics that harmonized with the racialized political institutions at home.

Recent Publications

The World Colonization Made: The Racial Geography of Early American Empire. University of Pennsylvania Press, Early American Studies Series, 2020.

American Empire: A Global History,” by A.G. Hopkins, American Historical Review 124, no. 2 (April 2019) (April 2019).

"Atlantic Bonds: A Nineteenth-Century Odyssey from America to Africa. By Lisa A. Lindsay," by Lisa Lindsay, Journal of Social History 52, no. 3 (Spring 2019).

"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.

"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.

"'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).

American Social Movements in the 20th Century

Immigration and Ethnicity in U.S. History

The United States since 1876

The United States to 1876

Learning Across Disciplines

Controversies in History

The United States, 1919 to 1945


U.S. Core Readings

Age of the American Revolution

The United States in the World since 1876

U.S. Colonial History

Colorado History