African American Officers in Liberia

African American Officers in Liberia

A Pestiferous Rotation, 1910–1942

Brian G. Shellum

304 pages
33 photographs, 2 illustrations, 3 maps, 1 chronology, 1 appendix, index


August 2018


$21.95 Pre-order

About the Book

African American Officers in Liberia tells the story of seventeen African American officers who trained, reorganized, and commanded the Liberian Frontier Force from 1910 to 1942. In this West African country founded by freed black American slaves, African American officers performed their duties as instruments of imperialism for a country that was, at best, ambivalent about having them serve under arms at home and abroad. 

The United States extended its newfound imperial reach and policy of “Dollar Diplomacy” to Liberia, a country it considered a U.S. protectorate. Brian G. Shellum explores U.S. foreign policy toward Liberia and the African American diaspora, while detailing the African American military experience in the first half of the twentieth century. Shellum brings to life the story of the African American officers who carried out a dangerous mission in Liberia for an American government that did not treat them as equal citizens in their homeland, and he provides recognition for their critical role in preserving the independence of Liberia.

Author Bio

Brian G. Shellum is a retired army officer and former historian and intelligence officer with the Department of Defense. He is the author of Black Cadet in a White Bastion: Charles Young at West Point (Nebraska, 2006) and Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young (Nebraska, 2010).



“A seminal contribution to military history, presenting the exemplary qualities of leadership, professionalism, and resilience that have relevance today. This book is worth reading by historians and history buffs alike.”—Fombah Sirleaf, director of Liberia National Security Agency

“A monumental piece of missing American history. . . . A poignant reminder of how African Americans willingly served their country steadfastly in extremely challenging and controversial assignments.”—Krewasky A. Salter, curator for military history at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture

“Fascinating and extremely important. . . . This work will prove to be an essential reference for anyone who writes, studies, or is otherwise interested in this period of Liberian, military, or African American history.”—Charles A. Wash Jr., executive director of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Liberia: Black Colony
2. American Support: Dollar Diplomacy
3. Benjamin Davis: Mission Defined
4. Charles Young: Rescuing Liberia
5. John Green: War and Peace
6. Charles Young: Final Post
7. Moody Staten: Mission Transition
8. Firestone: Privatization
9. Afterward: Starting Over
10. Conclusion: Accomplishments
Appendix I: Biographies: African Americans Who Served in Liberia, 1910-1942

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