Long isolated, the Ethiopian emperors began to consolidate the country in the mid-nineteenth century. The Italian invasions in 1895 and 1935 forced Ethiopia into greater contact with world politics. U.S.-Ethiopian relations were established in 1903 and were good throughout the period prior to the Italian occupation in 1935.
Modern Flag of Ethiopia
After World War II, these ties strengthened and Ethiopia has played an active role in world and African affairs. Following Ethiopia's revolution, U.S.-Ethiopian relations began to cool due to the Derg's linking with international communism and U.S. revulsion at the Derg's human rights abuses. With the downfall of the Mengistu regime in 1991, U.S.-Ethiopian relations improved dramatically. Today, Ethiopia has very good relations with the United States, especially in responding to regional instability and supporting war on terrorism and, increasingly, through economic involvement.
The United States and Ethiopia, both long established as states, engaged in their first official diplomatic interaction on December 27, 1903, when King of Ethiopia Menelik II and U.S. representative Robert P. Skinner signed a treaty of commerce.
Diplomatic relations were established on December 27, 1903, when King of Ethiopia Menelik II and U.S. representative Robert P. Skinner signed a treaty of commerce in which the two states agreed to receive representatives “in order to perpetuate and strengthen the friendly relations which exist between Ethiopia and the United States of America.”
The American Legation was established on July 6, 1909, when U.S. Minister Resident and Consul General Hoffman Philip presented his credentials in Addis Ababa.
The Italians invaded Ethiopia and occupied Addis Ababa on May 6, 1936. Although the United States never publicly recognized Italian authority in Ethiopia, it did withdraw its diplomatic representation and close the legation in Addis Ababa. U.S. Minister Resident and Consul General Cornelius Van H. Engert departed Addis Ababa on March 4, 1937, and the consulate was closed after March 31, 1937.
The American Legation in Addis Ababa reopened on August 31, 1943, when U.S. Minister Resident and Consul General John K. Caldwell presented his credentials.
The Ethiopian Legation in the United States was opened on November 9, 1943, and Blatta Ephrem Tewelde Medhen served as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.
The American Legation in Addis Ababa was elevated to Embassy status on June 28, 1949, when Ambassador George R. Merrell presented his credentials
The Ethiopian Legation was raised to Embassy status on September 27, 1949 when Ras H.S. Imru presented his credentials as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.