A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: The Congo Free State


The Congo Free State was a former state in Africa covering much of the territory that comprises the modern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was created in the 1880s through agreements with local rulers by a group of European investors headed by Leopold II, King of the Belgians.


U.S. Recognition of the Independent State of Congo, 1885.

The United States recognized the Independent State of Congo (Congo Free State) on September 11, 1885, when President Grover Cleveland wrote to King Leopold of Belgium in his capacity as sovereign ruler of the Independent State of the Congo.

Demise of Congo Free State, 1908.

Following reports of mistreatment of native peoples that provoked international outrage, the Congo Free State was annexed as a colony by Belgium on November 15, 1908, which ended its existence as an independent sovereign state.

Diplomatic Relations

The United States never established diplomatic relations with the Independent State of the Congo.