Joseph Palmer II

Joseph Palmer II (June 16, 1914 – August 15, 1994)[2] was an American diplomat and State Department official whose career focused on U.S. relations with Africa.

Joseph Palmer
BornJune 16, 1914 (1914-06-16)
DiedAugust 15, 1994 (1994-08-16) (aged 80)
Alma materHarvard College
Georgetown University[1]
OccupationAmerican diplomat

Palmer entered the United States Foreign Service in 1939.[3] In 1941, he began a four-year tour of duty as consular officer in Nairobi.[3] He then served as assistant chief of the African division of the State Department in Washington, 1945-49.[3] He held various diplomatic positions in Africa throughout the 1950s.

In 1960, following agitation by Nigerian nationalists, the British Empire relinquished its control over Colonial Nigeria and Nigeria entered the Commonwealth of Nations as an independent nation on October 1, 1960. In preparation for Nigerian independence, on September 23, 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Palmer as the United States' first Ambassador to Nigeria. Palmer established the American embassy in Lagos on October 1, 1960, and presented his credentials to the Government of Nigeria three days later. The official Declaration of Independence was signed in the main boardroom of the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos. When the Nigerian First Republic was proclaimed in October 1963, Palmer was re-accredited, presenting his new credentials to the government on December 12, 1963. Palmer's tenure as Ambassador to Nigeria ended on January 16, 1964.

President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Palmer as Director General of the Foreign Service on February 16, 1964, and Palmer served in this capacity until April 10, 1966.[4]

On April 1, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Palmer as the third U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.[5] He served in this post until July 7, 1969.

The next day, he took up his position as the U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Libya, having been appointed by President Richard Nixon. Palmer was present in Libya on September 1, 1969, when a group of military officers led by Muammar al-Gaddafi staged a coup d’état against King Idris while he was in Turkey for medical treatment. After the 1969 coup, Gaddafi closed American and British bases and partially nationalized foreign oil and commercial interests in Libya. Gaddafi's anti-American attitude and his support of international terrorism led the United States to recall Ambassador Palmer on November 7, 1972.[6]


  2. Congressional Quarterly, inc (1966). Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report. 24. Congressional Quarterly, Incorporated. ISSN 1521-5997. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
  3. "Joseph Palmer II Dies; Former U.S. Ambassador To Libya and Nigeria," The Washington Post, Aug. 17, 1994.
  4. Directors General of the Foreign Service/Directors of the Bureau of Human Resources
  5. "Assistant Secretaries of State for African Affairs"
  6. James Morrison, "Embassy Row", The Washington Times, May 14, 2009.
Government offices
Preceded by
G. Mennen Williams
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
April 11, 1966 – July 7, 1969
Succeeded by
David D. Newsom
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
office established
United States Ambassador to Nigeria
Succeeded by
Elbert G. Mathews
Preceded by
David D. Newsom
United States Ambassador to Libya
Succeeded by
no ambassador
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