No Easy Victories

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Introduction and
Background Notes


U.S. Congressional Hearings and Reports Collection


Although the U.S. Congress generally defers to executive branch officials on foreign policy matters, in the 1970s and 1980s this legislative body became an important factor in U.S. policy toward Southern Africa. In 1975, Congress acted to block continued U.S. military intervention in Angola; in 1986, it passed sanctions against apartheid South Africa over the veto of President Ronald Reagan. Such decisive acts were rare, but congressional committees held numerous hearings and congressional delegations visited Southern Africa frequently during these years.

Congressional activity resulted from the growing activism of solidarity and anti-apartheid groups, and in turn served as a catalyst for activists. Particularly active on African issues were members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), which was founded in 1969 following an increase from 5 to 10 in black members of the House of Representatives. (By 1989, there were 24 black members of Congress.) Beginning in 1969, the Subcommittee on Africa in the House of Representative played a key role in challenging U.S. policy toward the continent. It was led by Representative Charles C. Diggs, Jr., of Michigan, one of the founders of CBC. The Subcommittee's succeeding chairs, Stephen Solarz of New York and Howard Wolpe of Michigan, also took active leadership on Africa. Senator Richard Clark of Iowa also played an important role until he lost the 1978 election, partially the result of covert South African support for his opponent.

The hearings and reports in this digital archive are only a small selection of the many congressional documents related to Southern Africa. Many reports were published by the U.S. Government Printing Office, but others only released by specific committees or subcommittees and not made widely available. There is no comprehensive listing of hearings and reports on Southern Africa, but the Northwestern University Library catalogue, for example, includes 501 entries under 'United States. Congress. Committee on Foreign Affairs. Subcommittee on Africa'.

Background Notes

These documents were scanned in 2005 by Aluka (now JSTOR) from copies in the personal libraries of William Minter and Allen Isaacman. Aluka also carried out the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and prepared the searchable image PDFs that are among the formats in the version of the collection on That version also includes image formats and a text version of the OCR.

The searchable image PDF format contains both the image of the original pages and the text resulting from OCR in the background. This background text can be used to search or can be copied and pasted to another file. Note that this text will contain errors depending on the quality of the original image available and of the OCR processing program used..

This CD-ROM is being made available for off-line access, particularly for users with limited bandwidth to download large files. The files on the CD-ROM were downloaded from in November 2009. File sizes were reduced for greater ease of use (without loss of file quality), using Adobe 9 Professional.

U.S. congressional documents are public domain, and may be freely distributed.

November 2009, William Minter