This essay examines the 1903 U.S. diplomatic mission to Ethiopia, which offers an unusual perspective on racial attitudes in the Progressive Era. Desirous of exploring new trade possibilities, the Theodore Roosevelt administration sent Robert P. Skinner to Addis Ababa to sign a reciprocity treaty with Emperor Menelik II. The timing of the mission had much to do with Roosevelt's global interests, but it happened to occur at a critical point for Ethiopia, which had recently thwarted an attempted Italian invasion. This victory delighted African Americans, especially those with a pan-Africanist perspective. Black Americans had long identified with the idea of Ethiopia, but they now identified with the actual nation and its leader. Black writers argued that the Ethiopians had triumphed over modern racism when they triumphed over the Italians. Those involved in Skinner's trip had a different view of the racial implications of Ethiopia's success. To them, the victory was that of a Semitic people whose triumphs were less startling. When talking about Ethiopia, black and white American observers revealed more about their own preconceptions and hopes than about the country to which the United States was making overtures.