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Slavery & Reform In West Africa

Toward Emancipation In Nineteenth-Century

Trevor R. Getz

Publication Year: 2004

In Slavery and Reform in West Africa, Trevor Getz demonstrates that it was largely on the anvil of this issue that French and British policy in West Africa was forged. With distant metropoles unable to intervene in daily affairs, local European administrators, striving to balance abolitionist pressures against the resistance of politically and economically powerful local slave owners, sought ways to satisfy the latter while placating or duping the former.

The result was an alliance between colonial officials, company agents, and slave-owning elites that effectively slowed, sidetracked, or undermined serious attempts to reform slave holding. Although slavery was outlawed in both regions, in only a few isolated instances did large-scale emancipations occur. Under the surface, however, slaves used the threat of self-liberation to reach accommodations that transformed the master-slave relationship.

By comparing the strategies of colonial administrators, slave-owners, and slaves across these two regions and throughout the nineteenth century, Slavery and Reform in West Africa reveals not only the causes of the astounding success of slave owners, but also the factors that could, and in some cases did, lead to slave liberations. These findings have serious implications for the wider study of slavery and emancipation and for the history of Africa generally.

Published by: Ohio University Press

TItle Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

Contents

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pp. v-

List of Maps

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pp. vii-

List of Tables

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pp. ix-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

I am indebted to my colleagues in many ways for their assistance over the past six years; without them it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to complete this manuscript. First and foremost is my friend and mentor, Richard Rathbone, whose intellectual guidance, friendly encouragement, and diverse...

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Introduction

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pp. xiii-xix

This is a book about the gradual transformation, reform, and attempted abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century in two zones of European-African interaction: French Senegal and the British Gold Coast. It focuses upon a comparison of the opportunities, agency, and actions of European and African...

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Chapter 1. The Era of the Atlantic Slave Trade

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pp. 1-27

For the purposes of this study, the period following the criminalization of the Atlantic slave trade in the early nineteenth century is the narrative present. This period is characterized by several major transformations, but these nineteenth-century manifestations were shaped, constrained, and guided by African societies...

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Chapter 2. The Crisis of Abolition, Legitimate Trade, and the Adaptation of Slavery

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pp. 28-53

The criminalization of the Atlantic slave trade did not produce a reversion to precontact traditions of slavery in West Africa. Rather, its termination induced a wide and sociologically significant set of new transformations of dominance relationships. For slaves, slave owners, and administrators, abolition...

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Chapter 3. Rules and Reality: Anteproclamation Slavery and Society on the Gold Coast

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pp. 54-68

At first glance, it could be argued that in the period following the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, the policies of the administration of the Gold Coast gradually paved the way for full emancipation. In this teleological view, anteproclamation policies represented a deliberate attempt to reduce the central role...

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Chapter 4. The Grand Experiment: Emancipation in Senegal Colony

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pp. 69-84

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the free inhabitants of St. Louis and Gorée, like their counterparts in the trading entrepôts of the Gold Coast, appear to have been largely satisfied with the established conditions of slavery in the diminutive colony of Senegal. Nor were the locally posted agents of the...

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Chapter 5. Pragmatic Policies in Periods of Expansion

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pp. 85-110

By the middle of the nineteenth century, slavery had become integral to the economies and societies of both the Senegal and Gold Coast regions to an unprecedented degree. The cumulative effects of four centuries of the Atlantic slave and “legitimate” trades far outweighed four decades of half-heartedly-implemented...

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Chapter 6. Slaves and Masters in the Postproclamation Gold Coast

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pp. 111-136

The emancipation policy that the British administration carried out on the Gold Coast after 1874 was removed from that envisaged by abolitionists not once, but twice. In the last chapter, we saw how Strahan’s administration and the Colonial Office cast the antislavery ordinances in a mold shaped in part by...

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Chapter 7. Slaves and Masters in French-Administered Senegal

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pp. 137-159

In Senegal, the period of expansionist regimes in the 1850s and 1860s was followed by an extended period of disengagement from the conquests of the interior. The rapid retreat of French authority was the result of the unsupportable cost of maintaining the extensive colony in a period of unusual...

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Chapter 8. Toward the Eradication of the Overland Slave Trade?

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pp. 160-179

The British and French policies discussed in the last five chapters were celebrated by turn-of-the-century historians as the gradual unveiling of great philanthropic plans, of which the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade in the first decades of the nineteenth century had been the first major step.1 If we were...

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Conclusions: African Continuity, Adaptation, and Transformation

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pp. 180-191

In undertaking a comparative investigation of the origins and impact of emancipation antislavery reforms, I have concentrated on just two main themes. First, this book is an attempt to explore the centrality of Africans’ roles in these processes, roles sometimes implicitly denied but made clear by the work of...

Notes

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pp. 193-234

Bibliography

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pp. 235-250

Index

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pp. 251-257


E-ISBN-13: 9780821441831
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821415214

Publication Year: 2004

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Slaves -- Emancipation -- Senegal.
  • Slaves -- Emancipation -- Ghana.
  • Slavery -- Ghana -- History -- 19th century.
  • Slavery -- Senegal -- History -- 19th century.
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