The Sierra Leone expedition of 1786–1787, which saw a group of black people from London build a settlement in West Africa, is considered one of the most controversial episodes in the history of blacks in Britain. It raises a number of important questions, such as how these black people had come to Britain, how they were perceived by the native white population, or why some of them left Britain and founded a new community in Africa. The settlement established by these so-called ‘Black Poor’ from London would become Freetown, the current capital of the modern state of Sierra Leone. Its history has long been interpreted in the context of the movement for the abolition of the slave trade, a notion challenged by Eric Williams in his 1944 book Capitalism and Slavery. This book explores the different interpretations regarding the settlement formed by London's Black Poor and the role of the Sierra Leone Company in running the settlement.
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