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Envoys of abolitionBritish Naval Officers and the Campaign Against the Slave Trade in West Africa$
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Mary Wills

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620788

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620788.001.0001

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Abolition on shore

Abolition on shore

(p.41) 2 Abolition on shore
Envoys of abolition

Mary Wills

Liverpool University Press

Naval officers played a part in a reconfiguration of relations between Britain and West Africa in the early nineteenth century, as British abolitionist ideals and policies were introduced in the colony of Sierra Leone and increasingly rolled out along the coast. This chapter details the role of naval officers in the pursuit of anti-slavery treaties with African rulers, the encouragement of ‘legitimate’ trade (as non-slave-based trade was termed) and assisting increased exploration and missionary efforts. All were tied to the desire to end the slave trade at source in West African societies via the spread of European ideas of ‘civilization’ among African peoples. Officers’ narratives are revealing of increasing British intervention in West Africa, and how economic and strategic advantages for Britain became inextricable from humanitarian incentives.

Keywords:   West Africa, Sierra Leone, Abolition, Anti-slavery, Treaties, Exploration, Missionary, Intervention, Naval officers

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