Timeline: Sierra Leone and West Africa
A party of 400 emancipated slaves and 60 Europeans settle a colony on a grant of
land by King Tom, founding Granville Town, the origin of Sierra Leone.
King Naimbana ratifies King Tom’s land grant.
St. George’s Bay Company (later becoming the Sierra Leone Company) forms, assuming
responsibility for the settlement.
More settlers arrive -- 1190 blacks from Nova Scotia, and 119 Europeans from England.
Freetown is founded.
The Sierra Leone Company receives a royal charter, and the governor-in-council acquires
British Parliament declares the slave trade illegal.
Sierra Leone becomes a Crown Colony, the land possessions of the company transferring
to the crown. The colony is dedicated to demonstrating the principles of Christianity,
civilization, and commerce. A British naval squadron enforcing the empire's ban on
the slave trade begins releasing recaptured Africans in the colony. A Vice-Admiralty
prize court is established in Freetown.
Paul Cuffee, an African-American mariner, merchant and shipowner, visits Sierra Leone
in his brig the Traveller.
Cuffee returns to Freetown and organizes a cooperative trading society, the “Friendly
Society of Sierra Leone.”
Cuffee returns to Sierra Leone with a sawmill, merchandize, and 34 immigrants.
In response to British pressure, the Americans dispatch naval vessels to the coast
of West Africa to patrol for slavers. In April, the U.S.S. Cyane, a 20-gun
sloop, gives chase to vessels in waters off the mouth of the Gallinas River. Six
of them turn out to be slavers, fully equipped and American-owned.
Slave ship captains quickly learn to conceal American ownership while the U.S. squadron
patrol the region. In 1823, the U.S. withdraws the vessels and breaks off joint efforts
with Great Britain.
First group of free blacks sails for what would become Liberia.
The American Colonization Society establishes a colony at Cape Mesurado, the origin
Under Sierra Leone Governor Charles Turner, the British mount a campaign against
slaving operations along the islands and peninsula Subsequent commando operations
raid the Gallinas, Sherbro and Rio Pongos. On September 24, Turner signs a treaty
with the coastal chiefs of Sherbro country, ceding the peninsula to the British (though
the Crown does not ratify the treaty). On December 12, Turner forces a similar treaty
on the chiefs of Bacca Lokkoh country, to the north. In 1826, Turner returns to Sherbro
to raid slave traders. The nearby strip of coast thus comes under British control.
Slaving continues, though, in the regions of the Rio Pongos and Rio Nunez in the
northwest, and on the Gallinas River in the southeast.
Pedro Blanco ships three slave cargoes to Havana from Gallinas -- the earliest record
of slaving by the figure who would eventually become the region's largest dealer.
The Colony of Sierra Leone is opened to foreign trade, part of a project to wean
the colony of British imperial support.
June 28: A new mixed court opens in Sierra Leone to hear cases of slave trading,
under the terms of an Anglo-Spanish treaty of 1835. In response to the crackdown,
slave traders begin using smaller vessels, and sending trade cargoes in separate
In waters off of Lomboko, the Tecora loads her cargo of over 500 slaves, among
them the Africans who would revolt aboard the Amistad off the coast of Cuba.
About 2,000 slaves a year are coming out of the Gallinas River during this period.
Joseph Denman, a British officer in the African squadron, anchors off the Gallinas,
blockading the slave traders and intercepting incoming slave-ships. Eventually Denman
lands a shore party and burns the factories, liberating 841 slaves and transporting
them to Freetown. A second naval expedition moves on baracoons and factories upriver.
In the wake of emancipation in the British West Indies, British agents representing
West Indian plantations dispatch agents to Sierra Leone to drum up laborers. Many
Sierra Leone recaptives volunteer. In April, the first 612 emigrants push off, in
ships bound for Jamaica, Trinidad and British Guiana.
May 12: the Albert andWilberforce sail out of Devonport for West Africa,
part of an official antislavery expedition dispatched by the British government to
explore the Niger River and introduce Christianity and commerce (meaning trade other
than the slave trade) to the interior of Africa. By the time the expedition puts
Sierra Leone in its wake six weeks later, it is carrying some three hundred emissaries
of British empire and Victorian civilization, including scientists, doctors, missionaries,
naval officers, and British-schooled Africans, in a flotilla of three specially-designed
British Royal Navy raids slave barracoons on Gallinas River.
The survivingAmistad Africans on the Gentleman, along with Rev. William
Raymond, Rev. John Steele, and two teachers. The missionaries initially locate their
“Mendi Mission” near Komende (Kaw Mendi) on a tributary of the River Jong -- a grant
from an African king who has taken the name of Harry Tucker. Many of the Amistad
Africans soon drifted away.
British Royal Navy expedition destroys slave factories at Lomboko on Gallinas River.