West Indians in West Africa, 1808-1880: The African Diaspora in Reverse 1580460461, 9781580460460

An examination of the trans-oceanic migration of West Indians from the Caribbean to Sierra Leone in the decades followin

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West Indians in West Africa, 1808-1880: The African Diaspora in Reverse
 1580460461, 9781580460460

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1808-1880 TheAfricanDidsijordinReuerse

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M€lvin Victor Stuart, Head of customs, Sierra I.cone, 1878 (Royal Commonwealth Society). Used by permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.


1808-1880 ' r/Je African Diaspora in Reverse

Ntlmatd Amelia Blyden



.4J . W ly 1 BIg Copyright © 2000 Nemata Amclia Blyden


i;;mi§ifom|b§;bit;h¥E:Esp:tii::':;ti¥;o¥a=::ti:t,iifo;f:`i;S;;i;§j::Ljd;':B;i-e;nf First published 2ooo by the University of Rochesl:er Press The University of Rochester Press is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer, Inc. 668 Mt. Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620, USA and of Boydell & Brewer, Led. P.O. Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk lp12 3DF, UK

ISBN 1-58046-046-I ISSN 1092-5228 ; 8

Libray of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Blyden, Nemata Amelia,1964West Indians in West Africa, 1808-1880 : the African diaspora in reverse /

by Nemata inelia Blyden. p. cm. - (Rochester studies in African history and the diaspora, ISSN 1092-5228 ; 8)

:gs[#s_::bj2ofr8Zhj:+trfier;:::sr,and[ndex. 1. West lndianslicrra Lcone-History-19th century.

2. Sierra

±R:=sTel:tsot?di:sT,onl&ifani.,s:;e;raant=:i::?::c,rcv`.ag.ons. DT516.45.W47 859 2000

966.4'004960729ndc2i British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data ^ ` .m`l(igue record for this book is .Iv.Ill.ilil{. from the British Library

I )i.`ii.,in.il .ii``l rypcsct by ISIS-1 Corporation 1`1 ilH(..I il`

lI`t. ` /I`irc.{l States of America

I.l.ii |Milili` Atil.n i` |iriii(ed on acid-free paper


"Vwe have the cause of Africa at heart, and shall welcome ever)/

labourer in the fieid who honestly strives to establish it and f trengtben it."

-Witham Rainy 23 January 1866



AFRICAI\l HISI0RY all de DIASPORA Toyin Falola, Series Editor University of Texas, Austin (ISSN: 1092-5228)

\ . Pouier Relatious in Nigeria: Ilorin Shaves arid Tbctr St4cces§or§

Ann O'Hcar 2. Dilanms of Denocrapi in Nigeria Edited by Paul Beckett and Crawford Young 3. Science and Pou/er in Colonial Mauritus William Kellehcr Storey 4. Namibid'§ Post-Apartheid Regiorial Institwions: The Founding Year

Joshua Bemard Forrest

5. A Saro Communly in the Niger Delta, 1912-1984: The Pouts-Jolmsons of Port Harcourt and Their H€ir§ Mac Dixon-Fyle 6. Contested Power in AmgoLz: 1840s to the Pre§e'nt

Linda Heywood 7 . NIgerian Chiqfi: Tlreditional Pou)er in Modern Politics, 1890s-1990§

Olufemi Vaughan 8. Tmest Indians in Tmest Africa, 1808-1880: The African Diasi]ora in Reverse

Nemata Amelia Blyden Forthcoming:

9 . The United Stttes dud Decoloniardon in Vmest Africa, 1950-1960 Ebere Nwaubani

give directions, that such Invalids, belonging to the West India Regiments, as were desirous of returning to Africa, should have their passage found 1:o Sierra Leone."60 These men could become settlers in Sierra Leone or move on to other places along the West African coast. As a further inducement, he advocated that the colonial administration should offer the retired soldiers their regular pensions, to establish the good faith of the Bridsh to Africans and convince them to join the regiments. The veterans were to serve yet another purpose. By mingling with Africans "they must, as a matter of course, in the common ciccurrences of life, communicate some useful knowledge to their countrymen, in the differem branches of arts, necessary to it; and they could not fall to spread the fame of England, to an extent hitherto unknown in Africa; which might soon lead to consequences, equally important 8c beneficial to both."6] This sentiment was frequendy echoed throughout the nineteenth century and wasespousedbymissionarysocieties,govemmentofficials,andNewworld blacksalike.62ThehomegovemmentrespondedfivorablytoMaxwell'ssuggestion,andseveralWestlndianRcgimentsweredisbandedinthecolony.63 In 1826, a certain General Stevenson suggested that black regiments be established for service in Africa. Stevenson argued that this was a way for the blacks to repay all that Britain had done for them.64 In addition it was "economical and serviceable."65

Despite these early suggestions, hiring policies in the army mirrored those in the civil sector. Although the colonial administrators found blacks suitable to be hired as soldiers, they believed them 1:o be unfit for leadership roles as officersi. When the Colonial Office looked into the possibility of introducing men of color into the Royal African Corps, Governor Lumley cautioned that hiring blacks as offlcers would be unfur to Europeans. His reasoning was that many European volunteers, who were sons of old offlcers and had few means of support in England, came c)ut to the colony on condition they would be appointed to the first vacancy within the corps. Lumley a]-gued chat hiring blacks would deprive these young Europeans of a source of income. He also warned that discontent and insubordination wouldrcsultifblackswereintroducedasofficersinregimentscomposedof bothblackandwhitesoldiers.66ColonialOfficeofficialsagreedwithLumley,

2;I )

Whest Indians in vmest Af rlca,1808-1880: The Af rican Diaspom in Reucr§e

as did private individuals in London, and the idea of black officers was abandoned.67Thoughblacksdidnotbecomeofficcrsincontingentsofmixed troops at this time, William Smellie, a young Jamaican, was hired as an ensign in the Royal African Corps.68 Evidendy,neitherthecompanynortheCrownhadastructurcdpoliey on the hiring of blacks in.the colony. Blacks were hired in clerkship and other minor positions within the colonial establishment and as soldiers in the army when the need for them arose. The one rule that officials in the colony and within the Colonial Office did not deviate from was the one that saw blacks as unfit for and incapable of holding high positions. Blacks could,therefore,befoundemployedwithinthecolonialestablishment,but not in supervisory positions.

Blacks in Office, 1830-1840 Despite colonial administration unwillingness to hire blacks, increasing mortality rates among Europeans and the unpopularity of Sierra Leone as anofficialpostforcedtheadministrationtomckeexceptions.Bytheendof the 1820s, the matter of black competence to hold high office had to be reexamined. The inconvenience of Europeans dying in Sierra Leone

promptedofficialstoconsidertheemploymentofblacksinhighpositions. The Colonial Office itself, as we have observed, was ambivalent about the suitabifty of blacks for high office, but it was soon forced to consider the possibility.Intheearlyyears,ithadbeensuccessfulinfindingyoungEuropeans willing to come to Sierra Leone, but as word of the colony's fatal climate found its way to England, the pool of candidates willing to go out to Freetown diminished. Sierra Leone, since its founding, had gained a reputation for being dangeroustothehealthofwhites,andEuropeanswerereluctanttogochere forfeartheywouldnotreturn.69TheBritishbelievedthatthehighmortaliryrateswereduemainlytoadverseclinaticconditions,althoughtheyalso cited the dissipated behavior of many Europeans as the cause of many deaths.70 Europeans believed that the high mortality rates were due to the climate rather than the disease environment. Colonial Office deliberation concemingSierraLeonerepeatedlyfocusedonthenatureofitsclimatc.In theearlynineteenthcentury,Europeansbelievcdthatwhiteswerenotable to survive in the African climate, postulating that "people from Europe wereraciallyincapableofsurvivingintheAfricanclimate,whereasAfricans were genetically equipped to do so."7] The nature of the climate was a recurrent topic in Colonial Office discussions about Sierra Leone. The cli-

Black Em|lloyment and Brlhah colonial polity,1796-1830


ii`&tc and its effects on Europeans were constantly mentioned in consideration of whether to hire Africa.ns or men of African descent, both in the military a.nd in the civil administration. Detractors of Sierra Leone frequently pointed to its dea.dly climate. In the 1820s a series of letters apt)cared in the Sz.cr#¢ £co#c jdy#/ Gzzc#g on the health risks of the colony

and the number of European deaths.72 The wisdom of hiring Europeans to work in a colony with such an insalubrious climate was frequently questioned by Europeans and Africans alike. As early as 1810, William Dawes expressed his concern about the cffccts of the climate on Europeans. Dawes argued that in considering the cffcctiveness of the colony's administration, "we must always compute a considerable loss of labour arising from sickness, and from the occasional languor whicli is inescapable from the European habit in tropical climates. During the dry season we do tolerably well; but in the rains, our duties are lcftgreatlyinarrears."73ToColonialOfficeofficials,itseemedthatnosooner did whites arrive than they fell ill and either died or resigned for health reasons. Others left to accept positions in more suitable climates and in areas with more potential for career growth. Sierra Leone was never a desirable destination for young men seeking to make careers in the colonial service and, when appointed to the colony, they made a point of leaving when the opportunity arose. The colonial administration thus faced increasing difficulty in flnding qualified candidates. The frequent deaths and resignations by Europeans forced local governors and the Colonial Office to consider appointing men of color to more significant positions. In August 1815, Zachary Macaulay recommended the employment ofGeorgeTilleyanativeofsierraLeone.KnowingnothingofTilley'squaliflcations, Macaulay recommended his employment solely because he believed that Tilley would be more capable of staying healthy.74 In an 1820 report, Thomas Gregory, a queen's commissioner in the colony, claimed that Sierra Leone was unflt for European settlement. The then governor, Charles Maccarthy, dissented, contending that Sierra Leone was no more unhealthy than anywhere else in the Empire.75 In 1825, Governor Turner maintalnedthattheeffectoftheclimateonEuropeanswasexaggeratedand argued that proper housing would combat the problem.76 Nevertheless, Europeans continued to die.77 Between 1825 and 1827 James Rowan and Henry Wanington, after conducting an extensive commission of inquiry in the colony, submitted a report on the structure of the colony's administration, its civil establishment, and its economy. The inquiry, among other things, examined the effects of Sierra Leone's dimate, especially on Europeans. The report was


West Ind;aris in vMest Af rica,1808-1880: The Af rican Dinspom in Reuer§e

not favorable to the colony, and its unhealthy climate was cited as a major reason for its problems. Rowa.n and Wellington interviewed individuals, botli official and civilian, in Sierra Leonc. Among them was William Fergusson, then surgeon of the Royal African Corps. Describing the effects of the climate on Europeans, Fergusson stated that "it is productive of fevers of the intermittent, bilious, remittcnt and continued types, of dysenteryanddiarrhoea,andofchenumeroustrainofcomplaintscalledorganic visceral diseases."78 Fergusson conceded, however, that the debased way of living among Europeans, especially soldiers, may have also been responsible for many deaths.79 By debased living he meant the large-scale consumption of alcohol. The commissioners recommended many solutions among, which was that blacks from other countries should be encouraged to settle in Sierra. Leone.80

TheBritishadministrationalsoconsideredchehighmortalityratesin the military.81 In January 1826, Earl Bathurst wrote to Governor Turner on the question of.hiring black soldiers that, "having taken into my consideration the casualties which have occurred during the preceding year among the troops stationed on the Western Coast of Africa, it has appeared to me that it would be most expedient that the Royal African Corps should in, futureberecruitedwithblacks,providedthatyoushouldflnditpracticable to enlist them in the settlements under your government, either from the natives, or from those Africans who may have been more recently introduced into the colony."82 I.ater that year, the Army Department, quoting high morrality rates on military posts, declared that the climate in Sierra Leone was "dreadfuly destructive to the life of European soldiers."83 In 1828, the Colonial Office considered withdrawing European troops from Sierra Leone. Sir George Murray, secretaryofstateforthecolohies,inadespatchtothegovemor'instructedhin toconsiderrecruitinganAfricanmilidaforce.InAugust1829amilitiaactwas passed, and white troops were removed from the colony.84 Negative press reports on the colony's climate prompted officials to consider abandoning Sierra Leone altogether. In 1827, the Gold Coast, another British colony, was handed over to a government of merchants. ThecolonywasthrivingandmanyinBritainhopedthatSierraLeonemight fouowthesamepath.Aselectcommittee,setupinJune1830toinvestigate thispossibility,concludedthatSierraLeoneshouldnotbeabandoned.When a proposal was made to transfer the colony's administration to merchants, the humanitarians, merchants, and colonists alike objected to it.85 Zachary

Macaulaymaintainedthatmerchantshadnolong-terminterestinthecolony and suggested that the large black population could ultimately take part in

Blnck Employment and Brllish c:olonial policy,1796-1830


the colony's administration. Until that time, he advised that a governor should be appointed who would talce his orders directly from the Crown. Macaulay also proposed, as an economic measure and a way of reducing the Crown's expense, that blacks be considered for all positions except those of governor, chief justice and collector.86 A few black merchants also ob-

jected dirccdy to the Colonial Office. The committee's fmal recommendat`ion, after hearing all the evidence, was to retain the administration in Sierra Leone.

Despite reports of the colony's dangerous climate, British opinions differed as to the efficaey of hiring blacks for administration offices. Keniicin Macaulay, a long-time European resident in the ccilony, responded to an article, written by James MCQueen in 1827, citing high mortality rates among Europeans in the colony. Macaulay contended that high mortality unong Europeans was natural since they were unsuited to the climate and suggested the possibihiry of hiring men of color.87 Macaulay maintained that it had never been the intention of Britain to colonize Sierra Leone with whites and insisted that government duties should not be limited to Europeans. The colony's success, he believed, should not rely on men coming from England to flll civil service positions. His views are worth quoting at length because they were the first suggestion that blacks were capable of filling more than clerkship positions: Ifl understand the matter properly, the object is to establish a colony of free Blacks, and to open a fur field for the exertion and improvement of the African race. And in doing cris why should not Coloured persons of sufficient abilities be employed much more extensively than has hitherto been done? It is undeniat]le indeed that a perfect equality in all the rights and privileges of British subjects is employed by both Black and White at Sierra Leone; and also that Earl Bathurst has ,in more than one inscance appointed coloured persons to situations under Government. Yet I conceive that suffl-

cientattentionhasnotbeenpaldeichertoprepareyoungMenintheColony itself, fc>r the higher walks of life, or to procure them from ocher places. To what rank in the service Govemmcnt might choose to restrict their promotion I know not but I for my part see no reason why color alone should prevent any man from rising to the highest and I quite sure [j/.c] chat if the general details of the colonial Administration were in the hands of such men (assuming of course that they are men sufficiently qualified for the situations they fill), the inconvenience and injury which the Colony has suffered frc>m irregularity in accounts, Documents etc. would no longer occur, and the death of an officer even high in the Service, would no longer entail chat confusion and those delays in every Department which has been too often Cxpericnccd.88


VVle§t Indians in vVIe§tAf rlca,1808-1880: The Af rlcan Dins|]ord in Retierse

ThoughEnglishofficialsha.dneverdeniedthatblackswerecapableaf holding certain positions within the colony's administration, they had always argued that blacks could not, or should not, advance beyond a certain level. In 1828, Wiuiam Allen wrote to R W. Hay, under-secretary of state, suggestingthatmoreblacksbegivenpositionsinthecolony.89Heurgedthe employmentofanagriculturalvisitor,preferablyblack,whowouldencouragefarmingamongliberatedAfricansandvisitthevillageswithrecommendations for improvement. Allen submitted the names of John Thorpe and Thomas Macfoy, as possible candidates. Like Macaulay, he cited the climate as a factor, arguing that "as the health of Europeans is so very precarious in Africa, it is of great consequence to bring forward the People of color,inallpractibleoccasions."9°Hestressedtheneedforeducatingyoung liberatedAfricansandsuggestedthatthiscouldbedoneifgovemmentwould open schoolrooms and hire two people of.color, one male and one female, to teach.9] Despite these arguments, not everyone agreed with Allen and Macaulay about blac.k capability. ManyEuropeancoloristsexpectedtheblacksettlcrstoseethemselves as subordinate. The case of Charles Stormonth is illustrative of this attitude. Eady in 1820, Stormonth, the colony's surgeon and justice of the

pea.ce, was a party in a lawsuit. The case did not go in his favor and he accused blackjurors of being partial to the plaintiff, who was a. black settler. According to the governor, this excited "party prejudice" in the colony, as several black settlers petitioned the governor for Stormonth's removal as justice of the peace and, if possible, as surgeon. The petition contended that "the distinction of color, the ungenerous doctrine of.any man, being in that particular superior to another, can ,never exist in this Settlement where freedom (and that too, which originates and is cherished by British Law, that knows no distinctions) is equally enjoyed by your Excelleney, the representative of our Sovereign, down to the liberated Negro whom British munificence and generosity place on our shores."92 The settlers concluded by pledging their allegiance to the British Crown, promising to do anything for the advancement of the colony. The petition illustrates the frustration tha.t many black seulers in the colony felt at being overlooked. Not only were they excluded from full

participationinthecolony'sadministration,butthefewappointmentsthey could hold were denigrated by Europeans. The settlers considered themselves British subjects, and loyal oncs at, chat, noting that "there are no evils we would not encounter to convince our Country no one shall dare to curtail us of our priveleges, as British subjects with impunity."93 To be accused of partiality based on race distinctions was an affront to the settlers,

13hck Emplayment and British colonial polity,1796-1830


and their sense of outrage was embodied in their rejection of Stormonthe claim that they were "a society of men widely differing in prejudices, opinions and sentiments from his countrymen."94 To the settlers this implied that they were incapable of rationality," which not only traduces our charflcter as men but as Christians, and charges us, for the sake of distinction of color, with overlooking the sacred obligations which bind man with his Creator."95

StormonthobjectedtothepetitionandblamedGovernorMaccarthy for condoning black setulers' belief that they were equal to Europeans. He questioned the right of the inhabitants of the colony to ask for his suspension, even challenging their right to ask anything of the governor. In an incredulousandconteniptiblemannerhewonderedthatthepetitioners"in sheer madness, in absolute raving, for if the least glimmer of Reason had shone in the dark chaos of their minds, they never could have done the thing, both on account of its folly and injustice, call upon you to suspend mefrommyofficeoffirstcolonialsurgconunulthepleasureofHisMajesty's Ministers be known! Madmen! how blind are they to the immense distance ofmindbetweenthemandHisMajesty'sMinisters."96Stormonthsuggested that the ministers in London should burn the black settlers' petition, "unless they chose to preserve it indeed as a monument of the Barbarism of the Black Inhabitants of the Colony of Sierra Leone which they would see had cost the Country so much treasure to civilize in vain!"97 This extreme view ofblackcapabilitywasnotsharedbyall,butthereweremanyEuropeansin the colony and in London who shared Stormonch's view. The response to Stormonth indicates that the settlers did not sit back waiting for advancement but lobbied for it. The pressure on the colonial administration to hire blacks did not come only from Europeans. The colonial office response to the hiring of blacks was prompted in many instances by the settlers themselves. Blacks in the colony complained of discrimination not only in hiting practices but also in salary scales. Disillusioned with their lack of representation in the government and institutions of the colony, a group of maroonspetitionedGeorgewulpoleforpassagebackto]anaica.98Agriculture had proved unsuccessful, and the maroons had suffered hardship and deprivation. Their children were educated, but this education was useless to them as "Europeans will not give them any Employment."99 Another petitionin1829byche"coloredinhabitantsofthecolony"wassignedmainly bymaroonsandNova.Scotiansa.ndthcirdescendants.Thispetitionclaimed thatthesystemofappointmentswithinthecolonywasprejudicialtoblacks. The petitioners argued that only Europeans fined important offices within the colony, and, unlike the black settlers, these Europeans had no ties or


Tmest Indians in vmest Af rica,1808-1880: The Af rican D;aspora in Reverse

loyalty to the colony, which made them indifferent to its interests. Among the petitioners' grievances was the argument that despite its growth in size and importance, Freetown was still being governed "by those institutions and regulations, which were deemed necessary, almost a.t its fust cstablishmcnt, through which circumstances the whole of the colored population of His Majesty's subjects`, remain precluded from having it in their power either to offer their support, or express their dissent to those enactments. which emanating from His Honor the Governor and their Honors his European Council bind the colonists at large."loo They reminded Murray that thecolonywasnowtheirhome,onetheyhadinvestedinandmaderespectable, contributing to its revenue in the hope of receiving the same favors as those granted to Europeans. The petitioners went on to contend that the ed.ucation of their children was based on the premise tha.t "the Government would stimulate such measure by placing it beyond a doubt, that the road to such Honors and emoluments as were in its gift, would be open only to meritandgoodconduct,withoutreferencetotheColoroftheindividual."'°L The settlers trusted that it was the Crown's wish to develop the colony's resources, to spend less, and to allow its African British subjects to become useful members of the community. Both petitions alluded to the effects of climate on Europeans, asserting tha.t it was unnecessary for whites to be in the colony any more. The second petition maintained that "the loss of European life seems as a measure of humanity to offer an excuse for their thus making as they now do, a humble tender of their services, so that the duties necessary for the welfare and rights of society may proceed with less fear of. interruption, and at a diminished expense to Government, who need not then take into consideration the risk of life which with Europeans is now necessary."lo2

In response to the two petitions, the Colonial Office requested a list of blacks employed by the colony. Waiter Lewis, then administering the colony, responded with the list and a despatch refuting the settlers' charges of discrinination.]°3 Lewis claimed that except for the Liberated African Deparrment and heads of offices, the colonial establishment was made up maluly of "colored persons." He maintained that many blacks obtained

government positions but resigned them, insisting than "every opportunity for Memorialists becoming `good citizens' has been afforded to them, by

placing in their hands the important offices of Mayor, Alderman, Sheriff, Coroner, Magistrate, Clerk of the Crown, Clerk of police etc .... as well as by employing the colored population in every situation under Government . . where the Public Interests were not likely to suffer; and where the character of the people recommended them to notice."lot Lewis also con-

I}lack Emplo)irnent and l3rltlsh colonial polity,1796-1830


tended that the law courts were "filled with colored practitioners" and dellied the charge that no blacks had been promoted in years past. Lewis noted that where merit was shown men were adva.need, regardless of color, a fact soon recognized by the Colonial Office for reasons of their own."

Conclusion In 1830, Undersecretary of State Hay suggested hiring men of color in administrative positions within Sierra Leone's government service. ]°6 Hay's recommendation was presumably prompted by the two maroon petitions and the fact that European candidates were reluctant to come to the colony in the wake of negative reports. The local governor endorsed Hay's recommendation. Governor Fraser's opinion was that "if opportunities were offeredforthedevelopmentofAngloAfricantalent,sufficientwouldbefound to fill with respectability all the Depa]-tments of the Colony."`°7 Fraser pointedoutchatblackswerealreadyinpublicservicedoinggoodjobs,and he cxpr€ssed regret that more were not hired. Retail businesses and factories, he noted, had long been under the management of blacks, and they had shown honesty and credibility. He recommended that those who were eligible for positions be nominated by the governor as openings occurred. Likemanybeforeandafterhim,Frasermadeanexception.Blackscouldfill positions in all departments except the higher levels of administration. In 1830, secretary of state for the colonies, George Murray, made the decisionthathewouldallow"allstationstobegraduallyfilledbypersonsof color." '°8 Philip Curtin characterizes the administration's decision as "a siirrender in the face of the African `Climate'." [°9 Whatever the motive, qualifled blacks were to be the main candidates for positions that opened in the colony. Nevertheless, despite Murray's decision, the practice of excluding blacks from certain positions continued, and many black settlers did not feel satisfied that they were being completely included. In 1832, a delegationheadedbyStephenGabbidon,amaroon,accusedGovernorFindlayof failing to admit blacks into the Colony's executive council. The delegates charged that the only blacks in significant positions were Gabbidon himself, who was lieutenant colonel of the militia, Thomas Macfoy and Mr. Williams, who were captains; and William Savage, who was deputy judge advocate of the corps.Ilo Governor Findlay defended himself by arguing that the blacks wished to control the colony's administration. In his view there was adequate representation of blacke in the colony's governing structune, and he did not see flt to admit into council "men who I knew were


W4cst Indiou inwest Af rica,1808-1880: The Af rican Dia5i]om in Reuer§e

inimical to Government, and who were neither qualified by education nor possessed of a moderate share of common sense."lil If blacks were given administrative appointments, Findiay believed they would "banish every whitefacefromtheColony,iftheycoulddoso."[t2Thebasisofthegovernor's argument is unclear since there was no example of black senders asking for the removal of whites. Like many of his European counterparts, Findlay was unwilling to accept that there were.blacks in the colony who could act independently of Europeans, particula]-ly when it came to airing grievances. Thus, Findlay

maintained that Captain Eraser, commander of the Royal African Corps and a former administrator of the colony, was responsible for stirring up the black population. Findlay insisted that when Fraser left the colony he kept up communication with blacks in the colony, encouraging chose who wantedtousurppower.Findlaylabeledthoseblackswhoobjectcdtoexclusion as proud and presumptLious because of their wealth. The Colonial Office agreed that the settlers were not ready for positions in the colonial establishment. Other men with African ancestrywere, therefore, sought as an alternative-West Indians, who had long been a part of the colony's population.


ThemannerinwhichtheBritishCrownsolveditsproblemsinSierraLeone illustrates the development of a British colonial policy drawing upon ideas about race and ethnicity. There was a certain amount of racial and ethnic stereotyping in British ideas about Africans. Colonial officials made distinctionsamongvariousgroupsofAfricansandmenofAfricandescentand dealt with them accordingly. Thus they made contrasts between educated and noneducated Africans, indigenous and settler Africans, and Nova S cotians, maroons and liberated Africans, believing there were characteristicsinherentineachofthesegroups.Therewasanobviouspreferenceamong some colonial officials for westernized Africans, while others preferred indigenous Africans or Africans "untainted" by civilization. When it came to hiring policies, however, there was an increasing realization by British officials that educated, westernized Africans, were the key to solving the nortality problem in the colony. In the solution that British officials chose, anochertypeofracialandethnicstereotypingemerged-thatof.Westlndians as agents bringing civilization to their African brethren. In making this determination, colonial officials had, as their examples, West Indians already resident in Sierra. Leone.

West Indians in tlie Colony, 1800-1840 Between 1800 and 1840, diverse groups of blacks from the West Indies settledinSierraLeone.LMaroonsfromJamaica,insurrectionistsfromBarba-



Wle§t Indians inTmest Af rica,1808-1880: The Af rican Dids|iom in Reverse

dos,missionaries,traders,artisans,andprivateindividualsallcametothecolony either forcibly or by choice. In 1822, a census taken in the colony histed 84

"West Indians and Americans."2 In 1826, the number of west Indians and


rately, and the census for that year counted 123 of them.4 The ways in which manyofthemcanetobeinthecolonyarethefocusofthischapter,whichalso pays particular attention to their social interaction and adaptation to Sierra Leone as well as the perceptious they held of other groups resident in the colony-Europeans, other black senders, and indigenous Africans.5

Maroonf ThemaroouswererunawayslavesinJamaicawho,afteralengthyconflictwith thecolonialgovemmentonthatisland,weredeportedtoNovaScotiain1796.7 MuchhasbeenwrittenontheirhistoryinJamaicaandtheireventualrepatriation to Sierra Leone in the early nineteenth century.8 The Trelawney Town maroons engaged in a war of resistance against the British settlers in Jamaica between 1795 and 1796. Finally defeated, "tricked by the government into layingdowntheirarms,"theysurrendered,signingapeacetrcatywithGeneral Wulpole in 1796.9 That same year, 568 Trelawney maroons were deported to Nova Scotia.'° In cris maritime Canadian province the maroons, like their loyalist predecessors, complained of the cold weather and poor land and were eventually transpctrted to Sierra Leone. Five hundred fifty maroons arrived in Sierra Leone in 1800 and promptly took on a military role, helping the company administration quell the Nova. Scotians' rebellion. i I Supported by the company's administra.tion, the maroons settled out-

sideFreetownandnamedtheircommunityGranvilleTown.Theearlyyea].s of maroon settlement saw them separating themselves from the Nova Scotians and from European settlers, offering only their shells and labor. They avoided church; they were polygamous; and the men preferred to work outside the home while the women raised the children. Their polygamyandpreferenceforlivingtogetherwithoutGhristianmarriageswere a source of distress for Europeans. During their brief stay in Nova Scotia, efforts were made to Christianize the maroons and to persuade them to marry and maintain monogamous marriages; however maroon men responded that "Dat white people fashion . . . at no do for we poor Maroon . . . we no want to bring b.ad curse upon weselves, for Gat Almighty no love ugly (chat is wickedness) and if we do something for curse us, he will punish us. We no mind being ma]-ried without swear; but if you please you make the women take swear; we men can't do so." The women also seemed

W:es¢ Indidm insierrd Leone


contem with p olygamous relationships and found humor in the suggestion that they become monogamous. The polygamous tradition continued in Sierra Leone, and one commenta.tor observed that "the suppression of polygamy among them has been hitherto deemed an experiment too hazardous to be tried and no fair opportunities have yet occurred of ascertai.ming how far they will submit quietly to such restraints of the civil power as are most repugnant to their inclinations and habits."]3 Consequently, colonial administrators for the most part did not interfere with maroon customs. Maroonskepttheirownrulersand,forchetimcbeing,werelcftaloneby the governing body of the colony. They created their own laws by which they lived not wanting to be constricted in any way. R C. Dallas, a nineteenthcenturyhistorianofthemaroons,describedthemas"activeandintrepid,prodigal of their lives, confident Of their strength, proud of the character of their body, and fond, though not jealous of their independence." In addition, the rnaroons were strengthened by their hilitary social organization. " Initially the maroons regarded Sierra Lcone as a temporary domicile. They hoped to return to Jamaica; this concerned British observers who commented that the maroons could not "be induced by prospects of future beneflt to labour for the improvement of their habitations or plaritations. These circumstances render them a people not easy to be governed, and to be brought into chat state of society which would best promote the civilization of Africa."16

In 1803, the maroons settled in the western part of Freetown in what becaneknownasMaroonTown.Theretheyengagcdinfarminglandgranted to them by the colony's government.17 However they decided that the land they were given was unsuitable, abandoned farming, and becane traders and artisans.t8 Many of them chose to hire themselves out as laborers in the colony.]9 The maroons thus became an integral, though clannish, group within the colony, and by the time the liberated Africans began to arrive in Sierra Leone the maroons had established themselves as a distinct group within the colony. Though the maroons initially kept their separate community and retalncd their identity, eventually they began to interact more with other settler groups. By the time the Crown took over the colony in 1808, some semblance of unity existed between the different groups of senders in Freetown.

The maroons exhibited a spirit of independence chat often affected their relationship with Europeans in the colonial administration. The rnaroons, like the Nova Scotians had reason to distrust Europeans, given the many broken promises they had experienced.20 They' had never wanted to leave Jamaica. Apart from the fact that Jamaica was the only home they


VVle§¢ Indian inTme§tAf i;cd,1808-1880: The Af ricnn Diaxpora in Reverse

knew, the prospect of deportation to a foreign country was, no doubt, distressing since the maroons no longer considered themselves African.2[ Like the Nova Scotians before them, the maroons were reluctant to succumb to theauthorityofEuropeans.InNovember1811,thegovernorofsierraLeone passed a militia act requiring all males aged thirteen to sixty to take an oath of allegiance to the Crown. The maroons saw this as a threat to their inde-

pendence, and many of them left the colony for the Bulom shore, to the south.Theadministra.tiondeclarcdthemoutlawsandconfiscatedtheirproperty. Many maroons returned two years later to take the oath.22 Maroons such as Stephen Gabbidon and John Thorpe were hired both by the company and by government. Nevertheless, like their Nova Scotian counterparts, many felt dissatisfled with the positions they held, considering themselves caTpable of filling more and better positions.23 Dis-

appointed with their standing in the colony, some mal.oons considered returning to Jamaica. In two petitions to the secretary of state, the maroons asked for equality with Europeans especially in hiring practices within the colony. They app ealed 1:o the colonial government for better representation within the colony, claiming that if attaining equality was impossible, they would leave a place "where the equal rights of man, as regards themselves are to be for reasons of polity disregarded."24 The maroons' idea ofJamaica as a place where the equal rights of men were respected was obviously misguided. Jamaica, their proposed destination, was at this time still a slave society, and free blacks, unless they were from a particularly privileged social class, were seldom in a better position clan slaves.25 Though by the 1830s some free blacks in Jamaica had some legal rights, they were not rega.rded as equals by Europeans. The maroons, no doubt, expected to return to the independent status chey had maintained before deportation from Jamaica. This was unlikely since the remaining maroons had become subject to colonial rule in Jamaica after the Trclawney maroons were deported.26 Though some Sierra. Leone maroons returned to Jamaica between 1837 and 1841, there was no mass remigration.27 The maroons in Sierra. Leone eventually intermarried with Nova Scotians and liberated Africans and became part of the westernized African community in the colony.28

West India Regivent§ West Indian blacks were also used in a military capacity in Sierra Leone during the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. Conflict between European powers in the eighteenth century led the British government to

W:e§t Indians ln sierra Leone


establish a "standing army uniformed, armed, and trained along European lines."29 In this body known as the West India Regiments, the recruits were usually slaves or servants of army officers. They were frequently African born, though a few were mulattoes or colored.3° The regiments fought in many conflicts in the West Indies, especially in the wars between Britain and France.3l

With the end of the conflict between France and Britain in 1815, the West India Regiments became victims of a retrenchment in British military spending, and many of the men were discharged.32 The British colonial

government was faced with the problem of what to do with these retired soldiers.BritainoriginallyplannedtosettlethemonaWestlndianislandof their choice, but European colonists in the islands, especially in Jamaica, were a.verse to having a large population of free blacks residing so dose to the enslaved black population.a3 The compromise reached resulted in some soldiers staying in Trinidad and Honduras and others being sent to Sierra Leone. Young soldiers, recendy brought to the islands for enlistment into the regiments, were resettled in Sierra Leone. Those soldiers classifled as "Creoles" (of mixed race) and those who had been brought from Africa as

youngboysstayedintheWestlndi€s.34Thisdecisionwasbasedontheidea that those blacks who had more recently lived in Africa would be more adaptabletocheenvironmentof`thesierraLeonecolony,particuladytothe disease environment, while those of mixed race and those who had lived in theWestlndiesforalongtimewouldbemoresusceptibletothedangersof

the envirorment. Several British administrators had argued for the benefits to be derived from these regiments. In 1811, the governor of sierra Leone, Charles Maxwell, suggested recruiting blacks from West Africa for the West India Regiments and retiring soldiers from the West Indies in Sierra Leone.35 Maxwell's suggestion was not the flrst of its kind. In October 1802, directors of the Sierra Leone Company had asked the British government to send black regiments to the colony.36 The company reasoned that European soldiers were susceptible to certain kind of diseases and that blacks from the West Indies would not suffer from these diseases or might be better able to cope with them. The company also cited the need for a force to quell the maroons and "hostile Africans that lived in and around the territory."37 In 1812, a. recruiting station was established on Bunce Island; cris led to long-term presence of west India Regiments in West Africa. In 1818,cheBritishgovernmentdecidedtogarrisonitsWestAfricancolonies with soldiers from its West India Regiments.38 In 1819, several companies of the Second West India Regiment were disbanded in the colony.


West Indidris inwest Af ricd,1808-1880: The Af i."an Diaspora in Reuer§e

The soldiers sent to Sierra Leone were on the verge of retirement. They served as protection for the colony and in the minds of colonial officials they also served as an example to the colony's African population.39 As Governor Maxwell stated in 1811, by mingling with Afucans, the soldiers "must, as a matter of course, in the common occurrences of life, communi-

cate some useful lmowledge to their countrymen, in the different branches of arts, necessary to it; and they could not fall to spread the fame of En-

gland, to an extent hrfuerto unknown in Africa; which might soon lead to consequences, equally important 8c beneficial to both."40 It is almost im-

possible to gauge the attitudes of these soldiers with regard to being settled in Sierra. Leone. Some of them may have welcomed the idea of returning to Africa, whereas others may have rejected the notion. Nonetheless, by 1826, these soldiers were seeded in the colony and Acting Governor Macaulay wrote that "they have been from the day of their disbandment enjoying all the privelegcs [rz.c] subject to all the penalties fulfilling au the demands of

personal service and pecuniary contributions of the common law of England in the same degree as every other dass of Colonists."4[

It is difficult to say what kind of impact and influence the regiments had on the population they encountered in Sierra Leone. First seeded in Freetown, in what became known as Soldier Town, they later settled in Hastings, Gibralta]. Town, Waterloo, York, Kent, and Wellington villages aroundFreetown.42ManyOfthemmarriedliberatedAfricanwomen,though some may have married other settlers or indigenous African women. Once disbanded,thesoldierseschewedanyfurthermilitaryservicc.Whenin1826 the governor of Sierra Leone complained that the commanding officer of the troops was attempting to rceulist members of the West India Regiments, Zachary Macaulay expressed concern at "the consequences which might ensue if he attempted to exercise what appeared to me so extraordinaryajurisdictionovermeninallrespeccscivilinhabitantsoftheColony."43

Macaulay's description of the way the soldiers lived illustrates how weu the retiredsoldiershadassimilatedinthecolonyandisworchquotingatlength: These disbanded men arc peaceable industrious wellbehavcd & loyal colo-

nists-they might be depended upon for any cmergeney or particular services-butbeingsettledin,tradeoragriculture-withtheirownhomes,families 8c connections they would not willingly become permanent soldiers again, or view wichouc much dissatisfaction any arrangements which they might think had that object in view The whole colony was thrown into a ferment last year by a malicious report that General Tuner intended to reimbody them, which was only quieted by his assuring them . . . that he

W:es¢ Indidris in sierra Leone


expected no more from them than from the other Inhabitants, and I have little doubt but this attempt of capt. Frascr if continued would have caused ric)t 8c bloodshed.44

Not everyone saw the beneflts to the soldiers of being disbanded in Africa. James MCQueen, in one of his frequent diatribes on Sierra Lcone, claimed that the soldiers had "retrograded to their former indolent and savage manner of life," and "like otlier African savages, have abandoned all matters of dress [going] completely naked."45 Though derogatory, MCQueen's descriptionoftheWestlndiansoldiersillustrateshowwelltheyhadadapted to their new life in Sierra Leone. The retired soldiers adapted themselves to thesocietytowhichtheycame,althoughtheyinitiallycreateddistinctcommunities sepaJ-ate from the rest of the setders. By the end of the nineteenth century, they had become part of the growing settler community. Slaves

The British government also used Sierra Leone as a pla.ce to settle recalcitrant slaves from its West Indian islands. Rebel slaves were transported to

Sierra Leone in the nineteenth century just like loyalist American slaves in the eighteenth. In January 1819, a number of slaves who had taken part in an 1816 rebellion in Barba.dos were convicted and deported. First sent to Honduras, they were later moved to Belize. Financial difficulties in maintaining them prompted the Earl of Bathurst to order their removal to Sierra Leone. Twenty-seven of them had died in, Belize and eight stayed there to be employed by the administration. Eighty-eight Barbadians left for Freetown, but three died cn route.46

When the eighty-five convicts arrived in the colony, Charles Maccarchy,thengovernor,assuredtheColonialOfficehewouldplacethem "in such a manner as appears to me best to promote your views, and render them useful to the Colony, as well as to themselves."47 Clearly, the Colonial Offlce hoped that Sierra Leone, with its tradition of receiving blacks from the West Indies, would be an ideal place for rehabilitating the i-€bellious slaves. Lord Bathurst did not believe this could be achieved in Belize because British settlers objected to the rebels' presence. He observed: "I feel but little disposition to place these Negroes in a situation in which they may be considered objects of general apprehension and as such may be deprived of all means of amendment or reform."48 Sierra Leone was, no doubt, seen as an ideal place for their reform. The earl was not disappointed.


West Indians invVIest Af rica,1808-1880: The Af rlcan Diaspora in Reverse

The colonial government employed the Barbadians mainly as laborers in public works. Initially they were restricted to certain areas in the colony, but soon their original sentences were remitted and those who had exhibited good behavior were granted other fivors. Governor Maccarthy was soon able to inform his home government that the conduct of the Barbadians deserved kindness and rewards, and he promised to remove the last of the restrictions that had been placed on them. From then on the Barbadians could move more freely around the colony.49 The Barbadians assimilated into the community, intermarried, readily found jobs and were evidently accepted by the local population. The jzayzz/ Gizzc#p for 12 June 1819 marked the anniversary of their arrival in Sierra Leone, claiming chat "we are happy to say, that, with a very few exceptions, theyhavehithertoshewedthemselvesdeservingoftheindulgentmanneria whieh they have been treated."50 Some of them became successful in the colony.CainDavisbeca.meavillagesuperintendent,SimonPriddymarricd a maroon woman, and Jacob Thomas was a publican who became qui[c wealthy, owning large amounts of.property and educating his sons in England.5[ In 1844 R. G. Butts, an emigration agent in the colony, reported that the Barbadians "appear to have been a haughty, proud set of men, industrious, sober and well-behaved, people, amassing money. "52 Although they achieved success and ultimately assimilated into the colony, the Barbadians for some time maintained a separate identity, and someofchemwerenotwhollycomfortablewithcheirlivesinSierraLeone.

In 1827, Commissioners James Rowan and Henry Wellington reported that though the Barbadians were happy, engaging in trade, agriculture, and other enterprises, they were not all satisfied: "Those of their number who havebeenconversedwith,seemedgenerallytobecontentedwiththeircondition, particularly the labouring class; but there was by no means that c/ccz.Jcczexpressionofsatisfactionwhichperhapsmanywouldhavecxpected from the change in their circumstances."53 Furthermore, in an 1841 petitiontheBarbadiansaskedthecolonialgovernmcntforpermissiontoreturn home.54Whatpromptedthisactionisunclearsincetherewasnoindication chat the Barbadians had been promised a return to the island when they weredeported.Thoseexiledin1816werenodoubtclassifiedas"badseed,"

which from an official point of view would have precluded their return before 1834, when slavery was abolished in the West Indies. The fi.ct that they had rebelled made it dangerous for them to remain in Barbados since planters assumed they would revolt again. In the eyes of the planters, the negative influence these insurrectionists would have on the sla.ve population had required their deportation. By 1841, however, slavery had been

West Indians insierrdLeone


abolished in Barbados, and the Barbadians in Sierra I.Cone, who had doubtless retained memories of the island, hoped to return there. The colonial government proposed Jamaica as an alternative, but the Barbadiansrefused,arguingtheywere"totallyignorantofthemannersand customs of that place."55 The reason the colonial administration was reluctart to send them back to Barbados is unclear, but the administration undoubtedlybelievedthatsendingex-rebelsbacktoBarbadoswouldprovoke objections from European settlers there.56 In addition the labor shortage crisis in Jamaica was just beginning, and officials probably hoped that the Barbadians would serve to alleviate the labor problems on that island. The colonial government eventually consented to the Barbadians' request and someofthemdidretumtoBarbados.57TheBarbadianswhoreturnedwere, no doubt, largely those who had been born in Barbados and had memories of the island. For the most part, the Barbadians and their descendants remained in Sierra Leone and assimilated easily into the community. Mi§Siondries

Another distinct group coming to Sierra Leone and its neighboring territories was composed of west Indian missiona]-ies.58 West ,Indian missionaries initially came to Africa as part of an effort to "regenerate" the continent. As men of African descent they were considered ideal candidates for such an endeavor. The sane sorts of argument used by those colonial administratorswhoadvocatedhiringblackofflcialswereusedbyproponemsofblack West Indian missions. However some Christian organizations, like the Church Missionary Society, objected to the use of blacks. Evidently the high mortality rate among white missionaries called for an alternative solution,forbytheearly1840stherewassomeenthusiasm"forNegroagentsas

the panacea for all Africa's ills." Mission societies preferred West Indians of mi2sed race to Afrcans because they found them easier to identify with, but this preference caused friction in the mission fields. There were frequent conflicts, not only between Europeans (who controlled the missions) and their West Indian subordinates, but also between West Indians and Africans, both settler and indigenous.60 In Africa, the local Rio Pongas chiefs "resented the ethnocentric and overbearing attitudes of the West Indians" and "preferred white Englishmen for the trade and prestige they would bring to their towns."6[ On the other hand, dissension between the West Indian missionaries and the Sierra Leonean setders was common. The discord between Willia.in S. Macaulay, a Sierra Leonean catechist and schoolmaster who had come to


Vmest Indians invmest Af rica,1808-1880: The Af i;can D;aspord in Reuer§e

Rio Pongas in 1867, and Rev. John Dupc)rt, a black West Indian missionary who had been put in charge of the Rio Pongas mission, illustrates this. The competition between West Indians and Sierra Leoncans led to accusations from both sides, culminating in the dismissal of Duport. According to Bela. Vassady, Duport's case "had brought to the surface an underlying

problem which apparently could not be avoided in the all West Indian staffcd Mission: the West Indians entrenched ch€mselves into positions of status within Afrcan society, and were reluctant to admit educated Africans intopositionswhichmightthreatentheirowninfluenceamongthepeople."62 Yet the relationship between West Indian missionaries and Africans, indigenous and settler, was not always contentious. Some, like J. R Frederick, a missionaryoftheAfricanMethodistEpiscopalchurch,enjoyedtherespcctof localsettlers,assimilatingeasilyandremaihinginSierraLeoneafterheretired.

Treder§ and Adrentwrer§ ManyblacksfromtheWestlndiescalnetochecolonyindependendy,either for business or personal reasons. These men did not come to Sierra Lcone under theauspicesoftheBriti;hcolonialadministration,thoughtheyweresubjectto its rules. Robert Dougan came to Sierra Leone early in the century as a mcrchant and later became active in the colony as a lawyer and official. He had cometothecolonyindependentlyandwasamerchantinthefirmofKenneth Macaula:yandanindependentbusinessman.63Whencolonialofficialssuggested turning the colony over to merchants, Dougan was one of the few merchants whoobjectedtosuchanaction.InalettertoGovemorFindlayhewrote: It appears to me from what I have observed to be the general wish of all classes, that this Colony should always have its Governor appointed by the Crown, but that in every other respect, it might safely and beneficially be left to its own resources, the British Government of course making an an-

nual provision for the payment of the Govemor's salary and of buildings for the defense of the Colony, this idea contemplates that beyond the Governor no other civil appointment should take place except within the Colony, and further that the navigation laws of great Britain be rendered inoperative . . . the trade of this colony consequendy would be considerably enlarged, Individuals [f!.c] of other nations possessing means of speculation would then become residents, and numerous sources in which the industry of the population at large might be also profitably employed.64

Dougan argued that abandoning the colony would destroy all the benefits it had derived from Crown administration. Giving over administration to

Wast India:in insierrd Leone


merchants, he believed, would set back the condition of the liberated Africans and subject them to the same ldnd of bondage from which they had been rescued.65

Dougan'spleaswerethoseofamanwithmuchinvestedinthecolony, both personally and financially. He saw the pecuniary benefits of opening thecolonyuptosuccessfulmen,likehimself,fromothcrcountries.Dougan also saw some benefit to himself. He was, doubtless, aware of Murray's decision to experiment with the hiring of blacks in high positions. Being one of a small number of qualified men in the colony, he was sure to be considered for such an appointment. Although, as a merchant, he might have benefitted from the abandonment of the colony, a position within the colonialgovernmentwasmoreprestigious.YetDougan'sconcernswerenot completely self-serving. His wife, Ann, was of Nova Scotian extraction, he had lived in the colony for many years, and he probably could not have returned to his native island in the West Indies. Dougan also had a strong interest in the welfare of the liberated Africans. Like many New World blacks, he was a strong opponent of slavery and believed the mixed commission courts in Sierra. Leone were necessary in the continuing effort to extinguish the slave trade. He believed that abandoning the colony would bedetrimentaltothisobjective.Thecolonywasnotabandoned,andDougan later became a. part of its administration. CharlesHazelborgandCharlesClintonwerebuilderswhoestablished themselves in Freetown during the 1850s. They received government construction contracts.66 In 1857, they requested the use of liberated Africans as apprentices who could be trained as artisans. The two men asked for ten totwelveboys,assertingthattheboyswouldbenefitfrc>mtheirapprenticeships. They also asked that the period of apprenticeship be for five yeaj-s to ensure that the boys would not leave before having learnt their trade. Hazelborg and Clinton's request implied a need for more skilled persons in

the colony, and the two builders wanted to share their expertise with the African boys. They anticipated two results-to give the boys a skill and to provide the colony with more skilled residents. Governor IIill thought it was a good idea because "in a community like this it is desirable to give every encouragement that may lead to a permanency in the settlement of skilled Mechanics, or that may tend to raise up from the Natives and the Liberated Africans such a class of persons." Nevertheless, he expressed concern that agreeing to such a request mighe revive the system of indentured labor that liberated Africans had been subject to in the eady days of their settlement in the colony68 Hill suggested that an exception might be madehere,"onaccountofchebenefitswhichwouldtherebyaccruetoyouths


West Irididns in vVle§t Af rica,1808-1880: The Af rican Dia§pord in Reverse

ofthatdass,andbecausethepaucityofskilledMechanicsrendersthechoice of the Government and of Individuals very limited when any work of im-

portance has to be undertaken by Contract." TheColohialOfficeapprovedtherequestofHazelborgandClinton, butmadeitcleartheliberatcdAfricanswerenotallowedtoleavethecolony, anunnecessarycautionsinceitseemsthetwomenhadagenuineinterestin the improvement of the colony and in the welfare of the liberated Africans.70 The men had made their home in Sierra Leone and had a vested interestinthecolony'ssuccess.In1856,CharlesHazelborgbecaneanacuralized citizen of the colony, and it is unlikely he ever returned to the West Indies.7t He was one of many men of west Indian origin who remained in Sierra. Leone.

Conclusion By the 1840s there was a thriving West Indian population in the colony. Retired soldiers, adventurers, and missionaries created identities for themselves in Sierra Leone and added to the diversity of the colony. Some of them continued to maintain ties with the islands they had left behind. Although some West Indians sought to leave the colony, it was less because they were dissatisfied with their lives than because they had memories of their past in the West Indies. Those who sought to return may have left familiesbehindintheWestlndies.However,manyWestlndianswerecontent to stay in Freetown. For them, Sierm Leone could not have been very different from the islands from which they came. The colony was finiliar, not only in terms of its physical climate but also in terms of its Creole or mixed cultural milieu. The maroons, Barbadians, and even disba.nded soldiers initially retained their identities as maroons, Barbadians, and ]amaicansandhopedtoretumtotheislands.Theseidentitieserodedoverseveral generations as the maroons and others became part of the growing settler population in the colony. In the nineteenth century these West Indians assimilated easily into the emerging society. Some intermarried with Africans,bothindigenousandsettler,whifeotherswereactiveinthesocialand

political fife of the colony, championing the cause of its inhabitants. However, this group of west Indians was distinct from those who canetothecolonylater.Thoughmissionaries,soldiers,andindividualWest Indiansinthecolonyweresubjecttoitslaws,theyexercisedmoreautonomy over their actions than the West Indians who came to take up positions in the colonial government. Arguably, the assimilation of the earlier arrivals

W:esp lndiam insierrd Leone


into the settler society was easier, and they were, perhaps, more readily accepted by the westernized sender population since they posed no threat or challenge. On the other hand, West Indian administrators faced more challengesinbeingacccptedbythew€sterhizedsettlerpopulation,whosemembers saw themselves as suited for the positions held by the newly aJ-rived

West Indians. Perhaps the manner in which West Indians were hired, together with the class of west Indians was the source of tension between West India.ns in office and settlers in the colony. A look at the circumstances in which they were hired and the individuals who were hired is, therefore, warranted.


In 1833, Governor Findlay's replacement, Michael Melville, recommended thcappointmentofwilliamFergussonandRobertDouganasmembersof the colony council.I Both were men of color, and both were West Indians. InMelville'ssuggestion,weseetheemergenceofwhatwastobecomeColonial policy for some years. The fact that Dougan and Fergusson were of African descent was significant. The fact that they were West Indians becameevenmoreimportant,sinceWestlndianswereviewedasdistinctfrom other blaclrs in the colony. Often referred to or classified in the census as "Europeans,"cheyw€reperceivedasaclassaboveAfricans.FromtheColo-

nial Office's point of view, they were the solution to the climate's effects on Europeans in Sierra Leone. They were also the solution to British colonial problems in the West Indies. ThereluctanceofqualifiedEuropeanstoacceptpositionsinSierraLeone forced the Colonial Office to look elsewhere to fill its posts in Sierra Leone. Thoughitcouldhavelookedtothecolonyitself,wheresomepositionsmight have been filled by Africans, it looked instead to the West Indies. There are manyreasonswhytheColonialOfficedecidedtobringblacksfromtheBritish West Indian islands to Sierra I.Cone, not all of them related to Sierra Leone's needs.TheBritishadmihistrationhadprecedentsfortransportingblacksfrom the West Indies to Africa. Migration from the West Indies to Sierra Leone, if not common, was not unusual. Furthermore, the events unfolding in the west IndiesduringthisperiodmadethepossibhityoffillingpositiousinSierraLcone withWestlndiansveryattractive.The1830sand1840ssawfreeblacksinthe islandsagitatingforpolitical'representation.TheColonialOfficerealizedthat


British coloninl policy: Sierra I.Cone andw;est Indies


it could solve some of its problems by hiring West Indians to fill positions in

other parts of the empire. Afrca was a perfect choice, not only because West Indians were believed to be better suited to the climate than Europeans, but also because British administrators believed West Indians could serve as examples of civilizaticin to Africans.

ThischapterlooksathowtheBritishpohicyofhiringWestlndiansto fill positions in Sierra Leone was directly linked to its West India polity. WiuianGreenhasarguedthat"BritishactioninWestAfricainthedecades beforel850wasdictatedverylarg€lybywestlndianrequirements."2Thoug]i Green makes cris argument about the transportation of liberated Africans from West Africa. to the West Indies, it is clear that concerns about discontent in the West Indian colonies also prompted British officials to consider linking the policies of their West Indian and WestAfrican colonies. In this attempt to meet the demands of an increasingly discontented population in the West Indies, colonial officials found a solution in Africa. Moreover, the British colonial government was also able to address the problem of Euro-

pean mortality in West Africa.

\X/est Indian Employment: in Sierra Leone Black West Indians had always found opportunities in Sierra Leone's colonialestablishment.Asearlyas1818theBarbadianThomasCarew,aformer employee of the Sierra Leone Company, became the mayor of Freetown, the first in a series of west Indian blacks to work in an administrative position within the colony.3 William Fergusson cane to Sierra Leone in 1813.4 Thomas Macfoy was a village superintendent in 1819 and was later appointed police magistrate and mayor.5 Blacks had also been proposed as recruits for the military to solve the problem of the high mortality rates of European soldiers in Africa.6 In 1826, the Colonial Office considered a recommendation that blacks be allowed to serve in the lower grades of the Royal African Corps. In 1827, Governor John Keane of Jamaica recommended Wiuiam Smellie, a clerk in Jamaica, as a candidate for the Royal African Corps. Smellie was sent to England, but before he arrived, the Colonial Office abandoned the idea. of hiring him as a commissioncd officer.7 Rather than allowing Smellie to go home to a discontented peer group the Colonial Offlce sent him to Sierra Leone, where he arrived in 1829, as an ensign in the Royal African Corps. He later went to Fernando Po.8 Smellie later left under a cloud of controversy, accused of embezzling the king's stores. He was to go before a military tribunal but no trial took


Vmc§t Indians in vmc§l Af ir;an,1808-1880: TIN Af iricnrl D;ns|om in Rcucr§o

place. On 12 May 1832, Smellie asked to resign from the corps, citing his health as a reason.9 Colonial officials, realizing they could not prosecute

hin,allowedSmellietoresign.Hisreplacement'sraceisunknown,butone can speculate on the impact Smellie's alleged misconduct had on Colonial OfficepolicyanditsconsiderationofblackWestlndians.NofurtherWest lndianwashiredtoanocherpositioninthecorporthecolonyunul1840.'° Whether Smellie's case affected the future employment of west Indians in civilian posts is unclear, but the Colonial Office was stiu reluctant to hire blacks in the civil establishment of the colony. Those West Indians employed in the late 1820s and early 1830s were not hired as a result of a specificpolicybursimplybecausetheywerecapableoffillingpositionsina colonywheretherewasashortageofqualifiedindividuals.Melvilleclearly recommended Fergusson and Dougan because they were qualified. Their West Indian ethnicity became sighiflcant later, but in the 1830s and 1840s

thcemploymentofwestlndianswassinplypositcdasasolutiontoinmediate personnel problems in Sierra Leone.

InJanuary1826,GovemorTumerrccommendedtheemploymentof blacks from the West Indies. Concerned about the condition of liberated Africans in villages surrounding the colony, the governor noted the need for better organization. Beca.use of poor land, liberated Africans were leavingthesevillagesinsearchofsustcnanceandbetterlivingconditions.Tul.ner believedthatifagriculturecouldbeimprovedinthevillages,thisproblem would be solved, and he suggested that twelve superintendents from the West Indies, with experience in cultivating coffee and cotton, be hired. Thesesuperintendentsweretobe"menofcolor,...broughttochiscolony forthepurposeofinstructingtheseliberatedAfricans,andforsuperintending such plantations."t] This would lead to the colony's improvement as there were no qualified Africans available, and Europeans "cannot accomplishsuchobjectshere.''[2Thegovcmorsuggestedcontactinggovernorsof West Indian islands "to select and engage at suitable salaries coloured men of the above description." In 1828, as mentioned before, W]illiam AIlen advocated hiring blacks in Sierra Leone.]4 He defended Sierra Leone from the many attacks it faced from critics, declaring tha.t the British Crown should look to blacks to solve the problem of high mortality ra.t€s among Europeans. He advised against making Sierra Leone a military station because "the employment of white troops while it involves a great destructionoflifeandavastexpensewmbefoundoninqulrynotabsolutelynecessary but that every purpose might be answered by the People of colour whoseconstitutionsareinuredtotheclinateandwhoconsiderthemselves, underthedirectionofGovernmentascompetenttotheirownprotection."'5

Br;tish colonial polity: Sierra Leone and west Ind;e§


The colony:s 1829 roster of blacks in office listed seven men. Three


¥:c=u:I:j:;=tj:di:£rirs:i:::I:eH:£ij:;da'alasom:::ehd=:'ve=£:£r£Cjtn°ri: capacityofking'sadvocate.I.T.Maj-prwasawriterinthecolonialsecretary's offlceandpaymastertotheSierraLeonemilitia..'7T.H.Parkerwasapolice magistrate. These men, au West Indians, had come to Sierra Leone inde-

pendentlyandcapitalizedonthedearthofpeoplequalficdtolioldhigher positions within the colony. They were employed, however, at the discretionoflocalgovemorsratherthanaspartofBritishcolonialpolicy. InchewakeofMunay'sannouncementchathewouldfiuofficialpositionsinSiemLeonewichmenfromtheWestlndies,manyWcs[Indian blacksappliedforpositionsinSierraLeone.However,theyhadlittlesuccess in getting inportant official positions unless, like Dougan and

:reereT£:fne,]F:::;::e¥:eeafya:e£::g|[onnFaleacfo]:Ts,:aDu€os:1::tt¥cu[;I::,::E: West Indians to flu positions within the colony. In July 1830, William Fergusson applied for "general employment" in Siem Leone and, in Ills application,alludedtothecolonialgovemment'sintentionstohiremenof color for ciul administrative positions. Fergusson had been employed in SicrraI.eoneassurgeonintheRoyalAfricanCorpssince1813.TheColonial Office seemed reluctant, to take his application seriously. A minute writtenontheletterbyGeorgeMumysugges[edthatofficialswereuncleaI as to pfccisely how Fergusson wanted to be hired. Alchough it is triie Fergussondidnotapplyforaspecificposition,hisapplication,comingso soonafterthesecretayofstate'sproposaltohireblacks,couldnoteasilybe misconstrued.OnecanonlyassumethatMurraywasskirtingtheissueof blackemployment.FcrgussonobviouslysoughtapositionwitlincheSierra Leoneciulservice,buttheColonialOfficewasstiuuncleara.boutwhereit wantedtoplaceblackewithinthecolony'sgovemmentstructure."

throu#o::!eY:;::,:uan=:;;eoa:p=iennt:a;:I::per::apdi,:iiodusn:,sieer:esE::: anyspecificBritishpoliey:Murray'sproposaltohireblackswasshelvedandnot taken up undi later. The question of hinng blacks for high office in Sierra

I.eonecontinuedtobecontroversial.Therewel-ediflincesofopinonanong officials in England and in the colony. VAen the queen's advocate died in 1837,GovemorDohertyproposedtha.tthecolorialadinistrationlookto Tanalca for suitable candidates for positions in Sierra L€one. The Colonial



Vme5t Indians invwe§t Af rlca,1808-1880: The Af rlcdn Didspom in Reuer§e

ably be able to encounter without risk a climate so dangerous to the English condtution."2°Twoyearslateranepidemicoffeverravngedthecolony,anda nunberofEuropeancolonists,includingthechicfjustice,died.2[Concemfor thenunberofEuropeansbeinglostrodiseasewasrenewed. UndersecrctaryofStateJamesStephenrevivedMuray'sdecisiontohire blackeforhighpositionswhenin1839hep[oposedchehiringofwestlndians forofficialpositionsinAfrica.Colonialgovemmentofficialsagainciteddisease as the most inportant reason for the high death rates among whites in Sierra Lcone. As mortality rates among Europeans continued to rise, Stephen sug-

gested hiring West Indians because they were deemed more adaptable to the climate and less prone to tropical diseases. Picldng up on Doherty's earlier suggestion, Stcphen argued: "It has long since appeared to me that the only propermodeofchoosingpublicofficersatSierraLeonewouldbethatofdesiring the governors of the West India colonies to select, if possible, persons of adequate education etc. from amongst the inhabitants of those colonies of African descent.22 In 1842 Stephen "suggested chat the best alternative to the

parliamentary proposal to abandon the Gambia and the Gold Coast was to place them `exclusively in the hands of Mulattoes or Negroes from the West Indies."23 This is argunbly the point at which the decision to employ West Indians became official colonial polity. Cleady the disease environment, more than anything else, demanded that blacks, specifically West Indian blacks, be consideredforhigherofficialpositionsinSierraLeone.

In filling the vacant position of queen's advocate, the Colonial Office looked for a man of color. Robert Dougan, the West Indian lawyer who had actedinthepositionseveraltimesbefore,appliedfortheposition.Inassessing his applicndon, the Crown considered Dougan's race and adaptability to the climate as significant factors: "The person now recommended is Mr. Dougan whopossessescherecommendationofbeingaMulatto-anunequivocaladvantageinthiscaseasitdiminishesverygreadytherisksofchechmate.''24The fact that Dougan had acted in this position several times before, and he was perhapschemostqualifiedcandidatefortheposition,wasirrelevant.Instead, the sentiment expressed was that there was little choice. The Colonial Office decided that since "no English, Scotch or Irish I.awyer will go to Sierra Leone untilhehasascertalnedthathehasnottheslightestchanceofsuccessathome inanyreputablecallingwhichisbutabadrecommendationforaconfidential employment abroad," it would look to West Indians to fill such positionsi.25

JolmCarr,sentoutin1840asqueeusadvocate,wasthefirstAfro-Westlndian officialhiredunderthisnewcolohialpolicy.26Thatsameyear,WmamFergusson, long resident in the colony, was appointed to the colony's council. Clearly, by 1840 the British government was committed to a pattern, if not a policy, of

Br;ti§h colonial polity: Siam Leone and w:est Indies


appointingWestlndianstoofficialpositionsinSierraLeone.Thoughthemain argument for employing West Indians was chat they were best suited to the disease environment of sierra I.Cone, other factors were also considered. These reasons lay in Bridsh West Indian policy.

The West Indian Islands, 1820-1850 Colonial Office interest in recruiting West Indians for positions in Sierra Leonebetween1820and1850warrantssomespeculation,giventhepolitical climate and state of race re'lations in many Britishwest Indian colonies at this time. The decision to bring in West Indians from outside the colony of Sierra Leone can be interpreted as a maneuver by the colonial government, linked to British colonial policy in its West Indian possessions. To fullyunderstandwhycheBritishadoptedthishiringpattem,andtounderstand the men chosen, we must look to the West Indian islands. A look at the kind of men hired for positions in Sierra Leone is also warranted.Whowerethesemen?Whatweretheirsocialbackgroundandeducation?Whatqualificationsdidcheyhaveforthepositionstheyheld?Whydid theycometoSierraLeone?ThepolidcalexdusionOfthefreecoloredpopulationintheWcstlndiesduringthisperiodsuggestschattheysoughtaltematives totheirmarginahizationandthattheBridshCrownrespondedtotheirdiscontent by looking to its African colonies, in this case Sierra Leone, as a place to "exile"thepoliticalmalcontents.ThoughnctneofthemenwhocamctoSierra Leone can be identified clearly as "agitators» in their native islands, they were

part of a group that sought political equality in the West Indies. The eady nineteenth century was a period of heightened political mobilization among the free black population in Jamaica. The period preceding the abolition of.slavery in 1834 saw educated blacks' increasing desire to participate in the political process in the West Indian islands. This furlywell-to-do,relativclyprivilegedgroupbegantopushformorepartici-

pation in the political process on the various West Indian island, and their dissatisfaction was, no doubt, one reason the colonial government looked to them to fill positions in West Africa. The government eliminated many of the existing problems between whites and nonwhites in the West Indies by giving its educated blacks and coloreds appointments elsewhere in the colonial system. By looking at the racial politics of Jamaica and Trinidad, two of the more important Ca]-ibbean islands, we are able to see how British administrators manipulated events in Sierra Leone and the Caribbean their own advantage.


Wlest lndiam in vme§t Af ricd,1808-1880: The Af rlan Diapora in Reuer§e

When Murray announced his decision to hire qualified West Indians, Jamaica was still a slave society with the bulk of its nonwhite population oppressed. The free nonwhite population was small and subject to much restriction.27 Nevertheless, some members of the colored population en-

joysdsomeprivflegesandcouldapplyforcertainconcessionsonthegrounds thattheywerebaptizedAnglicans.Thesewereusuallypropertiedmen,educated abroad, and "would be granted, through private acts, the rights of personsbomofwhiteparent§`withcertainrestrictions'."28Somefrcecoloreds

owned property bequeathed to them by white fathers. Others owned small plantations. Many were overseers, bookkeepers, artisans, clerks, tradesmen, and schoolmasters, and some owned businesses. By the early nineteenth century, "these coloreds and blacks were steadily taking the place of the lower and middle-class whites in the towns, in the mechanical trades, and in jobs like piloting boats around the coast.''29

Jamaica was a stratified society, with whites invariably looking down onblacksofanyhue.Eachgroupha.dasocialsphereofitsown.Freecoloreds didnotgotoplacesofentertainmentreservedforwhites,andchurchesand theaters were segregated. There were, of course, exceptions. The fact that a freecoloredpopulationexistedrevealsthatblacksandwhitesintcrmingled.30 Manyofthefreecoloredswereloyalcitizens,andtheyacceptedtheirsta.tus Within the society.31

Yet not all nonwhites in Jamaica accepted the status quo. Many protestcd their situation and were rewarded with some concessions.32 In 1830, free blacks and coloreds in Jalnalca were given a restricted franchise. Yet, theystillcouldnotsitinthecolony'sassemblyorincouncil,andcheycould not fill public offices unless they were qualified to vote.33 In November 1830. free blacks and coloreds in Jamaica were given all the rights chat their white counterparts had, and in the post-1830 period began to hold public office., Nevertheless, though "brown men and a few blacks won seats to the House of Assembly after 1830, the people of color continued to feel the effects of segregation and discrimination in post-emancipation ]arnalca."34

Tririided Trinidad,likeJamaica,underwentmajortransitionsintlieearlynineteenth century. After the abolition of slavery in 1834, the main concern of the colohialgovemmentwastoimprovetheconditionofthenewlyfreedslave population. The colorcds, therefore, found themselves in a position that

Br.Iti§h colonial polly: Sicrm Leone and lw:e§t Indies


one historian has described as "a limbo of security in which conventions of socialintercoursebetwcentheclasseswcreshiftinganduncertain,inwhich theyweresensitivetorealorimagincdslights,aNo-man'slandwherethey were exposed to crossfire from both sides."35 During the period of slavery, chosewichEuropeananc€stryhadenjoyedsomeadvantagesoverpureblacks md slaves. When slavery ended, all were legally free, ancl the unique position of the coloreds disappeared, leaving many not knowing where they belonged.36

LikeJanaica,Trinidadwasasocietydividedbynationality,ethnicity, race, education, and economic position. Nonwhites and whites interacted in some spheres-economic and social-but for the most part the ra.ces were separate. Whites controlled the law and the goverrment. Coloreds and middle-class blacks aspired to European culture, which was a major determinant of mobility within the society: Adherence to European cur ture, however, did not preclude race consciousness or pride in African ancestry.37

Education was an important factor in the elevation of the status of blacks and coloreds in Trinidad. They could not vote and had little if any govemmcnt representation. Education, however, was an impc)rtant means of social progress. The educational system "exercised a powerfu influence on social development," offering "opportunities, however limited, for mobility,foranescapefromtheharshlyrestrictedworldofthemanuallaborcr, and thus . . . an opportunity rfuac was grasped by colored and black families."38 Members of the colored population could be found in trades and professions: they were teachers, journalists, editors, doctors, and lawyers.

LawycrslikeJohnCarrandAlexanderFitzjames"formedanimportantand articulateelementincheblackandcoloredmiddleclass,andtheyprovided potitical leadership to the group."39

British West India Policy Thoughpowerlessinmanyrespects,thecoloredgroupwasveryactivewitbin the colonies. Among them were many so-called agitators, who protested their powerlessness and disenfranchisement. Between 1820 and 1850, free blacks and coloreds in the West Indies, especially those educated abroad, were highly dissatisfied with their status. They were particularly discontented with their position in societies where segregation and color barriers existed.The€arlynineteenthcenturysawsomechangewithlegislationallowing for economic advancement and a wider choice of occupations for


VVle§t Indians invmest Af i;cli,1808-1880: The Af rican Dinspom in Reuer§e

some, but blacks and coloreds, for the most part, were still excluded from public offices.40 By 1829, free coloreds in both Trinidad and Jamaica had been made the legal equal of whites but despite their advancement and

political pal-ticipation they still faced discrimination. Even blacks in the colonyofsierraLeonewereawareoftheinequitiesnonwhitesintheislands faced. In a 1832 petition to Governor Findlay, black settlers complained of discrimination within their own colony, maintaining that "there is a feeling

growing stronger, and stronger, against us as people of color, similar to the prejudicechathassolongcxistedintheWestlndialslands.''4[Thoughthe colonial government was aware of their grievances, and the inequities they faced,itsulldidnottakedirectactionwithregardtothecoloredpopulation. The1830swereyearsofheightenedpoliticalmobilizationamongthe colored and black population in the West Indies. Like the black setders in Sierra Leone, nonwhites frequently sent out petitions, and threats of militancyamongsomeofthemwereevident.42Sincemanyofthemhadunivcrsity degrees from Britain or France, it was disappointing to be relegated to minor positions within the colonial government. They felt qualified to fill more important positions and believed they were intellectually superior to manywhiteofficials.43AsinSierraLeone,manycoloredsfoundthemselves excluded from significant positions in the colonial establishment, and they therefore eschewed the civil service and opted for other occupations. The 1830s and 1840s saw some privileges being granted to blacks and coloreds in Jamaica and Trinidad.44 Though given some legal rights, men of color found it virtually impossible to obtain important civil positions.Thereweresomegovernorswho,forwhateverreason,wereamenable to hiring blacks and coloreds. Governor Sligo, who came to Jamaica in 1834, sought the alliance of coloreds on the island by attempting to hire them. However, in Jamaica, unlike Siem Leone, the power of the governor was limited, and he was subserviem to the assembly.45 Because of Colonial Office resistance and the size of the colonial administration, Sligo faced difficulty in making appointments. Nevertheless, he did succeed in hiring some coloreds.46 Ironically, Sligo used an argument popular among those who favored hiring blacks in Sierra Leone-he cited the inhospitable climateofJamalcaforwhites.47Nonetheless,theseconcessionswerenotenough for the free coloreds, who felt slighted by the colonial government and continued their agitation.48 Not surprisingly, the white population in Jamaica felt threatened by the colored population, "because they were potential rebels in disguise."49 To avoid offending local whites, colonial administrators, both in Britain

13rltislJ C;olonial polly: Sierra Lcone andwest Indies


andinthecolonies,feltthattheparticipationofnonwhitesshouldbegradual. A few appointments were made to pacify the coloreds.50 In Britain also, colonial officials were biased in favor of the planter interests.51 Faced with increasing dissatisfaction among its colored population, the Colonial Office sought to encourage them to look elsewhere for opportunities. West Indians could therefore be found residing in England and in ocher British colonies. The period between 1830 and 1860 saw black and colored West lndiansfrequentlybeingsenttoSierraLeonetofillgovemmentpositions. William Smeme's appointment to Sierra Leone, for example, was directly linked to Bi.irish West Indian policy. Barred from opportunities in their native islands, many West Indians sought positions elsewhere, where their qualificationsandskillscouldbebetterused,andoptedtotakepositionsin Africa. This was facilitated by their allies in England.

Sierra Leone and \X/est Indian Policy JanesStephenhasbeencreditedwithshapingmuchoftheColonialOffice's policyintheperiodbetween1813and1847.52Stephenstronglyinfluenced chemovementtoendcheslavetrade.Accordingtoonehistorian,"Stephen was perhaps the most powerful intellect of the British abolition movement, and . . . for some thirty years he had a decisive influence on the movement]s

pohicy.»53ItisclearStephenhadahumanitaI-ianinterestinthecolonyand in the condition of blacks generally and believed, unlike many of his contemporaries, in black capability. Stephen was aware of the situation in Ta-

maica and Trinidad, and he saw an opportunity to solve the problems of blackdiscontentintheWestlndiesandEuropeanmortalityinWestAfrca all at once. With regard to Stephen's views of west Indian employment in Africa, one historian has noted the following: "[t]hat he did not regard the •whitemanasanessential,norperhapsevenasadesirable,partoftheintroduction of `civilisation' to Africa, is clear from his attitude to the employment of west Indians in Sierra Leone."54 And so he encouraged the em-

ployment of West Indians in Sierra Leone. The colonial govemment's decisiontoreplaceEuropeansinSierraLeonewithWestlndianswas,therefore, linked to events in the West Indies.55 Stephen's suggestion was not new. There were continuing debates within the British colonial system about how its African colonies should be governed. Many proposals were made to the British Crown as to the form of government to be implemented in Africa and as to who could best gov-


Tmcst Indians inweiest Af rica,1808-1880: The jif ecdn Diaspora in RIuer§e

emtheAfricancolonies.ManyarguedthatAfricanscouldderivegreatbeneflts from exposure to westernized, Christian blacks.56 The argument that New World blacks could serve as examples to their less fortunate or less "civilized" Afucan brechrcn was common in the eighteenthandnineteenthcenturies.Itwasfrequendyespousedbyhunanitarians in Europe and America, and it was adopted by New World blacks themselves. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, New world blacke'

perceptions of ,Africa were framed by the negative images and stereotypes espousedbytheircaptors.Duringtheperiodoftheslavetradeandintothe nineteenthcentury,Africawasdepictedasaplaceofsavagcryanddarkness. Blacks in the New World internalized the belief that they were more privileged than their counterparts in Africa, and although many West Indians felt a racial affinity to Africans, they saw themselves as culturally distinct.57 They believed this difference was a result of their exposure to Christianity; Some West Indians came to Sierra Leone with the intent of exposing AfricanstoWestemcivilizationandChristianity.TheyviewedindigenousAfrican cultures as inferior and saw themselves as missionaries, both spiritual andcultural.NewWorldblacks"consideredthemselvespeculiarlysuitcdto the task of uplifting and civilizing those Africans who had never left their native shores."58

When William Fergusson applied for the position of second surgeon in Sierra Leone, he acknowledged that he was sent there on the recommendation of the African Institution as part of a civilizing mission to Africa. The African Institution recommended Fergusson because its members believed that-"an educated person of color might be of service in the colony particulady in intercourse with the natives."59 Fergusson also put forth his own ideas with respect to his duty to Africa: It appears to me that educated persons of color can . . . be of much [more]

service in Africa clan Europeans-similarity of color, with ordinary abilities, and common integrity is as I have found a sure and steady passport to the confidence and good wishes of the people . . . and educated persons of color appearing there in respectable situations will I am convinced have a good influence on the moral tone 8c feeling of the colonists generally as many of them have it now in their power to give their children a European

educationrdnd they may be more inclined to do so from seeing that the common outlet for scientific and intellectual knowledge [is] no longer a sealed book but [is] available even unto them.60

The persuasive argument that Africans would beneflt from contact with blacks from the New World was common among other West Indians in Sierra Leone. The argument fitted in with the nineteenth-century conver-

British colonial polity: Sierra I.Cone andw:est Indies


sionist and imperial idea that exposure to Western education and values was best for Africans.6] West Indians in office also embraced this idea and

many adopted such a stance in their interaction with African populations, particularly with respect to African involvement in the slave trade.

West Indians jn Office, 7 840-1860 By the middle of the ninetcench century, the Colonial Office found itself in the position of having to fill positions in Sierra Leone for which there was a shortage of qualified candidates. Though ethnicity and race were significant factors in hiring, qualifications were also important. By 1840 the British colonial administration had more or less adopted a polity of hiring West Indians for official positions in Sierra Leone. In fact, some officials linked the poliey to the emigration scheme.62 In 1840, Lord John Russell

expressed the opinion that "on the one hand, men of African birth who have been trained in civilization and instructed in Christianity in Jamaica or Barbados would be the best teachers of the Negro race in Africa itsel£on the other hand the miserable subjects of an African chief might acquire in Jamaica, Trinidad, or Guiana, competent means, the knowledge of true Religion and the arts of Social Life."63 In other words, there could be an exchange of Africans between the Old World and the New, which would benefit all parties concerned, not least the British Crown. Unquestionably, British policies in Sierra Leone and in the West Indies were connected. In the wake of Stephcn's suggestion and Russell's statement, there was a surge in applications from black West Indians for positions in Sierra Leone. Between 1840 and 1860, West Indians were regularly appointed to positions in Sierra Leone. The 1840s and 1850s can be seen as the high

point of west Indian employment in the colony. One after the other, West Indians came in to replace dying and outgoing Europeans. Governor John Jeremie died in the colony less than a month after taking up his appointment in 1841.64 In July 1841, a certain Mr. Lecesne wrote to Lord John Russell at the Colonial Office, blaming the adverse climate for the death of the governor. He stressed the importance of hiring "chat class of persons whose constitutions better fit them to withstand its [the dimate's] effects" andsuggestedthatblacksfromcheWestlndiesandfromAfricawith"competent qualifications" be hired whenever they could be found.65 In 1841, when the European surveyor general and engineer died, the Colonial Office investigated the possibility of hiring a qualified West Indian black. No one could be found in England who was willing to go, and


W;e§¢ Indians inv«e§t Af irica,1808-1880: The Af irlonn Dinspom in Rcuer§e

the job was offered to Benjamin Scott, a black man living in Jamaica.66 In 1842 Colonel Doherty, defending the colony against negative reports, ar-

gued that blacks "should be employed by Government when it can be done withoutlesstotheService."67HespecificallyrecommendedFergusson,who was then administering the government. By the 1850s, many high-level positions within the colony were held

by West Indians. In 1859, when the white governor of the colony went on leave, "all the Council but the bishop and Colonial Surgeon were of partAfrican descent."68 Three of the four were West Indians. A profile of these West Indians in Sierra Leone shows them to be privileged, educated, professional men, usually of mixed race (classified as "coloured" in the West Indian islands). William Fergusson was of mixed

descent, born of a Scottish father and a mother of African descent, and he had been educated in Europe. These West Indians were men with limited opportunity for growth or advancement in their native islands where many could not be hired in significant official positions. They could be found residing in London at prestigious addresses, perhaps working or living off incomes from plantations or estates on the islands or in Europe. Others were employed in derkships and other subordinate positions within the colonial administration on the islands.

John Smyth came to Sierra Leone, having held the position of inspector of prisons in Antigua.69 Smyth was also a member of the legislative assembly in Antigua and a Justice of the peace.70 J. T. Commissiong came to the colony, in 1850 as couector of customs, from his position as a landing waiter and second clerk to the collector of customs in Grenada. In addition, he had been the landing surveyor in St. Lucia and collector of customs in Tobago before being hired for his position in Sierra Leone.7[ Some West Indians used the system of patronage within the Colonial Office. Some of them had influential fathers, either European or of mixed race, who assisted in securing positions for them. Joseph Eugene Dillett, from the Bahamas, was recommended by his fi.ther, Stephen.72 The secretary of state,. in turn, recommended that Dillett should be hired in Sierra

Leone. Dillett went to Sierra Leone and worked in the merchant firm of Effenhausen and Nagel. Within months, the governor commended Dillett for his "gendemanly deportment, and extreme rectitude of conduct, since his arrival in this Colony" and went on to assure the home government that Dillett would be hired as soon as there was a vacancy in a government position for which he was suited. 73 Governor Macdonald went on to express regret "that this Colony does not possess more young men of color, as deserving of patronage and support as Mr. Dillett."74 Dillett was subse-

British colonial policy: S;cm Leone and west Indies


quently hired as a writer in the colonial secretary's office, where he became famous for his role in the fateful expedition to Malaghea.75

Tyrell Mildmay and Wilham Musgrave Shervington were brothers who cane to Sierra Leone from Antigua in the 1850s through the good nameoftheirdeceasedfather,TyreuShervington.LiketheirEuropeancounterparts, they relied on the pa.tronage system, producing strong references andpointingtoaninfluentialfachcr.Inapplyingforthepositionof.queen's advocate, Tyrell Shervington characterized himself as ayoungmanofcolor[,]anadveofthelslandofJintiguainthcWestlndies, and the son of the late Honorable Tyrell Shervington, a local Baron of the Corm of Exchequer in chat Island, and whose name has received honorable mention from the several Governors of that Island, viz. from the late GovernorhisExcelleneySirEvanMCGregorin1834,fromSirCharlesFitzRoyin

1842, and from His ExcellencyJames Macaulay Higginson in 1848, to the Several Secretaries of state between those periods. While I consider it due to

myselftobringtheforegoingparticiharstoyourattention,Iarnfullyaware that I can rest no claim to preferment upon them, and will be perfectly content to abide by your consideration c)f.my own des[s]erts.76

William Shervington was the first clerk and warehouse keeper in the customs department in Antigua and Tyrell had studied law under a chief justiceandasolicitorgeneral.Inapplyingfortheirpositions,theShervingtons, like most West Indians, pointed to their color as a beneflt. Nevertheless, they did not rely only on their ra.ce. In 1853, when William Shervington applied for a position in Sierra Leone, he cited his color as an advantage, but he also maintained "that being a native of the Island of Antigua West Indies-andhavingservedinarduouspublicsituationsinthatlsland1feel myselfineverywaysuitedtopublicserviceinAfrica."77TyrellShervingron cametoSierraLeonein1854topracticeatthcbar.Hisletterofapplica[ion for the position of queen's advocate in 1855 cited his accomplishments while working for the attorney general of Antigua, boasting that "no Bin

passed the Colonial Legisla.ture ofAntigua in whieh I had not the honor to assist . . . and in many instances it was my distinction to be consulted on Bills introduced . . . in the ordinary course of business to the Legislature."78

InOctober1857,WillianHenryDillctt,abrotherofEugeneDillett, appliedforchepositionofQueensAdvocate.Inapplyingforthisposition, Dillett cited his desire to go to Sierra Leone, adding that "the rule of the Colonial Department is, as I have been given to understand, to promote menfromoneColonytoanother6casthereisnochingtowhich1canlook forwardhere,[this]jsaninducementtothisrenewedapplication."Dillect's


Vmest Indians in w;e§t Af rlcd,1808-1880: The Af rican Diacpom in Reverse

application draws attention to several issues. As a black West Indian he obviously knew of Murray's decision and of British poliey to hire blacks from the West Indies for positions in Africa. He was also aware that colonial officials were predisposed to hire individuals from one colony for positions in another. Diuett applied for the position of queen's advocate twice, withnosuccess,thoughitisunlikelychathewasdeniedbecauseof.hisracc. Invariably, West Indians applying for positions in Sicm Leone during the 1850s cited their color as a major qualification for the positions to which they aspired. In turn, the Colonial Office made color one of its primary criteria in hiring for positions in Sierra Leone. In 1856, when the two Europeancolonialsurveyorsandtheassistantcolonialsurveyordiedinrapid succession, one official at the Colonial Office observed that "the duties of the office no doubt require greater exposure, 8C it would be very desirable, I think, if some colored man, perhaps from the W Indies could be employed."80 Nonetheless, having the right qualifications also mattered. As Permanent Undersecretary Herman Merivale noted in response to the observation quoted, above: "Yes but I fear the chance of flnding a competent Person is but slight."8l

It is clear that for the West Indians who applied for positions in Sierra Leone there was a correlation between color, class, and qualifications. The West Indians who applied for positions in Sierra Leone were from a particular class. Mostly of mixed race, they were well cducatcd, professional individuals who saw an opportunity to rise in the colonial government and to influence a population of Africans they perceived as less fortunate than themselves. Sierra Leone, an unattractive destination for most Europeans, became an appealing destination for black West Indians. Here they found themselves in positions of leadership and power. Here they could exhibit the abilities and skills they could not use in the West Indies. Here they could display proof of black capability, so often called into question. Here

they could be examples to Africans, bringing them out of what the West Indianssawasdarknessanddegradation.WestlndianscametoSierraLeone forcareeradvancement,yettheycamealsowiththethoughtofinfluencing, insomewa.y,theAfricancontinent.Arrivingwiththeseviewsofsuperiority becauseofcheirexposuretoChristianiryandWestemvalues,howdidthese West Indian officials govern?


VI/est Indians jn Office: The Beginnings' Once the Colonial Office adopted a polity of appointing West Indians to official positions, it had no trouble finding good candidates, both within and outside the colony. West Indians such as Wiuiam Fergusson and Robert Dougan, who were already living in the colony availed themselves of the opportunity to apply for government positions. Their counterparts in the West Indies fouowed suit and the 1840s and 1850s saw the number of West Indians in governmem positions increase significantly. These men, educated professionals like their white counterparts, sought careers in the colonial rystem and were subject to the same rules and regulations as their European colleagues. They took orders directly from London and caried them out, for the most part, to the letter. Being black was irrelevant to the manner in which they carried out their official duties. For some their color was a hindrance, but for most West Indians the prevailing belief was that theirblacknessgavethemagreatersenseofresponsibilitytotheresidentsof the colony. Though they may not have vocalzed it, many West Indian officialsconsideredthemselvessonsofAfricaretumedtohelpintheChristianizing and civilizing of Africa. This was a duty they took seriously. For its part, the Colonial Office believed that, thougJi capattle, West hdianswereoverzealousinthciradministration,tocompensateforbeingblack.2

This chapter looks at the govemorships of wihiam Fergusson, John Carr, and Robert Dougan and attempts to gauge their style of government, considering the type of pohiey they adopted within the colony's administration.



Vme]t lndin;ns in w4e§t Af rian,1808-1880: The Af rjcdn D;aci]om in Rcucrse

Colonial Rule in Sierra Leone: The Governor Tofullyunderstandhowwestlndiansinofficegoverned,wemustbeaware of the structure of colonial administration. Governors in Sierra Leone took their orders direcdy from the secretary of state. When a governor sent a despatchtothesecretaryofstateinLondon,itwentthroughvariousclerks andofficialsintheColonialOfficebeforeitreachcditsintendedrecipicnt.3 By the time the secretary of state received a despatch and responded to it, themessagewasalready"anabstractionfromtherealityoftimeandplace." By the time the local governor received a response from the Colonial Office it was "perhaps as irrelevant as his own had been at the time of its consideration in London."5 The implication of this was chat governors often had to act before receiving orders and responses from London. This meant that governors in Sierra Leone, as in other British colonies, had a great deal of autonomy and power. Indeed, Colonial Office policy was that a governor faced with an issue or crisis not covered by his instructions would be sup-

ported and his decision upheld. However, this policy was not well defined, a.nd governors were often chastised and even dismissed for acts the Colonial Offlce deemed an overstepping of their boundaries.6 Governors ruled their colonies with the help and advice of an executive and legislative council, which considered important issues within the colony and was expected to support the govemor's decisions.7 It was critical, therefore, chat the governor consult his council before malting important decisions. The chief justice, colonial secretary, queen's advocate, and other individuals from the colony selected by the governor made up the

govemor's council. The chief justice was next in authority to the governor, followed by the queen's advocate and the colonial secretary.8 For the most

part, colonial governors had much leeway. They had the power to appoint individuals to selected positions in the colony, and they had the right to suspend officials if a majority in the council agreed. Since a system of patronage was ingrained in the colonial system, the governor typically had few problems obtaining the support of the council. By the mid-nineteenth century this trend toward patronage in Sierra Leone had increased. Sierra Leone was not an attractive colonial post for Europeans interested in a colonial service career, and qualified Europeans took posts there reluctantly. West Indians in the colony, together with those in the islands with limited opportunities, no doubt saw the secretary of state's decision to hire blacks to positions in Sierra Leone as a means of advancement. Presumably; for many West Indians a high government position in Africa was preferable to a clerkship in the West Indies and was a chance to advance

Westlndidn§ in of f ice


withinthecolonialsystem.SomeWestlndians,afterservingafewyearsin Sierra Leone, applied for positions elsewhere. After Murray's announcement,therewasanincreaseinapplicationsfromblackWestlndians.They

came from all fields of life-medicine, law, and education-and were rewarded with significant positions in Sierra Leone.

William Fergusson PerhapsthemostprominentWestlndianinthecolony'shistorywasWilliam Fergusson. Born in Jamaica to a Scottish father and a mother ofAfricanorigins,FergussonstudiedmedicineatEdinburghUniversityfrom1808 to 1812.9 He was recommended for a position as hospital assistant by the AfricanlnstitutionandwenttoSierraLeonein1814.]°Fergussonwascommissioned in the Royal African Corps. where he served as an army doctor. Governor Charles Maccarthy described Fergusson as "attentive and zealous," and in 1815 he was appciinted second surgeon of the colony. In July of1816,Fergussontookasix~monthleaveofabsence"toscttlehisprivate affairs."tt In October 1822, he reapplied for the position of second sur-

geon, citing his color as an advantage. Fergusson stressed chat .`from the cxpericnce I have had of the native Africans I am conscious that in ny colour I possess a passport to their confldence which an European cannot have.'']2AmonghisreferenceswcreprominenthumanitariansinEngland,

Zachary Macaulay, William WiJberforce, and Thomas Harrison. Clearly Fergussonwasawarethatusingthesemenasreferencesgavehimanadvanrage.13 Fergusson also sent a letter written by blacks in Sierra Leone showinghiminafivorablelight.BeforeFergussoncouldleaveforSierraLeone, the more senior position of colonial surgeon became awilable, and he ap-

plied for cris post. Again, Fergusson argued that his color gave him an advantageoverEuropeans,particularlywithregardtohisrelationshipwich Africans; he would be seen by Africans as a good example, since similarityOfcolour,withordinaryabilities,andcoirmonintegrityis,as1have

found, a sure and steady passport to the confidence and good wishes of the peopleandcducatedpersonsc)fcolourappearingthereinrcspectablesi[untions win1amconvincedhaveagoodinfluenceonthcmoraltone8cfeelingofche colonists generally as many of them have it now in their power to give their childrcnaEuropeaneducationThndtheymaybemoreinclinedtodosofrom seeingthatchecommonoutlecforscientificandinteHectualknowledge[is]no longer a sealed book but [is] available even unto them.[4


West India;ns inwiest Af rich,1808-1880: The Af rlcan Dias|]ord iri Reverse

Fergussonwasunsuccessfulinhisapplicationsforthepostsofsecond surgeon and colonial surgeon, but became the surgeon to the Liberated AfricanDepartmentin1828.]5TheLibera.tedAfricanDeparmentwascreated to oversee activities relating to the settlement of recaptives rescued from slave ships and liberated by the courts in the colony. Fergusson took his job seriously. In a 1826 report to the commissioners of inquiry in Siem Leone, Fergusson showed evidence of understanding the society in which helived.HeexhibitedanunderstandingoftheAfricanpopulationheserved. He was active within the colony, especially in his medical duties. His thorough medical reports and the accounts of others reveal a inn dedicated to his work and solicitous of his patients.]6 In his testimony and reports, William Fergusson showed concern for the liberated African patients in his care and the intimate contact he had with them in the doctor patient relationshipwas,doubtless,responsibleforhisviewsonemigrationtotheWest Indies during his later governorship. Fcrgusson was also popular among the colony's residents and appears to ha.ve been their doctor of choice. When Dr. Boyle, the colonial surgeon, complained that Fergusson was interfering with Boyle's private practice by providingmedicalservicestoship'screwsandothers,thegovernorresponded that Fergusson could not be prevented from treating people who prcferrcd hisservices.Fergussonhimselfclaimedhewasonlyfollowingarmyhospital regulations, which allowed him to treat people who lived near the hospital andrequiredmcdicalattention.Hearguedthathehadtreatedthesepcople

without charge and insisted that he had no intention of influencing their choiceofa.doctor.]7Fergussonhimselfdidnotderivemucheconomicbenefit from providing these services. In a colony with a large population of

poor people, many residents, not surprisingly, chose to go to Fergusson's fine clinic rather than to Dr. Boyle's private practice. WilliamFergussonwasnotonlyactiveinthemedicalficldbutalsoas a citizen in the colony.[8 In July 1833 Michael Melville, the acting governor,recommendedFergussonforaseatonthecouncil,describinghimas"a

gentlemanofcolor,whoseamiabledispositionhasgaincdhimtheloveand respect of almost every person in the place" Even those opposed to hiring blacks in high positions noted Fergusson's popularity. Nonetheless, he was not averse to controversy. In 1835, Fergusson incurred the wrath of Major H.D.Campbell,govemorofchecolony.Canpbellwasamnwhobrooked no opposition to his authority. A retired military officer, he had hoped for command of the military in addition to his duties as governor. Thwarted in thisdesire,heassumedhisdutiesasgovernorresentfullybutsoughttocontrol every aspect of the colony's administration and "sougho pre-eminence

West Indidm in of f ice


in every department."20 When he was challenged in any way, he sent long messages to the Colonial Office accusing various individuals of misconduct and even treason. In a private letter to the Colonial Office, in August 1836, Governor Campbell listed the alleged misconduct of several public officers in the colony,amongthemWihiamFergusson.2tlnafollow-updespatch,Canpbell sent copies of the convictions of some lieutenants in the Royal African

Corps and the Second West India Regiment, and also them william Fcrgusson. The men had been convicted for refusing to pay fines, thus disobeying an act of 13 January 1829, "for the making, amending, repairing, and maintaining the highways roads and bridges adjacent to Freetown and for collecting monies to defray the expence [jz.c] thereof."22 Fergusson's

particula]- offense was that he owned two horses for which he had not taken out a certificate, his defense was chat he had an allowance for one horse and believed he was ohly liable for one. Nonetheless, Campbell highlighted Fergusson as leader of the opposition to him and called for his dismissal from the colony as "he is identifled so much with all the troublesome characters in the place, and has been the cause of mischief, through urging others, but cautiously keeping himself in the background."23 At the Colonial Office, Campbell's complaints were dismissed, because officials considered it unfair to uphold the convictions of men who had not been given a chance to defend themselves.24 This altercation with Campbell shows Fergusson as someone willing to stand up for what he believed was right. His integrity was rewarded. Fergusson acted as lieutenant governor during Governor Doherty's absence, after the death ofJohn Jeremie in 1841, and again in 1844, before becoming governor of the colony in 1845. In recommending Fergusson to act in his absence, Doherty noted that the West Indian was the most suitable candidate for the job, citing his, "unquestionable ability, his long experience in the Settlement, and the respect and influence enjoyed by him among all classes of the inhabitants."25 In the govemor's view, "these qualifications he appears to me to possess, their combination, in a. greater degree than any other individual now in Sierra Leone: and I am well assured that if circumstances should ever summon him to assume the office to which he is now conditiona.Ily appointed, he will discharge its duties equally to the satisfaction of Her Majesty's Government and of his fellow colonists."26 Most of the discussion in the Colonial Office surrounding Fergusson's

appointment centered on its legality under the charter, rather than on Fergusson's ra.ce or ethnicity. Though Lord John Russell believed chat the appointment should be made according to the charter, he nonetheless ap-


Wlest Indians invVlest Af rlcd,1808-1880: The Af ricdn Didspom in Reverse

proved Fergusson's appointment to act. In a letter to Governor Doherty, Russell noted that "I intend no disparagement to Mr. Carr in stating my opinion that until he shall have become sufficiently experience in publick affairs, it will be expedient that you should appoint the person whom you shall judge the most proper and fitting to be Lieutenant Governor of the Colony until HM Pleasure shall be signified in regard to such appointment."27 Fergusson's succession again became a question when Governor

Jeremie died and John Carr, the West Indian queen's advocate, assumed the governorship. Fergusson protested since Doherty had given him a commission to act, but the council felt bound by the charter and voted that Carr shouldassumethegovernment.28Fergussonwasunhappywitlithedecision but vowed to "cheerfully endeavour to the extent of my individual influence, to uphold and mainta.in, the dignity and authority, of the person appointed by the Board of Council to administer the Government of the colony."29 The Colonial Office subsequently upheld Fergusson's claims. Clearly, colonial officials did not see Fergusson's race as a hindrance to his appointment as lieutenant Governor. Reference to his color was made only to state chat this did not preclude him from assuming the position. William Fergusson was well respected by a significant element of the colony's population. During the time he governed the colony, there was littletensionamongcolonialofficialsorsettlers.Therewerenomajorcomplaints against Fergusson during his administration, which was rare in a colony where discord among various groups was the norm. The Englishman Thomas Eyre Poole in his published memoirs, with the characteristic

paternalism of Europeans a[ the time, described his first encounter with the governor: His manners were perfectly unaffected; a rare exception to the general bearing of Afl.icans and coloured people, when raised over their European neighbours; and in carriage and conversation he was gendemanly. He said, and did everything without vanity or pride; a feature in his public character which is rarely to be met with in those who rule in small colonies. In figure, Mr. Fergusson was tall and well made; of an intelligent and amiable cxpression; and the manly bearing, inseparable from, and belonging to, those only who have followed for years the military profession, gave to his whole appearance the stamp of a superior man.30

Other visitors to the colony were similarly impressed. Lieutenant Horatio Bridge, an officer in the United States Navy, on a visit to Sierra Leone duringFergusson'stenureaslieutenantgovemorechcedthewordsofpoolc. Bridge described the acting governor as "a man of noble and commanding

Wۤt Irldidns in of f ice


figure, handsome and intellectual countenance, and finished manners. He is affable, as well as dignifled, in his deportment and fluent and interesting in conversation. To him, and five or six other men of color, whom I have met on the coast, I should refer, as proofs that individuals of the African race may, with due advantages, be cultivated and refined so as to compare with the best specimens of white gentlemen."3] Despite the paternalism inherent in these descriptions, most people who encountered Fcrgusson expressed a high opinion of him.

Fergus§on and Af ric¢m As governor, Fergusson maintained the policies of the colonial administration regarding trade and emigration. He exercised great diplomaey in dealing with the indigenous African rulers, making sure he did nothing to antagonizethemortohinderthecolony'strade.InDecember1841,Fergusson sent Wiilliam Cooper Thomson on a mission to the Fula chiefs at Timbo to investigate potential trade routes.32 In his instructions to Thomson, we get a glimpse of Fergusson's attitude toward indigenous Africans. Though he must have followed official guidelines in giving the instructions, his personal opinions a].e also evident. Fergusson's instructions were very specific and outlined three important matters for Thomson to consider. He was to find our which trade routes between the colony and Timbo were best for trade, flnd out the chief causes of obstruction on the trade routes, and attempt to remove these barriers to trade. Thomson was also instructed to find ways to increase and extend trade between the colony and the Fulas. FergussonalsoinstructedThomsontoobtaingeographicalinformationthat might be useful for missiomry societies. Nonetheless, he waned Thomson to use care and caution: While on the one hand you are called on to lose no favorable opportunity for acquiring a knowledge of the moral aptitude, fitness, and willingness of the natives of the county, for the reception of the great truths of Christianity, yet on the other hand the fact is not to be forgc>tten that in the pursuit of that object, you will have to deal with the prejudices of a race of the most bigoted Mahomedans, men who from youth to adult age, have been taught to regard the belief and the practice of the doctrines oflslamism, as the best rules of conduct, and the surest [?] passports to funire bliss. It may be therefore well to regard this part of your work as being of a nature purely exploracory, and intended to amass a volume offacts for the consideration of our Missionary Societies. A rude assault on the purity of their religious belief might in this early state of our intercourse materially mar the success of the


VJle§t Indians in vmc§t Af rica,1808-1880.' The Af irlcan Dlas|]om in Reverse

mission both commercially and otherwise, as it would in all probability tend tostaggerthatimplicitconfidencewhichitissodesirabletheyshouldrcpose in the perfect uprightness of our motives.33

Thomson was instructed to observe the forms of government, administration of justice, and social systems of the Africans especially regarding slavery.FergussonalsoorderedThomsontoavailhimselfofeveryopportunity to condemn the slave trade as cruel. He did the same in his communication with African leaders. In the letter he sent to Alimamie Ych Ych, chief ofTimbo, he outlined the benefits to Yin Yin of trading with the colony. Using a fariliar argument he expressed what he saw as the benefits to Africa and Africans of ending the slave trade. Illustrative of the good colonial official that he was, Fergusson wrote to Yin Yin that [t]he Queen of England is most desirous that the Slave trade should everywhere cease. She is the friend of all black people and has spent much money in trying to prevent their being carried away from Africa as slaves to other countries where they are badly used, made to work hard, and get no pay for what they do. Why should Africans be sent away to other countries to do that wc>rk fcir other people, which they can do just as well, and more profitably for themselves in their own counny?34

As a token of friendship, Fergusson asked Yin Yin to send a few boys from hisfamilytothecolonywhere"1willhavethemeducatedincheleamingof white men. At Sierra Leone they will be well clothed, well fed, and well attended to in all respects so that when by and by they return to Foola, they maybeabletoimpar[theircountrypeoplesomeoftheknowledgeinwhich white men so greatly excel."35 He never wavered in this belief that ending the slave trade was best for Africans. In a letter to another African leader, the chief ofAbeokuta, Fergusson outlined the efforts made by the English to stop the slave trade. He again extolled the virtues of the English, and spokeofthe"affectionentertalnedbytheEnglishtowardtheAfricanrace."36 Those missionaries who went to Abeokuta he claimed did not go there "to make money, but to teach your people to read and write; to instruct them in that sort of knowledge which is of the greatest excellence."37 Again he pointed to the economic benefits to be derived from keeping Africans out of the slave trade by arguing that the role of these missionaries was to show Africans not only how cruel the slave trade was but also how uneconomic it was, for "if man by labour gain money, is it no. better that they should gain moneyforthemselvesandtheirmastersincheirowncountry,thantolabour

Westlndians in of f ice


for others in a strange land, where they are regarded as little better than beasts."38 Clearly, Fergusson was aware of the need to deal with indigenous Africans on their own terms, but only within certain limits. Ultimately, he believedinthesupcriorityofwestemcivilizationandChristianity.Furthermore, being of African descent himself, he had a great aversion to the slave trade and slavery. Fergusson's opinions on the method of interacting with indigenous Africans are consistent with the views he had expressed in a letter to ThomasFowellBuxtonin1839.Fergussonwassympa.theticrotheNovaScotians and contemptuous of the maroons but believed the future of the colony was in the hands of liberated Africans. He pointed to the success of the recaptivepopulation,notinghowtheyhadrisenfromsqualoranddegradation to become "independent and respectable members of society."39 For Fergusson, their perseverance and ambition, economic motivation, industriousness, and commitment to Christianity were admirable qualities. He celebrated the desire of liberated Africans to educate their children, observingchat"anongothercircumstancesindicativeofcheimprovementoftheir worldly means, and of their desire still further to avail themselves of Euro-

peanexample,nonestandsmoreprominendyforwardthanthesystemwhich they have lately commenced of sending their children to England for education."40 Fergusson stressed the need for to encourage agriculture in the colony, believing that liberated Africans would take it up as surely as they had taken up tra.de. He welcomed Buxton's plan for ending the slave trade through the promotion of legitimate trade, but only if it\ could benefit SicrraLcone.BypaintingapictureoftheindustriousliberatedAfricanpopu-

lation, he hoped that Bux[on would find "sufficient encouragement to induce you to devote towards the colony of Sierra Leone a portion of your fostering care. "4l

Fergusson'sinstructionstoThomsonandhislettertoThomasBurton shed light on his perceptions of indigenous Africans. He distinguished betweenideasoftheinnateinferiorityofAfricansandthepossibilityfortheir redemption; unlike many of the Europeans, he did not believe the inferior moral standards of Africans were permanent. It was his view that Africans could be redeemed through ending the slave trade and through Christianity and civilization.42 As a man of African descent, he saw himself and others like him as most suitable for accomphishing cris redemption. Such advocacy of black agency in Africa was popular among New World blacks, a.ndFergussonsawhisroleasasonofAfricaquiteclearlyasthatofaleader. Like many of his counterparts, he believed that Africa and Africans would become liberated once exposed to Christianity, and he saw New World


West Indians inTmest Af i.lea,1808-1880: The Af rican Diasilora in Reiierse

blacks as the vectors of that civilization. Nevertheless, the idealistic colonial surgeoninclosecontactwithliberatedAfricanpatientsin1839wasnotthe

same man who was lieutenant governor of sierra Leone in 1844. As governorhewasfirstandforemostagovemmentofficial,andonlysecondaNew World black with a vision for Africa's regeneration. His obligation was to putthecolony'sinterestsfirst,'andchatresponsibilitysupersededanydesire he might have had to convert the indigenous Africans to Christianity and Western civilization.43 If the two could be done simultaneously, all the better, but he clearly did not intend government business to be undermined by either altruism or philanthropy toward Africans. In this regard, his calling to the attention ofAfrican chiefs, the economic beneflts of ending the slave trade are consistent with his role as colonial official. He took the same view in his handling of Liberated African emigration.

Fergusson and hiberated Af rican Bmigratton44 In 1840, to help alleviate the labor problem in the West Indian islands after emancipation, James Stephen suggested that Africans be encouraged to emigrate to the West Indian islands.45 A recruitment program was implemented, directed mainly at liberat-ed Africans, and lasting until the mid 1860s. West Indian planters welcomed the emigration plan, quicldy sending recruiting agents, to Sierra Leone. Proponents of emigration cited the beneflts to Afucans of being exposed to civilization in the West Indies. A committee appointed to look into the condition of British territories em-

phasized the economic and social rewards of erigration, noting that "in the West Indies, not only would his [the liberated African's] own condition beimproved,buthewouldbecomeasourceofwealthandprosperitytothc Empire. But we must not omit the adva.ntage to Africa, of the probable return to her soil of many of her own sons, enriched with civil and religious knowledge, and bringing back with them wealth, and the means of wealth and civilisation."46 In the end, the Colonial Office saw benefits in the emi-

grationplan.ThelaborproblemintheWestlndieswouldbesolvedandthe cost of maintaining liberated Africans in Sierra Leone would be reduced.47 Satisficd with the conclusion of the committee's investigatic)n, Lord Edward Stanley, the secretary of state, expressed a faniliar idea: I am glad to find that the unanimous decision of a Committee, comprising amongst its members several of the most active and tried friends of the coloured race, confirms my own opinion that the benefits to be derived from such emigration will not be confined to the West Indian Colonies, and

We5tlndians in of f ice


chat a frequent and systematic intercourse with those colonies will afford the fairest prospects to the natives ofAfrica of an improvement in their physical comforts, and advance in the blessings of civilization.48

Nevertheless, there was some opposition to the emigration program. In the early years, some colonial officials hesitated to support it, believing it would be misconstrued by other European nations as another form of. the slave trade. Lord John Russell was reluctant to endorse it for the same reason and in June 1840 noted: There is a . . . difference between ``removal» and "emigration." The firsc

should certainly not be permitted without passport ,... In emigration or rather a retiirn home a passport should be given .... It should be up to chose

[unclear in manuscript] in the way of their voluntary emigration [o the W. Indies. Inform the Gov. that I chink he does right to discourage their return withchildrentoAfrica,butthatcrigrationto]amaica,Trinidad,6cB.Guiana may very well be allowed, 6c that he should have every information on the subject which this office can give, 0 think it will be right, from time to time, to send to our Gcivemors of Colonies, copies of despacches written from other colonies, butwhich contain general . . . [unclcar word in manuscript] or information, which may be of use to them for their guidance in new cases. Thus we shall make the administratic)n of the colonies more consistent, tho' of course not uniform.4'

There were also objections from the Church Missionary Society and the Anti Slavery Society in London, and in 1844 Thomas Buxton wrote a letter 1:o the Colonial Office opposing the emigration plan.50 Resistance, however, came mostly from liberated Africans themselves and while Fergusson was governor he faced this opposition.

Johnson Asiegbu has noted that in terms of duration and number of Africans who emigrated to the West Indies the emigration plan was insignificant.Asiegbuarguesthat"theschemehadfarmoreimportantandwidespread repercussions on British anti-slavery policy and the diplomatic negotiations for international ab olition. "5 I Additionally, it held a significance forNewworldblacks'perceptionsofcheirroleandresponsibilityinAffica. By the time Wlllian Fergusson took offlce, the emigration program was in full swing, and during most of his administration Fergusson focused his attention on the issue of liberated African emigration 1:o the West Indies.52 His views on the subject are important in examining New World blacks'

perceptions of their role in Africa. Fergusson saw the settlement of liberated Africans in Sierra Leone as a positive step leading to their moral improve-


Tme§t Indians inwe§t Af i;ca,1808-1880: The Af rican Diapord in Reverse

ment. His reports on the state of the colony included a great deal of informationontheliberatedAfricanpopulation.Thoughmuchofwhathewrote about them suggests his Western bias and his conviction that New World blackshadaninportantroletoplayinthecivilizationofAfrica.,hisreports also represented his strong commitment to improving the condition of the recaptives. In the annual Blue Book report for 1841, Fergusson devoted a

great deal of time to the liberated African population and the question of emigration.53HenotedchatliberatcdAfricanswereweusettledinthecolony, anddrewattentiontotheinteresttheyshowedineducation,observingcha[ the "number of scholars has increased to overflowing."54 Fergusson, therefore,rccommendedtheestablishmentofgovernment-fundedschoolsinthe Colony.55

This increasing interest in education among liberated Africans was, in large part, responsible for their reluctance to emigrate. In Fergusson's view,"theimprovementoftheLiberatedAfricanpopulationisprogressive, steadyandsustained,whichwithotherconsiderationsalreadydetailedmay

serve to account for the apathy with which the measure of Transatlantic Emigration is now regarded by that people."56' He observed, however, that they were eager to go back to their native lands in Africa. The governor noted the caution with which the i.dea of emigration to thewest Indies was viewed by liberated Africans. Distrustful of the emigration schemes, the liberated Africans sent representatives to the islands to report on circumstances there, and this, in Fergusson's view, hindered emigration. The reports brought back were not always favorable, and the number of people willing to emigrate decreased. Fergusson's stance on emigration did not either encourage or deter

would-beerigrants.Despitethepressureofficialsexcrtedonthem,recaptivcs madeuptheirownmindsaboutemigration.Fornewlyarrivingrecaptives, resisting such pressure was difficult, but they did have allies. Groups like the Wesleyan missionaries attempted to dissuade liberated Africans from emigratingtotheWestlndies.Fergussonmaintainedthattheactiontaken by the missionaries was warranted since emigration interfered with their aim of Christianizing and civilizing Africans. The Wesleyans relied on native agents to spread Christianity among indigenous Africans. Since the missionaries envisioned liberated Africans as potential native agents, if the liberated Africans were to leave for the West Indies it would impede the missionay cause. Although he generally maintained neutrality on emigrationFergussondidcommentonitspositiveeffectsonthecrimerateofthe colony, clarfung that with the emigration of a certain class of individuals the crime rate had decreased.

West Indians in of f ice


Yet Fergusson's handling of emigration policy was not above criticism. During a 1842 hearing on the state of liberated African emigration, he was reproached for not being positive enough in encouraging emigra-

tion. Wiillian Hanilton, the erigration agent for Trinidad, questioned by aselectcommittee,accusedFergussonofbeing"perfectlyneuterbe.cTupon the subject" of liberated African emigration.57 It was his view that the in-

habitants put great weight on what the governor thought, and "without thattheblackpeoplewillnotleavethecolony;forinanydoubtfulcasethey are in the habit of going to the govcmor, or to a magistrate for advice.58 Hamilton's characterization of Fergusson's role in the emigration of liberated Africans and the influence he held over them was surely exaggerated; nonetheless, Fergusson must have been aware that as liberated Africans became more settled, they would exhibit less desire to ehigrate. Few of the settled colonists were willing to erigrate, and the emigration program relied almost exclusively on newly arriving recaptives. If he was aware, as surely he must have been, of how important his opinion was, his neutrality may have been a tacit criticism of the emigration scheme. As lieutenant governor, Fergusson again paid special attention to liberatedAfricanemigration,particularlyontheplightofchildren.Hehadno

grounds on which to object to the emigration of adults who could make a conscious choice about their fate. Children, on the other hand, needed protection. Liberated African children were usually apprenticed to settlers

in the colony until they had reached an age at which they could fend for themselves. When in 1844 the British administration decided that it would give children over twelve the option of emigrating to the West Indies, Fergusson opposed the idea.59 He suggested that this regulation in "its pro-

posal to infants and persons of tender age, and the enforcements of the letter of the instructions in respect of such of them as should refuse to emigrate, would, practically, involve consequences neither expedient nor advisable; as such persons could not reasonably be called on entirely to

provideforthemselves,norexpectedtobecapableofdoingso."Fergusson believed it was inexpedient to offer the alternative of emigration to underage children and proposed that they remain under the supervision of the Liberated African Department. To strengthen his argument against the emigration of children, Fergusson pointed out that the "indifference and repugnance shewn by the school children, generally to the measure of Emjgration, will continue to render their disposal in a satisfactory manner, a matter of some difficulty, and not readily to be obtained by any other mode than that now in use, videlicet of keeping them at school."61 Fergusson continued to be solicitous of liberated African health is-


Tme§t Indians inwe5t Af ricd,1808~1880: The Af rican Diaspora in Reuene

sues, questioning instructions from London which called for medical services in the Liberated African Department to be discontinued. Again, he emphasized the impact on the young, declaring that "there . . . remain above 300 children of tender years to be provided for-these are dispersed over the Colony at schools far apart from one another-they require to be medically visited periodically, for health inspections, va.ccination, etc. besides prompt attendance in cases of important wounds or accidents-in addition to which, the majority of the sick treated in the Hospital at Kissy, will, I believe, still continue to be derived from this class of persons."62 Fcrgusson decided to retain an assistant surgeon in the Liberated African Department,amoveapprovedbytheauthoritiesinLondon.Aftercolonial administratorsreviewedFergusson'srecommendations,theyconcludedthat "Mr. Fergusson is setting to work very purposely in the execution of his

instructions"; and recommended that the Treasury be advised to adopt Fergusson's suggestions.63 The Colonial Office agreed that children under twelve should not emigrate unless accompanied by a parent.64 Whatever Fergusson's opinion on the subject of liberated African emigration, he was first a representative of the British colonial administration and subject to its orders. During his years as governor, there was an increasingly conservative shift in h-is attitude toward emigration. Liberated AfricanemigrationtocheWcstlndiesincreasinglybecaneamatterofcompulsion,andFergussonmayhavebeeninfluencedbythis.65Thenumberof Africanswiuingtoemigratewassteadilydecreasing,asrecaptivesrefusedto volunteer.PerhapsinresponsetoincreasingpressurefromLondon,Fergusson became, if not pro-emigration, certainly less neutral than he had previously been. Fergusson blamed the decline in erigration on liberated Africans already established in the colony. He explained that the men and women taken off the ships were apprehensive about emigration. Fergusson understood this fear, given their experience with the middle passage, and alleged that "the main difficulty to be overcome, in the minds of the new people, existed in the fact that, the change proposed to them as being a measure so

greatlyforcheiradvantage,necessarilyinvolvedembarkationonboardship. All their experience of shipboard tended only to shew that it was a. scene of the greatest horror, privation, and suffering, and, therefore, a situation to be avoided." The governor believed that their fears could be alleviated if the newly arriving liberated Africalis were given unbiased and truthful information, both by recruitment agents and by settlers in the colony. The establishedsetders,however,hadtheirownmotivesforpreventingtheemigration of recaptives. In Fergusson's view, the setders used the newly arrivingimmigrantsasunpaidservants,treatingthempoorly.Itwasthereforein

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the interest of settled liberated Africans to portray the recruiting agents as devious and dishonest. He suggested soliciting the help of "of intelligent and industrious persons of good moral character," who could extol the benefitsofemigrationandpersuadenewlyarrivedliberatedAfricanstocphange their minds, since "their known characters would warrant the fidelity of their sta.tements and their determination to return to the West Indies would be the best evidence of their sincerity and truth."67 Clearly, Fergusson was ambivalent about emigration, but as governor he knew it was his duty to follow orders. West Indian erigration faced critics who saw it as ,nothing morethantheslavetraderesumed.TothoseaccusationsWllliamFergusson responded: "For myself, I must say that, by inclination, by a sense of duty tomycountry,byeducationandbyhabit,andbyconsanguinitywiththose who are its victims, I hold slavery, in all its forms, in as sincere and decided detestationasitcanpossiblyberegardedbythosewhohavethusreproached me as its abettor."68 Fergusson was here calling attention to the bond he felt witli the liberated Africans. By noting his own African ancestry Fergusson hoped to show his outrage at the idea that he might condone the slave trade. Nonetheless, Fergusson was not free from the bias that characterized WesternattitudestoAfricans.Bytheendofhistenure,Fergussonexpressed strong opinions on liberated Africans and on the question of emigration. InadespatchtoLondonin1845,GovemorFcrgussondeniedcharges leveled against him by R. G. Butts, of impeding the emigra.tion ofAfucans. Butts, an emigration agent, had in 1844, painted a picture of Fergusson as a supporter of emigration. He had characterized Fergusson as "the most staunch friend to emigration [who] is now fully convinced of the beneflt to be derived by the people and he is of opinion that it is the only chance by which civilization may eventually make its way into Africa."69 Butts outlined the help Fergusson had provided in the cause of emigration, and ex-

pressed pleasure that the system of apprenticeship, which was seen as a hindrance to emigration, had been abolished. However, Butts soon became disenchantedwiththegovernorandaccusedhimofhamperingtheemigration process, noting chat "the apprenticeship system is again resorted to,

and that with the sanction of his Excellency the Governor." Fergusson defended himself by pointing to his efforts at encouraging emigration. In responding to Butts's charges, the governor declared that he opposed the further settlement of liberated Africans in the colony. He ar-

gued that newly arriving Africans were disruptive to the colony, but he defended the maligned apprenticeship system, asserting that "the most successful, the most steady and respectable part of the native population of Freetown are at prcscnt to be found in the class of persons who commenced


V¢ie]t Indians in west Af rlcd,1808-1880: The Af ricdn Dldspom in Reverse

their career in the Colony many years ago, as apprentices."7[ Fergusson obviously preferred the system of apprenticeship to emigration, for when

Butts pointed out that the system was flawed and resulted in maltreatment of the liberated Africans, "his Excellency assented, deploring that he could do no better for them."72 What then, was respc)nsible for Fergusson's vacillations, if they were such, on the question of emigration? A statement made by the governor in defenseofhimselfmayshedsomclightonthisquestion.Indcfendinghimsclf against Butts's accusations, Fergusson asserted: I have long regarded the farther importation of Liberated Africans into cris Colonyasamoralmiustonearoundtheneclrsofitspcople.Byplacingeasily within their reach the means of obtaining gratuitous labour, idleness is engendcrcd, fostered, and so kept up, at length, to become an inveterate habit. By means of the apprentices, their own children are relieved of the necessity of performing those domestic and other offices usually performed by the children of the lower orders. Many of the creole born children, therefore, arrive at adult age, nc)t only unaccustomed to labour, but disinclined to it, and. actually incapable of working. The constant renewal c>f the barbarous element, in each successive impc)rcation of Africans, perpematcs barbarous habits and customs, and greatly retards the suscained progress of improvement.73

This indicates that though Fergusson was rympathetic to the plight of the newlyarrivingrecaptives,hisprimaryconcemwasthesuccessofchecolony and its inhabitarits. By 1845, the colony was a thriving settlement. Those liberated Africans who had come at the beginning of the nineteenth Gentury were now prospering and had esta.blished themselves as part of the growing Western-oriented pctpula.tion. No doubt impressed with the improvements made by the liberated African population, Fergusson's vision was to see them continue to succeed, a process that he believed would be hindered by further importation ofAfricans. Like governors before him, he saw the disadvantages of a new flood of liberated Africans into the colony. Furthermore, the newly arriving Africans were an expense to the colony, and Fergusson may have wanted to avoid this as well.74 Fergusson's opposition probably stemmed largely from what he believed to be the corrupting influence of a non-Christian African population. He later objected to the immigration of Kroos into the colony on the sarnegrounds.AtacouncilmeetingwhereKrooimmigrationwasdiscussed, "It was proposed by Mr. Fergusson but not adopted, that the preamble to


Westlndittm in of f ice


gradually reducing the number of the Kroomen until it might be practicable to dispense altogether according to Governor with their presence in the Colony.''75 Similarly, Fergusson considered the influx of new liberated Africans a corrupting influence on those already settled in Sierra Leone. His preferred solution was to stop the flow of liberated Africans into the colony permanently. If this could not be done, emigration was an acceptable alternative.

Fergusson's polity on emigration was not significantly different from thatofhispredecessorsorsuccessors.Localgovemors,thoughabletoinfluencesomepolieymattersrelatingtothcemigrationscheme,wcresubjec[to

orders from Londcm, which itself was under pressure from the West India lobby.760bservinghininhisofficialcapacity,itishardtogleanFergusson's real thoughts on the emigration program, but, unlike many of his counterparts, Fergusson did attempt to improve the situation of liberated Africans. Though he could not directly oppose emigration, he did not seem convinced that it was the best thing for the liberated Africans. By staying neutral on the subject for as long as possible, Fergusson succeeded in cffccting changes in the system of administering newly arriving liberated Africans. As the flrst black administrator, Fergusson undoubtedly did not want to be viewedaswaveringonthesubjectof.emigration.Consequently,heattempted to find other ways to resolve the problem. He favored the apprenticeship system although he realized it was not the best solution for the recaptives. However,knowingtheywouldbeamongtheirownpeoplemayhavemade it more palatable for Fergusson. His support of liberated African children,

pushing to limit their emigration and promoting their education, was a wayofsolvingtheproblemof"tliebarbarouselement"withinthesociety.77 Fergusson'sdedicationtoliberatedAfricauswasobviousinhispolicies,but hiscommitmcntwasflawedbecausehecouldnotacceptliberatedandother indigenousAfricansastheywere.Ultimately,hisadmirationforthemrested on their ability to convert to Christianity and Western civilization. Fergusson's faith in them was not unrewarded. The liberated Africans were

goodstudentsandbytheendofthenineteenthcenturywereahighlysuccessful population, having mastered the lessons of Christianity, commerce, and civilization as Fergusson had hoped they would. Fergusson was passionate about the advancement of Africans in general. When the foundation for the flrst building of Fourah Bay College was laid, Fergusson was there to express his satisfaction at the progress of education in the colony: The first stone says the forty-fith report of the society [CMS] was laid on the 5th of February by His Excelleney Lieut. Governor Fergusson. When


W;est Indians in wie§¢ Af ric¢ 1808-1880: The Af irlcan Diaspora. in Reverse

the cel.emony was concluded, the Lieut-Governor addressed the assembly; bun he was unable to repress his feelings when he referred tc> the fact, that on the very spot where they were preparing to erect a building from whence ic

was hoped that spiritual freedom would be imparted to many Africans, there stood, forty years ago, a Slave Factory.78

william Fergusson governed the colony until his death in 1846 and saw many changes in the colony that had been his home for over thirty years. The words of Thomas Poole best describe the work of Fergusson in SierraLeone.ThoughPoolewasopposedtotheemploymentofblacksabove whites in high office, he gave Fergusson his due in a fitting eulogy, observing that "to Mr. Fergusson's credit . . . and the honour of his memory it is but just to remark what will be granted by the majority; that as public functionaryinthehiglipositionheheld,hehasneverbeensurpassed,probably not equalled. He had his faults and failing,-who has not? He was not

proof against chose errors of understanding which wiser men than himself are often falling into; but then he was not exempt from those difficulties which public situations such as he fillcd, and in such a place, invariably present to thwart the best intentions, confound the ablest judgement, and defy the keenest foresight to anticipate." Indeed, William Fergusson was an exceptional man and an able a.dministrator, and his successful tenure undoubtedlypavedthewayforotherwestlndianswhosoughtpositi.onsof authority within the British colonial administration in Sierra Leone.

John Carr John Carr came to the colony as queen's advoca.te in 1840, having recently finished his studies at University College, London. In his application, Carr referred to hinself as "a person of colour born in the island of Trinidad." He went to London in 1836 to study law, excelling in his field.80 Within months of his arrival in Sierra Leone, Carr assumed the acting governorship

of the colony a position for which he was chosen instead of William Fergusson. Though his tenure was short, he proved himself capable, if a lithe overzealous, at least in the eyes of colonial administrators. He was

young, no more than twenty five, and eager to prove his abilities. One of his first duties as acting governor was to resolve a problem with the Koya Temne, who were accused of holding some liberated Africans as prisoners. Carr believed the liberated Africans had been enslaved and called his council to address the possibility ofs€nding troops to demand the release of the

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liberatedAfricansandtoseekthepunishmentofthoseresponsibleforthe attacks. Though most of the council supported Carr's plan, William Fergusson believed his suggestion to send troops was unwise. The minutes of the council meeting noted that Mr.Fergussondisscntedfromthatporrionofthesecondresc>lutioninwhich it was proposed to send up the troops immediately, and considered it advis-

able that Dalla Moodie should be first referred to, to ascertain whether MohamadooBundowasorwasnotapartytothetreatyenteredintobythe late Sir John Jeremie with the Timmanee nation. The Honorable Member further remarked that as Mohomadoo Bundo was engaged a[ present in a distant war, it was also advisable to lean how fu he might be disposed to sanction the outrage complained of, and that the outrage was committed beyond British territory.8l

Disregarding the views of the more experienced Fergusson, Carl insisted that it was not his intention to attack the Temnes if they acceded to the government's wishes. Fergusson advised that "reparation should be demanded,butthatitsnatureandamountshouldbeproposcdbycheChiefs themselves.''82 Fergusson knew that the incident had taken place outside thecolony'sjurisdictionandhopedtoavoidconflict.83Carr'smcasurcswere taken and the chiefs acceded to his demands. Carr explained his actions to the Colonial Officc by malntalning tha.t "with regard to the troops mentioned in the minutes of Council . . . my object was sufflciendy answered bythereportthatinstantlyspreadamongsttheChiefschat1wasreadyto marchagainstthemintheeventoftheirrefusingtodeliverupchede[aincd liberated Africans. I did not order the troops to proceed to the frontier."84 Whether Fergusson's objection to Carr's decision was based on his yearsof.experienceinthecolonyandhisawarenessofchepotentialdanger ofsuchanattack,orwhetherit`wasduetohisgrievanceatbeingrejectedas governor is unclear. Fergusson clearly felt he was the more experienced administratorandtha.tcheyoungcarrputthecolonyinapotentiallydangerous situation warranted his objections. The two men were conspicuously antagonistictoeachother.85TheColonialOfficedecidedthattlioughCarr's intentwastoprotecttheliberatedAfricans,hehadactedbeyondhisjurisdiction.

Carr'srexponsetotheTemneindicatedhisangerattheirenslavelnent ofliberatedAfricansandhisindignationattheTemne'sdisrespectforBritish law. The council minutes noted Carr's assertion chat the "success and

prosperity of the Colony, if not its actual existence, depended much on the respect in which it was held by the neighboring Chiefs, and than however


W;est Indians inTme§t Af rica,1808-1880: The Af i.loan Dids|iom in Reuer§e

ready he might be to punish any acts of aggression against these people he could not permit them to murder and make slaves of Her Majesty's sub-

jects."86AsamanofAfricandescent,Carrheldstrongviewsonthesubject of slave trading and slavery. Like Fergusson, and like Dougan later, he had to strike a balance between acting as an effective administrator and being a man of color. In organizing a mission to the Fula chiefs at Timbo, Carr once again addressed the issue of slavery; by proposing that the British crown enter a

treaty with the Fula chief, Alimamy Dala Modu. h Carr's view the treaty would ensure that Dala Modu "should bind himself no longer to permit the passing of slaves destined to the Coast through any part of his territories."87 Despite Carr's strong objection to slavery, the primary object of the mission was, however, to ensure that British interests superseded those of

the French in the River Nunez region and chat the Fula chiefs should protect the interests of British traders in the area. In addition, Carr suggested that the Fula chiefs might be persuaded to grant sovereignty over the river to the British Crown. This, he believed, would promote agriculture and trade as "the Coffee which there grows wild, and is of an excellent quality, would then enter the English Market as British produce, and thereby an impulse would at once be given to a.gricultural pursuits on this part of the Coast.»88 In addition, sovereignty over the river would be beneficial because"shouldtheNIgerexpeditionpenetrateveryfarinthelnterior,itwill

bemucheasierfortheCommissionerstocommunicatewichyourLordship throughTeemboandthisgovernmentthanbythewayoftheRiverNiger.''89 JohnCarr'saiminenteringintotrea.tieswithindigenousAfricanchiefii was not just political and economic. As a man of African descent, Carr's interest was to work toward the improvement, as he perceived it, of the indigenous African population. When this could be done with economic advantage to 'the colony, it was all the better. In a despatch to the Colonial Office in August 1841, he described his correspondence with Thomas Caulker, chief of the Plantain Islands, regarding a treaty to suppress the slave trade and to establish legitimate trade. He suggested that if sovereignyoverthewaterspacebelongingtothesechiefscouldbetransferredto the British Crown, all the slavers captured in those waters would be liable to be tried for slave trading at Sierra Leone. Carr also proposed that the children of some principal chiefs, with whom agreement had been reached forthesuppressionoftheslavetrade,couldbesenttothecolonyforeducationintheChurchMissionarySocietyschools.Hisreasoningwasthat"from such a course much good would necessarily result as these children would be brought up in the truths of our Holy Religion, and on their return to

West Indian in of f ice


their country there is every reason to believe [they| would be instrumental to the introduction of Christianity and the habits of civilized life amongst their pagan and barbarous countrymen."90 Carr, with his Western-oriented bias considered the indigenous African population lacking in civtlization, as he deflned it, and he saw a genuine need to redeem them. His overtures with regard to trade and his desire to form treaties with local African chiefs can be seen as the means by which he hoped to elevate African populations. Once Africans had attained a certain level of civihization, he surmised, it would benefit not only them but the colony as well. In a. despatch amouncing the death of Dala Modu, he urged the Colonial Office to consider his suggestions, asserting that it was by taking advantage of such opelings "as the one under considera.tion of being of service to the Natives that we can hope to extend the legitimate influenceofthisColony,and1seenothinginthenativecharactertohinder the influence of this Colony being felt for hundreds of miles in the Interior,

provided the measures of.this Government be calculated to gain the confldence of the native Tribes."9L

The Colonial Office dismissed Carr's ideas as grandiose and rejected them. Furthermore, Colonial Office officials prohibited him from assuming any sovereignty in the area and from entering into any treay or agreement binding the Bridsh Crown into giving military aid to African chiefs. During this period, the British administration was reluctant to extend its boundaries beyond the small colony in Freetown, and Ca]-r's overtures to local African chiefs were not appreciated. The Colonial Office regarded Carr as a young and inexperienced man, ignorant of the politics among local chiefs, and saw a letter addressed to Carr by the dying Dala Modu, assuring Carr of Dala Modu's successor's continued good will toward the colony, as a manipulative ploy by Modu to ensure British support in his son's bid for the throne.92 Whatever his inexperience in cris matter the Colonial Office did not see Carr as an unfit public officer. When Fergusson assumed the government, Carr was appointed chief.justice of the colony in November 1841 and remained in that position for more than twenty years, retiring, eventually, under a cloud of criticism from some elements of the colony's population.93 He was an active participant in the community and was responsible for educating a number of African children, giving them scholarships and paying their fees.94 He made Sierra Leone his home, showing no desire to leave the colony. John Carr had his critics, but, like Wllliam Fergusson, he was respected and liked by most of the inhabitants of the colony. The initial differences between Carr and Fergusson had were resolved,, and the two


Vme§t Indlan§ invVle§¢ Af riot,1808-1880: Tlic Af ir;can Diiapom in Roucr§e

men worked well together as governor and chief justice. Carr and Robert Dougan,withwhomhehadcompetedforthepositionofqueen'sadvoca.te and chief justice were never able to resolve their differences. The two men clashed over the years and their personal animosity may have prejudiced their professional relationship.

Robert Dougan Robert Dougan appears 1:o have come to the colony in the carly 1820s. By 1826 he is listed as a leading merchant in the colony.95 Though active as a

merchant and a citizen, Dougan was unlucky in his bid to hold high office.96 In 1831 Governor Findlay finally appointed him to act as king's advocate (later queen's advocate) because there was no other qualified individual in the colony.97 Dougan applied for and was refused the position of colonial secretary in 1832. In applying for this position, he was obviously aware of the decision by the Colonial Office to appoint West Indians of color to positions in Sierra Leone for he wrote as follows: MyLord,1ookingforwardas1alwaysdidrothefulfilmentofthosegenerous declarations of favor, and encoul.agement from His Majesty's Govemmenc to further the views of the c:oloured part of the population of the British

i:Pv'ieL'o[ushivuetl::dc:anvn°eu:ee€t;,=alth(ecTi:e::£Ss°tr::::r¥fy£:squGaro::::mweL: and more especially that of Colonial Secretary, that I may now with confidencevenruretoassureYourLcndshiptheperformanceofthemwillbecom-

parativelyfamiliartomeand1humblytrustwhensecondedwithmyutmost exertions will not fail to give satisfaction in the Colonial Office, as well as 1:o this Goverrment.98

Dougan subsequently fell out with Governor Findlay and was replaced as actingking'sadvocatebyMagnusSmith,anEnglishlawyer.In1833,Michael Melville, whife acting as governor, nominated Dougan for a seat in the council, citing his qualifications and experience. Melville also appointed Dougan to act, again, as hing's a.dvoca.te.99 Dougan acted again in 1834, andwhenthepositionagalnbecaneopen,heoncemoreapplied,butwith no success.loo When he was asked to act again in 1836, Dougan declined, citing the low salary Though this might have been the reason he declined we can also speculate chat Dougan felt unappreciated and used. Filling the position of king's (queen's) advocate in the colony was a constant source of frustration for colonial officials throughout the nine-

West lndiam in of f ice


teenth century. The reluctance of qualificd legal men to come to Sierra Leone and the unhealthy climate of the colony were often cited as reasons for tlie problem. When Melville resigned his position as king's advocate, not many applicants were available to replace him. One Edgar Smith, offeredthepositionin1835,"declined-somebodyhavingtoldhim,that`a coffin would be a necessary part of his outfit."[°' A Mr. Norcott, who eventually assumed the duties of king's advocate in 1836, died in Decemberchefollowingyear.VAenNorcottdied,Douganagalndeclinedtoact, and as there was no qualified individual in the colony, Lord Glenelg recalled George Munay's decision and proposed "that the only method of mectingthisdifficultyisthatofrenewingtheapplica.tionformerlymadeto the Governor of Jamaica to recommend for the office some Gentleman of colour practising at that bar who would |]robably be able to encounter withoutriskaclimatesodangeroustotheEnglishconstitution."'°2In1838, Dougan was again persuaded to serve as acting queen's advocate, and a salaryraiseforthepositionwasconsidered.Insolicitingalargersalaryfor Dougan, Governor Dohcrty pointed out that Dougan had acted in the position several times before. He also maintained that Dougan was the most qualified individual for the job. Furthermore, Doherty declared, Thecolonyishishome;tocheclimateofwhichhehasbeenlonginurcdand withwhoselaws,usages&inhabitantshehasbeenlongandintimatelyacl quainted:andalthoughhislegalknowledgehasnotbeenacquiredbyaregularprofessionalcoufse,icis,intheopinionofthcChefJustice,whoauthorises

me to use his name on the occasion, sufficient both in accuraey and extent to render him fully competent to the duties of tlie office. Mr. Dougan indeed, from the increase of his practice and occupation since he was last a candidate for the appointment, would not now be induced to accept it on chepresentsalary:butallmyinformation&expcriencconchesubjectcon, curtoconvinccmeoftheproprietyofcherecommcndationforitsincreasc, madebymyselfandtheChiefJusticeonoccasionofthelas[vacancy....I begtobeallowedveryeanestlytorccolnmendMr.Dougan'sconfirmation intheappointmenc,atasalaryofcighthundredpoundsayear.[°3

The salary increase was approved, but Dougan did not get the I)osition. John Carr, having just finished his degree, was appointed.lot It was not until 1853, after acting in the position at va]-ious times over more than twentyyears,tliatDouganfinallybecamequeen'sadvocateofthecolony. ItisunclearwhyDouganwasrebuffedforsolong.Oncheonehand, localgovemorsseemedtoadmirehisrectitudeandexperienceandrccoinmended him as the most qualified individual for the job. On the other


West Indians in west Af rice,1808-1880: The Af rican Diaspora in Reverse

hand, officials in London were disinclined to appoint him to such a high

position.OnereasonforthisreluctancemayhavebeenthefactthatDougan had not been called to the English bar. His only qualification was that he was admitted to practice in the Sierra Leone courts, an insignificant qualification in the eyes of the Colonial Office.]°5 His rejection can also be explained by the fact that the queen's advocate was the successor to the governor of the colony. Colonial Office representatives and local administrators were not prepared, it seems, to hire a man of African descent as second in command. In 1831, when Findlay first appointed Dougan to act, the governorassuredtheColonialOfficethatDouganwouldnotbegivenaseatin thecouncil,whichwastheprocedurewhenaking'sadvocatewashired,"so as to give him no claim to the Government in case of my death."106 The

governor was not the only one who felt this way. John Mccormack, long resident in the colony, did not object to a man of color holding the king's advocate position. Mccormack argued that the senders would be pleased by a black man being appointed, but he recommended that if Henry Savage, a black settler who was his choice, was appointed, either the charter's rulingthattheldng'sadvocatesucceedthegovemorbechangedorthetitle of king's advocate be changed to public prosecutor or attorney general.107 AfterFergusson'sadministration,itisunclearwhyDougan'sracewould

be a consideration in his appointment as queen's advocate. Dougan's position as a merchant in the colony may have been perceived as a problem. Merchants in the colony were known to have signiflcant influence, and

possibly colonial officials doubted the wisdom of having one of the merchant class in a senior position. In 1849, colonial officials questioned the nomination of Charles Hcddle for chief justice because it conflicted with his position as a merchant in the colony. As chief justice, Heddle would be, required to adjudicate cases involving fellow merchants and rivals, and, accordingtooneobserver,thiswouldgiveHeddle"anundueinfluenceand advantage over the other traders in this place."`°8 Since Dougan was well lmown as a merchant in the colony, he may have been rejected for the same reasons. When he was finally appointed queen's advocate, he was well past his prime, and Governor Kennedy noted, in a tone expressing pity for the West Indian, that: As Mr. Dougan from his long residence in this colony may be almost considered a native, I feel it my day to state ro your Grace what I know and think of him. Mr. Dougan is an old member of the Council and also an old man,personally8cprofessionallyhighlyrespectable.Ibelievehimtobeprofcssional able, & personally loyal and hc>norable. He possesses my esteem

West Indiou in of f ice


and confidence, and would I an sure discharge the duties of queen's advocate efficiently. On the c)ther hand it is for your Grace to consider how fu it may I)e desirable to appoint an old, and nearly won out man, who cannot in the course of nature long hold the office; 8c who from his long local

practice might find difficulry in adopting the untrammcled and indepcndent course expected 8c rcquircd in the Qucen's Advocate of this Colony. Mr. Dougan is not on amicable terms with the Chief Justice, but both are gendemen in the best sense of the word, 8c I should not therefore despair of arranging their differences [as] the efflcient performance of their respective duties require it.lop

Perhaps Dougan hoped to prove Kennedy wrong and establish that he was not too old. He assumed the role of queen's advocate with vigor, and within a year of being appointed found an opportunity to make his mark on the colony's history.

When Governor Kennedy left in October 1854, Dougan acted as governor of the colony.Ilo For Dougan, having been in the colony for more chan thirty years, this was a milestone. Like Fergusson and Carr, Dougan no doubt saw his role as governor as an important one, in which he could establish himself as an able and competent official. One of the first items on Dougan.'s agenda was a problem with some local African chiefs. In October 1854, Douga.n received a letter from the Moriah chiefs in Malaghea, north of the colony, seeking redress for slaves taken from areas within their jurisdiction and asking for the return of the slaves. They also accused Moses Horton, a British subject, of inciting a slave rebellion and helping slaves escape to the colony. Dougan and his council decided that they would not

give the slaves up to the chiefs. Dougan sent a formal reply to the chiefs, maintaining that the slaves had willingly accompanied a government messengertothecolony.Therefore,sincechecolonialadmihistrationhadnothing to do with their removal, it had no authority to return the slaves. The chiefs were not satisfled with Dougan's response. The a.cting governor was not rcadytobrookanyopposition.Heconsideredmilitaryactionandpromptly stationed a. ship on the coast north of the colony. In taking such action, Dougan's objeedve was to secure African respect for British sovereignty, to intimidate the local African rulers, and to protect the rights of British trade: The Native Chiefs in the neighborhood of the Mellicourie, Scarcies and Fouricaria Rivers are in a very unsettled and intraccable state, and I shall undoubtedly have to bring them to their senses by sending up a sufficient force to chastise chen. They have been plundering the property of Bridsh Subjectsandmaltreatingthcirpcrsonsfo[imaginarywrongs,andiflamnot


W[e§t Indians inw4est Af rica,1808-1880: The Af rican Diaspora in lleiierse

abletotakeimmcdiatestepsagainstthem,thevaluableTradeoftheseiRivers will be lost to us entirely. The Mellicourie River alone supplied groundnuts lasc year to the amount of about L100.000 and unless I am in a position to shew these Chiefs chat I have the power of punishing them the whole trade will be, lost to the British and be taken up by the French.Ill

In December 1854, the chiefs expelled residents of the Freetown colony and Europea.n traders from their territory. Dougan responded by sending the colony's senior naval officer to demand reparation from the chiefs for "depradations at that time committed upon British Subjects."[]2 Dougan

asked for Colonial Office approval, arguing that he had acted "because there was no other path open for me to pursue, conciliatory measures had been almost carried too faj., and with these natives who are in fact but savages I had no alternative." The Colonial Office supported Dougan's operation, and the chiefs were ordered to pay a certain sum of money in restitution for the injuries they had caused.]'4 Trade revived, and in March the following year Dougan noted chat "the moral influence exercised by the Colony over the minds of the Native Chied arising from this Expedition has been shewn by their subsequent conduct, and commerce in their territory is again in a very flourishing state."t]5 This statement echoes in many ways John Ca].r's earlier suggestion of the need to Christianize and civilize the local African population, and Dougan exhibited the same kind of intensity as Carr before him. Dougan's governorship was characterized by his concentration on ending the traffic in slaves and promoting legitimate trade. Like Carr, Dougan saw the importance of maintaining good relations witli African chiefs for the promotion and facilitation of the colony's trade; however, his personal opinion of slave trading influenced his administrative policies. By May 1855, the Moriali chiefs had not made the agreed payments. Dougan ordered Commodore Adarns and Eugene Dillett to the Mellacourie rivers to extract payment from the chiefs.]'6 If they refused, Dilletc and Adams

were to threaten the chiefs with hostile actions. The chiefs complied with the demand, but not to Dougan's satisfaction. Unhappy with the chiefs' response,Douganorderedtheirtowndestroyedbyamanofwar.Theexpedition that followed was disastrous. The town was attacked several times in hope of demolishing it completely. However, the Africans retaliated and seventy seven men from the colony's troops were killed. This was the worst disaster in the colony's history, and the Colonial Office responded harshly, usingDouganasa.nexampleforfuturegovemorswhomightbetemptedto be reckless.

We§tlndians inof f ice


WhenStephenHillassumedthegovemorshipofsierraLeoneinSeptember 1855, he brought charges against Dougan. The investigation chat followedfocusedontheculpabilityofseveralindividualsinthefuledexpedition, particularly Dougan and Dinett.[[7 Dougan refused to plea.d his case before the council, maintaining that he would only defend himself to chesecrctaryofstate.ThecouncilcondudedthatDouganhadshownalack of good judgment and believed that he lacked evidence to justify his actions.CharlesHeddle,Dougan'soulysupporteronthecouncil,arguedthat Dougan's only fault was his appointment of Dillett and his fulure to consult his council. Heddle contested chat Dougan's actions in exceeding his instructions should be overlooked for, he pointed out, "I hold chat no Governor can rule a colony at a distance of 3,000 miles from the parent country, without he has, at times, the moral courage to disregard rules made only[for]ordinarycases."]]8HeddlewasgreatlyoutnumberedandthecounGil voted to suspend Dougan from his duties as queen's advocate and from his seat on the council. Clearly, protecting British interests was Dougan's primary motive in organizing the expedition. He believed his flrst responsibility as governor was to protect the interests of the colony and the Crown. The Colonial OfficedisagreedwithDougan.'sorders.Itupheldthecouncil'sdecision,and in January 1856, Secretary of State Labouchere condemned Dougan's actions. In Labouchere's view, the previous expedition was justified but the Malaghea expedition was not. There had been no provocation from the chiefs, their only fault being their failure to pay the money owed. The Colonial Office judged that Dougan should have undertaken such an importantmissionhimselfandsawhisgreatestmistakeasauthorizingtheexpedition without sanction from the home government. Furthermore, Dougan had failed to consult his council. The violence against the Africans was condemned by the Colonial Office, where one official observed that "the broadfactremainsthatpeacehasbeenconcludedontermswhichabandon altogether the claim for the 1030 dollars on account of which the expedi-

tionsoriginallystarted-thatitistherebyavowcdchatwewereinthewrong anditisapparentchatwhilenativekingBambaMinaLalriedisplayedafter theconflictmoderation8chumanityourproceedingshavebeenmarkedby violencejoinedtoinfirmityofpurpose."t]9Thoughsomeofficialssuggested

that Dougan should merely be deprived of his salay for a short period, he was to be used as an example, a.nd one official noted that "the time is arrived for putting some further check upon the aggressive humour of our officers." He concluded tha.t "the errors which Mr. Dougan committed have been of so grave a nature, and the consequences which ensured from


Tme§t Indians inTmest Af rlca,1808-1880: The Af rican Diaspora in Reuer§e

themsodisastrous,astomakeitnecessaryformetomarkmysenseofchem by confirming the unanimous decision of the Council of Sierra Leone, wherebyhewassuspendedfromhisofficeofQueen'sAdvocate;and1can hold out to him no expectation of his being again restored to public em-

ploymentinacolonyinwhichhisnamewinbeinseparablycomectedwith such lamentable events."`2' Dillett, because he was following orders, was exonerated. Dougan'sdismissalwasnotstronglyopposedbymanyinthecolony,

though he did receive the support and regret of the merchant population, who argued that without Dougan's actions against the chiefs, much ruin would have resulted for the merchants.]22 Yet Dougan's suspension by the council may have been politically motivated. His disagreement with chief justice Carr, together with Governor Hill's apparent dislike of blacks in high positions, may have influenced the council's decision to suspend Dougan.Carr,whohaddifferedwithDouganearlierthatyear,couldhave hadnorympathyforcheactinggovemor.Hill,asweshallseelater,hadno reason to suppc>rt Dougan either.

TheresponseoftheColonialOfficewassomewhatcomplex.ParticularlyinexcusablefortheColonialOfficewasthefactthatDouganhadacted without consulting his council and without Colonial Office approval. A

governor who had overstepped the boundaries of his authority, no matter what his race, was generally chastised. Colonial Office poliey in considering the race of its high officials appeal.s to have been nondiscriminatory at this period and with regard to hiring in Sierra Leone there was little discrimination in choosing its officials. Although there were certain positions to which blacks had been restricted, with the decision to hire West Indians in higher office and the successful administration of Fergusson, this poliey had changed. However, Dougan's actions influenced subsequent policy regardingthewayinwhichra.cewasperceived,andtheywerepivotaltosubsequent events in the colony.

Conclusion In examining the administrations of Fergusson, Carr, and Dougan, we see little difference in the policies they adopted as governors. They administered the colony as their white counterparts did, restricted by orders from London and airing to achieve recognition. Their race, significant only in thatitallowedthemtoobtalnsuchpositionsofpowerbecauseofthelocalityofsierraLeone,wasnotamajorassettoWestlndiansinoffice.Neither

We§tlndian5 in of f ice


was it a disadvantage. There is no indication that the black settlers or the indigenous African populations with whom they dealt respected them less becauseoftheirrace.ThoughEuropeansinthecolonyoccasionallyshowed some hostility to the West Indians in the period between 1830 and 1850, local settlers never questioned the West Indians' role as administrators. This

perception of west Indian capability, however, was to change in the next decade. Changing European ideas about ra.ce, coupled with the machinations and influence of some individuals in the colony, was to result in the discontinuance of British polity regarding the hiring of west Indians. How West Indians responded to these shifts in policy sheds light not only on mid-nineteenth century British colonial policy but also on the complex identity polities of Freetown in the nineteenth century.


TIIE 1850S AND 1860S

In1858,eightmenfromtheWestlndiesheldpublicofflceinSierraLeone. The principal West Indians in high official positions were John Carr, J. F. Smyth, J. T. Commissiong, and Alexander Fitzjames.I The rest of the "coloured" or "native" officials held minor positions. Race and ethnicity

influenced the West Indians' adaptation to the colony. Although the West Indians recognized and accepted their African ancestry, for the most part theysawlittlesimilariryotherthanskincolorbetweenthemselvesandAfricans, particularly indigenous Africans. This chapter explores the question of whether West Indians, as men of African descent, were more readily acceptedbyAfricansthanotherswere.Didracialaffinityinccrtaindefined contexts between the various groups of "Africans"-West Indian, settler, andindigenous-servetocreateagroupidentity?Wasracialsolidaritystrongerorweakerthansocial,cultural,andpoliticaldifferencesstemmingfrom thediversebackgroundsandexperiencesofthesevariousgroupsof"blacks"? On examining the relationship between the westernized setder population and the West Indians we find the answer in outside circumstances a.nd in influences that emphasized the divergent interests of the various groups of blacks in the colony. How West Indians were identified, how they identifled themselves, and how they responded to their status as outsiders serve also to illustrate the intricate nature of identity politics in the colony at midcentury. Many West Indians cane to Sierra Leone believing their experience in the New World had changed them for the better by exposing them to Christianity and Western civihization, and they saw themselves as messen-


W:est Indians ds oiitsiders: Chas, Race, and Elhriicly in the l850s and l860$


gers of that civilization.2 Robert Dougan's actions at Malaghea were an illustrationofthemissionaryzealsomeWestlndiansexhibited.Havinglived for some time in the colony, however, the West Indians realized that the Colonial Office essentially perceived them in the same way it did Africans. British racial attitudes in the mid-ninetcench century, though allowing for some distinctions between blacks, generally held that all blacks were inferior to Europeans whatever their origin; this was evident in colonial polity tliroughout the second half of the nineteenth century.3 Certain patterns cmergewhenexaniningtheracialstereotypesthatcolohialofficialsattachcd to various groups of blacks. Throughout the nineteenth century, officials in theBritishColonialOfficeutihizedspccificstereotypesinformingpolicyin Sierra Leone, and by the 1890s a. generalized British racism had surfaced, leading to the exclusion of blacks from office on purely racial grounds. At midcentury,however,someBritishofficialsheldmorespecificracialstereotypes, which influenced the way they dealt with individual groups in the colony,includingWestlndians.Thesecharacterizationswereoftenreflected in conflicts between West Indians and European officials, and they influenced colonial policy. Perhaps the diverse nature of the colony and its multiethnic population of blacks contributed to the stereotypes formed by the British.

The Colony at Midcentury Commander I.ynch, an American visitor to Sierra Leone in 1854, described the colony's population as a very mixed one, consisting of Europeans, Nova. Scotians, liberated Africans and native Creoles, West Indians, Americans (colored), Kroomen, and natives of the district. The liberated Africans and native Creoles comprise

ten-elevenths of the whole number. The creeds are as various as the races: commencing with the largest number professing them, they are Wesleyan Methodists, Episcopalians, Pagans, African Methodists, (seceders from the Wesleyan) , Lady Huntington's connexion, Mohammcdans, Baptists, Cacaotics, Presbyterians, and Jews, The costumes of the inhabitants are as various as their creeds and complexions; the latter ranging from the ruddy cheek of Cal€dohia to the sable brown of Egypt; the former, from the superfluous garmentsofcivilizationtothepurisnaturalibusofbarbarism.Generally,cheadults are pardy clad-the women more sc) than the men, although some of them have only a cloth around their loins. The yciung c)f both sexes under twelve

years of age generally go naked; but some have adopted the European dress.4


TKha Indians in Tme§t Af ricd,1808-1880: The Af rlcdn Dias|iora in Reverse

This lengthy description of Freetown revealed a colony that would have beenconsideredametropoliscomparcdtootherregionsalongthecoast.Its diversity, thriving economy, and multiracial population all made for what some have called a great experiment. A colony i'n which bla.ck men held significantpctsitionsinthecolonialgovemment,inwhichtheleadingmerchants were African, and in`which the attainment of western education was a principal goal was indeed a great experiment, at least in the eyes of nineteenth-century humanitarians and lib erals. CommanderLynchalsonotedchat"theblacksareaseligibleaswhites to all civil and municipal offices-mayor, alderman, sheriff, 8c c. Some yearsago,thegovemorofthecolonywasacoloredman;andaveryintelligent one, with whom I became acquainted, held the situation of colonial chaplain.''5 Another observer wrote that "Sierra Leone has a white Governor, and various white officials, but the most of them are colored. The habits, styles, curreney, houses, government, au are English."6 These were truly accurate portraits of the colony and its government at midcentury. The diverse pc>pulation may have made Sierra Leone interesting to visitors, but it also posed significant problems for the colony.

Nova Scotian, Maroon, and Liberated African Settlers Between 1800 and 1850, Sierra Leone was a thriving settlement with a growing population. By 1818 the colony could boast a theater. A 1822 observerofchecolonynotcdthe"busystirofcommerce,"andthepresence of "persons whose manners and intellectual acquirements will bear com-

parison with the relative ranks in any part of the world."7 A picture of the colonyinthisperiodrevealedapopulaceofNovaScotians,maroons,Kroo, Bulom, Sherbro, and liberated Africans; European traders, seamen, and administrators; and West Indian officials, merchants, and newspaper editors. These groups lived in mixed or separate communities, and they interactedwitheachother,ifnotsocially,certainlyonaday-to-daybasisintrade and in the workplace. By the 1850s the Nova Scotians and maroons were well settled in the colony. Having overcome the hostility of their initial encounter the two groups observed an uneasy alliance, or triice. Distinctions and friction between them continued as late as the 1840s, when Elizabeta Melville observed that " [t] he Settlers and maroons are totally different from all the rest of the community of Sierra Leone,-hate each other cordially, and look down with utter contempt upon the liberated Africans." As liberated Africans entered the colony in large numbers, there was a. rap-

W:est Indians ac oiitsidcrs: Chas, R4ce, and Ethnicly in the l850§ a;nd l860s


prochemcnt between the Nova Scotians and the maroons. They both disdained the newly arriving liberated Africans yet sought them as laborers and apprentices.9

The 1830s and 1840s saw a fui:thcr growth in the population of the colony.]° By the 1850s there was a growing liberated African population, almostindistinguishablefromtheNovaScotiansandmaroons.]]Thispopulation of westernized, Christian blacks, often called Creoles, formed "the Western foundations of the society, which were reflected in their Christianity, education, politics, ideals and aspirations, civic pride and high sense of individualism,cheirmodeofdress,theirarticulatenessandtheirlanguage."t2 In the early years of the colony's history, the number of educated settlers was small. Missionary schools were then established, and the Fourah Bay Christian Institution was founded in 1827. The public education system adopted in the colony, almost from the beginning, guaranteed a literate population. In addition, an increasing number of sctders were being educated in England; "it was therefore relatively easy for an individual to acquire at least some European-type schooling in the colony, and many Sierra Leoncans were quirk to take advantage of the possibilities which literacy in English offered. Education opened doors to junior civil service p ositions and clerkships-higher salaried, white-color [Jz.c] jobs commanding greater respect." Education ensured the settlers' upward mobility, but it did not secure them high official positions within the colonial administration in the colony. Thriving churches, voluntary organizations, economic associations, benefit and welfare societies, masonic lodges, and literary orga.nizations existed in the colony.[4 Nonetheless, though missionary education had ensured the prevalence of Christian and Victorian values, there were many settlers, especially among the liberated Africans, who continued to follow the religions and traditions of their various ethnic groups. Prominent in the colonyweretheAku,alargeportionoftheliberatedAfricanpopulation,of Yoruba descent and active politically and socially under the leadership of their various "kings." Many Aku were Muslin, while others practiced traditional African beliefs. Even among the Christian lib Crated Africans, traditional practices continued. Many settlers desired to have a say in how they weregoverned,andtheybelievedthatholdingofficeinthecolonialgovemment was a way of d'oing so. Consequently, there was growing discontent among some black setders in Sierra Leone. By midcenmry a burgeoning literate, if not highly educated, population of settlers had emerged: a population that was increasingly becoming aware of its marginal status in the colony. The liberated Africans had been


V¢le5t Indians invVlest Af rian!,1808-1880: The Af i;can Diaspora in Reverse

designated British subjects, with all that such a designation entailed, and this led to increasing discontent among the settlers. Most settlers believed thatbeingBritishsubjectsentidedthemtopoliticalrepresentationandequalitywiththeirEuropeancounterparts.Thoughtheyheldminorpositionsin the colony as clerks, teachers, shopkeepers, assistants to merchants, and overseers, there were few settlers in significant official positions within the colonial government. Norman Macdonald, Fergusson's successor, became governor in 1846 and was unwilling to place blacks in significant positions within the colony; in fact he systemtically excluded them.[5 Although settlers petitioned the Colonial Office, they received little support from London.Subsequentgovemorsmorereadilyappointedblackstopositionswithin the colonial system. By 1858, there were several setders in government positions-Isaac Fitzjohn was postmaster, Charles Heddle was in the colony's council, George Nicol was first writer in the Colonial Secretary's Office, and a few others held minor posts within the colonial administration in Freetown.]6 Nonetheless, most of the settler population in the 1850s and 1860s was outside the realm of the colonial administration. In his 1861 report, the United States consul wrote, "the people of the colony have no voice whatever in their government."[7 Nevertheless, subject to its laws, they created self-sufflcient lives for themselves in spite of it.

West Indians West Indians were an integral part of the colony from its inception. In the 1830s and 1840s, however, the character of west Indiari immigrants changed. Whereas the majority of west Indians coming to the colony in the eady nineteenth century were either rebellious slaves or disbanded soldiers, the later immigrants were professional men, literate, educated, and from middle-class backgrounds. Many came from privileged backgrounds and were of. mixed race.'8 The colonial administration hired West Indians for government positions in Sierra Leone throughout the 1840s, and althoughtheirnumberwasneverlargetheywereavisiblepresence.By1869 there were about 164 West Indians in the colony engaged in all spheres of colony life-as merchants, businessmen, teachers, missionaries, newspaper editors, and officials.19

Thewest Indians who came to Sierra Leone would have had no trouble assimilatingintoFreetownsociety.Descendantsofmaroons,NovaScotians, and liberated Africans had created social and cultural organizations that

W;cst Indians as Oiit§ialer§: C;lass, Race. and Ethnicly in the 1850s a:nd 1860$


would have been familiar to West Indian blacks. If they could not recognize the traditional African practices, the worship of Shango and other African

gods, they would surely have felt at home in the many churches in the colony.St.George'sCathedral,builtcarlyinthecentury,wouldhaveopened its doors to them. If the secret societies of the liberated Afi.icans seemed strange to them, the literary and debating societies, benefit societies, and otherorganizationswouldhavebeenmorefinliar.Westlndiansmusthave felt a cultural affinity with the burgeoning middle-class settler population in the colony. Nevertheless, there were still differences, even among the setders, into the late nineteenth century.20 Distinctions also endured between the black settler popihation and the Europeans.

Europeans There was a significant European population in the colony by the midnine[eenth cenl:ury, mainly composed of administrators, seamen, missionaries, and traders. Europeans formed their own society, segregated from Africans. According to Robert Clarke the Europeans were not a unifled group.2] This is evident in the constant complaints governors sent to the Colonial Office, noting the reluctance of Europeans to work, their dissipated lifestyles, and their abihity to create discord. They separated themselves into cliques, and peny jealoury and dissent marked their attitudes toward one another.22 For the most part, Europeans came in contact with Africans in official posts and with Africans whom they employed. One European resident in Sierra Leone observed that "a person may live for

years here, but, unless circumstances and climate alike permitted of his going about amongst the people, return to Europe at the end of chat time with the impression of having merely had for so long, a moving panorama of tropical scenery and figures before him."23 Admittedly, cris was the view of a European woman who, no doubt, led a relatively sheltered life, since European men more frequently came in contact with blacks in the colony. Intermarriages and illicit alliances were common, and a few European missionaries married African women, settler and indigenous. Encounters betw€en Europeans and blacks, of a particular class, were encouraged by the balls and other public events held in the colony. Clarke, rather disgustedly, described one such event, noting that, ``[t]he Europeans freely mingle with

persons of every dye, from mustee to black, and joyously trip on the `light fantastic toe' with the sable nymphs."24 Although miscegenation was often


Tmest Indians in we;e§tAf rica,1808-1880: The Af rican Diasilord in Reverse

frowned upon, it did not cease, and many settlers were born to European fathers and black mothers. Compared to the black population the number of Europeans was small,butitincreasedduringthecourseofthecentury.In1811,thrceyears after Sierra Leone became a Crown colony, there were 28 Europeans living in Freetown.25 By 1818 the Census listed the number of Europeans as 99.26

This number remained relatively stable throughout the rest of the period under study, rising or dropping by no more than 20. The pealc years between 1831 and 1871 were 1843,1844, and 1845 with population counts of 138,175, and 158 respectively. The lowest number of Europeans be-

tween this period was 83 in 1840. Between 1850 and 1860, when West

Indians were unpopular in the colony, the number of Europeans ranged between 105 and 131.

Europeans generally disliked the West Indians in the colony, resenting them for holding superior positions. Many Europeans in the colony reacted strongly to the placing of west Indians in high official positions, and as their numbers grew, European resentment increased. It is arguable thattheincreasingnumberofEuropeansinSierraLeoneinfluencedBritish colonial poliey on the hiring of west Indians. As Europeans became more acclimatized and their mortality rates dropped, colonial officials preferred to hire Europeans in gctvernment posts. As diverse as the inhabitants of the colony were, so were their interests. Freetown society was in its earlystages of formation, with ea.ch group seekingitsowninterests.Itwasalsoasocietycha]-actcrizedbysocialtension and cleavage and by class and race distinctions.27 The black settler popula-

tion,manyofthemsecondgenerationbythemid-nineteenthcentury,sought opportunitieswithinthecolony.Havingfoundagreatopportunityinbusinessandtrade,manysettlershadsucceededingainingagreatdealofwealth. Theirnewlyachievcdstatusmadethemfeelthatcheyshouldhavesomesay intheirgovemment.Consequently,theyresentedthefactthatcheColonial Office did not see fit to assign them to official positions. Europeans were usually discontented, and those who held important official positions objectedtobeinginAfrica,whichtheysawasonlyasteppingstonetogreater glories within the colonial system. Many whites had openly disdained the black setders, especially the newly arriving liberated Africans. It was into this milieu that West Indian officials came, and it is easy to see the kind of frictionthatwouldaj.isefromBritain'sdecisiontobringblackwestlndians to Sierra Leone to assume important official positions. Their status as outsiders-black outsiders-often played a major role in the wa.y the incomingWestlndianswereperceived.

W:esi Indian ac otlt§iders: C!as§, Race, and Ethnicly in the l850s and l860§


Outsiders as Agjtal:ors Colonial officials took unkindly to anyone they believed to be a negative influence on the black population in the colony. Subscribing to the belief that the settlers were always happy with the status quo, grateful for the benefits they derived from being British subjects, colonial administrators believed that foreigners must be responsible for instigating dissent. Local authorities often portrayed black settlers as docile and receptive to colonial

poliey, the gratitude they felt from being saved from a life of slavery overshadowing any p ossible grievance they might have.28 This characterization was erroneous but prevalent, and when the settlers exhibited signs of discontent, it was usually attributed to the influence of foreign instigators.29 Thus in 1836, when Governor Canpbell faced opposition from blacks in the colony,heattributedittotheinfluenceofoutsiderslikeWilliamFergusson. In a private letter to the Colonial Office in August 1836, Campbell listed the alleged misconduct of several pubhc officers and other individuals inthecolony,insistingthatFergussonwasaleaderinchemisdeeds.Heaccused themenofrebellingagaiust"coustitutedauthorities"andarguedthatthecolony was in constant agitation because of their actions.30 He classifled them as "men devoid of every principle of honor or integrity whose names will be

found frequently at the Colonial Office in all the disreputable proceedings that have heretofore taken place . . . they are one and all either instigators or agents in the constant disgraceful scenes that take place, and in opposition to all authority considering themselves amenable to no law or regulation that may be made for the welfare of the Colony."3] Of the nine men accused, henotedthatsixwere"menofcolourbutnotborninthecolony."32Campbell charged them with trying to oust him from his position by spreading lies. He believed the New World blacks resented his popularity among the settler and native populations, and he argued that the only hope of maintainingorderinthecolonywastoeliminatethisopposition.Thoughthegovernor did not suggest it, his attention to the birthplaces of the six men "men of colour but not born in the colony" suggested that he considered deportation an option. Canpbell, no doubt, was implying that without the influence of outsiders, white or black, the senders had no grievances and posed no threat to the colonial establishment. Similarly, in the 1850s, local governors pointed to foreigners in the colony as the instigators of settler discontent.

Outsiders a§ Agitators: Mdgrus Smj.th and Joseph Dalley

Alookattheroleoftwo"outsiders"-MagnusSmithandwillianDrapeillustrates how colonial officials manipulated the presence of foreigners to


W;est Indians inwe!t Af rica,1808-1880: The Af rican Diaspord in Reverse

further their policies and divide the black settler population. At the center of the controversy surrounding the role of west Indian officials in Sierra Leone were several issues and individuals.33 The main issues were the state of the colony's judicial system and the role of the press. The key players were Magnus Smith, William Drape, Governor Stephen Hill, and, J. R. Dailey, a black American. The sequence of events that led up to the Colonial Office ceasing its poliey of hiring West Indians had these men at its center. Diverse in character and in motives, they were catalysts for a whole series of changes in the colony. Magnus Smith, a white English lawyer long resident in the colony, was the bane of the existence of several colonial governors, black and white. Thefirstmentionofsmithincolonialdocumentsdepictedhimasatroublemaker.34 Smith was one of the six men not born in the colony whom Governor Campbeu labeled agitators in 1836.35 Campbell labeled Smith an "outsider," seeking to foment discontent among the black population. Campbell complained of insubordination among 'the officials and insisted tha.t Magnus Smith was at the forefront of a bid by settlers to undermine his government. He described Smith as "a most worthless character," noting his recent dismissal from public office and asserting that the ,discontented settlers "are advised and led, as is every troublesome character in the

place by Mr. Magnus Smith, whose sole existence being burned out of all the Law Courts in which he was an Attorney depends on drawing up cases to be submitted to your Lordship, and privately advising these deluded men to what must ultimately be their ruin, for any advantage they may temporally [j.z.c] gain by misrepresentation, can only last until the truth be

kn own."36 Inl838,SmithwenttoLondon,alleginginjusticesagainstpoorblacks in the colony.37 He vociferously attacked the colony's justice system, particularly citing the role of John Carr, the West Indian chief justice. Smith's attacksagainstthechiefjusticewereprobablymotivatedbyapersonalvendetta against Carr, who had been chosen as queen's advocate after Smith's

dismissal, and who was better educated than Smith. However, Smith's agitations may also have resul`tcd from a genuine concern for the rights of the blackpopulation,whichhebelievedtobevictimizedbythejusticesystem. Whatever the reason, Smith was a persistent thorn in the side of colonial officials,bothinthecolonyandinBritain.Indeed,Smithantagonizedformer allies like Wiuiam Fergusson. In 1845, Magnus Smith charged Judge Carr and five others with conspiring to ruin him professionally and using pejorative language toward him. In defending the five men, whose number in-

Wert Indians ns Oiit§ider§: Cha§, Race, and EShnicly in the 1850§ dud 1860$


cluded Robert Dougan, Governor Fergusson pointed out the irrationality of the charges, that five English gentlemen should have associated themselves together, to. com-I

pass the ruin of any individual, and that, too, without any ostensibly adequate motive, is, I think, on a first view, highly improbable: but, to this charge of conspiracy, there is superadded that of "false swearing and perjury," which only tends, in my mind, to increase chc reasonable doubts attached to the whole. In a place such as Sierra Leone, where the European communityissmall,chepersonswhocomposeitarenecessarilythrownmore into the society of each other than is generally the case in large communities; hence there is gained in such places, among such persons, a more intimate knowledge of individual character than is elsewhere to be expected. With all the five gcndemen whom Mr. Smith accuses of' conspiracy and perjury I have been, in this Colony, on terms of considerable intimacy for many years, with Mr. Dougan 22 years, with Mr. Hornell 13 years, ChiefJustice Carr 5

years, Mr. 0ldfleld 4 years, Mr. Abbott 3 years (until he died); and it becomes me to say that, neither in the knowledge of individual character thus acquired, nor in Mr. Smith's mode of accounting for the conspiraey and perjury, of which he alleges himself to have been the victim, do I see any grounds to attach credit to the grave charges laid against those gentlenicn.38

Fergusson pointed out that Smith had gamered no widespread support among the colonists, which suggested the spurious nature of his charges. Cleady Fergusson, himself once linked with Smith, had now adopted official rhetoric and was pointing to Smith as an agitator. On the other hand, two of the men attacked by Smith were West Indians, and Fergusson may have been coming to their defense on those grounds. Nevertheless, Smith persisted and, in 1850, accused Judge Carr of injustice,whilecriticizingthejusticesystein.ColohialOfficeignoredSmith's charges, recognizing that his venom was directed more against Car than against the system. However, Smith was unrelenting in his on the justice system, calling for reforms.39 In August 1856 he called for a commission of inquiry into the rystem, using the case ofJanes Renderson Dailey, an AfricanAmerican in debtor's prison.40 Using Dafley's case as an example of the ineq-

uities within the system, Smith argued that it was a travesty of justice that Dailey should have been in prison for frvc years. Smith incited the population with accusations of oppression, misgovernment, and nepotism anong officials in Sierra Leone.4! He organized petitions among the black senders,



`17;est Indians inwlest Af rica,1808-1880: The Af rican Diaxpord in RIuerse

Anti-SlaverySocietyinLondontookupthecause,andtheissuewentasfar as the House of Lords.42 Dailey's case is important because it set off a sequence of discussions between the colony and the Colonial Office, focusing on the judicial system in Sierra Leone. Magnus Smith and others in the colony bombarded the Colonial Office with documentation 6fwhat they sawas the injustices in the colony. Dajley's case led to accusations of nepotism among officials in Sierra Leone, many of whom were black West Indians. Moreover, it resulted in the increasing radicalization of part of the colony's population under Smith's leadership. Eventually, the case led to a series of reforms in the justice system. However, these reforms, as we will see, turned out to be detrimental to the colony's inhabitants.43 Though he is more aptly described as an agitator, Smith can also be characterizedasachampionofthemasses,asamaninfluencedbyChartism or liberal principles, unwilling to abide inequity. He was consistent in his tirades against the inequities black settlers faced. Smith was not successful inhisagitationsagainstthegovemmentorthejudicialsysteminthecolony and, for the most part, a.chieved very little in terms of changing govemmentalorlegislativestructuresthere.Hewas,however,successfulingetting West Indians removed from office. Magnus Smith was very antagonistic toward West Indians, and it is not surprising that his name was prominent in several controversies surrounding them. Smith's dislike of west Indians may ha.ve been ca.used by their ethnicity and also by the social and political positions they held. He was, in general, distrustful of men in authority. Smith was influential in motivatingasectorofthecolony'spopulationtoquestionthewayinwhich theywerebeinggovemed.ThetargetsofthesegrievanceswereWestlndian officials.ThoughSmithwaslinkedwithWilliamFergussonin1836,wesee the two men at odds once Fergusson became governor. Likewise, Smith's championing of Dailey as a victim of the judicial system may have been connected to his personal dislike of John Carr. Smith was also notably absent from the activities surrounding Dougan's dismissal and from Wiimam Drape's altercation with Governor Him.

Outsiders as Agitators: Wiilliam Drape Contrary to what European officials at home and in the colony believed, settlers could express their grievances independently of outside influence andpressure.Sendingpetitionstothesecretaryofstatcwasapopularmeans by which settlers voiced their protests. Black settlers in Siem Leone were

W:est Indian as Oiits;ders: Clan. Race, and Ethnicly in the 1850§ and 1860§


aware of their rights in this respect, and they frequently sent out petitions. They also knew they could use the press to express their dissatisfaction. A

prominentfigureinSierraLeone'spresswasawestlndian,WilliamDrape. Drapewasamerchantandtheeditorofthefustblack-ownednewspaperin the colony. The JVcz4J Erzz, which he began publishing in May 1855, was an avenuebywhichthepopulationcouldvoiceitsdis`content.440neofDrape's stated aims in publishing the JVcow E#¢ was to give the local inhabitants a chance to air their grievances. This was a novel idea. in the colony since ``no newspaper had been expressly founded to reflect local opinion," and the JVcGc/ E#¢ "emerged as a forum for the public."45 Furthermore, the IVcz4 Erzz appeal-ed at a crisis period in Sierra Leone history when public dissatisfaction was

mounting against the government. Some of the merchants resented the govemment's vigorous assaults upon the then profitable enterprise of smuggling. Discriminatory practices in appointments were beginning to draw public attention to the inadequacies of the political system reflected in the composition of the undifferentiated Council all of whose members but one were government offlcials. Demand for reform was gathering strength and was soon to lead to the demand for "a popular House of Assembly." . . Many interests, chcrefore, saw the Era as a long-overdue and promising instrument with which they could harass and embamss the administration.46

As editor of the newspaper, Drape was a torment to local colonial administrators, particularly Gc>vemor Stephen Hill. Unlike other papers that confined themselves to advertising, printing government notices, and publishingarticlesfromEuropeanpapers,Drape'spapersoughttoinformthepublic about events in the colony, particularly the way in which it was being administcred. This antagonized local colonial officials, who sought to silence Drape by restricting his newspaper. Drape first appears in the colonial documents in 1857, complaining aboutanewspaperordinancepassedinthecolonyandthemannerinwhich itwasadministeredbythegovernor.47Theordinancecontainedmanyclaures, among which was the specification that if any newspaper in the colony continuedtopublishwithoutprovidingasignedstatement,givingthename and addresses of its printers, publishers, and owners, it would be considercd an offense and the owners would be subject to a fine.48 Newspaper editors were required to present the names of two individuals as sureties who would assume responsibility for any debts or financial obligations in the event of the newspaper's demise.49


Wie5t Indians inTwle§tAf i.ica,1808-1880: The Af rican Diaspora in Reverse

D.rape objected that the ordinance was being administered unfairly. Heopposedsuchalawinacolony"wherecheestablishmentofaPress,and all that tends to the advancement and progress of the Colony, ought rather tobedesiredandinducedthanobstructedandprevented."5°Drapepointed out that the other newspaper in the colony was not subject to the same rules,whichwasunfalr.The,4fz.c47c4#cZSz.c"¢Zco7zcWrcc4/gr,4Jz/cr#.fcr,was

a paper started the same year as the IVcow E#¢. Published by the Church MissionarySocietywichthehopesofelevating"pubhctasteandmorality,"the j4/z.c¢7z ¢#c/ Sz.c77:a £co7zc Wccle/gr .4c7z;c7rircr also carried government adver-

tisements and notices, which led Drape to label it "the organ of the local government. "5 I Governor Hill defended himself from Drape's accusations, arguing that Drape had published the ordinance in the IVczw Erzz and knew aboutit.ThegovernorbelievedthatDrapehaddeliberatelyrefusedtoabide by the ordinance and fined him.52 The Colonial Office supported Drape's

point of view but decided that Drape had knowingly broken the law by publishing his paper before complying with the ordinance. Since Drape had suffered no significant loss because of Hill's actions, the Colonial Offlce decided against compensating him. Hill was not content with the Colonial Office's decision, and he took the offensive by accusing Drape of nurturing discontent among the "the native population." He accused Drape of inciting the local inhabitants to petition against the ordinance. According to Hill, It is hardly to be expected chat a semi civilized people easily led by the dis-

contented few, can clearly understand why the Government allows the publication of slanderous attacks c)n its poliey and intentions towaJ.ds them, without contradiction, chc uneducated native, supposing the Government he has hitherto respected, and the power of which he has probably always overestimated would naturally contradict untruth and punish the uttered

/fz.c] of such falsehood, can only attribute its silence to acknowledgement of the allegations published against it, and be induced to believe that he is oppr€ss€d, and therefore j ustified to offer opposition to constituted authority, and by such means a docile and contented people be made fractic)us and troublesome, to their own injury and that of the Colony generally.53

Hill accused Drape of being a "weak tool" of Europeans and ``dismissed public Officers" in the colony.54

The dismissed officials to whom Hill referred no doubt included Robert Dougan, who had been discharged from his position as queen's advocate, and the 'Europeans presuma.bly included Magnus Smith.55 The governorrecommendedchatrestrictiousshouldbeputonthepress,"inacolony

West Indians as Oiitsiders: Cld§§, Race, and Ethnicity in the 1850§ and 1860§


where the people are not sufficiently advanced in education to discriminate between the truth or falsehood of such publications."56 Hill argued that Drape's paper was responsible for an increasing disregard of the colony's authorities. Hill accused Drape of inciting the colony's population, ,and he brought up a familiar argument about the black settlers, alleging the The natives of sierra Leone left to themselves are docile and easily governed, and it is therefore painful to know that a few characterless Europeans, consisting of dismissed public officers, smugglers, and sympathizers with slave dealers, with native fuons, and young men of loose character should be permittcdthroughcheagenqrofanewspaper,conductedbyanadventurerfrom the West Indies to mislead Her Majesty's subjects in this Colony, and probably excite them to resist the very mild laws by which they are governed.57

BycharacterizingDrapeas"anadventurerfromtheWestlndies"Hillsought to draw attention to the outsider status of the West Indian, as Campbeu had once done with WJlian Fergusson. But more damaging to West lndians in the colony was Hills suggestion that whites be hired in preference to blacksbeca.use"na.tivesmuchpreferbeingruledbyawhitemanthanoneof their own colour," a recommendation the Colonial Office would later consider.58 The colony's administration agreed with Hill's characterization of the black settlers, though it decided to delay setting up press restrictions.59 -The Colonial Office disregarded the petition criticizing the colony's ad-

ministration, though it took note of the discontent and recognized the influence of the press.60

The altercation between Drape and Governor ELll, plus the role of Smith and Dailey in the colony, serve to highlight several issues current in the colony during the 1850s and 1860s. By examining these conflicts we are able to consider settler attitudes toward the administration, and toward West Indians. Like many of his predecessors, Hill perceived the black settlers as docile and content, incapable of acting without the influence or supervision of a European or an "outside agitator." Therefore, colonial officials imagined that any sentiment of discontent expressed by the settlers originated under duress or coercion from foreigners. Hill's characterization ofthesettlerpopulationwas,clearly,erroneous.SierraLeonehadagrowing middle class whose values were Christian and whose outlook was, for the most part, Eurocentric. This was a thriving, active population that kept up withchangingeventsinEuropc+revolutions,reforms,cheriseofthemiddle class. Though the concerns of a colonial society like Sierra Leone were not identical to those of Europe, the easy flow of information ensured chat the


Tme5t Indians inTme!t Af rica,1808-1880: The Af rian Dias|iora in Reverse

socialchangeEuropewasexperiencingdidnotgobyunnoticedbysetders in the colony.

Anti-\X/est Indian Sentiment Drape'sfeudwithHillandMagnusSmith'sagitationsemphasizedtheconflict between the various groups in the colony-European/settler, setder/ West Indian outsider, West Indian/European, Official/settler, white/black, and even settler/settler. These conflicts centered around race, class, and ethnicity and raised the problem of how the black sender population respondedtothepresenceofwestlndianoutsidersinofficialpositions.They alsoshowhowWestlndiansrespondedtotheirpositionsasblacksinofficc, and how, as a group, they responded to their status as foreigners in a black colony. The occurrences of the late 1850s and endy 1860s, when settler grievances found their target in the West Indians who held official positions within the colonial administration, well illustrate the discord in the colony. The West Indians were always regarded as foreigners in the Freetown colony,buttheiroutsiderstatusbecanesignificantonlywhentherewasacrisis and when they were perceived as a threat. Because of their small number, during the 1830s and 1840s the few West Indians who held office were accepted by the setder population as examples of successful men of color. Though the settlers were dissatisfied with their own peripheral status, the settlersgenerallyacceptedchattheywerenotreadyforhighoffice.TheWest Indians, as descendants of Africa, were seen as a good substitute for EuropeansinSierraLeone.Inturn,theWestlndiansbelievedtheyhadaroleto playindevelopingthecolonyandupliftingtheAfricanrace.Themissionany zeal with which many West Indians came to Africa sometimes steered them into situations leading to their downfall. Robert Dougan's disastrous actionsduringtheMalagheaexpeditionwereaprimeexampleofanoverly enthusiastic official, one who, because of his race, felt compelled to prove hiscapabilitiestocolonialofficials.Theself-righteousattitudeheexhibited toward the African population no doubt caused friction between West lndians and westernized Africans. Like West Indians, settlers believed in their responsibilities as "civilized" Africans, toward the indigenous Africans. By the 1850s the growing success of settlers led them to believe that they were suited for the positions that West Indians held in the colony. There were also Europeans in the colony averse to seeing West Indians in high office.

West Indians as ottl§lders: Chat, Race, and Ethnicly in the l850S and l860§


In March 1858, Governor Hill forwarded a. petition from some settiers in the colony, pointing to Magnus Smith as its actual a.uthor.6[ Hill characterized the document as originating from "the criminal portion of thecommunityinthiscolony"andclaineditsaccusationswerefalse.62The

malnthrustofthepetitionwasdirectedagainstwcstlndiansinoffic;.The petitioners complained that West Indians were being employed in government positions in preference to setders. Several other complaints followed this petition, among them one from Henry Savage, a clerk dismissed from the Office of Public Works.63 Savage claimed that he had been mistreated by two West Indians-J. F. Smyth, the colonial secretary and William Davis-and that he had been falsely accused of stealing documents from the Colonial Secretary's Office. Though Governor Hill denied the charges thatWestlndianswerepreferentiallyemployedandasscrtcdthatthenumber of west Indians employed in government was insigniflcant, the Colonial Office did not dismiss Savage's claims. Colonial Office officials found nothing to implicate Savage; they believed he had been unfairly dismissed andsuspectedthatHill'streatmentofthecolony'spopulationwasnotentirely fin.64].F.Smyth,theWcstlndiancolonialsecretarythenonleaveinLondon, was questioned about the treatment of black settlers in government employment. Since his son was named in Savage's letter, his response was neutral. EdwndBulwerI.ytton'sexpressedviewofSm}thwasthathewas"averyintelligent man, and I must own that his conversation confirms me in my ophion that the W. Indians tho' with the best intentions towards the advance of the African race, create an evil jealousy amongst the Europeans 8c the Natives."65 Another appeal to the Colonial Office in June 1858 specifically tar-

geted I. F. Smyth.66 This petition asked for Smythi dismissal, pointing to the widespread antipathy toward him in the colony. Furthermore, it sug-

gested that his return would give the West Indi'ans in government a majority in the Colony's council, which would have the effect of placing the Colony in the position of having it and its Government, in a greatmeasuresurrendereduptoasmallknotofpersonswhoformapartyas thoroughly banded togechcr and against all others, and for their own purposes and interests, as ever party was, and gready more so than is the case with parties generally-placing the Colony in fact in the position of having its Government surrendered up to the least of t`ro parties in it, the one consisting of but a very few persons, though forming the majority of the Council and the other consisting of the great body of the Colc)nists. For it has become so evident that chc West Indians here who flll high situations and form part of the Government, and the great body of the Colonists,


Wiest Indidm inTmest Af rica,1808-1880: The Af ricdn Diaspora in Reverse

stand in positions adverse to each other, chat the Colony already, in conse-

quenceofsuchsituatic)nsbeingfmedbywestlndians,standsintheposition of being divided between two opposite parties.67

The petitioners saw no benefits from West Indians being hired in "high situations in this Colony."68 Instead, "the effects are on the contrary

prejudicial and injurious." They, therefore, requested that no more West Indians be hired and that "the Colony may, as soon as circumstances will allow, be relieved from such appointments of that nature, as have already been made."70 Claiming no aspirations to hold these high positions in government themselves, the petitioners proclaimed that "their sole present ob-

ject is on the contrary, to obtain relief from the evil which they know by experience a]-ises from West Indians holding them, and they would intreat that, for the present, such posts may again, as they were formerly, until the practiceofscndingWestlndianstotheColonyarose,befmedchieflyif.not entirely, by Europeans."7l

Perhaps it is cris request that suggests the hand of Magnus Smith in thepetitions.Smith'sdislike,evenhatr€dofwestlndianspromptedhimto support, if not generate, an attack against West Indian officials. Governor Hill dismissed the petitions, claiming, they originated from "the criminal

portion of the community in tliis colony» and pointed to Magnus Smith as theinstigatorofsettlerdiscontent.Thepetitionswerebelievedtohaveorigimated in the Vigilance Association, an organization established by Smith.72

Consequendy, gauging whether there was genuine discontent anong the blacks or whether Smith's animosity toward West Indians was the motiva.ting factor proves difficult. Yet, clearly, both factors combined in the attack againsttheWestlndians.73Smithwasmostcertainlyinvolvedinchem,but it is difficult to establish whether he played on existing discontent among black setders or whether he generated it. For Smith to have collected so manysignaturesindicateschattherewasanelementofdissatisfactionamong settlers. Class, race, and ethnic differences in the colony's population played apartintheeventsof1858,butthefactchatnotallblacksettlerssupported the petitions is indicative of divergent interests among them. The setders with some status, economic or otherwise, having the most to gain by supporting Smith's attempts to exclude West Indians, stood behind the West Indian officials, demonstrating that their interests lay elsewhere.

Rdce, Class, and Ethnicly The petitions, with their emphasis on West Indian dominance, reveal the divisionsamongblacksinthecolony-thewestemizedAfricanpopulation

West India;ns ns Oiitsider§: Class, Race, dud Ethnicly in the 1850s and 1860§


and the West Indians. Though perceived as one by the British colonial a.uthority, the various groups of blacks identified themselves separately and had different interests. The racial identification between West Indians and settlers, though sometimes recognized, was not emphasized in this circumstance by the petitioning serdcrs. The cause lay in the class and ethnic divisions of the two groups-settler and West Indian. In addition, there were classdistinctionsevcnamongthesettlerpopulation.Bythemid-nineteenth century, a small group of affluent seders, mostly of liberated Afi.icon descent, had acquired significant wealth and status in the colony. In opposition to this group was the large number of black settlers who could be classified as working class, and these were the individuals whose support Smith gamered. Many black settlers were discontented by their marginalization and had protested sporadically over the years. It is therefore odd that the petitionsaskingforchedismissalofwcstlndianswouldrcquestthatWestlndians be replaced by Europeans rather clan by qualified black settlers, whose numbers had increased significantly by this time. If Magnus Smith did indeedinstigatethepetitions,hewouldhavebeenaversetorcplacingWest Indians with other blacks, particulady if he sought a position for himself within the administration. On the other hand, the petitioners, originating mainly from an unqualified, perhaps uneducated and iuiterate portion of the population, may have realized they were not equipped for government positions. Nevertheless, their apparent deference to Europeans could have been a deliberate attempt to appear rational, rather than power hungry, in their complaints. The complaints against the West Indians made a clear distinction between the petitioners, who saw themselves as Africans and rightful residents of the colony, and the West Indians as outsiders. The West Indians on the other hand identifled with the black settlers on the

.basis of color (race) and common African ancestry. Their difference from the settlers, nevertheless, was apparent. Though culturally similar in many ways, particularly in their espousal of Christian, victorian values, the West Indians saw chemselvcs as different from a large part of the settler populationintwomajorways:socialandethnic.ThoughWestlndiansrecoghized their African ancestry, they created an ethnic and class identity separate fromthesettlers,anddecidedlyseparatefromtheindigenousAfricans.West Indians were often labeled Europeans and culturally linked to Europe, but they were easily identifiable and identified themselves typically by their color.74 Their link to Europe is what set them apart, at least in their own view. The settlers had the traits of education, Christianity, and exposure to Western civilization; however, they lacked the tangible ties to Europe.75


West Indians inwiest Af ricci,1808-I880: The Af rican Diaspora in Rf Verse

Whereas many of the West Indians had residences in England and could settletherewhentheyleftSiemLeone,theblacksetders,forthemostpart, lacked this option. The settlers also lacked the ties based on place of origin by which West Indians identified themselves as a unified group. Although

originating from different West Indian islands-Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados-inSiemLeone,Westlndiansidentifiedthemselvesasonegroupwhen the situation warranted. In addition, they were perceived as a discrete ethnic group by both settlers and Europeans. While eaJ-lier petitions had targeted West Indians in high office, an October 1858 appeal alluded to collusion between West Indian officials andprivateindividualsofwes[Indianorigin.Chargesofcorruption,nepotism, mismanagement, and discrimination were leveled against West Indians' as a group. This petition cited individual cases of corruption among West Indian officials. It pointed to Judge Carr, who "has fearfully retrograded in public justice; [to] the general suffering of the people and consequently the almost universal unhappiness of the Community" and asserted that"itismostunfortunately,tootrulyascribabletotheWestlndiansalone that the administra.tion of Justice has become proverbially corrupt."76

J. F. Smyth was again the primary target of this petition, which accured him, along with Carr, of "de facto" running the colony's government because of Hill's incompetence. Charges of nepotism were leveled against Smyth,accusinghimofplacing"thewholeofhisfamily,andrelativeswhich may bc compared to swarms of hungry locusts" in key positions in the colony.77 Smyth was charged with randomly dismissing employees in the Colonial Secretary's Office. The petition drew attention to George Nicol, a black settler deemed qualified for the colonial secretary's position, and accused Smyth of demoting Nicol in fivor of a European. Thechargesofncpotismwerewellfoundedthoughnotunusual.Patronage within the colonial administration was the norm rather than the exception. It was quite common for officials, black and white, to employ members of their finilies. Fergusson, Commissiong, Dougan, and Smyth had all found jobs for their sons within the administration. In 1837, WilliarnFergussonsecuredthepositionoffourthwriterintheColonialSecretary's Officc for his son.78 J. F Smyth appointed his son to the same position i`n 1857.79Dougan'ssonheldthepositionofclerktohisfatherwhilethelattcr heldthepositionofqueen'sadvocate.J.T.Commissiong'ssonwasanassistant magistrate and clerk to the chief justice in 1854; he was also a supervisor in the colony's printing department. In 1855 his father requested that hebeemployedasfirstwriterintheColonialSecretary'sOffice.8°Governor Hill himself had a son in an official position during this period.

West Indians ds oiit§ider§: Cha§, Race, and Ethnicly in the l850S and l860§


The 1858 October petition also accusedwest Indians ofmonopolizing jobs and taldng them from "Native" employees In the petitioners' view West Indians were "the reason why so much c/cfjz.ty#.o# [emphasis in original] prevails in the Colony."8t I. F. Smych was again singled out, demo.unced for giving public work contracts to Hazelborg and Clinton, "two of his countrymenonthenovelWcstlndianjobbingcontractsystem....Thatin orderthebe[tertoaccomplishthisscheme,hegothistwofriendsandcountrymen to enter into partnership in the general building business, under the flrm of Hazelborg and Clinton, in order to cnish the Native Mechanics and reduce them and their families to starvation, which is unhappily the case."82 In reality, Hazclborg and Clinton had been active as contractors in thecolonyforseveralyearsandwereweuestablishedtherebymidcentury.83 When the colonial surveyor's position was abolished in 1855 because of the difficultyoffindingqualifiedcandidates,publicworkscontractsweregiven to private contractors. Hazelborg and Clinton, perhaps the only effective contractors in the colony, received most of the contracts.84 It is, therefore, unlikely that the decision to give out contracts to the two men could have been made solely by Smyth. West Indians were blancd for "the heavy pressure of undue Taxation," "the heavy restrictions" on retail trade, the imposition of English law on certain portions of the population, the "inefficient state of the Police force," and "the cause of all the evils of whatever nature that have befallen theColonyduringthelast12years."85Theseclaimswereexaggerated.Contrary to the petitioners' claims, the colony, which in its fifty-year history hadseveraltimesnearcdbankruptey;wasinthisperiodsolvent,ifnotthriving. The groundnut and palm trade was increasing, timber was still being exported, and the palm kernel trade was flourishing. Import and customs revenueshadrisenwithexports,andtherewassurplusrevenueinchecolony.86 In1857,Americanmerchantsandtraderspetitioncdtheirsecretaryofstate asking for a consul in Sierra Leone, giving as their reason "the large and increasing trade of the Americans with this colony and the adjacent rivers."87 The petitioners' assertion that West Indian ascendancy was responsible for all the colony's problems was, therefore, inaccurate. West Indians were also blamed for the decline in the colony's trade with the indigenous populations. Citing an ordinance passed in July 1853, which required hawkers and peddlers in the colony to pay an annual duty, the petitioners argued that such a regulation was detrimental to merchants' interests because they were not able to get supplies of produce from, local Africans. As a result of these restrictions, the petitioners believed indigenousAfricanswerereluctanttomaintainfriendlyrelationswith,thecolony

Tf )6

Wie§t Indians inwle§t Af ricd,1808-1880: The Af rican Diasi]ou in Reverse

and its inhabitants, and "the Colonists sojourning among them for trading purposes are restricted in their business and regarded with hatred in consequence of the despotic character and acts of our local Government, and particularly the Malaghea Expedition of 1856, and that of the more recent onslaughtupontheAl]originesthisyear,attheScarciesRiver,bothofwhich were entirely unnecessary, lamentable, arid shockingly sanguimry in their results."88 In other words, West Indians were blamed for poor trade relations between settlers and indigenous Africans. The reference to Malaghea was, of course, to Dougan, another inept West Indian in the petitioners' view.89 West Indians were held responsible for all the events in the colony "by which the Aborigines and the Inhabitants in general have been and are still oppressed and impoverished."90 Clearly, the signatories to this petition

were disgruntled with the colonial administration generally but were using West Indians as scapegoats. The hand of Magnus Smith is visible in this October 1858 appeal which made a clear distinction between settlers and West Indians, referring to those settlers affected by West Indian corruption as "Natives." The petitionalsoclaimedthatindigenousAfricanpopulationsperceivcdWestlndians negatively, maintaining that your Petitioners entirely concur in the view of your Right Honorable self, chat the policy of the British Government which originated the introduction of west Indians into the public service of the Colony was for the purpose of promoting the "general welfare of chc African race," but they beg leave to submit that the actual working of the generous and noble intention of the Government has been perverted and frustrated by an exceedingly nc€dy and unscrupulous people whose official misdeeds have not only dis-

graced the Bridsh Government, but also scandahized the good name of the ColonyevenincheeyesofthesurroundingnativeTribes-thusdemonstrating that the West Indians not only have no sympathy with the native Colo-

hists-but none even with the Aborigines of the whole Continent-being actuated solely by . . . self aggrandizement-mercenary motives, and unbounded personal ambition.91

This is one of the few times the black settlers allied themseives with the indigenous African population, if only to stress the unequal treatment both had received at the hands of west Indians. The truth is chat friction had always been a part of. the relationship between the settlers and the indigenous Africans. Beginning with the Nova Scotians, blacks in the colony had been trading with indigenous Africans in the areas surrounding the colony and many ha.d settled at the headwaters of the region's major rivers.

West Indians as outsiders: Cha, Race, andESl]nicly in the l850§ and l860s


Someestablishedsocialrelationswithindigenouspopulations,havingchildren by local women and even entering into marriages. In the period after 1840, there was an increase in settler trade in the interior of sierra Leone.92 The relationships between settlers and local chiefs fluctuated. Settler traders often facilitated trade between the colony and local African populations, and "as hosts the chiefs and big men welcomed these traders for the

goods they brought and other services they did. They were also appreciated for facilitating the export of their produce. In short, their role as intermediaries was highly valued by these host communities."93 Nonetheless, conflict oftendevelopedbetweenthetwogroups.94TheeventssurroundingDougan's disastrous Malaghea expedition had involved settler traders who had petition€d for government protection, and there were other instances of conflict between the local populations and the traders.95 After outlining the many disadvantages of having West Indians in high office, the October 1858 petition concluded by asking for an elected council and for a legislative council "composed of Europeans and Natives, or Natives alone, and that all West Indians be excluded as heads of Departments, that they be constructed entirely of the Europeans and Na.tive Element, and that all the Clerkships in the public service be filled equally by Europeans and Natives of the Negro race, or negroes exclusively."96 This

petition went further than the previous one. Wliere the earlier petition had asked for West Indians to be replaced by Europeans, this one asked for "native" representation in every sphere. The attack on West Indians between 1858 and 1862 at least temporarily solidified group identity among West Indians in the colony.97 Facing attack, the West Indians in the colony mobilized themselves, however informally, in defense of each other. We have seen the way in which William Drape led the movement to vindicate the West Indian officials. Drape had consistendytakenananti-govemmentposition,andthereisnodoutttthathe had always been a voice for those outside the colonial system.98 However, whcntheattacksonWestlndiansbegan,DraperespondedbytakingaproWestlndianstanceandfoundhimselfdefendingagovernmentwhosepolicies he had regularly attacked. An editorial in the IVccu Erzz defended West Indianofficialsagainstthechargesinthepetitions.Respondingtochecharges thatHillfavoredWcstlndians,Drapederisivelyobservedthat"wecertainly have not yet discovered in him any great partiality towards ourself; and if we look a.t the number of west Indians employed in the Government service here, we will find that scarcely any of the few of. them who do hold Government positions in the colony have been appointed by the governor. It is true chat we may find one or two West' Indians holding subordinate


West Indian in west Af rica,1808-1880: The Af ricdn Diapora in Reverse

situations in the public service here, who have been appointed by the governor, but West Indians holding any office of importance . . . have all received their appointments from England."99 Drape saw the petitions as an attempt to malign West Indians, claiming that "these political agitators de-

sire to expel every West Indian from the Colony." Drape showed some uneasiness at having to defend the officials and at having to highlight his West, Indian identity, insisting that "being ourself a. West Indian we feel some delicaey in dealing with this part of the petition; but such wild verbiage we despise, for we feel confldent that the British Government win never give effect to the outrageous requirements of a`disaff€cted portion of the members of this community."'°[ Clearly, Drape's loyalty to his West Indian identity outweighed his allegiance to the settler community. His defense of the West Indians put him squarely in the progovernment camp, against all he had previously stood for.102

The anti-West Indian petitions, together with the counterpetitions they spawned, resulted in a further polarization of the colony. The way in which various elements of the colony's population reacted exemplifies the growing distinctions of race, class, and ethnicity. Hill sent the names of all the petitioners (eight hundred names) to the Colonial Office, outlin`ing their occupations, educational level, and other attributes he thought relevant to the dismissal of their claims: "Isaac Alloo, trader, Gibraltar town, IlliterateignorantandwascommittedtoGaolforpenytheftin1852.Peter Cole, Elizabeth Street, trader, Was dismissed from the Police Force for incompetence. Thomas Findlay, Hawker, illiterate. George William, Circular Road, Butcher and tra.der, illiterate and drinks very hard."]°3 By noting thesecharacteristies,Hillsoughttodiscreditthepetitioncrs,presentingthem as the dogs of the colony's population. Indeed, the May andJune petitions originatedfromaparticularclassofblacksettlers,onemightargueaworking class. This was a population, perhaps poor and discontented, on whose sympachiesMagnusSmithcouldplay.If,asHilldaimed,cheywerealargcly illiterate group, they may have been deceived into signing an anti-West Indian petition. Many of the signatories later claimed they had been coerced. On the other hand, genuine animosity toward West Indians upon which Smith could play may have already existed. Whatever their grievances, the petitioners could make no personal claims since none of them had any chance of gaining office and therefore they could make no serious allegations of exclusion. Though the petitioners gamered some support for their views many

people in the colony supported the West Indians. Ironically, those settlers whostoodachanceofgainingofficeweretheonesthatsupportedtheWest

W:eat Indiam as outsiders: Chas, Race, and Ethnicly in the l850S and 18605


Indian officials. This can be interpreted either as an indicator of class soliclarity or as evidence that Magnus Smith was indeed behind the petitions. In February 1859, Hill forwarded a petition from "the respectable na.tive inhabitants of Freetown, the Nova Scotia Scrders, and the natives of the Westcm District," expressing confidence in the government.104 In sending thepetition,Hillnotcd:"1haveonlytoaddthatthemostrespectablenames are attached to the petitions now enclosed, and many of the signers are native merchants possessing a considerable amount of property real and

personal."[°5AnotherpetitionsignedbyeightyoneNovaScotiansandtheir descendants,denounccdtheanti-Westlndian"agitators,"pralsingthegov-

ernor, and defending the West Indians: It cannot be a matter of indifference to us, to see our Colony well governed andjusticedulyadministered,norareweincheleastdisposedtoralseunjust prejudices against public servants, be they European, Foreigner, West Indi-

ans,ornativeAfricans-allarewelcome,iftheybebutfound,equal,wordy and capable in the discharge of their trust, doing justice and honor to their

publicfunctionsThndonlyreprimandedorexposcdwhentheyfuinthisfor the calurmious aspersions leveled against Alexander Fitzjanes Queen's Advocate and chief Magistrate in the administration of Justice is not only unjust, but we have no authority from the general pubhic voice since the arrival of that dignitary in the Colony to support such an extravagant accusation except only as we have lately been amazed by this allegation from a clique who are not recognized as forming any portion of the respectable society.`06

Those who were disappointed with West Indians were from a dass disenchantedwiththecolonialgovemmentasawhole,aclassthatbelieveditdid notbenefitfromthecolonialsystem.ThosewhosupportedcheWestlndi. ans were, for the most part, successful, educated, professional men, who embodied the same values West Indians did. One historian's description ofJoseph May, who may have been a signatorytoapetitionsupportingtheWestlndiansbecauseofhisstandingin the colony, well illustrates the successful class of settlers. May, a liberated African, had been brought [o the colony as a young boy in 1823. Like many liberated Africans he "appeared to have rejected his carrier identity and to have become a successful member of the `black bourgeoisie' in a colonial society ruled by the British. He had changed into what his white contemporaries in Europe and Sierra Leone would describe as a `civilizcd

African'-a person distinguished from the `common African' masses by education, conversion to Christianity, and by his outward conformity to a


Wle§t Indians inwest Af rice,1808-1880: The Af rican Diaspora in Reverse

patte`moflifethatwasEuropeanizedinessence,ifnottotallyEuropeanin detail."`°7ThisdescriptionappliedtomanyblacksettlersinSierraLeonein the 1850s and 1860s, and to the West Indians as well. It surely applied to many of the signatories to the petitions supporting the West Indians. Men such as John 8. Elliott, at this time the fort adjutant's clerk; 108 Alexander Harleston,anAfrican-AmericanwhohadsettledinSierraLconeasashopkeeper;109 Joseph Wright, a minister of the Wesleyan church;Ilo John Macaulay,rcpresentativeoftheAkuandatrader;`''JohnEzzidio,arecaptive; William Henry Pratt, a leading recaptive merchant;[[2 Isaac 8. Pratt, also a recaptive and a merchant; and Syble Boyle, an Aku recaptive, successful shopkeeper, and later owner of a newspaper.[]3 These were leading men in thecolonyandmanyofthemwereofrecaptiveorigin,withafewofNova Scotian, maroon, African-American, or West Indian origin. ThoughGovernorHillhadhimselfbeenattackedbythepetitions,he responded in a manner chara.cteristic of his dislike for blacks in high positions. Still sore from his feud with Drape, Governor Hill defended J. F Smyth and Alexander Fitzjames, but he suggested there was no benefit to hiring West Indians because the settlers (he called them "Africans") were

jealousofwestlndianauthority.HillclaimedchatAfricanslookedonWest Indians as descendants of slaves and therefore inferior.]]4 Hill challenged the old view that West Indians served as examples of progress to Africans

and the belief that they could withstand the colony's climate more readily than others. In his view, West Indians were just as susceptible to the environmentasEuropeansandwerenomoreefficientthanAfricans.ThegovernorconcludedbyrecommendingthatthepolieyofhiringWcstlndions should cease and that all future positions in high office be held by whites because "obedience will then be rendered by the natives, and a higher [unclear word] of feeling will exist in this young Colony, making it what it should be-a nucleus of civilization in connection with the adjacent tribes."115

The Colonial Office RIsponse

When the Colonial Office received the first petition attacking the West Indians officials dismissed it as the work of Magnus Smith. One official accepted Hill's characterization of the signatories, noting that the petition was signed by members of the "lowest class."]]6 Furthermore, officials ac,

ceptedHill'swordthattherewasnoevidenceofwestlndiandominancein the colony After Edward Bulwer I.ytton's meeting with J. F. Smyth, the Colonial Office decided that there was no indication that West Indians

W:e§t India:in as Oiit5iders: Chat, Race, and Ethnicly in the 1850§ and 1860§


dominatedthecolony'sgovernment,butBulwerLyttonconcededthatthere might be cause for complaint on the pal-t of settlers. Lytton asked Hill to respond to the cha]-ges of nepotism leveled aga.inst officials. He also in-

structed the governor not to appoint any more West Indians to high Qffice. If Hill could not find qualified Africans, he was to appoint Europeans, for Bulwer I.ytton was sure "that the Africans aJ-e perhaps more jealous of the authority (& more impatient under it), of persons removed by one or two grades from their own colour 8c status."]t7 He concluded, therefore, "that appointments among Europeans should receive a decided preference, 8c in choosing W. Indians . . . care should be taken to select those for whom the Natives may seem most inclined to entertain affection 8c confidence."[18 Lord Camarvon concurred, noting, "I find that it has been the policy of the British Govt. in order to promote the general welfare of the African race, to employ West Indians in certain offlces in preference to Europeans.""9 The draft of the secretary of state's letter to Hill declared: I wish to state that although the prayer of the petition was one which could not be cc)mplied with, there is in my opinion reason for paying some attention to the evident dislike emertained in the Colony to the appointment of West Indians, in considerable numbers to offlce. I am not satisfied chat the practical good to be attained by these appoinrments counterbalances the evil of their unpcipularity. The AIricans are perhaps more j ealous of the authority of persons removed by a. few generations from their own blood, and more impatient under that authority, chan they would be if it were exercised by Europeans. It appears to me therefore, as at present advised, that appointments for which there is no native of sierra Leone qualified, should in gen-

eral rather be made from Europeans clan from West Indians. Such is the view which I have been pardy led to entertain by conversations with Mr. Sin)ch himself, but I should be glad to receive your own opinion upon it. I will add chat Mr. Snych appears to me from a personal interview an intelligent and well-minded person, who has a sincere desire to do the best in his power to elevate the African race, but I am_afraid it is by no means clear that they comprehend or appreciate this desire on his part.]2°

When the Colonial Office received Hill's confidential despatch discrediting the West Indians, their ideas about West Indian incapability to

govern were confirmed. All agreed that the policy of hiring West Indians in Sierra Leone no longer served a significant purpose. One official declared: "I am inclined to think from what I have heard of our African serdement that in the main the Gov. is right a.nd that the higher appointments are best conferred on Englishmen if any can be found to take them .... Though


West Indians inwe!t Af ricd,1808-1880: The Af rican Diaspora in Reverse

there a]-e exceptions there is still too wide an interval between the white and black races on the W. Coast to make it desirable to place a man of colour high in authority."t2' What is more important, the Colonial Office ruled that in future it would consider qualified settlers for employment and that their "claims will be considered in preference to a Native of the West Indies."'22 In November 1858, in a note at the end of Hill's despatch Secretary of state Edward Bulwer I,ytton, essentially ended the British policy of hiring West Indians: "The Gov. answers my question . . . and corroborates my opinion. West Indian officials in higher grades to be discontinued."123 Though Hill sent petition after petition to the Colonial Office signed by residents denying any involvement in the anti-West Indian attacks, the ColohialOfficestuckbyitsdecisiontoenditspolieyofhiringWestlndians.

Conclusion In examining the Colonial Office response to the anti-West Indian petitions, we can cleady see that the stereotypes assigned to West Indians had less to do with their race than with their place of birth. Colonial officials did not say that, as blacks, the West Indians were incapable of governing, but their concern was whether black west Indians could adequa.tely govern other blacks. Although exceptions were made, as with J. F. Smyth, the colonial administration decided that the appointment of west Indians was un-

popular with settlers. In other words, the blare for the official decision was laid a.t the feet of the settlers. West Indians would sporadically be hired in the colony in later years but the practice of placing West Indians in high positions as replacements for Europeans ceased. The events surrounding the dismissal of a West Indian queen's advocate, Alexander Fitzjames, as well as events in the West Indies contributed in large part to the Colonial Offlce's decision.

6 THE stigmatize them in a biting minute as "half-caste and half-educated." Mcrivale's attitude was not so much racial as cultural prejudice, but ciiltural prejudicealonecouldraisedoubtsaboutthewisdomc>rpossibilityofEuro-

pean style political development for Africa. I

This apdy describes British attitudes to West Indians in office and to West Indians in general. Some nonofficial West Indians had been activists in the colony during the 1850s. william Drape was vocal in his criticism of the colonial administration and in his support of press freedom. West Indians in office, however, maintained their conservative outlook, remaining loyal