British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

of these forts, and to the furnishing them with new ordnance and carriages, of which they are greatly in want. . . .

Considered as a means of checking the slave trade, our forts on the Gold Coast do not appear to be of any further use than merely to prevent its being carried on within their own walls. Outside of that small range, they either have not, or do not exercise, any jurisdiction. . . .


9
INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE COMMITTEE OF AFRICAN MERCHANTS TO GOVERNOR JOHN HOPE SMITH, 18171

The Committee are extremely anxious (and in this repect the wishes of all classes of people in this country go with them) that no exertions should be spared to become better acquainted with the interior of Africa; and we consider the existing state of things to be most favourable for undertaking an exploratory mission into the dominions of the King of Ashantee. If, therefore, nothing shall have transpired in the interim of this dispatch being received by you, to make the measure objectionable, we wish you to obtain permission from the King to send an Embassy to his capital: if granted, you will select three Gentlemen2 (one of them from the medical department) for that service; and let them be accompanied by a respectable escort, you giving them the fullest instructions for their government. In particular, it will be necessary for them to observe, and report upon, the nature of the country; its soil and products; the names, and distances, and the latitude and longitude of the principal places; and its most remarkable natural objects; the appearance, distinguishing characters, and manners of the natives; their religion, laws, customs, and forms of government, as far as they can be ascertained; and by whom each place is governed. When at Ashantee, they should endeavour to obtain the fullest information of the countries beyond, in each direction; particularly whether any high mountains, lakes, or large rivers are known; and the width, depth, course, and direction of the latter; and whether the water, as well of the lakes as the rivers, is salt or fresh: and how far,

____________________
1
T. E. Bowdich, Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee, Lond. 1819, pp. 5-8. F. H. Smith was Governor-in-Chief of the British forts on the Gold Coast. The invasions of the coast by the Ashanti in 1807, 1811, and 1816 had caused disruption in Fanti life and in British trade. The Government had advanced money to aid the Fanti, but had earnestly desired the Committee to send an embassy to the Ashanti to secure peace and extend commerce.
2
When Frederick James resigned from the leadership of the mission partly through illness and partly through disagreement with his colleagues, the embassy consisted of Thomas Bowdich, William Hutchison, and Henry Tedlie, an assistant surgeon. For the peace negotiated, see Bowdich, op. cit., Pp. 126-8. A British consul was to reside at the Ashanti capital, Kumasi. Joseph Dupuis was appointed.

-490-

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