The Royal African Company

The Royal African Company

The Royal African Company

The Royal African Company

Excerpt

The student of the slave-trade needs to be familiar with the histories of his own country, West Africa and the West Indies. While the first and last may be intelligible or at least compassable, the second presents problems which have not yet been elucidated and some of which may never be fully solved. Despite the work of Claridge on the Gold Coast, Gray on Gambia and Burns on Nigeria, I have, even within the modest limits here set, sometimes experienced difficulties of a kind more commonly met by the historian of the ancient world. Until the main course of African history in the eighteenth century is better understood, it will always be risky to comment upon the causes and effects of particular events. At the present time specialized work of great interest is being carried out by both amateur and professional historians; when this has been concluded and communicated I confidently look forward to the modification of judgments here made.

I wish to make it clear (though to those who know them it will be apparent) that much more than is here set forth can be learned about African history from the sources I have used. The case for publication of some part of them is a strong one. My own interest throughout has been the Royal African Company, and my book is intended primarily as a contribution to English economic history. The fact that I have been concerned solely with the economic aspects of the slave-trade perhaps makes it necessary for me to state that I regard the trade as an abhorrent blot on the history of both purchasers and vendors.

A number of colleagues at the Public Record Office, the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford have helped me. My chief obligation is to Professor F. J. Fisher of L.S.E. He directed the early stages of the work and read four chapters of the first version; as a result of his criticisms and those of Dr. A. H. John, also of L.S.E., three of these chapters disappeared and the fourth has, I believe, been improved. Pro fessor . . .

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