If the measure for renewing the intercourse with the Ashantees could be accomplished, the Committee conceive, that, besides the great commercial advantages that would immediately accrue, arrangements might in a short time be entered into with the King for sending persons into the interior for the purpose of making discoveries in that interesting country.
Respecting the contraction of the British forts, the Committee are of opinion, that it would not be expedient that any extensive measure should at present be adopted. . . .
[Some forts can be given up. Winnebah, however, should be rebuilt.]
The Committee cannot close this representation without observing to your Lordship, that the Dutch forts, which are numerous on the Gold Coast, have at all times been maintained in a manner superior to the British; and that the Government of that nation, so clear and quick-sighted in all matters of commerce, instead of abandoning those settlements in consequence of the abolition of the slave trade, have lately sent out an officer of high rank and distinguished character to take the command of them; and that General Dandels, the officer alluded to, has already communicated to the Committee his readiness to co-operate with them in all measures calculated for the improvement of Africa and the extension of a legitimate commerce with the people of that vast continent.
Having thus stated to your Lordship their views, the Committee have to add, that the grant of Parliament being barely sufficient for the purposes of keeping up the forts at their present establishment, much less for defraying the expense herein stated, however they may be impressed with the importance of the objects, the Committee do not feel that they should be warranted in engaging in them without your Lordship's sanction, which they therefore respectfully solicit.
The additional charges, they conceive, would not exceed £3,000 in the first year, and £2,000 in subsequent years, which might probably at a future period be discontinued. . . .
REPORT FROM A SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON THE AFRICAN FORTS 26 June 18161
. . . It must be evident from the numbers of them that they are in general very trifling unproductive concerns; and indeed it would appear that most of them have been erected more for the purpose of excluding a rival nation, and at the certainty of loss, rather than from the expectation of any positive good to be derived from a commerce,____________________