CHAPTER VIII
TREATIES WITH ASHANTI, 1816-31

THE Ashanti invasions, which began in the year of Trafalgar and ended the year after Waterloo, had completely changed the situation on the Gold Coast. The Company's officials now had to adjust themselves to a new state of affairs, in which their chief trade had ceased to exist, and what may be called the Ashanti Question came more and more to occupy their attention. Both for commercial and also for political reasons it seemed urgent that relations with Ashanti should be put on a proper footing. For commercial reasons, because if the slave trade were to be replaced by general trade, the Ashanti market must be opened up; for political reasons, because it was intolerable that the coast should live under the perpetual threat of fresh invasions, and that the Ashanti should have a large vague unsettled claim to authority, tribute or compensation, out of which to draw a fresh casus belli whenever they chose.

Among political questions, the most urgent was the question of the relationship between the Ashanti, the Fante and the British. The elements of the situation were as follows. Elmina claimed a connection of some sort with Ashanti, and was traditionally at enmity with the Kommenda people and the Fante in general. The people of Cape Coast, originally Asebu rather than Fante, had been tending more and more to identify themselves with the Fante,1 and from 1809 onwards had done so completely, both as regards enmity with Elmina and as regards their policy towards Ashanti. The British in Cape Coast and the Dutch in Elmina, traditional rivals, were tending on the other hand to draw together under the pressure of the Ashanti danger,2 though the Dutch governors naturally took every opportunity of using the Ashanti- Elmina alliance to keep on good terms with Ashanti. The first Ashanti invasion had completely broken the Fante resistance and compelled the British to capitulate, while the invasion of 1814 had

____________________
1
Claridge, I, 259.
2
In 1816 two Dutch officers were sent from Elmina to join the British in Cape Coast in arranging peace with Amankwa; Claridge, I, 276, 277.

-162-

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