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Article

Agonglo  

Robin Law

king of Dahomey (in modern Benin), was the son of Kpengla, his predecessor as king of Dahomey (r. 1774–1789). His official “Queen Mother” (kpojito), appointed as such after his accession to the throne, was a woman called Senume, but it is not clear whether she was also his biological mother. Contemporary European sources give his name as Wheenoohew, but this is not recognized in Dahoman tradition. He was also alternatively called Adarunza, but this seems to be a generic surname which (also in other variants, such as Adahoonzou) was applied by Europeans to all kings of the dynasty (Agonglo being counted as Adarunza VIII).

Agonglo s accession to the throne was contested with two other princes presenting themselves as candidates and his political position at the beginning of his reign appears to have been insecure requiring him to conciliate his senior officials and the populace more generally ...

Article

Kathleen Sheldon

queen mother in Ghana, where she served as asantehemaa from around 1809 until about 1819, when she was removed from office after being involved in a failed rebellion against Osei Tutu Kwame. Her father was Apa Owusi, who held the position of mampon apahene, or chief of the locality of Mampon; her mother, Sewaa Awukuwa, was a member of the Asante royal family. It appears from some sources that Adoma Akosua was married to a son of Asantehene Osei Kwadwo.

When the ruling queen mother, Asantehemaa Konadu Yaadom, died in 1809, there were two women with a strong genealogical claim to succeed her. One was Konadu Yaadom’s own daughter, Yaa Dufi, and the other was Adoma Akosua. Adoma Akosua was a matrilateral cousin of Asantehene Osei Tutu Kwame (their mothers were sisters); as such she was eligible to be named asantehemaa and she was selected for ...

Article

José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva is best known for helping Brazil achieve independence in 1822. It is less often recognized that the year after independence he authored a plan for “the slow emancipation of the blacks.” In this plan he argued: “It is time, and more than time, for us to put a stop to a traffic so barbaric and butcherlike, time too for us to eliminate gradually the last traces of slavery among us, so that in a few generations we may be able to form a homogeneous nation, without which we shall never be truly free, respectable, and happy.”

Andrada e Silva argued that slavery was morally wrong and economically inefficient a violation of God s laws and the laws of justice and a corrupt influence over Brazil s inhabitants Slave labor he believed resulted in the slaveholders idleness and gave ordinary Brazilians little incentive to ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of the Merina state of central Madagascar and a pivotal figure in its eighteenth-century expansion, was born around 1745 in the northern Malagasy town of Ikaloy. His father, Andriamiaramanjaka, was a member of the Zafimamy royal family of the northern independent kingdom of Alahamadintany. His mother, Ranavalonandriambelomasina, was the daughter of Merina monarch Andriambelomasina, who ruled Merina from roughly 1730 to 1770. He also was the nephew of Andriambelomasina’s successor, Andrianjafy, who was the king of Merina from 1770 to 1787.

He stayed with his father in Ikaloy until he was roughly twelve when he moved to the Merina court As a young man Andrianampoinimerina became a wealthy merchant and probably engaged in slave trading At the same time he presented himself as a defender of ordinary commoners fearful of slave raiding threats from neighbors like the Sakalava kingdom and unjust officials Supposedly Andriambelomasina had stipulated that ...

Article

Ari Nave

Oral traditions recorded by Jesuit missionaries in the late eighteenth century suggest that Andriambélomàsina, ruler of the Imerina (the territory of the Merina ethnic group) from 1730 to 1770 , directed that his eldest son Andrianjàfy succeed him, followed by his grandson Ramboàsalàma, son of his eldest daughter. Andrianjàfy, however, intended for his own son to take his place and plotted to kill Ramboàsalàma, who, fearing for his life, fled to the north. Supported by a dozen Merina chiefs, Ramboàsalàma returned in 1787, overtaking the city of Ambohimànga and exiling his uncle, who was later killed.

Ramboàsalàma was crowned Andrianampoinimerina, “the prince in the heart of Imerina.” After consolidating power through treaties and marriage alliances and establishing a capital at Antananarivo in about 1795 Andrianampoinimerina also known as Nampoina began to expand the Merina Empire Eventually he controlled much of the island conquering and consolidating the Betsileo Sihanaka ...

Article

In 1795, Joseph Chatoyer instigated a revolt of the Garinagu against the British on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent the original home of the Garinagu Chief Chatoyer was killed during combat against British forces and the Garinagu were deported to Roatán Island off the coast of Honduras ...

Article

Johnhenry Gonzalez

was born into slavery in 1767, probably on the island of Grenada. As with the other former-slave leaders of the Haitian Revolution, Henri Christophe’s early life remains shrouded in obscurity. Like Boukman Dutty, the original leader of the August 1791 slave uprising, Christophe was smuggled into Saint Domingue during the late eighteenth century as French colonists partially fed their growing demand for slaves by illegally importing them from surrounding Caribbean colonies.

As a child Christophe was sold to a slave owner in Cap Français, the principal port in the French colony of Saint Domingue. Decades later, when he rose to become the king of northern Haiti, he rechristened the town Cap Henri.

It is possible that Christophe had his first military experience in the American Revolution Although he was still a boy at the time many historians contend that he served among the hundreds of free men of color ...

Article

Julia Gaffield

general in the Haitian Revolution, first leader of independent Haiti, and a lwa in the Haitian Vodou pantheon. The specifics of Jean-Jacques Dessalines’s early life are not well documented and historians have not come to a consensus regarding his date and place of birth. He was born around the year 1758 in either west central Africa or in the Grande Rivière region in the north of the French colony of Saint Domingue in the Caribbean where he spent much of his life as a slave on two plantations In the late eighteenth century Saint Domingue was the most wealth producing colony in the Americas Much of this wealth was generated through the cultivation and export of sugar and coffee crops Enslaved people often purchased by the plantation owners through the transatlantic slave trade were forced to work on plantations to produce wealth for their masters Some enslaved people were ...

Article

Richard Watts

Jean-Jacques Dessalines was born to Congolese parents on a plantation in Saint-Domingue (as Haiti was known prior to independence). He was given the name of the plantation owner, Duclos, before adopting the name of the freed black landowner, Dessalines, who purchased his services as a slave. Unlike his future comrade-in-arms, François Dominique Toussaint Louverture, Dessalines was treated harshly as a slave and joined the ranks of maroons (runaway slaves) at a young age. In 1792 he became a partisan of the slave uprising led by Boukman, a slave of Jamaican origin, and impressed his compatriots with his courage. Yet Dessalines committed acts of cruelty that frightened some in the rebellion. His capacity for violence would contribute in equal measure to his precipitous rise and fall.

Following the abolition of slavery in Saint-Domingue in 1793 Toussaint Louverture allied himself with the French Dessalines joined him eventually becoming Toussaint ...

Article

Michael R. Mahoney

king of the Mthethwa people in southeastern Africa and patron of Shaka Zulu before the latter’s elevation to the Zulu kingship, was born uNgodongwana (the correct Zulu spelling of his name, which is more commonly but inaccurately rendered as “Godongwana”), the son of the Mthethwa king Jobe. As a young man, uNgodongwana got involved in a dispute over Jobe’s succession with his brother Mawewe, whom Jobe had named as heir to the kingship. In the course of the conflict, another brother, Tana, was killed, and uNgodongwana became a fugitive, eventually taking up the name Dingiswayo, which means “he who is banished” in Zulu.

Dingiswayo s life as a fugitive is shrouded in myth most of it concocted by early white settlers in the region Most notably Dingiswayo is supposed to have encountered a white explorer named Dr Cowan and possibly even traveled as far as to the Cape Colony There ...

Article

Eugenia Ibarra

from 1755 to 1776, of the so-called Mosquito (or Miskito) Kingdom, situated on the Caribbean coast of present-day Nicaragua and southern Honduras. From the English colonial point of view, following European ways, it was a “kingdom,” but from another perspective, it has been identified as a conjunction of chiefdoms more so than as a unified political entity. Central American historiography had not questioned the kingdom denomination until the late 1990s, since the Mosquito’s organization in chiefdoms did not differ from how other neighboring indigenous groups of southern Central America were organized. On the contrary, the dynamics of these indigenous groups resembled those developed on the Mosquito Coast (also called the Mosquito Shore) from 1633 on, when the English arrived.

A crucial development by the early seventeenth century was the arrival in the northern Mosquito Coast of a number of Africans probably as a result of shipwrecked slave vessels Thereafter ...

Article

Caroline A. Williams

king of one of the four jurisdictions making up the “Mosquito Kingdom,” an Indian and Afro-Indian polity located on the Caribbean coast of present-day Nicaragua and southern Honduras. The kingdom maintained its independence from colonial control through skillful manipulation of competing Anglo-Spanish claims to sovereignty over the territory they occupied. Key to Miskitu success was an informal but long-lasting alliance with the British, a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby the latter were permitted to establish a superintendency (1748–1787) in return for political recognition, gifts, and trade.

Little is known about George’s early life. He entered the documentary record in 1775 when he formed part of a delegation that traveled to London tasked with bringing before the government grievances related to the practices and behaviors of British settlers He returned to the Mosquito Kingdom at the end of that year bearing gifts and sailing on the same vessel that ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Slave owner, instigator of the ‘coolie trade’, and father of the British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone (1809–98). Sir John Gladstone was a leading member of the West Indian Association of Liverpool, a group of plantation owners and merchants trading with the West Indies in slave‐produced commodities. He owned sugar estates in Jamaica and British Guiana and was a passionate opponent of abolition. In 1830, in a series of last‐ditch attempts to persuade the government not to end West Indian slavery, Gladstone (then a member of Parliament and spokesman for the West India interest) argued that slavery was normal in primitive societies, and that West Indian Blacks had peculiar constitutions, enabling them to work easily under a tropical sun. He held up the dreadful prospect of freed slaves slaughtering the smaller white populations.

In 1833 Gladstone was deputed by Liverpool's West Indian interest ...

Article

African slave who lived in England and recorded his experiences in a narrative. His Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, as Related by Himself (1790) was published when he was 60 years old. It was written down by Shirley Walter, a young Christian woman from the town of Leominster, who was initially interested in Gronniosaw's story for personal reasons, but eventually published the narrative to expose the realities of his life, as well as to aid Gronniosaw and his family financially. The profits from the sales of the narrative were entirely received by him.

Gronniosaw was born in Bournou Nigeria of a royal family His mother was the eldest daughter of the King of Bournou and he enjoyed a happy childhood his grandfather doted on him A deeply curious child Gronniosaw was perplexed by spiritual divine ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Biographer of Ignatius Sancho, the African writer whose letters were published in England in 1782. Jekyll was the only son of Edward Jekyll, a captain in the Royal Navy. Details concerning his place of birth are uncertain. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford, left for France upon completion of his studies in 1774, and was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1788.

Jekyll may have met Sancho during this period, but there is no confirmation of this. In fact, information regarding their relationship is scarce and is left to much speculation. However, one piece of evidence affirms that Jekyll and Sancho did indeed meet and had some form of connection that extended beyond the purely professional. A letter written around 1803 by Sancho's son William to Jekyll, suggests that Jekyll was generous to the Sancho family:

To Joseph Jekyll Esq M P From ...

Article

Kpengla  

Jeremy Rich

king of Dahomey, was born sometime in the middle of the eighteenth century. European diplomatic and travel accounts contend Kpengla was a son of his predecessor as king of Tegbesu, while some oral traditions from Benin declare that he was a younger brother of Tegbesu. He engaged in a short battle for the throne after the elderly Tegbesu died in 1774.

Kpengla was popular with European slave traders stationed in the southern Beninese port city of Ouidah a vassal of Dahomey because the new king promised to restore the kingdom s economic and political might that had suffered some setbacks in the last years of Tegbesu s reign In particular he wished to ensure that only prisoners of war were sold for export and that Dahomey finally would break free of its subordination to its rival kingdom of Oyo to the east Kpengla made overtures to Dahomey s western ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of the Asante kingdom (in present-day Ghana), was born sometime between 1762 and 1765. His mother was most likely a woman named Akyaama, although later official royal histories claimed Kwame’s future opponent Konadu Yaadom was his parent. His father was the powerful Safo Katanka, the king of Mampon, one of the founding states of the Asante union. As the closest Asante state to the Muslim north, Mampon was an entry point for Islamic influences into Asante. Kwame was only about twelve years old in 1777 when he was placed on the throne of Asante with his father s soldiers to protect him Osei Kwadwo the previous king died and left no adult heir He had proclaimed the very young Opoku Kwame as his heir but the royal councillors and family members chose not to follow Kwadwo s wishes The influential official Atakora Kwame led an army to ...

Article

John Gilmore

Historian of Jamaica and writer on slavery. Long was born in England, a member of a family that had long been settled in Jamaica and owned plantations there. Long himself spent only twelve years (1757–69) in Jamaica, where he was a judge, a member of the House of Assembly, and (for a very brief period) its Speaker, but he always identified himself with the interests of the Jamaican plantocracy, that is, the group of white landowners whose prosperity depended on the ownership of sugar plantations worked by slaves.

Long's major work was The History of Jamaica (1774 This contains an enormous amount of information on all aspects of the island and is still an essential source for historians of the Caribbean However the work is strongly marked by his partisan support for the plantocracy which leads him not only to emphasize Jamaica s importance to Britain ...

Article

Born in Menkwaneng the son of a Sotho leader Moshoeshoe began to gather together refugees from the upheaval in southeastern Africa known as the Mfecane in the early 1820s Retiring to an impregnable mountaintop known as Thaba Bosiu Sotho for Mountain of the Night he fought off several attacks but more often used his formidable diplomatic skills to defend his growing number of Basotho people In the early 1830s French missionaries arrived in the region While continuing to support the traditional customs and religion of the Sotho Moshoeshoe welcomed the missionaries and sought their advice in dealing with the British and the Afrikaner groups or Boers who were seeking to colonize southern Africa Fearing Afrikaner settlement on his lands he asked for British protection but an alliance with the government of the Cape Colony was not enough to prevent armed incursions by settlers into Basotho territory Fighting between the Basotho ...

Article

Walima T. Kalusa

the ninth or tenth Litunga (king) of the Lozi people of precolonial Zambia, was born around the 1750s. Little is known about Mulambwa’s parents and early life, but he most likely ascended to the Litungaship in the 1780s. He ruled the Lozi kingdom for the next fifty years, up to the early 1830s, when the Bulozi flood plain was invaded by the Kololo under Sebitwane from South Africa. Memorialized in local oral tradition as the greatest Lozi sovereign, he is said to have completed the conquest of the plain with its surrounding areas, bringing the Totela, the Subiya, the Kwangwa, and several other ethnic groups under his political hegemony. He also raided the Ila, the Tonga, and the Toka-Leya of what is now southern Zambia for cattle and slaves.

During his early reign Mulambwa faced rising opposition to his authority from other Lozi royals and bureaucrats determined to ...