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George Michael La Rue

sultan of the Sudanese kingdom of Darfur from 1785 to 1801, was born to Sultan Ahmad Bukr and an unknown woman. The youngest of four sons of Ahmad Bukr who ruled Darfur, many thought him a weak choice. He became a very successful monarch, after overcoming internal opposition. During his reign Darfur’s system of sultanic estates (hakuras) flourished, and the sultanate became Egypt’s main supplier of trans-Saharan goods, including ivory, ostrich feathers, and slaves.

After a series of wars and intrigues involving internal factions, the rival Musabbaʾat dynasty in Kordofan, and Wadai, sultan Muhammad Tayrab ibn Ahmad Bukr made peace with Wadai to the west and successfully invaded Kordofan. This war took the Fur armies far from home (reputedly to the Nile), and the sultan was forced to turn back in 1786 By the time the army reached Bara the sultan was dying and the succession ...

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 sultanate of Wadai (located in present-day eastern Chad), was born in the late eighteenth century. He was the brother of Sabun, the extremely successful sultan of Wadai between 1804 and 1815 who greatly expanded his monarchy’s commercial ties with the North African bey of Tripoli. Some ascribed Sabun’s death in 1815 to poison, and his demise brought on two decades of infighting between various court factions. ʿAbd al-Aziz, a sultan who managed to hold power for several years in Wadai, died around 1836 He left behind his infant son Adam as his heir Muhammad Sharif himself actually lived in the Darfur kingdom east of Wadai He seems to have married a Fulani woman from Darfur which may have led him to leave Wadai The reigning sultan of Darfur Muhammad al Fadl decided to launch an invasion to install either Muhammad Sharif or Adam as the new ...

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 ...

Article

John Gilmore

Politician and campaigner against the slave trade and slavery born into a wealthy merchant family in Hull. His fortune freed him from the need to earn a living and enabled him to enter politics. He became MP for Hull in September 1780, when he was only just of legal age, and he remained in the House of Commons for some 45 years (MP for Hull, 1780–4; for Yorkshire, 1784–1812; for Bramber in Sussex, 1812–25). Wilberforce was a personal friend of William Pitt the Younger (1759–1806; Prime Minister 1783–1801, 1804–6) and of many other leading politicians, but he never sought office and maintained an independent stance. In 1785 Wilberforce had an evangelical conversion experience and, following advice he sought from John Newton and others, determined to devote his life and political career to the service of God. It was only in 1787 ...