Daughters of the Trade

Daughters of the Trade: Atlantic Slavers and Interracial Marriage on the Gold Coast

Peter C. Mancall Series Editor
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Daughters of the Trade
    Book Description:

    Severine Brock's first language was Ga, yet it was not surprising when, in 1842, she married Edward Carstensen. He was the last governor of Christiansborg, the fort that, in the eighteenth century, had been the center of Danish slave trading in West Africa. She was the descendant of Ga-speaking women who had married Danish merchants and traders. Their marriage would have been familiar to Gold Coast traders going back nearly 150 years. InDaughters of the Trade, Pernille Ipsen follows five generations of marriages between African women and Danish men, revealing how interracial marriage created a Euro-African hybrid culture specifically adapted to the Atlantic slave trade.

    Although interracial marriage was prohibited in European colonies throughout the Atlantic world, in Gold Coast slave-trading towns it became a recognized and respected custom. Cassare, or "keeping house," gave European men the support of African women and their kin, which was essential for their survival and success, while African families made alliances with European traders and secured the legitimacy of their offspring by making the unions official.

    For many years, Euro-African families lived in close proximity to the violence of the slave trade. Sheltered by their Danish names and connections, they grew wealthy and influential. But their powerful position on the Gold Coast did not extend to the broader Atlantic world, where the link between blackness and slavery grew stronger, and where Euro-African descent did not guarantee privilege. By the time Severine Brock married Edward Carstensen, their world had changed.Daughters of the Tradeuncovers the vital role interracial marriage played in the coastal slave trade, the production of racial difference, and the increasing stratification of the early modern Atlantic world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9197-1
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Maps
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION. Severine’s Ancestors
    (pp. 1-18)

    Severine Brock was born and raised in Osu, a small town on the Gold Coast. Her first language was Ga, yet it was not surprising when, in 1842, she married Edward Carstensen, the last governor of the Danish Fort Christiansborg. Women in her family had been marrying Danish men for generations. Already by 1800, when Severine’s grandmother married merchant H. C. Truelsen and lived with him in a European-style stone house with storage rooms and cobblestones, it had become a familiar choice for Ga women of a certain status to marry European men. The practice of interracial marriage on the...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Setting Up
    (pp. 19-53)

    In 1700, the village of Osu amounted to fewer than a hundred family compounds spread out along rows of trees and broad paths that led down to the beach and the Danish fort. The clay and thatched dwellings consisted of smaller huts arrayed around interior courtyards, with long roofs that extended over the street; during the heat of the day people sat beneath them on clay benches, watching the comings and goings in the village. In the morning and again in the evening, Ga women carried their goods and foodstuffs to and from their stalls in the market square, from...

  6. CHAPTER 2 A Hybrid Position
    (pp. 54-83)

    At the fort school at Christiansborg in 1724, sitting in the small church room, Anna Sophie and her sister would have smelled and heard the slave yard just below. The church room was very poorly ventilated, with only three small windows, and at times the smell from the yard was so harsh that the chaplain had to send his students out to collect anise leaves and twigs to burn in an effort to mask it. Even if the children were to forget the business that had brought their teacher to Osu, the stench would have reminded them, along with the...

  7. CHAPTER 3 “What in Guinea You Promised Me”
    (pp. 84-113)

    On the morning of the last day of October 1765, sugar refiner Ludewig Ferdinand Rømer had an appointment in the Church of Our Lady Cathedral on Nørregade in Copenhagen. We can imagine him leaving his home in Nyhavn 11 and walking across town rather pleased with himself. Copenhagen was booming. Every year new expensive buildings were being built, and the sugar business that had made him his own fortune was going well, but perhaps he was particularly pleased this morning as he was going to celebrate the christening of his good friend Carl Engman’s first daughter, Christina Sophia Engman, and...

  8. CHAPTER 4 “Danish Christian Mulatresses”
    (pp. 114-139)

    In 1769, Lene Kühberg’s husband died in his rooms at Christiansborg, not in the house he shared with Lene in Osu. Yet his death reverberated in both worlds. Interim governor Frantz Joachim Kühberg was well known in Osu, having lived in Africa longer than most European men. He was first hired as sergeant at Christiansborg in 1756 but soon advanced to trader and was stationed at the Danish trading post at Keta further east down the coast for a number of years. In 1768 he returned to Christiansborg to serve as governor. By then he was accustomed to a high...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Familiar Circles
    (pp. 140-174)

    In 1842, as his wife, Sara, was pregnant with their third child, Wulff Joseph Wulff waited impatiently to move into their new house in Osu. It had already been more than a year since he had asked his brother-in-law in Copenhagen to send him a stone plaque to hang over the front door. “Frederiksminde built 1840 by W. J. Wulff,” he wanted it to say. The plaque had still not arrived when they finally moved in, but much else was done. The house had large, flat roofs and a beautiful external gallery. Seven rooms, three warehouses, a bathhouse, and quarters...

  10. Plates
    (pp. None)
  11. EPILOGUE. Edward Carstensen’s Parenthesis
    (pp. 175-180)

    Let us return to the pressure that Edward Carstensen was under when he enclosed Severine Brock’s death in that parenthesis. By the 1840s we do not have to look far to find representations of that modern racial hierarchy that made Wulff Joseph Wulff inclined to categorize all Africans as essentially the same, and that would have questioned or forbidden Edward’s choice of Severine as his marriage partner. One of the more striking examples of how European racial ideology structured—put pressure on—Severine Brock’s and Edward Carstensen’s local history in Osu came when the French prince of Joinville, François d’Orléans,...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 181-232)
    (pp. 233-236)
    (pp. 237-256)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 257-266)
    (pp. 267-274)