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The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Rebecca Shumway
Volume: 52
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
    Book Description:

    The history of Ghana attracts popular interest out of proportion to its small size and marginal importance to the global economy. Ghana is the land of Kwame Nkrumah and the Pan-Africanist movement of the 1960s; it has been a temporary home to famous African Americans like W. E. B. DuBois and Maya Angelou; and its Asante Kingdom and signature kente cloth-global symbols of African culture and pride-are well known. Ghana also attracts a continuous flow of international tourists because of two historical sites that are among the most notorious monuments of the transatlantic slave trade: Cape Coast and Elmina Castles. These looming structures are a vivid reminder of the horrific trade that gave birth to the black population of the Americas. ‘The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade’ explores the fascinating history of the transatlantic slave trade on Ghana's coast between 1700 and 1807. Here author Rebecca Shumway brings to life the survival experiences of southern Ghanaians as they became both victims of continuous violence and successful brokers of enslaved human beings. The era of the slave trade gave birth to a new culture in this part of West Africa, just as it was giving birth to new cultures across the Americas. ‘The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade’ pushes Asante scholarship to the forefront of African diaspora and Atlantic World studies by showing the integral role of Fante middlemen and transatlantic trade in the development of the Asante economy prior to 1807. Rebecca Shumway is assistant professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-739-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Chronology
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    On April 24, 1753, Thomas Melvil, the governor of the British settlements on the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) sat in his third-story quarters atop Cape Coast Castle and composed a letter to the Committee of the Company of Merchants Trading to Africa, a London-based company and Melvil’s employer. From the windows of his office, Melvil could gaze on the crashing Atlantic waters that sprayed against the cannons lining the castle walls, and on the tall ships that lay anchored a safe distance beyond the rocky shores. He could also peer down on the town of Cape Coast and adjacent African...

  7. 1 Selling Gold and Selling Captives
    (pp. 25-52)

    Between 1400 and 1700 CE the lands that stretch from the seaside to the northern territories of modern-day Ghana were the site of tremendous change for their inhabitants. As with much of human history, long-distance trade and interactions between culturally diverse peoples drove many of the changes. Yet, as is always the case with human societies, these external stimuli also caused myriad forms of growth and change within communities over time. The first wave of change came from the north, where the caravan traders who had long crisscrossed the Sahara desert gradually extended their routes southward to the rainforest of...

  8. 2 Fanteland in the Atlantic World
    (pp. 53-87)

    This chapter explores the principal consequences of the incorporation of Fanteland (the coast between the Pra River and Accra) into the transatlantic slave trade in the eighteenth century. It should be stated from the outset that any trade in human captives, and indeed slavery itself, is reprehensible. It would be inappropriate and inaccurate to suggest that the transatlantic slave trade was a boon to any African population. Nevertheless, a variety of conditions that were created by the slave trade opened up opportunities for economic growth and state formation in southern Ghana, and these developments must be included in any serious...

  9. 3 A New Form of Government
    (pp. 88-131)

    During the eighteenth century, a new set of leaders took control of the coast. Alongside these political changes, the social organization of coastal societies transformed as well, due to new relationships of dependency forming among communities within the new political structure. These changes were not caused directly by the activities of European or American traders, who increasingly participated in slave trading on this coast, but rather were indirect consequences of the instability associated with the transatlantic slave trade. As John Mensah Sarbah suggests, people with power attracted people in need of protection during this period. The new government came about...

  10. 4 Making Fante Culture
    (pp. 132-153)

    The history of the coastal population of Ghana in the era of the slave trade cannot be explained solely by developments in trade and politics, although changes in these aspects of Gold Coast life certainly had a profound impact on people in the coastal area. The majority of people in Fanteland, the common folk, were not directly involved in the creation of the Coastal Coalition or the traffic in human captives, although they were affected by both. The experiences of not only the elites but also the common people from generation to generation created a sense of common culture and...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 154-156)

    By 1807 southern Ghana was a very different place from the Gold Coast of 1700. The coastal population had achieved a degree of political and commercial unity that would have been unimaginable at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The coast towns were linked by a highly efficient network of communication that enabled them to orchestrate their responses to the constantly shifting circumstances of the Atlantic trade. Armed militia units were present in every coastal town, ready to execute the instructions of coalition leaders. People across the region spoke a common language and had a sense of their shared dependence...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 157-202)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-224)
  14. Index
    (pp. 225-232)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-237)