History of West Africa 1918-1939

French Colony - Benin respectively Dahomey

In 1863, the French declared a protectorate over Porto Novo, which was abandoned soon after, and reoccupied in 1882. In 1884 Germany declared a protectorate over the coast of Guinea, which, by reaty with rance, was limited to Togo. In 1886, Portugal declared a protectorate over the coast of Dahomey; she withdrew her claim in 1887. In 1889 the French occupied Cotonou. A short war was fought with the Kingdom of Dahomey; on October 3rd 1890 a peace agreement was signd in which Dahomey recognized the French possession of Porto Novo and Cotonou, and France paid Dahomey an annual tribute of 20,000 Francs. Stamps were issued for French Benin or the Golfe de Benin.
In 1892, France declared a protectorate over the entire kingdom; Dahomey was conquered in a campaign lasting from 1892 to 1894. King Behanzin was exiled to Martinique; in 1895-1898, French sovereignty was extended to areas located north of the old kingdom. In 1899, the coastal region of Benin, the kingdom-protectorate of Dahomey and the territories acquired by the French in the north were formed into the colony of Dahomey, the capital of which was Porto Novo. The French built a modern harbour at Cotonou. In 1894 the French partitioned Dahomey into Allada, and the Kingdom of Abomey; they installed a puppet king; in 1900 the kingdom was abolished.
In 1894-1898, the British and French competed for influence in Borgu. A convention of 1898 fixed the border between British Northern Nigeria and the French sphere of influence; Borgu was partitioned in the process, much of her western (French) section being incorporated into Dahomey. France acquired the Borgu kingdoms of Nikki, Kandi, Kwande, Paraku.
The border with German Togo was fixed in treaties in 1885 and 1899. In 1904, Dahomey was integrated into French West Africa, the administration of which was seated at Dakar (Senegal).
Construction of a railway connecting the coast with the Niger River was begun in 1900. In 1914, World War I broke out. French troops, operating from Dahomey, occupied the larger part of German Togo.

History of Benin, from Infoplease
Article Dodds, Alfred Amedee, from Salmonsen's Konversationsleksikon (1915-1930), in Danish
Article Borgu, from EB 1911
Telegram style notes of A.S. Kanya-Forstner, The Conquest of the Western Sudan, 1969, posted by Jim Jones
DOCUMENTS Charles Hanin, La colonisation du Dahomey, excerpts from publication 1946, posted by cliotexte, in French, scroll down
Article Dahomey, from EB 1911
List of rulers of Nikki, from World Statesmen
On Gando/Borgu, in "The Great Round World and What is Going on in it", Vol.1 No.53, November 1897, posted by Gutenberg Library Online
REFERENCE M'Baye Gueye and A. Adu Boahen, Dahomey, pp.127-129; in A. du Boahen (ed.), Unesco General History of Africa Vol.VII : Africa under Colonial Domination 1880-1935, Paris etc. 1985
Article French Sudan, Senegal, French Guinea & Dependencies, in : Statesman's Year Book 1895 pp.522-523 (on events of 1894) [G]
Article Senegal, French Sudan, French Guinea & Dahomey, in : Statesman's Year Book 1898 pp.519-522 (on events of 1897) [G]
Article : West Africa and the Sahara : Dahomey, in : Statesman's Year Book 1901 pp.598-601 (on events of 1900) [G]
Article : West Africa and the Sahara : Dahomey, in : Statesman's Year Book 1905 pp.660-667 (on events of 1904) [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on October 20th 2007

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