prior to 1821 History of West Africa 1888-1918

European Presence on the Gambia, 1821-1888

In 1821 the charter of the COMPANY OF MERCHANTS TRADING IN AFRICA was revoked. Her possessions on the Gambia, together with Bathurst, were placed under Freetown (Sierra Leone) and declared the crown colony of BRITISH WEST AFRICAN SETTLEMENTS. Methodist missionaries established permanent presence in 1825, Anglican missionaries in 1855. In 1827-1831, the British fought a war with the Kingdom of Barra. The British presence on the Gambia River was strengthened by further purchases of small stretches of territory.
The British tried to provide the locals with an alternative trade; the Gambia already was the site of rice farming on considerable scale. In 1830 the first export of peanuts from the Gambia is recorded, which quickly expanded, by the mid century making up the bulk of Gambia's exports. Both rice and peanuts were cultivated by natives, outside British jurisdiction; in the cultvation, mainly slave labour was employed. For 1800, over half of the population of the Gambia is estimated to have been slaves (Hennig).

In 1843, The Gambia was proclaimed a separate colony, with both Legislative and Executive Councils, composed of appointees, exclusively of European origin. In 1857, the French ceded their sovereignty over Fort Albreda to Britain. The Select Committee on West Africa recommended to British parliament in 1865 to no more extend areas under British protection, to establish self-government and to withdraw from all settlements except for Sierra Leone (after Flint 1965 p.369). In 1866 the Colony of The Gambia was again integrated into the BRITISH WEST AFRICAN SETTLEMENTS, administrated from Freetown/Sierra Leone (until 1888). In 1869, the first postage stamps were issued for The Gambia.
In 1866-1870, and again in 1875-1876 Britain and France negotiated over a potential exchange of the British possessions on the Gambia River for other territory, unsuccessfully. In 1881 the population of the British holdings on the Gambia was given at 14,150.

History of the Gambia, from Infoplease
History and Geography, from
History of the Gambia, from niica
History of St. James Island, from Roots Festival
Gambia Timeline, from Gambia Chronical
Rainer Chr. Hennig, An introduction to the economic history of rural Gambia, posted by AFROL
DOCUMENTS List of governors, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Victoria Cross by Campaign : First Expedition up the Gambia, 1866, from Victoria Cross Reference
REFERENCE J.E. Flint, The Growth of European Influence in West Africa in the Nineteenth Century, pp.359-379 in : JF. Ade Ajayi and Ian Espie (ed.), A Thousand Years in West African History, Ibadan UP (1965) 1967 [G]
Historical Dictionary of the Gambia, edited by Harry A. Gailey, Metuchen : Scarecrow 1975, 172 pp.
Richard Burton, A Day at St. Mary's, Bathurst (1863), pp.127-193, in : R.E. Burton, Wanderings in West Africa, New York : Dover 1991, KMLA Lib.Sign. 916.604 B974w

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on July 7th 2005

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