History of West Africa 1891-1918

Senegal, 1815-1891

Territory : In 1817 the French possessions in Senegal were limited to coastal areas around St. Louis, Goree. In 1842, France proclaimed a protectorate over Assinie and Grand Battam (Cote d'Ivoire), in 1849 over coastal stretches in Guinee. In 1882, these were combined to the RIVIERES DU SUD and placed under the administration of Senegal; in 1891 they were separated from Senegal, and the colonies of French Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire were created. Under governor LOUIS FAIDHERBE (1854-1865) French territory in Senegal was extended into the interior, and over CASAMANCE. In the 1880es, the French administration of Senegal began a policy of systematic expansion into the Niger valley and beyond, as well as into the adjacent southern Sahara. The Upper Senegal was administratively separated from Senegal in 1880, Mauritania not before 1920.
In the course of the Scramble for Africa, agreements with other colonial powers regarding Senegal's borders were signed, with Portugal (Senegal-Portuguese Guinea border) in 1886, with the United Kingdom (Senegal-Gambia border) in 1889. French attempts to gain the Gambia from Britain in exchange for territory elsewhere failed.

Economy : In regard to the colony's external trade, the French administration pursued a protectionist policy until into the 1860es, followed by a free trade policy which in 1882 again was replaced by a protectionist policy - shielding French importers from international competition.
At the Vienna Congress (1815), France had signed up to the abolition of the slave trade. The administration of French Senegal faced the problems of offering a profitable alternative to those involved in the slave trade and to deal with continuing, now illegal slave trade (effectively suppressed from 1831 on). The conclusion arrived at was an attempt to employ the labour force hitherto exported in Senegal itself, in a plantation industry. The administration undertook efforts to find out which crops were the most suitable (expedition of 1818). Senegal produced a limited amount of cotton; the policy to develop a plantation economy in Senegal was abandoned in 1840.
Instead the French pursued the policy of developing and intensifying the French trade with the interior of West Africa. This policy met the resistance of African rulers, who saw their revenues (from tolls collected etc.) threatened; this conflict of interest caused the French policy of expansion into the interior, connected with Governor Faidherbe.
In 1880-1882, the railway Dakar-St. Louis was constructed; Dakar had a port more suitable for large ocean-going vessels. Along the railroad, the cultivation of crops such as ground nuts intensified.

Administration : The administration of the French Senegal was greatly affected by political changes in France. In 1817 the British returned Senegal to the French. In 1854-1859, Goree was detached from Senegal, formed the separate colony of Goree and Dependencies (in Guinee, Cote d'Ivoire). From 1817 to 1828, Commandants were in charge of Senegal, since 1828 Governors, with seat in St. Louis.

Society : In 1848, the inhabitants of French Senegal (St. Louis, Rufisque, Goree) were granted French citizenship. In 1848-1852, 1871-1875 and from 1879, Senegal was represented in the French National Assembly.
The Quatre Communes (4 towns - St. Louis, Rufisque, Goree and, since 1857, Dakar) were inhabited by a population of mixed European and African descent, to a certain extent assimilated into French culture. While France claimed to pursue a policy of assimilation, French citizenship was not extended to the inhabitants of areas newly acquired in the process of the expansion of French authority (then, this population had not yet undergone the process of assimilation the four communities had experienced for 1 1/2 centuries). Also, France only established institutions of secondary education in Senegal in the early 20th century.

Senegal, History of, from Infoplease
Timeline, from Senegal Online
Senegal in 1848, from Encyclopedia of the Revolutions of 1848
DOCUMENTS Map : Senegambie, from Migeon, La France et ses Colonies, 1881
Article Senegal, P.1 (862), P.2 (863), from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888-1890 edition, in German
Article Senegambien, P.1 (863), P.2 (864), from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888-1890 edition, in German
French Governors of Senegal, from World Statesmen
REFERENCE J.A. Ballard, The Colonial Phase in French West Africa, pp.380-404, in J.F. Ade Ajayi and Ian Espie (ed.), A Thousand Years of West African History, Ibadan UP (1965) 1967 [G]
Y. Person, States and Peoples of Senegambia and Upper Guinea, pp.636-661 in : J.F. Ade Adayi (ed.), Africa in the Nineteenth Century until the 1880es, Vol.VI of UNESCO General History of Africa, Oxford : Heinemann 1989, KLMA Lib.Sign. 960.23 A312a
M'Baye Gueye and A. Adu Boahen, African initiatives and resistance in West Africa, 1880-1914, pp. 114-148, in : A. Adu Boahen (ed.), Africa under Colonial Domination 1880-1935, Vol.VII of UNESCO General History of Africa, Oxford : Heinemann 1985 [G]
Article : Africa, in : The American Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events 1863 pp.1-2 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on September 1st 2007

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