West Africa 1850–75

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Map Code: Ax02182

The gradual abolition of the slave trade in the early 19th century left both the colonial powers and their procurer African coastal states seeking new commercial outlets. For the colonies, much depended on the energies of individual administrators. George Maclean in the British Gold Coast, and Louis Faidherbe in French Senegal, extended English and French effective control inland. Faidherbe developed a plantation economy based on groundnuts, while the British in Lagos did likewise with palm oil. American and British emancipations supplied the freed slaves for the new colonies established in Liberia and Sierra Leone. On the Gulf of Guinea, the proximity of French and British colonial interests began to spark tensions and commercial rivalry, and both began (largely private) initiatives to explore the interior. Northward expansion was deterred by the warlike Islamic ‘jihad states’ of the interior, the largest being the Sokoto Caliphate.

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