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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Sierra Leone Company

In 1786 Jonas Hanway established the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor. This was an attempt to help black people living in London who had been victims of the slave trade. Simon Schama has argued in Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and Empire (2005) that the harsh winter of 1785-86 was one of the factors that encouraged Hanway to do something for the significant number of Africans living in poverty: "In the East End and Rotherhithe: tattered bundles of human misery, huddled in doorways, shoeless, sometimes shirtless even in the bitter cold or else covered with filthy rags."

Granville Sharp came up with the idea that this black community should be allowed to to start a colony of free slaves in Sierra Leone. The country was chosen largely on the strength of evidence from the explorer, Mungo Park and a encouraging report from the botanist, Henry Smeathman, who had recently spent three years in the area. The British government supported Sharp's plan and agreed to give £12 per African towards the cost of transport. Sharp contributed more than £1,700 to the venture. Several supporters of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade invested money into what became known as the Sierra Leone Company. This included William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Samuel Whitbread, William Smith and Henry Thornton.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/REsierra.htm

1 comment:

SarahM said...

A fascinating and little known tale of the history of Sierra Leone - even 200 years ago there were people who fought for human rights.
Geniebra