The Vice-Consulate in the coastal port of Ouidah, in the kingdom of Dahomey, West African (now in the modern Republic of Benin) was established in1851-2 as part of the British government's efforts to suppress the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In particular it was hoped to persuade King Gezo to accept a treaty banning exports of slaves from his dominions.
Louis Fraser proved a poor choice as Vice-Consul: he was no linguist, abrasive with naval colleagues and arrogant towards the king and people of Ouidah. However, his shortcomings as a diplomat do not detract from the value of his account as a historical resource.
The documents collected here comprise principally the journals of the Vice-Consul, Louis Fraser, together with letters and other reports by him, a selection of the documents referred to in his journals, and letters and reports by other British officials (especially officers of the navy's West African squadron) which refer to his activities. These documents are valuable sources, not only for the history of British policy on the slave trade, but also for the history of Dahomey, which was one of the most important indigenous states in coastal West Africa in the nineteenth century.
Fraser was one of a number of British visitors to Dahomey in the mid-nineteenth century, many of whom left published accounts. Fraser's account, in contrast, was never published, and so has remained less known. Its publication now brings it more effectively within the public domain.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Robin Law has been at the History Department of the University of Stirling since 1972, with posts including Professor of African History, 1993-2009 and Emeritus Professor since 2009. He is also Visiting Professor in History, the University of Liverpool. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was given the Distinguished Africanist Award of the African Studies Association of the UK in 2010. He has held posts at the University of Lagos, Nigeria (1966-9) and the Centre of West African Studies, Birmingham, 1970-2. He has held visiting posts at the Universities of Ilorin, Nigeria, 1978; African Studies Centre, Leiden, 1993-4; York University, Toronto, Canada, 1996-7; Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, 2000-1.