Abolitionists Abroad: American Blacks and the Making of Modern West Africa

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Harvard University Press, 2009 - 291 pages
In 1792, nearly 1,200 freed American slaves crossed the Atlantic and established themselves in Freetown, West Africa, a community dedicated to anti-slavery and opposed to the African chieftain hierarchy that was tied to slavery. Thus began an unprecedented movement with critical long-term effects on the evolution of social, religious, and political institutions in modern Africa. Lamin Sanneh's engrossing book narrates the story of freed slaves who led efforts to abolish the slave trade by attacking its base operation: the capture and sale of people by African chiefs. Sanneh's protagonists set out to establish in West Africa colonies founded on equal rights and opportunity for personal enterprise, communities that would be havens for ex-slaves and an example to the rest of Africa. Among the most striking of these leaders is the Nigerian Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a recaptured slave who joined a colony in Sierra Leone and subsequently established satellite communities in Nigeria. The ex-slave repatriates brought with them an evangelical Christianity that encouraged individual spirituality--a revolutionary vision in a land where European missionaries had long assumed they could Christianize the whole society by converting chiefs and rulers. Tracking this potent African American anti-slavery and democratizing movement through the nineteenth century, Lamin Sanneh draws a clear picture of the religious grounding of its conflict with the traditional chieftain authorities. His study recounts a crucial development in the history of West Africa.
 

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Abolitionists abroad: American Blacks and the making of modern West Africa

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Sanneh (history and world Christianity, Yale Univ.) argues that modern antislavery in Europe and America emerged from an evangelical Christianity centered on personal salvation that empowered a bottom ... Read full review

Contents

Acknowledgments
xiii
Introduction
1
The Transatlantic Corridor
2
Antislavery
3
Establishment Structures
6
Antistructure
9
The American Factor
11
The Frame of Interpretation
16
Change in the Old Order
140
Brokers or Collaborators?
142
Thomas Jefferson Bowen and the Manifest Middle Class
145
Crowther and the Niger Expedition
150
The Niger Mission Resumed
161
Antislavery and Its New Friends
165
The Native Pastorate and Its Nemesis
167
Anatomy of a Cause
170

Historiography
19
The American Slave Corridor and the New African Potential
22
The Historical Significance of Olaudah Equiano
24
Antislavery and Black Loyalists in the American Revolution
31
The Black Poor in London
40
The Sierra Leone Resettlement Plan
41
Antislavery and Early Colonization in America
45
Moving Antislavery to Africa
50
Freedom and the Evangelical Convergence
53
Upsetting the Natural Order
55
Pushing at the Boundaries
59
A Plantation of Religion and the Enterprise Culture in Africa
66
Antislavery and Antistructure
69
David George
74
Moses Wilkinson
80
The Countess of Huntingdons Connexion
85
Paul Cuffee
88
The Voluntarist Impulse
101
Christianity and Antinomianism
103
Abolition and the Cause of Recaptive Africans
110
Christendom Revisited
113
Recaptives and the New Society
122
The Example of Samuel Ajayi Crowther
126
The Strange Career of John Ezzidio
129
The Niger Expedition Missionary Imperatives and African Ferment
139
Debacle
175
Reaction and Resistance
177
American Colonization and the Founding of Liberia
182
Colonization Sentiments
183
Purse and Principle
185
The Humanitarian Motive and the Evangelical Impulse
187
Americas Spiritual Kingdom
192
Mission of Inquiry
194
American Colonization and the Founding of Liberia 197
197
Fact and Fiction
198
Privatization of Public Responsibility
203
Lott Carey and Liberia
210
Expansion and Exclusion
212
Black Ideology
221
Conclusion
238
Antislavery
239
Antistructure
240
The American Factor
241
Crowther the CMS and Evangelical Religion
243
New World Lessons
246
Notes
251
Sources
281
Index
283
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Lamin Sanneh was born in a tiny river town in Gambia on May 24, 1942. He was born a Muslim but converted to Christianity as a teenager and became a practicing Roman Catholic. He received a bachelor's degree in history from Union College, a master's degree from the University of Birmingham, and a doctorate in Islamic history from the University of London. He held teaching posts at the University of Ghana, the University of Aberdeen, and Harvard Divinity School. He taught at Yale Divinity School and Yale University for 30 years. He was a naturalized United States citizen. He became a scholar of Christianity and Islam. He was the author or editor of more than 20 books including Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture, Abolitionists Abroad: American Blacks and the Making of Modern West Africa, Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African, and Beyond Jihad: The Pacifist Tradition in West African Islam. He died from complications of a stroke on January 6, 2019 at the age of 76.

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