Abstract

This article recovers the Afropolitan histories of Liberated Africans by examining their mobility and freedom politics. Liberated Africans enacted Afropolitanism when they returned from Sierra Leone to Old Calabar and fashioned themselves into Black Englishmen. Their Afropolitanism incorporated a dissident mode of Anglo-cosmopolitanism, thereby undermining orthodox British visions of imperial subjecthood. In using petitions to British authorities to assert their identity as British subjects, they secured their precarious freedom but challenged British monopoly of the Bight of Biafra’s transatlantic palm oil trade. Rather than being mere recipients of abolition, Liberated Africans refashioned abolition. They used forged “freedom papers” to emancipate, repossess, and traffic slaves from Old Calabar society while defending their behavior as “redemption” of slaves. Contrary to imperial fixity of African subjects, Liberated Africans evinced an Afropolitan vision of belonging. They simultaneously claimed to be natives of Sierra Leone and Old Calabar. Their contradictory ideologies and practices mitigated their marginality and confounded African elites and British imperial agents.

Achille Mbembe calls for detailed histories that show how Afropolitan practices have characterized diverse intra-African mobilities. Afropolitanism evokes a geography of circulation and hypermobility, of flows and networks, and not of territoriality. Afropolitan histories show how Africans traversed boundaries. As an epistemology, Afropolitanism is a critical reflection on the ways in which Africans of multiple origins define themselves as African, as part of the world, and as agents in the making of the modern world order, including by domesticating the unfamiliar or repurposing colonial languages in new ways. Sociologically, it has meant that Africans fashioned a dynamic modus vivendi with colonialism. Mbembe states, “If we define Afropolitanism the way I have done—in terms of movement, mobility, circulation—and if we study popular forms of everyday life [which] are the richest archives of Afropolitan practices,” it becomes evident that survival “is to a large extent dependent on the capacity to move and to move constantly; on the capacity to recycle all kinds of things, to put them to uses they were not originally intended for.”1 It is the “intense traffic of objects and of worldviews,” the everyday work of turning one thing into another, “the process of conversion,” that one might call forgery, which constitutes an Afropolitan way of embracing the world.2 I argue that Afropolitanism could transcend survival, as it enabled Africans to define freedom as mobility and to generate rebellion, self-fashioning, and anti-imperial ideologies of belonging. Being Afropolitan meant African imperial subjects subsumed European and African identity logics unpredictably.

Afropolitanism affords a critical perspective for recovering the agencies and consciousnesses of Liberated Africans—African captives rescued from Atlantic slave ships and emancipated and resettled in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in the first half of the nineteenth century. When some of the Liberated Africans left Freetown in the second half of the nineteenth century to return to Old Calabar in Nigeria, their original homeland, and claim it as part of their world, they were marginalized as “natives of Sierra Leone,” accused of selling slaves, and forced into exile as Black Englishmen and British subjects. As returnees from Freetown to Old Calabar, the Liberated Africans used intra-African migration, engaged in disruptive transatlantic small-scale trading in palm oil, and practiced slave emancipation to advance their social mobility and freedom politics. They also used petitions to the British consular government of the Bight of Biafra to claim protection as “British subjects” who advanced “free trade” and emancipation. I argue that their mobilities, petitions, and tactics of free trading and slave “redemption” constituted a “discrepant cosmopolitanism.”3 Their practices of British subjecthood were nonconformist and troubling to imperial notions of Anglo-cosmopolitanism. Returnees developed ideas of British subjecthood beyond the colony of Sierra Leone in ways that were incongruent with British policy and challenged European monopolies. They articulated ambivalent ideas of freedom and created unfree labor practices that led antislavery British consuls to protect domestic slavery. Their agencies reveal how marginal Africans refashioned abolitionist ideals beyond the initiatives of Europeans and African elites and generated and embodied “critical cosmopolitanism.”4

As a result of British antislavery and slave-trade interdiction between 1808 and 1863, 99,752 African captives were rescued from Atlantic slave ships and emancipated in Freetown by the British Vice-Admiralty Court and Courts of Mixed Commission. Styled as “Liberated Africans,” these recaptives became “freedom’s debtors,” their labor bound to the British Empire.5 About 72,284 resettled in the Sierra Leone colony; the rest were forcibly relocated to fulfill the labor and defense needs of Britain’s Atlantic empire.6 Roughly 32 percent (31,471) of the 99,725 Liberated Africans who were landed and emancipated at Freetown originally embarked from the Bight of Biafra.7 During the 1850s, an unknown number of these Liberated Africans returned to Old Calabar, motivated by commercial opportunism, kinship reckoning, desire for a homeland, encouragement by Christian missionaries, and a quest to evade precarious living and the violent British colonial system of military and labor recruitment.8 The Liberated African Registers and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Voyages Database provide approximate information about the African names, sex, age, and bodily features of the Liberated Africans. They survive in missionary and colonial records as objects of European mediation, and their experiences are buried in illegible archives, characterized by looming silences, unarticulated motives, and partial representation. But the Liberated Africans did speak, if one reads against the grain of British consular officials’ reports and correspondences. We encounter Old Calabar Liberated Africans in the British archives through their petitions protesting unlawful seizure of their palm oil by European merchants despite their status as British subjects; denunciations of Liberated Africans by Old Calabar elites for “stealing away” domestic slaves with promises of “freedom papers”; and British consuls’ efforts to deport returnees from Old Calabar to Sierra Leone. Both the existence and implications of Liberated Africans’ voices, especially their writings, claims, and discourses of freedom and rights as British subjects beyond Sierra Leone, have received limited attention in scholarship, which has emphasized European abolitionist, imperial, and social policies toward them.9

Represented as beneficiaries of liberation, Liberated Africans faced a future of forced migration and liminal freedom. In 1859, the British consul Thomas Hutchinson deported three Liberated African returnees (William Isam Hazeley, Thomas Feury, and Mr. Matthews) for endangering British capital through illegal transatlantic palm oil trading that threatened the Liverpool monopoly, and for stealing away domestic slaves from local elites to sell them in Fernando Po and Sierra Leone.10 In so doing, the consul mobilized an imperial notion of Anglo-cosmopolitanism against the returnees’ Afropolitan freedom politics. In the view of British consuls, Liberated Africans could only enjoy the right of British protection as subjects in the Sierra Leone colony, where their labor serviced British imperial military and infrastructure needs; to be a “Liberated African” entailed limited freedom.11 Thus, Liberated African rights of British subjecthood did not extend to territories such as Old Calabar, which Britain aspired to convert into a protectorate.12 But, as I demonstrate, returnees defined “liberation” as rights to mobility and economic autonomy. They understood their rights as British subjects to have transcended Sierra Leone, entitled them to unfettered participation in free trade, and justified their emancipation of domestic slaves. In effect, they appropriated abolition principles, at least as Thomas Fowell Buxton had popularly defined them in 1840: free trade and free labor.13 I extricate the agencies, discourses, and worldviews of Liberated Africans from a deluge of European voices contained in Foreign Office, British consular, and Presbyterian missionary records. I have endeavored to discover and project the voices and consciousness of Liberated African returnees, through a process that entailed sifting through hundreds of pages of European and elite African discourses to find the occasional moments when “Liberated” and other subaltern Africans spoke. The majority of archival sources examined here were handwritten manuscripts. Hence, I have also tried to be attentive to writing as a performative mode of African literary cosmopolitanism.

Returnees as “African White Men”: Atlantic Cosmopolitanism in Old Calabar

The systems of slavery, dependency, and economic control maintained by Old Calabar rulers and local merchants left Liberated African returnees with limited options of social integration and economic uplift, such that most returnees saw social identification as Englishmen a necessary condition of their existence in Old Calabar, as well as a survival tactic.

Until the mid-eighteenth century, when the Port of Bonny superseded it, Old Calabar was the principal port of the Bight of Biafra’s Atlantic slave trade, and remained critical to British slave trade until abolition forced local merchants to reorient their networks from slave supply to palm oil supply in the nineteenth century.14 In analyzing the mutual impact of British-Calabar relations between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, David Imbua argues Old Calabar mediated the Biafra region’s integration into the Atlantic political economy by globalizing the local and localizing the global, integrating strangers, and adapting local institutions to international economic systems, thereby embodying early Atlantic cosmopolitanism in West Africa.15

Old Calabar merchants functioned as “trust” middlemen between European traders on the coast and Biafran hinterland suppliers and networks over a three-hundred-year period. Leveraging the Atlantic slave trade economy, the “elite of freemen” integrated vast numbers of captives into society as slaves and dependents and asserted autochthonous and ancestral right to political rulership and social mastery over the enslaved majority population. Within Old Calabar, slaves were defined as “outsiders” and property of the ruling elite and lacked “economic, social, or political rights.”16 To maintain control over slaves and dependents, the elite developed a political system known as house rule (ufok), whereby the polity was divided into houses or wards, each under a “duke-patriarch.”17 The “political strength” of a ward became measured in the number of its slaves.18 The most powerful wards dominated coastal trade first in slaves and then, after 1807, in palm oil; they also exercised control over the towns.19 The elite maintained slavery and dependency as the basis of political administration, agriculture, and trade.20 Their capacity to spread debt, create dependents, and expand slavery enabled them to consolidate wealth and power.21 Much of the expansion of the population between 1805 and 1846 was due to the settlement of large numbers of slaves in rural agricultural estates to produce palm oil and food, and provide vigilante forces for elites.22 Slaveholding quadrupled in the nineteenth century, attended by a wider social gulf between the town-dwelling free population and rural-dwelling slaves, the expansion of plantations, and an increase in the abuse of slaves.23

Slavery facilitated elite cosmopolitanism. Since the mid-eighteenth century, elite traders cultivated a transatlantic cosmopolitan habitus as “civilized gentlemen,” investing in English literacy, conspicuous consumption, and mastering the cultural conventions of European merchants. They sent their sons to be educated in Bristol, Liverpool, and London and domesticated English architecture, dining rituals, and leisure and sartorial practices, which enabled them to provide hospitality to European traders and increase their trading prospects.24 This history of elite cosmopolitanism explains why Old Calabar leaders would see Liberated Africans who asserted Anglo-cosmopolitan rights to free trade and emancipation of domestic slaves as unwelcome interlopers and outsiders who were neither citizens nor dependents.25

Autonomy was circumscribed to the elite class of merchants, who weaponized the multigrade institution of ekpe (male secret society) to make and enforce laws, settle inter-ward disputes, impose boycotts and fines, and arrest and punish offenders.26 As “the actual executive government” of Old Calabar, ekpe enabled the elite to control dependents and slaves and define citizenship.27 A few “trading slaves” gained membership and “act[ed] the role of freemen,” but ekpe functioned to subjugate slaves, women, and strangers, although European merchants purchased membership as a mechanism of recovering their “trust” debts.28 The polity’s enslaved population made substantial efforts, including the use of popular protests, to ameliorate their condition, but they never demanded freedom in terms of autonomy from their masters. They demanded rights of greater social inclusion as protected members of society. They sought freedom from arbitrary acts of murder at the hands of masters. But rather than attempt to overthrow the ruling elite, they allied with their ward leaders in internal politics.29

In the second half of the nineteenth century, when Liberated Africans returned to Old Calabar, slavery and dependency remained foundational to the society’s political and economic systems. Emancipation, as Liberated Africans embodied it, did not exist in Old Calabar as tacit knowledge. Emancipation turned a slave “adrift a poor, houseless, defenseless thing,” without the protection of a patron and without belonging in a ward.30 The type of freedom as a political right and autonomous social reproduction that Liberated Africans sought were alien in Old Calabar. Liberated Africans would be deemed dangerous because they modeled a radical notion of freedom for slaves in Old Calabar, who began to seek similar freedoms of trading and belonging. Encouraged by consuls like Hutchinson, local elites would weaponize the ekpe society to ostracize Liberated Africans, deeming them to be the same as foreign white men.31

Liberated Africans entered Old Calabar as rebellious migrants in two respects. First, they tried to extend their rights of being British subjects beyond Sierra Leone into a non-British territory, despite the lack of British metropolitan official support and mounting British consular and mercantile opposition. Second, being neither local slaveholding freemen nor dependent domestic slaves, they existed in Old Calabar as foreigners who violated local conventions of belonging. These dual sources of marginalization made economic survival difficult for Liberated Africans and explain why they embraced the liminal social identity of Black Englishmen.

In 1853, “100 Liberated Africans of the Ibo tribe” petitioned that they wanted to emulate the Yoruba example in 1839 and be sent as “missionaries” to “their [own] country.”32 Officials in Freetown determined that “Ibo country” was “Calabar,” specifically Creek Town, and secured the agreement of Creek Town’s king Eyo Honesty II as well as leaders of Duke Town, who promised to welcome, provide land, and “look upon [the returnees] as white men, because they [had] learnt white-man fashion.”33 In 1854, the first Liberated African emigrants returned to Old Calabar and began participating in a lucrative palm oil trade.34 However, rather than settling as arranged and expected in Creek Town, some Efik-speaking emigrants chose to settle in Duke Town, where they “originally belonged.”35 In Creek Town, viewed as predominantly Igbo, returnees rented houses and hired out their artisan and literary services to local elites. In Duke Town, Efik returnees settled in the Presbyterian station and an adjoining area that became known as the “Sierra Leone people’s settlements.”36 These resettlement patterns reflected the ethnic demography of Old Calabar, which comprised principally Igbo and Efik peoples.

The returnees embraced European and African Presbyterian missionaries as patrons. Established between 1841 and 1844, the mission opposed slavery, witchcraft trials, and poison oaths and increasingly generated a community of outcasts, refugees, and emancipated slaves, variously gifted to them, purchased by them, and rescued by them.37 Local people viewed the refugees (table 1), for whom missionaries secured consular “manumission papers,” as both “slaves of the house or ward ruled by the missionaries” and “whitemen’s slaves.”38 To meet missionaries’ incessant requests for manumission papers, Hutchinson created one that became formulaic (fig. 2). Missionaries extended their governing authority beyond the redeemed natives to include Liberated Africans.39 Mission residence afforded returnees a refuge to pursue free trade, and some would imitate missionaries’ “redemption” practices, transforming them into mechanisms to acquire domestic servants for themselves and traffic redeemed slaves as indentured servants. Overall, the mission station constituted a marginal community. Missionaries were the only class of Europeans allowed to reside within Old Calabar. Until 1891, several hundred European traders, so-called supercargoes (captains of trading vessels) acting as agents of Liverpool financiers, lived on their ships with their mixed European and African crews, paid comey (custom dues) to Old Calabar rulers, and stored their wares in rented onshore houses.40

Associated with missionaries, Liberated Africans were viewed as Europeans and outsiders by the local population within Old Calabar. In 1855, one missionary remarked that as “well-behaved British subjects of the darkest complexion,” the Liberated Africans in Old Calabar were “considered white people and treated as such.”41 Those who had recently arrived “from Sierra Leone, and who are British Subjects” were “viewed by the laws of Calabar as white people, and not amenable to [ekpe] law.”42 Liberated Africans were distinguished by their English literacy, Christian religion, and Anglo-cosmopolitan sartorial habits. The translation of returnees’ Anglo-cosmopolitanism as whiteness did not seem to have occurred with the “Saro” returnees in Lagos and Port Harcourt, by comparison.43 The closest approximation would be in Liberia, where African American settlers were locally seen as “black-white people” and white men.44

To maintain the informal status of “British subjects” in Old Calabar, returnees had to be “well-behaved” or, in British consul Hutchinson’s words, exemplify “good character.” Hutchinson believed “Christianity and Civilization are cause and effect in raising up Africa from her present condition of helpless infancy to the health and vigor of manhood.”45 British metropolitan officials warned that Liberated Africans in Old Calabar should be careful not to offend British traders in the area, even though the British government, as their protector, had taken “a warm interest” in their “safety and welfare.”46 Imperial discourses, combined with missionary governance of returnees’ domesticity, framed Anglo-cosmopolitan masculinity in terms of literacy, character, and access to metropolitan authorities. Consequently, returnees embraced the everyday performance of Anglo-cosmopolitan masculinity as freed, civilized, literate, and rights-bearing British subjects, as a survival mechanism. Many of them went to Old Calabar bearing “letters of introduction” attesting to “an excellent Christian character” from Freetown missionaries, “certificate of Christian character & conduct” from the Mixed Commission Court, and “testimonials” of good character to secure consular protection.47

“Market Is for All Men”: Returnees’ Afropolitan Petitions and Free Trading

Liberated Africans in Old Calabar couched their claims to British subjecthood within petitions asserting their right to free trade. Their petition discourses reveal the ways in which their Afropolitanism entailed claiming multiple and sometimes conflicting identities as natives of Old Calabar, natives of Sierra Leone, and British subjects who sought British protection while also questioning the governing power of British consuls. Thus, the returnee Peter Nicholls wrote to a Liverpool ship captain in 1855: “I have to request that you will replace my 16 puncheons of palm oil without delay. . . . I am as much a British Subject as you are, and have all the same right to trade in any part of the world. . . . I protest against your procedure as being at once a breach of all the laws of Commercial honor and honesty, and a violation of my privileges as a subject of the Queen of England.”48 Nicholls had left Sierra Leone for Old Calabar in October 1854 to trade in palm oil but by November 1855 had taken up the occupation in Fernando Po when his goods were seized by the Liverpool ship captain “in the assumption” that Nicholls owed debts to the British traders as an African resident of Creek Town of Old Calabar. Nicholls insisted, “[I] beg explicitly to state that I am no native of Old Calabar: for less do I comprehend what is meant by my property having been seized to pay another’s debts.”49 In a bid to monopolize Old Calabar’s palm produce trade in the 1850s, British merchants had given out enormous quantities of trade goods as “trust” to local elite merchants, and then resorted to panyarring (seizure of natives and trade goods) as a means of recovering their credit, a practice that originated from the polity’s Atlantic slave trade.50 By 1855, consuls had come to the conclusion that panyarring was the only means of recovering British capital.51 Nicholls was the first returnee to suffer panyarring.52 His cargo was seized against debts owed by none other than his friend King Eyo II.53 But Nicholls had his own vision of what Liberated Africans expected their British subject rights to look like.

Nicholls had been born in Old Calabar around 1804 and enslaved by 1820. The British Navy seized the ship taking him across the Atlantic and emancipated him in Freetown, where he went to school and worked as a house servant before enlisting as a soldier in the British Royal African Corps. In 1829, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant for being an “intelligent African.” Between 1832 and 1840, he converted to Wesleyan Christianity, married his first wife, and served in Guinea (Isle de Los) and the Gambia as a color sergeant earning £42 a year. In 1840, the Royal African Corps was reorganized as the Third West India Regiment. To avoid posting to Jamaica in 1841, Nicholls purchased a discharge. With £407 saved up, he began trading in Freetown and, like other recaptives, amassed several hundred pounds and property.54 He returned to Old Calabar in 1854 and a year later was elected an elder of the Duke Town Church.55 He was influential among the returnee community and well-known in both Freetown and Old Calabar as a “native of Egbo Shary.” Egbo Shary was considered to be “the mother country” of Efik people; Nicholls spoke the Efik language well and could communicate with many Old Calabar people who did not know English.56 This made him a highly successful trader.

In his October 1855 journal, the consul at Fernando Po wrote that King Eyo II was using Nicholls to sell his palm oil in England in “mail packets” rather than paying his trust debts to British vessels. When confronted, King Eyo II responded that “he had received cloth, guns, brass rods, etc. from Mr. Nicholls, that Mr. Nicholls had also paid Duke [Eyamba II of Duke Town] himself comey [custom dues] the same as the [European] vessels.”57 Thus, while British merchants viewed Nicholls as an African ward of local elites, King Eyo II viewed him as equivalent to a white trader who paid comey. Although born in Old Calabar, Nicholls earned the privilege of a “British Subject” through emancipation and military service. Hence, he emphasized that he was not a “native of Old Calabar” but rather a Sierra Leonean “British Subject.” Nicholls denied Old Calabar citizenship when that identity threatened his right to free trade. He rather asserted Sierra Leone citizenship and British subjecthood. Negotiating rights as British subjects beyond Sierra Leone required Liberated Africans to fashion dynamic identities, as well as to understand and exploit the tenuous and complex administrative network of British consular government in West Africa. Nicholls would travel from Old Calabar to Fernando Po to swear an affidavit to the consul in order to have his oil returned to him as a “lawful purchase.”58 But the British trader refused, leading Nicholls to petition the new consul Hutchinson in January 1856 “to adopt such measures as shall cause my property to be returned and to secure my rights as a British subject.”59 At the same time, he also petitioned the governor of Sierra Leone “to enforce the restitution of my property.”60 These petitions forced the British ship captain to return Nicholls’s property, although he threatened future violence against Nicholls.61 As consuls “lacked the legal power to oblige the British supercargoes stationed in the rivers of the Bight of Biafra to adopt or obey any particular code of regulations,” returnees used petitions to force consuls to protect them as “British subjects by all lawful means.”62 Nicholls’s discrepant Anglo-cosmopolitanism forced Hutchinson to require British merchants to stop panyarring as a means of debt recovery.63

Yet, following Nicholls’s case, European ship captains expanded “trust” credit to local elites in order to purchase the palm oil supply of Old Calabar “2½ years in advance.”64 They supplied goods on credit “recklessly” and used panyarring to recover supplies.65 Another Liverpool ship captain, Davies, seized “six puncheons of palm oil” belonging to returnee Daniel Hedd.66 Hedd’s petition asserted, “I am a native of Sierra Leone and a British Subject.” He wrote that Davies seized his property and threatened to imprison him.67 Consul Hutchinson “did not deem it [his] duty” to ensure the restoration of Hedd’s property. He argued that Hedd was neither a legitimate native trader nor a European merchant. Hedd was not a dependent of a native elite, had not paid custom duties like European traders, and resided on the mission premises. In the consul’s logic, missionaries were obliged to avoid trading and focus on preaching.68 Hedd therefore petitioned the metropolitan British foreign secretary, who reprimanded the consul for not protecting “the victim of injustice” from the “arbitrary and illegal” acts of a British merchant. The secretary ruled that residence on mission premises should not prevent free trade.69

At this point, British merchants at Old Calabar tried a different strategy. Under the pretext of abolishing panyarring, they initiated “a code of bye laws, and the formation of an Equity Court,” in September 1856.70 Ironically, Article 18 of the bylaws authorized supercargoes to imprison African debtors, and Article 12 stipulated that any “legitimate trader” at Old Calabar must “pay through the Court” a custom duty “of Twenty Thousand Coppers per annum” or “be liable to have their oil seized as smuggled produce” by British merchants.71 As if the implications were not clear, the consul emphasized, “The twelfth Article has been inserted—chiefly to prevent the Sierra Leone men resident on the Mission premises from shipping oil to England, as they sometimes do, and which oil is virtually the property of the British supercargoes—who bring out vessels and cargoes at great expense.”72

Citing the bylaws, Captain Davies refused to return Hedd’s oil, arguing Liberated Africans came to Old Calabar as “paupers and penniless” rogues, but by promising “extravagant” profits to local elites “stole” palm oil supplies already purchased “by English capital.”73 When confronted by British merchants, local elites reported they already sold their supplies to the “Sierra Leone men.”74 As chairman of the Equity Court, captain Davies took time to explain that each British ship had on average a crew of forty men, costing £400 a month, as well as an annual custom duty valued at £200. The longer British ships waited to receive palm oil, the higher their operating cost. Liberated Africans, however, shipped small quantities on steamers regularly, ensuring quick profit turnover to local suppliers, and extending the wait period of British ships.75

Davies’s complaint reveals how returnees’ Afropolitanism or their aberrant assertion of British subjecthood legitimized their trading practices that challenged monopolies.76 All European merchants at Old Calabar supported Davies in his refusal to restore Hedd’s oil. Hutchinson explained, “It had lately become customary with certain persons in London to employ these Sierra Leone people on the Mission premises to act as foils for the shipping home of oil, which . . . was bona fide the property of the supercargoes.”77 In effect, liberated Africans mediated a capitalist struggle between established Liverpool companies and nascent London merchants. Missionary Edgerly, who supported Hedd, denounced the British Court of Equity proceeding as a “gross robbery.”78

Subsequently, Hedd led eight other Liberated Africans in a petition that began, “We who are . . . British subjects” allege that “Davies Supercargo on board the ship Calabar” had “enticed the chief of the country” to “drive away all of the Sierra Leone people” at the “Mission Hill” to prevent them from bringing war, killing the natives, and taking possession of the country. “Since we come into this town,” they wrote, “we reside with the mission, we never disturb any of the Calabar man neither violating their law, neither disturb any of those Captain in these River. Since we come from civilized country, we show Honor to them as our Superiors [but] we thinketh within ourselves that Market is for all men. From since Captain Davies entice the king to drive us, there is no peace amongst we and the country people.”79 Missionary Anderson also wrote to the consul in support of the Liberated Africans’ petition, affirming that returnees’ palm oil trade “offended the supercargoes,” who then convinced Eyamba II and other elites “that large numbers of [Liberated Africans] from Sierra Leone” will come and “take possession of the country of Old Calabar.” Eyamba II therefore “order[ed] all the Sierra Leone people out of the country,” claiming they “had been located [in Duke Town] without his knowledge or consent.”80 The consul justified the eviction order. In his view, “Duke Town authorities will not recognize [Liberated Africans] as freemen because they know that formerly they were slaves.” Thus justified, elites used ekpe society “to keep” the Liberated Africans confined “within their dwellings.” The consul requested the foreign office to determine whether the Liberated Africans should be allowed to “remain at Duke Town,” and “be subject to the existing laws of Old Calabar, or to the protection of British subjects.”81

Secretary Clarendon offered a familiar British foreign office doublespeak: “In the absence of any special legislation,” Liberated Africans “cannot of course be entitled to expect as a matter of Right that they shall be treated as British Subjects when they voluntarily return to, and become residents in, the territory of the native chief whose subjects they were by birth.”82 However, because the British government “have accordingly learnt with much gratification that the men referred to . . . are engaging in lawful and profitable pursuits,” he continued, “the Africans in question are entitled to the sympathy and good offices of the British government, who will not tolerate the persecution with which those persons appear to be threatened, and will not fail to resent as an insult to this country any ill usage to which they may be exposed.” Clarendon instructed the consul to conclude a treaty with Old Calabar chiefs “by which, for the satisfaction and security of the Liberated Africans, their Right to enjoy British protection shall be duly recognized.” He asked the consul to abolish ekpe and “report in detail” any “illegal or arbitrary acts which may be committed by the supercargoes against the [Liberated] Africans.”83

A June 1856 foreign office memo suggests that Liberated Africans’ petitions for British subject rights in Old Calabar had an important impact. Clarendon observed that although returnees had taken the trade out of the hands of the “great Liverpool Houses” that had monopolized it, “both on commercial grounds and also with the view to the extinction of the slave trade, it would be good policy to encourage as much as possible the independent class of traders just springing into existence, for in proportion as these natives get interested in the palm oil trade, so they will become enemies to the slave trade.” He concluded, “As regards . . . whether the Sierra Leone men (liberated slaves) are entitled to British protection . . . it would be politic to protect them wherever and whenever they are in reach of British protection.”84

However, returnees’ free trading and petitions had also encouraged redeemed natives to undertake free trading, thereby increasing the losses suffered by British merchants and leading them to violence. In an October 1856 letter styled in Rev. Anderson’s handwriting, one such redeemed native, Etan Effiong, informed Hutchinson that Davies had seized his puncheon of oil, refused to restore it, dared him to seek the assistance of Anderson to petition the consul, and later threatened to take him on board his ship and put a rope around his neck. Effiong pleaded that as the consul “no will let black man do bad for white man; I look to you for protection & redress.”85 British captains resorted to violence to recover their credit. They went “into the natives’ houses beating people with their sticks, & [went] out in their boats on the river at night to plunder canoes by seizing oil & men.”86 African retaliation included physical assault against British captains like Cuthbertson, as well as looting gunpowder and other trade goods from the onshore rental houses of captains like Davies and Sterne of the Endragt.87 British captains later violently confronted Old Calabar elites and demanded they take responsibility for the British losses and injuries.88 British consuls blamed the returnees for these conflicts.89 And British captains blamed missionaries and returnees for the “manifest injustice” they “suffer as victims of swindling by the natives.”90

These disputes culminated in the “Olinda incident,” which Kenneth Dike described as the “biggest effort ever made by the African community to break the Liverpool monopoly.”91 In August 1857, with the collaboration of Liberated Africans, King Eyo II loaded the independently contracted brig Olinda with oil “for his own personal benefit,” despite owing debts valued at four hundred tons or £18,000 to British traders. Returnees saw the Olinda as an opportunity to expand their free trading. Duke Town slaves Bassey Henshaw, Yellow Duke, Egbo Tom, and Black Davis testified that the Liberated African William Isam Hazeley had promised them “big pay pass any white Captain” and consequently defrauded them of several puncheons of oil and ebony wood that he loaded on the Olinda at Creek Town. Captain Lewis of the Olinda affirmed this.92 Consequently, several British captains assaulted Hazeley, causing him to petition the consul and demand the “justice to which all Her Britannic Majesty’s subjects are justly entitled.”93 This incident led the consul to charge Hazeley and other returnees with lawlessness, resulting in the 1859 deportations that I referenced in the introduction of this article. Ironically, in justifying their power to exile Liberated African returnees, consuls defined them as British subjects.94

“Redemption”: The Afropolitanism of Returnees’ Emancipation Practices

This article began with the order to deport Hazeley in 1859, along with Feury and Matthews, who were engaging in a different activity—what the consul called “slave dealing” but the returnees defined as liberation or redemption. The criminal charges against Feury and Matthews are among the earliest records of Liberated Africans engaging in redemption in Old Calabar. Their cases reveal that Liberated Africans emulated the missionaries by first redeeming slaves or helping them to escape slavery, and afterward seeking British recognition of their emancipation. Feury allegedly tried to steal four of King Eyo II’s slaves to sell them in Sierra Leone.95 In a clandestine letter to his partner in Freetown, Feury warned of “the great mess” he would face if the king or other Old Calabar elites learned of the scheme.96 Feury’s choice of Freetown seemed strategic, because between the 1820s and 1850s, slaves continually fled adjacent territories to seek freedom within the Freetown colony and effectively obtained British protection.97 In his defense, Feury claimed the enslaved boys would have been executed “according to country fashion” when the king died.98 This argument was similar to claims made by other missionaries and British officials engaged in the same practices of redemption. But the consul dismissed Feury’s defense because the king’s successor, Young Eyo III, had vowed not to enact the ritual of killing slaves at his father’s death, thereby ensuring enslaved peoples’ safety.99

As for Matthews, Young Eyo III accused him of stealing “five of his domestic servants” and conniving to resettle and liberate these slaves in Sierra Leone.100 Young Eyo sought to show that Matthews was not an emancipator but a slave dealer. He stated that Matthews arrived at Old Calabar in June 1858, visited Young Eyo’s home, and presented him a “bag with money,” requesting to buy a boy. Eyo refused, stating that he had promised the Church not to sell people. Matthews then informed Eyo that he had lived in England for seven years, and that nobody lived according to the minister’s “talk.” When Eyo still declined to sell, Matthews approached Young Eyo’s father, King Eyo II, who also refused. On July 5, Matthews “took away 5 of [Young Eyo’s] people.” Young Eyo claimed that Matthews intentionally encouraged his slaves to run away. Young Eyo requested the consul to return his slaves, so that his other slaves would not emulate “these 5” and also “try to run away.”101 But when another vice-consul at Fernando Po interviewed Matthews about stealing Eyo’s five slaves, Matthews admitted to attempting to purchase a boy slave at Old Calabar with the intention of taking him to Fernando Po “to act as a domestic servant” and to “give him his freedom” within a short time.102 The vice-consul wrote that this practice led to slaves’ becoming “respectable and honorable members of society.”103 But Matthews denied the charge of slave stealing and claimed they stowed away; the vice-consul supported this idea that Matthews merely facilitated the redemption of the slaves.104

Yet Consul Hutchinson exiled Matthews, alongside Feury and Hazeley, due to local elite pressure. In addition to Young Eyo III’s outrage, King Ephraim of Duke Town complained to the consul, “A number of Sierra Leone men and others have come to reside in my town. Now these men say they are English man and British subjects and are not amenable to any law of mine. I do not understand when man do bad thing and keep no law, he say he be English man.”105 Ephraim denounced returnees’ interference with domestic slavery. He was particularly incensed that his domestic slave Egbo Bassey had escaped to the mission station and obtained “British protection.”106 Emulating returnees, Bassey built a house in the Sierra Leone people’s settlement, married a wife, embraced transatlantic palm oil trading, became baptized, and purchased slaves for whom he also secured consular manumission papers.107 Missionaries prevented Ephraim’s attempt to repossess Bassey and his twelve redeemed slaves in 1857, and helped them relocate to Fernando Po.108 Subsequently, Old Calabar elites complained about the distribution of freedom papers to domestic slaves and saw Liberated Africans, especially, as exemplars of emancipation that led “to slaves being removed from Efik control.”109

Thus the exile of Feury and Matthews was linked to antagonism between returnees and local elites over domestic slavery. Old Calabar slave-owning elites saw the Liberated Africans as opportunistic immigrants who used claims of emancipation and being British subjects to steal slaves to own or traffic as indentured domestic servants. Although missionaries and British officials also redeemed slaves, local elites blamed Liberated Africans.110 In the view of local elites, missionaries and British officials acquired slaves by lawful purchase or as gifts, but Liberated Africans used dubious means to steal slaves. The different cases of Feury and Matthews suggest that returnees participated in redemption secretly and opportunistically, and their involvement only became apparent when they were caught. They also suggest that domestic slaves saw redemption as an opportunity to achieve a new type of freedom that was radical in Old Calabar—escaping slavery and dependency to live as recognized freedmen beyond the reach of their masters. These combined to create a perception of Liberated Africans as people who “steal away” slaves, and helps to explain the “excitement” among some Old Calabar elites to deport them. Otherwise, the elites feared, they “will lose all [their slaves] without cause.”111

Redemption enabled Liberated Africans to acquire Old Calabar slaves as domestic servants and traffic them as indentured laborers without violating slave-trade abolition. Earlier, in 1855, a European missionary complained that Fernandinos (Liberated Africans on Fernando Po) came to Old Calabar “at various times” and “purchased slaves.”112 The consul acknowledged that he was aware of the “fact” that male and female slaves were purchased at Old Calabar and sold on Fernando Po Island as domestic servants. But he argued that “Fernando Po has always been a refuge from slavery,” and Old Calabar slaves welcomed the opportunity of freedom on Fernando Po.113 He expressed his “surprise” at the missionaries’ complaint because “on many occasions they themselves have sent slaves to [Fernando Po] who were in danger in Old Calabar, but who immediately on arrival were at perfect liberty to do as they pleased.” Most of the domestic servants sent from Old Calabar to Fernando Po were “boys & girls from 7 to 10 years of age.” When these “liberated slaves” wished to marry, “a piece of land is granted them to erect a house on. They have no taxes whatsoever with the solitary exception of 5 percent on imports and 2½ percent on exports. They are in a word perfectly free and untrammeled. This is infinitely superior to a state of slavery in Old Calabar.” He added that British officials like Admiral Bruce and Beecroft also sent redeemed slaves to the island.114 But what the consul’s report overlooked was that these so-called domestic servants promised land inheritance were soon converted into “quasi-slaves” serving “five-years apprenticeships” by the Spanish colonial governor.115

The above suggests that for a brief period, European administrators justified Liberated Africans’ trafficking of redeemed slaves as a sort of liberation. In their antislavery logic, it was similar to how Old Calabar missionaries exploited the practice of redemption as a means of acquiring domestic servants. In June 1856, Consul Hutchinson reported the “applications” he received from European missionaries and settlers at Old Calabar for “manumission papers for the[ir] slaves.” Hutchinson gave them a certificate that had been approved by an official in London.116 One missionary provided the names of six “domestics of my household, who have been manumitted by me by purchase and who are unconditionally free, requiring only your consular certificate & to award them all the privileges of freedom.” Another wrote, “I have redeemed some of the natives of this country, which I request you to give me a paper for each and you will very thankfully oblige.” A third wrote that he had “redeemed the girl called ‘Agnes Caldwell’ and that she is free, no person having any claim of property in her.”117 These applications suggest that certain Europeans in Old Calabar could purchase or redeem a domestic slave and subsequently seek formal consular emancipation.

However, Liberated Africans at Old Calabar would stretch the limits of what redemption meant, and what privileges British subjecthood allowed, beyond local elites’ tolerance and British consuls’ countenance. As the global palm oil market crashed in the early 1860s, putting local elites under immense pressure to meet their palm oil quotas, several Afro-Brazilian returnees from the Gold Coast (called tabom) and Lagos (called aguda) joined a growing number of Sierra Leone Liberated African returnees at Old Calabar. These African British subjects caused “considerable trouble by trading, owning slaves, and playing the chiefs, missionaries, and agents off against one another.”118 As a result, the 1860s and 1870s were marked by elite opposition to the presence of Black Englishmen. In his petition to the Court of Equity, the then king of Duke Town Archibong III declared, “I will in no wise have any African born British subjects in my country who will not abide by the law of my country. . . . I therefore implore the court to inform the said British subjects dwelling in Old Calabar Towns under my control that those who will not abide by my country law must leave my country entirely.” The king meant that the returnees violated local conventions by buying palm oil directly from the hinterland, instead of from coastal elite middlemen, and by duplicating freedom papers and using them to steal slaves.119 Elites resorted to violence against returnees. Several Liberated Africans petitioned the consul, chronicling the “daily cruelties” of Archibong III, who arbitrarily seized, flogged, and imprisoned Liberated Africans like James Croker.120 To escape persecution, some Liberated Africans left Old Calabar, and those that remained expanded demands for British protection.121

On their part, British consuls considered returnees to be a nuisance, such that when in 1878, the king began expelling returnees from Duke Town, the consul dismissed them as “the most meddlesome and dangerous people on the Coast.”122 In addition to the complaints of local elites, consuls had become alarmed by the audacious manner in which returnees, including at this period emancipated Africans from the West Indies, used fake freedom papers to acquire and sell domestic slaves. Returnees, including Hazeley, who defiantly returned to Old Calabar after his deportation, had come to depend on the labor of redeemed slaves to conduct petty trading in Old Calabar.123 Consul White reported in 1885 that the redeeming of slaves had become “a most profitable trade amongst the natives of Sierra Leone settled in Old Calabar. They have found it to be a cheap way of procuring servants or of living on the proceeds of the labor of the negroes they have redeemed.” Returnees sought to enlist British consuls in recovering their runaway redeemed slaves and domestic servants. The consul thought this “amount[ed] to legalizing slavery . . . under cover of the British flag.” He further reported that “a British Sierra Leone woman had been trading on young girls” and that he had stopped a West Indian British subject from “taking away with him a young negro” from Old Calabar. He concluded, “This so-called redeeming of slaves by Sierra Leonians is not popular with the natives of Old Calabar and they look with mistrust in such dealings.”124 The consul exiled many returnees charged with “revolting acts of barbarity” in order to reassure the elites of Old Calabar “who are law abiding and loyal” that their interests were secure under British protection.125 Subsequently, he issued a “notice” prohibiting redemption and declared that Liberated Africans redeeming slaves “will be accused of slave dealing” and punished according to British law.126 He warned that several condemned Liberated Africans were already “expiating their crimes in the jail at Freetown.”127

After the deportations, the consul accounted for a remaining “48-colored British subjects at Old Calabar, viz: 13 from Accra, 7 from Lagos, 4 from the West Indies, 24 from Sierra Leone. Of these, 5 own 10 redeemed slaves to my knowledge. Their names are: Mrs. Brooks—2 slaves, Mrs. Pratt—2 slaves, Francis Phillip—3 slaves, P. B. Emmanuel—1 slave.”128

Previous consuls had accommodated redemption, but the imperative of establishing British rule in the 1880s led officials to criminalize redemption and protect domestic slavery.129 Old Calabar elites acceded to making Old Calabar a British protectorate on the condition that domestic slavery would be protected.130 Unlike domestic slavery, however, redemption entailed forms of “slave dealing” and trafficking that flagrantly violated abolition. Throughout the 1880s, consuls weaponized the “discretion” of “magisterial authority” to deal with returnees who engaged in redemption, which had by then been deemed untenable.131

Conclusion

I have historicized Liberated Africans’ Afropolitanism by examining their survival strategies or freedom politics after they had been “freed” in Sierra Leone and relocated to Old Calabar, where they could not belong because they were not slaves or dependents, freeborn slave-owning elites, or European merchants and missionaries. Their marginality made them vulnerable to dispossession, violence, and exile. But it also enabled them to imagine an expansive geography of economic migration and social mobility that included Freetown, Old Calabar, and Fernando Po. It led them to claim British subjecthood and forge rebellious economies of transatlantic free trading that challenged the Liverpool monopoly. And it enabled them to put redemption to different uses, namely as “a cheap way of procuring servants or of living on the proceeds of the labor of the negroes they have redeemed”—which Old Calabar elites viewed as dispossessive slave owning or what one might call “false emancipatory slave ownership.” This expansion of the unfree labor economy was one of the most notable contradictory agencies of the Liberated Africans, because they had been so-called beneficiaries of emancipation from slavery and products of international abolitionism. Returnees articulated Afropolitan identity and belonging through contradictory strategies, by asserting freedom as rights-bearing British subjects while facilitating partial emancipation and reenslavement. Hence, I have tried to show that returnees embodied ambiguous ideas of freedom.

Moreover, it is by studying how African migrants dealt with forms of alienation or the “disembedding” of individuals from communities that we can comprehend their identity politics and unique philosophy of freedom in the age of abolition.132 Returning to Old Calabar, from which many of them had been enslaved or embarked, Liberated Africans stood out as a living contradiction to domestic slavery and as exemplars of radical freedom to domestic slaves. This was why Old Calabar elites singled out returnees as dangerous. By asserting Anglo-cosmopolitan identity through residence on the mission station, dressing European, speaking English, and, especially, writing petitions, they induced Old Calabar people to view them as both African and white men. Indeed, returnees articulated multiple identities, depending on whether they were petitioning to be allowed to return to Old Calabar as their native country or original homeland, or were distinguishing themselves as natives of Sierra Leone to assert British subjects’ rights to free trade, or were participating in redemption and self-fashioning themselves into fake emancipators. After all, it was the same class of Africans whose free trading the British foreign secretary deemed critical to “the extinction of the slave trade” that Consul White later criminalized for “slave dealing.” These fluid identity configurations were instrumental responses to deracination, precarity, and marginalization and enabled the returnees to adapt, assert British subjecthood, and conduct free trade, and to emancipate, own, and traffic domestic slaves.

Returnees’ Afropolitanism required the mobilization of different kinds of knowledge, including identifying and accessing different West African coastal spaces where economic opportunities existed, forging alliances with missionaries, making use of technologies of exchange such as the West African mail steamboats, and leveraging networks of Liberated Africans, sympathetic missionaries, and European captains in Old Calabar, Fernando Po, and Sierra Leone to relocate redeemed domestic slaves. It required knowledge of the authority limits of proximate British consuls, imaginative access to London metropolitan authorities, and deployment of effective discourses to gain the sympathy and support of British officials. Finally, returnees’ cosmopolitanism was nonconformist because, in extending African British subject rights beyond the British colonial possession of Sierra Leone to Old Calabar, they also challenged European notions of subject territories, fixity of colonized subjects, and control over African mobility. As scholars have shown, such dissident norms of mobility of African subjects were strategic means of contesting control over spaces, access to resources, and identity.133

Mbembe, in answering the question, “Who is African and who is not?,” defined “African citizenship” or Afropolitanism as a rights claim made by people despite race and birthplace, including people who have settled in Africa or created culture and knowledge in and of Africa through “their ways of being and doing,” even if they also belong somewhere else. Second, he identifies the “dispersal” and “diasporas” of African people and “traces of Africa” in the world. These two realities characterize Afropolitanism as a product of “worlds-in-movement,” including intra-African “itinerancy, mobility and displacement.” Colonialism sought to “freeze” the African culture of mobility “through the modern institution of borders.” Therefore, Afropolitan scholarship requires “recalling the history of itinerancy and mobility” and “talking about mixing, blending and superimposing,” in opposition to fundamentalist notions of “custom” and “autochthony.” It requires attention to “vernacularisation” and decolonial practices of African modernity to reveal the “history of the rest of the world” in Africa, the belonging of Africans to the world, the incoherent domestication of the unfamiliar, and the refusal of victim identity.134 However, rather than Mbembe’s cogent emphasis on mobility, contemporary scholars have focused on his reference to “a culture of consumerism that partakes directly of the flows of globalization.”135

My understanding of Afropolitanism returns to Mbembe’s emphasis on mobility. Returnees in Old Calabar articulated a shared mentalité of being Africans on the move, embodying multiple legacies of captivity and slavery, colonial resettlement, ethnogenesis, racialization, and imperial modernity. Their sense of being Africans accentuated multiple belonging. They claimed both Old Calabar and Sierra Leone as home, despite European efforts to create colonial borders beyond which imperial subjects’ freedom rights were not guaranteed. They retained African languages and enacted reunions with lost kin, but they also used English language, Christian identity, European dress, and transatlantic freedom discourses to cultivate mobility and economic uplift. Beyond autochthony and authenticity, they focus our attention on utilitarian and fluid performances of whiteness as well as claims of nativeness. Critics have observed that Afropolitanism is limited in the way it illuminates elite consumerism and mobility.136 This challenge is real for historians because of the difficulties in enabling archived subalterns to speak. Liberated Africans were not an elite class in Old Calabar, where local slaveholding merchants and European traders and consuls held sway. Theirs was a subaltern politics of survival, rebellious mobility, monopoly subversion, and anti-imperial performances of freedom. But returnees’ Afropolitanism equally reified the centrality of capitalism and European consumption of African resources in identity making in nineteenth-century West Africa. Returnees negotiated mobility and socioeconomic uplift by inserting themselves within imperial networks of transatlantic exchanges. And they exploited a category of less privileged Africans, domestic slaves, as labor to secure their own fragile freedoms. Like nineteenth-century liberalism, Afropolitanism did not birth freedom and the end of slavery. Rather, it reflected how radical and anti-imperial African reinterpretations of freedom were only possible when categories of African peoples denied freedom to others within imperial contexts.

Notes

10.

Hutchinson to Malmesbury, Fernando Po, February 28, 1859, “Transmitting Information Concerning Two Sierra Leone Men Sent Back to Their Native Country from Old Kalabar,” Slave Trade Dispatch 4, 3 Enclosures, 96–100, Slave Trade Bight of Biafra 1859, FO 84/1087, British National Archives, Kew (hereafter BNA).

12.

For the territorial limits of Liberated Africans’ rights as British subjects, see Misevich, Abolition; Crooks, A History, 189; “A Bill Intituled ‘An Act to Remove Doubts as to the Rights of the Liberated Africans in Sierra Leone’ Brought from the House of Lords 11 August 1853,” Parliamentary Archives: GB-06. https://archives.parliament.uk/collections/getrecord/GB61_HL_PO_PU_1_1853_16and17V1n320 (full text also here: https://www.pdavis.nl/Legis_53.htm); Macdonald to Earl Grey, November 27, 1851, 332–33, British Parliamentary Papers: Slave Trade, Vol. 90 (Irish University Press, 1968). Old Calabar elites signed a treaty of abolition with Britain in 1842, but Old Calabar remained independent until 1884, when it became a protectorate. For the 1842 treaty, see McFarlan, Calabar, 8–9; Waddell, Twenty-Nine Years, 663–64. For the 1884 treaty, see International Court of Justice, “Case Concerning the Land and Maritime Boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria, Counter-Memorial of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” 90–97, 109, May 1999, https://www.icj-cij.org/public/files/case-related/94/8602.pdf; “Treaty between Great Britain and Old Calabar, with the accession of Tom Shot, Efut, and Idömmbi (West Africa), signed on board Her Britannic Majesty’s ship ‘Flirt’, anchored in Old Calabar River, 10 September 1884,” Oxford Historical Treaties, 163 CTS 182, https://opil.ouplaw.com/view/10.1093/law:oht/law-oht-163-CTS-182.regGroup.1/law-oht-163-CTS-182?rskey=KEFjsY&result=18&prd=OHT.

27.

Simmons, “An Ethnographic Sketch,” 16; Consul Hutchinson’s Letter to Clarendon, Clarence, Fernando Po, February 20, 1857, “Giving Relation of an Incipient Civil War in Old Calabar,” Slave Trade No. 8, 127, FO 84/1030, BNA. Hutchinson wrote, “Despotic power” was the “main prop of the Egbo institution” and was used “to make the [slaves] feel that domestic slavery is still maintained” for their own well-being.

28.

For the “trading slaves,” see Marwick, William and Louisa Anderson, 326; Latham, Old Calabar, 96–101. For European ekpe membership, see Lovejoy and Richardson, “Trust, Pawnship,” 349; Holman, Travels, 392–93; Hart, Report of the Enquiry, 167. For European reliance on ekpe to settle disputes in the 1850s and 1860s, see Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, November 1, 1856, “Detailing Circumstances of a Complaint against Captain Davies for Refusing to Return to the Man Who Claimed It a Cask of Palm Oil Picked Up by His Krumen,” Dispatch 128, 527–28, FO 84/1001, BNA.

31.

For the use of ekpe against Liberated Africans, see Marwick, William and Louisa Anderson, 341–46; Anderson to Hutchinson, Duke Town Old Calabar, May 30, 1856, “Complaint against the King of Duke Town,” Enclosure 1, Dispatch 71, 262–65, FO 84/1001, BNA. For corroboration, see Edgerly to Hutchinson, Duke Town Old Calabar May 30, 1856, “Complaint against King Duke Ephraim,” Enclosure 2, Dispatch 71, 266–67, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Duke Ephraim, Fernando Po, June 4, 1856, “Letter to the King of Duke Town,” Enclosure 4, Dispatch 71, 271–72, FO 84/1001, BNA; and Goldie, Calabar and Its Mission, 188–89.

34.

Dike, Trade and Politics, 114, 117; Dike, “John Beecroft,” 7, 12; Nwokeji, Slave Trade and Culture, 180; Oriji, Political Organization, 140–41. Lynn, “From Sail to Steam.” In 1855, the British consul Lynslager estimated “the oil produced in [Old] Calabar in one year” to be 4,000–5,000 tons. See Journal of Proceeding of Acting Consul J. B. Lynslager in the River Old Calabar, October 1855, No. 14 of October 31, 1855, p. 172, FO 84/975, BNA.

35.

Anderson to Hutchinson, Duke Town Old Calabar, June 17, 1856, Dispatch 76, 322–24, FO 84/1001, BNA.

36.

Marwick, William and Louisa Anderson, 350; Anderson to Hutchinson, Duke Town Old Calabar, June 17, 1856, Dispatch 76, 322–24, FO 84/1001, BNA.

37.

For missionaries securing consular manumission papers for redeemed slaves, see Anderson to Hutchinson, Duke Town Mission House, Old Calabar, January 21, 1856, Enclosure 5, in Dispatch No. 11, Fernando Po, January 31, 1856, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Anderson, H.M.S.V. “Bloodhound,” River Old Calabar, January 18, 1856, Enclosure 2, Dispatch 11, 132–33, FO 84/1001, BNA; List of Persons Names Who Received Manumission Papers, Enclosure 3, in Dispatch 11, Fernando Po, January 31, 1856, FO 84/1001, BNA. For foundation of the mission, see Aye, “Foundations of Presbyterianism”; McFarlan, Calabar, 8–12; “Copy of Documents Read by Rev. Waddell to Prove the Right of the Missionaries to the Ground Held by Them in Old Calabar,” Fernando Po, June 24, 1856, Enclosure 6, Dispatch 71, 275–81, FO 84/1001, BNA.

39.

For the Liberated Africans Thomas Paul and Robert Boyle, whom Rev. Anderson fined for beating their wives, see Anderson to Hutchinson, Duke Town Mission House, Old Calabar, January 18, 1855, in Dispatch 11, 130–31, “Slave Trade, West Coast of Africa, Bight of Biafra, 1856,” FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, January 31, 1856, “Enclosing Copy of Mr. Anderson’s Letter & Reply Thereto, Copy of Manumission Papers with List of Names, Copies of Two Addresses and Replies,” Dispatch 11, 128–29, FO 84/1001, BNA.

43.

Fyle, “The Saro,” 125–38.

45.

Hutchinson to the Agents of the United Presbyterian Church Mission in Old Calabar, January 22, 1856, 144–45, FO 84/1001, BNA.

46.

Clarendon to Hutchinson, Foreign Office, October 19, 1856, Slave Trade No. 29, 68–71, FO 84/1001, BNA.

47.

Waddell to Hutchinson, Creek Town Old Calabar, May 8, 1858, “Rev. Mr. Waddell’s Defense to the Charges Made against Him,” Enclosure 10 in Slave Trade 22, 195–200, FO 84/1061, BNA; William Isam Hazeley to Hutchinson, Creek Town Old Calabar River, March 5, 1858, “Counter Charge Made by William Isam Hazeley against Mr. Michael Hearn,” Enclosure 3, in Slave Trade 22, 178–80, FO 84/1061, BNA.

48.

Nicholls to Cuthbertson, Duke Town Old Calabar, October 31, 1855, Enclosure 5, Dispatch 23, 163, FO 84/1001, BNA.

49.

Nicholls to Lynslager, Fernando Po, November 2, 1855, Enclosure 4, Dispatch 23, 165, FO 84/1001, BNA.

50.

Nicholls to Lynslager, Fernando Po, November 2, 1855, Enclosure 4, Dispatch 23, 165, FO 84/1001, BNA.

51.

King Eyo to Lynslager, Creek Town, Old Calabar, January 19, 1855, “King Eyo’s Declaration of the Only Mode for Recovering Debts in Old Calabar,” Enclosure 2, in Dispatch 14, 300, FO 84/1001, BNA; Journal of Proceeding of Acting Consul J. B. Lynslager in the River Old Calabar, October 1855, 175; Hutchinson to Captain Davies and the Supercargoes of Old Calabar River, and King Eyo Honesty of Creek Town, June 17, 1856, Enclosure 3, Dispatch 14, 302, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, March 12, 1856, Enclosure 23, Dispatch 12, 156–57, FO 84/1001, BNA.

52.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, March 12, 1856, “Enclosing Papers Relative to the Seizure of R. Nicoll’s Oil in Old Calabar by Capt. Cuthbertson,” Enclosure 23, Dispatch 12, 156–57, FO 84/1001, BNA.

53.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, March 12, 1856, Dispatch 23, 156–57, FO 84/1001, BNA.

56.

Marwick, William and Louisa Anderson, 334, 572–73. Nicholls deemed Old Calabar his homeland, and when he died in Freetown in 1880, he bequeathed £50 to the Duke Town mission.

57.

Journal of Proceeding of Acting Consul J. B. Lynslager in the River Old Calabar, October 1855, 171.

58.

Lynslager to Cuthbertson, Fernando Po, November 5, 1855, Enclosoure 5, Dispatch 23, 167–68, FO 84/1001, BNA.

59.

Nicholls to Hutchinson, Freetown Sierra Leone, January 7, 1856, Enclosure 6, Dispatch 23, 169, FO 84/1001, BNA.

60.

Nicholls to Smyth, Freetown, Sierra Leone, January 7, 1856, Enclosure 2, Dispatch 23, 161–62, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hill to Hutchinson, Government House Sierra Leone, January 12, 1856, Enclosure 1, Dispatch 23, 159–60, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Governor Hill, Cameroons River, February 6, 1856, Enclosure 9, Dispatch 23, FO 84/1001, BNA.

61.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, March 12, 1856, Dispatch 23, 156–57, FO 84/1001, BNA; Cuthbertson to Hutchinson, Africa, Old Calabar, February 5, 1856, Enclosure 8, Dispatch 23, 173, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hill to Consul Hutchinson, Government House Sierra Leone, January 12, 1856, Enclosure 1, Dispatch 23, 159–60, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Hill, Cameroons River, February 6, 1856, Enclosure 9, Dispatch 23, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Cuthbertson, Fernando Po, February 2, 1856, Enclosure 7, Dispatch 23, 71–72, FO 84/1001, BNA.

62.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, September 23, 1856, Dispatch 115, 425, FO 84/1001.

63.

“Hutchinson Reply to the Calabar Supercargoes Request for Him to Proceed in a Man-of-War up the Cross River,” Enclosure 2, Dispatch 93, 367–68, FO 84/1001, BNA.

64.

Davies to Hutchinson, Ship Calabar, Old Calabar, October 13, 1856, “Detailing His Reasons for His Refusal for Returning Hedd’s Oil,” Enclosure 4, Dispatch 126, 512–53, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Clarendon, Clarence Fernando Po, September 29, 1856, Slave Trade 24, 416 [415–17], FO 84/1001, BNA; Dike, Trade and Politics, 118–19.

65.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, June 24, 1856, “Enquiries on the Subject of the Complaint Made by Messrs. Stuart and Douglass,” Dispatch 74, 1856, 295, FO 84/1001, BNA.

66.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, June 24, 1856, “Transmitting a Complaint by a Sierra Leone Man against a Liverpool Supercargo for Having Forcibly Taken His Oil in Old Calabar,” Dispatch 75, 304, FO 84/1001, BNA.

67.

Hedd to Hutchinson, Mission Hill, Duke Town, May 21, 1856, Dispatch 75, 306, FO 84/1001, BNA.

68.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, November 1, 1856, “Giving Account of Further Proceedings for the Recovery of Daniel Hedd’s Oil,” Dispatch 126, 502–5, FO 84/1001, BNA.

69.

Clarendon to Hutchinson, “Case of Daniel Hedd,” Dispatch 75, 309–10, FO 84/1001, BNA. Also, see Hutchinson to Clarendon, September 29, 1856, Slave Trade 24, 415–17, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Davies, Fernando Po, October 8, 1856, “Requesting the Return of Daniel Hedd’s Oil,” Enclosure 2, Dispatch 126, 508, FO 84/1001, BNA.

70.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, September 23, 1856, “Containing the Results of Investigation into an Assault Committed on a British Supercargo by Some of the Natives at Old Calabar,” Dispatch 115, 428–29, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, September 24, 1856, “Transmitting Code of Bye-Laws Sanctioned for the Better Regulation of Trade between the British and Native Traders at Old Calabar, with Grant of a Price of Ground from the King and a Letter from the Supercargoes,” Dispatch 116, 457–60, FO 84/1001, BNA.

71.

“Code of Bye-Laws for the Regulation of Trade in Old Calabar,” Enclosure 1, Dispatch 116, 461–68, FO 84/1001, BNA.

72.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, September 24, 1856, “Transmitting Code of Bye-Laws,” Dispatch 116, 458–59, FO 84/1001, BNA. Consul Richard Burton later led the revision of these bylaws in 1862. See “Agreement between the British and Other Supercargoes and the Native Traders of Old Calabar,” Old Calabar River, May 5, 1862, British and Foreign State Papers, 1864–1865, vol. 55 (London, 1870), 186–89. Burton also reported that the circumstances leading to the “re-establishment of the Court of Equity” were complaints from the “senior supercargoes” and complaints from “the Sierra Leone emigrants” against “the natives.” See Burton to Earl Russell, Fernando Po, May 22, 1862 (received July 12), British and Foreign State Papers, 1862–1863, vol. 53 (London, 1868), 1288–1292.

73.

Davies to Hutchinson, Calabar, Old Calabar, October 13, 1856, Enclosure 4, Dispatch 126, 512–13, FO 84/1001, BNA.

74.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, November 1, 1856, Dispatch 126, 504, FO 84/1001.

75.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, November 1, 1856, Dispatch 126, 504, FO 84/1001.

76.

For a perspective of subaltern profiteering, see Olwell, “‘Loose, Idle, and Disorderly.” 

77.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, November 1, 1856, Dispatch 126, 502–5, FO 84/1001.

78.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, November 1, 1856, Dispatch 126, 504, FO 84/1001.

79.

Complaint of the Sierra Leone Residents at Old Calabar, May 30, 1856, Enclosure 1, Dispatch 76, 315, FO 84/1001, BNA.

80.

Anderson to Hutchinson, Duke Town Old Calabar, June 17, 1856, Dispatch 76, 324–25, FO 84/1001, BNA.

81.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Clarence Fernando Po, June 24, 1856, Dispatch 76, 312–13, FO 84/1001.

82.

Clarendon to Hutchinson, Foreign Office, October 19, 1856, Slave Trade 29, 68–69, FO 84/1001, BNA.

83.

Clarendon to Hutchinson, Foreign Office, October 19, 1856, Slave Trade 29, 69–71, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, November 26, 1856, “Acknowledging the Receipt of Despatch Slave Trade 29 on the Subject of the Liberated Africans Resident at Old Calabar,” Slave Trade 32, 563, FO 84/1001, BNA.

84.

Memo on Hutchinson’s No. 76 of June 24, 1856, Foreign Office, August 20, 1856, 326–31, FO 84/1001. For the consul’s acknowledgment, see Hutchinson to Clarendon, Clarence, Fernando Po, September 29, 1856, Slave Trade No. 25, 419–20, FO 84/1001, BNA.

85.

Effiong to Hutchinson, Duke Town, Old Calabar, October 25, 1856, “Statement of Etan Effiong’s Claim on Capt. Davies for a Puncheon of Palm Oil,” Enclosure in Dispatch 128, 529, FO 84/1001.

86.

Waddell to Hutchinson, Creek Town Old Calabar, May 8, 1858, Enclosure 10, Dispatch 22, 195–200, FO 84/1061, BNA; Ephraim to Hutchinson, September 15, 1856, “King Duke’s Application to Bind Over Capt. Cuthbertson to Keep the Peace,” Enclosure 8, Dispatch 115, 451, FO 84/1001, BNA.

87.

For an account of twenty men who attacked Cuthbertson, “knocked him down, split his head in three places,” and struck him on the abdomen and testicles, see “Complaint of Supercargoes at Old Calabar,” Old Calabar River, August 25, 1856, Enclosure 1, Dispatch 112, 406–7, FO 84/1001, BNA; “Copy of the Supercargoes Application to the Consul,” Enclosure 1, Dispatch 115, 430–32, FO 84/1001, BNA; Hutchinson to Commander Robeck, H.M.S.S. Myrmidon, Old Calabar, September 15, 1856, Enclosure 7, Dispatch 115, FO 84/1001, BNA; Rev. Messrs. Anderson, Edgerly, and Baillie’s Defense of Henshaw Duke, Enclosure 6, Dispatch 115, 445–47, FO 84/1001, BNA. For looting of the cask houses, see Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, November 1, 1856, Dispatch 129, 531–32, FO 84/1001, BNA.

88.

Duke Ephraim to Hutchinson, October 28, 1856, “Complaining of Captain Sterne’s Having Abused Him,” Enclosure 2, Dispatch 129, 535, FO 84/1001, BNA.

89.

Hutchinson to Clarendon, Fernando Po, January 2, 1857, 88–89, FO 84/1030, BNA; Foreign Office Memo, Consul Hutchinson’s No. 47 of August 20, 1857, 381–83, FO 84/1030, BNA.

90.

Supercargoes to Hutchinson, Old Calabar River, July 25, 1857, Enclosure 2, Dispatch 50, 417–19, FO 84/1030, BNA.

92.

“Copy of Letter from Bassey Henshaw Duke of Old Kalabar Charging a Sierra Leone Man Named ‘William Hazeley’ of Having Defrauded Him of Six Puncheons of Oil,” March 1858, Enclosure 1, Dispatch 23, 222, FO 84/1061, BNA; “Copy of Letter from Yellow Duke of Old Kalabar Charging the Said ‘William Hazeley’ with Having Taken Palm Oil and Ebony from Him without Paying for It,” May 8, 1858, Enclosure 2, Dispatch 23, 224, FO 84/1061, BNA; “Copy of Letter from Consul Hutchinson to Mr. Lewis of the Brig ‘Olinda’ on Board Whose Ship Bassey Henshaw Duke’s Palm Oil Was Taken,” May 8, 1858, Enclosure 3, Dispatch 23, 226, FO 84/1061, BNA; “Copy of Mr. Lewis’ Reply Stating That He Paid the Man Hazeley for the Oil in Question,” May 10, 1858, Enclosure 4, Dispatch 23, 228, FO 84/1061, BNA; Hutchinson to Malmesbury, Fernando Po, May 25, 1858, Dispatch 23, 220–21, FO 84/1061, BNA. For the identities of these “Duke-ward slaves,” see Latham, Old Calabar, 99.

93.

Hazeley to Hutchinson, Creek Town, Old Calabar, March 5, 1858, Enclosure 3, Dispatch 22, 178–80, FO 84/1061, BNA; Waddell to Hutchinson, Creek Town Old Calabar, May 8, 1858, Enclosure 10, Dispatch 22, 195–200, FO 84/1061, BNA.

94.

Hutchinson to Governor Hill, Fernando Po, February 24, 1859, “Copy of Consul Hutchinson’s Despatch to Governor Hill Explaining the Crimes Committed by the Sierra Leone Men in Old Kalabar,” Enclosure 1, Dispatch 4, 102–7, FO 84/1087, BNA; See Enclosure 14 of Dispatch 22 in FO 84/1061, BNA; and Enclosure 1–6 of Dispatch 23, FO 84/1061, BNA.

95.

Hutchinson to Hill, Fernando Po, February 28, 1859, Enclosure 1, Dispatch 4, 105 [102–7], FO 84/1087, BNA.

96.

Hutchinson to Governor Hill, Fernando Po, February 28, 1859, 108.

98.

Hutchinson to Governor Hill, Fernando Po, February 28, 1859, 105. Rev. Waddell’s account of Eyo II’s death fits with Feury’s defense. See Waddell, Twenty-Nine Years, 642–44.

99.

Hutchinson to Governor Hill, Fernando Po, February 28, 1859, 105–6.

100.

 Hutchinson to Governor Hill, Fernando Po, February 28, 1859, 106.

101.

 “Copy of Young Eyo’s Complaint against a Resident of Fernando Po for Taking Away Five of His Slaves,” Enclosure 3, Slave Trade No. 4, 110–11, FO 84/1087, BNA.

102.

 Lynslager to Malmesbury, August 31, 1858, Clarence, Fernando Po, “Transmitting Letter from King Eyo Honesty of Old Calabar Making a Complaint against Mr. Matthews of Fernando Po Taking Five of His Son’s Slaves Away,” Dispatch 3, 345–47, FO 84/1061, BNA.

103.

 Lynslager to Malmesbury, August 31, 1858, Dispatch 3, 345–47, FO 84/1061, BNA.

104.

 Lynslager to Malmesbury, August 31, 1858, Dispatch 3, 345–47, FO 84/1061, BNA.

105.

 King Duke Ephraim to Hutchinson, Duke Town Old Calabar, May 6, 1858, “Copy of Letter from King Duke Ephraim Requesting the Sierra Leone Men to Leave His Territory,” Enclosure 5, Dispatch 23, 230, FO 84/1061, BNA.

110.

 For Consul Hutchinson’s manumission of a slave girl “Fanny” and others, see Hutchinson to Malmesbury, Clarence, Fernando Po, May 25, 1858, “Transmitting List of the Names of Slaves to Whom Papers of Emancipation Have Been Granted,” Dispatch 27, 268–70, FO 84/1061, BNA.

111.

 King Eyo to Lynslager, Creek Town, Old Calabar, August 25, 1858, Enclosure in Dispatch 3, 348, FO 84/1061, BNA.

112.

 Edgerly to Lynslager, Old Calabar, October 11, 1855, Enclosure 1, Dispatch 16, 213, “Slave Trade Bight of Biafra, 1855,” FO 84/975, BNA.

113.

 Lynslager to Edgerly, Old Calabar, October 12, 1855, Enclosure 2, Dispatch 16, 215, FO 84/975, BNA.

114.

 Lynslager to Clarendon, October 31, 1855, Dispatch 16, 201–11, FO 84/975, BNA.

116.

 Hutchinson to Clarendon, Clarence Fernando Po, June 24, 1856, “Transmitting List of Manumitted Slaves,” Enclosure 77, Dispatch 13, 332, FO 84/1001, BNA.

117.

 “List of Manumitted Slaves,” Enclosure 1, 2, and 3, Dispatch 77, FO 84/1001, BNA.

119.

 Archibong III to Court of Equity, October 10, 1876, Calprof. 3/2, Nigerian National Archives Ibadan, cited in Nair, Politics and Society, 165–66. Also, Latham, Old Calabar, 108.

120.

 Commodore William Hewett to Consul McKellar, September 13, 1876, Calprof. 4/1, vol. 5, and Encl. James Africans Croker to Commodore William Hewett, July 20, 1876, cited in Nair, Politics and Society, 165.

122.

 Hopkins to Foreign Secretary, August 28, 1878, No. 29, FO 84/1508, cited in Latham, Old Calabar, 108.

123.

 Hazeley to Consul Burton, Duke Town, Old Calabar, May 6, 1862, British and Foreign State Papers, 1862–1863, vol. 53 (London, 1868), 1295; Hutchinson to Russell, Fernando Po, February 28, 1860, “Acknowledging the Receipt of Slave Trade No. 23 Jan 23rd Containing Copy of Complaint Made against Me by a Man Named Hazeley at Sierra Leone,” Dispatch 12, 126–30, FO84/1117, BNA; Dike, Trade and Politics, 124.

124.

 White to Earl Granville, Old Calabar, February 1, 1885, “Redeeming Slaves—Objections To,” Dispatch 8, 1 Enclosure, 149–53, Africa (Slave Trade), West Coast, Consuls at Old Calabar, Hewett, White, 1885, FO 84/1701, BNA.

125.

 White to Granville, Old Calabar, February 1, 1885, “Redeeming Slaves—Objections To.”

126.

 “Redeeming Slaves,” Enclosure in Acting Consul White’s Dispatch, February 1/85, “Africa (Slave Trade), West Coast, Consuls at Old Calabar, Hewett, White, 1885,” FO 84/1701, BNA.

127.

 White to Granville, Old Calabar, February 1, 1885, Africa Dispatch 8, 149–53, FO 84/1701, BNA.

128.

 Vice Consul White to Earl Granville, Old Calabar, February 9, 1885, Africa Dispatch 13, received March 23, 1885, p. 166, “Africa (Slave Trade), West Coast, Consuls at Old Calabar, Hewett, White, 1885,” FO 84/1701, BNA.

129.

 See minutes in White to Granville, Old Calabar, February 1, 1885, Africa Dispatch 8, 149–53, FO 84/1701, BNA.

130.

 Major MacDonald to Marquis of Salisbury (received June 12, 1889), Dispatch 11, Enclosures 5, 7, and 11, pp. 159–61, FO84/1940, BNA.

131.

 For the case of Theophilus Phillips, a “Sierra Leone man” against whom Consul Edward Hewett exercised such a “discretion” in prosecuting him for having “bought and sold a native girl” at Bonny, see Hewett to Granville, Bonny, December 23, 1884, Dispatch 43, 340–41, Slave Trade, Africa (West Coast), 1884, FO 84/1660, BNA; “Statements of Several Persons Respecting a Case of Slave Trading by Theophilus Phillips a British Subject,” 342–54, No. 43, Enclosure 1, Slave Trade, Africa (West Coast), 1884, FO 84/1660, BNA.

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