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African V Es Tern

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AFRICAN V ES TERN n til 1536, Portugal en joyed practically a monopoly of the African trade, for it was not until about that date that England began to trade with the West Coast. Thus, in view of present-day operations, it may be observed that Africa has been the scene of some of the earliest, as wolf as of some of the latest phases in the expansion of the British Empire. The development of Africa has been undoubtedly slow, but this may be accounted for by its geographical position. Take a map of the world, and it will be seen that Africa is in the main a place on the way, not a final goal. Newfoundland, which is commonly regarded as the oldest English colony, dates back its existence as such to 1583, but in the years 1530-32, one William Hawkins, father of the better-known Sir John, was trading on the coast of Guinea. In 1564. the son followed the father's course In a ship named the Jesus, combining the slave trade with the plunder of the Portuguese. When he reached America, he compelled the Spaniards there, by force of arms, to purchase his negrocs. In the year of the Armada, 1588, certain merchants of Exeter and others of the West of England and of London received a charter from the Guinea Company. This was the forerunner of the African companies. In 1618 a new exclusive charter was granted to Sir Richard Rich (afterwards Earl of Warwick), who with others promoted the Com pany of Adventurers trading into Africa. This, not being a slave-trading company, was very little of a success ; nor very successful was its successor, the company of 1631, though it is said to have supplied slaves to the West Indies. In 1662, the third African Company received its charter from Charles II. under the title of "The Company of Royal Adventurers of England trading to Africa." It contracted to supply 300U slaves annually to the British colonies in the West Indies ; but was .so un

successful that in 1672 it surrendered its charter t the Crown and gave way to the fourth African Company, incorporated is the same year under the title of " The Royal African Company of England." Though it had exclusive rights over the coast of Africa from South Barbary to the Cape of Good Hope, and had a capital of £111,000, it was not successful. However, in 1689, the Declaration of Rights virtually abolished its ex clusive privileges, but in 1698 part thereof were restored by statute. The company continued at a low state of credit until i i 1752 its property was transferred to a new African Company incorporated in 1750. In 1787, with a view to the settlement of those negroes v ho, having escaped from slavery, had landed England, and thereby gained their freedom, a tract of land was b.m;;11t hem the natives on the peninsula of Sierra Leone. In 1791 an Act was passed incorporating the Sierra Leone Company, but the company fell upon such had times, that in 1807 an Act was passed for its extinction at the expiration of so en years. In 1809 the company, reviving, acquired a new charter, but was finally dissolved by its charter being regrantcd, in 1821, direct to the colonists.

From this date, we enter upon the modern history of West Africa, and we see companies gradually making way there for Governments. In 1886 a charter was granted to the Royal Niger Company, conferring powers upon the company affecting about nine-tenths cf the area and population of Nigeria. After 13i years of successful government, the charter was sur rendered on January 1, 1900 ; the whole of Nigeria thus coining under the administration of the Crown.