Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/71

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56
SIERRA LEONE

inspected by government and receive grants in aid. In 1907 there were 75 assisted elementary schools with nearly 8000 scholars. Furah Bay College is affiliated to Durham University. There is a Wesleyan Theological College; a government school (established 1906) at Bo for the sons of chiefs, and the Thomas Agricultural Academy at Mabang (founded in 1909 by a bequest of £60,000 from S. B. Thomas, a Sierra Leonian). Since 1901 the government has provided separate schools for Mahommedans. Revenue is largely derived from customs, especially from the duties levied on spirits. In the protectorate a house tax is imposed. In 1899-1908 revenue increased from £168,000 to £321,000, and the expenditure from £145,000 to £341,000. In 1906 there was a public debt of £1,279,000.

Freetown is the headquarters of the British army in West Africa, and a force of infantry, engineers and artillery is maintained there. The colony itself provides a battalion of the West African Frontier Force, a body responsible to the Colonial Office.

The protectorate is divided for administrative purposes into districts, each under a European commissioner. Throughout the protectorate native law is administered by native courts, subject to certain modifications. Native courts may not deal with murder, witchcraft, cannibalism or slavery. These cases are tried by the district commissioners or referred to the supreme court at Freetown. The tribal system of government is maintained, and the authority of the chiefs has been strengthened by the British. Domestic slavery is not interfered with.

History. — Sierra Leone (in the original Portuguese form Sierra Leona) was known to its native inhabitants as Romarong, or the Mountain, and received the current designation from the Portuguese discoverer Pedro deSintra (i462),eitheronaccount of the " lion-like " thunder on its hill-tops, or to a fancied resem- blance of the mountains to the form of a lion. Here, as elsewhere along the coast, the Portuguese had "factories"; and though none existed when the British took possession, some of the natives called themselves Portuguese and claimed descent from colonists of that nation. An English fort was built on Bance Island in the Sierra Leone estuary towards the close of the 17th century, but was soon afterwards abandoned, though for a long period the estuary was the haunt of slavers and pirates. English traders were established on Bance and the Banana islands as long as the slave trade was legal. The existing colony has not, however, grown out of their establishments, but owes its birth to the philanthropists who sought to alleviate the lot of those negroes who were victims of the traffic in human beings. In 1786 Dr Henry Smeathman, who had lived for four years on the west coast, proposed a scheme for founding on the peninsula a colony for negroes discharged from the army and navy at the close of the American War of Independence, as well as for numbers of run- away slaves who had found an asylum in London. In 1787 the settlement was begun with 400 negroes and 60 Europeans, the whites being mostly women of abandoned character. In the year following, 1788. Nembana, a Timni chief, sold a strip of land to Captain John Taylor, R.N., for the use of the " free community of settlers, their heirs and successors, lately arrived from England, and under the protection of the British government." Owing mainly to the utter shiftlessness of the settlers and the great mortality among them, but partly to an attack by a body of natives, this first attempt proved a complete failure. In 1791 Alexander Falconbridge (formerly a surgeon on board slave ships) collected the surviving fugitives and laid out a new settle- ment (Granville's Town) ; and the promoters of the enterprise — Granville Sharp, William Wilberforce, Sir Richard Carr Glyn, &c. — hitherto known as the St George's Bay Company, obtained a charter of incorporation as the Sierra Leone Company, with Henry Thornton as chairman. In 1792 John Clarkson, a lieu- tenant in the British navy and brother to Thomas Clarkson the slave trade abolitionist, brought to the colony 1100 negroes from Nova Scotia. In 1794 the settlement, which had been again transferred to its original site and named Freetown, was plundered by the French. The governor at the time was Zachary Macaulay, father of Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay. In 1807, when the inhabitants of the colony numbered 187 1, the company, which had encountered many difficulties, transferred its rights to the crown. The slave trade having in the same year been declared illegal by the British parliament, slaves captured by British vessels in the neighbouring seas were brought to Freetown, and thus the population of the colony grew. Its


development was hampered by the frequent changes in the governorship. Sydney Smith's jest that Sierra Leone had always two governors, one just arrived in the colony, and the other just arrived in England, is but a slight exaggeration. In. twenty-two years (1 792-1814) there were seventeen changes in the governor- ship. After that date changes, although not quite so rapid, were still frequent. Several of the governors, like Zachary Macaulay, Colonel Dixon Denham, the explorer, and Sir Samuel Rowe, were men of distinction. Colonel Denham, after administering the colony for five weeks, died at Freetown of fever on the 9th of June 1828. Sir Charles M Carthy was, however, governor for ten years (1814-1824), an unprecedented period, during which he did much for the development of the country. Sir Charles fell in battle with the Ashanti on the 21st of January 1824. Whilst the governors found great difficulty in building up an industrious and agricultural community out of the medley of Africans brought to Sierra Leone, they had also to contend with the illicit slave trade which flourished in places close to the colony. To stop the traffic in Sherbro Island General Charles Turner concluded in 1825 a treaty with its rulers putting the island, Turner's Peninsula and other places under British pro- tection. (This treaty was not ratified by the crown, but was revived by another agreement made in 1882.)

At this time — 1826 — measures were taken to ensure that the liberated slaves should become self-supporting. Many colonists took to trade, and notwithstanding numerous collisions with neighbouring tribes the settlement attained a measure of prosperity. Among the leading agents in spreading civilization were the missionaries sent out from 1804 onwards by the Church Missionary Society. Despite the anxiety of the British govern- ment not to increase their responsibilities in West Africa, from time to time various small territories were purchased, and by 1884 all the land now forming the colony had been acquired. The Los Islands (q.v.) which were ceded by the natives to Great Britain in 1818 were transferred to France in 1904. In 1866 Freetown was made the capital of the new general government" set up for the British settlements on the West Coast of Africa (comprising Sierra Leone, Gambia, the Gold Coast and Lagos, each of which was to have a legislative council). In 1874 the Gold Coast and Lagos were detached from Sierra Leone, and the Gambia in 1888.

British influence was gradually extended over the hinterland, chiefly with the object of suppressing intertribal wars, which greatly hindered trade. In this work the British authorities enlisted the services of Dr Edward W. Th e . Blyden (a pure-blooded negro), who in 1872 visited incident Falaba and in 1873 Timbo, both semi-Mahommedan countries, being cordially received by the ruling chiefs. Falaba — ■which had been visited in 1869 by Winwood Reade on his journey tothe Niger — came definitely underBritish protection, but Timbo, which is in Futa Jallon, was allowed to become French territory through the supineness of the home government. The area for expansion on the north was in any case limited by the French Guinea settlements, and on the south the territory of Liberia 1 hemmed in the colony. In the east and north-east British officers also found themselves regarded as trespassers by the French. The necessity for fixing the frontier in this direction was emphasized by the Waima incident. Both French and British military expeditions had been sent against the Sofas — Moslem mercenaries who, under the chieftainship of Fulas or Mandingos like Samory, ravaged the hinterland both of Sierra Leone and French Guinea. On the 23rd of December 1893 a British force was encamped at Waima. At dawn it was attacked by a French force which mistook the British troops for Samory's Sofas (save the officers the soldiers of both parties were negroes). Before the mistake was discovered the British had lost in killed three officers — Captain E. A. W. Lendy, Lieut. R. E. Liston and Lieut. C. Wroughton — and seven men, besides eighteen wounded. The French also suffered heavily. Their leader Lieut. Maritz was brought into the British camp mortally wounded,

1 The Anglo-Liberian frontier, partly defined by treaty in 1885, was not delimitated until 1903 (see Liberia).