Home ° 2017


North Africa: ° Algeria ° Egypt ° Libya ° Morocco ° Sudan
West Africa: ° Benin ° Cameroon ° Congo ° Cote d'Ivoire ° Gabon ° (Republic of the) Gambia ° Ghana ° Guinea ° Liberia ° Mauritania ° Mozambique ° Nigeria ° Sao Tome and Principe ° Senegal (Dakar) ° Sierra Leone
East Africa (The Horn of Africa): ° Djibouti ° Kenya ° Eritrea ° Madagascar ° Somalia ° Sudan ° Tanzania ° Zanzibar


Africa. 1660.

Africa. 1660.

This is an area richly endowed with minerals;

Guinea possesses over 25 billion metric tons of bauxite (aluminum ore)—perhaps up to one half of the world's reserves. In addition, Guinea's mineral wealth includes more than 4 billion tons of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium.

The country is also is poised for agricultural and fishing. Soil, water, and climatic conditions provide opportunities for large-scale farming.

Guinea's colonial period began with French military penetration into the area in the mid-19th century. French domination was assured by the defeat in 1898 of the armies of Almamy Samory Tour , warlord and leader of Malinke descent, which gave France control of what today is Guinea and adjacent areas.

Toure (1830-1900) grew up a animist in a Mandinka village (now Guinea). His father was a farmer descended from the Dyula, a Muslim merchant caste with branches throughout West Afirca. Samory began his career as a foot soldier and eventually became as inspirational military commander. By 1870, he had recruited a large, well-armed, well-trained and intensely loyal force from many Mandinka groups. He built the state of Kankan in the Guinea highlands and western Niger River Bason. After years of avoiding conflict with Europeans, he spent his last ten years defending his state against the French who wanted to expand into the interior gold-rich areas of Africa.

To oppose French efforts, the British in Sierra Leon gave Samory firearms in exchange for slaves and gold. The French's superior weapons defeated Samory's army in 1898.

France negotiated Guinea's present boundaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the British for Sierra Leone, the Portuguese for their Guinea colony (now Guinea-Bissau), and the Liberia.

New Settlement in the River at Sierra Leone on the Coast of Guinea in Africa

Under the French, the country formed the Territory of Guinea within French West Africa, administered by a governor general resident in Dakar. Lieutenant governors administered the individual colonies, including Guinea.

It's early history included slave trading. In the 1700s, Dutch sea Captain Willem Bosman described the trade in Guinea in A new and accurate description of the coast of Guinea, divided into the Gold, the Slave, and the Ivory Coasts. Illustrated, by first explaining that while it is imaged that parents sell children and husbands sell wives out of necessity, it was not so:

Most of the slaves that are offered to us, are prisoners of war, sold by the victors as their booty. These slaves are in prison all together; and when we treat concerning buying them, they are all brought out together in a large plain; where, by our surgeons, whose province it is, they are thoroughly examined, even to the smallest member, and that naked both men and women, without the least distinction or modesty . . . a burning iron, with the arms or name of the companies, lies in the fire, with which ours are marked on the breast. This is done that we may distinguish them from the slaves of the English, French, or others (which are also marked with their mark), and to prevent the Negroes exchanging them for worse, at which they have a good hand.

I doubt not but this trade seems very barbarous to you, but since it is followed by mere necessity, it must go on; but we yet take all possible care that they are not burned too hard, especially the women, who are more tender than the men. We are seldom long detained in the buying of these slaves, because their price is established, the women being one fourth or fifth part cheaper than the men.

They were paid for in boesies [cowry shells], the money of this country. Those slaves which are paid for in boesies, cost the company one half more than those bought with other goods. Once purchased, the slaves are returned to their prison; . . . their cost is two pence a day a slave, which allows bread and water. To save charges, their captors sent them on board at the first opportunity, before which their masters strip them of all they have on their backs. Generally the shipmaster is not "charitable" and the slaves remained naked. On board this Dutch ship, slaves were fed three times a day "with indifferent good victuals."

October 6, 1875, The Indiana Progress
Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA

Dumb Dogs.

What's the use of a dog that can't bark? It seems that on the Guinea Coast there is a race of dogs that are absolutely dumb. The bird that told me does not know whether or not they are good watch dogs. Guesses not. Perhaps they don't bark because they've nothing to watch! I heard a sailor say that once a few dogs of the barking kind were left on the desert island of Juan Fernandez. Thirty-three years afterward, when the original dogs were dead, and their descendants had all grown wild, not one of the wild dogs could bark. Then some of them were taken away to another country by sailors, and behold! after a time they began to gain their voices, and bark like common dogs. This sounds like a hard story, and I'll not say yea or nay to it, though it was told to me as a truth that had been indorsed by Mr. Darwin.

St. Nicholas for September.

Liverpool Courier, March 9, 1897
Liverpool, Lancashire, United Kingdom


Map of West Africa. c. 1843.

"With regard to the departure last Saturday of a number of special service officers for the Gold Coast, Reuter's Agency learns that there is no intention of despatching an expedition against Samury; nor, indeed, is any expedition into the interior of the Gold Coast or its hinterland in contemplation at the present moment. The Government have received news that Samory's people have come as far in the direction of Ashanti as the eighth parallel. They have attacked villages and are carrying on slave raids. Samory himself, whose whereabouts is not known, is anxious to be friendly with the British, but it is pointed out that the trade which the Britian authorities a right to expect should flow through Ashanti to the coast is being seriously hindered by the raids of Samory's people. The officers in question have been sent to Accra simply to reinforce the Gold Coast Constabulary, the number of white officers being insufficient in view of the recent extension of the British sphere in that region. They will, in the ordinary course, be sent to command the various Houssa garrisons in the neighbourhood of Ashnnti.

The Diary of Antera Duke: An Eighteenth-Century African Slave TraderAfrican Slave Trader.
TheDiary of Antera Duke.Stephen D. Behrendt, A. J. H. Lathma, David Northrup
In his diary, Antera Duke (ca.1735-ca.1809) wrote the only surviving eyewitness account of the slave trade by an African merchant. A leader in late eighteenth-century Old Calabar, a cluster of Efik-speaking communities in the Cross River region, he resided in Duke Town, forty-five miles from the Atlantic Ocean in what is now southeast Nigeria. His diary, written in trade English from 1785 to 1788, is a candid account of daily life in an African community at the height of Calabar's overseas commerce. It provides valuable information on Old Calabar's economic activity both with other African businessmen and with European ship captains who arrived to trade for slaves, produce, and provisions.

Basil Davidson states that by examining three important areas of Africa in the history of slavery against a general background of their time and circumstance he was taking "a fresh look at the oversea slave trade, the steady year-by-year export of African labour to the West Indies and the Americas that marked the era of forced migration." (Africans were joined by abused laborers from China, "indentured servants" from Ireland, and Britain's hideous prison hulks.)

The Middle Passage: White Ships/ Black CargoWhite Ships, Black Cargo.
Tom Feelings
Alex Haley's Roots awakened many Americans to the cruelty of slavery. The Middle Passage focuses attention on the torturous journey which brought slaves from Africa to the Americas, allowing readers to bear witness to the sufferings of an entire people. 64 paintings.

The Counter-Revolution of 1776:
Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America
Slave Resistance.
Gerald Home
The successful 1776 revolt against British rule in North America has been hailed almost universally as a great step forward for humanity. But the Africans then residing in the colonies overwhelmingly sided with London. In this trailblazing book, Gerald Horne complements his earlier celebrated Negro Comrades of the Crown, by showing that in the prelude to 1776, the abolition of slavery seemed all but inevitable in London, delighting Africans as much as it outraged slaveholders, and sparking the colonial revolt.

Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa.
James T. Campbell
Many works of history deal with the journeys of blacks in bondage from Africa to the United States along the middle passage, but there is also a rich and little examined history of African Americans traveling in the opposite direction. In Middle Passages, award-winning historian James T. Campbell recounts more than two centuries of African American journeys to Africa, including the experiences of such extraordinary figures as Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Wright, Malcolm X, and Maya Angelou. This series is under presiding editor Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

Kindly Kindly Donate.


DALevy @


Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.