The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Galinhas in Southern Sierra Leone, 1790–1820




Felipe-Gonzalez, Jorge

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Cambridge University Press


In the early nineteenth century a centralized political entity, the Galinhas kingdom, emerged in southernmost Sierra Leone. Based on sources from Cuban, British, American, Spanish, and Sierra Leonean archives, this article examines the factors accounting for the emergence and consolidation of Galinhas. I argue that the postabolitionist (1808) redeployment of North Atlantic slave trading actors, networks, routes, and spaces, particularly the connection with Cuba and resources from the island, created the conditions for Galinhas's commercial growth and the centralization of its political power. I then problematize the relationship between warfare, the Atlantic slave trade, and state making. During the foundation of a predatory state, before a slaving and political frontier existed, wars were detrimental to trade. When warfare and commerce — or any social activity — coexisted in the same physical space, the interdependent balance between them, which supported the slave trade itself, was disrupted. After the end of the war, political stability boosted slave trading operations.



Sierra Leone, Liberia, diaspora, Western Africa, African diaspora, Atlantic world, slave trade, kingdom and states, war