Closing the Books
452 Pages
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Closing the Books


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452 Pages


Sitting on the terrace of the royal plantation Frederiksgave, his favourite retreat, Governor Edward Carstensen came to see the inevitable: Denmark had to give up her �possessions� in Africa. As fate would have it, he came to be the instrument by which two centuries of Danish involvement on the Gold Coast was terminated, thereby making way for the emergence of the colonial system that developed there. After the abolition of the slave trade, Denmark had struggled to find ways and means to legitimate her continued stay at the Coast. At an early stage the Danes initiated a number of attempts to establish experimental plantations to cultivate export crops such as cotton, coffee and sugar. But a transition from slave trade to �legitimate� products required stability and peace, and a need for control, which the rather limited Danish presence was not able to maintain. Closing the Books comprises a compilation of the official reports that the last Danish Governor sent home during his term of office at the Gold Coast. The reports reflect his personal views regarding the economic and political situations there, as well as his ideas on the �civilization of Africa�.



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Published 01 June 2010
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EAN13 9789988647391
Language English
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Governor Edward Carstensen on Danish Guinea 1842-50
Governor Edward Carstensen on Danish Guinea 1842-50
Translated from the Danish by TOVE STORSVEEN Introduction by PER HERNÆS
This English edition first published in Ghana, 2010 by Sub-Saharan Publishers P. O. Box LG 358 Legon, Accra, Ghana
English edition © Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2010 Translated from the Danish by Tove Storsveen English translation © Tove Storsveen, Oslo, Norway
Original title: ”Guvernør Edward Carstensens Indberetninger fra Guinea 1842-1850” Issued by Georg Nørregård, 1964 Danish edition © Selskabet for Udgivelse av Kilder til Dansk Historie, Copenhagen, 1964
ISBN 978-9988-647-65-0
Book design by: Franklyn L. Darko
Cover: Portrait of Governor Edward Carstensen. Litography by Em Bærentzen Det Kgl. Bibliotek, Copenhagen
To Selena
INTRODUCTION Governor Edward Carstensen on the Gold Coast: A Historical Background ix
PREFACE A brief Biographical Note on Edward Carstensen xxiii The Official Reports xxvi The Translation xxvii
CLOSING THE BOOKS Governor Edward Carstensen’s Official Reports on Guinea 1842-50 1
Governor Edward Carstensen On The Gold Coast: A Historical Background
Edward James Arnold Carstensen was the last Danish governor on the Gold Coast in a series of more than 80 forerunners who had presided over the Danish trade emporium on the Coast since 1658. His main mission when he arrived at Christiansborg Castle in February 1850 was to oversee the handing over of the so-called Danish possessions to the British. The hoisting of the British flag over Christiansborg was the culmination of a transaction between the respective governments in Europe: for £10,000 the Danish king sold Christiansborg and the remains of the other Danish forts on the coastline from Accra to Keta and surrendered all former claims of authority over local African peoples, or ‘territorial rights whatever belonging to his Danish Majesty 1 on the said coast’ , to the British. In the beginning of March 1850 Governor Winniett, accompanied by Carstensen and other Danish officials, made a round-trip to inspect the ‘Danish settlements’ and to obtain a transfer of allegiance from towns within the Danish sphere of influence. The tour started in Osu on 6 March, continued to Fort Augustaborg at Teshie, Tema, Fredensborg at Ningo, and Prindsensten at Keta. From there the entourage went to Kongensten at Ada before returning to Ningo and British Fort Vernon at Prampram. At each place there was an exchange of flags, and Winniett called meetings with the local ‘chief and headmen’ where they were ‘acquainted with the circumstances of the transfer and engaged 2 to render allegiance to the British Crown’. From Prampram Winniett and Carstensen travelled inland, via Shai and Krobo, to Akropong in Akuapem, where the party was entertained by the Basel missionaries. Winniett wrote: ‘... I was greatly delighted with the pleasing aspect
1  ‘Proposed Convention for the Sale of the Danish Forts on the Gold Coast’, Enclosure 2, in Palmerston to Reventlov, Foreign Of`ce, London, 12 December, 1849.British Parliamentary Papers (BPP),Colonies Africa, Vol 57, Irish University Press (IUP), pp. 21-22. 2  Governor Winniett’s report to Earl Grey,British Parliamentary Papers, Colonies Africa, Vol 57, IUP, p. 28.