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Letters on West Africa and the Slave Trade. Paul Erdmann Isert�s Journey to Guinea and the Carribean Islands in Columbis (178


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362 Pages


Paul E. Isert, a Dane, arrived in Ghana (then the Gold Coast) in 1783, taking advantage of an opening in the slave trade between Guinea and the West Indies. He was appointed as chief surgeon to the Danish establishments on the Guinea Coast. In 1786 he sailed to the West Indies with a cargo of slaves, who revolted. His experiences in Ghana and the West Indies resolved him to end the trans-Atlantic slave abuse. This book is written in the form of letters to his father. An elusive character, it is clear that he nonetheless had an unreservedly positive attitude towards Africa and its indigenous peoples, and an equally negative attitude towards the Europeans on the Guinea coast. An admirer of Rousseau?s philosophy, he was concerned about the corrupting influence of the European ?civilisation? on the ?Blacks?. His writing attempts at objectivity, seeking to find the common humanity. He claims that the ?Black? was, at least equal to that of the ?European?,which was not shared by his Danish predecessors. This is the first English language edition of his original Danish letters, previously published in German, Dutch, French, and Swedish.



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Published 15 October 2007
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EAN13 9789988647568
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Letters on West Africa and the Slave Trade
Paul Erdmann Isert’s Journey to Guinea and the Caribbean Islands in Columbia (1788)
Letters on West Africa and the Slave Trade
Paul Erdmann Isert’s Journey to Guinea and the Caribbean Islands in Columbia (1788)
Translated from the German and edited by SELENA AXELROD WINSNES
This edition first published in Ghana 2007 Sub-Saharan Publishers P. O. Box LG358 LEGON-ACCRA,GHANA
Originally published by Oxford University Press for the British Academy 1992
© Selena Axelrod Winsnes 2007
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.
9988-647-01-8 978-9988-647-01-8
Typesetting and designing by Kwabena Kyei Cover by AnneYayra Sakyi
To Mathis
Frontispiece Dr. Joe Nkrumah and the translator at the remains of the wall of Isert's colony, Frederiksnopel, at Akropong. The date of construction was November/December 1788.
Photograph by Leif Svalesen 2000
List of illustrations and maps9 Acknowledgements10 Editor’s Introduction12 The background of Danish activity in Guinea and the West Indies  Biography of Isert15 The book21 Previous translations24 This translation26
Journey to Guinea and the Caribbean Islands in Columbia29 (see page 33 for original Contents list)
Editor’s Appendices 1. Chronology283 2. Letter to Sir Joseph Banks285 3. Materials relating to Frederiksnopel (Frederik’s City)293 4. Isert’s obituary written by J. A. Kiøge318 5. Measurements used by Isert320 6. Illustrations 322 Bibliography330 Epilogue 342 Index345
List of illustrations and maps
1. Facsimile of original title page ofJourney to Guinea and the Carib-bean Islands in Columbia(1788). 2. Representation by P. E. Isert of the appointment of a military Commander-in-Chief as Field Marshal, Quitta, 14 February 1784. 3. Facsimile of original letter to Sir Joseph Banks. 4. Fredensborg Fort. Rømer, 1760. 5. Christiansborg Fort. Rømer 1760. 6. Another view of Christiansborg Fort. Ibid. 7. Drawing of original water-colour of theFredensborgfrigate, the on which the prospective colonists sailed in 1788. Illustrations 8 & 9 are drawings of birds by P. E. Isert. 8. Violet Plantain-eater. (Musophage violacea).Beobachtungen und Entdeckungen aus der Naturkunde von der gesellschaft naturforschender Freunde,vol. 3, Berlin, 1789, pl. I. 9. Red Bishop.(Loxia franciscana). Ibid. pl. IX.
Map 1. Gold and Slave Coasts, showing the places Isert mentioned in the text. Drawn by Peer H.Winsnes, based on a more extensive map by Albert Van Dantzig. Map 2. Topography of the Volta Delta, with present day localities mentioned in the text. Grove and Johansen 1968.