A. B. (Alfred Burdon) Ellis.

A history of the Gold Coast of West Africa online

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arrived on November 2nd, 1869, and the artifice succeeded ;
for the eastern tribes of the Protectorate, believing that
the missionaries would now certainly be released, desisted
from any further preparations for war, and sent Adu Boffo's
son (Kwami Opoku) with the other hostages to Cape Coast
for safe keeping.

In the western half of the Protectorate affairs still remained
unsettled, and frequent skirmishes between the inhabitants of
Cape Coast and Elmina kept alive the blood feud between
these two peoples. At this time also the Colonial Govern-
ment took alarm at the action of the Fanti Confederation.
This Confederation had been originally composed of all the
Kings of the British protected tribes from Wassaw to Winne-
bah, and its objects were to resist, by force of arms if
necessary, the attempts of the Dutch to bring under their
rule the peoples who had been transferred to them, and
to combine for offence and defence in time of war. Later
on, although the ostensible leaders of the Confederation were
j-till the Kings of Arbra and Mankassim, the management fell
into the hands of a few semi-educated natives and malattos,
who engaged in it as a political speculation, by which
they might gain money or power, or both. According to
their scheme the Confederation was to be used to procure self-
government for the Fantis, and they justified their action by
the third resolution of the Committee of the House of
Commons in 1865, which had laid down that the natives
ought to be encouraged to exercise such qualities as might
render it possible for the administration of the government to
be transferred to them. Possibly, but for the resolution of the
House of Commons the idea of self-government would never
have occurred to the natives ; but now that they declared
their intention of making a step in that direction, the


Government cried out that they were endeavouring to usurp
its functions. The policy, however, embodied in this and
other resolutions had never been followed by the Local
Government, with the solitary exception that fresh treaties
had been avoided ; and no attempt had ever been made
to train the natives to self-government.

Indeed the policy of the Home Government with regard
to the Gold Coast had undergone a great change; for though
in 1865 it had been resolved that no more territory should
be acquired, in 1868 they had taken over part of the Dutch
possessions, and in 1869 a purchase of the remainder was
talked of as probable. From this it was clear that Great
Britain had abandoned the notion of withdrawing from the
Gold Coast, and leaving the natives to govern themselves ;
but the latter had never been informed of this change, and
so ought not to have been blamed for endeavouring to
prepare themselves for the duties and responsibilities which
they expected would soon be imposed on them. The Local
Government, however, not only blamed them but treated
them as quasi-rebels, for when the Fanti Confederation issued
an appeal to all the natives so unite for self-government, the
Administrator, Mr. H. T. Ussher, wrote : " Your conduct
has been such that I can no longer have any relation with
you. . . . As you voluntarily throw off your allegiance, you
must not be surprised that I accept your act, and treat you,
until you come to your senses, as apart from Great Britain.
. . . In case of war with the Ashantis, you will bear the
brunt thereof without help from the Government."


1870 1872.

Condition of affairs Negotiations for the transfer of the Dutch posses
sions Ashanti claim to Elmina Affairs in Krepi Negotiations fo
the release of the Europeans Alleged renunciation of the Ashan
claim to Elmina Further negotiations.

AT the commencement of the year 1870, the following wa
the condition of affairs on the Gold Coast. There had bee
no peace with Ashanti since 1863, and the Ashantis wer
only awaiting a favourable opportunity for a fresh invasio
of the Protectorate ; but their plan for an attack in front an<
on both flanks being for the present frustrated by the un
expected reverses met with by Adu Boffo in Krepi, the]
were dissimulating to enable the latter to escape from hi
critical position. The King of Ashanti's uncle, Atjiempon
was actually in Elmina with a body of armed men, and ar
additional force of five thousand Ashantis was on the borden
of Assini, waiting permission from the French authentic:
to pass through French territory and join him. In Ap
pollonia there was war between the Wassaws and Bayin
and the Atwaambus. There was also war between Cap*
Coast and Elmina ; and in the east the Awunas had agaii
joined the Ashantis and Akwamus, and stopped the navi
gation of the Volta. The Ashantis had four Europea
prisoners in Kumassi, but the Colonial Government had i
their keeping as hostages for them, a son of Adu Boffo, an
some influential personages sent by the King of Akwamu.


It was while affairs were in this state of confusion that
negotiations commenced for the transfer to the British of the
Dutch possessions on the Gold Coast ; but the Government
was determined not to take them over if the cession was
likely to cause any disturbance among the natives, and
instructions to report fully and carefully on this point were
sent out to the local authorities. Now it was almost certain
that the cession would give rise to fresh outbreaks, but the
Dutch, as the correspondence between Sir Arthur Kennedy
and Colonel Nagtglas shows, were most anxious to effect
the transfer, and the local British officials were equally
desirous of the change ; so that, between them, they per-
suaded Sir Arthur Kennedy, who had no great local know-
ledge, that the risks were merely nominal, and he consequently
reported that the Dutch possessions could be taken over
without danger. Sir Arthur Kennedy appears to have had
some suspicion about Elmina, but Nagtglas assured him
that if the Elminas were subsidised they would offer no
opposition, and solemnly declared that the King of Ashanti
had no treaty with Elmina, and no claim to its people or
territory. These assurances, however, were directly at
variance with the truth, for there was an alliance between
Elmina and Ashanti, and the latter had some claim to
Elmina territory ; but the British Government was satisfied
with the report of the Governor and the negotiations for the
transfer continued.

As the nature of the connection between Elmina and
Ashanti became before long a question of the highest
importance, it will perhaps be convenient to here see what
it really was. The alliance between the two was an historical
fact that could not be controverted. In 1811 an army had
been sent from Kumassi to relieve Elmina, which was then
besieged by the Fantis ; in 1817, Mr. James, the leader of
the embassy sent to Kumassi, was instructed to request the
King to prevent the Elminas, who were " presuming on their
connection with the Ashantis," from attacking the people of
Cape Coast; and in the treaty of 1817 the King of Ashanti
guaranteed the security of the people of Cape Coast from


the hostilities threatened by the people of Elmina. During
the peace negotiations in 1827, the Ashanti King declarec
that the Elminas, being his subjects, must be included in
any treaty that might be made; in 1868, when Elmina was
blockaded by the confederate tribes, the Elminas sent tc
claim assistance from Kumassi, and the ambassador was
living in the Ashanti capital as the accredited agent of the
Elminas, when the captive missionaries arrived there. Tha
an Ashanti army was not sent on this occasion to raise the
blockade of Elmina, was simply due to the representations
made by the Dutch Governor. In the same year when Si
Arthur Kennedy endeavoured to persuade the Elminas tc
renounce their alliance with Ashanti, the chiefs in thei
official reply declared their intention of continuing " to pa>
tribute " to that power, whose protection and friendship
they highly valued; and in 1869 Atjiempon was sent with
an armed force to protect Elmina, and was still in the place
in 1870. From all this it is evident that there had been a
least an alliance between Elmina and Ashanti for more than
half a century; and since Sir Arthur Kennedy must have
been aware that it existed in 1868, it is difficult to conceive
how he was persuaded to believe that in 1870 the connection
had come to an end.

From the native point of view there was much more than
an alliance between them, for by native law and custom the
Elminas had become Ashanti subjects and Elmina an
integral portion of the Ashanti kingdom ; a fact which was
universally recognised by the natives of the Gold Coast, and
certainly had been by the Local Government in 1817, since
they engaged the Ashanti King by treaty stipulations to restrain
the Elminas. The Ashantis thus had some claim to the people
of Elmina, and that they had a claim to at least a portion
of its territory, the Dutch themselves had acknowledged
by paying to them without demur, since 1702, the ground-rent
for the Castle promised in the " note," which in that year
passed into the hands of Ashanti. After paying ground-rent
for one hundred and sixty-eight years, it was a little late to


i say that Ashanti had no claim to any of the territory of

1 Elmina.

While the negotiations for the transfer of the Dutch
possessions were still going on, it became known to the
Imperial Government that the Ashanti, Atjiempon, was in
Elmina with a body of Ashanti soldiers, and the Dutch
Government was informed that the transfer could not be
concluded until this chief and his men had left the territory
about to be ceded. This took place towards the close of the
year 1870, and about the same time the Administrator, Mr.
Ussher, received a letter from King Kwoffi Kari-kari, written
on November 24th, in which a direct claim to the town and
castle of Elmina was advanced. The letter was as follows :
" I beg to bring before your Excellency's kind consideration
regarding the Elmina, if it is included in the change. The
fort of that place have from time immemorial paid annual
tribute to my ancestors to the present time by right of
arms, when we conquered Intim Gackidi (Dakari), King of
Denkera. Intim Gackidi, having purchased goods to the
amount of ,9,000 from the Dutch, and not paying for
them before we conquered Intim Gackidi, the Dutch de-
manded of my father, Osai Tutu I., for the payment,,
who, Osai Tutu, paid it, the full ^"9,000, and the Dutch
delivered Elmina to him as his own, and from that time
tribute has been paid to us to this present time. I hope,,
therefore, your Excellency will not include Elmina in the
change, for it is mine by right."

The King's version of the circumstances under which the
"note" for Elmina Castle had been issued was not quite
correct, but a long time had elapsed since it passed into
Ashanti hands, and the actual facts might well become dis-
torted by a people who had only oral tradition to rely upon.
In any case the letter made a clear claim to the ownership of
Elmina, and Mr. Ussher at once informed Colonel Nagtglas
that the British Government " could not and would no
purchase forts from the Netherlands Government which lay
under the suspicion of being feudatory to a powerful native


prince, the traditional enemy of its protected tribes." Colonel
Nagtglas in reply reiterated his former denial of the Ashanti
claims, and said that the twenty-five ounces of gold that had
been paid annually by the Dutch West India Company to the
King of Denkera was not a tribute, but a gift to promote
trade, and had, on this understanding alone, been continued
to Ashanti. Possibly Colonel Nagtglas had never heard thai
the sum was originally paid as ground-rent, for he did not
allude to that point at all, and simply affirmed that neithei
the present King of Ashanti nor any of his ancestors had evei
had any claim to the forts, territory, or people of Elmina,
Notwithstanding this denial, the Government would not
conclude the agreement till the Dutch had proved theii
title beyond doubt. It was pointed out to them that the
presence of Atjiempon and his soldiers in Elmina supported;
to some extent, the Ashanti claim, and, as a first step,
their expulsion was demanded. After some delay, the
Dutch, on April I4th, 1871, arrested Atjiempon, in order t(
prove their case, but released him in May, upon his taking
an oath to return to Kumassi within twenty days; and,
something further being still required to put an end to the
hesitation of the British Government, they, in the sam<
month, despatched to Kumassi a native in their emplo]
named Flange, to endeavour to obtain from the King a
withdrawal of the claim advanced in his letter to Mr.
Ussher ; for though the convention for the transfer of the
Dutch forts had been signed at the Hague on February 25th,
the ratification of the treaty was still delayed on this

It is from the narrative of the captive missionaries that
we derive our information of Mr. Flange's doings in Kumassi,
and it will therefore be convenient to return to them. We
left them in the Ashanti village of Abankoro, and there they
remained till the end of the year 1869, when they were
removed to one of the villages of Kumassi, all the negotia-
tions that had been carried on for their release having been

In the autumn of 1870, however, exaggerated reports


reached Kumassi of an engagement which had taken place
at Duffo Island, in the Volta, where a body of Ashantis and
Akwamus, who had stopped the navigation of the river, had
been defeated and driven away by a small detachment of
the 2nd West India Regiment and a contingent of Accras ;
and Kwoffi Kari-kari, anxious for the safety of Adu Boffo,
who with his army was still engaged with the Krepis, agreed
to exchange the captive missionaries at Prahsu, on December
2Oth, for the hostages that were in the hands of the Govern-
ment. These latter were accordingly sent to Prahsu in
change of Major Brownell ; but before they arrived there
the King learned that Adu Boffo, so far from being in
difficulties, had defeated and slain the gallant Dompreh, and
shattered the Krepi army ; and in consequence he refused
to carry out the agreed-upon exchange. The missionaries
were thus still in Kumassi when Mr. Plange arrived there
in June, and they watched his proceedings with some interest.
He declared to the King that if he did not withdraw his
claim the annual payment of twenty-five ounces would be
.stopped ; but Kwoffi Kari-kari said that his ancestors had
paid nine hundred ounces for Elmina, and he would never
abandon it ; and on September 2nd Mr. Plange left Kumassi,
having completely failed to obtain any renunciation from the
King. Nevertheless, immediately on his return to Elmina,
he produced a document which purported to be a withdrawal
of the Ashanti claim, and which was as follows :


" i. These are to certify that the letter addressed to
his Excellency H. T. Ussher, the Administrator of her
Britannic Majesty's Settlements on the Gold Coast, dated
Kumassi, 24th November, 1870, by me, Kwoffi Kari-kari,*
King of Ashanti, residing at Kumassi Kingdom, was totally
misrepresented on the part of the parties intrusted with
the writing and dictating.

* The orthography of this and other native names in this document
has been altered to agree with that already adopted.


"2. I, therefore, do solemnly declare in the presenc
of your Excellency's Ambassador, Mr. H. Flange, professio
writer of the Government Office at St. George d'Elmina
and my chiefs, that I only meant board wages or salary
and not tribute by right of arms from the Dutch Government

"3. On account of circumstances relative to my ancestor,
Osai Tutu the First, having conquered Intim Dakari, th
then King of Denkera, a friend or a kind of commissio
agent of some transactions for his Netherland Majesty'
Government on the Gold Coast, to the amount of ,9,000
my said ancestor was caused to make it good by the sai
Dutch Government; and in virtue of which the custom pay
note of the said Intim Dakari was transferred to my sai
ancestor, who enjoyed it in times immemorial, and becam
heritable to his heirs the King of Ashanti, who now hold th
said custom pay-note in possession to this present moment.

"4. The said ,9,000 was paid to insure friendship and
goodwill or feeling towards the Dutch Government on the
Gold Coast Settlement in Elmina Fort, castle or fort.

" 5. Tradition tells us that Ashanti and Elmina are rela-
tives ; offspring of one mother ; they are brethren ; also,
they are not to have hostilities against each other by oath
of allegiance.

"6. In conclusion, I must acknowledge that the afore-
mentioned letter, dated Kumassi, 24th November, 1870,
about my commission to his Excellency H. T. Ussher,
concerning Elmina Fort, is a vague, formal, or nominal
expression, the sentiments of which I therefore must now
write that the whole is a mistake.

" Signed in the presence of the ambassador and the
chiefs, Kumassi, I9'th August, 1871.

" KWOFFI KARI-KARI X (his mark),

" King of Ashanti.
" Reside at Kumassi Kingdom.
"H. FLANGE, Ambassador.
" Chiefs : TUSUASI POKU X (his mark).
" BUAKJI TlNTlN X (his mark).
"ToRNO NYCHWI X (his mark)."


Although this " Certificate of Apology " was acknow-
ledged at Elmina by the King and chiefs of that town, and
by Ansa, the Ashanti prince who had been delivered to
Mr. Maclean as a hostage, and who had been living at Cape
Coast since his return from England in 1841, there is no
doubt that it was a forgery. It was in the handwriting
of Mr. Flange, and the missionaries, whom the King always
asked to read and translate any document before he affixed
his mark to it, had never seen or even heard of this par-
ticular one. On the contrary, they believed and said that
Flange had altogether failed to obtain any renunciation.
It is scarcely to be supposed that the Dutch officials were
privy to the fraud, but they had no doubt impressed upon
their agent the absolute necessity for some such withdrawal
of claim being obtained, and he had thought it to the
advantage of his own interests not to disappoint them. We
cannot even suppose that they had any suspicion of the
genuineness of the certificate, which certainly deceived the
Elmina chiefs, who had every interest in procuring its re-
jection. The Certificate of Apology was at once transmitted
by Colonel Nagtglas to Mr. Salmon, who was now adminis-
tering the government, Mr. Ussher having proceeded to
England; and on the faith of it being genuine, the British
Government concluded the agreement with the Dutch, the
ratifications of the treaty being exchanged on February 1 7th,
1872. By it the Dutch ceded the whole of their possessions
on the Gold Coast to the British, who paid .3,790 for certain
stores that were in the forts.

While this matter was being transacted at a distance, the
King of Ashanti had shown that he knew nothing of the
existence of the " Certificate of Apology/ 5 by writing to
Mr. Salmon to support certain claims made by the Elminas
upon the Fantis ; and to demand that some Elminas, who
had been made prisoners by the Fantis, should be delivered
to him. As this claim was utterly irreconcilable with the
alleged renunciation, it ought to have aroused some suspicion
of the true facts ; but it seems to have failed to do so, and
Mr. Salmon merely replied that the King must not interfere




in the affairs of the Protectorate, and that until peace was
proclaimed between Great Britain and Ashanti the subjecl
of the latter would not be allowed to pass through the
Protectorate. He added that, as a preliminary to peace, the
European captives must be returned.

The King had, on a former occasion, said that he
would exchange the missionaries for the hostages as
soon as Adu Boffo came back from Krepi ; but when the
general returned he refused to allow them to be released
except for a ransom of eight peredwins of gold ,6,480.
A very stormy meeting was held, which the missionaries
regarded as a farce played to amuse the Colonial
Government ; for in their opinion the council of chiefs,
called the Kotoko,* which decides all matters of im-
portance, had already determined to make war on the Pro-
tectorate. In fact, on February 2Oth, 1872, the King wrote
to Mr. Salmon, saying : " I and my great chiefs have decided
this : after the ransom is paid to Adu Boffo then peaa
between us shall be finally settled, and not before ; " and
his object really was to obtain the ransom without releasing
the captives.

* Kotoko porcupine ; meaning that the council could not be molested
without hurt.



Transfer of the Dutch forts Mr. Hennessey's policy Riot at Elmina
Question of a ransom for the Europeans Palaver in Kumassi War
decided upon Various messages The captives sent to Fomana
Despatch of an Ashanti army Causes of the war.

ON April 2nd, 1872, Mr. Pope Hennessey, who had been
sent out from England to effect the transfer of the Dutch
forts, arrived on the Gold Coast ; and in the instructions
given him occur the following passages, which show the
intentions of the Imperial Government at this time :

"The objects which Her Majesty's Government have
throughout had in view in negotiating this treaty, are not the
acquisition of territory or the extension of British power,
but the maintenance of tranquillity and the promotion of peace-
ful commerce on the coast; and nothing could be further from
their wish than that a treaty made with these objects should
be carried into effect by violent measures. At the same
time, they trust that by judicious and cautious management,
the excitement which may possibly arise upon an event of
so much importance as the retirement of the Dutch from
the coast may not lead to any serious difficulties; and I
need not say that they would greatly regret that arrange-
ments which they believe are calculated to be of much
benefit to the whole population, by putting an end to old
feuds and difficulties, inseparable from the division of

T 2


authority which has hitherto prevailed on the coast, shoul
be frustrated by the jealousies of the native tribes.

" But you will on no account employ force to compe
the natives to acquiesce in the transfer of the forts ; and i
you find that the attempt to assume possession of the fort-
on the part of the British authorities would probably
followed by resistance on the part of the surrounding nativi
tribes, you will not accept the transfer of the forts, but wil
report the circumstances to Her Majesty's Government, an
await further instructions."

On April 4th Mr. Hennessey held a palaver with th
chiefs of Elmina, and on the 6th the transfer took place
The King of Elmina, and the chiefs of the districts undei
the other forts that were to be transferred, were asked in turn
if there was any objection to the transfer, and each chief
declared that there was none. A detachment of the 2n
West India Regiment was landed at Elmina to relieve th
Dutch troops, and by April loth, Sekondi, Dixcove, an
Axim were garrisoned by men of the same corps.

On April 2Oth the Dutch Commissioner, Colonel de
Haes, wrote to the Ashanti King, informing him of the
transfer, sending some presents, and asking him to deliver
the white captives to the English. Mr. Hennessey also
wrote, announcing the transfer and sending some presents:
but in addition he informed the King that, as a token ot
friendship, he had ordered the trade with Ashanti to be
reopened, and the embargo on munitions of war, which had
been maintained for some months, to be removed ; anc
offered to pay double the sum that had been paid yearl}
by the Dutch for Elmina. He said nothing about th<
ransom of the European captives or the settlement of ;
peace ; and, in fact, ignored all the matters in dispute, whil
he went out of his way to remove the prohibition upon th
importation of munitions of war, and make war easier fc
the Ashantis. Nothing had conduced more to the mair
tenance of peace than this prohibition, for the Ashantis ha
expended vast quantities of ammunition in the war wit
Krepi ; and, while the embargo remained, could only ot


tain fresh supplies by the long and circuitous route through

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Burdon) EllisA history of the Gold Coast of West Africa → online text (page 23 of 34)