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Title: Trade and economic change on the Gold Coast, 1807-1874
Author: Reynolds, Edward
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1971
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By the beginning of the nineteenth century the Atlantic slave trade had already made inroads into the traditional subsistence economy of the Gold Coast and elements of a modern economy had begun to emerge; but the interdiction of this trade in 1807 rendered the bulk of the existing commerce illegal. Consequently, other products had to be found by stimulating the export of old staples like gold and ivory and by encouraging the cultivation of agricultural produce in exchange for European goods. This meant a process of commercial and economic change, but wars often interrupted this evolution. The peace and security the country enjoyed between 1830 and 1850, social and cultural changes effected by Christianity and education, and increased opportunities for entering trade made these decades a key period of economic change. By 1850 this transformation has led to the rise of a class of African merchants who were sensitive to new commercial opportunities and who had the ability and initiative to exploit new avenues of trade. As these African merchants attained more wealth and influence, they began to assume a position and acquire a power that had once been occupied and held by the traditional rulers, whose social and economic position had been declining since abolition. Conflicts in the wake of the Asante invation of the coast in 1863 and wars in the Volta area affected the country and the trade and commercial operations of the African merchants. This, and the prevailing system of credit led to a number of bankruptcies and to the ruin of many indigenous traders. Although the economy grew, diversified, and made considerable progress towards a modern economy during this period, the formal declaration of the Gold Coast as a Protectorate in 1874 paved the way for a more complete integration of the country's trade into the modern world economy and marked the decline of African initiative in trading enterprises as well as the emergence of a foreign dominated oligopolistic regime. This crucial period of trade and economic change between 1807 and 1874 is an important transitional era that links the economy of the Gold Coast based on slaves with that of the modern based on natural produce.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral