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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Slave-Raiders and Middlemen, Monopolists and Free-Traders: The Supply of Slaves for the Atlantic Trade in Dahomey, c.1715-1850
Author:Law, Robin R.ISNI
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Benin
Subjects:slave trade
Dahomey polity
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/182694
Abstract:This article examines what is known of the organization of the supply of slaves for the trans-Atlantic trade in Dahomey (Benin), with particular emphasis on the relative importance of local slave raiding and the purchase of slaves from the interior, and on the evolution of a group of private merchants within Dahomey. It is argued that initially the kings of Dahomey sought to operate the slave trade as a royal monopoly, and relied exclusively upon slave raiding rather than purchasing slaves. From the mid-eighteenth century, however, Dahomey did seek to operate as a 'middleman' in the supply of slaves from the interior, and since its kings did not normally attempt to control this aspect of the trade, this involved the emergence of a private sector in the slave trade. The autonomy and wealth of the merchant community in Dahomey were further enhanced by the transition from slave to palm oil exports in the 19th century, when leading merchants moved into large-scale oil production, using slave labour supplied by the king. The conflict of interests between the monarchy and the merchants was exacerbated by the development of the oil trade. Notes, ref.