of that year. He gave free passage to a British Methodist missionary and three schoolteachers, proof here, too, that the missionary impetus even in Europe was enabled by black initiative. That was even more so in field practice abroad, though missiologists conveniently often ignored that fact.
The immediate impetus for Cuffee's West African odyssey was the act of 1807 abolishing the British slave trade, an act that itself was inspired in large measure by the successful establishment of the American blacks from Nova Scotia in West Africa. His purpose was to establish a base for legitimate trade at the source of the slave trade in an attempt to discredit the human traffic there. He also wished to create a different triangular trade connecting Africa, the New World, and Europe - a trading pattern in which African Americans would form an indispensable link. Tropical produce grown by means of scientific agriculture would be carried to America in ships owned by blacks, and profits from that would be used to purchase machinery and goods, which would in turn create the economic infrastructure required for settling more free and productive American blacks in West Africa. Their example, Cuffee argued, would prove contagious among Africans. Legitimate trade and profit, as William Thornton, the Quaker philanthropist, had also argued in 1785, would forge a moral chain to strangle the vicious slave trade to the direct benefit of the long-suffering Africans themselves.
Yet formidable obstacles stood in the way, not least of which was the grip of European traders who reduced their African partners to crippling indebtedness. It was difficult, Cuffee calculated, to raise an African entrepreneurial class against such odds. So he confessed that it appeared to him clearly that a new economic foundation had to be laid among the Africans in the colony. 'I had to encourage them to exert themselves on their own behalf and become their own shippers and importers that they may be able to employ their own citizens for at present their colony is stript of their young men for as soon as they are discharged from school they have no business to go into and they enter on board foreigners so the Colony is Continually stript of her [population].'4
Chiefs also stood in the path of such progress, for whatever their promises of co-operation, Cuffee reckoned, their heart was not in abolition, or in legitimate trade, for that matter, with its free enterprise culture. 'I May also add further that in conversing with the African chiefs that it was with great reluctance they gave up the slave trade saying that it made them poor and they Could not git things as they used to git when they traded in slaves.'5 In the old order of the slave trade, local rulers and princes shared an identity of interest with the captains of slave ships, and slave profits helped to strengthen indigenous
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