Zebras, Lions and Danes at the Gold Coast

Zebras, Lions and Danes at the Gold Coast

Denmark played a significant role in the colonization of the Gold Coast and the West Indies. In this post I use Captain Rasmus Larsen as an example to show some of the records available from the colonies.

Journal for the Snaw Ada at the Gold Coast 31 July 1768

Sunday 31 July 1768, the snaw ship Ada, anchored at Christiansborg in Guinea.
The captain was very ill and lay and fantasized. The assistant was ashore, so I fired a canon to attract his attention. At 6 o'clock the captain got his peace with the Lord, so I fired another shot and put a lantern in the flagstaff, so they could see the ship. I then dressed the captain with a clean shirt and what else becomes a dead person.1

The deceased captain was Hans Biörn and his successor was Rasmus Larsen.2 Under his command the ship set sail for the West Indies on 2 November 1768.

Tuesday 1 November 1769, the snaw ship Ada, anchored at Christiansborg in Guinea.
Before noon came two canoes with 43 man slaves and 12 woman slaves aboard. In the afternoon came two canoes with the rest of the women slaves, so we have a total of 210 woman, man, boy and girl slaves, one of which a freight slave belonging to prosecutor Bang.3

Larsen brought the ship back to Copenhagen, arriving on 27 June 1769. That was not Larsen's last journey. On 11 November 1771, he was instructed to sail Ada from Copenhagen to Guinea to load slaves and take them to the West Indies and sail back to Copenhagen. He was paid 24 rigsdaler per month.4

Pro Memoria Letter Announcing the Arrival of the Ship Ada 31 March 1772

Pro Memoria
On 10 this month Captain Rasmus Larsen, leading the company's snaw ship Ada has successfully arrived at the fortress. The passengers travelling with him were all sound and well.
The main fortress Christiansborg in Guinea, 31 March 1772.5

Larsen may have been well, when they arrived, but he didn't make it back home.

Medical journal, the snaw ship Ada, in Guinea, 1772.
30 May. Captain Larsen, heavy fever. In his letter he only complained about headache. I went ashore and brought powder [medicine] with me.
...
6 June. In the morning he was pretty cheerful until 8 o'clock. I gave him two doses of powder and he fell asleep. He slept restlessly and his pulse became very week. I raised his feet to provoke heavy vomiting. However, this time it did not work and he continued to lie in a deep sleep until 11 o'clock in the evening, at which time he died.6

Rasmus Larsen was probably buried in a clean shirt like his predecessor Hans Biörn. The slaves were not. The involvement of Danes in the slave trade can be documented via records like the ones I have used in this post. Writing it made me feel sick to my stomach, but it is a part of Denmark's history and we have to write the words to not forget about these horrible actions.

 

Source references:

  1. Kommissionen for Det Guineiske Kompagni, Skibsjournal [ship journal] for Snau Skibet Ada, 1767-1769, folio 66 recto and verso, 1768, July 31; digital images, Rigsarkivet  (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?epid=20203001#293559,59340986 : accessed 27 April 2019).
  2. Ibid, cover, "Capitainen hans Biörn;" digital images, Rigsarkivet  (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?epid=20203001#293559,59340920 : accessed 27 April 2019). Ibid, folio 169 verso, 27 June 1769; folio 170 recto, 28 June 1769, "C. R: Larsen;" digital images, Rigsarkivet  (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?epid=20203001#293559,59341090 : accessed 27 April 2019). 
  3. Ibid, folio 77 recto, 1 November 1768; 2 November 1768; digital images, Rigsarkivet  (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?epid=20203001#293559,59340997 : accessed 27 April 2019). 
  4. Ibid, folio 169 verso, 27 June 1769; digital images, Rigsarkivet  (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?epid=20203001#293559,59341090 : accessed 27 April 2019). Det Guineiske Kompagni, Direktion og Hovedkontor, Instruktioner [instructions], "Capitain Rasmus Larsen," 11 November 1771; digital images, Rigsarkivet  (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?bsid=293514#293514,59328189 : accessed 27 April 2019). Kommissionen for Det Guineiske Kompagni, Gagebog [book of salaries] for Snaue Skibet Ada, 1771-1772, folio 2, Rasmus Larsen; digital images, Rigsarkivet  (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?bsid=293570#293570,59343935 : accessed 27 April 2019).
  5. Aarestrup, Pro Memoria Letter, 31 March 1772; filed in Det Guineiske Kompagni, Direktion og Hovedkontor, Kystdokumenter [cost documents], "Capitain Rasmus Larsen," 11 November 1771; digital images, Rigsarkivet  (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?bsid=293522#293522,59332172 : accessed 27 April 2019).
  6. Kommissionen for Det Guineiske Kompagni, Sygejournaler [medical journals] for Snau Skibet Ada, 1771-1772, pages 27-27, 31 May 1772 to 6 June 1772; digital images, Rigsarkivet  (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?bsid=293574#293574,59344589 : accessed 27 April 2019).
  7. The image at the top of the post: Free to use from Pexels.