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“Children of the Chain and Rod”: The Evolution of Christianity and German Slaveholding in Eweland, 1847-1914 Open Access

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This dissertation reassesses abolition within the German Empire. Germany’s West African colony, Togoland, was paradoxically both a haven for slavery and a model for manumission for the Empire’s African protectorates. Prior to colonization, the protestant North German Mission established a presence in the region where the trade in human chattel was largely unhindered. The mission embraced slaveholding, purchasing approximately 150 children and dispossessing them of their family and lineage. The mission benefited from the children’s labor and their orphaned status, which made them receptive to Christianity. After the colony’s establishment in 1884, the colonial governor denied the slave trade’s existence. Public agitation by German scholar Gottlob Adolf Krause and his subsequent petitions in the Reichstag instigated colonial reform. The governor issued multiple decrees ending aspects of the slave trade in the region. Consequently, the Foreign Office ordered that German East Africa and Cameroon emulate Togoland’s modified abolition. Despite the de jure measures, German use of indentured labor continued. In Lomé, West Africans organized a political campaign in 1913 demanding an end to slaveholding under German colonialism. Whereas German East Africa has received the most attention from scholars who study German abolition, I question this privileged position in the field. German slaveholding began in the 1850s under religious auspices and continued until the beginning of the First World War. Advocated by G.A. Krause, abolition in the West African colony was secular. The dissertation revises the historical assumption that missionaries and colonial states cooperated to end the domestic slave trade in the late nineteenth century. Moreover, with the impetus to expand conceptions of German colonialism and its antecedents, this project is at once an investigation that highlights how Germans interacted with the “exploitable world” that Geof Eley discussed in German Colonialism in a Global Age, and also an attempt to highlight the modest, albeit significant, efforts to resist German colonialism, slaveholding, and Christianity.

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