I am persuaded there is no situation on the Windward Coast of Africa more calculated, or more advantageously situated, than the river of Sierra Leone to influence and command an enlarged portion of the continent of Africa.
This part of Africa, as ascertained by Mr. Park, communicates, by its rivers to the Niger, and introduces us to the interior of this great continent; and, from other sources of information, Foolahs, Mandingos, &c. I am enabled to confirm the statement given in one of the reports of the Sierra Leone Company, that from Teembo, about 270 miles interior to the entrance of the Rio Noonez, and the capital of the Foolah king, a path of communication exists through the kingdoms of Bellia, Bourea, Munda, Segoo (where there are too strong grounds to believe that the enterprising spirit of Mr. Park ceased its researches in this world), Soofundoo to Genah, and from thence to Tombuctoo, described as extremely rich and populous. The distance from Teembo to Tombuctoo the natives estimate at about four moons’ journey, which at 20 miles per day, calculating 30 days to each moon, is equal to 2,400 miles. This distance in a country like Africa, obscured by every impediment which forests, desarts, and intense climate can oppose to the traveller, is immense; and when it is considered that in addition to these, he has to contend with the barbarism of the inhabitants, it is a subject for serious deliberation, before the investigation of its natural history and commercial resources is undertaken. But it also displays an animating field of enterprise to obtain a free intercourse with this unbounded space, and if, at a future day, we should traverse it with freedom and safety, the whole of Africa might thereby be enlightened, and its mysteries developed to the civilized world.
I have therefore conceived the expediency of submitting all the enterprises and operations of the United Kingdom to the influence of a supreme direction and government in the river of Sierra Leone. No doubt many contradictory opinions may prevail upon this subject, and upon the outline I have previously submitted on the most eligible plan of introducing civilization into Africa; but the detail of all my motives and reasons would occupy too large a space; I shall therefore proceed to instance some local circumstances and political reasons why I make the proposition.
From what I have said respecting the path which Smart, of the Rochell branch of the river Sierra Leone, has now under his authority, and can open and shut at pleasure, communicating with the extensive country of the Foolahs, whose king (as the Sierra Leone agents are well aware of, but who was strangely and unaccountably neglected by them) is well disposed to aid, by prudent application, all advances towards the civilization of his country, it is evident that an immense commerce, extending northward to Cape Verde, and southward to Cape Palmas, on the coasts, and from the interior countries, might be maintained.