In 1787, British philanthropists founded the “Province of Freedom” which later became Freetown, a British crown colony and the principal base for the suppression of the slave trade. By 1792, 1200 freed slaves from Nova Scotia joined the original settlers, the Maroons. Another group of slaves rebelled in Jamaica and travelled to Freetown in 1800.
Through the efforts of men such as William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharpe, Lord Mansfield formed an administration in 1806, which was instrumental in the British Empire’s abolition of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade (1807). The British established a naval base in Freetown to patrol against illegal slave ships. A fine of £100 was established for every slave found on a British ship.
In 1808 Sierra Leone officially became a crown colony with the land possessions of Sierra Leone Company (formerly known as St George’s Bay Company) transferred to the crown. The colony was dedicated to demonstrating the principles of Christianity, “civilisation” and commerce.
In 1833 British Parliament passed the Emancipation Act, and in 1833 slavery was finally abolished. It wasn’t until 1865; the United States passed the 13th amendment abolishing slavery.
By 1855, over 50,000 freed slaves has been settled in Freetown. Known as the Krios, the repatriated settlers of Freetown live today in a multi-ethnic country. Though English is the official language krio is widely spoken throughout the country allowing different tribal groups a common language. Check out some basic krio.