Africa Squadron

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The Africa Squadron was a unit of the United States Navy that operated from 1819 to 1861 in the Blockade of Africa to suppress the slave trade along the coast of West Africa. However, the term was often ascribed generally to anti-slavery operations during the period leading up to the American Civil War.

Quick facts: Africa Squadron, Active, Country, Branch, Typ...
Africa Squadron
A photograph of the sloop-of-war USS Jamestown (date unknown). She captured two slave ships with the Africa Squadron.
CountryFlag_of_the_United_States_%281819%E2%80%931820%29.svg United States of America
BranchNaval_jack_of_the_United_States_%281859%E2%80%931861%29.svg United States Navy
TypeNaval squadron
RoleAfrican Slave Trade Patrol

The squadron was an outgrowth of the 1819 treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom that was an early step in stopping the trade, and further defined by the Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842. Although technically coordinated with a British West Africa Squadron based in Sierra Leone, in practice the American contingent worked on its own.

Matthew Perry was the first commander of the squadron, and based himself in Portuguese Cape Verde.

The squadron was generally ineffective, since the ships were too few, and since much of the trading activity had shifted to the Niger River delta area (present-day Nigeria), which was not being covered. In the two years of Perry's leadership, only one slaver was reported to have been captured, and that ship was later acquitted by a New Orleans court. In the 16 years of squadron operation, only the crews of 19 slave ships went to trial. These slavers were acquitted or only lightly fined. Other commanders, however, were more successful.

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