Denmark and Slavery: Danish Forts and Possessions on the Gold Coast

Slavery_Denmark_Mary Thomas_NY Times Nick Furbo
Sculpture of Queen Mary in Copenhagen (Source: NY Times – Nick Furbo)

If you are like me, you probably did not know that Denmark (and Norway) was involved in slavery in Africa, and that Denmark had several colonies, and forts in Africa, and exported slaves to its colonies in the Americas. Just last week, Denmark erected its first public statue of a Black woman, a rebel Queen, in Copenhagen; this was the statue of Queen Mary, a Black slave who led the slave uprising in the Virgin islands. The sculpture was inspired by Mary Thomas, known as one of “the three queens.” Thomas , along with two other female leaders Agnes and Matilda, unleashed an uprising in 1878 called the “Fireburn.” Fifty plantations and most of the town of Frederiksted in St. Croix were burned, in what has been called the largest labor revolt in Danish colonial history.

Fort Christiansborg (now Osu Castle in Ghana)

Denmark was one of the Signatory Powers to the Berlin Act of 26th February, 1885 (No. 17), as well as to the Brussels Act of 2nd July, 1890 (No. 18); she has also entered into Treaty Arrangements with the Congo Free State (No. 45).

By a Convention dated 17th August, 1850, ‘the Danish forts and Possessions on the Gold Coast were ceded to Her Britannic Majesty for the sum of £10,000.

The following are extracts from that Convention:—


“ HIS Majesty the King of Denmark having offered to cede to Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland all the forts and Possessions belonging to the Crown of Denmark, situated on that part of the coast of Africa which is called the Gold Coast, or the Coast of Guinea, and Her Britannic Majesty having resolved to accept that offer, their said Majesties have named as their Plenipotentiaries to conclude a Convention for carrying such cession into effect, that is to say :”

[Here follow the names of the Plenipotentiaries.]

Cession of Danish Forts and Territorial Rights on the Gold Coast, or Coast of Guinea.

Ghana_Slave fort Kongensteen
Fort Kongensteeen

“ART. I. In consideration of the sum of £10,000 sterling, to be paid by Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to His Majesty the King of Denmark, on the exchange of the Ratifications of the present Convention,+

Ghana_Slave fort Prindsensteen
Fort Prindsensteen

His Danish Majesty cedes to Her Britannic Majesty, to be possessed by Her Britannic Majesty, her heirs and successors, in full property and Sovereignty, all the forts belonging to the Crown of Denmark, which are situated on that part of the Coast of Africa called the Gold Coast or the Coast of Guinea, and which comprise Fort Christiansborg,1 Fort Augustaborg,2 Fort Fredensborg,3 Fort Kongensteen,4 and Fort Prindsensteen,5 with their appurtenances and all the guns and stores contained therein, together with all other Possessions, property, and territorial rights whatever belonging to His Danish Majesty on the said coast.” The exact extent of the Possessions thus ceded was not at that time clearly defined; but, on the 9th May, l887, the Kings and Chiefs of the country of Aquamoo signed a Declaration acknowledging that they and their country formed part of the Protectorate of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland on the Gold Coast, and that they were subject to the jurisdiction and authority of Her Majesty, and declaring that they had that belief inasmuch as their country of old enjoyed similar protection from His Majesty the King of Denmark, who, they said, they understood had ceded his right and title to their country to the British Crown in 1850.

Fort Augustaborg

On the 1st July, 1890, an Agreement was entered into between Great Britain and Germany, for defining their respective spheres of influence on the Gold Coast and in other parts of Africa (No. 129); and on the 14th April, l893, a further agreement was entered into between the two countries for defining the limits of their respective spheres from the Gulf of Guinea into the Interior (No. 131).



1 Fort Christiansborg (Accra).

2 Fort Augustaborg (Adda).

3 Fort Fredensborg (Fingo).

4 Fort Kongensteen.

5 Fort Prindsensteen (Quetta).