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Sat, 04.05.1631

Fort Amsterdam, Slave-Holding Facility Is Built

Fort Amsterdam

*Fort Amsterdam is remembered on this date in 1631.  This fort was used by the British and Dutch to facilitate Black African slave labor in the Middle Passage

It was built by the English between 1638 and 1645 as Fort Cormantin and was captured by the Dutch West India Company in 1665, in retaliation for the capture of several Dutch forts by the English in 1664. It was subsequently made part of the Dutch Gold Coast and remained part of it until the fort was traded with the British in 1868. The Fort is located on the northeast of Cape Coast in Kormantin, Central Region, Ghana.  

Fort Amsterdam had a rectangular outline with two square and two round bastions at the corners. They were linked by curtain walls and there was a central courtyard. Arranged around it were a one-storied building on the west, a two-storied building along the north, and a line of two or three-storied buildings on the south.  The curtain and bastion on the north were solid, while the others were constructed with earth filling between two walls of a stone laid in mortar. The result was cracks and disintegration at the time it was left unoccupied. 

The stronghold on the southeast, which was designed to be hollow, had grated ventilation in the roof and was in addition used as a slave prison. Built with African stone masonry and carpenters, it is believed to have been the first of its kind on the Gold Coast. Slaves taken from this fort were said to have been named "Coromantese”. From 1705-1716, trade figures at the fort were given as 481 marks of gold and 149 slaves. There were complaints of little trade at other times as well. This was due to wars and also because the local chief was said to have leased the site to the British, and not the Dutch. The Dutch had no jurisdiction there, and the Cormantin people blocked their trade routes whenever it suited them until the former had paid huge sums of money.  The estimated business era was Britain from 1631-1665 and the Netherlands from 1665-1868. 

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