The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global conflict fought between 1756 and 1763. It involved every European great power of the time and spanned five continents, affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa and the Philippines; the conflict split Europe into two coalitions, led by the Kingdom of Great Britain on one side and the Kingdom of France, the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Spain, the Swedish Empire on the other. Meanwhile, in India, some regional polities within the fragmented Mughal Empire, with the support of the French, tried to crush a British attempt to conquer Bengal; the war's extent has led some historians to describe it as World War Zero, similar in scale to other world wars. Although Anglo-French skirmishes over their American colonies had begun with what became the French and Indian War in 1754, the large-scale conflict that drew in most of the European powers was centered on Austria's desire to recover Silesia from the Prussians. Seeing the opportunity to curtail Britain's and Prussia's ever-growing might and Austria put aside their ancient rivalry to form a grand coalition of their own, bringing most of the other European powers to their side.
Faced with this sudden turn of events, Britain aligned itself with Prussia, in a series of political manoeuvres known as the Diplomatic Revolution. However, French efforts ended in failure when the Anglo-Prussian coalition prevailed, Britain's rise as among the world's predominant powers destroyed France's supremacy in Europe, thus altering the European balance of power. Conflict between Great Britain and France broke out in 1754–1756 when the British attacked disputed French positions in North America. Hostilities were heightened when a British unit led by a 22 year old Lt. Colonel George Washington ambushed a small French force at the Battle of Jumonville Glen on 28 May 1754; the conflict exploded across the colonial boundaries and extended to the seizure of hundreds of French merchant ships at sea. Meanwhile, rising power Prussia was struggling with Austria for dominance within and outside the Holy Roman Empire in central Europe. In 1756, the major powers "switched partners". Realising that war was imminent, Prussia pre-emptively struck Saxony and overran it.
The result caused uproar across Europe. Because of Austria's alliance with France to recapture Silesia, lost in the War of the Austrian Succession, Prussia formed an alliance with Britain. Reluctantly, by following the imperial diet, which declared war on Prussia on 17 January 1757, most of the states of the empire joined Austria's cause; the Anglo-Prussian alliance was joined by smaller German states. Sweden, seeking to regain Pomerania joined the coalition, seeing its chance when all the major powers of Europe opposed Prussia. Spain, bound by the Pacte de Famille, intervened on behalf of France and together they launched an utterly unsuccessful invasion of Portugal in 1762; the Russian Empire was aligned with Austria, fearing Prussia's ambition on the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, but switched sides upon the succession of Tsar Peter III in 1762. Many middle and small powers in Europe, as in the previous wars, tried to steer clear away from the escalating conflict though they had interests in the conflict or with the belligerents.
Denmark–Norway, for instance, was close to being dragged into the war on France's side when Peter III became Russian emperor and switched sides. The Dutch Republic, a long-time British ally, kept its neutrality intact, fearing the odds against Britain and Prussia fighting the great powers of Europe, tried to prevent Britain's domination in India. Naples-Sicily, Savoy, although sided with the Franco-Spanish alliance, declined to join the coalition under fear of British naval power; the taxation needed for war caused the Russian people considerable hardship, being added to the taxation of salt and alcohol begun by Empress Elizabeth in 1759 to complete her addition to the Winter Palace. Like Sweden, Russia concluded a separate peace with Prussia; the war ended with the Treaty of Paris between France and Great Britain and the Treaty of Hubertusburg between Saxony and Prussia, in 1763. The war was successful for Great Britain, which gained the bulk of New France in North America, Spanish Florida, some individual Caribbean islands in the West Indies, the colony of Senegal on the West African coast, superiority over the French trading outposts on the Indian subcontinent.
The Native American tribes were excluded from the settlement. In Europe, the war began disastrously for Prussia, but with a combination of good luck and successful strategy, King Frederick the Great managed to retrieve the Prussian position and retain the status quo ante bellum. Prussia emerged as a new European great power. Although Austria failed to retrieve the territory of Silesia from Prussia, its military prowess was noted by the other powers; the involvement of Portugal and Sweden did not return them to their former status as great powers. France was deprived of many of it
John Hancock was an American merchant and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence, so much so that the term "John Hancock" has become a synonym in the United States for one's signature. Before the American Revolution, Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in the Thirteen Colonies, having inherited a profitable mercantile business from his uncle, he began his political career in Boston as a protégé of Samuel Adams, an influential local politician, though the two men became estranged. Hancock used his wealth to support the colonial cause as tensions increased between colonists and Great Britain in the 1760s, he became popular in Massachusetts after British officials seized his sloop Liberty in 1768 and charged him with smuggling. Those charges were dropped. Hancock was one of Boston's leaders during the crisis that led to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775.
He served more than two years in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence in his position as president of Congress. He returned to Massachusetts and was elected governor of the Commonwealth, serving in that role for most of his remaining years, he used his influence to ensure that Massachusetts ratified the United States Constitution in 1788. John Hancock was born on January 23, 1737 in Braintree, Massachusetts in a part of town that became the separate city of Quincy, he was the son of Col. John Hancock Jr. of Braintree and Mary Hawke Thaxter, from nearby Hingham. As a child, Hancock became a casual acquaintance of young John Adams, whom the Reverend Hancock had baptized in 1735; the Hancocks lived a comfortable life, owned one slave to help with household work. After Hancock's father died in 1744, John was sent to live with his uncle and aunt, Thomas Hancock and Lydia Hancock. Thomas Hancock was the proprietor of a firm known as the House of Hancock, which imported manufactured goods from Britain and exported rum, whale oil, fish.
Thomas Hancock's successful business made him one of Boston's richest and best-known residents. He and Lydia, along with several slaves, lived in Hancock Manor on Beacon Hill; the couple, who did not have any children of their own, became the dominant influence on John's life. After graduating from the Boston Latin School in 1750, Hancock enrolled in Harvard College and received a bachelor's degree in 1754. Upon graduation, he began to work for his uncle, just as the Indian War had begun. Thomas Hancock had close relations with the royal governors of Massachusetts and secured profitable government contracts during the war. John Hancock learned much about his uncle's business during these years and was trained for eventual partnership in the firm. Hancock worked hard, but he enjoyed playing the role of a wealthy aristocrat and developed a fondness for expensive clothes. From 1760 to 1761, Hancock lived in England while building relationships with customers and suppliers. Upon returning to Boston, Hancock took over the House of Hancock as his uncle's health failed, becoming a full partner in January 1763.
He became a member of the Masonic Lodge of St. Andrew in October 1762, which connected him with many of Boston's most influential citizens; when Thomas Hancock died in August 1764, John inherited the business, Hancock Manor, two or three household slaves, thousands of acres of land, becoming one of the wealthiest men in the colonies. The household slaves continued to work for John and his aunt, but were freed through the terms of Thomas Hancock's will. After its victory in the Seven Years' War, the British Empire was in debt. Looking for new sources of revenue, the British Parliament sought, for the first time, to directly tax the colonies, beginning with the Sugar Act of 1764; the earlier Molasses Act of 1733, a tax on shipments from the West Indies, had produced hardly any revenue because it was bypassed by smuggling, seen as a victimless crime. Not only was there little social stigma attached to smuggling in the colonies, but in port cities, where trade was the primary generator of wealth, smuggling enjoyed considerable community support, it was possible to obtain insurance against being caught.
Colonial merchants developed an impressive repertoire of evasive maneuvers to conceal the origin, nationality and content of their illicit cargoes. This included the frequent use of fraudulent paperwork to make the cargo appear legal and authorised, and much to the frustration of the British authorities, when seizures did happen local merchants were able to use sympathetic provincial courts to reclaim confiscated goods and have their cases dismissed. For instance, Edward Randolph, the appointed head of customs in New England, brought 36 seizures to trial from 1680 to the end of 1682 – and all but two of these were acquitted. Alternatively merchants sometimes took matters into their own hands and stole illicit goods back while impounded; the Sugar Act provoked outrage in Boston, where it was viewed as a violation of colonial rights. Men such as James Otis and Samuel Adams argued that because the colonists were not represented in Parliament, they could not be taxed by that body.
The Cherokee are one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, they were concentrated in what is now southwestern North Carolina, southeastern Tennessee, the tips of western South Carolina and northeastern Georgia; the Cherokee language is part of the Iroquoian language group. In the 19th century, James Mooney, an American ethnographer, recorded one oral tradition that told of the tribe having migrated south in ancient times from the Great Lakes region, where other Iroquoian-speaking peoples lived. Today there are three federally recognized Cherokee tribes: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. By the 19th century, European settlers in the United States classified the Cherokee of the Southeast as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes", because they were agrarian and lived in permanent villages and began to adopt some cultural and technological practices of the European American settlers.
The Cherokee were one of the first, if not the first, major non-European ethnic group to become U. S. citizens. Article 8 in the 1817 treaty with the Cherokee stated that Cherokees may wish to become citizens of the United States; the Cherokee Nation has more than 300,000 tribal members, making it the largest of the 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States. In addition, numerous groups claim Cherokee lineage, some of these are state-recognized. A total of more than 819,000 people are estimated to claim having Cherokee ancestry on the US census, which includes persons who are not enrolled members of any tribe. Of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, the Cherokee Nation and the UKB have headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma; the UKB are descendants of "Old Settlers", Cherokee who migrated to Arkansas and Oklahoma about 1817 prior to Indian Removal. They are related to the Cherokee who were forcibly relocated there in the 1830s under the Indian Removal Act; the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is on the Qualla Boundary in western North Carolina.
A Cherokee language name for Cherokee people is Aniyvwiyaʔi, translating as "Principal People". Tsalagi is the Cherokee word for Cherokee. Many theories, though none proven, abound about the origin of the name "Cherokee", it may have been derived from the Choctaw word Cha-la-kee, which means "people who live in the mountains", or Choctaw Chi-luk-ik-bi, meaning "people who live in the cave country". The earliest Spanish transliteration of the name, from 1755, is recorded as Tchalaquei. Another theory is; the Iroquois Five Nations based in New York have called the Cherokee Oyata'ge'ronoñ. The word Cherokee means “people of different speech.” Anthropologists and historians have two main theories of Cherokee origins. One is that the Cherokee, an Iroquoian-speaking people, are relative latecomers to Southern Appalachia, who may have migrated in late prehistoric times from northern areas around the Great Lakes, the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee nations and other Iroquoian-speaking peoples.
Another theory is. Researchers in the 19th century recorded conversations with elders who recounted an oral tradition of the Cherokee people migrating south from the Great Lakes region in ancient times, they may have moved south into Muscogee Creek territory and settled at the sites of mounds built by the Mississippian culture and earlier moundbuilders. In the 19th century, European-American settlers mistakenly attributed several Mississippian culture sites in Georgia to the Cherokee, including Moundville and Etowah Mounds. However, other evidence shows that the Cherokee did not reach this part of Georgia until the late 18th century and could not have built the mounds; the Connestee people, believed to be ancestors of the Cherokee, occupied western North Carolina circa 200 to 600 CE. Pre-contact Cherokee are considered to be part of the Pisgah Phase of Southern Appalachia, which lasted from circa 1000 to 1500. Despite the consensus among most specialists in Southeast archeology and anthropology, some scholars contend that ancestors of the Cherokee people lived in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee for a far longer period of time.
During the late Archaic and Woodland Period, Native Americans in the region began to cultivate plants such as marsh elder, pigweed and some native squash. People created new art forms such as shell gorgets, adopted new technologies, developed an elaborate cycle of religious ceremonies. During the Mississippian culture-period, local women developed a new variety of maize called eastern flint corn, it resembled modern corn and produced larger crops. The successful cultivation of corn surpluses allowed the rise of larger, more complex chiefdoms consisting of several villages and concentrated populations during this period. Corn became celebrated among numerous peoples in religious ceremonies the Green Corn Ceremony. Much of what is known about pre-18th-century Native American cultures has come from records of Spanish expeditions; the earliest ones of the mid-16th-century encountered people of the Mississippian culture, the ancestors to tribes in the Southeast such as
President of the Continental Congress
The President of the Continental Congress was the presiding officer of the Continental Congress, the convention of delegates that emerged as the first national government of the United States during the American Revolution. The president was a member of Congress elected by the other delegates to serve as a neutral discussion moderator during meetings of Congress. Designed to be a ceremonial position without much influence, the office was unrelated to the office of President of the United States. Upon the ratification of the Articles of Confederation in March 1781, the Continental Congress became the Congress of the Confederation; the membership of the Second Continental Congress carried over without interruption to the First Congress of the Confederation, as did the office of president. Fourteen men served as president of Congress between September 1774 and November 1788, they came from 9 of the original 13 states: Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Delaware, New Jersey, New York. The median age at the time of election was 47.
The president of Congress was, by design, a position with little authority. The Continental Congress, fearful of concentrating political power in an individual, gave their presiding officer less responsibility than the speakers in the lower houses of the colonial assemblies. Unlike some colonial speakers, the president of Congress could not, for example, set the legislative agenda or make committee appointments; the president could not meet with foreign leaders. The presidency was a ceremonial position. There was no salary; the primary role of the office was to preside over meetings of Congress, which entailed serving as an impartial moderator during debates. When Congress would resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to discuss important matters, the president would relinquish his chair to the chairman of the Committee of the Whole. So, the fact that President Thomas McKean was at the same time serving as Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, provoked some criticism that he had become too powerful.
According to historian Jennings Sanders, McKean's critics were ignorant of the powerlessness of the office of president of Congress. The president was responsible for dealing with a large amount of official correspondence, but he could not answer any letter without being instructed to do so by Congress. Presidents signed, but did not write, Congress's official documents; these limitations could be frustrating, because a delegate declined in influence when he was elected president. Historian Richard B. Morris argued that, despite the ceremonial role, some presidents were able to wield some influence: Lacking specific authorization or clear guidelines, the presidents of Congress could with some discretion influence events, formulate the agenda of Congress, proded Congress to move in directions they considered proper. Much depended on the incumbents themselves and their readiness to exploit the peculiar opportunities their office provided. Congress, its presidency, declined in importance after the ratification of the Articles of Confederation and the ending of the Revolutionary War.
Delegates elected to the Congress declined to serve, the leading men in each state preferred to serve in state government, the Congress had difficulty establishing a quorum. President Hanson wanted to resign after only a week in office, but Congress lacked a quorum to select a successor, so he stayed on. President Mifflin found it difficult to convince the states to send enough delegates to Congress to ratify the 1783 Treaty of Paris. For six weeks in 1784, President Lee did not come to Congress, but instead instructed secretary Charles Thomson to forward any papers that needed his signature. John Hancock was elected to a second term in November 1785 though he was not in Congress, Congress was aware that he was unlikely to attend, he never took his seat, though he may have been uninterested in the position. Two delegates, David Ramsay and Nathaniel Gorham, performed his duties with the title of "chairman"; when Hancock resigned the office in June 1786, Gorham was elected. After he resigned in November 1786, it was months before enough members were present in Congress to elect a new president.
In February 1787, General Arthur St. Clair was elected. Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance during St. Clair's presidency and elected him as the governor of the Northwest Territory; as the people of the various states began debating the proposed United States Constitution in months of 1787, the Confederation Congress found itself reduced to the status of a caretaker government. There were not enough delegates present to choose St. Clair's successor until January 22, 1788, when the final president of Congress, Cyrus Griffin, was elected. Griffin resigned his office on November 15, 1788, after only two delegates showed up for the new session of Congress. Prior to ratification of the Articles, presidents of Congress served terms of no specific duration; when Peyton Randolph, elected in September 1774 to preside over the First Continental Congress, was unable to attend the last few days of the session due to poor health, Henry Middleton was elected to replace him. When the Second Continental Congress convened the following May, Randolph was again chosen as president, but he returned to Virginia two weeks to preside over the House of Burgesses.
John Hancock was elected to fill the vacancy, but his position was somewhat ambiguous, because it was not clea
United States Constitution
The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. The Constitution comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government, its first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress. Articles Four and Six embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article Seven establishes the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it, it is regarded as the oldest codified national constitution in force. Since the Constitution came into force in 1789, it has been amended 27 times, including an amendment to repeal a previous one, in order to meet the needs of a nation that has profoundly changed since the eighteenth century. In general, the first ten amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, offer specific protections of individual liberty and justice and place restrictions on the powers of government.
The majority of the seventeen amendments expand individual civil rights protections. Others modify government processes and procedures. Amendments to the United States Constitution, unlike ones made to many constitutions worldwide, are appended to the document. All four pages of the original U. S. Constitution are written on parchment. According to the United States Senate: "The Constitution's first three words—We the People—affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens. For over two centuries the Constitution has remained in force because its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, of the federal and state governments."The first permanent constitution of its kind, adopted by the people's representatives for an expansive nation, it is interpreted and implemented by a large body of constitutional law, has influenced the constitutions of other nations. From September 5, 1774, to March 1, 1781, the Continental Congress functioned as the provisional government of the United States.
Delegates to the First and the Second Continental Congress were chosen through the action of committees of correspondence in various colonies rather than through the colonial or state legislatures. In no formal sense was it a gathering representative of existing colonial governments; the process of selecting the delegates for the First and Second Continental Congresses underscores the revolutionary role of the people of the colonies in establishing a central governing body. Endowed by the people collectively, the Continental Congress alone possessed those attributes of external sovereignty which entitled it to be called a state in the international sense, while the separate states, exercising a limited or internal sovereignty, may rightly be considered a creation of the Continental Congress, which preceded them and brought them into being; the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was the first constitution of the United States. It was drafted by the Second Continental Congress from mid-1776 through late 1777, ratification by all 13 states was completed by early 1781.
The Articles of Confederation gave little power to the central government. The Confederation Congress lacked enforcement powers. Implementation of most decisions, including modifications to the Articles, required unanimous approval of all thirteen state legislatures. Although, in a way, the Congressional powers in Article 9 made the "league of states as cohesive and strong as any similar sort of republican confederation in history", the chief problem was, in the words of George Washington, "no money"; the Continental Congress could print money but it was worthless. Congress couldn't pay it back. No state paid all their U. S. taxes. Some few paid an amount equal to interest on the national debt no more. No interest was paid on debt owed foreign governments. By 1786, the United States would default on outstanding debts. Internationally, the United States had little ability to defend its sovereignty. Most of the troops in the 625-man United States Army were deployed facing – but not threatening – British forts on American soil.
They had not been paid. Spain closed New Orleans to American commerce. S. officials protested, but to no effect. Barbary pirates began seizing American ships of commerce. If any military crisis required action, the Congress had no credit or taxing power to finance a response. Domestically, the Articles of Confederation was failing to bring unity to the diverse sentiments and interests of the various states. Although the Treaty of Paris was signed between Great Britain and the U. S. and named each of the American states, various states proceeded blithely to violate it. New York and South Carolina prosecuted Loyalists for wartime activity and redistributed their lands. Individual state legislatures independently laid embargoes, negotiated directly with foreign authorities, raised armies, and
Bunce Island is an island in the Sierra Leone River. It is situated in Freetown Harbour, the estuary of the Rokel River and Port Loko Creek, about 20 miles upriver from Sierra Leone's capital city Freetown; the island measures about 1,650 feet by 350 feet and houses a castle, built by a British slave-trading company in c.1670. Tens of thousands of Africans were shipped from here to the North American colonies of South Carolina and Georgia to be forced into slavery, are the ancestors of many African Americans of the United States. Although the island is small, its strategic position at the limit of navigation for ocean-going ships in Africa's largest natural harbour made it an ideal base for European slave traders. To mark the 2007–2008 bicentennial of Great Britain's abolition of the African slave trade, a team at James Madison University created a three-dimensional animation of the castle as it was in 1805, an exhibit on the site, displayed to museums all across the U. S., now held by the Sierra Leone National Museum.
Bunce Island was first settled and fortified by English slave traders in c. 1670. During its early history, the castle was operated by two London-based firms the Royal African Company and its offshoot, the Gambia Adventurers, the latter a "Crown-chartered company" or parastatal subsidised by the English government; the castle was not commercially successful but it served as a symbol of English influence in the region, where Portuguese slave traders had been established since the 1500s. The early phase of the castle's history ended in 1728 when Bunce Island was raided by José Lopez da Moura, a Luso-African slave trader based in the area, he was the richest man in present-day territory of Sierra Leone, the grandson of a Mane king and part of the hybrid Luso-African community that had developed along the lower rivers. This class acted as middlemen, resisting efforts by the Royal African Company to monopolise trade with African rulers. Lopez led others in destroying the Bunce Island factory. Bunce Island was abandoned until the mid-1740s.
It was operated by the London-based firm Grant, Oswald & Company, who took over in 1748. In 1785 Bunce and a number of other dependent islands were conveyed to the company of John and Alexander Anderson. Throughout the late 18th century, it was a profitable enterprise. During the second half of the 18th century, the companies sent thousands of African captives from Bunce Island to sales for plantations on the British- and French-controlled islands in the West Indies, to Britain's North American colonies; the London-based owners grew wealthy from the castle's operations. The slave traders who did business at Bunce Island came from a variety of backgrounds. During the castle's early history, Afro-Portuguese—part of what historian Ira Berlin described as the "Atlantic Creole generation"—sold slaves and local products there, they were well-established along the rivers near the coast and were descendants of male Portuguese slave traders known as lançados and African women, were bilingual. During the island's history, Afro-English dynasties became established in communities along the West African coast, beginning in the 17th century.
By 1800, there were about 12,000 Afro-English in this area. Mixed-race men from such families as the Caulkers and Clevelands sold slaves and traded goods at Bunce Island. Like the Portuguese descendants, they occupied a middle ground marrying into the upper classes of African tribes; the slave ships came from London and Bristol. They transported slaves to British markets in the Caribbean and the American South. Bunce Island was an important British commercial outpost and an attractive target during times of war. French naval forces attacked the castle four times, destroying it each time; the attack of 1779 took place during the American Revolutionary War when the rebel Continental Army's French allies took advantage of the conflict to attack British assets outside North America. Pirates, including Bartholomew Roberts or "Black Bart", the most notorious pirate of the 18th century, attacked in 1719 and 1720; the British traders rebuilt the castle after each attack altering its architecture during the 140 years it was used as a slave trade entrepôt.
Bunce Island is best known as one of the chief processing points for slaves to be sold to planters in Lowcountry of the British colonies of South Carolina and Georgia, including the Sea Islands, where they developed extensive rice plantations. Rice requires a great deal of technical knowledge for its successful cultivation. South Carolina and Georgia planters were willing to pay premium prices for slave labour brought from what they called the "Rice Coast" of West Africa, the traditional rice-growing region stretching from what is now Senegal and Gambia in the north down to present-day Sierra Leone and Liberia in the south. Still, records of the port of Charleston show. Bunce Island was the largest British slave castle on the Rice Coast. African farmers with rice-growing skills were kidnapped from inland areas and sold at the castle or at one of its many "outfactories" along the coast before being transported to North America. Several thousand slaves from Bunce Island were taken to the ports of Charleston and Savannah during the second half of the 18th century.
Slave auction advertisements in those cities announced slave cargoes arriving from "Bance" or "Bense" Island. Colonist Henry Laurens served as Bunce Island's business