Today In History: British Envoy Joseph Dupuis Arrives In Kumasi On This Day In 1820

Upon return to Cape Coast from his three-month diplomatic mission to Kumasi, British Consul Joseph Dupuis quickly discovered that his efforts to secure peace and profitable trade between the Ashanti (the largest kingdom on the Gold Coast with its capital at Kumasi) and the British had largely been in vain.

Asantehene Osei Bonsu (r. 1800-1824) had hosted Dupuis, along with other British and Ashanti ambassadors from Cape Coast, in an effort to solidify trading arrangements and resolve territorial disputes in the years immediately following the British abolition of the slave trade in 1807. Despite Dupuis’s surprisingly warm reception by the Ashanti king and the relative success with which the two composed a treaty, British officials at Cape Coast denied the terms of the treaty and sought instead to devise ways of constraining the economic and political power of the Ashanti King.

While Ambassadors Bowdich (1817) and Dupuis (1820) successfully came to agreements with the Asantehene, each culminating in the formulation of an official treaty, an analysis of events occurring simultaneously outside the immediate purview of these assemblies indicates that their expeditions ultimately failed because many British government officials and civilians were unwilling to adhere to local political and economic structures and compromise with the Asantehene.


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