Royal African Company

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The Royal African Company, also known as The Company of Royal Adventurers trading to Africa was a trading company charted by the English government in 1672 to conduct its merchants' trade on the Atlantic coast of Africa.[1]

As noted by historian William A. Pettigrew, the RAC "shipped more enslaved African women, men and children to the Americas than any other single institution during the entire period of the transatlantic slave trade."[2]


During the first half of the seventeenth century, the Dutch had obtained a monopoly of the trade in slaves to the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in America. To break this monopoly the African Company was formed in 1660. At its formation, Charles II appointed his brother James, the Duke of York, to lead the organization. James remained in that position until his ascension to the throne as James II.[3]

During the next two years the Dutch vigorously opposed the English Company, soon convincing its officers that it must be organized on a larger scale if it would succeed. In 1663 the Company of Royal Adventurers trading to Africa was organized, being granted the coast from Sallee to the Cape of Good Hope. Vessels sent to the African coast encountered such opposition that in 1664 a squadron was sent to protect them and succeeded in capturing several Dutch forts, but Admiral DeRuyter soon recaptured them.[4]


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