User:Calliopejen1/WIP/History of Cote d'Ivoire

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Arrival of the Europeans[edit]

The African continent, situated between Europe and the imagined treasures of the Far East, quickly became the destination of the European explorers of the fifteenth century. The first Europeans to explore the West African coast were the Portuguese. Other European sea powers soon followed, and trade was established with many of the coastal peoples of West Africa. At first, the trade included gold, ivory, and pepper, but the establishment of American colonies in the sixteenth century spurred a demand for slaves, who soon became the major export from the West African coastal regions (see African slave trade). Local rulers, under treaties with the Europeans, procured goods and slaves from inhabitants of the interior. By the end of the fifteenth century, commercial contacts with Europe had spawned strong European influences, which permeated areas northward from the West African coast.

Côte d'Ivoire, like the rest of West Africa, was subject to these influences, but the absence of sheltered harbors along its coastline prevented Europeans from establishing permanent trading posts. Seaborne trade, therefore, was irregular and played only a minor role in the penetration and eventual conquest by Europeans of Côte d'Ivoire. The slave trade, in particular, had little effect on the peoples of Côte d'Ivoire. A profitable trade in ivory, which gave the area its name, was carried out during the seventeenth century, but it brought about such a decline in elephants that the trade itself virtually had died out by the beginning of the eighteenth century.

The earliest recorded French voyage to West Africa took place in 1483. The first West African French settlement, Saint Louis, was founded in the mid-seventeenth century in Senegal, while at about the same time the Dutch ceded to the French a settlement at Ile de Gorée off Dakar. A French mission was established in 1687 at Assinie, and it became the first European outpost in that area. Assini's survival was precarious, however, and only in the mid-nineteenth century did the French establish themselves firmly in Côte d'Ivoire. By that time, they had already established settlements around the mouth of the Senegal River and at other points along the coasts of what are now Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. Meanwhile, the British had permanent outposts in the same areas and on the Gulf of Guinea east of Côte d'Ivoire.

Activity along the coast stimulated European interest in the interior, especially along the two great rivers, the Senegal and the Niger. Concerted French exploration of West Africa began in the mid-nineteenth century but moved slowly and was based more on individual initiative than on government policy. In the 1840s, the French concluded a series of treaties with local West African rulers that enabled the French to build fortified posts along the Gulf of Guinea to serve as permanent trading centers. The first posts in Côte d'Ivoire included one at Assini and another at Grand-Bassam, which became the colony's first capital. The treaties provided for French sovereignty within the posts and for trading privileges in exchange for fees or costumes paid annually to the local rulers for the use of the land. The arrangement was not entirely satisfactory to the French because trade was limited and misunderstandings over treaty obligations often arose. Nevertheless, the French government maintained the treaties, hoping to expand trade. France also wanted to maintain a presence in the region to stem the increasing influence of the British along the Gulf of Guinea coast.

The defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War (1871) and the subsequent annexation by Germany of the French province of Alsace-Lorraine caused the French government to abandon its colonial ambitions and withdraw its military garrisons from its French West African trading posts, leaving them in the care of resident merchants. The trading post at Grand-Bassam in Côte d'Ivoire was left in the care of a shipper from Marseille, Arthur Verdier, who in 1878 was named resident of the Establishment of Côte d'Ivoire.

French expansion in Côte d'Ivoire[edit]

In 1885 France and Germany brought all the European powers with interests in Africa together at the Berlin Conference. Its principal objective was to rationalize what became known as the European scramble for colonies in Africa. Prince Otto von Bismarck also wanted a greater role in Africa for Germany, which he thought he could achieve in part by fostering competition between France and Britain. The agreement signed by all participants in 1885 stipulated that on the African coastline only European annexations or spheres of influence that involved effective occupation by Europeans would be recognized. Another agreement in 1890 extended this rule to the interior of Africa and set off a scramble for territory, primarily by France, Britain, Portugal, and Belgium.

Local resistance and establishment of protectorates[edit]

In 1886, to support its claims of effective occupation, France again assumed direct control of its West African coastal trading posts and embarked on an accelerated program of exploration in the interior. In 1887 Lieutenant Louis Binger began a two-year journey that traversed parts of Côte d'Ivoire's interior. By the end of the journey, he had concluded four treaties establishing French protectorates in Côte d'Ivoire. Also in 1887, Verdier's agent, Maurice Treich-Laplène, negotiated five additional agreements that extended French influence from the headwaters of the Niger River Basin through Côte d'Ivoire.

By the end of the 1880s, France had established what passed for effective control over the coastal regions of Côte d'Ivoire, and in 1889 Britain recognized French sovereignty in the area. That same year, France named Treich-Laplène titular governor of the territory. In 1893 Côte d'Ivoire was made a French colony, and then Captain Binger was appointed governor. Agreements with Liberia in 1892 and with Britain in 1893 determined the eastern and western boundaries of the colony, but the northern boundary was not fixed until 1947 because of efforts by the French government to attach parts of Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso) and French Sudan (present-day Mali) to Côte d'Ivoire for economic and administrative reasons.

Throughout the process of partition, the Africans were little concerned with the occasional white person who came wandering by. Many local rulers in small, isolated communities did not understand or, more often, were misled by the Europeans about the significance of treaties that compromised their authority. Other local leaders, however, thought that the Europeans could solve economic problems or become allies in the event of a dispute with belligerent neighbors. In the end, the loss of land and freedom by all the local rulers resulted more from their inability to counter European deception and brute strength than from a loss of will to respond to European encroachment.

Throughout the early years of French rule, French military contingents were sent inland to establish new posts. The African population resisted French penetration and settlement, even in areas where treaties of protection had been in force. Among those offering greatest resistance was Samori Touré, who in the 1880s and 1890s was establishing an empire that extended over large parts of present-day Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Côte d'Ivoire. Samori's large, well-equipped army, which could manufacture and repair its own firearms, attracted strong support throughout the region. The French responded to Samori's expansion of regional control with military pressure. French campaigns against Samori, which were met with fierce resistance, intensified in the mid-1890s until he was captured in 1898.

France's imposition of a head tax in 1900, aimed at enabling the colony to undertake a public works program, provoked a number of revolts. Ivoirians viewed the tax as a violation of the terms of the protectorate treaties because it seemed that France was now demanding the equivalent of a coutume from the local kings rather than the reverse. Much of the population, especially in the interior, also considered the tax a humiliating symbol of submission.

Repression and conquest[edit]

In 1906 Gabriel Angoulvant was appointed governor of Côte d'Ivoire. Angoulvant, who had little prior experience in Africa, believed that the development of Côte d'Ivoire could proceed only after the forceful conquest, or so-called pacification, of the colony. He thus embarked on a vigorous campaign, sending military expeditions into the hinterland to quell resistance. As a result of these expeditions, local rulers were compelled to obey existing anti-slavery laws, supply porters and food to the French forces, and ensure the protection of French trade and personnel. In return, the French agreed to leave local customs intact and specifically promised not to intervene in the selection of rulers. But the French often disregarded their side of the agreement, deporting or interring rulers regarded as instigators of revolt. They also regrouped villages and established a uniform administration throughout most of the colony. Finally, they replaced the coutume with an allowance based on performance.

French rule until World War II[edit]

Evolution of colonial policy[edit]

French colonial policy incorporated concepts of assimilation and association. Assimilation presupposed the inherent superiority of French culture over all others, so that in practice the assimilation policy in the colonies meant extension of the French language, institutions, laws, and customs.

The policy of association also affirmed the superiority of the French in the colonies, but it entailed different institutions and systems of laws for the colonizer and the colonized. Under this policy, the Africans in Côte d'Ivoire were allowed to preserve their own customs insofar as they were compatible with French interests. An indigenous elite trained in French administrative practice formed an intermediary group between the French and the Africans.

Assimilation was practiced in Côte d'Ivoire to the extent that after 1930 a small number of Westernized Ivoirians were granted the right to apply for French citizenship. Most Ivoirians, however, were classified as French subjects and were governed under the principle of association.

Until 1958, governors appointed in Paris administered the colony of Côte d'Ivoire, using a system of direct, centralized administration that left little room for Ivoirian participation in policy making. The French colonial administration also adopted divide-and-rule policies, applying ideas of assimilation only to the educated elite. The French were also interested in ensuring that the small but influential elite was sufficiently satisfied with the status quo to refrain from any anti-French sentiment. In fact, although they were strongly opposed to the practices of association, educated Ivoirians believed that they would achieve equality with their French peers through assimilation rather than through complete independence from France, a change that would eliminate the enormous economic advantages of remaining a French possession. But after the assimilation doctrine was implemented entirely, at least in principle, through the postwar reforms, Ivoirian leaders realized that even assimilation implied the superiority of the French over the Ivoirians and that discrimination and inequality would end only with independence.