Western Africa: Its History, Condition, and Prospects

Author: Rev. J. Leighton Wilson
Newly set type.

Medium: Hi-fidelity Portable Document Format (PDF)
Last Updated: August 14, 2021
Download Size: 57 MB
Suggested Donation: US $3.00

Publisher's Commentary

John Leighton Wilson, a native of South Carolina, served as a missionary in Africa, amongst the Grebos in Cape Palmas, Liberia 1833–1842, then amongst the Mpongwe at Baraka, Gabon 1842–1852, retiring then for health reasons. He and his wife had each inherited slaves, all of which were by them either freed or offered freedom, and most of which were colonized in Liberia at the Wilsons’ expense. Twenty-five years after Britain and the United States ceased importing slaves, Wilson was an outspoken critic of the continuing slave trade with other parts of the world. He wrote an influential paper in the mid-1850s encouraging the British to continue their efforts to suppress the slave trade. However, he strongly opposed the radical abolitionists and abhorred the Yankee oppression of the South. He was a friend of both Charles Hodge and Robert L. Dabney, two of the great theologians of the day, and served as a chaplain in the Confederate army. He was also a commissioner to each of the General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States, and was the first steward of that denomination’s foreign missions efforts.

In 1856, Wilson published this well-organized sketch of Western Africa, ranging geographically from Senegal in the north to Angola in the South. He describes the people, customs, geography, languages, products, and religions in affectionate and understanding detail, providing valuable insight into the issues of polygamy, family life, government, slavery, education, and the prospects for improvement. It is a valuable resource in understanding African history.


  1. August 14, 2021: First Portage edition posted.