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Peter Strickland

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Peter Strickland: New London Shipmaster, Boston Merchant, First Consul to Senegal

“Stephen Grant’s biography [of Captain Peter Strickland] adds to our knowledge of what diplomats do and how they do it. …The contributions of our consuls have been too often ignored [and] Grant has taken a significant step toward remedying this. “

From the foreword

Stephen Grant’s Peter Strickland: New London Shipmaster, Boston Merchant, First Consul to Senegal is based on extensive research, including U.S. consular dispatches, a detailed personal diary, obscure documents in libraries in the eastern United States, and Consul Strickland’s correspondence with French authorities that the author unearthed in the Senegalese national archives. Grant’s book recounts how Connecticut Yankee Strickland strove to survive and prosper from 1864 to 1905 in the midst of a strong French colonial presence in Senegal––first as captain of merchant ships in the trans-Atlantic trade and then, after his appointment in 1883 as the first U.S. consul in Senegal, indeed the first in French West Africa.

Consul Strickland may have known more about West African trade than any American of his day. He did his best, in 272 dispatches to the State Department, to educate the American diplomatic and commercial establishments about the potential for trade with Africa. He carried out his consular duties in Senegal for over 20 years without a salary, paying for his own rented office space and lodgings and for his passage to and from post. Although he was authorized to maintain a private export-import business and to keep the consular fees charged to the captains of American ships calling at Dakar, St. Louis, Rufisque, and Goree, he earned little else.

You can also see Stephen Grant speak about the book here.