Nineteenth-century printed maps and written commentary noted the existence of Grand Cape Mount, one of the locations mentioned in the documents collected and transcribed here. The 1855 map shows its location at the border of Liberia and Sierra Leone, a relatively marginal situation in which the slave trade thrived in the middle of the nineteenth century away from the purportedly observant eyes of Monrovia and Freetown authorities. The c. 1890 map shows the topographical feature of the map that attracted slave traders in the post-abolition era. These were the high elevation of the Mount and the lake that was both sheltered from the ocean side to the west and connected to rivers flowing from the hinterlands east, all forming conditions for the transport of slaves from the east and their concealment around the lake until slaving ships arrived. The name the lake had gained by 1890 (Fisherman's Lake) obscured its use by slave traders. Finally, a brief commentary from 1835 reveals that Grand Cape Mount was at an elevation jutting so far west into the sea that it was visible from Cape Mesurado, some ninety kilometers south, where Monrovia was located. The elevation (about 305 meters) had allowed slave traders to watch for British and U.S. naval ships patrolling the waters off the coast of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Those ships seized captives from slavers at sea and brought those known as recaptives or rescued Africans to places like Monrovia and Freetown.

(1) Map: "Map of Africa to Illustrate Olney's School Geography," with inset "Liberia and Sierra Leone."

Citation: J. Olney, Olney's School Geography, a Practical System of Modern Geography Comprising a View of the Present State of the World, 92nd edition (New York: Pratt, Woodward, Farmer and Brace, 1855), color map published to accompany this book, pp. 45-48.

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Credit line: Map & Imagery Library, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.

(2) Map: "Robertsport and Fisherman's Lake"

Citation: Élisée Reclus, The Earth and Its Inhabitants: The Universal Geography Volume 12: West Africa, edited by A. H. Keane (London: J. S. Virtue and Company, no year [c. 1890]), figure 94, page 222.

(3) 1835 comment on the appearance of Grand Cape Mount from Cape Mesurado, as the secretary of the American Colonization Society imagined Jehudi Ashmun surveying the region: "Standing on the summit of the Cape, he extended his view over a magnificent scene, diversified by objects bright, beautiful, and sublime; the silver stream of the Montersado-Cape Mount fifty miles distant, jutting boldly into the sea-a wide-spread country, dense with an evergreen forest, 'rising in successive ridges of verdure,' far into the interior; the ocean, over which the eye glanced for more than one hundred and fifty miles of the horizon, in an instant catching each sail that ventured within this mighty compass of vision."

Citation: Ralph Randolph Gurley, Life of Jehudi Ashmun, Late Colonial Agent in Liberia (Washington, D.C.: James C. Dunn, 1835), p. 228.