Ceremony Appointing Military Commander, 1784

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Image Reference

Paul Erdmann Isert, Voyages en Guinee et dans les isles Caraibes en Amerique... Traduits de l'Allemand (Paris, 1793). (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Caption reads: "promotion d'otho a la dignite de general de l'armee des nations unies" (appointment of Otho as field marshall of the united nations"), 14 Feb. 1784; a solemn ceremony. Illustration depicts about 500 African soldiers encircling an open space wherein are seated political leaders and elders, including the paramount chief of the "Akras"; also Danish visitors. Danish Fort Kongensten, in background; Ada, the African village is also shown. This same illustration is in Isert's Neue Reise nach Guinea (Copenhagen, 1788), but is clearer in the Paris edition where it is a frontispiece. Isert describes the illustration as his "poor attempt at representation by my inadequate brush." A detailed description of this scene that is easily accessible is in Selena Axelrod (ed. and trans.), Letters on West Africa and the Slave Trade: Paul Erdmann Isert's Journey to Guinea and the Caribbean Islands in Columbia, 1788 (Oxford Univ. Press, 1992), pp. 44-48. This illustration is also published in Anthony Tibbles (ed.), Transatlantic Slavery: Against Human Dignity (London: HMSO, 1994), fig. 21, p. 99, but the accompanying caption is misleading. The Library Company of Philadelphia's 1793 Paris edition contains the same illustration (between pp. 40 and 41), but there are some slight differences between it and the John Carter Brown Library's 1793 Paris edition; moreover, the illustrations face in opposite directions in both editions.