European contacts with Sierra Leone were among the first in west Africa. In 1652, the first slaves in North America were brought from Sierra Leoneto the sea Islans off the coast of the southern United States. During the 1700s there was a thriving trade bringing slaves from Sierra Leone to the plantations of soth Carolina an Georgiawhere their rice farming skills mae made them particularly valuable.
In 1787 the Britsh helped 400 freed slaves from the United States, Nova Scotia and Great Britain return to Sierra Leone to settle in what they called the "Province Of Freedom".Disease and hostility from the indigenous people nearly eliminated the first group of returnees. this settlement was joined by other groups freed slavesand soon became known as Freetown in 1792. Freetown became one of Brtain's first colonies in West Africa.
Thousands of slaves were returned to or libewrated in freetown . most chose to remain in Sierra Leone. These returned Africans - or Krio as they came to be called - were from all areas of Africa . Cut off from their homes and traditions by the experience of slavery , they assimilated some aspects of British styles of life and built a flourishing trade on the West African coast.
In the early 19th. century , freetown served as the residence of the British Governor who also ruled the Gold Coast ( Now Ghana) and the Gambia settlements . Sierra Leone served as the educational center of British West Africa as well. Fourah Bay College established in1827, rapidly became a magnet for English - Speaking Africanson the west coast.For more than a century , it was the only European - Style University in western Sub - Saharan africa.