Slavery in Brazil

Slavery in Brazil began long before the first Portuguese settlement was established in 1516, as members of one tribe would enslave captured members of another.[1] Later, colonists were heavily dependent on indigenous labor during the initial phases of settlement to maintain the subsistence economy, and natives were often captured by expeditions called bandeiras. The importation of African slaves began midway through the 16th century, but the enslavement of indigenous peoples continued well into the 17th and 18th centuries.

During the Atlantic slave trade era, Brazil received more African slaves than any other country. An estimated 4.9 million slaves from Africa were brought to Brazil during the period from 1501 to 1866.[2] Until the early 1850s, most enslaved Africans who arrived on Brazilian shores were forced to embark at West Central African ports, especially in Luanda (present-day Angola).

Slave labor was the driving force behind the growth of the sugar economy in Brazil, and sugar was the primary export of the colony from 1600 to 1650. Gold and diamond deposits were discovered in Brazil in 1690, which sparked an increase in the importation of African slaves to power this newly profitable mining. Transportation systems were developed for the mining infrastructure, and population boomed from immigrants seeking to take part in gold and diamond mining.

Demand for African slaves did not wane after the decline of the mining industry in the second half of the 18th century. Cattle ranching and foodstuff production proliferated after the population growth, both of which relied heavily on slave labor. 1.7 million slaves were imported to Brazil from Africa from 1700 to 1800, and the rise of coffee in the 1830s further enticed expansion of the slave trade.

Brazil was the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery. By the time it was abolished after years of campaigning by Emperor Pedro II, in 1888, an estimated four million slaves had been imported from Africa to Brazil, 40% of the total number of slaves brought to the Americas.

Slavery in Brazil, by Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768-1848)
Slavery in Brazil by Jean-Baptiste Debret (1834–1839). A slave owner punishes a slave in 19th-century Brazil.



The Portuguese became involved with the African slave trade first during the Reconquista ("reconquest") of the Iberian Peninsula mainly through the mediation of the Alfaqueque: the person tasked with the rescue of Portuguese captives, slaves and prisoners of war;[3][4] and then later in 1441, long before the colonization of Brazil, but now as slave traders. Slaves exported from Africa during this initial period of the Portuguese slave trade primarily came from Mauritania, and later the Upper Guinea coast. Scholars estimate that as many as 156,000 slaves were exported from 1441 to 1521 to Iberia and the Atlantic islands from the African coast. The trade made the shift from Europe to the Americas as a primary destination for slaves around 1518. Prior to this time, slaves were required to pass through Portugal to be taxed before making their way to the Americas.[5]

Slavery begins in Portuguese Brazil

Enslavement of Indigenous peoples

Frans Post - Engenho de Pernambuco
Engenho in the Captaincy of Pernambuco, the largest and richest sugar-producing area in the world during Colonial Brazil.[6][7]

The Portuguese first traveled to Brazil in 1500 under the expedition of Pedro Álvares Cabral, though the first Portuguese settlement was not established until 1516.[8][9][10] Long before Europeans came to Brazil and began colonization, indigenous groups such as the Papanases, the Guaianases, the Tupinambás, and the Cadiueus enslaved captured members of other tribes. The captured lived and worked with their new communities as trophies to the tribe's martial prowess. Some enslaved would eventually escape but could never re-attain their previous status in their own tribe because of the strong social stigma against slavery and rival tribes. During their time in the new tribe, enslaved indigenes would even marry as a sign of acceptance and servitude. For the enslaved of cannibalistic tribes, execution for devouring purposes (cannibalistic ceremonies) could happen at any moment. While other tribes did not consume human flesh, their enslaved were still put to work, imprisoned, used as hostages, and killed mercilessly.[1][11][12] After the arrival of the Portuguese in Brazil, the Native Americans started to trade their prisoners, instead of using them as slaves or food, in exchange for goods. But the enslavement of Europeans could also occur, as happened with Hans Staden who, after being set free, wrote a book about the customs of the Native Americans.

The colonization effort proved to be a difficult undertaking on such a vast continent, and indigenous slave labor was quickly turned to for agricultural workforce needs. Aggressive mission networks of the Portuguese Jesuits were the driving force behind this recruitment, and they successfully mobilized an indigenous labor force to live in colonial villages to work the land. These indigenous enslaving expeditions were known as bandeiras.[13]

These expeditions were composed of bandeirantes, adventurers who penetrated steadily westward in their search for Indian slaves. These adventurers came from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, including plantation owners, traders, and members of the military, as well as people of mixed ancestry and previously captured Indian slaves.[13] In 1629, Antônio Raposo Tavares led a bandeira, composed of 2,000 allied índios, "Indians", 900 mamelucos, "mestizos" and 69 whites, to find precious metals and stones and to capture Indians for slavery. This expedition alone was responsible for the enslavement of over 60,000 indigenous people.[14][15][16][17][18]

Enslavement of Various Groups

Zacharias Wagner - Mercado de escravos no Recife
Recife was the first slave port in the Americas.[19]

African slavery became more common in Brazil during the mid 16th century, though the enslavement of indigenous people continued into the 17th and even the 18th century in the backlands of Brazil. In the first 250 years after the colonization of the land, roughly 70% of all immigrants to the colony were enslaved people.[20] Indigenous slaves remained much cheaper during this time than their African counterparts, though they did suffer horrendous death rates from European diseases. Although the average African slave lived to only be twenty-three years old due to terrible work conditions, this was still about four years longer than Indigenous slaves, which was a big contribution to the high price of African slaves.[13] Even though prices for indigenous slaves were cheaper, there was never a focus on maintaining slave families. Because enslaved peoples were always so available, either through conquest or buying them through the market, the economic incentive to keep families together never manifested itself.[21]

Slavery was not only endured by native Indians or blacks. As the distinction between prisoners of war and slaves was blurred, the enslavement, although at a lesser scale, of captured Europeans also took place. The Dutch were reported to have sold Portuguese, captured in Brazil, as slaves,[22] and of using African slaves in Dutch Brazil[23] There are also reports of Brazilians enslaved by barbary pirates while crossing the ocean.[24]

Domingos Jorge Velho
Domingos Jorge Velho, a notable Bandeirante
Recibo de venda da escrava nagô Francisca a Maria Antônia Teixeira
Slave sale receipt, 1848. National Archives of Brazil.

In the subsequent centuries, many freed slaves and descendants of slaves became slave owners.[25] Eduardo França Paiva estimates that about one third of slave owners were either freed slaves or descendent of slaves.[26]

Confrarias and Compadrio

The Confrarias, religious brotherhoods,[27][28] that included slaves, Indians and Africans, and non slaves were frequently a doorway to freedom, as was the "compadrio", co-godparenthood, a part of the kinship network.[29]

17th century

Brazil was the world's leading sugar exporter during the 17th century. From 1600 to 1650, sugar accounted for 95 percent of Brazil's exports, and slave labor was relied heavily upon to provide the workforce to maintain these export earnings. It is estimated that 560,000 Central African slaves arrived in Brazil during the 17th century in addition to the indigenous slave labor that was provided by the bandeiras.[5]

The appearance of slavery in Brazil dramatically changed with the discovery of gold and diamond deposits in the mountains of Minas Gerais in the 1690s[10] Slaves started being imported from Central Africa and the Mina coast to mining camps in enormous numbers.[5] Over the next century the population boomed from immigration and Rio de Janeiro exploded as a global export center. Urban slavery in new city centers like Rio, Recife and Salvador also heightened demand for slaves. Transportation systems for moving wealth were developed, and cattle ranching and foodstuff production expanded after the decline of the mining industries in the second half of the 18th century. Between 1700 and 1800, 1.7 million slaves were brought to Brazil from Africa[10] to make this sweeping growth possible.

19th century and the rise of Abolitionism

By 1819 the population of Brazil was 3.6 million, and at least one third were African slaves. By 1825 the figure may have been as high as 56%.[30] In 1826 the first article of a convention drawn in Rio de Janeiro stated it should not be “lawful for the subjects of the Emperor of Brazil to be concerned in the carrying on of the African slave trade, under any pretext or in any manner whatever, and the carrying on of such after that period, by any person, subject of His Imperial Majesty, shall [should] be deemed and treated as piracy.”[31] The announcement of this treaty caused great excitement in Brazil, for many believed it meant immediate suspension of the slave trade. However, when coffee production exploded in the 1830s in Rio de Janeiro as the crop that would fuel the export economy for the next 140 years, this new demand on the trade was not quelled by the treaty.[13] The British forcibly halted the trade with Africa by the 1850s, and the country then became dependent on an internal slave labor force as well as Spanish and Italian immigrant workers.[10] Nonetheless, despite laws banning their importation, between 1808 and 1888 more than a million new slaves were forcibly shipped to Brazil.[30]

Johann Moritz Rugendas in Brazil
Public flogging of a slave in 19th-century Brazil, by Johann Moritz Rugendas

The slaves who were freed and returned to Africa, the Agudás, continued to be seen as slaves by the African indigenous population. As they had left Africa as slaves, when they returned although now as free people, they were not accepted in the local society who saw them as slaves.[32] In Africa they also took part in the slave trade now as slave merchants.[33]


There were relatively few large revolts in Brazil for much of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, most likely because the expansive interior of the country provided disincentives for slaves to flee or revolt.[10] In the years after the Haitian Revolution, ideals of liberty and freedom had spread to even Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro in 1805, "soldiers of African descent wore medallion portraits of the emperor Dessalines." [34] Jean-Jacques Dessalines was one of the African leaders of the Haitian Revolution that inspired blacks throughout the world to fight for their rights as humans to live and die free. After the defeat of the French in Haiti, demand for sugar continued to increase and without the consistent production of sugar in Haiti the world turned to Brazil as the next largest exporter [34] African slaves continued to be imported and were concentrated in the northeastern region of Bahia, a region infamous for cruel, yet prolific, sugar plantations. African slaves recently brought to Brazil were less likely to accept their condition and eventually were able to create coalitions with the purpose of overthrowing their masters. From 1807 to 1835, these groups instigated numerous slave revolts in Bahia with a violence and terror that were previously unknown.[35]

In one notable instance, enslaved people who revolted and ran away from the Engenho Santana in Bahia sent their former plantation owner a peace proposal outlining the terms under which they would return to enslavement.[36] The enslaved people wanted peace and did not want war. They came up with a proposal that would serve as a peace offering among their master and all of his enslaved people. The terms were outlined as such: Enslaved people are to be given Fridays and Saturdays to work for themselves and these two days are not to be subtracted or counted as Saint's days. Furthermore, they must be given casting nets and canoes for survival. Slaves are also not obliged to fish in tidal pools or gather shellfish and if the master wishes to eat shellfish, the slaves asked to send your mina blacks. The proposal also stated the request of making a large boat so that when it goes to Bahia, the slaves can place their cargoes aboard and not pay freightage of carrying the goods in bulks. In addition, in the planting of manioc, they requested that the men to have a daily quota of two and a half hands and for the women, two hands. For manioc four, the daily quota must be five level alqueires or also equivalent to 36.27 litres in dry measure.[36]

The Afro-Brazilian bounty hunter looking for escaped slaves c. 1823

The daily quota for sugarcane was set to five hands rather than six and with ten canes in each bundle. Next, on the boats it was stated that there are to be four poles, and one pole for the rudder to steer the ship, and the one at the rudder must work hard for the slaves. Upon that request, the wood that is sawed using a hand saw must have three men below and one men above. The following on the list was that the measure of firewood had to be practiced here, and for each measure a woodcutter and a woman had to be the wood carrier. The peace proposal also stated that they did not want the present oversees and to choose new ones with the approval of the slaves first. In the proposal, it was also written that at the milling rollers there has to be four women to feed in the cane, two pulleys, and a carcanha. Also, at each cauldron or pot there must be a person to tend the fire and this also must apply to each series of kettles.[36]

On Saturdays, there must be no work at all in the mill without fail. On top of that, sailors that go in the launch beside the baize shirt, must be provided with a jacket baize and with all other necessary clothing. The slaves agreed to go and work the canefield of Jabirú but it must remain as a pasture as they would not cut cane in the swamp. The terms also pointed out that the slaves are to be allowed to plant rice wherever they want and in any marsh, without needing to ask permission. Each slave is also allowed to cut jacaranda or any other wood without having to be accounted for it. The proposal concluded with saying that by accepting all the terms stated in the proposal and always allowing the slaves to possess the hardware, they would be ready to serve the master just as they did before but they do not want to continue living the bad customs like how it was in the other engenhos or known as sugar cane mills and facilities. Their last request was that they are to be able to play, relax and sing at any time they wished to do so without being hindered and that asking permission was not needed to do any of that.[36]

The largest and most significant of these uprisings occurred in 1835 in Salvador, called the Muslim Uprising of 1835. It was planned by an African-born Muslim ethnic group of slaves, the Malês, as a revolt that would free all of the slaves in Bahia. While organized by the Malês, all of the African ethnic groups were represented in the participants, both Muslim and non-Muslim.[10] However, there is a conspicuous absence of Brazilian-born slaves who participated in the rebellion. An estimated 300 rebels were arrested, of which nearly 250 were African slaves and freedmen.[37] Brazilian-born slaves and ex-slaves represented 40% of the population of Bahia, but a total of two mulattoes and three Brazilian-born blacks were arrested during the revolt.[35] What's more, the uprising was efficiently quelled by mulatto troops by the day after its instigation.

The fact that Africans were not joined in the 1835 revolt by mulattoes was far from unusual; in fact, no Brazilian blacks had participated in the 20 previous revolts in Bahia during that time period. Masters played a large role in creating tense relations between Africans and Afro-Brazilians, for they generally favored mulattoes and native Brazilian slaves, who consequently experienced better manumission rates. Masters were aware of the importance of tension between groups to maintain the repressive status quo, as stated by Luis dos Santos Vilhema, circa 1798, "...if African slaves are treacherous, and mulattoes are even more so; and if not for the rivalry between the former and the latter, all the political power and social order would crumble before a servile revolt..." The master class was able to put mulatto troops to use controlling slaves with little backlash, thus, the freed black and mulatto population was considered as much an enemy to slaves as the white population.[35]

Slaves mine for diamonds in Minas Gerais (ca. 1770s).

Not only was a unified rebellion effort against the oppressive regime of slavery prevented in Bahia by the tensions between Africans and Brazilian-born African descendants, but ethnic tensions within the African-born slave population itself prevented formation of a common slave identity.[35]

Escaped slaves formed Maroon[38] communities which played an important role in the histories of other countries such as Suriname, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Jamaica. In Brazil the Maroon villages were called quilombos and the most famous was Quilombo dos Palmares. Here escaped slaves, army deserters, mulattos, and indigenous flocked to participate in this underground society. Quilombos reflected the people's will and soon the governing and social bodies of Palamares mirrored Central African political models. From 1605 to 1694 Palmares grew and attracted thousands from across Brazil. Though Palmares was eventually defeated and its inhabitants dispersed among the country, the formative period allowed for continuation of African traditions and helped create a distinct African culture in Brazil.[39]

Steps towards freedom

Brazil achieved independence from Portugal in 1822. However, the complete collapse of colonial government took place from 1821–1824.[40] José Bonifácio de Andrade e Silva is credited as the "Father of Brazilian Independence". Around 1822, Representação to the Constituent Assembly was published arguing for an end to the slave trade and for the gradual emancipation of existing slaves.[41]

Brazil's 1877–78 Grande Seca (Great Drought) in the cotton-growing northeast led to major turmoil, starvation, poverty and internal migration. As wealthy plantation holders rushed to sell their slaves in the south, popular resistance and resentment grew, inspiring numerous emancipation societies. They succeeded in banning slavery altogether in the province of Ceará by 1884.[42]

Cross-section of a slaver ship, from Notices of Brazil in 1828 and 1829 by Robert Walsh

Jean-Baptiste Debret, a French painter who was active in Brazil in the first decades of the 19th century, started out by painting portraits of members of the Brazilian Imperial Family, but soon became concerned with the slavery of both blacks and the indigenous inhabitants. During the fifteen years Debret spent in Brazil, he concentrated not only on court rituals but the everyday life of slaves as well. His paintings (one of which appears on this page) helped draw attention to the subject in both Europe and Brazil itself.

The Clapham Sect, although their religious and political influence was more active in Spanish Latin America, were a group of evangelical reformers that campaigned during much of the 19th century for the United Kingdom to use its influence and power to stop the traffic of slaves to Brazil. Besides moral qualms, the low cost of slave-produced Brazilian sugar meant that British colonies in the West Indies were unable to match the market prices of Brazilian sugar, and each Briton was consuming 16 pounds (7 kg) of sugar a year by the 19th century. This combination led to intensive pressure from the British government for Brazil to end this practice, which it did by steps over three decades.[43]

The end of slavery

Lei Áurea (Golden Law)
Manuscript of the Lei Áurea abolishing slavery in Brazil.

In 1872, the population of Brazil was 10 million, and 15% were slaves. As a result of widespread manumission (easier in Brazil than in North America), by this time approximately three quarters of blacks and mulattoes in Brazil were free.[30] Slavery was not legally ended nationwide until 1888 by the Lei Áurea ("Golden Act"), a legal act promulgated on May 13 by Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil. In fact, it was an institution in decline by this time (since the 1880s the country began to attract European immigrant labor instead). Brazil was the last nation in the Western world to abolish slavery, and by abolition had imported an estimated total of four million slaves from Africa. This was 40% of all slaves shipped to the Americas.[10]

Slave identities

In colonial Brazil, identity became a complex combination of race, skin color, and socioeconomic status because of the extensive diversity of both the slave and free population. For example, in 1872 43% of the population was free mulattoes and blacks. There are four broad categories that show the general divisions among the identities of the slave and ex-slave populations: African-born slaves, African-born ex-slaves, Brazilian-born slaves, and Brazilian-born ex-slaves.

African-born slaves

Navio negreiro - Rugendas 1830
This painting by Johann Moritz Rugendas depicts a scene below deck of a slave ship headed to Brazil. Rugendas was an eyewitness to the scene.

A slave's identity was stripped when sold into the slave trade, and they were assigned a new identity that was to be immediately adopted in stride. This new identity often came in the form of a new name, created by a Christian or Portuguese first name randomly issued by the baptizing priest, and followed by the label of an African nation. In Brazil, these "labels" were predominantly Angola, Congo, Yoruba, Ashanti, Rebolo, Anjico, Gabon, and Mozambique.[44] Often these names served as a way for Europeans to divide Africans in a familiar manner, disregarding ethnicity or origin. Anthropologist Jack Goody stated, "Such new names served to cut the individuals off from their kinfolk, their society, from humanity itself and at the same time emphasized their servile status".[44]

A critical part of the initiation of any sort of collective identity for African-born slaves began with relationships formed on slave ships crossing the middle passage. Shipmates called each other malungos, and this relationship was considered as important and valuable as the relationship with their wives and children. Malungos were often ethnically related as well, for slaves shipped on the same boat were usually from similar geographical regions of Africa.[44]

African-born ex-slaves

One of the most important markers of the freedom of a slave was the adoption of a last name upon being freed. These names would often be the family names of their ex-owners, either in part or in full. Since many slaves had the same or similar Christian name assigned from their baptism, it was common for a slave to be called both their Portuguese or Christian name as well as the name of their master. "Maria, for example, became known as Sr. Santana's Maria". Thus, it was mostly a matter of convenience when a slave was freed for him or her to adopt the surname of their ex-owner for assimilation into the community as a free person.[44]

Obtaining freedom was not a guarantee of escape from poverty or from many aspects of slave life. Frequently legal freedom did not come with a change in occupation for the ex-slave. However, there was increased opportunity for both sexes to become involved in wage earning. Women ex-slaves largely dominated market places selling food and goods in urban areas like Salvador, while a significant percent of African-born men freed from slavery became employed as skilled artisans, including work as sculptors, carpenters, and jewelers.[44]

Another area of income important to African-born ex-slaves was their own work as slavers upon being granted their freedom. In fact, purchase of slaves was a standard practice for ex-slaves who could afford it. This is evidence of the lack of a common identity among those born in Africa and shipped to Brazil, for it was much more common for ex-slaves to engage in the slave trade themselves than to take up any cause related to abolition or resistance to slavery.[44]

Brazilian-born slaves and ex-slaves

Punishing negroes at Calabouco
Punishing slaves at Calabouco, in Rio de Janeiro, c. 1822

A Brazilian-born slave was born into slavery, meaning their identity was based on very different factors than those of the African-born who had once known legal freedom. Skin color was a significant factor in determining the status of African descendants born in Brazil: lighter-skinned slaves had both higher chances of manumission as well as better social mobility if they were granted freedom, making it important in the identity of both Brazilian-born slaves and ex-slaves.[44]

The term crioulo was primarily used in the early 19th century, and meant Brazilian-born and black. Mulatto was used to refer to lighter-skinned Brazilian-born Africans, who often were children of both African and European descent. As compared to their African-born counterparts, manumission for long-term good behavior or obedience upon the owner's death was much more likely. Thus, unpaid manumission was a much more likely path to freedom for Brazilian-born slaves than for Africans, as well as manumission in general.[45] Mulattoes also had a higher incidence of manumission, most likely because of the likelihood that they were the children of a slave and an owner.[44]

Race relations

These color divides reinforced racial barriers between African and Brazilian slaves, and often created animosity between them. These differences were heightened after freedom was granted, for lighter skin correlated with social mobility and the greater chance an ex-slave could distance him- or herself from their former slave life. Thus, mulattoes and lighter-skinned ex-slaves had larger opportunity to improve their socioeconomic status within the confines of the colonial Brazilian social structure. As a consequence, self-segregation was common, as mulattoes preferred to separate their identity as much as possible from blacks. One way this is visible is from data on church marriages during the 19th century. Church marriage was an expensive affair, and one only the more successful ex-slaves were able to afford, and these marriages were also almost always endogamous. The fact that skin color largely dictated possible partners in marriage promoted racial distinctions as well. Interracial marriage was a rarity, and was almost always a case of a union between a white man and a mulatto woman.[44]

Gender divides

The invisibility of women in Brazilian slavery as well as in slavery in general has only been recently recognized as an important void in history. Historian Mary Helen Washington wrote, "the life of the male slave has come to be representative even though the female experience in slavery was sometimes radically different."[46] In Brazil, the sectors of slavery and wage-labor for ex-slaves were indeed distinct by gender.



Debret casa ciganos
House slaves c. 1820, by Jean-Baptiste Debret

Labor performed by both slave and freed women was largely divided between domestic work and the market scene, which was much larger in urban cities like Salvador, Recife and Rio de Janeiro. The domestic work women performed for owners was traditional, consisting of cooking, cleaning, laundry, fetching water, and childcare. In the 1870s, 87–90% of slave women in Rio worked as domestic servants, and an estimated 34,000 slave and free women labored as domestics. Thus, Brazilian women in urban centers often blurred the lines that separated the work and lives of the slave and the free.[47]

In urban settings, African slave markets provided an additional source of income for both slave and ex-slave women, who typically monopolized sales. This trend of the marketplace being predominantly the realm of women has its origins in African customs. Wilhelm Muller, a German minister, observed in his travels to the Gold Coast, "Apart from the peasants who bring palm-wine and sugarcane to the market everyday, there are no men who stand in public markets to trade, only women."[48] The women sold tropical fruits and vegetables, cooked African dishes, candies, cakes, meat, and fish.[44]

Slave owners would buy Mina and Angolan women and girls to work as cooks, household servants, and street vendors or Quitandeiras. The women who worked as quitandeiras would acquire gold through the exchange of prepared food and aguardente (also known as sugarcane rum). Slave owners would then keep a day's wage of one pataca, and the quitandeiras were then expected to buy their own food and rum, thus causing the enslaved women and their owners to become enriched. With access to gold or to gold dust, the quitandeiras were able to purchase the freedom of their children's and their own.[49]

Prostitution was almost exclusively a trade performed by slave women, many of whom were forced into it to benefit their owners socially and financially. Slave women were also used by freed men as concubines or common-law wives and often worked for them in addition as household labor, wet nurses, cooks, and peddlers.[50]

Enslaved women on plantations were often given the same work as men. Slaveholders often put slave women to work alongside men in the grueling atmosphere of the fields but were aware of ways to exploit them with regards to their gender as well. Choosing between the two was regularly a matter of expediency for the owners.[51] In both small and large estates women were heavily involved in fieldwork, and the chance to be exempted in favor of domestic work was a privilege. Their roles in reproduction were still emphasized by owners, but often childbirth only meant that the physical demands of the field were forced to coexist with the emotional and physical pull of parenthood.[48]


The dual-sphere nature of women's work, in household domestic labor, and in the marketplace, allowed for both additional opportunities at financial resources as well as a larger social circle than their male counterparts. This gave women greater resources both as slaves and as ex-slaves, though their mobility was hindered by gender constraints. However, women often fared better in manumission possibilities. Among Brazilian-born adult ex-slaves in Salvador in the 18th century, 60% were women.[44]

There are many reasons that could explain why women were disproportionately represented in manumitted Brazilian slaves. Women who worked in the home were able to form more intimate relationships with the owner and the family, increasing their chances of unpaid manumission for reasons of "good behavior" or "obedience"[44] Additionally, male slaves were economically seen as more useful especially by landowners, making their manumission more costly to the owner and therefore for the slave himself.



Slaves resting by Rugendas 01
Recently bought slaves in Brazil on their way to the farms of the landowners who bought them, c. 1830.

The work of male slaves was a much more formal affair, especially in urban settings as compared to the experience of slave women. Often, male work groups were divided by ethnicity to work as porters and transporters in gangs, transporting furniture and agricultural products by water or from ships to the marketplace. It was also the role of slave men to bring new slaves from ships to auction. Men also were used as fishermen, canoeists, oarsmen, sailors, and artisans. Up to one-fourth of slaves from 1811–1888 were employed as artisans, and many were men who worked as carpenters, painters, sculptors, and jewelers.[44]

Males also did certain kinds of domestic work in cities like Rio, Recife and Salvador, including starching, ironing, fetching water, and dumping waste.[47] On plantations outside of urban areas however, men were primarily involved in fieldwork with women. Their roles on larger estates also included working in boiling houses and tending cattle.[48]

Modern era

Contemporary slavery

In 1995, 288 farmworkers were freed from what was officially described as a contemporary forced labor situation. This number eventually rose to 583 in 2000. In 2001, however, the Brazilian government freed more than 1,400 slave laborers from many different forced labor institutions varying throughout the country. The majority of forced labor, whether coerced through debt, violence, or through another manner, is often unreported. The danger that these individuals face in their day-to-day life often make it extremely difficult to turn to authorities and report what is going on. A national survey conducted in 2000 by the Pastoral Land Commission, a Roman Catholic church group, estimated that there were more than 25,000 forced workers and slaves in Brazil.[52] In 2007, in an admission to the United Nations, the Brazilian government declared that at least 25,000–40,000 Brazilians work under work conditions "analogous to slavery." The top anti-slavery official in Brasília, Brazil's capital, estimates the number of modern enslaved at 50,000.[53]

Every year it seems new evidence is found that modern slavery is occurring. In 2007, the Brazilian Government freed more than 1,000 forced laborers from a sugar plantation.[54] In 2008, the Brazilian government freed 4,634 slaves in 133 separate criminal cases at 255 different locations. Freed slaves received a total compensation of £2.4 million (equal to $4.8 million).[55] Though they received monetary compensation for their government's inability to protect them, the emotional cost for former slaves will forever remain with them.

In March 2012, European consumer protection organizations published a study about slavery and cruelty to animals involved when producing leather shoes. A Danish organization was contracted to visit farms, slaughterhouses and tanneries in Brazil and India. The conditions of humans found were catastrophic, as well the treatment of the animals was found cruel. None of the 16 companies surveyed were able to track the used products down to the final producers. Timberland did not participate, but was found the winner as it showed at least some signs of transparency on its website.[56][57]
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor's Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Brazil reported that the children that engaged in child labor were either in agriculture or domestic work."[58]

In 2014, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs issued a List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor where Brazil was classified as one of the 74 countries still involved in child labor and forced labor practices.[59]

A 2017 report by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy suggested "thousands of workers in Brazil’s meat and poultry sectors were victims of forced labor and inhumane work conditions."[60] As a result, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) called for an investigation on grounds of unfair competition.[60]

Carnaval and Ilê Aiyê

A yearly celebration that allows insight into race relations, Carnival is a weeklong festival celebrated all around the world. In Brazil it is associated with numerous facets of Brazilian culture: soccer, samba, music, performances, and costumes. The Brazilian Carnival is unlike any other national festival in the world. Schools are on holiday, workers have the week off, and a general sense of jubilee fills the streets, where musicians parade around to huge crowds of cheering fans.[61]

It was during Brazil's military dictatorship, defined by many as Brazil's darkest period, when a group called Ilê Aiyê came together to protest black exclusion within the majority black state of Bahia. There had been a series of protests at the beginning of the 1970s that raised awareness for back unification but they were met with severe suppression. Prior to 1974, Afro-Bahians would leave their houses with only religious figurines to celebrate Carnival. Though under increased scrutiny attributed to the military dictatorship, Ilê Aiyê succeeded in created a black only bloco (Carnaval parade group) that manifested the ideals of the Brazilian Black Movement.[62] Their purpose was to unite the Afro-Brazilians affected by the oppressive government and politically organize so that there could be lasting change among their community.

Ilê Aiyê's success has continued ever since and their numbers have grown into the thousands. Even today, the black only bloco continues to exclude others because of their skin color. They do this by advertising exclusive parties and benefits for members, as well as physically shunning and pushing you away if you try to include yourself. Though the media has called it ‘racist’, to a large degree the black-only bloco has become one of the most interesting aspects of Salvador's Carnaval and is continuously accepted as a way of life. Combined with the influence of Olodum[63] in Salvador, musical protest and representation as a product of slavery and black consciousness has slowly grown into a more powerful force. Musical representation of problems and issues have long been part of Brazil's history, and Ilê Aiyê and Olodum both produce creative ways to remain relevant and popular.

Legacy of slavery

Slavery as an institution in Brazil was unrivaled in all of the Americas. The sheer number of African slaves brought to Brazil and moved around South America greatly influenced the entirety of the Americas. Indigenous groups, Portuguese colonists, and African slaves all contributed to the melting pot that has created Brazil. The mixture of African religions that survived throughout slavery and Catholicism, Candomblé, has created some of the most interesting and diverse cultural aspects. In Bahia, statues of African gods called Orishas pay homage to the unique African presence in the nation's largest Afro-Brazilian state.[64] Not only are these Orishas direct links to their past ancestry, but also reminders to the cultures the Brazilian people come from. Condomblé and the Orishas serve as an ever-present reminder that African slaves were brought to Brazil. Though their lives were different in Brazil, their culture has been preserved at least to some degree.

Since the 1990s, despite the increasing public attention given to slavery through national and international initiatives like UNESCO’s Slave Route Project, Brazil has mounted very few initiatives commemorating and memorializing slavery and the Atlantic slave trade. However, in the last decade Brazil has begun engaging in several initiatives underscoring its slave past and the importance of African heritage. Gradually, all over the country statues celebrating Zumbi, the leader of Palmares, Brazilian long-lasting quilombo (runaway slave community) were unveiled. Capital cities like Rio de Janeiro and even Porto Alegre created permanent markers commemorating heritage sites of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade. Among the most recent and probably the most famous initiatives of this kind is the Valong Wharf slave memorial in Rio de Janeiro (the site where almost one million enslaved Africans disembarked).[65]

Slavery and systematic inequality and disadvantage still exist within Brazil. Though much progress has been made since abolition, unequal representation in all levels of society perpetuates ongoing racial prejudice. Most obvious are the stark contrasts between white and black Brazilians in media, government, and private business. Brazil continues to grow and succeed economically, yet its poorest regions and neighborhood slums (favelas), occupied by majority Afro-Brazilians, are shunned and forgotten.[66] Large developments within cities displace poor Afro-Brazilians and the government relocates them conveniently to the periphery of the city. It has been argued that most Afro-Brazilians live as second-class citizens, working in service industries that perpetuate their relative poorness while their white counterparts are afforded opportunities through education and work because of their skin color. Advocation for equal rights in Brazil are hard to understand because of how mixed Brazil's population is. However, there is no doubt that the number of visible Afro-Brazilian leaders in business, politics, and media are disproportionate to their white counterpart.[57]

Rocinha Favela Brazil Slums
Rocinha Favela Brazil slums

In 2012, Brazil passed an affirmative action law in an attempt to directly fight the legacy of slavery.[67] Through it Brazilian policy makers have forced state universities, regarded very highly because it is free and of high quality, to have a certain quota of Afro-Brazilians. The percentage of Afro-Brazilians to be admitted, as high as 30% in some states, causes great social discontent that some argue furthers racial tensions.[68] It is argued that these high quotas are needed because of the unequal opportunities available to Afro-Brazilians.[66] In 2012 Brazil's Supreme Court unanimously held the law to be constitutional. Therefore, in sectors like education, political representation, and overall quality of life, opportunities and capabilities for Afro-Brazilians will continue to increase.[66] Brazil's government will continue to provide for all of its people as it sees fit, but the issue of slavery and its legacy may forever be felt in all facets of Brazilian life.

See also


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  2. ^ "VERGONHA AINDA MAIOR: Novas informações disponíveis em um enorme banco de dados mostram que a escravidão no Brasil foi muito pior do que se sabia antes (". Veja (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 13 March 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  3. ^ Leon), Alfonso X. (King of Castile and (1 January 2001). "Las Siete Partidas, Volume 2: Medieval Government: The World of Kings and Warriors (Partida II)". University of Pennsylvania Press. Retrieved 16 February 2017 – via Google Books.
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  6. ^ "The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics". Google Books. p. 121. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Recife—A City Made by Sugar". Awake!. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
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  9. ^ "Biografia de Cristóvão Jacques" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 18 April 2019.
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  11. ^ Índios do Brasil, p. 112, at Google Books
  12. ^ Mattoso, Katia M.; Schwartz, Stuart B. (1986). To Be a Slave in Brazil: 1550–1888. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press. ISBN 0-8135-1154-2.
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  14. ^ "bandeira - Brazilian history". Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  15. ^ "bandeira - Brazilian history". Archived from the original on 28 November 2006. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  16. ^ "History of Brazil - the Bandeirantes". Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  17. ^ António Rapôso Tavares Archived 2012-09-01 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Colonial Brazil: Portuguese, Tupi, etc Archived 2009-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Entrevista com Laurentino Gomes: um mergulho na origem da exclusão social" (in Portuguese). Folha de Pernambuco. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  20. ^ De Ferranti, David M. (2004). "Historical Roots of Inequality in Latin America". Inequality in Latin America: Breaking With History? (PDF). World Bank Publications. pp. 109–122.
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  22. ^ Blakely, Allison (22 January 2001). "Blacks in the Dutch World: The Evolution of Racial Imagery in a Modern Society". Indiana University Press. Retrieved 16 February 2017 – via Google Books.
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  26. ^ "Mitos e equívocos sobre escravidão no Brasil". Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  28. ^ Donatários, Colonos, Índios e Jesuítas Archived 2012-06-10 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Os compadres e as comadres de escravos:um balanço da produção historiográfica brasileira
  30. ^ a b c Ferguson, p. 131.
  31. ^ Hill, Lawrence F. "The Abolition of the African Slave Trade to Brazil." The Abolition of the Slave Trade. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.
  32. ^ Guran, Milton (1 October 2000). "Agudás - from Africans in Brazil to 'Brazilians' in Africa". 7 (2): 415–424. doi:10.1590/S0104-59702000000300009. Retrieved 16 February 2017 – via SciELO.
  33. ^ The Afro-Brazilian legacy in the bight Benin Archived 2014-01-12 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ a b Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004.
  35. ^ a b c d Reis, João José. 1993. Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  36. ^ a b c d Schwartz, Stuart B. (1977-01-01). "Resistance and Accommodation in Eighteenth-Century Brazil: The Slaves' View of Slavery". The Hispanic American Historical Review. 57 (1): 69–81. doi:10.2307/2513543. JSTOR 2513543.
  37. ^ Falola, Toyin, and Matt D. Childs. The Yoruba Diaspora in the Atlantic World. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2004. Print.
  38. ^ A Experiência histórica dos quilombos nas Américas e no Brasil Archived 2009-05-03 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Anderson, Robert Nelson. "The Quilombo of Palmares: A New Overview of a Maroon State in Seventeenth-Century Brazil." Journal of Latin American Studies 28, no. 03 (1996): 545. doi:10.1017/S0022216X00023889.
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  41. ^ Nishida, Mieko (August 1993). "Manumission and Ethnicity in Urban Slavery". The Hispanic American Historical Review. 73: 315. JSTOR 2517695.
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  56. ^ In Lederschuhen steckt Sklavenarbeit,, 24. March 2012.
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  62. ^ Roelofse-Campbell. "The Fight against Racism in Brazil: (The Black Movement) – Assata Shakur Speaks – Hands Off Assata – Let's Get Free – Revolutionary – Pan-Africanism – Black On Purpose – Liberation – Forum." Assata Shakur Speaks! Accessed November 4, 2014.
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Further reading

External links

Afro-Brazilian history

The history of Afro-Brazilian people spans over five centuries of racial interaction between Africans imported, involved or descended from the effects of the Atlantic slave trade.

André Rebouças

André Pinto Rebouças (13 January 1838 – 9 April 1898) was a Brazilian military engineer, abolitionist and inventor, son of Antônio Pereira Rebouças (1798–1880) and Carolina Pinto Rebouças. Lawyer, member of Parliament (representing the Brazilian state of Bahia) and an adviser to Pedro II of Brazil, his father was the son of a manumitted slave and a Portuguese tailor. His brothers Antônio Pereira Rebouças Filho and José Rebouças were also engineers.

Despite racial prejudice, his father, a mulatto, was an important and prestigious man at the time. Self-taught to read and write, he had been granted the right to practice law throughout the country, represented Bahia in the Chamber of Deputies on a range of legislatures, was secretary of the Provincial Governorship of Sergipe, advisor to the emperor, and had received the title of Knight of the Imperial Order of the Southern Cross in 1823.

Rebouças became famous in Rio de Janeiro, at the time capital of the Empire of Brazil, solving the trouble of water supply, bringing it from fountain-heads outside the town.

Serving as a military engineer during the Paraguayan War in Paraguay, Rebouças successfully developed a torpedo.Alongside Machado de Assis and Olavo Bilac, Rebouças was a very important middle class representative with African descent, he also was one of the most important voices for the abolition of slavery in Brazil.

He encouraged the career of Antônio Carlos Gomes, author of the opera O Guarani.

In the 1880s, Rebouças began to participate actively in the abolitionist cause, he helped to create the Brazilian Anti-Slavery Society, alongside Joaquim Nabuco, José do Patrocínio and others.

After the Republican coup d'État, Rebouças went into exile with Pedro II to Europe. For two years he stayed exiled in Lisbon, as a correspondent for The Times of London.

In 1892, facing financial problems, Rebouças went to Luanda and after that, Funchal, in Madeira. In 1898 his body was found at the shoreline at the base of a 60-meter-high cliff near the hotel where he lived. He supposedly committed suicide.


Aurea, Golden in Latin, may refer to:

Aurea (car), a former Italian automobile manufactured in Turin from 1921 to 1930

Aurea (singer) (born 1987), Portuguese singer

Aurea Alexandrina, a kind of opiate or antidote

Áurea, a municipality in the state Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Aurès Mountains, a mountain range in Algeria and Tunisia

Dioscuri Aurea Saecula, the first demo tape of the Italian National Socialist black metal band Cain

Domus Aurea (Latin, "Golden House"), a large landscaped portico villa

Ducati Aurea, a motorcycle made from 1958 to 1962

Legenda Aurea, the Golden Legend, a collection of hagiographies by Jacobus de Voragine

Lei Áurea, the Golden Law, a law adopted in 1888 that abolished slavery in Brazil

Ulmus × viminalis 'Aurea', a hybrid cultivar

Ulmus americana 'Aurea', an American Elm cultivar

Black Awareness Day

In Brazil, Black Awareness Day or Black Consciousness Day (Portuguese: Dia da Consciência Negra) is observed annually on November 20 as a day "to celebrate a regained awareness by the black community about their great worth and contribution to the country".Black Awareness Day has been celebrated since the 1960s and has amplified its events in the last few years. Originally, it was celebrated on May 13 (the date of abolition of slavery in Brazil). It was later moved to November 20 to honour Zumbi's death, and is sometimes called Zumbi Day. It is an official state holiday in Alagoas, Amazonas, Amapá, Mato Grosso and Rio de Janeiro, and marked elsewhere by multiple city councils.


The casa-grande (Portuguese and Spanish: "big house") was the Brazilian equivalent of a Southern plantation in the United States. These casas-grandes were predominantly located in the northeast of Brazil (areas such as present day Bahia and Pernambuco). Additionally, sugar cane was grown in the interior, in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

The casa-grande was made up of three main components: the Big House, the senzala (slave quarters), and the engenho (sugar cane mill). The master of sugar production was called the senhor de engenho ("master of the sugar works"). His word was final, and he had control over the land, the slaves, and the women who made up the plantation community.The larger casas-grandes were self-sustaining, since they were isolated from the more developed coastal regions. Essential structures that were built included the school, the nursery, the infirmary, the family chapel, the master’s harem, the bank, and the cemetery. In the early days it was necessary to maintain an army on the plantation. Those armies were sometimes very large, having up to one hundred Indians/half-breeds.

These plantations constituted a largely self-contained economic, social, political, and cultural system.

Chico Rei

Chico Rei is a semi-mythic heroic figure from the slave trade in Brazil.

According to oral tradition, in about 1740, Galanga, a tribal leader from the Congo, was taken along with a large part of his tribe and sold as a slave. They were brought from Africa to Brazil in a slave ship and during this journey his authority amongst his compatriots was noticed by the Portuguese slave traders who nicknamed him "Chico Rei". In Brazil he was set to work in the gold mines of Minas Gerais. By hiding flakes of gold about his body and in his hair, he amassed sufficient funds to allow him, after 5 years or so, to buy his son's freedom and later his own. He was also able to acquire the Encardideira gold mine in Vila Rica (now Ouro Preto). Profits from the mine were used to help other slaves to buy their freedom and to build the church of Santa Efigênia, also in Vila Rica. The Encardideira mine has been disused since 1888 when slavery was abolished in Brazil and it is now open to the public.

The legend of Chico Rei has become part of the Brazilian folklore and his admirable tale of fight for freedom has captured the imagination of many Brazilian storytellers. His story is often told in Brazilian folklore tales books, and it has been told both in theater and cinema as well.


The Confederados (Portuguese pronunciation: [kõfedeˈɾadus]) were some 10,000 to 20,000 Confederate American refugees who fled to Brazil, chiefly to the state of São Paulo, from the Southern United States after the American Civil War. Although many eventually returned to the United States after Reconstruction, some remained and descendants of Confederados can be found in many cities throughout Brazil. The city of Americana, Brazil was founded by these Americans.

Eusébio de Queirós Law

The Eusébio de Queirós Law was a law passed in Brazil on September 4, 1850 to abolish international slave trade in the country. This law was named after Eusébio de Queirós Coutinho Matoso da Câmara, who was the Brazilian Minister of Justice from 1848–1852. This law was put into action by the government acting under Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro II. This law reinforced a law that was put into place on November 7, 1831, but had never been fully enforced and it also was based on an 1837 anti-slave trade bill of Felisberto Caldeira Brant, which had not been enacted into a law. This bill was modified and reintroduced into the Chamber of deputies and eventually passed. Even though the slave trade was officially abolished in 1850, slavery itself was not abolished in Brazil until 1888. Which made Brazil the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery.The government was, however, against the British pressures applied to end such trade, such as the seizure of slave ships by British war ships. In 1845, the British parliament enacted the Aberdeen Act, which allowed British Cruisers to seize Brazilian slave ships in attempts to end their slave trade. This caused Brazilians to import as many slaves as possible in case the British succeeded in abolishing their slave trade, which is why the vast majority of slaves arrived in Brazil during 1847–1849.Slavery in Brazil was extremely prevalent and slave ships carried between 3.6 and 5 million slaves into Brazil over roughly three centuries (1525-1851). Rio de Janeiro alone had the largest slave population where 38.3% of their population consisted of slaves, or 80,000 slaves.


A fazenda is a plantation found throughout Brazil; during the colonial period (16th - 18th centuries) they were concentrated primarily in the northeastern region, where (sugar) was produced, expanding during the 19th century in the southeastern region to coffee production. Fazenda now denotes any kind of farm.

Fazendas created major export commodities for Brazilian trade, but also led to intensification of slavery in Brazil. Coffee provided a new basis for agricultural expansion in southern Brazil. In the provinces of Rio de Janeiro and then São Paulo, coffee estates, or fazendas, began to spread toward the interior as new lands were opened. By 1850, coffee made up more than 50% of Brazil's exports, and more than half of world coffee production.

Ganga Zumba (film)

Ganga Zumba is a film made in 1963 and released in 1972 about slavery in Brazil.

José do Patrocínio

José Carlos do Patrocínio (October 9, 1854 – January 29, 1905) was a Brazilian writer, journalist, activist, orator and pharmacist. He was among the most well-known proponents of the abolition of slavery in Brazil, and known as "O Tigre da Abolição" (The Tiger of Abolition). He founded and occupied the 21st chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters from 1897 until his death in 1905.

Lei Áurea

The Lei Áurea (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈlej ˈawɾiɐ]; English: Golden Law), adopted on May 13, 1888, was the law that abolished slavery in Brazil. It was signed by Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil (1846–1921), an opponent of slavery, who acted as regent to Emperor Dom Pedro II, who was in Europe.The Lei Áurea was preceded by the Rio Branco Law of September 28, 1871 ("the Law of Free Birth"), which freed all children born to slave parents, and by the Saraiva-Cotegipe Law (also known as "the Law of Sexagenarians"), of September 28, 1885, that freed slaves when they reached the age of 60.

The text of the Lei Áurea was brief:

Art. 1.º: É declarada extinta desde a data desta lei a escravidão no Brasil.Art. 2.º: Revogam-se as disposições em contrário.

(Article 1: From this date, slavery is declared abolished in Brazil. Article 2: All dispositions to the contrary are revoked.)

The succinctness of the law was intended to make clear that there were no conditions of any kind to the freeing of all slaves. However, it did not provide any support to either freed slaves or their former owners to adjust their lives to their new status: slave owners did not receive any state indemnification, and slaves did not receive any kind of compensation from owners or assistance from the state.

Before the abolition of slavery, slaves were prohibited from owning assets or receiving an education; but after being freed, former slaves were left to make their own way in the world. Without education or political representation, former slaves struggled to gain economic and social status in Brazilian society.

The Lei Áurea was authored by Rodrigo A. da Silva, then Minister of Agriculture (in the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister João Alfredo Correia de Oliveira) and member of the Chamber of Deputies, and, after passing both houses of the National Assembly (Assembléia Geral), it was sanctioned by Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil (1846–1921), who was Regent at the time, while her father, Emperor Dom Pedro II, was in Europe.

The Golden Law was signed by the Princess Imperial and countersigned by Rodrigo A. da Silva, in his capacity as Minister of Agriculture. Princess Isabel (who was a staunch supporter of the abolitionist movement) was awarded the "Golden Rose" by Pope Leo XIII and Minister Rodrigo A. da Silva received honors from the Vatican, France and Portugal. In August 1888 Rodrigo A. da Silva went on to be chosen for a lifetime seat in the Senate of the Empire.

Aside from the activities of abolitionists, there were a number of reasons for the signing of the law: slavery was no longer profitable, as the wages of European immigrants, whose working conditions were poor, cost less than the upkeep of slaves, and the decline in the arrival of new slaves – Brazil was the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery. The Brazilian government was also under pressure from Britain, who sought to end the slave trade in order to expand production in its own colonies. For example, sugarcane was produced both in Brazil and in the British colonies of the West Indies; the British strove to ensure that the Brazilians would gain no advantage in the world markets by using slaves.

The Lei Áurea had other consequences besides the freeing of all slaves; without slaves and lacking workers, the plantation owners (fazendeiros) had to recruit workers elsewhere and thus organized, in the 1890s, the Sociedade Promotora de Imigração ("Society for the Promotion of Immigration)". Another effect was an uproar among Brazilian slave owners and upper classes, resulting in the toppling of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic in 1889 – indeed, the Lei Áurea is often regarded as the most immediate (but not the only) cause of the fall of monarchy in Brazil.


Maragogi is a municipality of the Brazilian state of Alagoas in the 125 km north of Maceió capital city. Has 25,726 inhabitants, a city situated on the northern coast of Alagoas state, Brazil, being the easternmost city of that state.

As the main destination in the State of Alagoas after its capital city, Maragogi attracts visitors from Maceió. From Japaratinga beach, on the southern tip, a ferryboat crosses Manguaba River into Porto das Pedras, where visitors find virtually deserted beaches. Maragogi was initially a small village called Gamela. In 1887, it was granted the status of an adopted the name of Isabel, to honor the Brazilian Princess who signed a law ending slavery in Brazil. Later on, in 1892, it was named as Maragogi after the river that baths the city. "Maragogi", according to some historians, comes from “Marahub-gy”, or river of the Marauba tribes.


Maragogipe is a municipality in the state of Bahia in the North-East region of Brazil. Maragogipe covers 438.18 km2 (169.18 sq mi), and has a population of 46,260 with a population density of 110 inhabitants per square kilometer. Maragogipe is located 130 km (81 mi) from the state capital of Bahia, Salvador. It borders the Paraguaçu River, 20 km (12 mi) upstream from Baía de Todos os Santos. Maragogipe was a major center of sugar cane and tobacco production, and became home to large slave-holding plantations. After the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888 the Afro-Brazilian population lived as tenant laborers until recently as "21st century slaves", unable to fish or grow staple crops.The municipality contains a large portion of the Baía do Iguape Marine Extractive Reserve, created in 2000. Maragogipe is home to an extensive system of mangroves along the Paraguaçu and the Bay of Iguape. The Quilombo Salamina Putumuju, a quilombo settlement of 200 people within the reserve, was recognized by the Palmares Cultural Foundation in December of 2004.

Palmares (quilombo)

Palmares, or Quilombo dos Palmares, was a quilombo, a fugitive community of escaped slaves and others, in colonial Brazil that developed from 1605 until its suppression in 1694. It was located in what is today the Brazilian state of Alagoas.


A quilombo (Portuguese pronunciation: [kiˈlõbu]; from the Kimbundu word kilombo, "campsite, slave hut") is a Brazilian hinterland settlement founded by people of African origin including the quilombolas, or maroons and others sometimes called Carabali. Most of the inhabitants of quilombos (called quilombolas) were escaped slaves. However, the documentation on runaway slave communities typically uses the term mocambo, an Ambundu word meaning "hideout", to describe the settlements. A mocambo is typically much smaller than a quilombo. Quilombo was not used until the 1670s and then primarily in more southerly parts of Brazil.

A similar settlement exists in the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, and is called a palenque. Its inhabitants are palenqueros who speak various Spanish-African-based creole languages.

Quilombos are identified as one of three basic forms of active resistance by slaves. The other two are attempts to seize power and armed insurrections for amelioration. Typically, quilombos are a "pre-19th century phenomenon". The prevalence of the last two increased in the first half of 19th-century Brazil, which was undergoing both political transition and increased slave trade at the time.


A quilombola (Portuguese pronunciation: [kilõˈbɔlɐ]) is an Afro-Brazilian resident of quilombo settlements first established by escaped slaves in Brazil. They are the descendants of Afro-Brazilian slaves who escaped from slave plantations that existed in Brazil until abolition in 1888. The most famous quilombola was Zumbi and the most famous quilombo was Palmares.

Many quilombolas live in poverty.

Rio Branco Law

The Rio Branco law, also known as the Law of Free Birth, named after its champion, Prime Minister José Paranhos, Viscount of Rio Branco, was passed by the Brazilian Parliament in 1871. It was intended to provide freedom to all newborn children of slaves, and slaves of the state or crown. Slaveholders of the children's parents were to provide care for the children until the age of 21, or turn them over to the state in return for monetary compensation.

The law was the beginning of an abolition movement in Brazil, but it turned out to be more of a legal loophole than a radical measure. Only a few people were freed under the law, while more than one million people continued to be held as slaves. This law had more of an influence in the northern part of the country, which was leaning toward wage rather than slave labor.

Many of those freed under the Rio Branco law migrated to the north to work for wages on the plantations. The Rio Branco law was the first step toward abolition of slavery in Brazil. It was ultimately abolished on May 13, 1888, with the adoption of the Lei Áurea.

Valongo Wharf

The Valongo Wharf (Portuguese: Cais do Valongo) is an old dock located in the port area of Rio de Janeiro, between the current Coelho e Castro and Sacadura Cabral streets.Built in 1811, it was the site of landing and trading of enslaved Africans until 1831, with the ban on the transatlantic slave trade (but clandestine trade continued until 1888). During the twenty years of its operation, between 500 thousand and one million slaves landed at Valongo. Brazil received about 4.9 million slaves through the Atlantic trade.In 1843, the wharf was renovated for the landing of Princess Teresa Cristina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, who was to marry the emperor D. Pedro II. The wharf was then called Cais da Imperatriz (Empress Wharf).Between 1850 and 1920, the area around the old pier became a space occupied by black slaves or freedmen of several nations - an area that Heitor dos Prazeres called Pequena África (Little Africa).

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