The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery


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Cattle ranching and foodstuff production proliferated after the population growth, both of which relied heavily on slave labor. Brazil was the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery. 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 , 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 , slaves were exported from to 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 Prior to this time, slaves were required to pass through Portugal to be taxed before making their way to the Americas.

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. 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. 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. This expedition alone was responsible for the enslavement of over 60, indigenous people. 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.

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. 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.

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.

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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. In the subsequent centuries, many freed slaves and descendants of slaves became slave owners. 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.

Brazil was the world's leading sugar exporter during the 17th century. From to , 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 , Central African slaves arrived in Brazil during the 17th century in addition to the indigenous slave labor that was provided by the bandeiras.


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The appearance of slavery in Brazil dramatically changed with the discovery of gold and diamond deposits in the mountains of Minas Gerais in the s [10] Slaves started being imported from Central Africa and the Mina coast to mining camps in enormous numbers. 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 and , 1. By the population of Brazil was 3. However, when coffee production exploded in the s in Rio de Janeiro as the crop that would fuel the export economy for the next years, this new demand on the trade was not quelled by the treaty.

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. 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. In Rio de Janeiro in , "soldiers of African descent wore medallion portraits of the emperor Dessalines. 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.

Slavery, Race and the Origins of American Freedom

From to , these groups instigated numerous slave revolts in Bahia with a violence and terror that were previously unknown. 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. 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 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. 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 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.

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Abolition and Republicanism over the Transatlantic Long Term,

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. The largest and most significant of these uprisings occurred in in Salvador, called the Muslim Uprising of An estimated rebels were arrested, of which nearly were African slaves and freedmen.

The fact that Africans were not joined in the 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.

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Masters were aware of the importance of tension between groups to maintain the repressive status quo, as stated by Luis dos Santos Vilhema, circa , " 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. 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 settlements were called quilombos and the most famous was Quilombo dos Palmares. Here escaped slaves, army deserters, mulattos, and native Americans flocked to participate in this alternative society. Quilombos reflected the people's will and soon the governing and social bodies of Palamares mirrored Central African political models.

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From to 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 the continuation of African traditions and helped create a distinct African culture in Brazil.

Brazil achieved independence from Portugal in However, the complete collapse of colonial government took place from — Brazil's —78 Grande Seca Great Drought in the cotton-growing northeast led to major turmoil, starvation, poverty and internal migration.

The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery
The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery
The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery
The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery
The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery The Faces of Freedom: The Manumission and Emancipation of Slaves in Old World and New World Slavery

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