Crossroads of Freedom: Slaves and Freed People in Bahia, Brazil, 1870-1910
Tension and Conflict on a Recôncavo Sugar Plantation
This chapter analyzes the day-to-day tensions between masters and slaves in the last decade of slavery (1880s) through the examination of the murder of the priest who administered a sugar plantation belonging to the Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, otherwise known as Carmelites. The chapter weaves together the oral history of the event maintained in the town where it occurred and the voluminous criminal case that records the efforts of the Bahian authorities to catch and punish the captives involved. The minute details of the case are explored here to understand important aspects of the intimate lives of the enslaved, of their relations with their owners, their hopes, fears, and plans for freedom. The chapter also shows how memories about slavery carry with them traces of and evidence about the tensions and expectations of the last days of slavery in Brazil.