Crossroads of Freedom: Slaves and Freed People in Bahia, Brazil, 1870-1910
After Abolition: Tension and Conflict on Recôncavo Sugar Plantations
Freed people and ex-masters had different ideas about the relationships that would be developed on sugar plantations after the abolition of slavery. These different ideas produced tension and conflict around the definition of the parameters of the day-to-day social relations in the Recôncavo between 1888 and 1889. This chapter analyzes this tension and shows how the ex-slaves rejected the continuation of work rhythms and forms of authority inherited from the slave order and sought to create conditions in which they could live without being “subjugated.” In this sense, the end of slavery had a huge impact on the lives of ex-masters in that they were not able to reestablish old forms of control over the population that came out of slavery. To analyze these tensions, the chapter relies on the correspondence of a plantation owner who related the problems that he had in introducing work contracts with his former slaves after abolition.