One may examine the general histories of Brazil in vain in search of satisfactory explanations for the passage of the law in 1888 which freed three quarters of a million slaves, bringing ruin to many landowners and destroying the political system they had created. Although these histories mention some of the same factors with which this article is concerned, they do so only in passing and without stressing their causative importance. One is left with the general impression that the Brazilian Parliament issued the law freeing the slaves in response to humanitarian sentiments and to the pressure of public opinion aroused by a propaganda campaign ably directed by a handful of abolitionists. Pandiá Calógeras insisted that the step “was the inevitable consequence of irresistible national opinion.” Clarence H. Haring, in his summary of secondary works on Brazilian history, said that “Public meetings, articles in the daily press, and abolitionist societies . . . wore down the reluctance of a Parliament dominated by slavery interests.” Brazilian textbooks, not surprisingly, place their emphasis either on this same crusading effort or on the humanitarian sentiments of the emperor and the princess rather than on the pressure applied by the slaves themselves in their own behalf. The only English-language study of the question—an article published in 1933 by Percy Alvin Martin—points to the abolitionist campaign, to parliamentary activity, and to voluntary action on the part of some slave owners and refers only in passing to the failure of the army to pursue runaway slaves.1

It is true that Parliament passed the law outlawing slavery by an overwhelming majority. We know, however, that this Parliament represented the large landowners of the country, groups which depended for their income and way of life on the labor of slaves. Is it possible to maintain that the representatives of the slaveowners—in many cases slaveowners themselves—abandoned their clearest and most vital economic interests as a result of brilliant speeches and the outcry of the press? If the answer to this question is “no,” then other answers must be found. The purpose of this article is to suggest an alternative explanation based primarily on an informed reading of the secondary literature. Although full substantiation will require careful research in primary sources, this interpretation has the initial advantage of avoiding the contradictions inherent in the conventional accounts.2

The thesis of this article is that the ideas propagated by the abolitionists did in fact play a decisive role in bringing about the end of slavery but not in the way generally depicted. The abolitionists appealed to the needs of new urban groups which had emerged in Brazil after the Paraguayan War (1865-1870). These groups, stimulated by this propaganda, encouraged and abetted the virtual revolt of the slaves through mass flights from the plantations. The planters, faced with a fait accompli, preferred to legalize it in order to prevent the further decay of their position. In many cases a chronic shortage of slaves had already hurt them severely. Foreign influences and even pressures were largely responsible for this shortage and for the measures taken in behalf of the slaves before 1871. When the Rio Branco Law was passed, though the new urban groups were still weak, the planters had already begun to feel the labor shortage.

In order to understand the interplay of forces which led to the abolition of slavery in Brazil, it is necessary to understand two major changes in Brazilian economic and social life. One was the rise of coffee exports and the expansion of new coffee producing regions; the other was the increasing size and importance of the cities.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century Brazil was swept into the European economic vortex. The increasing momentum of the industrial revolution in Europe and the United States meant not only a rising urban population in the “developed” world and an increasing leisure with which to enjoy luxury items such as coffee, but also the application of new technology to sea and land transport, significantly lowering the cost of commodities shipped to and from Brazil.3 As a result, Brazilian coffee exports increased so markedly as to disturb the established economic and social relationships. At first the bulk of this production centered in the valley of the Paraíba do Sul, but coffee exportation stimulated new interest in railroad-building. In 1868 new lines were opened from the port of Santos to the rich west-central lands in the state of São Paulo, whence other railroads spread throughout the new area. By the mid-1880s the province of São Paulo was producing more coffee than Rio de Janeiro.

With the railroads went the advancing economic frontier, and west-central São Paulo was incorporated for the first time into Brazil’s money economy. Where the railroad reached, there appeared the large, modern coffee plantation; neat rows of glistening bushes up and down the rolling countryside replaced the haphazard patches of subsistence crops which had formerly been grown in the virgin forest. No longer dependent on mule trains to carry their produce to waiting ships in Santos, the planters could now move more easily to ever better lands. Meanwhile, the Paraíba valley entered a period of economic decline with decaying mansions bespeaking a grander past.4

The boisterous prosperity of the São Paulo coffee area brought to the fore a new group of men. The great coffee planters here were not dominated by the traditions of a seignorial past but were drawn from a previously unfavored group of small landowners and merchants. With the enthusiasm of men on their way up they threw themselves at the land, driving their insufficient slaves, borrowing money, engaging in battles over land, acquiring more, and pushing ever westward. They looked upon their land as capital rather than as a mark of status. They acquired it to produce wealth, and if old methods did not succeed, they would try new ones. As landed entrepreneurs they showed their innovating spirit by adopting a new crop, by using novel techniques to process it, and by enthusiastically supporting railroads, which they often built themselves, and they demanded a more plentiful and flexible source of labor than the institution of slavery could provide.5

The increasing export trade also helped to bring about the rise of new urban groups and general commercial growth in Brazil. No longer did only foreigners become merchants. New establishments such as banks, transport companies, insurance corporations, and urban services rapidly appeared to serve the rising demands of coffee commerce. These businesses hired a growing number of urban dwellers in white-collar jobs. The expanding coffee revenues also financed a proliferating bureaucracy in the capitals to deal with the increasingly complex problems of administering a prosperous country. Smaller towns such as Itú, Sorocaba, and Campinas became more important as distributing centers for foodstuffs and supplies in a monocultural area that had previously been self-sufficient. Smaller port cities like Santos and Niteroi shared in the new prosperity. Urban growth became characteristic.

Simultaneously new attitudes appeared, divorced from the land and skeptical of aristocratic values. These were men of modern attitudes. Personal relations began to lose their importance in the cities, and men were soon talking nostalgically about the good old days in contrast to the “mercenary instinct of our time.” The idea that men should be rewarded according to their ability began to receive wider acceptance. The growth of an export economy created a distinctive culture, oriented towards Europe. Port cities became the beachheads of European civilization. Fashions of clothes, eating habits, architectural styles, and opinions all reflected the new influences of Europe.

Three urban types deserve special mention, military officers, engineers, and industrialists. The officers had not been drawn from the landed aristocracy but from the cities, and during the Paraguayan War they had developed an antipathy toward slavery and a contempt for the bacharéis produced by the traditional educational institutions. Dissatisfied with their status, they looked hopefully to the future. Closely linked to them were a new group of engineers, civilians who had either begun their careers as military engineers or had been trained at the Escola Central, created in 1858 and renamed Instituto Polytechnico in 1874. One of them expressed their common dissatisfaction when he cried out: “Oh, how miserable is the position of engineers in Brazil.” Industrialism in Brazil created another new group. The Paraguayan War had stimulated a great deal of consumer manufacturing, which increased after the end of the war. By the mid-1870s iron foundries, textile mills, and shoe and hat factories had all made significant growth. Textile manufacturing shifted away from the decadent northern areas of Bahia to the prospering south-central region, where the industrial tradition really got its start. Professional men joined the army officers, the engineers, and the industrialists. Despite their education in the traditional law and medical colleges, they were impelled by their contact with urban society to adopt the new values of the city and the new ideas imported from Europe.6

The urban centers, then, were filled not only with an expanding number of merchants and bureaucrats directly related to the export economy, but also with industrial entrepreneurs, engineers, military officers, and the sons of the older aristocracy who absorbed the values of these new groups. They shared an interest in change and “progress,” a belief in a society characterized by social mobility and individualism, and an economy dominated by the profit motive.

They were also almost invariably opposed to slavery. This was especially true of those men associated with industry. Their whole way of life demanded the freedom of all men to be freely contracted, freely fired, freely sold to, freely moved—units to be joined and disjoined where and how economic imperatives might require. Brazilian entrepreneurs were generally committed to the abolition of slavery. They complained that slavery slowed down capital formation and tied it up in immovable labor. An industrialist in Bahia said that the best protection that government could give industry was to end slavery. André Rebouças, a dock company promoter, insisted that “without freedom there is no industry. Freedom is the mother, the guardian angel of all industry.” The nascent equivalent of a manufacturers’ association joined the two major abolitionist societies as early as 1881 in advocating the end of slavery. Students and professors at the engineering school—the seedbed of the new progressive and industrial-minded elite—formed an abolitionist society of their own, and it was “in the name of Brazilian engineering” that one of them hailed the final passage of the abolition law. Industrialists believed that the substitution of a free work force for the slave one was the solution to Brazil’s labor problem. The leading São Paulo coffee-planters-turned-railroad-builders were active in importing European laborers to take the place of the slave.7

The increasing demand for labor in an expanding coffee economy and the rise of urban groups dissatisfied with slavery as a system made abolition a necessity. Why then, we may ask, were the first steps toward abolition taken in the late 1860s and early 1870s, before either of these forces could be considered very strong? And why was the African slave trade prohibited as early as 1850? The answer to both these questions is to be found in the pressure applied by the British.

British efforts to destroy the slave trade have been much discussed and need not detain us here. A long succession of treaties, antislave-trade legislation, and finally, the actual invasion of Brazilian ports by British ships are clear evidence of the British commitment to this goal. Nor do we need to assess the British responsibility for the end of the slave trade. Probably both nations deserve some credit. Britain applied pressure at a time when the Brazilian government was proud of its newly established control over the entire nation and was worried about impending diplomatic and military difficulties in the Río de la Plata. At the same time a momentary surfeit of new slaves helped to bring about the passage and rigorous application of the antislave-trade law.8 Thus the energetic British actions combined with propitious circumstances in Brazil itself to end the slave trade.

It is less well known that Britain continued to put pressure on the government of Pedro II in the 1850s and 1860s until Brazil itself gave evidence of a firm commitment to end slavery. Whereas the law freeing those children of slaves born after September 28, 1871, is usually considered the first evidence of an abolitionist campaign, it was really the conclusion of the British phase of the story which had begun forty years earlier.

British moves to attack the institution of slavery revolved around three issues. In the first place thousands of Africans had entered the country since 1831 in violation of Brazilian laws and treaties. Another question concerned those Negroes found aboard slave ships whom the Mixed Commission Court sitting in Rio had supposedly freed but who had somehow been deprived of their liberty nevertheless. Finally and most important was the abstract issue of slavery itself.

The British minister to Brazil in the early 1860s, William D. Christie, kept up constant pressure on all three issues. In 1862 he wrote to the Foreign Minister, Lord John Russell : “I have, on various occasions, suggested to your lordship the importance of endeavouring, if possible, to . . . persuade the Brazilian government to measures leading to the ultimate extinction of slavery, and in the meantime mitigating its evils.” He was particularly aroused by the fate of the Africans supposedly freed by the Mixed Commission Court, and when the Brazilian government freed them in 1864 he attributed the action to the reprisals he had carried out the preceding year under another pretext.9

Even more important, these reprisals were directly responsible for the initiation of broader steps toward emancipation. In early 1864 the emperor expressed a fear that if Brazil did not move toward that end, the British might take the initiative as they had with the slave trade. Similar fears were expressed in the Senate. Pedro II urged a law freeing all those to be born of slave mothers after a certain date. His principal arguments weighed by the Council of State were the fear of eventual slave revolts and the likelihood of foreign intervention. During 1865 a law along these lines was submitted to the Council of State, and in May 1867 the emperor referred to the slavery question in the Speech from the Throne, the first public indication that the empire might consider abolishing slavery. Brazil reacted in horror and silence, but Britain prepared to repeal its arbitrary antislave-trade legislation. The eventual result was the Brazilian law of 1871, which freed the children of slaves born thenceforward, although they had to work for their mother’s master until the age of twenty-one by way of compensation. Although nothing was said about eventual abolition, it was clear that slavery in Brazil was doomed.10 It is clear that British pressure was responsible for this law, inasmuch as neither the coffee planters of São Paulo nor the new urban groups had yet emerged to exert political influence in this direction.

Some historians have suggested that British influence toward abolition sprang less from humanitarianism than from a desire to increase the buying power of the Brazilian market for British goods. In fact people are rarely that farsighted. The results of abolition were uncertain; it might have plunged Brazil into a period of chaos and economic decline. British merchants in Rio and textile manufacturers in Manchester protested loudly against Christie’s forceful actions, and he did not hesitate to say that they were aiding Brazilian slavery. A much more defensible and sophisticated explanation is that middle-class values tended to dominate the entire British nation and that slavery and the slave trade contradicted those values. The right to be master of one’s own being was the most basic of all individual rights and a threat to that right anywhere in the world was a threat to the validity of all those rights that the British middle class considered essential. For the Britisher at that time it was no longer a matter of weighing pros and cons and measuring the economic advantages or disadvantages of slavery. A principle essential to their way of life was now at stake. By the same token slavery aroused opposition in those Brazilian sectors which were attacking a traditional, preindustrial and nonindividualistic society.11

By the end of the 1870s the setting was favorable for the abolitionist movement. An expanding export economy was demanding more labor. It was obvious that slavery would end sooner or later and that no new slaves would be available either from Africa or from procreation. Finally new urban groups were finding slavery an impediment not only to their own financial success but to the spread of their world-view. How these general forces were translated into concrete action is of crucial importance to an understanding of this period in Brazilian history. For the sake of clarity, it is best to jump ahead, to begin with the direct causes of parliamentary action freeing the slaves, and then move backward to show the importance of these broader trends.

The most important immediate cause of abolition was the flight of the slaves from the coffee plantations of São Paulo and Rio. In the two years before the abolition law was passed in May 1888 an enormous number of slaves revolted against authority with their feet, running away from the plantations, at first secretly, one by one, and later in mass and almost publicly. The planters could do nothing by themselves against this sort of direct action, and the dichotomy of city and country now became evident for the first time, for in the system of escape the cities played an essential part, as agents of the forces of change. Rio, Niteroi, Petrópolis, Campos, Santos, São Paulo, and minor cities of the coffee region became virtually free cities to the slave, for measures were adopted to help him on to the state of Ceará, where slavery had been abolished as early as 1884, or undertook legal action to prove that he was illegally held, or gave him permanent asylum.12

In São Paulo Antonio Bento de Souza e Castro organized a system whereby slaves were lured away from the plantations, put on trains or shepherded on foot to Santos, and installed in shanty-towns. He also had the temerity to offer runaway slaves to plantation owners as hired hands during the peak harvest season. The very railways that had made possible the extension of coffee agriculture now served the slave. As one historian put it: “There was not a passenger or freight train on which a runaway slave might not find means of hiding himself, and there was not a station where someone would not discreetly receive him and help him.” Almost all railroad employees were said to be abolitionists, and not the least enthusiastic were the managers. In Santos where all local slaves had been freed in 1886 by public subscription, the slaves who arrived via the “underground railroad” were immediately sheltered in the outskirts of the city. As many as ten thousand were sometimes gathered there.13

The story in other cities was much the same. In Rio de Janeiro, center of the abolitionist movement, there was no difficulty in finding temporary asylum in the houses of interested persons, whence they were hustled to the outlying area of Leblon. Petrópolis also became a haven for escapees. In Campos direct action took an even more overt form, for here Luiz Carlos de Lacerda urged slave revolts and was blamed for the burning of cane fields.14

Why did not the government stop the mass flights of slaves ? Although both the provincial and central governments took action from time to time, it soon became clear that their agents, many of whom were second-generation bureaucrats with urban backgrounds, did not have their hearts in the attempt to repress slave flights. It was in the cities that the government was located, and efforts to restrain the underground railway there met civilian opposition at every turn. It is especially significant that the armed forces were recruited from the cities, especially the officers. The military schools had for years been the site of abolitionist societies. Many are the proofs of military reluctance to act as slave hunters until finally in October 1887 the Club Militar, made up of the leading elements of the army, petitioned the princess-regent to be excused from chasing slaves. The landed aristocracy were growing ever more timid before the demands of the increasingly self-assertive officers, and the military men had their way. It has even been suggested that, if the legislature had not passed the law of abolition in 1888, the cities would have risen in revolt, and the military would not have defended the regime.15

The cooperation of urban classes can be seen in a humorous incident that took place in Santos. The government of the province had sent a trainload of troops to capture runaway slaves there. When the train pulled into the station, the soldiers found themselves surrounded by the leading matrons of the town who jammed the doors of the cars, preventing them from alighting. The superintendent of the railway persuaded the half-hearted commandant of the expedition to surrender to force majeure and return to the provincial capital.16 Neither the soldiers nor these representatives of the new urban groups were interested in protecting the human property of the landowners.

Finally during the first months of 1888 the planters began to free their own slaves in order to prevent them from leaving the plantations. By May it was estimated that half the slaves who had been in the Campos area six months earlier were free, and that one third of the São Paulo plantations were being worked by recently freed slaves. Since the process then in full swing would have ended slavery to all intents and purposes within a few months, the law abolishing slavery was largely a formality. One anti-abolitionist asked: “For what, an abolition law? In fact it is done already—and revolutionarily. The terrified masters seek to stem the exodus by giving immediate freedom to their slaves.”17

This is not to undervalue the role of the abolitionists’ ideas in bringing about the end of slavery. It took much hard work to persuade the slaves to leave the plantations. The Confederação Abolicionista in Rio hired Italian peddlers to circulate among them and distribute leaflets throughout the interior. Presumably these were read to the illiterate slaves. Slave foremen murdered some of the peddlers, but the news continued to spread. The abolitionists also made it a point to convey their message to those slaves who passed through the city with their masters. On their return, these slaves carried with them the idea of escape and the knowledge that they and their fellows would be helped and protected.18

One type of protection also reflected the abolitionists’ success in changing the attitudes of Brazilian magistrates. The abolitionists had hit upon the device of taking the case of slaves imported since 1831 to court, charging illegal enslavement of free persons. At first this effort had little success, and at the beginning of the 1880s the abolitionists could still say, referring to the fifty-year-old law, that “the judges of this country either can’t read or can’t count.” Soon, however, some judges, moved by the very force of the abolitionist campaign, began to hand down favorable decisions. After 1883 few courts would deny freedom to the slave who could prove that he or his parents had been brought in after 1831, and on one occasion a lawyer secured the freedom of 716 slaves by invoking this law. Later the judges even placed the burden of proof upon the owner. The forceful campaign of words and ideas which preceded and accompanied the flight from the plantations had borne fruit.19

It was the force and effectiveness of the abolitionist crusade which persuaded large segments of the urban population to acquiesce or contribute to the success of the movement. If it had not been for the constant abolitionist effort to drive home the anachronism of slavery in an age of “progress” it is doubtful that the military officers would have refused to cooperate in preserving the status quo. Other urban groups cooperated as well in the successful escape of the slaves.

This abolitionist campaign, which began in 1879, has been examined in some detail by others, so that little need be said about it here.20 Throughout the 1880s journalists and publicists carried the message into the homes of the urban middle classes. Well-financed abolitionist societies provided the direction for the many-faceted campaign. These clubs presented a series of lectures, one almost every week, and it became the fashion among would-be modernists to attend. On the flimsiest excuse a demonstration would be staged, with parades, banners, and speeches. The societies published several newspapers and used all possible means to publicize the cause. In Parliament the movement found brilliant speakers to push through the early, cautious half-measures. From 1884 to 1888 this body was involved in the slavery argument almost constantly, and opponents of abolition blamed the work of the publicists in the city and the flight of the slaves in the country for the new concern. Antônio Prado, a leading coffee planter and entrepreneur who could speak for the more enlightened country interest, took up the leadership of the parliamentary maneuvers toward abolition and pushed it through.21 The abolitionists had successfully marshaled the concerns of the city to push a new group of planters to take a position on the side of progress.

On May 13, 1888, the princess-regent signed the law abolishing slavery in Brazil without compensation. Month-long celebrations took place in almost all the cities of Brazil with fireworks, speeches, and parades. In the countryside, however, there was little rejoicing. The slaves themselves were disoriented, not knowing what to do with their freedom. Many flocked into the cities to find their fellows who had earlier fled the plantations. The masters, even those who had acquiesced or cooperated in the final stages of the movement, were naturally dazed by the rapidity of the transformation. A general depression in the countryside followed. Government efforts to ameliorate this situation by lending funds to the landowners only strengthened still further the urban groups of bank managers, company promoters, stock manipulators, and their employees.

The effects of abolition were far-reaching. It shifted power from the sugar zone of the northeast and the old coffee region of the Paraíba valley to the new coffee zone of São Paulo state. It increased the confidence of the new urban groups and, although their victory appeared short lived, this was a significant step along the lengthy path toward modernization. It also seriously weakened the monarchy whose ties to the landowners are well known. Even the ex-slave, now a wage-earner but deprived of the sense of victory, had taken at least one step closer to the modern world.


João Pandiá Calógeras, Formação histórica do Brasil, 3rd ed., Brasiliana, 42 (São Paulo, 1938), 339; see the even more sterile approach of Pedro Cainion, História do Brasil, Brasiliana, 176, 5 vols. (São Paulo, 1947), IV, 500-505, 509-515; even Caio Prado Júnior, História econômica do Brasil, 5th ed. (São Paulo, 1959), 185 places primary emphasis on public opinion; Clarence H. Haring, Empire in Brazil: a New World Experiment with Monarchy (Cambridge, Mass., 1958), 100; on 103 he adds “The Princess Regent . . . was convinced . . . that the government must keep pace with public sentiment. . ..”; Hélio Vianna, História do Brasil, 3rd ed. (São Paulo, 1965), II, 212-215; Armando Souto Maior, História do Brasil para o curso colegial (São Paulo, 1965), 342; Percy Alvin Martin, “Slavery and Abolition in Brazil,” HAHR, XIII (May 1933), 172-196, esp. 193. Unfortunately, Joel Rufino dos Santos et al., História nova do Brasil, 2nd ed. (São Paulo, 1964), IV, 34, 37-38, discusses the causes of abolition in a context which lessens the credibility of their insights.


Research opportunities here are beckoning Ph.D. candidates. There is a myth that research on this topic cannot be pursued because Rui Barbosa burned all governmental records on slavery. It is true that he destroyed the registry of slaves created by the law of 1871 as well as many miscellaneous records. State and local archives remained untouched by his searing hand, and the Arquivo Nacional is full of further manuscripts in addition to newspapers and other printed material. I know of only one American student currently doing research on the subject of Negro slavery in Brazil.


Sanford A. Mosk, “Latin America and the World Economy, 1850-1914,” Inter-American Economic Affairs, II (1948), 53-82; Gerald S. Graham, “The Ascendancy of the Sailing Ship 1850-85,” Economic History Review, n.s. IX (1956-1957), 74-88.


On the concept of the “economic frontier” see J. F. Normano, Brazil, A Study of Economic Types (Chapel Hill, 1935), 1-17; Pierre Monbeig, Pionniers et planteurs de São Paulo, Collection des Cahiers de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, no. 28 (Paris, 1952), 83-93; Stanley J. Stein, Vassouras, a Brazilian Coffee County, 1850-1900 (Cambridge, Mass., 1957), 213-249.


Monbeig, Pionniers et planteurs, 121-125, 128-129; Celso Furtado, Formação econômica do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, 1959), 139-140; Florestan Fernandes, “Do escravo ao cidadão,” in Roger Bastide and Florestan Fernandes, Relações raciais entre negros e brancos em São Paulo (São Paulo, 1955), 40-41; the Paraíba planter felt that his counterpart in São Paulo “blindly adopts the newest fad,” Novidades (Rio de Janeiro), Feb. 28, 1888, quoted by Stein, Vassouras, 252; Fernando Henrique Cardoso, “Condições sociais da industrialização de São Paulo,” Revista Brasiliense, no. 28 (Mar.-Apr. 1960), 34-37.


Nícia Vilela Luz, “O papel das classes médias brasileiras no movimento republicano,” Revista de História, no. 57 (Jan.-Mar. 1964), 21; Joaquim Nabuco, Um estadista do império, Nabuco de Araujo: sua vida, suas opiniões, sua época, 2 vols. (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, 1936), I, 188-189; Joaquim Nabuco, Alinha formação, Coleção Documentos Brasileiros, 90 (Rio de Janeiro, 1957), 188; Péricles Madureira do Pinho, Luís Tarqüinio, pioneiro da justiça social no Brasil (Bahia, 1944), 71, 73; Francisco Clementino de San Tiago Dantas, Dois momentos de Rui Barbosa: conferências (Rio de Janeiro, 1949), 18-19; Percy Alvin Martin, “Causes of the Collapse of the Brazilian Empire,” HAHR, IV (February 1921), 4-48; André Rebouças, Diário e notas autobiográficas, ed. Ana Flora and Inácio José Veríssimo, Documentos Brasileiros, 12 (Rio de Janeiro, 1938), 134; Nícia Vilela Luz, “O industrialismo e o desenvolvimento econômico do Brasil,” Revista de História, no. 58 (Oct.-Dec. 1963), 276; Nelson Werneck Sodré, História da burguesia brasileira, Retratos do Brasil, 2 (Rio de Janeiro, 1964), 151; Stanley J. Stein, The Brazilian Cotton Manufacture: Textile Enterprise in an Underdeveloped Area, 1850-1950 (Cambridge, Mass., 1957), 21.


Speech of Domingos de Andrade Figueira, Oct. 11, 1882. Brazil. Congresso. Câmara dos Deputados, Anais, 1822, V, 356 (Andrade Figueira’s position is shot full of ambiguity); Luiz Tarqüinio, Direitos de importação em ouro. Cartas dirigidas ao Ministro da Fazenda, cons. Ruy Barbosa e ao dr. Aristides Galvão de Queiroz, seguidas de considerações sobre as tarifas do Brasil e da União americana (Bahia, 1890), 32; André Rebouças, Agricultura nacional, estudos econômicos; propaganda abolicionista e democrática (Rio de Janeiro, 1883), 10; O abolicionista; orgão da Sociedade Brasileira Contra a Escravidão (Rio de Janeiro), no. 8, June 1, 1881, p. 8 and no. 1, Nov. 1, 1880, p. 8; Rebouças, Diário, 299, 302; Francisco Picanço, “Estradas de ferro,” Imprensa fluminense (Rio de Janeiro), May 20, 1888, p. 2; Irineo Evangelista de Souza, Viscount de Mauá, Autobiografia (“Exposição aos credores e ao público”) seguida de “O meio circulante no Brasil,” 2nd ed., Depoimentos Históricos (Rio de Janeiro, 1942), 222; Adelino R. Ricciardi, “Parnaíba, o pioneiro da imigração,” Revista do Arquivo Municipal de São Paulo, IV, no. 44 (1938), 137-184; Nazareth Prado (ed.), Antônio Prado no império e na república: seus discursos e actos colligidos e apresentados por sua filha (Rio de Janeiro, 1929), 30; Carolina Nabuco, The Life of Joaquim Nabuco, trans, and ed. Ronald Hilton (Stanford, Calif., 1950), 80.


Alan K. Manchester, British Preëminence in Brazil; Its Rise and Decline: A Study in European Expansion (Chapel Hill, 1933), 265; Nabuco, Estadista do império, I, 165; Antônio Ferreira Cesarino Júnior, “A intervenção da Inglaterra na suppressão do tráfico de escravos africanos para o Brasil,” Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico de São Paulo, XXXIV (1938), 145-166, esp. 164. For further examination of the slave trade issue see Alfredo Gomes, “Áchegas para a história do tráfico africano no Brasil—aspectos numéricos,” in Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, Anais do IV Congresso de Historia Nacional (1949), V (1950), 29-78; William Law Mathieson, Great Britain and the Slave Trade, 1839-1865 (London, 1929); Christopher Lloyd, The Navy and the Slave Trade; the Suppression of the African Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century (London, 1949); Jane Elizabeth Adams, “The Abolition of the Brazilian Slave Trade,” Journal of Negro History, X (Oct. 1925), 607-637; Lawrence F. Hill, “The Abolition of the African Slave Trade to Brazil,” HAHR, XI (May 1931), 169-197; Wilbur Devereux Jones, “The Origins and Passage of Lord Aberdeen’s Act,” HAHR, XLII (Nov. 1962), 502-520; Leslie M. Bethell, “Britain, Portugal and the Suppression of the Brazilian Slave Trade: the Origins of Lord Palmerston’s Act of 1839,” English Historical Review, LXXX (Oct. 1965), 761-784; Maurício Goulart, Escravidão africana no Brasil (das origens à extinção do tráfico) (São Paulo, 1949), 219-263; Evaristo de Moraes, A escravidão africana no Brasil (das origens à extinção), Brasiliana, 23 (São Paulo, 1933), 65-99; Maurílio Gouveia, História da escravidão (Rio de Janeiro, 1955), 115-135; Manoel Alvaro Sousa Sá Vianna, “O tráfico e a diplomacia brasileira,” Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geographico Brasileiro; tomo especial consagrado ao primeiro Congresso de Historia Nacional (1914), V (1917), 539-564; Affonso de Escragnolle Taunay, “Subsídios para a história do tráfico africano no Brasil,” Anais do Museu Paulista, X, 2a parte (1941), 257-272; and, on legislative aspects, João Luiz Alves, “A questão do elemento servil. A extinção do tráfico e a lei da repressão de 1850. Liberdade dos nasciturnos,” RIHGB, tomo especial . . . primeiro Congresso de Historia Nacional, IV (1916), 187-258.


Sérgio Teixeira de Macedo to Paulino José Soares de Sousa, London, Oct. 8, 1852. Arquivo Histórico do Itamarati, 217/3/7, no. 18; Consulta do Conselho de Estado, Mar. 2, 1857. In Nabuco, Estadista do imperio, II, 438-439; William Dougal Christie, Notes on Brazilian Questions (London and Cambridge, 1865), xxxiv-xxxviii, 10, 13, 21, 22, 49, 66, 83-84; Evaristo de Moraes, A campanha abolicionista (1879-1888) (Rio de Janeiro, 1924), 190; Manchester, British Preeminence, 232-233; Speech of José Maria da Silva Paranhos (1o), June 7, 1864. Brazil. Congresso. Senado. Anais, 1864, II, 56; Richard Graham, “Os fundamentos da ruptura de relações diplomáticas entre o Brasil e a Grã-Bretanha em 1863; ‘A questão Christie,’” Revista de História, no. 49 (Jan.-Mar. 1962), 122-123, no. 50 (Apr.-June 1962), 397; Brazilian sentiment in behalf of the emancipados was also inspired by the British, Aureliano Cândido Tavares Bastos, Cartas do Solitário, 3rd ed., Brasiliana, 115 (São Paulo, 1938), 138-145, 463-465.


Pedro II, “Apontamentos,” Jan. 14, 1864. Arquivo do Museu Imperial de Petrópolis, Maço CXXXIV, Doe. 6553. In Hélio Vianna, “Instruções de D. Pedro II aos presidentes do Conselho, Zacarias e Furtado,” Jornal do Comércio, July 3, 1964; Heitor Lyra, História de D. Pedro II, 1825-1891, Brasiliana, 133, 3 vols. (São Paulo, 1938-1940), II, 236; Speech of Ângelo Moniz da Silva Ferraz, June 6, 1864. Brasil. Congresso. Senado. Anais, 1864, II, 49; Conselho de Estado [José Antonio Pimenta Bueno, marquês de São Vicente, et al.], Trabalho sobre a extincção da escravatura no Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, 1868), 6, 62-63, 89, 93; Joaquim Saldanha Marinho, A Monarchic e a política do rei (Rio de Janeiro, 1885), 53; the Aberdeen Act was repealed in 1869, Manchester, British Preëminence, 264; José Maria dos Santos, Os republicanos paulistas e a abolição (São Paulo, 1942), 30, 49-50, 56; Nabuco, Estadista do imperio, I, 565-570, II, 15-54. Although there were occasional references made to the American Civil War, that sad example does not seem to have been uppermost in the minds of those who urged moves toward emancipation. They correctly perceived the differences in the respective situations of the two countries.


Lídia Besouchet, Mauá e seu tempo (São Paulo, 1942), 84; Jovelino M. de Camargo, Jr., “A Inglaterra e o tráfico,” in Gilberto Freyre et al., Novos estudos afro-brasileiros (segundo tomo). Trabalhos apresentados ao 1° Congresso Afrobrasileiro de Recife, Biblioteca de Divulgação Scientifica, 9 (Rio de Janeiro, 1937); Barão de Mauá to Pedro de Araújo Lima, Marquês de Olinda, Rio, Jan. 1 and Jan. 3, 1863. AMIP, Maço CXXXIII, Doe. 6546; Carlos Américo Sampaio Vianna to João Maurício Wanderley, Barão de Cotegipe, Rio, Jan. 21 and Mar. 10, 1863. In José Wanderley Pinho, Cotegipe e seu tempo: primeira phase, 1815-1867, Brasiliana, 85 (São Paulo, 1937), 680-682; Christie, Notes on Brazilian Questions, xxxiii, liv, lxix, 133-134, 137; Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (Chapel Hill, 1944), 169-177; Roque Spencer Maciel de Barros, A ilustração brasileira e a idéia de universidade, Universidade de São Paulo, Cadeira de História e Filosofia da Educação, Boletim, no. 241, no. 2 (São Paulo, 1959), 87-88.


Moraes, Campanha abolicionista, 223-234; Haring, Empire in Brazil, 102; Fernandes, “Do escravo ao cidadão,” 46; even Ouro Prêto played this role, Oiliam José, A abolição em Minas (Belo Horizonte, 1962), 95; Raimundo Girão, A abolição no Ceará (Fortaleza, 1956); on the role of the cities generally see O Abolicionista, no. 1, Nov. 1, 1880, p. 8; Associação Comercial do Rio de Janeiro, Resposta da Associação Commercial do Rio de Janeiro aos quesitos da Commissão Parlamentar de Inquérito (Rio de Janeiro, 1883), 20.


Santos, Republicanos paulistas, 170-171, 179, 181-182; Francisco Martins dos Santos, Historia de Santos . . . 1532-1936, 2 vols. (São Paulo, 1937), II, 27, 33; Moraes, Campanha abolicionista, 261-266; see attitude toward slavery of railway manager J. J. Aubertin, “Communicado. Ilms. Amigos e Snrs. Fazendeiros de S. Paulo,” Correio paulistano, Jan. 3, 1867, p. 2.


Moraes, Campanha abolicionista, 155-156, 238-250; Rebouças, Diário, 312; cf. Octavio Ianni, As metamorfoses do escravo. Apogeu e crise da escravatura no Brasil meridional, Corpo e Alma do Brasil, 7 (São Paulo, 1962), 228-229; no mention of these events is made by Clovis Moura, Rebeliões da senzala (quilombos, insurreições, guerrilhas) (São Paulo, 1959).


Rebouças, Diário, 309; Osorio Duque Estrada, A abolição (esboço histórico—1831-1888) (Rio de Janeiro, 1918), 96-101; Maria Stella Novaes, A escravidão e a abolição no Espirito Santo: história e folclore (Vitória, 1963), 134; Moraes, Campanha abolicionista, 33, 167, 248, 312-314, 322-323; June Edith Hahner, “The Role of the Military in Brazil, 1889-1894,” unpublished M.A. thesis, Cornell University, 1963, pp. 4-13; the rank and file of the army was considered untrustworthy, being generally Negroes or mulattoes, Hastings Charles Dent, A Year in Brazil, with Notes on Abolition of Slavery . . . (London, 1886), 287.


Santos, Republicanos paulistas, 184.


Moraes, Campanha abolicionista, 304-309, 321-325, 339; Fernandes, “Do escravo ao cidadão,” 49-50; Stein, Vassouras, 253-255; Cotegipe to Francisco Ignácio de Carvalho Moreira, Barão do Penedo, Petrópolis, Apr. 8, 1888. In Renato Mendonça, Um diplomata na côrte de Inglaterra; o Barão do Penedo e sua época, Brasiliana, 219 (São Paulo, 1942), 397.


Duque Estrada, A abolição, 102; Dent, Year in Brazil, 285-286.


O abolicionista, no. 12, Sept. 28, 1881, p. 8; Moraes, Campanha abolicionista, 182 ff., 203.


The best-known study is by Moraes, Campanha abolicionista, but he fails to interpret the very facts that he relates regarding slave flights. Cf. his briefer summaries in A escravidão africana no Brasil, 147-247, and “A escravidão—da supressão do tráfico à lei áurea,” RIHGB, tomo especial: Congresso Internacional de História da América, 1922 (Rio de Janeiro, 1927), III, 270-313. Also see Duque Estrada, A abolição; and Alfonso Toledo Bandeira de Mello, “A escravidão—da supressão do tráfico à lei áurea,” RIHGB, tomo especial: Congresso Internacional de História da América, 1922 (Rio de Janeiro, 1927), III, 381-406. The influence of the British on the methods and ideas of the abolitionists will be examined in a book I am now preparing.


Moraes, Campanha abolicionista, 19, 21, 24-25, 33, 45-171, 321-353; Prado (ed.), Antônio Prado, 228, 243-244.

Author notes


The author is Assistant Professor of Latin American History, Cornell University. This article is based on a paper delivered at the Conference on Race and Class in Latin America during the National Period held in New York City, December 15-18, 1965, and sponsored by the Cornell Latin American Year, the Cornell Latin American Program, and Columbia University Institute of Latin American Studies.