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The Abolition of Brazilian Slavery, 1864–1888

Abstract and Keywords

Brazil was the last Western country to abolish slavery, which it did in 1888. As a colonial institution, slavery was present in all regions and in almost all free and freed strata of the population. Emancipation only became an issue in the political sphere when it was raised by the imperial government in the second half of the decade of the 1860s, after the defeat of the Confederacy in the US Civil War and during the war against Paraguay. In 1871, new legislation, despite the initial opposition from slave owners and their political representatives, set up a process of gradual emancipation. By the end of the century, slavery would have disappeared, or would have become residual, without major disruptions to the economy or the land property regime.

By the end of the 1870s, however, popular opposition to slavery, demanding its immediate abolition without any kind of compensation to former slave owners, grew in parliament and as a mass movement. Abolitionist organizations spread across the country during the first half of the 1880s. Stimulated by the direct actions of some of these abolitionist organizations, resistance to slavery intensified and became increasingly a struggle against slavery itself and not only for individual or collective freedom. Incapable of controlling the situation, the imperial government finally passed a law in parliament granting immediate and unconditional abolition on May 13, 1888.

Keywords: Brazil, abolition, slavery, 19th century, abolitionism

In the 19th century Brazilian slavery, which had been present during the whole colonial period, reached its highest level. Between 1806 and 1850, the transatlantic slave trade brought 1,767,085 African slaves to the country.1 (An initial law abolishing the international slave trade to the country was approved by the Parliament in 1831. But it was never implemented and the importation of African slaves was not only maintained, but grew to its highest numbers as contraband, until a second and effective law was approved in 1850 due to British naval pression). Slavery was the main work system in all regions and areas of the country: in the plantation coffee producing zones of the basin of the Paraíba River Valley, in the mostly domestic economy of the province of Minas Gerais, in the sugar and cotton producing areas of the northeast, in the south, and in the cities. The definite abolition of the transatlantic slave trade did not mean that the end of slavery was on the political horizon, however, neither for the political and cultural elite nor for most slaveholders. The domestic slave trade from less dynamic economic zones or regions, from the cities, and also from medium and small slaveholders supplied the needs of the export areas. Immigration and the growth of the free population also supplied labor for complementary jobs on the plantations and in other economic activities.

Conditions for the natural growth of the population—a more balanced male to female ratio, the growth of stable families, improvements in standard of living—were being established. Prices for slaves increased as a result of the end of the transatlantic trade. Fewer people from the new low and middle social ranks, both in the city and in the countryside, could afford to buy slaves. These people tended to be indifferent or even hostile to slavery. Slave property, in these circumstances, tended to be concentrated in the upper strata of society and in the economically more dynamic regions.2

In a note of January 14, 1864, to the President of the Council of Ministers, Zacarias de Goes, D. Pedro II warned that the events of the American Civil War demanded that “we consider the future of slavery in Brazil in order to avoid that the same situation that happened to us concerning the question of the African trade might happen again.” He suggested granting freedom for the children of slave women who would be born from a specific date in the near future as a way to promote the gradual abolition of slavery.3 Dom Pedro and other statesmen who were carefully following the events in the United States feared that the defeat of the Confederate States in the American Civil War, which by then appeared likely, would isolate Brazil as the sole independent slaveholding country in the Western Hemisphere, only in the company of the Spanish colonies of Cuba and Puerto Rico. This would bring an inevitable escalation in external pressures for the abolition of slavery in the country. On the home front, a growing number of people, and even regions of the country, had become more critical of the institution of slavery, and this resistance had become regionally and socially concentrated. The fear was that these people and regions could be susceptible to radical abolitionist propaganda that would eventually become more active.

D. Pedro II’s letter to Zacarias de Goes marks the moment when the issue of the abolition of slavery definitively entered the political agenda of the empire. First discussed in the State Council, and soon thereafter in parliament and in the press, it would soon be taken up by the increasingly complex Brazilian civil society. By the end of the 1870s, it would expand to the streets and to the masses. By the mid-1880s it had reached the slave quarters. On May 13, 1888, slavery was once and for all unconditionally abolished in Brazil.

Slaves in the War Against Paraguay: The Social and Moral Crisis of Brazilian Slavery

Two years after Dom Pedro wrote his note to Zacarias de Góes, new events contributed to making the future prospects appear even less promising. In 1867–1868, three years into the war against Paraguay (1864–1870), the central government was facing extreme difficulties in filling the ranks. The Brazilian government set free the few slaves that it owned, mostly Africans captured from slave dealers who were under its guardianship and slaves belonging to religious congregations (by an agreement with the Pope, Catholicism was the official state religion and remained under Brazilian state control), in order to enlist them. It also paid for the manumission of slaves who, for one reason or another, were presented by their owners to be enlisted. Other fugitive slaves entered the army pretending they were free persons. In total, 8,750 slaves were manumitted in order to join the approximately 100,000 fighting men, most of them of African descent.4 One in four of the slaves who were freed in order to be enlisted came from the city of Rio de Janeiro, the largest Brazilian town, site of the Imperial Court and political epicenter of the empire. This caused political and cultural discomfort due to the fact that the Brazilian Empire had to free slaves in order to defend its honor on the battlefield. When the first troops started to arrive back home, in late 1869 and early 1870, they disembarked at the Imperial Court at the port of Rio de Janeiro to a climate of social and political unrest.

The Free-Womb Law

In April 1867, the State Council was summoned to discuss whether the government should take the initiative of proposing the abolition of slavery and how this should be done. The decision was made, not unanimously, to present a law that would declare the freedom of the slave womb. From the date of approval of the law by the parliament, all children born from slave mothers would be free. The majority of the state councilors agreed that the measure would not violate the property rights of slaveholders and would gradually end slavery without provoking major economic, social, or political disturbances.

Only in 1871, after the end of the war and following many internal disputes, was the project submitted to the parliament. It was approved on September 28, 1871, against the fierce opposition of the majority of the representatives from the coffee producing region, comprising the provinces of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais. The Free-Womb Law, as it soon came to be known, stated that all children born from slave mothers would be free from that date on. They would remain with their mothers until the age of eight years. Their mothers’ masters could then choose either to deliver the children to the state, receiving $600 (US$310) in return, or to retain them under their own tutelage until they turned twenty-one. The overwhelming majority of slaveholders chose the second option. This meant that most of the children and youngsters of the Free-Womb Law, as they were called at the time, continued to live and work under the same conditions as their slave parents, relatives, and companions. When unconditional and universal abolition finally came in 1888, the first generation of the Free-Womb was still living in bondage. This created a paradoxical situation concerning the legal status of the tutees. Hundreds of large slave owners in rural areas legally demanded to continue their tutelage of these individuals.

The law also legislated on other issues in regard to slavery. Masters were obliged to register their slaves and to pay a per capita tax. An Emancipation Fund was created. This fund would be locally distributed in order to manumit slaves according to a list organized by a pre-established set of criteria (Free-Womb children’s mothers, relatives, etc.). The common practice of slaves’ savings was recognized as a legal right. Owners were obliged to grant slaves manumission whenever they applied to buy it. Disputes around prices and other issues would be settled by local courts of justice.

The debate around the Free-Womb Law occurred amid many social and political changes in Brazilian society. In 1868, amongst a political a political crisis, a radical wing of the Liberal Party proposed a series of social and political reforms, among them and for the first time the gradual abolition of slavery, or the “Emancipation” as it was then most commonly referred to. In 1870 a group comprised mostly of journalists, lawyers and other liberal professionals, and public servants issued a Republican Manifesto, questioning for the first time since the 1830s the very nature of the regime.5

The debate over these issues did not remain restricted to the parliament but reached and galvanized the public sphere. The 1860s witnessed the flourishing of Brazilian civil society with the creation of newspapers, clubs, and associations of different kinds (political, religious, professional, mutual assistance, charitable), most of them in the Imperial Court at the city of Rio de Janeiro.

In many respects this was due to the increasingly complex nature of the Brazilian social fabric caused by the growth of the free population and the increase in the number of jobs, both skilled and unskilled, performed by free workers. Some of these workers were European immigrants, others were poor white Brazilians, and many came from freed slave or free African Brazilian background. They were all distanced from slavery. Until then Brazilian flexible slavery, propitiated by the large supply of relatively cheap slaves, had proved capable of absorbing a number of relatively poor people, including free people of color, as they were able to buy their own slaves. Now the situation was changing. Slave prices were growing high. The lowest ranks of society could not afford to buy new slaves and were pressed to sell the ones they had. In these circumstances, they tended to consider slaveholding a typical characteristic of the people from the upper strata of society, whom they often saw as their social adversaries. At the same time, a new social layer of journalists, lawyers, liberal professionals, public servants, engineers, military personnel, and so on was emerging.


The debate on the gradual abolition of slavery, from 1867 on, and the final approval of the Free-Womb Law, in 1871, had significant consequences. Slavery became one the main issues, if not the primary one, on the public and parliamentary agendas. A number of abolitionist or, as they were most commonly named, emancipationist associations, clubs, and other entities were created. They promoted public debates, rallied and campaigned for public and financial support to the cause of emancipation, raised funds to buy slave manumissions, organized public banquets and meetings, put pressure on local authorities and slave owners in order to guarantee the enforcement of the law, denounced cases of excessive mistreatment of slaves, and so forth. Some of these associations were patriotic and aimed to raise money—mostly to manumit slaves in order for them to be enlisted—and to garner support for the war effort against Paraguay. The majority were either civic or religious, professional, student or women’s, non-political partisan, private or semiofficial, or civil. Angela Alonso, researching newspapers, identified the foundation of twenty-eight of these emancipationist associations between 1869 and 1874, eleven of which were formed in 1870 alone.6

The second consequence was that the relations and conflicts between slaveholders and their slaves became increasingly mediated by public opinion and government authorities. Slaves, represented by emancipationist associations, attorneys, and even free or freed relatives, sued their masters in court, mostly demanding freedom, for different reasons, or claiming other legal or presumed rights.7

This situation of political and social unrest endured for the rest of the decade, then escalated dramatically in the 1880s when the Abolitionist Movement came to the fore in the political arena. On the social level, in the years of 1874 and 1875, dispersed and spontaneous riots shook the Northeast region, the backlands of the country. These riots targeted the government’s implementation of the metric system, seen by the population as a threat to their traditional way of living. Popular resistance again arose in 1875, in the provinces of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Espírito Santo, Bahia, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, and Ceará, when mobs attacked recruitment posts to protest a new conscription law. They feared that the enrollment of citizens for that purpose could turn out to be a disguised form of enslavement. On New Year’s Eve of 1880, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, huge mass demonstrations protested against the collection of a new tax that increased the price of streetcar tickets. After confrontations with the police and army forces in which several protesters were killed and many were injured, the tax was suspended. The Vintém (cent) Riot, as the episode was called, marked the emergence of a new social and political protagonist in Brazilian society: the urban masses. The Vintém Riot did not address the issue of slavery. But the fusion of the new political and social protagonism of the urban masses, expressed in the riot, and the question of slavery was only a matter of time. Abolitionism and abolitionists would be the conductors and the agents of this merger.

Black Intellectuals

The questioning of slavery as an institution in connection with a new topic arose in the Brazilian social and political agenda. That topic was racial relations in Brazilian society, expressed as an issue of color. The question concerned the place to be occupied by free or freed people of African descent in Brazil’s largely miscegenated society. The issue was not exactly new, as it had been intensively discussed during 1820s and 1830s. But at that time there was a kind of accommodation in the absorption of these people into the flexible Brazilian slaveholding order, either by their access to slave property or by their integration in subaltern positions in this order. A few even managed to rise to superior social and political positions. This was the case of Antônio Pereira Rebouças, the son of a Portuguese tailor and a freed black woman, born in 1798 in the province of Bahia. He fought in the Independence War, became an attorney, and managed to be elected to the General Representative House in various legislatures. Though he continually suffered racial prejudice and discrimination, he was well known and respected and championed the rights of free African Brazilian people within the slaveholding order. At the same time, although never dedicated to the plantation business, he had slaves serving in his home.8

The concentration of slave property, the growth of the free population, and the complex nature of the Brazilian social fabric increased the pressure for social ascension and, at the same time, narrowed its scope, particularly for free people of color as they competed with white Brazilians and immigrants in the labor market. The social ladder was becoming harder for them to climb. Voices began to be raised against slavery in the press and in the public sphere. Significantly, some of the most important of these voices were black intellectuals who were making their way in this new social environment. Black intellectuals were not totally unheard of in Brazilian slave society, as we saw in the case of Antônio Rebouças. The novelty was that a larger number of people of African descent were trying to advance in society, while slavery and color prejudice were posing stronger barriers. The life trajectories of three of the most important black abolitionist leaders—Luís Gama, André Rebouças, and José do Patrocínio—exemplify this point.

Luís Gama (1830–1882)

By the mid-1860s slavery and abolition were among the issues most debated by students at the law schools in São Paulo and Recife, the medical schools in Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, and the engineering and military school, also in Rio de Janeiro, as well as within bohemian and intellectual circles. One of the frequent attendees of these circles in the city of São Paulo was Luís Gama. As a self-taught attorney, Gama demanded the freedom of hundreds of African or African descendant slaves at the court houses, on the grounds that they had been illegally enslaved according to a law of 1831, which first prohibited the international slave trade but was never really enforced. Sometimes his claims were successful, other times they were not. He also attacked slavery in articles and poems published in newspapers. His activities had great visibility in public opinion as he was himself a former slave. Born in Salvador in 1830, he was the natural son of an African free woman, Luiza Mahin, and a white man he deliberately never mentioned by name. According to Gama’s own autobiographical narrative, his mother moved to Rio de Janeiro after being persecuted by the authorities in Salvador. He never saw her again. His father then sold him as a slave to pay his gambling debts. He was sent to São Paulo as a slave and there he was manumitted by his owner. He never attended university but was acquainted with students and other members of the political and intellectual elite.9 A Republican, he broke from the main wing of the party as, according to him, they had not shown sufficient adherence to the cause of immediate abolition. Suffering from diabetes, he died in 1882 and never saw the abolition of slavery. His memory, however, was revered by his peers for setting an example for the struggles still to come.10

André Rebouças (1838–1898)

Contrary to Gama, André Rebouças, son of Antônio Rebouças, was a member of the elite. He received a diploma in Engineering, complemented his studies in Europe, and visited the United States. After a short period serving as an army engineer in the war against Paraguay, he returned to Brazil where he became a successful businessman, obtaining contracts for the execution of several public works in the city of Rio de Janeiro. By that time he had started dedicating himself to the cause of the abolition of slavery. A Monarchist, he was close to the royal family, particularly to Count D’Eu, the emperor’s son-in-law, who was married to Isabel, the official heiress to the throne. Having come to understand that appeals for abolition to the royal family were ineffective, he joined the nascent abolitionist movement, becoming one of its most influential intellectual and political leaders. He was one of the first to formulate the proposition that slavery was both immoral and economically backward. Thus, he demanded its immediate abolition and the destruction of its legacy—the nonproductive latifundia, with the distribution of land to former slaves and poor peasants, and the extension of full rights of citizenship to the whole population. He named this program “rural democracy.” Rebouças witnessed the day of abolition, only to see the abandonment of the former slaves to their fate and the overthrow of the monarchy by a military coup the following year. Disappointed, he left for Europe to accompany the royal family in their exile. He then went on to Africa and to the island of Madeira, where he died.11 The circumstances of his death were never fully clarified, and there was speculation that he had committed suicide.

José do Patrocínio (1853–1905)

José do Patrocínio was the natural son of a vicar and an African young slave ceded to him by a rich widow. He was raised on his father’s farm in Campos dos Goytacazes, the largest slaveholding region and the leading sugar producing county in the province of Rio de Janeiro. At the age of fourteen he asked to be sent to the city of Rio de Janeiro. There he first worked in a pharmacy and later attended the medical college, graduating with a degree in Pharmacy in 1874. In 1877 he started to work as a journalist for the newspaper Gazeta de Notícias. He was also hired as a tutor by the father of one his college friends. His job was to educate the young daughters of the family. In 1879, he ended up marrying the eldest, despite her father’s initial opposition to the interracial union. In 1881, he went to work for Gazeta da Tarde, a newspaper owned by the African Brazilian Ferreira de Menezes, a dedicated abolitionist. With the financial support of his father-in-law he eventually bought the newspaper. By then, he was a full-time and radical abolitionist. A Republican with socialist colors, he argued for unconditional and immediate abolition and the extension of full citizenship rights to all Brazilians, regardless of color. To achieve these ends, he did not hesitate to join with the Monarchists Rebouças and Joaquim Nabuco in defense of the cause of abolition. When it came, as a law signed by the regent princess Isabel, he resolutely supported her against the attacks of former slave owners now adherent to the republican cause. The proclamation of the republic, in 1889, only brought him political persecution and scorn. He died forgotten, a drunkard and half-mad, in 1905.

These life stories are important not only because they tell us about the lives of black abolitionist leaders. They are also important because, along with the white, well-born, and elite politician, journalist, and militant Joaquim Nabuco, these leaders were the most well-known and influential abolitionists in the entire country. In this sense, these life stories also tell us about the important role played by free people of color, including as leaders, in the abolition movement, perhaps the largest mass mobilization in the history of Brazil—something that had never been seen before and was never to be seen again.

From Emancipation to Abolitionism

A minority of abolitionists saw slavery as a major and immediate obstacle to moral and material progress. For them it soon became evident that the Free-Womb Law was a very slow and inefficient remedy to the problem. By the late 1870s and early 1880s it had also become clear that these abolitionists were isolated in the political sphere. The conservatives, some of whom had strongly opposed the Free-Womb Law, now claimed that it was sufficient to gradually solve the problem of slavery in the due time. The majority of the Liberal Party, which formed a new parliamentary majority and seized control of the government in 1879, felt the same. Even Republicans, for most of whom provincial autonomy was the central issue in Brazilian policy, advocated for delegating authority over the question of slavery to each province according to its own needs. By the mid-1870s, the number of new emancipationist associations being formed had also declined.

In this context, at the beginning of the new Congress legislature, on March 5, 1879, Jerônimo Sodré, a Liberal congressman from the province of Bahia, proposed the discussion of a new bill by which slavery would be abolished once and for all. Sodré, a member of Sociedade Libertadora 2 de Julho (Liberator Society July 2nd), one of the first emancipationist associations, founded in 1862, condemned the plan for gradual abolition and the slow pace of the law of September 28, 1871. He was seconded by a young debutant Liberal representative of the province of Pernambuco, Joaquim Nabuco. The project was neither debated nor voted on. In August, Nabuco presented a new project proposing gradual and indemnified abolition until 1890, with no success. To make things worse, no representatives of the abolitionist wing of the Liberal Party were elected at the end of 1881. Martinho de Campos was chosen as the new president of the Council of Ministers and took office in January 1882. Although a Liberal like his predecessor, he was a plantation owner from the province of Rio de Janeiro and declared himself “a core slavocrat,” leaving no doubt about which side of the “servile issue” he stood for.

Abolitionists responded to this backlash on the parliamentary front with increased appeals to public opinion and civil society demanding immediate abolition. They were trying to gather more and stronger public support in order to put pressure on the government and parliament to discuss and advance the issue of abolition. They published articles discussing abolition in the press and made direct appeals to the numerous civil society organizations that were proliferating at the time. Data collected by Cláudia Santos on the number of civil associations listed in an annual almanac—Almanak Laemmert—show their steady increase throughout the century. They were twelve in 1843, the year when the first issue of the almanac was published, and 275 at 1888, the year of the abolition of slavery. However, there were some large surges in this secular trend. The first occurred between 1873 and 1874, when the number of associations listed in the Almanak increased from seventy to ninety-seven. In that year, for instance, there was a request for legal recognition by the central government of a colored men’s association, the Associação Beneficente Socorro Mútuo dos Homens de Cor (Beneficent Association of the Colored Men for Mutual Aid).12 Though this seems like an isolated event, it was nevertheless important in two senses. In the first place, it shows that the social category of colored men tended to overlap with the dichotomy between free and non-free that had so far marked the social relations of slavery. In the second place, it shows that this segment of the population was seeking means for self-organization.

The second boom in associations happened between 1878 and 1880, when the issue of abolition was put back on the public agenda and Jerônino Sodré made his address to the parliament. In this period the number of associations grew from 108 to 165. The following year the number dropped to 129, probably due to repressive measures taken by the government in the aftermath of the Vintém Riot. In 1881–1882 the number skyrocketed to 199, and to 273 the next year.13

This third moment in the dynamic development of civil society coincided with the ascension of the abolitionist movement demanding immediate abolition without compensation. Several new entities were created to support this goal. Others still worked within the limits of gradual abolition or emancipation according to the dispositions of the law of September 28, 1871. Many historians called these latter organizations, the majority of which were founded between 1869 and 1874, emancipationists, while the former were abolitionists.14 Recent historiography has contested this distinction. Celso Castilho, for instance, argues that both kinds of organizations can be found at the beginning of the abolitionist movement between the mid-1860s and the late 1870s, and at its apex in the 1880s. He also considers that many organizations, in both phases, acted for the manumission of individual slaves (gradualism) as well struggling for immediate abolition.15

Angela Alonso, in the same vein, stresses the continuity between the elite abolitionism of the 1860s and 1870s and abolitionism as a social movement during the 1880s.16 However, the data she gathered from newspapers on the number of new abolitionist or emancipationist associations created between 1850 and 1888 serves to illustrate the discontinuity between the two. She identified a total of 352 new associations devoted to the immediate or gradual abolition of slavery during that period. Only eight of those, or 2 percent, were established between 1850 and 1868; thirty-four, or 10 percent, between 1869 and 1879; and from 1880 until abolition in May 1888, 310, or 88 percent, of the new associations were founded. The chart in Figure 1 shows this development.

The Abolition of Brazilian Slavery, 1864–1888

Figure 1. New abolitionist associations per year.

Source: Created by the author based on Angela Alonso, Flores, votos e balas (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2015), pp. 435–446.

From the semantic point of view, the words “abolitionist,” “abolition,” or derivation of them appeared in the names of 157 of these 352 organizations; 152 of them founded from 1880 onward. This semantic shift indicates the new character that the antislavery movement was assuming.

Another clear indication of the new character of the antislavery movement is the fact that its most important leaders—André Rebouças, José do Patrocínio, Joaquim Nabuco, and others—took initiatives aiming at its national structure. In August 1880, Rebouças, Patrocínio, and Vicente de Souza founded the Associação Central Emancipadora (Central Emancipator Association). On September 7 of the same year, Rebouças and Nabuco created the Sociedade Brasileira Contra a Escravidão (Brazilian Society Against Slavery), which published the newspaper O Abolicionista (The Abolitionist). The association was restructured the next year in order to accommodate different wings of the antislavery movement.

Abolitionism Becomes a Mass Movement

By the beginning of the 1880s a combination of social processes had turned the social environment favorable to the development of abolitionism as a mass movement. The urban population had grown and diversified due to the process of economic modernization. Free labor predominated in these new economic activities. On the one hand, for this new category of workers, many of whom were former slaves or their descendants, the permanence of slavery was a degrading factor to their work conditions as employers tended to preserve slave work management practices. In many places, free and slave workers worked side by side. On the other hand, for the expanding middle ranks of society who occupied new job positions in the tertiary sector, the increasing prices for slaves made slave owning impossible. Owning slaves was no longer a means to their effective or symbolic escalation up the social ladder, but became a sign of their distance from the upper classes. There was a general sentiment of frustration in regard to the slowness of the emancipation process amid the new conditions. Slavery, which had never been predominantly defended as a racial prerogative or as a positive right, but rather as a necessary evil, came to be seen as immoral in these new circumstances. All of this was fertile soil for abolitionism, which stood for immediate abolition without indemnifications. This was especially true in the North region of the country (comprising the current North and Northeast regions of Brazil). Following the effective abolition of the international slave trade in 1850, the region had been exporting its slaves to the expanding coffee zones of the Center-South (comprising the current Southeast region of Brazil), particularly to the province of São Paulo. As consequence, slave labor was becoming less central to the North and more and more people became indifferent or even contrary to the institution.

Abolition in Ceará and the Prohibition of the Inter-Provincial Slave Trade

Ceará was one of the Northern provinces that exported slaves to the Center-South. The sea port of Fortaleza, also the capital of the province, concentrated the boarding of captives, also from the provinces of Maranhão and Piauí, to the Center-South. On September 28, 1879, the emancipationist association Perseverança e Porvir (Perseverance and Future) was founded in Fortaleza, the capital of the province. The association was also a commercial society, organized in a cooperative form, and part of its profits were earmarked for the manumission of the enslaved. Most of the directors and many prominent members were businessmen and participants in the provincial government. A few were Republicans. In 1880, on its first anniversary, some of its members decided to create a new association for the sole purpose of promoting the liberation of slaves. On December 8, the Sociedade Libertadora Cearense (Liberator Society of Ceará) was created. The new association immediately split into a moderate wing, which wished to pursue the campaign to collect funds and promote emancipation, and a radical wing, which considered all means valid to promote the liberation of slaves, including direct action to facilitate their escape. By the beginning of 1881, the Libertadora Cearense had started a campaign to impede the slaves brought from the countryside and from other provinces to board the ships which would transfer them to the Center-South. On January 27, 1881, the association promoted a strike of the boatmen who transferred slaves to anchored ships, who refused to transport them. The strike was led by the boatman José Luís Napoleão, a freedman who had purchased his own freedom. This strike was followed by others, now under the leadership of Francisco José do Nascimento, a mulatto boatman, who soon came to be known nationwide as the Dragon of the Sea. The movement succeeded in preventing the boarding of new slaves at the port of Fortaleza. The next goal was to make the whole province free of slavery. In 1884, the province was declared to have extinguished slavery in its territory, and the Dragon of the Sea was brought in triumph to parade through the streets of Rio de Janeiro, giving new life to the abolitionist movement.

The liberation of Ceará, and shortly thereafter of the province of Amazonas, elevated abolitionism to a new level, particularly in the Northern cities and provinces. Abolitionist associations started to organize and support individual and collective escapes, guiding the fugitives to the free territory of Ceará and Amazonas. The Clube do Cupim (Club of the Termite), an abolitionist association founded in Recife in 1884, specialized in organizing these escapes to Ceará.

Meanwhile, since at least 1878 the issue of the inter-provincial slave trade had been debated in the public sphere. Some representatives of the province of São Paulo proposed its prohibition. They argued that its continuation would soon reduce the number of slaves in the provinces of the North to a point where these provinces would cease their commitment to the institution and could force the approval of an abolitionist law in the parliament. The proposal was turned down by a coalition of North and Center-South representatives. The latter were interested in maintaining the supply of Northern slaves, the former in keeping the profits obtained by the inter-provincial trade. The topic would continue to be debated in the coming years, however. By December 1881, the Provincial House of Rio de Janeiro, dominated by representatives of the slavery and coffee interests, approved a prohibitive tax on the import of slaves from other provinces. São Paulo and Minas Gerais soon followed with similar measures.17 Proponents of these laws based their decision on three arguments: (a) the Free-Womb Law had had detrimental effects on slave discipline through the general perception of the erosion of legitimacy of the institution due to the impossibility of its reproduction over time; (b) inter-provincial trade was dangerously damaging slave–master relations with the constant introduction into the plantations of the Center-South of uprooted slaves from the North; and (c) the polarization of a North without slaves and a slave-owning South reenacted the experience of the US Civil War, making it necessary to maintain national commitment to the institution in order to avoid a repeat of that outcome in Brazil. To these arguments, we should add the fears in 1881 of the effects of abolitionist agitation on the work discipline on farms.

The Growth of the Abolitionist Movement

These apprehensions were justifiable. If we consider the evolution of the social-demographic conditions and the role of slavery in the economy in different regions of the country from 1850, when the international slave trade ended, up to the abolition of slavery in 1888, we may identify four distinct major zones in the country: Center-South, North, South, and West. The South zone was formed by the provinces of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Paraná. It had a very diversified rural economy directed toward the domestic market, mostly comprising small and medium properties. Cattle growing and the industry of drying meat were the main economic activities in Rio Grande do Sul, which concentrated 60 percent of the total regional population and 66 percent of the slaves. This zone represented 7 percent of both the total free and slave populations of the Brazilian Empire. The West was scarcely populated, with only 2 percent of the country’s population, and slaves made up only 1 percent of the regional population.

The vast majority of the population of the country—91 percent of the free population and 92 percent of the slaves—was concentrated in the North and Center-South zones. The Center-South zone was formed by the provinces of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Espírito Santo. Since the late 1860s it had hosted the largest slave population in the country. Its economy, mainly but not exclusively organized around the coffee export slave-based plantation, was still accruing slaves via the inter-provincial slave trade until its prohibition in the early 1880s. The region had 41 percent of the total population of the country, including 37 percent of the free population and 59 percent of the slaves, who represented 22 percent of the regional population. Slavery was strong and dynamic in this region. The North zone comprised the provinces of Amazonas, Pará, Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, and Bahia. One of the first colonized areas of the Portuguese America, slavery was established in the region since the 16th century. In the 19th century, the region had 50 percent of the total population of the empire, including 53 percent of the free population and 33% percent of the slaves, who made up 10 percent of the regional population. Though in decline, slavery was still a presence, namely in the cotton, cocoa, and sugar producing areas, respectively in Maranhão, in the South of Bahia, and near the coast in Bahia, Sergipe, and Pernambuco.

The Abolition of Brazilian Slavery, 1864–1888

Figure 2. The map shows the country’s division by province, the total population, and the percentage of slaves by county in 1872.

Source:Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística.

The chart in Figure 3 shows that the exponential growth of the abolitionist movement from 1882 on was more intense in the Northern provinces than in the Center-South. In the former region the number of antislavery organizations grew from eighteen during the period 1876–1881 to 155 in the period 1882–1888, while in the latter region the numbers for the same time periods were fifteen and seventy-four—an impressive increase, no doubt, but half of that experienced in the North.

The Abolition of Brazilian Slavery, 1864–1888

Figure 3. Antislavery associations by regions.

Source: Created by the author based on Angela Alonso, Flores, votos e balas (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2015), pp. 435–446.

The North region hosted 55 percent of the total number of 352 antislavery organizations in the whole period, while the Center-South had 29 percent. The South region (comprising the current states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Paraná) hosted 13 percent and the West (the current states of Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, Goiás, and Tocantins) and 3 percent of the total.

Ceará was the leading province in number of abolitionist associations with fifty-one, or 14 percent of the total number in the empire. These figures did not correspond either to the position of the province in the national economy or to the size of its free and slave populations. After a short boom in cotton production in the first half of the 1860s, the provincial economy fell into a deep and prolonged crisis. The recovery of US cotton production in the 1870s displaced the Brazilian share in the international market. To make things worse, the whole interior of the Northeast region, which included most of Ceará’s backlands, was facing one of its harshest droughts ever. Since the abolition of the international slave trade in 1850, the province had been losing slaves to the coffee production zones in the South. According to the national census of 1872, the 31,913 slaves of the province represented the tenth-largest slave population in the country. The free population, totaling 689,773, was the fourth-largest in the empire. Slaves made up only 4 percent of the total population. In the county of Fortaleza, capital and epicenter of the abolitionist movement in the province, they were 1,934, or 5 percent of the population. The association between a minor proportion of the slave population and the emergence of the abolitionist movement seemed to be confirmed.

The next provinces in number of abolitionist organizations were Rio de Janeiro, including the city of Rio de Janeiro, with forty-three associations, and Pernambuco, with forty-two. Unlike Ceará, both provinces were plantation regions, producing coffee and sugar. And if slavery had a declining presence in Pernambuco since the abolition of the international slave trade, that was not the case for Rio de Janeiro. The 89,028 slaves of the province of Pernambuco, in 1872, made up 11 percent of its total population. In the county of Recife, capital of the province, the percentage of slaves among the population was a bit higher: the 15,136 slaves in the city and some few rural parishes made up 13 percent of the population. In Rio de Janeiro the situation was completely different. In 1872, the 292,637 slaves of the province corresponded to 37 percent of its population. Even in the city of Rio de Janeiro, they made up a large, though smaller, proportion of the population, at 18 percent.

All these different social and demographic situations had in common the fact that the abolitionist movement first appeared and developed in relatively large and complex urban environments. Fortaleza, the epicenter of the abolitionist movement in Ceará and where most of the abolitionist organizations were concentrated, was the ninth-largest city in the empire, and the seventh if we take into consideration only the free population. It was the port through which both trade and communication were connected to the Imperial Court in Rio de Janeiro and to Europe. As the capital of the province it was the site of the governmental apparatus, local newspapers, theaters, and other civil organizations, including many workers’ organizations. The migration of a large number of poor peasants to the city, a consequence of the severe drought devasting agriculture, and the sight of slaves being shipped to the South set the scene for the outbreak of a radical and massive abolitionist movement. Similar conditions were found in Recife, capital of the province of Pernambuco and the third-largest Brazilian city, and Salvador, capital of the province of Bahia and the second-largest city in the country. In both of these cities, especially in Recife, the abolitionist movement had a strong presence. Rio de Janeiro replicated these same conditions on a larger scale. The vast majority of the abolitionist organizations in Rio de Janeiro were concentrated in the city of Rio de Janeiro—which was the site of the Imperial Court, the capital of the empire, site of the Senate and the National House of Representatives, the main port, and the largest city in the country. The movement was also strong in the cities of Niterói, neighbor to Rio de Janeiro and provincial capital, and Campos dos Goytacazes, the largest city in the province, except for the Imperial Court of Rio de Janeiro.

In all these cities the abolitionist movement used similar tactics: public meetings, banquets, presentations in theater shows and concerts, and campaigns to liberate specific streets and areas of the cities by forcing slaveholders to manumit their captives, either for financial compensation or gratuitously. Confrontations with the police and militias sponsored and supported by slaveholders and even government authorities were common. In Campos the situation soon became critical. The conditions in the county, combining a big urban center—Campos was the fourth-largest city in the country—and a dynamic and expanding slave-based agriculture, made abolitionist agitation explosive. The vigorous urban abolitionist movement faced fierce opposition from slaveholders and their supporters. The power of slaveholders was traditional and mighty in the county and the city. Sugar production, a traditional industry in the region, was expanding, stimulated by the construction of steam mills and the construction of a railroad connecting the area to the port of Rio de Janeiro. In addition, slave-based coffee production in the Northern districts was also expanding. All of this reinforced the slaveholders’ power and the violent repression of the growing urban abolitionist movement. In response, abolitionists intensified their raids of plantations, aiming to facilitate slaves’ escape, and set fire to the sugarcane fields.

Abolitionism Becomes National

On May 9, 1883, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, André Rebouças, José do Patrocínio, and João Clapp, among others, founded the Confederação Abolicionista (Abolitionist Confederation), and on August 11, the Gazeta da Tarde published its manifesto.18 Representatives of various entities, both professional and civil, from different provinces, including the Libertadora Cearense, signed the manifesto.

The inclusion of the names of some abolitionist leaders—Joaquim Nabuco, José do Patrocínio, and Ferreira de Menezes—among the names of the abolitionist organizations indicated the prestige they enjoyed. The fact that figures such as Patrocínio and Menezes, both descended from Africans and slaves, were side by side with Joaquim Nabuco, a member of the imperial political elite, also cannot be ignored. It indicates the broad range of social groups involved in the abolitionist movement. It is true that the social prominence of individuals of African origin was not a novelty, albeit not something common, in the empire. It is also true that Patrocínio and Menezes, both of whom were journalists and newspaper owners (Patrocínio had just bought the Gazeta da Tarde), belonged to the country’s literate elite. What was new, however, was that such individuals figured in the leadership of the struggle for the abolition of slavery—a struggle that, if not yet carried on by the slaves themselves, was on its fundamental interest. Furthermore, it was a struggle that had never before formulated its political goals with such clarity. The manifesto stated that slavery was condemned by civilization and was against God’s law. Slavery was an obstacle to the progress of the nation. But most important, slavery was illegal as most of the slaves in the country were either Africans who had arrived after the first prohibition of the international slave trade, in 1831, or their descendants. For all these reasons, the manifesto demanded immediate abolition, without any form of compensation to the slave owners.

The document was primarily addressed to the parliament, aiming to put pressure on the majority of the Liberal Party. It attacked the newly formed Liberal government, which, despite the programmatic commitment of the party, was closely connected to plantation and slaveholders’ interests. Despite its moderate and legalistic tone, the manifesto made clear that something worse—for the slave owners and for the government—could follow if they remained indifferent to abolitionist propaganda: “The slave has been secularly resigned, but three centuries of pain are more than enough to form one hour of despair.”

The Sexagenarian Law

In spite of its unity of purpose and the fact that abolitionist organizations and mass demonstrations against slavery spread all over the country, abolitionism never became a structured and coordinated national movement. It also did not manage to elect a significant parliamentary faction. Nevertheless, it contributed to the downfall of the Liberal, though pro-slaveholders, cabinet of Lafayette Rodrigues Pereira and the ascension of Manuel Pinto de Sousa Dantas, on June 6, 1884. Dantas was committed to the cause of abolition and took office proposing a new emancipationist reform: all slaves would be free when they turned sixty. It was not immediate abolition, but he received the support of the majority of the abolitionist entities and leadership—in vain. An alliance between Conservatives and Liberals who supported slavery defeated the government. Shortly thereafter, José Maurício Wanderley, Baron of Cotegipe, formed a new cabinet. He was an experienced conservative from Bahia and a sugar producer and slave owner himself. The Sexagenarian Law, as it came to be known, was enacted on September 28, 1885.

Radicalization and Abolition

Instead of mollifying abolitionism, the new law exacerbated it. Manifestations and confrontations with the police grew all over the country, particularly in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Salvador, and Porto Alegre, capital of the province of Rio Grande do Sul. In the sugarcane region of Campos, in Rio de Janeiro, the situation was becoming explosive, with violent confrontations occurring between slave owners and abolitionists.

In the expanding coffee producing areas in São Paulo, the situation became even more critical. In this region, slaves’ work regime was most intense, and a large part of the captive population had recently been brought in from other provinces, mainly from the North. Uprooted, and sometimes incentivized and supported by abolitionists, these slaves engaged in violent confrontations with slaveholders and local authorities. Slave disobedience was growing. Crimes and aggression against masters and overseers increased. When interrogated by authorities, some of these slaves stated that they would rather be in prison than working in the fields and living in the quarters under the slave regime. Collective escapes became more frequent and groups of runaway slaves wandered around the countryside. Some fugitives, with the help of abolitionists, formed communities. One of the most famous was the Quilombo do Jabaquara, near the port of Santos in São Paulo. The community had been established in 1882 and had been expanding ever since. Collective or individual escapes, and other acts of slave resistance, a constant during slavery, now skyrocketed and gained new meaning in the context of the abolitionist struggle.

Slave owners reacted. Everywhere they organized clubes da lavoura (agricultural clubs) to defend their interests. Some, perceiving the situation as irremediable, set their slaves free, making agreements or hoping that the newly freed workers would remain on the farms instead of leaving. Others tried to enforce discipline and order, either by appealing to police authorities or by organizing their own armed militias. Confrontation escalated everywhere but most intensively in the province of São Paulo. Some slave owners organized gangs of vigilantes and even promoted the lynching of slaves who had assassinated their masters or were suspected of doing so.

In 1883, Louis Couty, a French physician visiting Brazil, was traveling through the countryside of the provinces of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, observing the economic and social conditions. As was becoming common among the European and Brazilian intelligentsia, he considered black laborers inefficient, both due to their position as slaves and because of their supposed racial inferiority. He favored gradual emancipation and supported immigration of Europeans to Brazil. He also opposed abolitionism and immediate abolition as menaces to the social order. A social revolution was an imminent danger in his view. This was an overstatement, however. It would take another five years for the situation to come to a head, and it did not result in social revolution but in the disintegration of the slave order, as slaves simply left or refused to work under the same conditions as before.

By mid-1887, the imperial regime and the slave-based social order were facing a serious crisis. On the political side, republicanism was gaining ground, not only among urban working- and middle-class constituencies but also among coffee planters and businessmen in São Paulo, who favored a federative republican regime. In such a republic, the provinces would become federative states and regionally dominant groups would control finances and the political order. In their view, the maintenance of slavery was only in the interests of the decaying planters of the Paraíba River Valley region, who still had great influence with the imperial government. Slave property was their last significant asset, as their lands were exhausted and their coffee trees old. For the new planter group, European immigration was the solution to the shortage of labor caused by the crisis of slavery, which would guarantee the expansion of coffee export agriculture. The continuing existence of slavery was both a hindrance to the attraction of new European immigrants and a contributing factor to social and political instability.

This was mostly true in dynamic and expanding areas, such as Campos and the inland plateau of São Paulo, where coffee growing was expanding. The former area was heavily dependent on slaves, and confrontations between abolitionists and slaves on one side and police and landowners’ militias on the other were escalating here as well as in São Paulo. In the court, army officers who were committed to the abolitionist cause founded the Clube Militar (Military Club), which petitioned the government that army troops would no longer be used to repress and capture runaway and rebel slaves. At this point abolition was considered inevitable. Recalcitrant conservatives and slave owners still hoped for legislation that would oblige former slaves to remain working for their former masters for a period of time after abolition. But by the beginning of 1888, this solution was considered by nearly everyone as a total chimera. This included Princess Isabel, heir to the throne and provisional regent, who called the conservative João Alfredo to substitute Cotegipe on March 10. A senator and member of the Conservative Party, close to the landowners and sugar producers of Pernambuco, who were decreasingly dependent on slave labor, João Alfredo’s mission was to approve immediate and unconditional abolition. Like Antônio da Silva Prado, also a conservative and senator, and himself a coffee producer in the province of São Paulo, João Alfredo no longer supported Cotegipe’s government in its intransigent defense of slavery. They both favored abolition as the only way to overcome the political and social crisis. But while Prado went a step further and, following the tendency of the new group of coffee planters in his home province, joined the Republican Party, João Alfredo remained a Conservative and a monarchist. On May 8, the new cabinet submitted to the National Assembly a project of law immediately extinguishing slavery. The project was approved on May 11 and sent to the Senate, where it was also approved on Sunday, May 13, 1888. A committee of senators, deputies, and abolitionist leaders, accompanied by a growing throng of people, headed to the imperial palace downtown to hand deliver the law to be signed and sanctioned by the regent princess. The princess and other politicians and abolitionist leaders then appeared on the balcony of the palace to be saluted by the crowd.

The Abolition of Brazilian Slavery, 1864–1888

Figure 4. Rio de Janeiro, Imperial Palace, downtown, May 13, 1888. The crowd cheers as Princess Isabel appears at the balcony of the imperial palace, just after signing the Law of Abolition. Public domain.

Abolition set free approximately 500,000 slaves. There were about 1.4 million slaves in 1878, not including the children born after September 28, 1871, formally free but still living in bondage conditions with their mothers. A decade of abolitionist campaigning and growing slave resistance had devastated slavery, especially outside the strongholds of the plantation zones. Massive slave escapades and massive manumissions, many as last attempts of landowners to maintain their former slaves as free field workers, were the main causes of this collapse. Slave protagonism from 1885 on, particularly from 1887, proved decisive in breaking the last slaveholding social and political bastion and to win immediate and unconditional abolition.19

In sanctioning abolition, the Brazilian monarchy had its greatest and final moment. Probably it had never been so popular, especially among the African Brazilians who made up the majority of the population. But it refused, or lacked the ability, to build on this popularity. Since its foundation in 1822, the Brazilian Empire had rested on the support of slaveholders and now this was gone. Former slaveholders either became republicans or were indifferent to the fate of the monarchy. A year and a half later the regime would be overthrown by a republican military coup, almost without any resistance The new republic immediately dashed the hopes of former slaveholders that they would gain any kind compensation. But they also dashed the hopes of abolitionists and former slaves that they would gain anything but freedom.

Discussion of the Literature

Political and historical disputes over the meaning and credit for the accomplishment of abolition immediately followed the events of May 13, 1888, and the proclamation of the Republic the next year. After the first decades and the stabilization of the new regime, these quarrels turned into disputes over memory. In the 1920s, two former participants in the abolitionist movement, Osório Duque Estrada and Evaristo de Moraes, published histories of the abolition of slavery. In the next decades, mainly due to the works of Gilberto Freyre, the specific topic of abolition tended to be replaced by the general subject of slavery and race relations and the positive legacy of miscegenation in the formation of Brazil. In the 1950s and early 1960s the work of Freyre was contested by Florestan Fernandes, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Octavio Ianni, and other authors of the so-called Escola Paulista de Sociologia (Paulista School of Sociology). In general, abolition was considered in the context of the transition to capitalism and free labor and as a white men’s business only, in detriment, to a large extent, to the Afro-Brazilians.

In 1966, still within the same framework of the transition to capitalism, but with a historical approach, Emilia Viotti da Costa published Da Senzala à Colônia, which contained a more comprehensive analysis of slavery and its crisis in the 19th century.20 In 1972, the two most thorough histories, until recently, of abolition were published: The Destruction of Brazilian Slavery, by Robert Conrad, and The Abolition of Slavery in Brazil, by Robert Toplin. In 1975, Conrad’s book was translated into Portuguese.21 In 1988, on the occasion of the centenary of abolition, Emilia Viotti da Costa published A Abolição, a small volume of synthesis.22 The main sources for these works were ministerial and government reports, parliamentary annals, and newspapers.

From the 1980s on, the multiplication of post-graduate programs in history resulted in many master’s theses and doctoral dissertations on the subject of abolition, many of which were subsequently published as books. Most of these investigations are monographic, localist and focusing on particular aspects of slavery or even on the event of its abolition, in this or that region, from this or that point of view. They are based on thorough local research of parochial and judicial primary sources deposited in local, state, and national archives. Such approaches are very important and help to raise new questions and clarify neglected aspects. The role of slave and freedmen resistance in the process of abolition are the dimensions most emphasized in opposition to the more structural, institutional, and political historiography of slavery and abolition that was characteristic of the previous period. But they fail to establish explicit and thorough connections between slave agency in everyday life, on the one hand, and the abolitionist movement or emancipationist governmental actions as responses to this agency on the other. Sidney Chalhoub’s influential book Visões da liberdade (1990), dealing with slave petitions demanding freedom, always submitted to the courts by an attorney, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, is one example in this direction.23 Maria Helena P. T. Machado’s, O plano e o pânico (1994), discussing the articulation of abolitionist and slave agency in the province of São Paulo during the 1880s, is an outstanding exception to this localist perspective.24 Rafael Marquese and Ricardo Salles, in “Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Brazil: History and Historiography” (2017), provide a historiographical review of the literature on 19th-century Brazilian slavery.25

Some scholars have sustained an interpretation that emphasizes a division between white abolitionism and black abolitionism. According to this interpretation, while the former would explicitly or implicitly envision and pursue the construction of a racialized, even racist, social hierarchy that would dominate Brazilian post-emancipation society, the latter would unsuccessfully strive for racially egalitarian citizenship. Célia Maria M. Azevedo’s book Onda negra, medo branco (1987) is an example of this perspective.26 The argument has been developed more recently by Wlamyra R. de Albuquerque in O jogo da dissimulação (2009).27 A different view, stressing the internal coherence, regardless of occasional differences, and unitary action of the abolitionist movement can be found in Cláudia Regina A. dos Santos, “Projetos sociais abolicionistas: ruptura ou continuísmo?” (2000), and Ricardo Salles, “Resistência escrava e abolição na província do Rio de Janeiro: O Partido do Abolicionismo” (2018).28

Two recent books seek to escape the fragmentation characteristic of recent Brazilian historiography: Flores, votos e balas, by Angela Alonso, and Tornando-se livres, a collection edited by Maria Helena P. T. Machado and Celso Thomas Castilho. The first one resumes the historical synthesis and interpretative approach and stresses the role of the abolitionist movement in the process of abolition. The second is a collection of works by different authors who follow, with one or two exceptions, the localist and thematic fragmentation mentioned previously.29

Primary Sources

A great number of sources for the study of the abolition of slavery in Brazil as a political process are available in the form of printed materials, such as manifestos, bylaws, and other manifestations of the abolitionist organizations and leaders. Speeches and debates in parliamentary records are also very important. Official governmental reports at the provincial and central level are another source of information, as is the press in general and the abolitionist press in particular. Printed sources originating from anti-abolitionist organizations and leaderships, although numerically less significant, are also valuable. These sources can be found in public libraries, especially in the Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro. Some Brazilian governmental documents are available online. The Manifesto of the Confederação Abolicionista is available through the Biblioteca Brasiliana Guita e José Mindlin.

Further Reading

Albuquerque, Wlamyra R. de. O jogo da dissimulação: Abolição e cidadania negra no Brasil. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2009.Find this resource:

    Alonso, Angela. Flores, votos e balas. O movimento abolicionista brasileiro (1868–88). São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2015.Find this resource:

      Azevedo, Célia Maria M. Abolitionism in US & Brazil. Shrewsbury: Garland Publishing, 1995.Find this resource:

        Azevedo, Célia Maria M. Onda negra, medo branco. O negro no imaginário das elites—século XIX. São Paulo: Annablume, 2006.Find this resource:

          Castilho, Celso T. Slave Emancipation and Transformations in Brazilian Political Citizenship. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016.Find this resource:

            Chalhoub, Sidney. Visões da Liberdade. Uma história das últimas décadas da escravidão na Corte. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1990.Find this resource:

              Conrad, Robert. The Destruction of Brazilian Slavery, 1850–1888. Oakland: University of California Press, 1973.Find this resource:

                Costa, Emilia Viotti da. Da senzala à colônia. São Paulo: Difusão Europeia do Livro, 1966.Find this resource:

                  Costa, Emilia Viotti da. A Abolição. São Paulo: UNESP, 2010.Find this resource:

                    Ferreira, Ligia F. “De escravo a cidadão: Luiz Gama, voz negra no abolicionismo.” In Tornando-se livre. Agentes históricos e lutas sociais no processo de abolição. Edited by Maria Helena PT Machado and Celso T. Castilho, 213–236. São Paulo: Edusp, 2015.Find this resource:

                      Maria Helena P. T. “‘Teremos grandes desastres se não houver providências enérgicas e imediatas’: a rebeldia dos escravos e a abolição da escravidão.” In O Brasil Imperial, Vol. III: 1870–1889. Edited by Keila Grinberg and Ricardo Salles, 367–400. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2009.Find this resource:

                        Machado, Maria Helena P. T. O plano e o pânico. Os movimentos sociais na década da Abolição. São Paulo: EDUSP, 2010.Find this resource:

                          Machado, Maria Helena P. T., and Celso T. Castilho, eds. Tornando-se livre. Agentes históricos e lutas sociais no processo de abolição. São Paulo: EDUSP, 2015.Find this resource:

                            Marquese, Rafael, and Ricardo Salles. “Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Brazil: History and Historiography.” In Slavery and Historical Capitalism During the Nineteenth Century. Edited by Dale Tomich, 123–169. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017.Find this resource:

                              Mattos, Marcelo Badaró. Escravizados e livres. Experiências comuns na formação da classe trabalhadora carioca. Rio de Janeiro: Bom Texto, 2008.Find this resource:

                                Needell, Jeffrey. “Brazilian Abolitionism, its Historiography, and the Uses of Political History.” Journal of Latin American Studies 42, no. 2 (May 2010): 231–261.Find this resource:

                                  Needell, Jeffrey. The Sacred Cause: The Abolitionist Movement, Afro-Brazilian Mobilization, and Imperial Politics in Rio de Janeiro. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, forthcoming.Find this resource:

                                    Salles, Ricardo. “Abolição no Brasil: resistência escrava, intelectuais e política (1870–1888).” Revista de Indias 71, no. 251 (2011): 259–284.Find this resource:

                                      Salles, Ricardo. “Resistência escrava e abolição na província do Rio de Janeiro. O Partido do Abolicionismo.” In Instituições nefandas O fim da escravidão e da servidão no Brasil, Estados Unidos e Rússia, Edited by D. Aarão Reis, I. S. Lima, and K. Grinberg, 266–293. Rio de Janeiro: Aconteceu Digital/Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa, 2018.Find this resource:

                                        Santos, Cláudia Regina A. “Projetos sociais abolicionistas: ruptura ou continuísmo?” In Intelectuais, história e política: séculos XIX e XX. Edited by D. Aarão Reis, 54–74. Rio de Janeiro: 7 Letras, 2000.Find this resource:

                                          Santos, Cláudia Regina A. “Nas ruas, nos jornais e nos tribunais: a Confederação Abolicionista do Rio de Janeiro antes e depois da Abolição.” In Tornando-se livre. Agentes históricos e lutas sociais no processo de abolição. Edited by Maria Helena PT Machado and Celso T. Castilho, 335–367. São Paulo: Edusp, 2015.Find this resource:

                                            Toplin, Robert B. The Abolition of Slavery in Brazil. New York: Atheneum, 1975.Find this resource:


                                              (2.) Hebe Mattos de Castro, Das cores do silêncio—significados da liberdade no Sudeste escravista. Brasil. Século XIX (Rio de Janeiro: Arquivo Nacional, 1995); and Hebe Mattos de Castro, “Laços de família e direitos no final da escravidão,” in Histótia da vida privada no Brasil, vol. 2, ed. Luiz Felipe Alencastro (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1997), 337–358

                                              (3.) Ricardo Salles, E o Vale era o escravo. Vassouras, século XIX: senhores e escravos no Coração do Império (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2008), 77–115.

                                              (4.) Ricardo Salles, Guerra do Paraguai. Memórias & Imagens (Rio de Janeiro: Biblioteca Nacional, 2003), 38.

                                              (5.) José Murilo de Carvalho, “As conferências radicais do Rio de Janeiro: novo espaço de debates,” in Nação e cidadania no Império (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2007), 17–41.

                                              (8.) Keila Grinberg, O fiador dos brasileiros. Cidadania, escravidão e direito civil no tempo de Antônio Rebouças (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 2002).

                                              (9.) Luiz Gama, “Autobiografia de Luiz Gama,” in Roberto Schwarz, Autobiografia de Luiz Gama, Novos Estudos CEBRAP, n. 25 (São Paulo, October 1989), 136–141

                                              (11.) Maria Alice R. de Carvalho, O quinto século. André Rebouças e a construção do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro: Revan, 1998).

                                              (12.) Sidney Chalhoub, Machado de Assis historiador (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2003).

                                              (16.) Alonso, Flores, votos e balas.

                                              (17.) Robert Conrad, Os últimos anos da escravatura no Brasil, 2nd ed. (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1978), 210–211.

                                              (29.) Maria Helena P. T., Machado, and Celso T. Castilho, eds. Tornando-se livre. Agentes históricos e lutas sociais no processo de abolição (São Paulo: EDUSP); Angela Alonso, Flores, votos e balas. O movimento abolicionista brasileiro (1868–88) (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2015). A review of these two books can be found in Ricardo Salles, A abolição revisitada: entre continuidades e rupturas (São Paulo: Revista de História, 2017), n. 176.