Robert W. Slenes

in The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199227990
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History


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This article reviews scholarship on the history and historiography of slavery in Brazil. Brazil possessed a more varied slave economy with a much larger sector producing for the internal market than scholars had previously thought. The already large slave population of Minas Gerais increased dramatically from 168,543 in 1819 to 381,893 in 1872. Minas Gerais consisted of an intricate mercantile system based on slave labour that not only supplied foreign markets with hides, tobacco, and the products of a revived mining and incipient coffee sector, but also satisfied the domestic demand of Minas and of the rapidly growing Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo plantation complex for cheese, hogs, cattle, and homespun cotton cloth. An elite group of merchants in the ports — often descendants of representatives of Portuguese mercantile houses who had married into large landowning and slaveholding families — came to dominate Brazil's trade with Africa as well as its coastal commerce.

Keywords: slaves; slavery; slave economy; Minas Gerais; slave trade; merchants

Article.  11568 words. 

Subjects: History ; History of the Americas ; Slavery and Abolition of Slavery

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