the white consciousness

Claud Lovat Fraser, The Slave Market, 1912–13


The republican ruling class was the slaveholding ruling class

What is hidden in the transatlantic traffic in Africans?

One of the great myths about Brazilian slavery consists of the idea that it would have been beneficial or less worse compared to North American slavery. The debate is a representative fallacy of the racist ideology impregnated in which it does so, either by trying to compare slavery and, therefore, genocide, aiming to soften national slavery, or by literally using a pathetic subterfuge to point out benignity in the slavery of which it is heir .

Even trying to radicalize the defense of beneficial slavery, because it would have civilized African savages and created a supposedly new civilization, something replicated by authors such as Gilberto Freyre, Katia Matoso, Mary Del Priore and the entire Brazilian right and extreme right, such as Olavo de Carvalho, Antônio Risério and Aldo Rebelo, the data do not ornate, or rather, dismantle the puerile argument. And they do because the argument has always been based on undermining the simplest data.

Let's start with demographics. Data on the African trade compiled by the University of Emory (USA) record that, from 1826 to 1850 (24 years), 1.299.969 Africans arrived in Brazilian ports, while in North American ports, from 1626 to 1875 (249 years), 305.326 Africans. Robert Conrad himself, in The last years of slavery in Brazil: 1850-1888, without the current databases, recorded that between 1800 and 1850 Brazil trafficked approximately 1.600.000 Africans and recorded 1.540.829 enslaved Africans in 1871, while its northern neighbor would have bought 700 Africans and recorded, in 1860, something like around 4.000.000 people of African descent. Regarding Brazil, the correct data, according to David Eltis, a researcher at Emory University, were 2.300.000 Africans trafficked to Brazil between 1800 and 1850, of which 775.000 were children. Conrad's figure is underestimated, with 700 less for Brazil and 400 more for the US, which makes mortality in Brazil incredibly higher.

If one takes into account the proportion of trafficked per year, the USA imported 1.226 Africans per year, while Brazil trafficked 54.126 per year. If the US had trafficked its average in the 24 years that Brazil reached this impressive figure, it would have been 29.424 Africans in total. If Brazil had trafficked its average over the 249 years of the North American period, it would have brought an impressive 13.487.085 Africans to the country. That is, for every African brought by force in the US, in the compared periods, Brazil brought 44.

Comparative table between USA and Brazil in the transatlantic traffic of Africans

Source: formulated from Emory University data, available at In: SACRAMENTO, Leonardo. The Birth of the Nation: How Liberalism Produced Brazilian Proto-Fascism.

Demographically, the US black population increased by 1.310%; the Brazilian black population, in view of the number of Africans brought in, decreased by 62%. If we apply the projection of population growth of blacks in the USA over the initial Brazilian number, in 1871 we would arrive at a figure of 52.400.000 blacks in the country. If done the opposite, applying the Brazilian projection on the initial North American number, the North American blacks would have decreased to 116.023.

It is evident in the 1872 Census that there were 1,9 million blacks for every 1,5 million enslaved, therefore a little less than just 400 thousand free blacks. It is also important to remember that the census was carried out by heads of families. As there was almost a universalization of registration adulteration, for example, due to the Regent Feijó Law, in order to deny freedom to Africans coming to Brazil from 1831 onwards, it can be estimated that the data must be worse, especially for browns. , who represented 38,3% of the population, two tenths more than whites. A huge difference in birth rates and deaths, in which Brazil recorded a demographic retraction of Africans and their descendants.

Comparative chart of demographic growth of blacks between USA and Brazil

Calculation over 4.000.000, approximation based on systematized data based on official documents from Emory University (USA). Calculation performed on 2.300.000, according to data produced by Emory University (USA).

Brazil was the main protagonist in the transatlantic slave trade of Africans in its four hundred years. Manolo Florentino estimates, based on data from African traffickers in the port of Rio de Janeiro, that the direct share of Portuguese traffickers was minimal compared to the direct share of Brazilian traffickers. According to the author, Portuguese traffickers were responsible “for most of the approximately 600 thousand slaves imported by Brazil between 1550 and 1700, and perhaps some 200 or 300 thousand after the latter” (600 thousand in 150 years and 200 or 300 thousand in 122 years), which means that, “in view of the 4 million Africans who landed in the country, it represents something around 20% or 23%”.[I] That is, Brazilian traffickers were responsible for approximately 80% of the number of Africans kidnapped and sent to the country.

It is not possible to explain the Brazilian business model in the XNUMXth century through colonial transmission. Brazil innovated in the trafficking of Africans and in mercantile slavery. The Brazilian innovation consisted of a significant primitive accumulation of capital, giving prominence to families that owned slaves and merchants currently well positioned in the Brazilian ruling class. Almost all current bankers have their origin in the slave trade and work of Africans, from all Itaú families to ministers and presidential candidates who call for less State.

This is the case of Pedro Guimarães, removed due to allegations of moral harassment and sexual harassment. He is married to Manuella Pinheiro Guimarães, daughter of José Adelmário Pinheiro Filho, known as Léo Pinheiro from OAS. They belong to the Pinheiro Machado family, owner of an office based in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo for the issuance of bonds and securities (shares). According to Manolo Florentino, the Pinheiro Guimarães family was the fifth largest trafficking family of enslaved Africans in Brazil, especially between 1811 and 1830, with a very strong presence in Luanda. From the specified date alone, the family made 45 trips, with an official death toll of 7.084 Africans and 101 deaths per 1.000 Africans trafficked from Central-Atlantic Africa.

Another is Luiz Felipe d'Avila, presidential candidate for the bankrupt Novo and would limer. He is the son of Aluízio D'Avila and Maria Christina Pacheco Chaves. His father owns a large construction company that grew up in the civil-military dictatorship and his mother owns an endless amount of land. He is married to Ana Maria Beatriz, daughter of Abílio Diniz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Península Participações, of the Board of Directors of BRF and member of the Board of Directors of the Carrefour Group and Carrefour Brasil. On his mother's side, he is the great-great-grandson of Elias Antônio Pacheco e Chaves, a slaveholder and senator (for life). The slave owner married Adélia da Silva Prado, daughter of Martinho and Veridiana da Silva Prado, one of the families that had the most enslaved Africans in the XNUMXth century in the country and, due to such concentration, managed to diversify coffee capital into banking and commercial networks , especially in the Old Republic.

Even adding blacks indiscriminately to all pardos in the 1872 Census, resulting in a contingent of 5.760.077 inhabitants, the population growth would have been only 15% of the total (Portuguese and Brazilian traffickers) and 19% of the number of Africans brought by Brazilian traffickers, both very far from the 1.310% of the North American case. Statistics is not always the art of proving what you want with numbers. No wonder, one does not see conservatives using numbers to prove that slavery would have been harmonious. It tends to be only with empty rhetoric and overestimation of specific and isolated data produced by a postmodern historiographical methodology, such as the Escola de Annals. Brazil killed many more Africans than the USA due to the specificity of the business model of economic and social production of the enslaved, and this killing brought different implications in the population laws of each country, as shown by Jacob Gorender[ii] and Clovis Moura.[iii]

The Brazilian slave population law was different from the North American one, which gave priority to the internal reproduction of enslaved people, including large experiences of reproduction farms – in Brazil more common in a few regions and farms in the second half of the XNUMXth century with enslaved people breeders. This distinction brought a major difference raised by theorists and defenders of racial democracy: miscegenation. Domenico Losurdo[iv] exposes the supposed contradiction between freedom, ideology and North American laws on private life, including the free ones, in which one of these laws that regulated private life was the anti-lawmiscegenation.

Normally, the existence of this law in the US and its non-existence in Brazil, as well as Brazilian miscegenation, are part of a bastion of Brazilianness for the conservative field, whose idealization is based on the supposed peculiarities of Latin Portuguese and Anglo-Saxon and, respectively, , of the Catholic and Protestant religions, as if they were the only virtue (or vice) of Portuguese, inherited by white Brazilians. It so happens that this difference was established as a founding element by the economic relations for the social production of the enslaved and by the corresponding population law, in which it brings an inconvenient truth to the defenders of racial democracy.

The social production of the enslaved in Brazil was given by the importation of Africans and the transformation of Africans into enslaved blacks under the booming trade of imprisonment and transport of Africans, while in the USA the production and reproduction of the enslaved consisted of an internal production, in which racial purity was fundamental, since miscegenation, in a context of very low importation of Africans and extremely early prohibition of trafficking compared to the Brazilian case, would imply a dangerous social relativization for the social production of enslaved people and for the reproduction of “ community of the free”.

This is the social importance of “purity”. There was a need to guarantee the racial purity of the enslaved to guarantee the racial purity of the free society, which was already guaranteed in Brazil by the transatlantic trade and its legal relationship, opening up social and symbolic space for sexual intercourse based on rape of African women. and native and in genocide measured in the extremely high exposed mortality. There was no hegemony of the internal production of enslaved people. Brazilian miscegenation was guaranteed, at first, by the ease of importation of enslaved goods, so that Africans thrown overboard and killed in childhood and youth were the structural guarantors of the white man's national disregard for racial purity.

The second fact that ensured national unconcern about miscegenation was rape, since it basically occurred through compulsory sexual intercourse between white men and black and native women, as shown in the study Brazilian DNA, from the University of São Paulo. The survey found a predominance of 36% of African populations and 34% of native populations by maternal matrix in the Brazilian population, while European male heritage corresponds to 75%.[v] But rape would not be widespread without the social production of the enslaved through a broad transatlantic trade, in which Brazilian traffickers were the main protagonists.

The death of millions of Africans at sea and on land, due to the social production and commercialization of enslaved Africans, guaranteed the possibility, legality and legitimacy of rape and miscegenation, while in the USA rape was prohibited by some provisions legal, since the miscegenated bastard was opposed to the social reproductions of the enslaved and the free white, based on racial purity, which, obviously, did not prevent rape.

Racial purity was the guarantor of the North American production of the enslaved. Later, as Losurdo remembers, he was a guarantor of the society of the free against the blacks, as evidenced by the 13th and 14th amendments of the US Constitution and the state legislation in response to the last amendment. In the Brazilian case, racial purity would be preserved by official marriage and the white man's sexual freedom for rape. The two models show that the supremacist experiences of the XNUMXth century did not arise by spontaneous generation. Looking for beauty in this process, as the heralds of racial democracy do, is typical sadism of a Nazi, in which one did not admit the rape of Jewish women in the name of Aryan purity, while his colleague did not see any problems, especially if the result was far from of her Aryan purity socially and legally guaranteed with her marriage.

Because São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais concentrated practically 70% of enslaved people after 1850, they achieved significant accumulations compared to other regions and provinces (states), notably because they combined productivity with enslaved labor in a context of high coffee prices, while the collapse of the sugar market induced the northeastern provinces to sell slaves, especially after the impact of the drought and famine of 1877, as shown by Mike Davis, in Colonial Holocausts. It is not by chance that the most impacted province, Ceará, became the first to announce the end of slavery in 1884 – forgetting that it passed far from the myth of the rebellion of the Ceará elite, but rather from actions by Preta Simoa, Francisco José do Nascimento and Negra Esperança under an adverse economic context. Between 1872 and 1876, 3.186 slaves were exported through the port of Fortaleza; between 1877 and 1880, 7.677 were enslaved.[vi] The abolition of Ceará reinforced slavery in São Paulo.

There is a point that deserves a more accurate debate, as it refers to a legal-political paradox of the Brazilian accumulation of capital. It will be called here “Evidência de Gama”, in reference to Luiz Gama. As is taught in schools, there was a supposed first attempt in 1831 with the Regent Feijó Law. In its 1st article, it says that “All slaves, who enter the territory or ports of Brazil, coming from abroad, remain free”. Law is not an attempt. The law was ignored by the slaveholding class and slave traders, by the judiciary and the political elite. Therefore, they committed an illegality. A social agreement, in which the proof was up to the non-language-speaking enslaved. Legally, all Africans who arrived after 1831 were free, illegally enslaved in light of the Empire's own legal system. From 568.004 onwards, 1831 free Africans entered Brazil, with a younger profile. They were legally free and were illegally enslaved.

Their children were also legally free, as they were born to free people. According to more current data, “in Brazil, during the period of slavery, the life expectancy of this population was five to 10 years lower than that of North American blacks, for example, who lived, on average, 33 years”.[vii] Stuart Schwartz, in Internal Secrets: mills and slaves in colonial society (1550-1835), estimates the average life of enslaved people at 19 years.[viii] Starting from this premise, 19 years, in 1850 the Eusébio de Queiróz Law dealt more with the children than with the parents who arrived in the first half of the 1830s, most of them dead or in bad conditions for productivity in the field, with few exceptions .

Likewise, if the average lifespan is 23 years or 27 years – which is difficult, as it was close to the average lifespan of the average non-slave Brazilian, including whites, in 1854 or 1858 the generation of 1831 would be exhausted, with few exceptions. . As enslaved Africans had sexual relationships with other enslaved people without taking into account whether they came before or after 1831, it remains to be concluded that legally the children of a free re-enslaved person were free, according to Art. 1 of the Regent Feijó Law. It can be concluded that all those “enslaved” after 1860, with very few exceptions, were free, especially those who worked in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. The Law of 1850, the Lei do Ventre-Livre, the Sexagenarian Law and the Abolition Law dealt with people who were legally free.

Therefore, slavery was not only immoral or harmful, but illegal according to the legal system of the Brazilian State, it should be noted, built by the class of slave owners and the monarchy. The logic presented by historians that the law would not have “taken hold”, or would only be a law “for the English to see”, is a racist euphemism and without scientific and legal sense. Africans were free and were enslaved. The dynamics and demand of the black movements should not be guided only in the sense of reparation, a euphemistic term that accompanies, without reflection, the historiographical euphemism, but have a claim for indemnification. The demand for the indemnity fund should not be turned only to the State, but to families that have become bourgeois simulating some entrepreneurial skill, anti-scientific and deleterious liberal ideology so in vogue these days.


The abolitionist laws that enslaved more

Cartoon by Angelo Agostini in Revista Ilustrada (1880).

After Independence, a troubled period of popular revolts brought conservatives closer to the idea of ​​forming a more centralized State. Regency revolts in the 1830s endangered, in the view of slaveholders, slavery as a mode of production. Nothing scared the slaveholding elite more than the Malês Revolt. Five months after the Revolt, on June 10, 1835, Law n. 4, establishing the death penalty for enslaved people. Article 1 evidenced the fear of slave owners: “The male or female slaves will be punished with the death penalty, who kill in any way, offer poison, seriously injure or cause any other serious physical offense to their master, their wife, descendants or ascendants who live in their company, the administrator, overseer and their wives who live with them”.

The risk was not just the dismemberment of the country, as is usually presented, but the dismemberment from the prohibition of slavery, as occurred in the rest of the continent, provoking a risky competition to the provinces that would maintain slavery. In the view of the slaveholders, this risky competition would cause a generalized flight of Africans to the provinces that had abolished slavery, something similar to what happened with Rio Grande do Sul in relation to Uruguay, causing the farroupilha elite to impose a condition on D. Pedro II the signing of agreements for the extradition of Africans who fled. The king who would be an abolitionist for Globo and the extreme right signed five extradition agreements throughout his life against free Africans fleeing to Peru, Uruguay and Argentina, who would become (re) enslaved. According to Andrés Lamas, consul of Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro, D. Pedro II and his slaveholding elite imposed (this is the term chosen by the diplomat) as a precondition for the signing of any other trade treaty.

As Vitor Nunes Leal remembers, in Coronelismo, Hoe and Vote, the Majority Coup took place to guarantee territorial unity under slavery. Therefore, if there is territorial unity in the country, it is due to the conservative reaction that understood administrative unity as a means to guarantee trade and the use of Africans in slave labor. Slavery was the great foundation for administrative centralization after the Majority Coup, being the common thread of the continental territorial unit.

In 1842, debates on the Land Law began, largely induced by British military action in the Atlantic against transatlantic traffic (Anglo-Brazilian Treaty and Bill Aberdeen). At no time, according to the Annals of the Chamber of Deputies, between 1842 and 1850, was any other solution sought other than European labor. Since the 1830s, there were already numerous national texts claiming that a developed nation could not be built with blacks, only with whites. Shortly after Independence, the São Paulo elite created the Sociedade Defensora da Liberdade e Independência Nacional. In 1936, it promoted a contest whose theme was national development.

Frederico Leopoldo Cezar Burlamaqui sent an essay called On the Slave Trade and Correcting the Evils of Domestic Slavery, according to which he concluded that in the country the “inability of blacks for any service that requires the smallest portion of intelligence” prevailed, since “all the slaves together, putting into work all the intelligence and skill of which they are capable, they will not be able to make a good pin.”[ix] He offered European immigration as a solution. Whitening is a birthmark of Official Independence, which buried popular struggles in the name of the Eurocentric connection of the elite with the colonizer.

The big question of the ruling slave class was: how to make the worker not work for himself in a country with so much land? How to make the worker sell his labor power? The answer was to prevent land ownership, expropriating the land base of a significant part of the population, as proposed by Wakefield and his “sufficient price” for English colonization in Oceania, an author analyzed by Karl Marx in the last chapter of Book I of The capital, “The Modern Theory of Colonization”.

Possession would only exist through purchase. In the same law that prevented possession, promoting the concentration of land among large landowners, who had received the land through donation (sesmarias), there was authorization for European immigration and colonization: “Art. 18. The Government is authorized to send annually at the expense of the Treasury a certain number of free settlers to be employed, for the time that is scheduled, in agricultural establishments, or in works directed by the Public Administration, or in the formation of colonies in the places where these are more suitable; taking in advance the necessary measures for such colonists to find employment as soon as they disembark”.

A structuring inequality for races was imposed, in which, in the formation of the working class, one race was the object of agrarian reforms, therefore racial agrarian reforms, and another, the object of enslavement; one turned to paid work and the other to enslavement; one claimed labor improvements potentially with a strike, another aimed at freedom effectively through riot. This structuring inequality would be expressed more strongly in the Old Republic, with segregationist laws imposed by the old class of slaveholders, transformed into bourgeois.

At the end of the 1860s, conservatives regained the majority in Congress and began to direct the process of maintaining slavery with the motto “slow, gradual and sure”. The motto, used by the military and by the high bourgeoisie that acted in the Civil-Military Dictatorship, was invented by the slaveholders, above all by José de Alencar, who defended the (non) natural end of slavery because the regime naturally reflected an evolutionary period of the Nation linked to the cognitive incapacity of blacks, and there should not be any law that infringes it, under penalty of granting freedom to those dispossessed of Reason. Slavery would be a civilizing act by a good owner. Thus, the motto ended up in the preamble of the notorious abolitionist laws, such as the Sexagenarian Law, and it was the guiding principle of conservatives who fought against abolition. Promoting laws that changed enough to preserve the slave regime.

The Free Womb Law establishes a Brazilian normative standard. Article 1 sanctions the right, the following contain restrictions. The article promulgates that “the children of the slave woman, who are born in the Empire from the date of this law, will be considered of free condition”. The following obliges the masters to “raise” them until they are eight years old, making them enslaved; the following imposes compensation on the owner if he himself chooses not to “raise” them after eight years, and not the mother or child. Otherwise, he would choose to “raise” them until the age of 21, taking advantage of their services.

It was in this law that the slave-owning congressmen included a principle that would be seen in the Old Republic as the main mechanism for controlling and incarcerating blacks: that of anti-vagrancy. In Art. 6, § 5, reads: “In general, slaves freed under this Law remain under the inspection of the Government for five years. They are obliged to hire their services under pain of being constrained, if they live idle, to work in public establishments. However, the constraint of work will cease, whenever the freedman displays a service contract”.

Therefore, the freedman was obliged to constantly offer his workforce for whatever wages and working conditions, otherwise he would be arrested. In practice, he was enslaved. It was enough for the police to arrest him and force him to sign an employment contract, in accordance with what was established by the judiciary, which literally represented the owner of slaves. Free data are scarce, which demonstrates that the law fulfilled its role: keeping Africans legally free by the Regent Feijó Law, of 1831, in slavery. It's forty years apart. In the average life established by Schwartz (1988), of 19 years, would be two complete generations. In the average life established by Queiróz (2018), 23 to 27 years, would be respectively 1,7 to 1,4 complete generations.

The Sexagenarian Law is basically a law for the compensation and financing of European immigrants divided into three parts. The first is compensation to the owner: “The amount referred to in art. 1° will be declared by the master of the slave, not exceeding the maximum regulated by the age of the enrolling person according to the following table: Slaves under 30 years old, 900$000; from 30 to 40, 800$000; from 40 to 50, 600$000; from 50 to 55, 400$000; from 55 to 60, 200$000”.

An additional 5% levy on taxes was instituted to finance compensation.

The widespread idea that there was no compensation to landowners, generally used to enhance the role of the white elite itself in abolition through Isabel's supposed courage and voluntary manumission as a result of the kindness of good lords, is nothing more than a falsification. They received compensation, much used by owners from 1887 onwards, as shown by Viotti da Costa,[X] Jacob Gorender, Robert Conrad and Warren Dean.[xi]

The second part was used for changing the work regime: “The 2a. part will be applied to the deliberation for half or less than half of its value, of the plantation and mining slaves whose masters want to convert the establishments maintained by slaves into free”. The third part was destined to finance the arrival of European immigrants, that is, to whiten the population, or to de-blackize it in order to de-Africanize it: “The 3rd. part will be destined to subsidize the colonization through the payment of transport of settlers who are effectively placed in agricultural establishments of any nature”. To this end, the State was also authorized to issue Treasury Bonds: “to develop the resources used in the transformation of agricultural establishments served by slaves into free establishments and to assist the development of agricultural colonization, the Government may issue the bonds referred to in paragraph ° III of this article. The interest and amortization of these bonds cannot absorb more than two thirds of the proceeds of the additional fee set forth in n. II of the same article”.

In more explicit terms, it was at that moment that manumissions exploded, as there was remuneration from the State whose fund and debt contributed to the enrichment of the slaveholding elite itself. The fund financed the arrival of immigrants to the slaveholders, as well as the change in the work regime. In this way, the government issued Treasury Bonds, purchased by the slaveholding elite itself, the only one able to buy the securities in large quantities. After receiving the indemnities and the labor, they still received the dividends from the interest on the papers. The Sexagenarian Law was just a good deal for slaveholders.

But what to do if the enslaved reached the age of 60? Forcing him to work for another three years in the name of recovering the capital invested, “as compensation for his manumission”. Even if the miracle of reaching the age of 60 occurred, he would work three more. It was not an indemnity, but a more, an extraordinary profit. And after three years? Following the precept of the disabled freedman, the enslaved would continue “in the company of their former masters”, who, in return, would continue “to enjoy the services compatible with their strength”. The enslaved should remain for another five years in the municipality where they were registered, being able to change only through the authorization of the Judge of Orphans – a measure that was already in the Free Womb Law.

The anti-vagrancy principle established in the Womb-Livre Law is more explicit in Art. 2, §17 and §18: “§17. Any freedman found unemployed will be obliged to take a job or hire their services within the period set by the police. §18. At the end of the period, without the freed person showing that he has complied with the police order, he will be sent by the police to the Judge for Orphans, who will force him to sign a service lease contract, under penalty of 15 days in prison with work and being sent to some agricultural colony in case of recurrence”.

The Sexagenarian Law definitively enshrined the anti-vagrancy principle for blacks, crystallizing it once and for all with the Agricultural Colonies, which would be widely used in the Criminal Code of 1890 for vagrants and capoeiras under the nickname of Correctional Colonies. Therefore, the Sexagenarian Law was a law of racial substitution of black for white and African for European. A law of police and prison control over blacks, imposing compulsory labor and the employment contract, maximizing exploitation. A law to encourage white and European immigration to eliminate the black and African element. A fundamental economic reform law for the accumulation of capital between slavery and salaried employment, promoting the concentration and centralization of capital, especially in the province of São Paulo.

The abolitionist laws, as seen, did not allow anything from the perspective of the enslaved African. On the contrary, the enslaved would only be free if he was 68 years old, 60 years old plus the three years of work to pay a manumission (more or extraordinary profit), which was already paid by the government if the owner so wished, and five more years in the registered municipality where he was always enslaved, obligatorily offering his work force to anyone, at the risk of imprisonment in Agricultural Colony. But if the owner and the judge understood that the enslaved African was disabled, he would remain working for the rest of his life for the owner, who would enjoy “services compatible” with his strengths.

Undeniably, the abolitionist laws created the punitive system against blacks widely used in the Old Republic until the present day. The abolitionist laws were reforms of the slave owners with a segregating and repressive direction against Africans and blacks. They must be recognized as economic reforms that aimed to prolong slavery as much as possible, until the XNUMXth century according to some of its defenders. They were slave laws, and must be recognized as such.


The Republic incorporates and radicalizes the punitive principles of the Empire with official segregation

All Black. Photo by Luiz Morier, published in Jornal do Brasil (1993).

Brazil played a major role in building the segregationist legal-political apparatus that would be universalized by the West in the XNUMXth century. The racialization undertaken by liberalism in the XNUMXth century involved the creation of an evolutionary system based on the hierarchy of races. The Africans were the savage, the indigenous constituted those who could be civilized through Christianization and westernization, and the yellow ones, the evolutionary mediation between Africans and whites, that is, preferable for being superior to Africans and inferior to whites in case of scarcity. of ideal immigrants. The Europeans and their descendants, the final stage, were the peoples and beings that should guide and even eliminate the weakest.

Since the Agricultural Congress of 1878, the São Paulo bench openly defended as a State Policy the arrival of European, white and Christian immigrants to whiten the Brazilian population. In 1885, with the Sexagenarian Law, São Paulo's projection assumes the materiality of a State Policy through state and private funding, as can be seen from immigration data. In 1886, 16.036 European immigrants entered São Paulo; in 1887, 32.112 arrived, an increase of practically 100%. The following year, the number of immigrants jumped to 92.086, an increase of 186% compared to the previous year and 474% compared to 1886.

To have a more precise idea of ​​the effectiveness of the Racial Immigration Policy since the Sexagenarian Law, in São Paulo alone, from 1827 to 1929, there were 2.522.337, with only 37.481 between 1827 and 1884 (57 years), according to data from the Bulletin of the Directorate of Lands, Colonization and Immigration, from 1937. That is, there were 2.484.856 Europeans in just 44 years entering the state, starting in 1886.

But what to do with blacks? Concomitantly with immigration and abolition accelerated by escapes and lack of control over enslaved people (the workforce), the answer was urgent for the slaveholding elite. With the end of slavery, there was no longer any reason for monarchical administrative centralization. The monarchy fell because its sole and exclusive function was to represent administrative and repressive centralization in order to guarantee the slaveholding hegemony in all provinces.

Without slavery, the São Paulo elite began to claim autonomy, or more power. Slaveholders became republicans. The figure of the slave-owning republican was created, who profiled São Paulo society throughout most of the 1880s. The main exponent of this figure, in addition to big shots such as the Prado family, was the newspaper The Province of Sao Paulo, from the Mesquita family, renamed The state of Sao Paulo after the proclamation. The newspaper lived exclusively from advertisements of escaped slaves and took up the fight against the quilombos.

The Proclamation of the Republic came with a military coup precisely to guarantee the hegemony of the slaveholding elite in the political process. And the first task of the new republicans was to answer the questions that haunted them: how to whiten the Brazilian population? Without slavery, how to control blacks? Prior to the 1891 Constitution, congressmen and the government raced with two pieces of legislation that responded to the ruling class' desire to introduce mechanisms of control and coercion over freed blacks: a racial immigration law and a penal code.

The racial immigration law came with Decree n. 528, of June 28, 1890, which prohibited the immigration of Africans and Asians. Article 1 completely prohibited African and Asian immigration, or rather, allowed freedom of entry “for individuals who are valid and capable of work” free of convictions in their country, “with the exception of indigenous peoples from Asia or Africa”. The state of São Paulo, not satisfied, made its own legislation, accompanied by Minas Gerais, namely, State Law n. 356 (São Paulo), of 1895, this law released immigration from almost all continents, as long as they were “of the white race”.

The law openly discriminated who could enter the state of São Paulo and the port of Santos, the main entry point for foreign immigrants in Brazil: “§ 1. – Immigrants from the European continent will be of the following nationalities: Italian, Swedish, German, Norwegian, Swiss, Dutch, Danish, English, Austrian, Portuguese and Spanish, the latter being exclusively from the Canary Islands and the provinces called Galicia, Navarra and Vascongadas . § 2. – Those of American origin will be Canadians from the province of Quebec and the island of Puerto Rico. § 3.º – Those of African origin shall only be from the Canary Islands”.

It was released in a large part of Europe, with a clear predilection for Germans and Scandinavians, while on the American continent it was released only for “Canadians from the province of Quebec” and for the “island of Puerto Rico”, under Spanish jurisdiction and which would become a territory North American three years later; and on the African continent only for the “Canary Islands” (Article 1), a set of seven tiny islands colonized by Spain, which still has jurisdiction over them.

To get an idea of ​​the protagonism of the formulation and application of the Brazilian racial immigration law in the world, the US introduced its racial immigration law initially in 1917, formulating it in fact only in 1924. As James Q. Whitman recalls in Hitler's Amarican Model: the United States and Making of Nazi Race Law, Barred Zone Act, of 1917, imposed a ban on the immigration of undesirables through the establishment of areas and territories in the world understood “as a home for the undesirables”, promptly extended to “homosexuals, idiots, anarchists and others”. In 1921 and 1924, two legislations were enacted that derive from that of 1917, the Emergency Quota Act and Immigration Act. Like the people from São Paulo, there was a preference for “Nordics from northern and western Europe over 'undesirable races' from eastern and southern Europe”, perceived as respectively Eastern and African.

The German State only implemented its racial legislation in 1937 after the Nuremberg Congress and the visit of Nazi jurists to the United States. Hitler was interested in knowing how to build racial legislation for the internal public, since Europeans dominated neocolonial racial legislation, aimed at a non-national external public. Brazil, therefore, built its national racial legislation aimed at the national public 27 to 34 years before the US and 47 years before Germany. And, to boot, it had the longest running racial legislation in history. Decree no. 528, of 1890, was revoked only in 1991 (Decree of April 25th), and State Law n. 356, of 1895, only in 2006 (Law No. 12.242, of January 27, 2006). Respectively, 101 and 111 years of existence.

For this reason, the immigration of non-white African and Latin American peoples, such as Bolivians, actually began in the 1990s – until the 1980s, they did not enter into flows. That is, Brazil was the first country of relevance to create racial legislation and the last to abandon it – as happened with the transatlantic slave trade and slavery. What happened to the Congolese Moïse, beaten to death by Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro, coherently represented the Brazilian racial immigration policy.

The other piece of legislation was the Criminal Code of 1890. There are three devices that significantly impacted black Brazilians. The first provision was the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 9 years, in accordance with Article 27. Article 30 provides for detention in “industrial disciplinary establishments, for as long as the judge decides, as long as the internment does not exceed the age of 17”. Therefore, the child could be arrested at the age of 9 and left only at the age of 17, compulsorily working.

The second was provided for in Article 399, which will be reproduced in full: “Failure to exercise a profession, trade, or any trade in which he earns a living, not having means of subsistence and a certain domicile in which to live; provide for subsistence through occupation prohibited by law, or manifestly offensive to morals and good customs: Penalty - cell imprisonment for fifteen to thirty days. § 1º By the same sentence that condemns the offender as a vagrant, he will be obliged to sign a term of taking occupation within 15 days, counted from the fulfillment of the sentence. § 2 Those over 14 years of age will be taken to industrial disciplinary establishments, where they may be kept until the age of 21”.

Here, the principle established since the Lei do Ventre-Livre and expanded in the Lei do Sexagenário was radicalized as an effective mechanism of control over freed black workers, especially among young people. It offered a labor force that emerged from slavery able to be enslaved by the condition and context imposed by legislation and misery. Article 400 increased the sentence to three years if there was a recurrence and breach of the imposed term, in which the worker was sent to penal colonies “on maritime islands, or on the borders of the national territory, and existing military prisons may be used for this purpose” . Many, of course, never returned.

The two articles were expanded in 1908 through Decree n. 6.994, according to which the Colony is explicitly linked to vagrants and capoeiras: “Art. 51. Internment in the Colony is established for vagrants, valid beggars, capoeiras and rioters. Art. 52. These classes include: § 1 Individuals of any sex who, without means of subsistence through their own fortune or profession, art, craft, legal and honest occupation in which they earn a living, wander around the city in idleness”. What matters here is existence, not the act. There is no criminalization of practice, but of essence, character, social figure, social class and race.

Finally, article 157, which dealt with cartomancy, imposed a ban on religions of African origin: “Practicing spiritism, magic and their spells, using talismans and cartomancies to awaken feelings of hate or love, inculcating cures for curable illnesses or incurable, finally, to fascinate and subdue public credulity: Penalties – cell imprisonment for one to six months and a fine from 100$ to 500$000”.

O jornal The city, from Ribeirão Preto, the main coffee producing center until 1929, attacked the police forces against candomblé: “The campaign that the local press has been waging against sorcerers and charlatans, supported by the Regional Police Department, has already produced beneficial results. As reported, yesterday the police raided a “center” where low spiritism is practised, locking up the “pai de santo” who was presiding over the session in chess before the crowd of humble “believers” who were stunned. We are here to support the police repression in the repression of this vile exploitation that has been operating in the city for some time” (newspaper The city, on February 17, 1933). Customs Police Stations were created, which in Rio de Janeiro ended up becoming, in 1934, the Section of Toxics, Narcotics and Mysticism, the antechamber of the current anti-drug policy, which Brazil also played an international role in the prohibition of marijuana and in the construction of the ideal of total combat.

Brazil, therefore, officially prevented the entry of Africans and non-whites, imposed compulsory work on vagrants and capoeiras (blacks) and prohibited religions of African origin. As an incomplete response to the supremacist avalanche, a significant part of the black southeastern movement at the time became monarchist – obviously, not slavery. He understood the republic as an institution contrary to blacks, which applied all its repressive apparatus to decimate them. Until 1928, in São Paulo, more blacks died than were born. They understood that there was a state initiative, under orders and guidance from the ruling class, to whiten, increasing the white population, and to de-black, reducing and decimating the black population. The republican ruling class was the slaveholding ruling class.

According to Joseph Love, analyzing the political elite (and in a certain sense the economic one) organized in the PRP (Partido Republicano Paulista) until 1930, 46% of the politicians were born before 1868, 34% between 1869 and 1888 and only 20% after 1889 , in which the latter group had not “reached the height of their political career in 1937”.[xii] Those born after 1889 were, logically, children of slave owners and, like good children, they inherited all the accumulated capital of slavery. Then, like good liberals, they called it personal merit. The son is the man's father.[xiii]

*Leonardo Sacramento is a pedagogue at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of São Paulo. Book author The mercantile university: a study on the public university and private capital (Appris).


[I] FLORENTINO, Manolo. On black coasts: a history of the slave trade between Africa and Rio de Janeiro (XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries). São Paulo: Editora UNESP, 2014, p. 121.

[ii] GORENDER, Jacob. colonial slavery. 4th edition. São Paulo: Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo, 2010.

[iii] MOURA, Clovis. Radical Dialectics of Black Brazil. 3rd Ed. São Paulo: Anita Garibaldi, 2020.

[iv] LOSURDO, Domenico. Counter-history of liberalism. Translation by Giovanni Semeraro. Aparecida (SP): Ideas and Letters, 2006. p. 347.

[v] Available in Study with 1.200 genomes maps diversity of the Brazilian population – 23/09/2020 – Ciência – Folha (

[vi] MARTINS, Paulo Henrique de Souza. Slavery, Abolition and Post-Abolition in Ceará: about stories, memories and narratives of the last slaves and their descendants in the Sertão of Ceará. Dissertation presented to the Graduate Program in History at UFF. Niterói (RJ): 2012, p. 62.

[vii] QUEIROZ, Christina. paths of freedom. Revista Pesquisa FAPESP. Issue 267, May. 2018. Available in,%2C%20em%20m%C3%A9dia%2C%2033%20anos.

[viii] SCHWARTZ, Stuart B. Internal Secrets: mills and slaves in colonial society (1550-1835). São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1988.

[ix] BURLAMAQUI, Frederico Leopoldo Cezar. On the Slave Trade and on the Evils of Domestic Slavery. Rio de Janeiro: Typographia Commercial Fluminense, 1837, p. 141.

[X] COSTA, Emilia Viotti da. The Abolition. Sao Paulo: Global, 1982.

[xi] DEAN, Warren. Rio Claro: a Brazilian system of large plantations (1820-1920). Translation by Waldivia Portinho. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1977.

[xii] LOVE, Joseph. The Locomotive: São Paulo in the Brazilian Federation (1889-1937). Translated by Vera Alice Cardoso da Silva. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1982, p. 224.

[xiii] The present text was elaborated from research carried out by the author and presented in an extension course of the IFSP, called Critical Studies on Brazilian Conservatism. The data worked on, as well as the full text, will be published in the book The Birth of the Nation: How Liberalism Produced Brazilian Proto-Fascism (press), in two volumes, by Editora IFSP, not necessarily in the same format presented here.

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