Rice University logo
Top blue bar image A Nation Of Abolitionists
A History Blog by W. E. Skidmore II

Archive for March, 2014

Pro-Slavery Views of Brazil

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

De Bow’s Review, “The Empire of Brazil,” January 1858

The Empire of Brazil Debow 1858

“Our present article will be confined to an examination of a new work on Brazil, issue in very handsome style, form the press of Childs & Peterson, Philadelphia, being the joint labor of two Reverend American gentlemen, Kidder and Fletcher, and have, with pen and pencil, illustrated very fully its characteristics, history, and polity” (1).

Daniel Kidder and James Fletcher, Brazil and the Brazilians

“On the subject of slavery Mr. Fletcher has many interesting particulars, but looks upon everything with the eyes of a citizen of the Northern states, who cannot be considered a proper judge of what is fitting or not fitting to the institution of African slavery.  He believes it to be doomed in Brazil, but out own conclusions are the very reverse, based upon the experience of the rest of the world, and upon its necessity in that country, evidenced in the great prosperity which prevails, and which does not exist in any neighboring States without the benefit of the institution” (7)

“It is to be observed that we are dealing with an anti-slavery authority; and therefore, what is said must sometimes be received cum granis” (9).

“On the subject of the slave and free labor in Brazil, Mr. Fletcher continually reiterates the opinion that since the stoppage of the slave trade [1850] “slavery will die out in Brazil.”  As that effect was not produced in our own country from the same cause [1808], we may hesitate to receive the opinion” (17)

De Bow’s Review, “Slavery in Brazil—The Past and Future,” April 1860

Slavery in Brazil DeBow 1860

“The progress and present condition of this empire, so rich with nature’s choicest gifts, are then to us matters worthy of investigation.  Unfortunately, at the outset, we encounter the difficulty of obtaining information, and it becomes necessary to draw one’s inference from works written either by Northerners or Europeans” (479)

“Messrs. Kidder and Fletcher—for it is impossible to separate the two in their joint authorship—have what may be mildly called, ‘free soil’ tendencies, and all, therefore, they say on the subject of slavery, must be taken cum grano salis [with a grain of salt]” (479)

Abstract: Article also compares Fletcher and Kidder with letters written by a southern correspondent in Rio de Janeiro.  First published in the Charleston Mercury, and author signs his name J.H.R.

H. 1853. ART. 4.–MAURY ON SOUTH AMERICA AND AMAZONIA. The Southern Quarterly Review (1842-1857). 10, http://search.proquest.com/docview/126281331?accountid=7064

In-depth review of Lieutenant Maury’s pamphlet on his travels to Brazil

“We believe, differently, perhaps, from LIeut. Maury and many others, that the anti-slavery feeling is running to seed.  That the hobby, ridden without reaching the grand aim project, is wearing out.  That the northern agitators are now confined to a comparatively few madmen, who are equally fanatic against that Bible, and its author, as against “slave drivers.”  That the bone and sinew of our northern brethren are satisfied that an ingnis fatuus (deceptive, a foolish goal or hope) has been leading them astray from a just and constitutional view of the question”

“That England, the originator of the system of slavery, and, from selfish and sinister motives, the very head of the crusade for its extirpation, is sick of the heartless struggle; and would now, but for very shame, reestablished it in her fertile dominion…the grand politico-religious fervor is nearly evaporated, and slavery, this day stands on a firmer basis than it has ever done!

Footnote: “We heartily disavow all intended offense to Mr. Maury.  He is a Virginian, and, without knowing him personally, is a gentleman for whom we entertain high admiration.  We are dealing with his publication, and we assure him that we are handling this portion with our gloves on.“


De Bow’s Review,  “ART.1—Amalgamation,” July 1860

DeBow Amalgamation

 “Shall the white and black races in America abandon all distinctions of color, and unite, socially and political as one people?  Shall the warp of Anglo-Saxon civilization, now thrown across the great North American continent, be crossed by the woof of Ethiopian barbarism?  Shall the interests of the two races, once so diverse, but now so identical, be fused through a process of socialism into one element, or shall they exist upon the fundamental principle governing the existence of the States themselves?” (2)

“We shall endeavor to show, so far as we are capable of doing in our limited space, that all these question should be answer in the negative” (2)

“Doctors Spix and Martius, the eminent travellers in Brazil, who went out by command of the King of Bavaria, alluding to a swelling of the glands of the neck, very common in certain parts of the empire, and which much resembles the Swiss goiter, say, that the people who suffered from it were, “for the most part, mulattoes,” who had, “independent of this, no very agreeable features” (5)

Johann Baptist von Spix and Frederick P. von Martius, Travels in Brazil

“In the interesting travels of Mr. Wallace, a naturalist, who resided for some time Brazil, we find a description of Bara, a city situated on the Rio Negro, a short distance above its junction with the Amazon: ‘It population,” says Mr. Wallace, “is five or six thousand, of which the greater part are Indian or half-breeds; in fact there is probably not a single person born in the place of pure European blood, so completely have the Portuguese amalgamated with Indians.  ‘Moral,’ continues our traveller, ‘are perhaps at the lowest ebb possible in any civilized community” (10).

“Speak of the possibility of an insurrection in Brazil, Mr. Gardner says:

‘In such an event, the whites will be sure to suffer from the savage rapacity of the mixed races, especially these who have African blood in them; for it is to be remarked that the worst of criminals spring form this class, who inherit, in some degree, the superior intellect of the white, while they retain much of the cunning and ferocity of the black.” (quoted from George Gardner, Travels in the Interior of Brazil, 21). (11)

See pages 15-16 for comments on racial equality in Brazil.

Orangeburg News, June 15, 1867 (reprinted from June 8th, 1867)

“I left Brazil about eight weeks ago and young negro fellows were then worth from five to seven hundred dollars; the people of the United States appear to be more deeply interested concerning the abolition of slavery in Brazil than the Brazilians themselves; if my predictions be true in regard to the abolition of slavery there, I am confident that, that country will be in a much worse condition than ours, as there is even now less prejudice in Brazil between the differences than there is in the Southern states.”

Orangeburg News, “Mixture of Races,” September 19, 1868

This article is building on Agassiz.  “Agassiz, in his lately published work on Brazil, has the following on the mixture of races:”

Louis Agassiz, A Journey in Brazil (1869)

“Let any one who doubts the evil of this mixture of races, and is inclined from a mistaken philanthrogy, to break down the barriers between them, come to Brazil. He cannot deny the deterioration consequent upon an amalgamation of races more widespread here than in any other country in the world, which is rapidly effacing the best qualities of the white man, the negro and the Indian, leaving a mongrel nondescript type, deficient in physical and mental energy.”

“At a time when the new social status of the negro is a subject of vital importance in our statesmanship, we should profit by the experience of a country where, though slavery exists, there is far more liberality towards the free negro than he every enjoyed in the United States.  Let us learn the double lesson, open all the advantages of education to the negro, and give every chance of success which culture gives to the man who know hot to use it; but respect the laws of nature, and let all our dealings with the black man tend to preserve, as far as possible, the distinctions of his national characteristic, and the integrity of our own”


Travel Narratives: The Key to Information for Abolitionists

Saturday, March 8th, 2014



Newspaper: The Genius of Universal Emancipation (1821-1839)

Editor: Benjamin Lundy

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

DOC 1:

OMINOUS. (October 1824). Genius of Universal Emancipation (1821-1839). 10, http://search.proquest.com/docview/124022146?accountid=7064

“[Brazil] must follow the example of Mexico, and the new Republics of South America—In fine, they must abolish the system of slavery…The genius of South American emancipation, the great BOLIVAR, will be near.  His spirit will furnish a live coal for the altar of Brazilian freedom.”

DOC 2:

SOUTH AMERICAN STATES.  (Dec. 1824). Genius of Universal Emancipation (1821-1839). 12, http://search.proquest.com/docview/124022568?accountid=7064

“It is believed, that every district in South America has abolished slavery, with the exception of Brazil and Guianas…it is probable that Brazil, and I may add, the Guianas, will adopt the same course”

DOC 3:

“DR. JAMES SMITH’S SLAVES. (July 1825). Genius of Universal Emancipation (1821-1839). 07, http://search.proquest.com/docview/124022776?accountid=7064

“It is, indeed, asserted that the great BOLIVAR is at the bottom of the undertaking, and that he will march as army in Brazil, for the purposes of putting an end to royalty and slavery.”

DOC 4:

TRIUMPH OF PHILANTHROPY, OR POLITICAL REGENERATION OF AMERICA. 1825. Genius of Universal Emancipation (1821-1839). 05, http://search.proquest.com/docview/124022830?accountid=7064

“The vast, and almost boundless extent of country, comprising of North and South America, is, with the exception of Brazil and a part of the United States, shortly to be the exclusive abode of freemen.  The former contains within her own bosom the germs of liberty, which are fast hastening to maturity.  The Eagle has built her nest among the stately branches of her mountain oaks; the nurslings of freedom and equality are cherished there; and tender brood is watched by the genius of Bolivar.”


Newspaper: The Liberator (1831-1865)

Editor: William Lloyd Garrison

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

DOC 1:

Title: “From Dr. Walsh’s Views of Slavery in Brazil. Overwhelming Horror of Slavery”

Robert Walsh (Irish Writer)

Newspaper: Liberator, published as The Liberator; Date: 02-12-1831; Volume: I; Issue: 7; Page: 26

Abstract: Slave kill themselves.  Infanticide.  Freedom with death.  Incident involving S. Jose (slave killed himself).  Death equals emancipation.  Felice from Organ mountains, mulatto, murdered his father to attain freedom; was emancipated from his will.  Relation to United States, Great Britain, and Brazil

DOC 2:

Title: “Slavery Record. from Walsh’s Notes on Brazil”

Newspaper: Liberator, published as The Liberator; Date: 06-11-1831; Volume: I; Issue: 24; Page: 94;

Abstract: miscegenation; forcing light complexioned slaves to marry those who are blacker; “good fathers being alarmed at the prospect of keeping in a state of slavery, human faces as fair as their own”; Thomas Incle story revived; white European children enslaved in Brazil; selling of white mother and son; Father selling his own white child into slavery;

DOC 3:

Title: “Slavery Record. from Walsh’s Notes on Brazil

Newspaper: Liberator, published as The Liberator; Date: 06-18-1831; Volume: I; Issue: 25; Page: 98;

Abstract: Continuation from last week.  Talking about how slavery abroad has ruined a European man, who sold his family into slavery; “The deterioration of feelings in conspicuous in many ways among the Brazilians”; Brazilians are naturally nice people, but slavery has ruined them and allowed violence to proliferate in their society; walking through the street of Rio and seeing the whip; Violence towards slaves is necessary to break and control them; Nasty violence description from Walsh

DOC 4:

Title: “Slavery Record from Walsh’s Notes on Brazil”

Newspaper: Liberator, published as The Liberator; Date: 06-25-1831; Volume: I; Issue: 26; Page: 102;

Abstract: Talking about European slavery on Barbary Coast; relates it to the idea that white slaves on the Barbary Coast would never kill themselves, but in Brazil this was a daily occurrence; story about Negro women attempting suicide, and failed; talks about her Christianization, Valongo, and cruel treatment after recovery; Walsh in Bota Fogo; Infanticide in Minas Gerais

DOC 5:

Title: “Notices; Brazil; Constantinople”
Newspaper: Liberator, published as The Liberator; Date: 07-09-1831; Volume: I; Issue: 28; Page: 111; Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Abstract:  Work talks about how Walsh traveled all across Europe and to Brazil; possible connection to Barbary slavery; the article also states that Brazil should be a warning to the southern States, about what would come; also mention how free people of color were often looked upon as individuals who could contribute to society, another idea that the United States could adopt

DOC 6:

Title: “Slavery Record. Horrors of the Slave Trade”

Newspaper: Paper: Liberator, published as The Liberator; Date: 07-23-1831; Volume: I; Issue: 30; Page: 118; Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Author: Unknown

Abstract:  Another plug for reading Walsh’s Notices on Brazil.  Talks briefly about a copperplate that shows slave ships and close quarters.

Image of the copperplate

DOC 7:

Headline: Brazil; Article Type: News/Opinion

Paper: Liberator, published as The Liberator; Date: 01-07-1832; Volume: II; Issue: 1; Page: 4; Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Abstract: Article about the power struggle created by the Regency Era.  Interesting not on Haiti and the holiday compared to the situation in Brazil.  Wild beasts and what not.  Very dim view of total race war.  Interesting for historical context, and one of the few non-Walsh articles on Brazil.

Reviews of Walsh, Non-Liberator

DOC 1:

TITLE: ART. VI.–BRAZIL: 1.–Travels in Brazil, in the years 1817–1820, …

PERIODICAL: The American Quarterly Review (1827-1837);

DATE: Sep 1, 1831; 10, 19; American Periodicals pg. 126

DOCUMENT URL: http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.rice.edu/docview/124455766?accountid=7064

DOC 2:

Title: Review 2 — No Title

Publication title: The Museum of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art (1822-1842)

Volume 17  Issue 98

Publication date Aug 1830

Document URL


DOC 3:


Publication title: The Juvenile Miscellany (1826-1834)

Volume: 3 Issue: 1

Publication date: Sep/Oct 1832

Document URL: http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.rice.edu/docview/136926510?accountid=7064

* Walsh provides the basis for this article, see footnote.

DOC 4:

ART. VI.–BRAZIL. (1831, Sep 01). The American Quarterly Review (1827-1837), 10, 126. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/124455766?accountid=7064

Wonderful account on all the travel narratives written on Brazil from the beginning.  The article states that Walsh’s narrative is the best and most informative.

DOC 5:

Article 2 — no title. (1831, Aug 27). The Friend; a Religious and Literary Journal (1827-1906), 4, 368. URL http://search.proquest.com/docview/91313258?accountid=7064

Abstract: Article mostly on the horrors of the slave trade.  Walsh provides wonderful and truthful insight according to this account.  The most IMPORTANT aspect of this section is the end, where it talks about the intellectual capability of free blacks.  Possible angle to help people understand the ability of Africans to be citizens

* Connect to copperplate article

African Americans’ Ideas of Racial Equality/Harmony in Brazil (who also lean heavily on Walsh’s travel narrative)

DOC 1:

Title: Ohio Memorial – Extract No. 5.

Collection: African American Newspapers


Date: April 12, 1838

Location: New York, New York

Abstract: Talks about Dr. R. Walsh and Mr. Kester, an Englishman living in Brazil, who concurs with Dr. R. Walsh.  Mainly, slavery is bad in Brazil and an important system in that society

African Americans, however, see enfranchised Afro-Brazilians (non-slaves) and have hope

DOC 2:

Collection: African American Newspapers


Date: September 5, 1840


Location: New York, New York

Abstract: In Brazil there are more than two millions of slaves. Yet some of the highest offices of state are filled by black men. Some of the most distinguished officers in the Brazilian army are blacks and mulattoes. Colored lawyers and physicians are found in all parts of the country. Besides this, hundreds of the Roman Catholic clergy are black and colored men; these minister to congregations made up indiscriminately of blacks and whites.

DOC 3:

Collection: African American Newspapers


Date: December 4, 1841


Location: New York, New York

Abstract:  Do not fight the slave trade, instead focus on fighting slavery.  Opposition to immediate abolition in Brazil is to support the slave trade.  Wonderful approach and possible answer to one of my questions: why focus on the slave trade, and not the institution?


*Heart of evidence for my argument that the Anglo-American Anti-Slavery Network gathered their information on Brazilian slavery primarily from travel narratives.  This lengthy six-part publication series shows how important these narratives were to their understanding of the institution of Brazilian slavery.

This lengthy six-part (June 1867 to February 1868) review builds from James Redpath’s “Slavery and Slave Life in Brazil,” first published in the National Anti-Slavery Standard (Still need to find this)


“SLAVERY IN BRAZIL” (June, 1867). The Anti-Slavery Reporter, 15 (6), 121-124. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/2998129?accountid=7064

Travel narratives examined:

Henry Koster, Travels in Brazil (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1816):

He was an English coffee planter who traveled to Brazil for health reasons.  Landed in Ceará where he created his own coffee plantation.  His travel narrative provides important details about his experience in Brazil with slavery.  Interesting reviews about a story dealing with a free mulatto who was attacked by one of the “Lords of the Plantation.”  The free mulatto killed his attacker and ran away.  On his deathbed, the white planter who first attacked the mulatto asked his family to not pursue his attacker.  Once the mulatto returned to the plantation, he was treated as if nothing happened. This review stated, “They manage these things differently down South.”

The Anti-Slavery Reporter also draws on an article published in the Boston Daily Advertiser (December 1, 1865, Volume 106; Issue: 131; page 2), which leans heavily on the travel narrative produced by William Dougal Christie, Notes on the Brazilian Questions (1865).

The article in the Boston Daily Advertiser surmised:

“There is no country where the white and black races mingle in which the field is so fair for the negro…In Brazil, there is no social distinction between the black race and the white, resulting in the general prescription of the African.”


SLAVERY IN BRAZIL. (July, 1867). The Anti-slavery reporter 16, (6) (07): 161-164, http://search.proquest.com/docview/2995000?accountid=7064.

Continuation of Koster’s travel narrative

SLAVERY AND SLAVE LIFE IN BRAZIL. (October 1867). The Anti-Slavery Reporter, 15(10), 220-222. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/2979907?accountid=7064

Travel narratives examined:

Daniel P. Kidder, Sketches of Residence and Travels in Brazil (1845)

Maria Graham, Journal of Voyage to Brazil, and Residence There (1824)

George Gardner F.L.S., Travels in the Interior of Brazil (1846)


SLAVERY AND SLAVE-LIFE IN BRAZIL. (1867). The Anti-Slavery Reporter, 15(11), 257-261. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/2993672?accountid=7064



SLAVERY AND SLAVE-LIFE IN BRAZIL. (Jan. 1868). The Anti-slavery reporter 16, (1) (01): 3-4, http://search.proquest.com/docview/2980164?accountid=7064

Travel narratives examined:

Rev. James C. Fletcher and Rev. D.P. Kidder, D.D., Brazil and the Brazilians: Portrayed in Historical and Descriptive Sketches (1866)


SLAVERY AND SLAVE-LIFE IN BRAZIL. (November, 1867). The Anti-slavery reporter 15, (11) (11): 257-261, http://search.proquest.com/docview/2993672?accountid=7064

Several Narratives here (still working through them)


SLAVERY AND SLAVE LIFE IN BRAZIL. (February, 1868). The Anti-slavery reporter 16, (2) (02): 28-30, http://search.proquest.com/docview/3054768?accountid=7064

Travel narratives examined:

W.D. Christie, Notes on the Brazilian Questions (1865)

*Also an editorial note from Professor Ed. Laboulaye, American Professor (also repeated in Journal des Debats, July 1865)

*Possible Additions of General Anti-Slavery Conventions of 1843 (London) and 1867 (Paris)—Travel narratives play an important role.

Anti-Slavery Reporter_Travel Narratives

(Above is the PDF for the entire six-part series.  Any ideas or commentary would be appreciated)


*Section on American slaveholders’ interest in Brazil.  I have identified the major newspaper and periodical, along with the travel narratives they adopted (which present a rosier picture of slavery in Brazil)

*Most information deals with the 1860s and 1870s

Main newspaper: New Orleans Times

Main periodical: DeBow’s Review

Travel Narratives used in both publications:

Lansford Warren Hastings, The Emigrant’s Guide to Brazil (1867) [Hard to find copy of this book online, if anyone can help that would be great!]

Daniel Kidder’s Sketches of Residence and Travel in Brazil (1845)

Auburn University Digital Archive on the Confederados


Somehow I will pull this all together to make sense.  Hopefully…