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A History Blog by W. E. Skidmore II

Pro-Slavery Views of Brazil

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”


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