Antiqua Print Gallery Slavery in Brazil
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Slavery in Brazil

Slavery in Brazil shaped the country's social structure and ethnical landscape. During the colonial epoch and for over six decades after the 1822 independence, slavery was a mainstay of the Brazilian economy, especially in mining and sugar cane production.
Brazil obtained 35.4% of all African slaves traded in the Atlantic slave trade, more than 3 million slaves were sent to Brazil to work mainly on sugar cane plantations from the 16th to the 19th century. Starting around 1550, the Portuguese began to trade African slaves due to two main reasons:
The unenculturated indigenous peoples deteriorated rapidly, and became increasingly warier of the Portuguese, thus, obtaining new indigenous slaves was becoming harder and harder.
The Portuguese Empire, at the time, controlled some stages within the African slave trade's commercial chain, thus, providing the Brazilian landholders with the opportunity to import slaves from Portuguese trading posts in Africa. Portuguese, Brazilian, and African slave traders managed to profit even more from the increased demand.
During the 15th century, after realising the extension and importance of slave trading for the African economy, the Kingdom of Portugal's soldiers, explorers and merchants involved themselves in the trade in black African slaves along with other tradable items through the establishment of several coastal trading posts. Starting around 1550, the Portuguese began to trade African slaves to work the sugar plantations they were developing in their newly-discovered colony of Brazil, once the European discoverers needed more human resources to use in the new continent, and the numbers of native indigenous peoples had declined. Although Portuguese Prime Minister Marquês de Pombal abolished slavery in mainland Portugal on the February 12th, 1761, slavery continued in Portugal's overseas colonies, particularly in Brazil.
The African slaves were useful for the sugar plantations in many ways. They were less vulnerable to tropical diseases. Slavery was practice among all classes. From late 18th century to the 1830s, including by the time of the Rebellions in Bahia, slaves were owned by upper and middle classes, by the poor, and even by other slaves.
The benefits of using the slaves far exceeded the costs to the owners. After 2-3 years, slaves repaid the cost of buying them, and slave plantation owners began to make profits from them. Brazil's plantation owners made lucrative profits per year. The very harsh manual labour of the sugar cane fields involved slaves using hoes to dig large trenches. They planted sugar cane in the trenches and then used their bare hands to spread manure.
A national survey conducted in 2000 by the Pastoral Land Commission, a Roman Catholic Church group, estimated that there were more than 25,000 forced workers in Brazil. More than 1,000 slave-like laborers were freed from a sugar cane plantation in 2007 by the Brazilian Government

(Source Wikipedia)