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Richard Graham

Another Middle Passage in Brazil

Paper to be delivered at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery and Abolition

Yale University, October 1999


Applying a comparative perspective to a discussion of the internal slave trade in Brazil draws attention to the importance of the context in such a process. For instance, many of the major shifts in slave populations across regions in Brazil occurred at the same time that an external slave trade from Africa continued to flourish. In this paper I begin by exploring the implications of this and related facts and then discuss the numbers involved, governmental attempts to tax and regulate the trade, and the connection between the internal slave trade and eventual moves to abolish slavery after 1850. I also suggest how shifting slave demography affected the use of free labor in certain areas. Finally, I outline what we now know about the effect on the slaves of being shipped from one region to another and their reaction to this renewed middle passage. As a coda I add a research agenda.