Guide to Brazil

Slavery in Brazil

Slavery Slaves transport their owner in Bahia - 1860 - Marc Ferrez - Instituto Moreira Salles
Slaves transport their owner in Bahia, 1860. Photo: Marc Ferrez, Instituto Moreira Salles

On May 13, 1888, Brazilian Princess Isabel of Bragança signed Imperial Law number 3,353, a text containing just 18 words and two paragraphs. Still, it’s one of the most important pieces of legislation ever approved in Brazil. Called the “Golden Law,” it abolished all forms of slavery in our country.

For 350 long years, slavery was the heart of the Brazilian economy. According to historian Emilia Viotti da Costa, 40 percent of the 10 million African slaves brought to the New World came to Brazil. Slaves were so pivotal to our economy that Ina von Binzer, a German educator...

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