Analysis of Slavery and Gold Mining in Brazil Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Empire of the South Atlantic

"Slave owners in Brazil were not unanimous about whether Sudanese slaves from Guinea or the Bantu from Angola were the best; and fashions in slaves, as in other commodities, were not always the same. Broadly speaking, the slaves of Sudanese origin tended to be more intelligent, more robust, and more hard working (when they did work), but they were more rebellious and less disposed to become reconciled to their menial lot. The Bantu on the other hand, were more cheerful, adaptable, and loquacious, but were not so strong or so resilient to disease" (Charles B., 4).

The excerpt above gives central aspects that informed the choice of slaves and hence the geographical areas of concertation by the slave traders. Basically the slaves were seen as commodities whose value was based on the needs of the slave owner, the physical capabilities and the inner or innate gifts or abilities. The slaves were categorized on the level of intelligence, the ability to work longer and the physical build as well as the ability to be shaped to what the master wanted. The slave owners bought the slaves with this list of characteristics and tried to impart that which the slave lacked into them. For instance, if the slaves were seen to be rebellious, they were taught Christianity to pacify them, they were also fed on varying diets depending on the physical build. There was also a foreman who would inspect the slave quarters daily to instill discipline and also ensure compliance with the field work times. Often, discipline was instilled severely and even sadistically and at times ended up in cruel deaths so as to extract maximum compliance and labor from the slaves (Charles B., 8). The categorization of slaves continued even once they were in Brazil under slavery, with the more intelligent once picked to be made literate and assigned as cashiers, clerks, hawkers and shop assistants (Charles B., 12). The Portuguese were extreme in enforcing their compliance on the slaves, and even the Amerindians of Brazil, who were largely seen to be ill-adapted to the survival in the region were not spared by the Portuguese, and were made useful to the slave owner by forcefully making them to work (Charles B., 18). The slaves were basically items whose utility value added to the price and worth in the firm, there were none who had deformities like crippled limbs, hunchback, blind, dumb, deaf and such like disabilities, they had to be in good shape and were finer tuned by the individual slave owners to be physically, mentally and spiritually as the slave owner would like it.

The Gold Rush in Minas Gerais

"When these deposits were exhausted, or when new comers found them already worked by their predecessors, the prospectors went farther afield, and searched for gold in the rifts and clefts of the neighboring hillside. All the early gold workings were of the placer variety; and only when the alluvial gold was becoming scarce, did the miners drive tunnels and shafts into the hillside... As the gold deposits became fewer and deeper, the methods of extraction became more complicated ... " (Charles B., 38).

The excerpt serves to highlight the intensity of the gold rush in Minas Gerais and the extents to which the miners would go to exploit the mineral. The explorers in Minas Gerais employed all manner of methods…

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