Portuguese and Spanish Slavery
Thus when Portugal and Spain established the first American colonies, they first introduced Africans as a labor source in the New World. Both encountered difficulties turning the native American people into a slave labor force. The Spanish were more successful as they encountered the settled agraian societies of the Andes and central Mexico. The Spanish engaged in a debate concerning the humanity of the Native Americans. The Native Americans were in the end turned into serfs with a status similar to slavery. Actual slavery, however, became the lot of the Africans imported from Africa. The democraphics of Latin America shows the dichotomy. Spanish colonies where the Native Americans were reduced to serfdom have small black populations. Countries where the Native Americans were killed off, such as Brazil and the Cariibean, have substantial black populations. Brazil
Brazil had the largest slave population in the world, substantially larger than the United States. The Portuguese who settled Brazil needed labor to work the large estates and mines in their new Brazilian colony. They turned to slavery which became central to the colonial economy. It was particularly important in the mining and sugar cane sectors. Slavery was also the mainstay in the Caribbean islands with economies centered on sugar. Estimates suggest that about 35 percent of captured Africans involved in the Atlantic slave trade were transported to Brazil. Estimates suggest that more than 3 million Africans reached Brazil, although precise numbers do not exist. Brazil had begun to turn to slavery in the 15th century as explorers began moving along the coast of Africa. With the discovery of the Americas, the Portuguese attempted to enslave the Native American population as well. This did not prove successful. The Native Americans died in large numbers, both because of slave rading, mistreatment, and the lack of resistance to European diseases. The Portuguese found captured Africans to be a valuable trading commodity as Europeans began to settle the Caribbean islands. They also began transporting Africans to their Brazilian colony. Portuguese Prime Minister Marquês de Pombal abolished slavery in Portugal (February 12, 1761). The Portuguese action, however, did not address slavery in the colonies. Slavery was widely practiced. Brazilians of all classes owned slaves. Slaves were not only owned by upper and middle class Brazilians, but also by lower class Brazilians. There were even slaves who owned other slaves. Caribbean Sugar Islands
It was sugar that first made slavery important. The Sugar Boom developed first in Brazil. The Dutch as prt of the War for Independence/Duthch Portuguese War seized northeastern Brazil ad held it for several decades. When the Portuguese finally ousted them, they brought sugar technology to the Caribbean. The climate was perfect. Small islands that had once been of only minor importance, suddely became enormously valuable. The Europeans had, however, virtually exterminated the Native American populations (largely unintetionally through exposure to European diseases). The Spanish arrived first and decimated the Native Ameican population on first Hispsniola and then Puerto Rio and Cuba. They thus began inporting captive Africans. But the numbers of Africans were limited because the Caribbean islands did not produce very valuable crops. Sugar chaged this. Sudetly small islands which no one cared much aout becamne some of the most vluable realestate in the world. Sugar is, however, a laboe intensive crop and workers in large numbers were needed to work the new sugar plantations. he Portuguese who had focused on the coast of Africa at first dominated the slave trade. This changed as the Dutch, French, and English also began setting up West African African trading posts and entered the slave trade. They also began seizing the Spanish colonies (Jamaica and western Hispsniola--Haiti) as well as islands the...
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