Conceiving Freedom: Women of Color, Gender, and the Abolition of Slavery in Havana and Rio de Janeiro

Conceiving Freedom: Women of Color, Gender, and the Abolition of Slavery in Havana and Rio de Janeiro

Conceiving Freedom: Women of Color, Gender, and the Abolition of Slavery in Havana and Rio de Janeiro

Conceiving Freedom: Women of Color, Gender, and the Abolition of Slavery in Havana and Rio de Janeiro

Excerpt

The Supplicant demands that action on this matter be taken,
not only for the authority of this Court to be respected, but also for the
child Maria to be handed to her
.
—Joaquim Monteiro, on behalf of Josepha Gonçalves de Moraes,
Rio de Janeiro, 26 July 1886

One sweltering August day in the Caribbean summer of 1883, in Havana, Cuba, a freedwoman named Ramona Oliva made a petition to the of ces of the island’s governor general. She requested custody of her four children, María Fabiana, Agustina, Luis, and María de las Nieves, who were being held by Ramona’s former owner, Manuel Oliva, on his farm in Matanzas, in the sugar-growing heartland of western Cuba. Ramona had purchased her own freedom the previous year, but she could not rest until her children could enjoy the rights she thought should apply to them under the new laws for the gradual abolition of slavery that had been enacted by Spain for colonial Cuba.

Almost exactly one year later, in August 1884, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, freedwoman Josepha Gonçalves de Moraes embarked upon a court case to wrest custody of her ten-year-old daughter, Maria, away from Josepha’s former owners, José Gonçalves de Pinho and his wife Maria Amélia da Silva Pinho. Josepha filed her statement in the same month of the year as Ramona, yet, unlike her Caribbean counterpart, she was perhaps shivering rather than sweating as she walked the city’s streets to visit the lawyer who drafted her petition. August was the middle of Rio de Janeiro’s winter, when its shores were often lashed by storms whipped up over the grey . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.