Latin America Primary Document


Treaty Proposed to Manoel da Silva Ferreira by His Slaves During the Time That They Remained in Revolt


My Lord, we want peace and we do not want war; if My Lord also wants our peace it must be in this manner, if he wishes to agree to that which we want.


In each week you must give us the days of Friday and Saturday to work for ourselves not subtracting any of these because they are Saint's days.

To enable us to live you must give us casting nets and canoes.

You are not to oblige us to fish in the tidal pools nor to gather shellfish, and when you wish to gather shellfish send your Mina blacks.

Make a large boat so that when it goes to Bahia we can place our cargoes aboard and not pay freightage.

In the planting of manioc we wish the men to have a daily quota of two and one half hands fmao, a measurement of quantity still used in backland Brazil] and the women, two hands.

The daily quota of manioc flour must be of five level alqueires [about thirteen liters to an alqueirej, placing enough harvesters so that these can serve to hang up the coverings.    

The daily quota of sugar cane must be of five hands rather than six and of ten canes in each bundle.

On the boat you must put four poles, and none for the rudder, and the one at the rudder works hard for us. The wood that is sawed with a handsaw must have three men below and one above.

The measures of firewood must be as was practiced here, for each measure a woodcutter and a woman as the wood carrier.

The present overseers we do not want, choose others with our approval.

At the milling rollers there must be four women to feed in the cane, two pulleys, and a carcanha [carcanha:  a woman who swept the engenho and did other chores].

At each cauldron there must be one who tends the fire and in each series of kettles the same, and on Saturday there must be without fail work stoppage in the mill.

The sailors who go in the launch besides the baize shirt that they are given must also have a jacket of baize and all the necessary clothing.

We will go to work the cane field of Jabire this time and then it must remain as pasture for we cannot cut cane in a swamp.

We shall be able to plant our rice wherever we wish, and in any marsh, without asking permission for this, and each person can cut jacaranda or any other wood without having to account for this.

Accepting all the above articles and allowing us to remain always in possession of the hardware, we are ready to serve you as before because we do not wish to continue the bad customs of the other engenhos.    

We shall be able to play, relax, and sing any time we wish without your hindrance nor will permission be needed.


Source: Schwartz, Stuart B. "Resistance and Accommodation in Eighteen-Century Brazil: the Slaves' View of Slavery," Hispanic American Historical Review 57-.1 (Feb. 1977): 69-81.



1. What is the purpose of this document?



2. What specific work conditions are being demanded?



3. What does this document tell us about the nature of master/slave relationships?



4. What does it tell us about slave/slave relationships?



5. What does it tell us abut slave working and living conditions?



6. Can you draw some implications about the nature of slavery from this document?