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Table of Contents
The people and politics of Portuguese India during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
The Portuguese tobacco trade and tobacco growers of Bahia in the late colonial period
The Brazilian recruit during the first empire: Slave or soldier?
Women and work in Brazil, 1850-1920: A preliminary investigation
Lighting the city: A case study of public service problems in Sao Paulo, 1885-1913
Immigration and abolition: The transition from slave to free labor in the Sao Paulo coffee zone
The immigrant and the Brazilian labor movement, 1890-1920
The nation in arms: Obligatory military service during the old republic
Essays Concerning the Socioeconomic History
of Brazil and Portuguese India
Essays Concerning the Socioeconomic
History of Brazil and Portuguese India
A Florida International University Book
The University Presses of Florida
Gainesville / 1977
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Main entry under title:
Essays concerning the socioeconomic history of Brazil
and Portuguese India.
"A Florida International University book."
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Brazil-Economic conditions-Addresses, essays,
lectures. 2. Brazil-Social conditions-Addresses,
essays, lectures. 3. Portugal-Colonies-Addresses,
essays, lectures. 4. India-Economic conditions-
Addresses, essays, lectures. 5. India-Social condi-
tions-Addresses, essays, lectures. I. Alden, Dauril.
II. Dean, Warren.
HC187.E84 330.9'81 76-53761
COPYRIGHT 1977 BY THE BOARD OF REGENTS
OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
TYPOGRAPHY BY MODERN TYPOGRAPHERS, INCORPORATED
PRINTED BY STORTER PRINTING COMPANY, INCORPORATED
THIS volume makes available eight previously unpublished
essays concerning the socioeconomic history of two widely separated
parts of the former Portuguese empire-India, long the goal of
countless intrepid Portuguese explorers and during the early em-
pire its principal source of wealth, and Brazil, which replaced India
as the most valuable component of the empire and which later be-
came the leading nation in Latin America. Seven of the authors of
these essays are Brazilianists; the eighth is a specialist on Portuguese
India. Each essay is based upon fresh research in primary sources.
Some authors have depended heavily upon rarely used printed
materials; others have relied upon extensive archival investiga-
tions. The essays are arranged in approximate chronological order.
We begin with a fascinating portrait of the activities of sub-lites
in the Portuguese enclaves along the subcontinent of India during
the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a time when the east-
ern center of empire still seemed to have greater promise than did
Brazil. Influenced by George Rud6's well-known studies of the
crowd in history, New Zealand-born M. N. Pearson (lecturer, Uni-
versity of South Wales) explores the ethnic and social structure of
those enclaves and examines the causes and manifestations of polit-
ical and other sources of tension in that turbulent society. In the
course of doing so, he offers a remarkably sympathetic defense of
those responsible for the near-chronic unrest in those distant Portu-
On the basis of extensive archival work in Portugal and in Brazil,
including the use of rarely consulted local records, Catherine Lugar
(Essex County College) challenges the accepted view that most grow-
ers in Brazil's major tobacco-producing district (Cachoeira, Bahia)
did not depend extensively upon slave labor. The first part of her
essay is a pioneering survey of the development of the Brazilian
tobacco industry from ca. 1620 until 1835, and she emphasizes the
special problems that confronted tobacco growers and merchants.
In the second part, she analyzes a random sample of Cachoeira
tobacco growers between 1775 and 1835 to determine race, sex, civil
status, apparent literacy, and patterns of ownership.
Two essays are concerned with the status of Brazilian soldiers in
two widely separated periods. In the first, Professor Michael C. Mc-
Beth (St. Olaf College) examines the army of the First Empire
(1822-31), demonstrating how forcible conscription of social unde-
sirables made it possible for "respectable" elements to avoid reg-
ular military duty by joining militia units, and indicates clearly why
army morale remained low throughout these years. Insufficient and
invariably tardy pay, harsh discipline, and frequent desertion-
phenomena familiar in colonial times-were characteristic of the
army of Pedro I and are themes which recur in Frank D. McCann's
complementary study of the army during the Old Republic (1890-
1930). Professor McCann (University of New Hampshire) suggests
that the relationship between officers and men was analogous to that
between rural landowners and their tenants. He also explains why
a major reform, a lottery type of conscription, was only partially
successful because of continued shirking by favored social elements
and provides a collective portrait of those who were drafted, with
respect to their racial composition, occupational experience, educa-
tional attainments, and state of health.
The next pair of essays also reflect concerns of an increasing
number of scholars. The role of women in history now receives
more serious attention than ever. June E. Hahner's study of em-
ployment opportunities for Brazilian women between 1850 and
1920 constitutes a worthy addition to the historiography of Latin
American women. As Professor Hahner (State University of New
York at Albany) indicates, during the second half of the nineteenth
century a minority of Brazilian women freed themselves from tra-
ditional forms of domestic activities and became teachers, factory
workers, clerks, administrators, doctors, dentists, lawyers, and artists.
The essay casts doubt upon the reliability of the count of employed
women in the 1920 census, but it also makes evident that Brazilian
women did not enjoy equality with respect to job levels or salaries.
Obviously most of the professional women to whom Professor
Hahner refers lived in urban areas. Professor Gerald Michael Green-
field (University of Wisconsin-Parkside) is concerned with another
aspect of urban history: the plight of a rapidly growing metropolis
dependent upon foreign concessionaires to provide illumination
for its burgeoning suburbs. He examines the persisting conflicts be-
tween state and municipal authorities, urban dwellers, and the man-
agers of foreign-owned firms concerning the lighting of the suburbs
of So Paulo during its initial spurt of rapid growth at the end of
the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. He finds
that, to a substantial extent, the inability of the Paulistas to obtain
gas or electric service stemmed from the legalistic, profit-motivated
postures assumed by foreign managers.
The last two authors explore some of the consequences of the be-
ginnings of massive immigration in Brazil during the late nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries. Professor Thomas Holloway (Cornell
University) demonstrates that the success of the rapidly expanding
coffee industry of provincial So Paulo during the late 1880s de-
pended upon an abundant supply of labor. He argues that Paulista
coffee growers only opposed abolition until they found a satisfactory
alternative to slave labor and that once a suitable substitute became
available they actually favored abolition in order to end the politi-
cal and social unrest of the late empire. By 1886 large numbers of
European immigrants were entering the province, and by 1888 they
had replaced most slaves as field workers on the plantations. Hollo-
way offers an interesting hypothesis to explain why Paulistas were
not overly concerned about the issue of compensation when slavery
was definitively abolished by the Golden Law of May 13, 1888.
While Professor Holloway emphasizes the positive role that im-
migrants played in reconciling Paulista planters to accept the end
of slavery, Professor Sheldon Maram (California State University,
Fullerton) contends that they also had a negative influence. He finds
that although newly arrived immigrants from southern Europe
came to dominate the labor movements in the states of Rio de
Janeiro and Sao Paulo during the first decades of the twentieth
century, their presence handicapped rather than strengthened the
labor movement. Conflicts among Italians, Portuguese, and Spanish
rank-and-file and between them and the native-born workers
hindered organizational and strike efforts. The fact that a wave of
strikes between 1917 and 1920 was led by foreign-born, non-
naturalized leaders whose loyalty to Brazil was questioned provided
a rationale for the intensity of labor's repression, resulting in the
deportation of many union leaders and in the collapse of the labor
movement in 1920-21.
The origin of this volume dates from early 1972, when Dr. Ann M.
Pescatello began to organize a Luso-Brazilian Colloquium, the
seventh in a series which began in 1950. Like its predecessors, the
seventh meeting was intended to bring together from several lands
scholars who shared interests in Luso-Brazilian studies, to give them
a forum to present the results of current research, and to offer them
opportunities to engage in scholarly discourse. The colloquium was
scheduled to take place on the campus of the new Florida Interna-
tional University in January 1975. However, in the autumn of 1974,
unexpected budgetary problems forced cancellation of the meeting.
Later efforts to procure alternative funding for the colloquium
proved unsuccessful. When Dr. Pescatello left the university, her
successor, Anthony P. Maingot, consulted a number of scholars,
seeking the best way of discharging his institution's obligation to
those who had been commissioned to prepare papers for the can-
celled meeting. A consensus favored publication of as many of the
papers as possible. Dean Maingot then nominated us to edit them,
an action that was approved by several groups of historians. We
accepted this charge out of a sense of professional responsibility,
even though neither of us originally played an active role in the
organization of the colloquium.
In February 1975, those who had originally been asked to con-
tribute papers to the meeting were invited to submit their essays to
us. For various professional reasons, more than half of those con-
tacted declined the invitation. We felt it unnecessary to include two
papers that had been published elsewhere. Another was returned
for major revision but was not resubmitted to us. Others were
promised but did not arrive within the time limit we found it nec-
cessary to impose.
The appearance of this volume is a manifestation of the effort of
Florida International University to meet its commitment to scholars
concerned with the Luso-Brazilian world. We share with many such
scholars profound regret that the long-postponed seventh collo-
quium could not be held this year. But we believe that these essays
are significant contributions to scholarship and we hope that their
publication will not only provide new knowledge and insights but
also will stimulate the support necessary for future colloquia.
University of Washington
New York University
The People and Politics of Portuguese India during
the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries
M. N. Pearson
The Portuguese Tobacco Trade and Tobacco Growers
of Bahia in the Late Colonial Period
The Brazilian Recruit during the First Empire:
Slave or Soldier?
Michael C. McBeth
Women and Work in Brazil, 1850-1920:
A Preliminary Investigation
June E. Hahner
Lighting the City: A Case Study of Public Service
Problems in Sao Paulo, 1885-1913
Gerald Michael Greenfield
Immigration and Abolition: The Transition from
Slave to Free Labor in the Sao Paulo Coffee Zone
Thomas H. Holloway
The Immigrant and the Brazilian Labor Movement,
Sheldon L. Maram
The Nation in Arms: Obligatory Military Service
during the Old Republic
Frank D. McCann
Alferes, a junior army officer; an ensign.
A tiradores, marksmen.
Auto da fd, a ceremonial act associated with the punishment of persons charged
with heresy and other religious offenses.
Caatinga, thorny, deciduous, drought-resistant woodlands in the back country of
Caboclos, Brazilians of Indian-white origins; a term loosely applied to the in-
habitants of the backlands.
Cdmara, municipal council.
Canoas, a police sweep involving the arrest of those lacking proper credentials
or apparent employment; a stratagem often used during the Old Republic to
provide "recruits" for the army.
Capitdo mor, in colonial times and during the nineteenth century, the governor
of an unincorporated settlement and/or commandant of a second-line militia
Casados, in India, married couples of Portuguese or part-Portuguese origins.
Castigos, offspring born in Asia of Portuguese parents.
Conto, monetary unit containing 1,000 milrdis.
Coronel, local strong man, usually an important landowner and an officer of the
national guard (pl., -eis).
Cruzado, monetary unit worth 400 rdis, i.e., between 2s. and 2s. 4d. in the
Fidalgos, noblemen, gentlemen.
Juiz de fora, a peninsular-born, university-trained magistrate charged with ad-
ministrative and judicial tasks within the confines of a municipality.
Lavrador, smallholder, share tenant, tiller.
Linhas de Tiro, shooting clubs; literally shooting lines.
Mestizos, offspring of Portuguese-Indian unions in Brazil and in India.
Milreis, a thousand rdis, ca. 5s. 5d. in the eighteenth century.
Rein6l, person or persons born in Portugal (pl., -aes).
Rdis, money of account (sing., real).
Relat6rio, an official report.
Repziblica, in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Brazil, living quarters or an
eating club of university or professional school students.
Salvagoes, federal military interventions in Brazilian states during the Old
Senhor de Engenho, lord of the mill; plantation owner.
Senzala, slave quarters.
Sertanejos, inhabitants of backlands.
Sertdo, backlands or bush.
Soldaderas, camp followers.
Soldado, soldier; in India, unmarried Portuguese man liable for military service.
Tenentismo, political movement and program of rebellious army officers in Brazil
during the 1920s and 1930s.
Tiro, shot fired from gun; shooting clubs.
Ultima ratio (regum), force is the ultimate argument of kings, statement attrib-
uted to Spain's Francisco Jim6nez de Cisneros, Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo.
The People and Politics of Portuguese
India during the Sixteenth and
Early Seventeenth Centuries
M. N. Pearson
OUR understanding of overt sub-l1ite political activity in pre-
industrial times has increased enormously as a result of the pioneer-
ing work of George Rude.1 Thanks to him it is no longer possible
to see crowds in pre-industrial Europe as undifferentiated, lumpish,
violent, arbitrary mobs. What follows is an attempt to extend these
European studies into an earlier, and a colonial, setting: this essay
discusses sub-elite political activity in the Portuguese Asian empire
in the sixteenth century. Three background points must be made
clear here. First, most of the data come from the Portuguese capital
in the East, the city of Goa, which was conquered by Afonso Albu-
querque in 1510. Nevertheless, some case studies relate to such dis-
persed Portuguese forts and settlements as Ternate in modern east-
ern Indonesia, Cochin in southwest India, and Diu and Daman in
Gujarat. Second, this essay is concerned almost exclusively with the
political behavior of Portuguese and part-Portuguese people in this
empire. This is not done for ethnocentric or neo-colonialist rea-
sons, but simply because this division reflects accurately divisions in
contemporary Portuguese colonial society. Indigenous inhabitants
of Portuguese areas were certainly economically powerful and
1. Two of his many books which I have found useful are The Crowd in
History, 1730-1848 (New York, 1964), and Paris and London in the Eighteenth
Century. Studies in Popular Protest (New York, 1973).
Map 1. Portuguese outposts in India during the sixteenth and seventeenth
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
politically potent,2 but their political activities did not impinge on
those of the lower-order Portuguese. Third, this study is not ex-
clusively concerned with crowds and violent mobs. Some attention
will be given to less open and less forceful political activity.
Portuguese colonial society was divided according to three differ-
ent, though overlapping, criteria: "purity" of blood, rank, and
marital status. The first was the familiar Iberian gradation, starting
with those born in Portugal (reinoes) and descending through those
born in Asia of Portuguese parents (castigos) to those born in Asia
of Portuguese and Indian, or Portuguese and African, parentage
(respectively, mestigos and mulattoes). Outside of this ranking, and
beneath it, were the native Christians,3 but even the casticos and the
mesticos were regarded with considerable suspicion by the elite.
Thus one reads of Nicolao d'Abreu de Mello, "who, although born
here, is the son of Portuguese parents and a well-conducted per-
son."4 The received view on casticos was that they were "usually ill-
behaved and not to be trusted."5 Mesticos were even more suspect.
Late in the 1540s, an experienced official told the king that seven
new men had recently been hired for clerical positions in a govern-
ment office; "Of the seven, four are mesticos, something which abso-
lutely astonished me." In 1634, the viceroy told the king that Portu-
guese men were needed in Diu, "because most of the soldiers there
are almost niggers."6
The second categorization is equally familiar-the division of the
Portuguese population into the three estates of ecclesiastics, nobil-
ity, and people. This division seems to have been most visible on
ritual occasions, such as when the oath of allegiance to a new king
was being given.7 The third criterion was the simple division be-
2. See my articles "Indigenous Dominance in a Colonial Economy: The Goa
Rendas, 1600-1670," Mare Luso-Indicum 2 (Geneva, 1973):61-73, and "Wealth
and Power: Indian Groups in the Portuguese Indian Economy," South Asia 3
3. Francois Pyrard de Laval, The Voyage of Frangois Pyrard de Laval, 2 vols.
(London, 1887-90), 2:38; J. H. van Linschoten, The Voyage of John Huyghen
van Linschoten to the East Indies, 2 vols. (London, 1885), 1:183-84.
4. Arquivo national da Torre do Tombo, Lisbon, "Documentos remetidos da
India (ou livros das mon6es)," 24:34, hereafter ANTTDR.
5. Ibid., 22:97.
6. ANTT, "Corpo chronologico," 1-83-30; ANTTDR, 31:249. On racial divi-
sions in the Portuguese colonial empire, see C. R. Boxer's standard Race Rela-
tions in the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1415-1825 (Oxford, 1963).
7. Diogo do Couto, Decadas da Asia, 15 vols. (Lisbon, 1778-88), X, 1, 4. In
M. N. PEARSON
tween unmarried men from Portugal, who were called soldados and
were liable to military service, and those Portuguese or part-Portu-
guese who had married and settled in Asia, the casados.8 The Portu-
guese affected by this division were primarily from the third estate,
the people. It obviously did not apply to the first estate, while the
"nobility," whether married or not, were usually liable and eager
to engage in military service until incapacitated by illness or old age.
These divisions were recognized by contemporary authors, but
they were not completely watertight. In practice a mestizo could
be a de facto noble, and a casado could be a soldier, especially in an
emergency. More important, in times of peace these divisions ap-
pear to have been subsumed in a common Lusitanian equality, an
equality that was created by the basic fact that this was a colonial
The Portuguese Asian empire consisted of a string of forts on
the littoral of Asia. Each settlement was surrounded by a mass of
foreign, strange, and frequently hostile native populations. In India
these neighbors were often subjects of powerful states: Goa was
surrounded by the strong Muslim state of Bijapur, and Diu and
Daman by the sultanate of Gujarat and, after 1572, by the Mughal
empire, arguably the strongest and richest state in the world in 1600.
In the face of these states, the Portuguese were not always united,
nor did they form a cohesive group, yet clearly a sense of Portuguese
identity was stronger here than in the motherland. Hence, contem-
porary accounts which say that among the Portuguese in Goa "there
one is no better than another, as they think, the rich and the poore
man all one, without any difference in their conversations, curtesies
and companies."9 Hence also comes the customary wearing of
swords by all Portuguese except priests, doctors, and lawyers, and
the likening of the daily auction on Goa's main street, the Rua
Direita, to "the bourse at Antwerp, except that whetherr in Goa there
come as well Gentlemen, as merchants and others. .. .' "10
references to the chronicles by Barros and Couto, I have followed the usual
practice of citing only decada, book, and chapter number.
8. C. R. Boxer, The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1415-1825 (London, 1969),
9. Linschoten, 1:188. See also pp. 195-96, and the following from p. 193: "The
Portingals are commonly served with great gravitie, without any difference be-
tweene the Gentleman and the common Citizen, townesman or soldier, and in
their going, curtesies, and conversations, common in all thingss"
10. Ibid., 1:184; Pietro Della Valle, The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India,
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA 5
This sort of unity appeared most fully in conflictless situations,
such as the more important religious processions and occasions of
public rejoicing. Here all Portuguese could unite, at least for the
day, and celebrate their common nationality, despite their location
10,000 miles and three months sailing distance from Portugal. It
was not coincidental that these occasions usually celebrated Portu-
guese victories over native armies, or else were specifically religious
and thus exclusive of the non-Christian population. The best ex-
ample of the former was Dom Joao de Castro's huge, bacchanalian,
and self-congratulatory triumph in April 1547, to celebrate his relief
of the siege of Diu in 1546.11 Another prominent occasion, the auto
da fe, called together a crowd for a religious activity. These were
held every one or two years; the cathedral bell tolled to summon the
Christian population to witness the procession of people relaxed by
the Inquisition to the secular authorities. Two large special public
celebrations were associated with the great Jesuit missionary, Francis
Xavier. Both the arrival of his body in Goa in 1554, and his canon-
ization in 1624, were occasions for massive public rejoicings. Par-
ticular saints' days, notably those of St. Paul and St. Catharine, and
other religious holidays such as Corpus Christi, were celebrated
each year with great eclat by the entire Christian population. The
workers' guilds took a prominent part in these. Thus the dockyard
workers provided a ship or galley for the procession, the tanners a
castle, the cobblers a dragon, and so on. Others impersonated or
depicted historical or mythological personages: King David, various
other kings, emperors, princes, devils, giants, wizards, and ladies of
Such fiestas tell us little about lower-level political activities, or
groupings, for these obviously become clearly apparent only in sit-
uations of stress or conflict. Two groups within the third estate,
with different interests, life-styles, and methods of solving problems
need to be distinguished. The settled, married, commercially
2 vols. (London, 1892), 1:157-58. For scenes of people and places in sixteenth-
century Goa, see the original illustrations in Jan Huyghen van Linschoten,
Itinerario, 3 vols. ('s-Gravenhage, 1955-57).
11. Detailed descriptions in Couto, VI, iv, 6; Gaspar Correa, Lendas da India,
4 vols. (Lisbon, 1858-64), 4:587; Jacinto Freyre de Andrade, Vida de Dom Joao
de Castro (Lisbon, 1822), pp. 247-51, and, based on these, Elaine Sanceau, Knight
of the Renaissance: D. Joao de Castro (London, 1949), pp. 186-88.
12. C. R. Boxer, Portuguese Society in the Tropics: The Municipal Councils
of Goa, Macao, Bahia, and Luanda, 1510-1800 (Madison, 1965), p. 40.
6 M. N. PEARSON
minded casados were very different from the soldiers, despite the
fact that the former were recruited from the ranks of the latter.
The size of the Portuguese soldier population in any fort de-
pended on the season. It was greatest during the period of the south-
west monsoon, from June to September, for during this time the
strong off-shore winds precluded any patrolling along the western
Indian coastline. Up to 5,000 footloose and idle soldiers could be
resident in Goa in this rainy season. During the rest of the year,
while the many fleets of small warships were out opposing piracy
and checking native ships for contraband cargoes, the soldier popu-
lation of Goa fell to a few hundred.13 This, however, changed to-
ward the end of the year when the annual fleet from Portugal
reached Goa. In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries,
about 1,000 men came on each fleet to replenish the Indian garri-
sons.14 These men remained in Goa, independent and subject to no
discipline, until they were recruited by a captain, whom they would
then follow to his assignment.
These soldiers were considerably brutalized even before they
reached Goa. Some of them were beggars, vagrants, and jail-birds
who had been forcibly impressed in Portugal. Increasingly, soldiers
were in fact convicts who had been sentenced to serve in India
rather than in jail in Portugal.15 Nor were they refined during the
long voyage to India. Food was scanty and became, as the voyage
progressed, increasingly putrid and stale. Disease and mortality
were ever present. Of 5,228 soldiers who left Lisbon in 1629-34,
only 2,495 reached Goa; the rest succumbed to sickness, deserted in
Lisbon, or perished in shipwrecks.16 Nor did arrival in Goa mark
the end of the threat of disease: cholera and other maladies related
to impure water were endemic.17 In thirty years, from 1604 to 1634,
13. Pyrard de Laval, 2:215; Jean Mocquet, Voyages en Afrique, Asie, Indes
Orientales & Occidentales (Paris, 1617), p. 352.
14. Historical Archives of Goa (hereafter cited as HAG), Panaji, Goa, "Livros
das MonS6es," 19B:607.
15. Boxer, Portuguese Seaborne Empire, p. 313.
16. "Livros das Monc6es," HAG, 19B:607. For a gruesome account of a voyage
in 1607-8, see Mocquet, pp. 219-32, and for shipwrecks and disasters, see Ber-
nardo Gomes de Brito, Historia Tragico-Maritima, ed. Damiao Peres, 6 vols.
(Porto, 1942-43), or C. R. Boxer's edited translations of parts of this, The Tragic
History of the Sea, 1589-1622 (Cambridge, 1959) and Further Selections from the
Tragic History of the Sea, 1559-1565 (Cambridge, 1968).
17. Boies Penrose, Goa-Queen of the East (Lisbon, 1960), pp. 99-101; "Remy,"
Goa, Rome of the Orient (London, 1957), p. 153; Alberto C. Germano da Silva
Correira, La Vieille-Goa (Bastora, Goa, 1931), pp. 268, 289.
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
an incredible total of 25,000 soldiers died in a single facility in Goa,
the Royal Hospital.18 In addition to health problems, soldiers ex-
perienced the brutality and contempt of their superiors and other
detrimental conditions of the unstable frontier-type of society of
Goa, on the edge of a large, hostile, and strange subcontinent.19
During the rainy season of June to September, the soldiers usually
gathered in groups of about ten to a lodging. Their lack of money
and occupation soon caused a restlessness which often led to vio-
lence. It was "somewhat dangerous" to walk about Goa after nine
at night.20 A Jesuit account of the rainy season in Cochin in 1569
starts by saying the soldiers "lived quietly and peacefully and did
not cause many scandals," but goes on to mention several knifings,
beatings, and sundry other violence.21 Another illustration of the
brutish nature of life in Goa was a soldiers' riot in 1548. The Portu-
guese governor provided a meal each day for several hundred indi-
gent soldiers. Despite this generosity, the soldiers were so "low and
shameless" that their dining room became a disorderly place filled
with shouting and brawling soldiers. An official who castigated them
and tried to restore order was assaulted for his pains; there ensued
a full-scale battle between the soldiers and the governor's guard.22
Given this ambience, the prevalence of riots, rebellions, and gen-
eral disorder among the soldiers is hardly to be wondered at.
These activities took two forms. Sometimes the soldiers rioted on
behalf of their leaders, the fidalgos (a "noble," literally "son of a
somebody"), over a matter of concern to the noble rather than to
the soldiers. These elite-led mobs will be examined but first it is
necessary to examine riots directed against their commanders.
Historians, themselves usually middle class and seldom given to
violence, have usually condemned the pure, non-elite-led crowd as
being "directionless," a "mob," "random."23 In Portuguese Asia,
18. Silva Correira, pp. 274-75.
19. For ill treatment by their superiors see Diogo do Couto, Didlogo do sol-
dado prdtico (Lisbon, 1937), and Francisco Rodrigues Silveira, Memdrias de um
soldado da India, ed. A. de S. S. Costa Lobo (Lisbon, 1877), pp. 178-90 and
20. Pyrard de Laval, 2:131; see also Mocquet, pp. 304-11, 313-17, for the
mindlessly brutal conduct of the Portuguese and mestizos toward their slaves.
21. Documenta Indica, ed. Jos6 Wicki, S.J., 11 vols. (Rome, 1948-), 8:221.
22. Correa, 4:671.
23. Representative examples of such characterizations are to be found quoted,
*and corrected, in Rude, The Crowd in History, pp. 7-10, and Paris and London,
pp. 28-30, 131-32, 293-94, 298.
M. N. PEARSON
these crowds may have been violent and usually unsuccessful, yet
in fact they were responding to clear threats to their interests in
the only way they could. As such, their behavior had, on their
terms, a rationale. An example was a near-mutiny during the
famous second siege of Diu in 1546. This Portuguese fort had been
invested for some months by a strong Gujarati army and had been
extensively mined. The common soldiers objected to being shut up
in a potential deathtrap and demanded a sortie. Wiser counsels
from the fidalgos and priests failed, and, faced with imminent re-
bellion, the elite capitulated and an attack was made. It failed and
the fort was nearly lost;24 yet, given the soldiers' situation and their
ignorance of the strength of the Gujarati army, their demand was
A comparable, but more successful, occasion was a mutiny at sea
in 1583. After a long battle between twenty small Portuguese war-
ships and a large hostile trader, the enemy capitulated in return for
a guarantee of the lives of those on board. But a surrender was not
good news for the Portuguese soldiers and sailors; they preferred to
board, waving their swords and shouting "Santiago!" In the result-
ing confusion all sorts of trifles, such as gold and jewels, could be
picked up, and later disposed of in Goa to a discreet Indian mer-
chant. Thwarted of their sack, the Portuguese mutinied, shouted
abuse at their captain, took over fourteen of the ships, and raised
the black flag. Upon reaching the Portuguese fort of Daman, the
nearly 300 mutineers terrorized the town officials and the casados.
Subsequently the six loyal ships arrived, and the mutineers attacked
them and tried to kill their unsporting captain. A confused battle
followed, which even a group of priests, with crucifixes uplifted,
were unable to stop. The captain fled to the sanctuary of a church.
After negotiations, all the rebels were given a share of the prize
money, and the mutiny ended.25 Here at least a crowd achieved
what it saw as its legitimate due.
In these instances the soldiers acted independently of, indeed in
opposition to, their leaders. Such cases may tend to point to class
divisions in Portuguese colonial society, and indeed divisions of
status at least were clearly recognized. Thus a report on the Portu-
guese defense of their fort at Hurmuz in 1622 listed by name twelve
dead-eleven fidalgos and a priest-and added, "And many other
24. Couto, VI, iii, 5-6.
25. Ibid., X, iii, 4.
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
ordinary people were killed fighting bravely."26 Similarly, at an in-
quiry into a scandal of 1601, a sailor testified that he "didn't want
to know anything about it, because big people did it."27 Neverthe-
less, a much more frequent pattern was violence by a group of
soldiers directed by a fidalgo. These crowds were recruited by
A lone soldier, newly arrived in Goa or temporarily resident in a
west coast port during the rains, had little choice but to live on a
fidalgo's charity. He usually received no pay at such times and had
no trade or skill. In any case, until he married he could hardly es-
tablish himself with a trade or a house, for he was very much of a
sojourner. He had no choice but to eat, and probably live, with a
noble or to accept charity from the church. The latter option seems
to have been looked down on, and in any case, it did not lead to
employment. Thus, in 1548, three or four fidalgos gave money to
the soldiers, and the governor fed nearly 800 of them twice a day.28
In 1609, the French traveler Jean Mocquet was encouraged to emu-
late all the poor Portuguese soldiers and eat at a noble's table. He
speaks of the lords and gentlemen of Goa feeding twenty or thirty
each.29 Indeed, there is even one reference to an important noble
having his followers grouped in and around his own house. Behind
the Rua Direita "was another street of the houses of Heitor da Sil-
veira."30 He presumably lived there, surrounded by men housed and
fed by him; in essence, his private army controlled this area.
Nor indeed were soldiers the only ones thus bound to a patron.
There are scattered references of eminent nobles having as their
followers various fidalgo relatives and also men described as criados,
who in this context are clearly not servants but lower fidalgos and
other clients of the important noble.31 A very precise description
of this whole recruitment process comes from Joao de Barros:
Christ6vio de Sousa, the captain of the fort of Chaul, was "a fidalgo
of high quality, personally energetic and humane, a polished talker,
26. ANTTDR, 19:67-68.
27. As Gavetas da Torre do Tombo, 8 vols. (Lisbon, 1960-), 6:395; for a very
jaundiced view of the people, see Joao de Barros, Decadas da Asia, 5 vols. (Lis-
bon, 1778-88), IV, ii, 1: "a gente popular he varia, e inconstante, e amiga de
novidades, como pessoas de baixo estado, que sempre o esperam melhorar com
a mudanga dos tempos... "
28. Correa, 4:671.
29. Mocquet, p. 287.
30. Correa, 3:162.
31. For example, Gavetas, 6:382, 387-88, 393, 394.
jovial, and friendly with everyone; and he was magnificent not only
from the continual food which he provided but also from the mone-
tary assistance that he gave to those who had none; as a result more
fidalgos spent the rains in Chaul than in any other part of India;
and as he had so much authority, and so many followers, any side
helped by him had a great advantage."32
Here was the normal payoff for the fidalgo who fed soldiers dur-
ing the rains. Such soldiers would be expected to form part of his
entourage as he rode about the streets and when he went to church
on feast days.33 If their noble was insulted, or wanted revenge for
some other reason, his diners became his private army.34 More im-
portant, and also more legitimate, the main object of this system
was its use as a recruitment device for captains newly appointed to
command a ship or a fort.
The soldiers were not under the continuing authority of any cap-
tain during the rains; every September they were free agents avail-
able to whichever captain offered most or had in the past treated
them best. The captains would receive pay for the number of troops
sanctioned for their command, "which done the Captaines bidde
their soldiers to a banket, and of their own purses give them some-
thing beside their pay, for that every Captaine seeketh to have the
best soldiers and buy much victuailes and other things at their
owne charges, thereby to have their soldiers good willes, and to use
them wel."35 Clearly a captain who had fed soldiers during all the
rains would have little difficulty recruiting them in September.36
These dependents could on occasion be mobilized and used by
their masters in their own private wars. In 1569, in Cochin, there
was a confrontation and nearly a major battle between the local
town officials and the citizens on the one hand, and some captains
and their soldiers on the other.37 Perhaps more revealing was a
curious incident in Goa in 1601, when the statue of Dom Vasco da
Gama, the discoverer of India, was toppled, chopped apart, and
distributed around the city: the head and a hand in the town pil-
lory, another hand in the auction mart of the Rua Direita, and so
on. The statue had been erected by da Gama's grandson, Dom
32. Barros, IV, ii, 2.
33. Pyrard de Laval, 2:75, 81, 90, 101.
34. Linschoten, 1:194, 201.
35. Ibid., 1:190.
36. See also ibid., 1:199-201; Pyrard de Laval, 2:269.
37. Documenta Indica, 8:222.
M. N. PEARSON
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
Francisco da Gama, who had been viceroy in 1597-1600. His
authoritarian attempts to reform Portuguese India had aroused
considerable antipathy, and this apparently was the motive for the
desecration. At an inquiry in 1609, most witnesses denied all
knowledge of the event, contenting themselves with expressing rou-
tine outrage and horror at such a heinous and scandalous crime.
This forgetfulness was possibly aided by da Gama's general unpop-
ularity, and certainly total recall was hindered by a public threat
to kill any informer. Nevertheless, a few intrepid witnesses did ac-
cuse a fidalgo "and his people" or "and his soldiers" of responsibil-
ity. Whatever the motive, it is clear that here common soldiers were
used by their patrons in the commission of this act.38
The best illustration of the fidalgos' use of their soldier clients in
their own political battles came during the disputed succession for
the governorship of Portuguese India in 1526-27. Usually such im-
portant decisions were settled within the councils of the elite, the
first and second estates, and without reference to the opinions of
the people. But in this case the elite remained divided, resulting
in a long and complicated dispute which involved all the Portu-
guese forts from Cochin to Chaul.39 In the sometimes violent de-
bate over a matter which was beyond the horizon of a common
soldier, various factions of nobles occasionally would mobilize their
supporters in order to intimidate the opposition. One heard of
fidalgos haranguing their supporters "in their lodgings and at their
tables," of fidalgos and "others of their party" meeting, and of
nobles threatening to lead open revolts. The whole dispute was
finally settled peacefully, but it demonstrates how a fidalgo could
mobilize his followers for his own political aims. Thus, here again,
the crowd's participation was not motiveless. True, they were di-
rected by their betters, but again their participation was a logical
act, in this case based on their cliental ties to the lite.
The casados in the various Portuguese settlements had different
interests, leaders, and methods of political activity from the soldiers.
They had nearly all come out as soldiers to India and had married
and settled down. Given the small number of Portuguese-born
women in India, the casados born locally must nearly always have
38. For the inquiry, see Gavetas, 6:370-98.
39. The whole dispute can be traced in Correa, 3:11-25, 79-170, 179-226;
Barros, IV, i, 1, 3, 6, 7; IV, ii, 1-6; Couto, IV, i, 1-3, 6, 9; IV, ii, 4-11; IV, iii,
5-9; IV, iv, 1.
been mestizos rather than casticos. They were apparently outnum-
bered by the soldiers,40 but despite this their influence was greater.
First, they were permanently resident in Goa and the other forts,
while the soldiers were only sojourners. Second, rates of mortality
among the soldiers, from disease rather than violent death, were
very high, much higher than among the more settled and stable
It is difficult to find out what the casados did in Goa, for the
sources usually do not distinguish between a native Christian (who
always took a Portuguese name on baptism) and a mestizo or Portu-
guese. Thus Joao Fernandez could be a rein6l, or a native, or some-
where in between. The picture that emerges from many scattered
sources is that the casados did not normally do manual work, nor
did they engage in retail trade. Rather, they seem to have been
wholesalers, owners of property including shops, supervisors of
groups of non-Portuguese craftsmen, and above all sea traders.41
The large slave population in Goa helped the Portuguese avoid
manual work, as slaves were frequently hired out by the day or
served in their masters' shops. Female slaves were sometimes used
as prostitutes by their owners, but whatever the employment, a
slave's earnings reverted to the owner.42
The extant evidence seems to show that most casados lived by
sea trade and by selling wholesale cargoes they imported from all
over Asia. This trade began almost as soon as the Portuguese
reached Asia. Thus the great conqueror Afonso Albuquerque told
the king in 1513 that "Your people travel securely all over India,
both by land and sea . they buy and sell all over the Malabar
area."43 Ten years later another Portuguese told the king that wood
for shipbuilding was now scarce in Cochin, because the local Portu-
guese were building their own ships, for they intended to settle in
India and to live by trade.44
The Portuguese seem to have traded with virtually every major
port in Asia. Among those mentioned are ports in Indonesia, South
Arabia, Burma, Thailand, Malaya, East Africa, Persia, Japan, Cey-
40. According to Boxer, Portuguese Society, pp. 28-30, they numbered 1,800
41. See Linschoten, 1:228-31, 256; Pyrard de Laval, 2:41, 51.
42. Linschoten, 1:186-88.
43. Cartas de Affonso de Albuquerque, seguidas de documents que se eluci-
dam, 7 vols. (Lisbon, 1884-1935) 1:138-39.
44. ANTT, "Corpo Chronologico," 1-30-36.
M. N. PEARSON
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
ion, and China, as well as in all parts of India.45 But the most im-
portant route sailed was to the great ports in the Gulf of Cambay.
The capital involved on this route was greater than any other within
Asia.46 The passage was made in fleets of perhaps 300 or 400 small
ships, with two or three fleets making the voyage each year, guarded
by Portuguese warships. A Frenchman who sailed with this fleet
noted, "There are but few of the inhabitants of Goa, whether
Christians or other, that have not a share in this fleet, or at least in
some of the ships of Goa and the other ports of the Portuguese."47
The crews on Portuguese-owned ships were all local sailors-
usually Muslim-except for one or two Portuguese who were the
captain, master, or pilot.48 On longer voyages, presumably sailed in
larger ships, more Portuguese were found on board.49 Further, many
Portuguese-owned trade goods were shipped on Indian-owned ships,
and another sign of the way in which these casados fitted into the
local Asian environment is the way in which they often would de-
cide to settle, either temporarily or permanently, in non-Portuguese
trade centers. The most popular of these was the great port of Cam-
bay, in Gujarat at the head of the Gulf of Cambay.
Trade to Cambay had started at least by 150950 and continued
thereafter. It was carried on despite discouragement from both
church and state. The first Provincial Council of 1567 disapproved
of Portuguese settling in areas in which there were no priests, as
they would seldom be able to take the sacraments. The governors
feared the Portuguese residents in Cambay could serve as hostages
in the event of a war between Portugal and this Muslim state of
Gujarat; on the other hand, if the Goa-Gujarat trade was left to the
Gujaratis, they would be hostages for Portugal in case of war.51 But
the occasional prohibitions had little effect. When the Mughal
45. Ibid.; Linschoten, 1:183-84; Documenta Indica, 2:548; ANTT; "Coleccao
de Sao Lourenco," 5:124v; Barros, III, vii, 9; Couto, V, v, 5; J. H. da Cunha
Rivara, ed., Archivo Portugues Oriental, 10 vols. (Nova Goa, 1857-77), 5:193.
46. Pedro Barreto de Rezende, "Descripcoens das Cidades e Fortalezas de
India oriental," 2 vols., in Biblioteca da Academia das Ciencias, Lisbon, MSS
Azuis, 267-68, 2:125-26v.
47. Pyrard de Laval, 2:245-46.
48. Linschoten, 1:266-67. See also HAG, "Termos das Fiancas, 1626-30," ff. 7-
50 for details on Portuguese ships leaving Goa in 1626.
49. For example, Barros, III, vii, 9; "Termos das Fiangas"; R. J. de Lima
Felner, ed., Subsidios para a hist6ria da India portugueza (Lisbon, 1868), pp. 5-6.
50. Couto, VII, iv, 9.
51. Lima Felner, pp. 8-9; Cunha Rivara, 4:52; 3:403-4, 588; HAG, "Senado
de Goa-Cartas Regias," 1:28, 34-34v; HAG, "Livro Morato," ff. 126-27.
emperor Akbar arrived at the port of Cambay in 1572, during the
first Mughal conquest of Gujarat, he found fifty or sixty Portuguese,
and these, a remnant of the normal population, were the only ones
who had been unwilling to leave the war zone, because they had
goods in the town.52 In 1594, there were about 100 Portuguese fam-
ilies in Cambay; the number seems to have decreased in the seven-
teenth century.53 Many of these Portuguese traders evidently settled
permanently in Cambay and married local women; a Jesuit who
baptized 180 people in Bassein in 1573 noted that among them were
"many mestico women and boys, children of Portuguese in Cam-
bay."54 The main activity of these Portuguese was the purchase of
Gujarati goods to send to Goa, where they were re-exported to
Europe and all over Asia on Portuguese ships. Some were pre-
sumably agents of large Portuguese merchants in Goa who preferred
to buy their goods at the source rather than wait until they had been
brought to Goa.55
In all of this, it is important not to categorize people too
strictly. Thus fidalgos could and did own merchant ships or trade
in the ships of others. Similarly, the casado population was not a
clearly defined group; it shaded off into the bulk of the native pop-
ulation. In this off-white area were many people who claimed
Portuguese blood and who worked with their hands. These lower-
class Portuguese were organized into guilds modeled on those of
Higher-class Portuguese were members of other councils, of which
the most important was the Council of State. This was entirely an
lite body, for apart from one ecclesiastical representative its mem-
bers were all fidalgos. The casados were thus dependent for their
52. Couto, IX, chap. 13.
53. Father Felix, "Mughal Farmans, Parwanahs and Sanads issued in favour
of the Jesuit Missionaries," Journal of the Panjab Historical Society 5 (1916):8;
Artur Viegas, ed., Relacao annual das coisas que fizeram os padres de Companhia
de Jesus nas suas misses, by FernAo Guerreiro, 3 vols. (Lisbon, 1930-42), 2:393-
94; P. S. S. Pissurlencar, Agentes da diplomacia portuguesa na India (Hindus,
Muculmans, Judeus a Parses) (Bastora, Goa, 1952), p. 99.
54. Documenta Indica, 9:289.
55. Pyrard de Laval, 2:246; The Journal of John Jourdian (London, 1905), p.
56. Boxer, Seaborne Empire, pp. 274-75; see also the following volumes in
HAG for evidence of guild-like organizations in Goa: "Termos das Fiancas,
1626-30," "Senado de Goa-Termos das Obras, 1654-55," "Senado de Goa-
Arrematacao das rendas, 1650-1688." Here again, however, it is difficult to tell
Portuguese casados from local Christians.
M. N. PEARSON
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
official political voice on the Senado de Cdmara, or Municipal
Council. These were established in most of the large Portuguese
settlements in Asia. Membership on one of these elected bodies was
almost exclusively restricted to married Portuguese male citizens.
This, however, meant that not only casados but also resident fidal-
gos could vote for and sit on the municipal council. Nevertheless,
this influence from the poderosos was mitigated by the four procu-
radores dos mesteres, or councillors elected by the guilds, and so
representative of the lower-order casados.57
The activities of the municipal council will be discussed shortly,
but it may be noted here that in two ways its influence was less
than that of the equivalent bodies in contemporary London and
Amsterdam.58 First, the CAmara was subordinate to the Council of
State, and was not expected to concern itself with the high mysteries
of diplomacy and war and peace which that council handled. Sec-
ond, the bulk of the population of Goa, including some of the city's
wealthiest merchants, was not represented by the municipal council.
This was because only Portuguese or mestizos could vote for the
municipal council; in the context of the Portuguese colonial em-
pire such discrimination is hardly to be wondered at, but it did
mean the municipal council represented only the white, and thus
the less wealthy, part of Goa's non-l6ite population.59 Until the late
eighteenth century, even local Christians were excluded. This re-
striction meant that in most matters the indigenous population of
Goa governed itself or was subject to decisions by the municipal
council over which they had no formal control. In such matters as
customs duties, or the colecta, a tax on food, they usually were not
consulted, at least formally. Normally their only recourse, which
they occasionally used, was to vote with their feet and leave the
But sometimes Indians were consulted. As Portuguese India
faltered in the seventeenth century before the attacks of the Dutch
and English, ready money for the government became increasingly
scarce. To deal with this the Indians were represented at least once
at a General Meeting (Junta geral, or Conselho geral) of the town
57. On the municipal councils see Boxer, Portuguese Society, passim.
58. See, respectively, Sylvia L. Thrupp, The Merchant Class of Medieval Lon-
don (1300-1500) (Chicago, 1948), and Violet Barbour, Capitalism in Amsterdam
in the Seventeenth Century (Baltimore, 1951).
59. See the two articles cited in note 2.
called to discuss new sources of taxation revenue.60 More often,
however, the decisions of such large meetings are signed only by
Portuguese.61 With regard to the municipal council, Indians were
sometimes called to give expert evidence, once, for example, on the
price of meat, and once on some masonry work, but such participa-
tion was not routine and was entirely at the will of the Portuguese
on the municipal council.62 Most of the time, Indians, whether
Christian, Hindu, or Muslim, were dependent on informal pressure
tactics or individual representation.
The Camara, on behalf of the Portuguese casados, represented
mainly commercial interests. An example is their constant cam-
paign to restrict competition to their own trade. In particular, they
got the king to stop any converted Jew or Hindu from acting as
agent for Portuguese nobles in their trading activities. Similarly, at
their instigation the king tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to restrict the
trade of the agents of Lisbon capitalists in India, and to reserve to
casados the right to hold government tax farming contracts.63
The Camara played a role in other commercial matters also. In
1569, it agreed to a rise of 1 per cent in Goa's customs duties,
though only because the resulting extra revenue would be used to
protect the convoys bringing food to Goa.64 In the early seven-
teenth century, the Portuguese empire's revenues fell sharply due
to the competition, and hostility, of the Dutch and English. Finally,
a draconian step, a tax on food, was considered. Free trade in food
for Goa had been granted in 1518; it was one of the city's oldest and
most prized privileges. Nevertheless, a general meeting in 1623, at-
tended by the viceroy, fidalgos, and the members of the Camara (no
Indians were in attendance, though they presumably also ate food)
agreed to this new tax, the colecta."6
60. P. S. S. Pissurlencar, ed., Assentos do Conselho do Estado, 5 vols. (Bastori,
Goa, 1953-57), 1:431-37.
61. For example, ibid., 3:242; "Livro de ordens rdgias, 1630-38," ff. 151-52v,
and "Assentos do conselho de Fazenda, 1652-66," ff. 207v-8, both in HAG.
62. HAG, "Ac6rdAos e Assentos da CAmara de Goa, 1592-97," ff. 7v-8v, 162v;
ibid., 1597-1603, f. 39.
63. Cunha Rivara, 3:753-55; Arquivo Hist6rico Ultramarino, Lisbon, Codice
282, ff. 16v-17; the following in HAG: "Senado de Goa-Cartas Regias, 1529-
1611," ff. 54-54v, 95v; ibid., 1594-1603, n.p.; "Alvaras e Provis6es de Sua Mag-
estade, 1617-1652," ff. 73v-74v; "Provis6es a favor da Cristandade," ff. 28v-29v,
64. HAG, "Livro de terms e autos, 1565-72," ff. 182v-83.
65. The following in HAG: "Livro de contrato e concepcao da colecta,"
passim; "Alvaras e Provis6es de Sua Magestade, 1593-1781," f. 249; ibid., 1617-
M. N. PEARSON
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
In 1587, the king made a contract with a group of capitalists in
Lisbon, by which, in return for their paying for five years for the
fleets sent to India, they were given a monopoly on the indigo trade.
This threatened to end the casados' trade in a very lucrative
product, for the monopolists could set their own price. They com-
plained violently, and it took the viceroy, the clergy, and some other
members of the elite to calm them by assuring them they would get
a fair price for their indigo.66 On occasion the casados even took an
initiative, rather than simply reacting to a situation. In the 1590s,
the casados of Daman, north of modern Bombay, petitioned the
king to establish a customhouse in their port. They hoped that if
local traders were forced to come there to pay duties, the trade of
the town would prosper. Years later this was done, but by this time
Portuguese power had vanished, and Daman remained small and
There had been a threat of violence in Goa during the opposition
to the indigo monopoly in 1587, and indeed the casados were ready,
if all else failed, to use force to defend their commercial interests.
The best example of this was the big fray over customs duties in
Cochin, a most interesting dispute, extending over a period of six
months, which saw a militant union of Cochin's casados openly
challenging the viceroy, while at the same time trying to becloud
the issue with proclamations of loyalty to the king and appeals to
The opposition was over a rise in customs duties for the Portu-
guese residents of the port. In 1530, D. Joao III of Portugal had
made an agreement with his puppet, the king of Cochin, by which
all Portuguese residents of Cochin would pay duties to the king of
Cochin. Later the Hindu ruler lowered the rates from 6 per cent to
31/2 per cent. This resulted in much cheating and a substantial loss
for the Goa customhouse. In 1584, the viceroy, D. Francisco Mas-
carenhas, acting on the king's orders, made a new agreement with
52, ff. 28v-29 for D. Manuel's letter of 1518; "Livro de ordens regias, 1630-38,"
66. Couto, X, x, 6.
67. Cunha Rivara, 3:293-95, 492-93; Arquivo Hist6rico Ultramarino, Lisbon,
Codice 281, f. 139; Artur Basilio de Si, ed., Documentagdo para a hist6ria das
misses do padroado portuguds do oriented: insulindia, 5 vols. (Lisbon, 1954-
58), 5:218-19, 234; R. A. de Bulhao Pato, ed., Documentos remettidos da India
ou livros das mong6es, 5 vols. (Lisbon, 1880-1935), 3:155-56; HAG, "Livro de
registo das alvaras, cartas etc. de diferentes feitorias, 1667-1684," f. 22.
the king of Cochin by which all casados in Cochin were to pay to
the king of Cochin a duty of 6 per cent on imports. When the
local Portuguese heard of this threat to their trading profits, they
met together and agreed to resist by force. They went en masse to
see the Portuguese captain of Cochin and complained bitterly that
he was going against the concessions confirmed to them by Philip II
in 1580: "that they were very loyal vassals of the king of Portugal,
which they had demonstrated many times in his service, when this
was possible: that they were not opposing him in this matter: that
if he wanted them to pay duties to him they were very ready to
agree, but that they refused to pay to a Hindu king like this one."
The captain tried to pacify them, but failed. "They all gathered
several times in the Camara and agreed that they would resist by
force anyone who tried to give their goods to the king of Cochin,"
but continued to profess their loyalty to the king of Portugal.
This appeal was both devious and conservative. Rude has noted
how pre-modern crowds often appealed to natural law, or to the
king, who would have sided with the crowd if only he had known
how his subordinates were oppressing the people. These protesta-
tions of loyalty were very much in this tradition. Yet in fact, the
viceroy had been acting on behalf of the king and in the spirit of
his instructions, so the casados were really opposing the king's
wishes. This they tried to disguise by a blatantly discriminatory
appeal against paying duties to the Hindu king of Cochin. In fact,
they had always paid duties to him. Their real, although unvoiced,
complaints were having to pay more duties and other provisions of
the decree which would reduce their opportunities for cheating on
Their next move was to call a meeting of the native Christians
of Cochin and to arm both them and themselves. A total of 15,000
armed men, 10,000 local Christians and 5,000 Portuguese, marched
to the church of St. John, put a missal on the altar, and agreed to
defend their liberties with their lives, to persecute those who op-
posed them, and to stand by their fellows. This extraordinary dis-
play of cross-class and cross-racial unity was successful; the crowd
attacked the officials deemed responsible for the new decree, and
they fled to refuge in the house of the king of Cochin. In all this,
the casados were egged on by their women, "who by day and night
persuaded their husbands to sustain their ancient liberties." Finally
M. N. PEARSON
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
the Portuguese captain, seeing "that general union," suspended all
changes in customs duties.68
After the rainy season of 1584, the new viceroy, D. Duarte de
Menezes, arrived from Portugal to find Cochin in an uproar and
the casados still obdurate and still protesting loyalty to the king,
"because for him they were all ready to sacrifice their lives and
property, but they would give nothing to the king of Cochin." The
elite countered indirectly, by appealing to God to help them soften
the opposition of the casados. To this end they used "sacrifices,
prayers, fasts, scourges, and other intercessions." Having impressed
the opposition with their fervor, the fidalgos then called on them
to negotiate. This was agreed on, and twelve men were selected to
represent all Portuguese residents in Cochin. These twelve, how-
ever, reported back each day to their fellows, all meeting together
in the Camara. Finally both sides gave a little, and in January 1585,
peace returned to Cochin.69
Neither the casados nor the authorities could afford to be com-
pletely inflexible. The casados felt, probably erroneously, that they
were forced to resist because they were faced with ruin. But they
were careful, first, to try to make their revolt seem both loyal and
pro-Christian and, second, not to have to resort to violence. No
heads were broken during the affair. The casados were, after all,
situated on a hostile coast, and if they were too extreme in their
behavior, the Portuguese authorities would possibly not defend
them from their proclaimed opponent, the king of Cochin. Nor, of
course, could they have hoped to stand up to the king of Portugal's
warships and soldiers. On the other side, the authorities had to
watch for a possible rapprochement between the king of Cochin
and the casados; the king would have been very annoyed if Cochin
were lost. Nor were the elite anxious to use force on their fellow
Portuguese. Thus, a compromise was the inevitable result.
A final, and more extreme, example of Portuguese traders look-
ing after their own commercial interests was the situation concern-
ing the trade in cloves in the Molucca Islands. This trade was
meant to be a royal monopoly, but at least in the 1530s the Portu-
guese residents there simply ignored this and traded the product
on their own. The local officials could do little to stop this. It was
68. The preceding four paragraphs are based on Couto, X, iv, 13.
69. Ibid., X, vi, 2.
difficult to get anyone at all to serve or live in the remote Moluccas.
Since cloves were virtually the only trade item in those islands,
settlers could not be expected to remain there unless they could
trade in that item. "For this reason it suited the captains to dis-
simulate about the offences, and occasionally the injuries, which
they received from these men, in order that they would not be left
alone in the fort, as indeed, nevertheless, happened many times."70
Finally we have to consider several occasions when political or
security matters rather than commercial ones were at stake. In these
matters the casados were usually not consulted, nor were they con-
cerned with matters which they saw as the prerogatives of their
betters. But at times they took a role, either on the instigation of
part of the lite, or in a situation of extreme crisis where they felt
themselves to be in acute danger, or when they felt their perceived
rights were being infringed upon. A good example of the first two
motives acting together occurred in the Moluccas in 1556-57. The
local Portuguese captain, an imperious and avaricious man, fell out
with the local king of Ternate and had him and his near relatives
imprisoned in very poor conditions. Faced with hostility from the
locals, the ecclesiastics and the lite in the Portuguese settlement
called all the Portuguese residents together and persuaded the cap-
tain to moderate the harshness of the king's imprisonment. Despite
this concession, forces from the islands of Tidore and Ternate at-
tacked the fort.71 Fearing that the fort would fall, the local Portu-
guese united, seized and imprisoned the captain, and, with many
apologies, released the king. He forgave them and the war stopped.
The Portuguese, however, had now to find themselves a new cap-
tain. No fidalgo wanted to accept such a precarious position, but
finally one was persuaded to become their temporary leader until
the governor in Goa was heard from. Even this was accomplished
only after the fidalgo in question had been approached at the door
of the church by a procession of all the local Portuguese and clergy,
the latter as usual complete with raised crucifix.72 The deposition
of the duly appointed authority was thus soon followed by a craven
search for a new authority figure.
The trouble over the governorship in 1527, when two nobles, Pero
Mascarenhas and Lopo Vaz de Sampaio, both appeared to have le-
70. Barros, IV, ix, 19.
71. Couto, VII, iv, 7.
72. Ibid., VII, v, 2.
M. N. PEARSON
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
gitimate claims to the office,73 showed the casados, in this case usually
represented by the Camara of Goa, interfering in high politics and
sometimes even without the initiative of the fidalgos. Thus, Lopo
Vaz was supported by the officials of the Camara, and by the prin-
cipal people (i.e., the fidalgos) of Goa.74 Later, Pero Mascarenhas
made his case in two letters, one to the Camara and one to all the
fidalgos and captains.75 Later still Mascarenhas got himself released
from prison in Cananor after a successful appeal to all the officials
and casados of the town.76 On one occasion during this long dis-
pute, Lopo Vaz was opposed by most of the people of Goa, who,
after a meeting in the Camara, went to his house and demanded to
be heard. Their spokesman was one of the members of the Camara,
and here that body, rather than the fidalgos, seems to have taken
the lead.77 Soon after, another member of the Camara addressed
Lopo Vaz on behalf of "this city and the people of India."78 In-
deed, the CAmara became very influential in this dispute. Though
at one point the captain of Goa, on the Camara's advice, rejected
Lopo Vaz' claims, he later recognized Lopo Vaz as governor after
the aldermen agreed to accept him.79
This was not the end of the dispute. When both claimants agreed
to settle the matter by a special tribunal, which met in Cochin, the
casados and the Camara played an open role. Pero Mascarenhas had
already declared that he considered the Portuguese residents of
Cochin to be traitors, for they had not supported his claim. Afraid
that he would be chosen and would then avenge himself on them,
the Camara of Cochin lobbied furiously for the selection of Lopo
Vaz. All the residents of Cochin "went in barefoot procession to the
churches with their wives and children, with many tears and prayers
begging God to inspire the judges not to chose Pero Mascarenhas
as governor."80 Lopo Vaz was in fact chosen, and the dispute ended.
This sort of open involvement in matters normally reserved to the
l6ite was unprecedented, and should be seen as a consequence of the
very unusual situation of Portuguese India in 1527. Normally, the
73. See references in note 39.
74. Couto, IV, i, 3.
75. Ibid., IV, ii, 9.
76. Ibid., IV, iii, 5.
77. Correa, 3:186.
78. Ibid., 3:190.
79. Barros, IV, i, 3.
80. Ibid., IV, ii, 6.
line of succession to the governorship was clearly laid down by royal
In matters affecting themselves, however, the casados routinely
expected to be heard. As we saw, they had to be consulted before
food could be taxed. Similarly, on two occasions the casados of Goa
refused to oppose a Bijapuri advance into Portuguese territory. Ac-
cording to them, this sort of martial activity should be done on
their behalf by soldiers, not, except in extreme emergency, by them
personally.81 Even in emergencies, they were ready to help with
money only on their own terms. In 1586, desperate letters from the
captain, bishop, and city of Malacca arrived in Goa. Acheh was be-
sieging this city, the second most important one in Portuguese Asia,
and it needed help. The fidalgos of Goa rallied at once, but the
viceroy's appeals to the representatives of the Camara met a cool
response. Finally they agreed to call a meeting of the whole casado
group and put the matter to them. After a discussion a loan was
agreed to, but only because the viceroy offered to secure it with the
revenues of the province of Salsette. As a further condition, the
casados asked that a fidalgo acceptable to them be given command
of the relief expedition. The viceroy had had his own uncle in
mind for this job, but was forced to bow to the will of the people.82
Too much should not be made of these successes by the casados.
More often their legitimate complaints were ignored by the lite.
The best illustration of this occurred in Daman in the 1580s. The
Portuguese were involved in a protracted dispute with the Mughal
captain of the port of Surat, in Gujarat north of Daman. In 1582,
this captain countered the Portuguese fleets by having Daman at-
tacked by land. Considerable destruction resulted, and the casados
of Daman frantically appealed for help.83 Three years later a Portu-
guese fleet sailed north from Goa to blockade Surat. When it called
at Daman for supplies the Camara protested violently and asked
the fleet to turn back, for if it attacked the Mughal captain's ship,
the lands of Daman would again suffer the inevitable Mughal re-
prisal. The captain of the Portuguese fleet was unmoved and re-
plied coldly that he would obey his orders, "and that as for their
protests, the viceroy had called together in Goa a council of fidalgos
81. Ibid., IV, viii, 8-9; Couto, VI, v, 9.
82. Couto, X, viii, 17; cf. ibid., X, x, 4, where the CAmara of Cochin agreed
only after a leisurely discussion to help out in Ceylon.
83. Ibid., X, ii, 5-7.
M. N. PEARSON
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
and experienced captains, and he was not going to stay to hear
those [craven] things, for he had no choice but to obey; and taking
on water and rice he set sail for Surat."84 Such a rejection of pre-
sumptuous casados no doubt met with universal approval from the
elite of India.
Many of these cases reveal a considerable lack of patriotism
among the casados of Portuguese India, and, indeed, they usually
put trade before loyalty. This occurred even in time of war, when
one would expect the lines to be more clearly drawn. On the con-
trary: if, on the one hand, the casados were not consulted about
war and peace, on the other, they felt themselves under no obliga-
tion to take any notice of the wars of the elite. Reports are legion
of Portuguese trading with areas which were at war with the Por-
tuguese but most demonstrate the insistence of the casados in
continuing their very lucrative trade with Gujarat even when
Gujarat and Portugal were at war.85 Similarly, it was not just in the
Moluccas that Portuguese casados violated the royal monopoly by
trading in spices: reports of Portuguese engaged in trade in pepper
and other forbidden products in western India were numerous
throughout the sixteenth century, and much of this trade was with
areas officially at war with, or at least hostile to, Portuguese India.86
One final, and specifically colonial, aspect of the political activi-
ties of the sub-elite in Portuguese India needs to be considered. In
some areas and at some times the elite were forced to bow to pres-
sure from the economically dominant native population, to the
detriment of the Portuguese casados. We have noted that in Goa
the native population was usually not consulted, but in Diu, the
most important fort north of Goa, the local Gujarati merchant pop-
ulation was so rich and their presence so crucial to the survival of
the fort that the elite in Goa usually had no choice but to bow to
their demands. This Gujarati power was more negative than posi-
tive: thus they played no formal part in the government of Diu, nor
were they represented on celebratory occasions such as the taking
84. Ibid., X, vii, 10.
85. For example, Correa, 4:454-55; Couto, VI, i, 6; ANTT, "Colecio de Sao
Lourengo," 3:53v-54, 227.
86. For example, ANTT, "Corpo Chronologico," 1-25-108; Documenta
Indica, 2:130; Arquivo Hist6rico Ultramarino, Lisbon, India, Caixa 10, letter of
February 5, 1633; Studia. Revista Semestral, nos. 13-14, p. 80; As Gavetas da
Torre do Tombo, 3:215.
of an oath of loyalty to a new king of Portugal.87 But when they
were oppressed, they struck back. The best example of this is the
fate of the Camara of Diu. This representative body, and the title
of City for the town, had been bestowed on the Portuguese resi-
dents of Diu in 1603, after their repeated requests for this privi-
lege.88 But the small Portuguese population of about 200, the only
ones eligible to vote for the new Camara, misused their position.
They raised taxes, abused the Hindu population, and indulged in
nepotism. Following complaints from the Gujarati population, the
title and the Camara were removed by the king in 1613.89
This study shows the people of Portuguese India acting politi-
cally in four distinct ways. One group, the soldiers, was ready to
oppose violently their own masters, the captains, when they felt
this was necessary for redress. More often, they acted as potential or
actual storm troops on behalf of their captains. This first, violent
method was not simply senseless mob anarchy; it had a rationale,
for it was the only way to get wrongs righted if a captain was obdu-
rate. The second was a logical extension of the whole recruitment
process used by captains in Portuguese India. The other group, the
casados, normally was able to make its influence felt through the
representative body, the Camara or municipal council. Only when
this failed would they use more open tactics, sometimes led by the
Camara officials or by members of the elite. The essential character-
istic of such movements is that they were limited to the correction
of a specific perceived wrong. They did not aim for greater, or more
generalized, political power, nor were they in any other sense lib-
eral, let alone radical. Indeed, their publicity usually appealed to a
Did the colonial setting make these activities different from those
of similar people in contemporary Europe? It is difficult to find
concrete evidence that it did, especially since normally the native
population was strictly outside these Portuguese movements. It can
only be said that the setting contributed to make Goan society
87. As in Gavetas, 3:88-92.
88. Arquivo Hist6rico Ultramarino, Codice 282, f. 126; British Museum, Lon-
don, Additional MSS 20863, f. 89v.
89. ANTTDR, 24:23v; Arquivo Hist6rico Ultramarino, India, Caixa 3, no. 4;
Arquivo Portuguds Oriental, ed. A. B. de Braganca Pereira, 11 vols. (BastorA,
Goa, 1936-40), 4:22, 538-40, 604-5.
M. N. PEARSON
THE PEOPLE AND POLITICS OF PORTUGUESE INDIA
rough, violent, and extravagant, all characteristics of a frontier so-
ciety, which indeed this was. Specifically, the colonial setting dic-
tated the presence of a large military element in the Portuguese
population, while the general setting included the meteorological
rhythm which led to large numbers of idle soldiers in the west coast
ports during the rains. But, generally, the nature of the Portuguese
presence on the Asian coast had two effects on Portuguese society
and the political activity of its lower orders. On the one hand it led
to considerable Portuguese solidarity in normal social intercourse in
peaceful times. The other side of this coin, most manifest in time of
stress or danger, was a general touchiness, a readiness to turn to
violence, which was at the least influenced by the insecurity of the
Portuguese situation in Asia, hence the lack of security in Goa's
streets at night and the propensity to avenge an insult with vio-
lence. Among the casados this psychic stress is less easy to discern,
but symptoms of it can be seen in the brutal treatment of slaves and
in the lawless bacchanalian aspects of popular celebrations. This
stress became more apparent as the strains increased, notably in the
seventeenth century when the English and Dutch began to whittle
away at Portuguese possessions in Asia.
The Portuguese Tobacco Trade and
Tobacco Growers of Bahia in the
Late Colonial Period
THE history of Brazilian tobacco cultivation and Luso-Brazil-
ian tobacco trade in the colonial period is in part a study of the
network of relationships among the crown, tobacco growers, and
merchant exporters. The crown's fiscal interest in tobacco was con-
siderable. Tax revenues, including the income from the sale of the
tobacco contract, the tithe on the product in Brazil, and customs
duties possibly exceeded the amount derived from any other colo-
nial export, including gold.' For their part, the growers wanted the
assurance of a fair price for their crops. The merchants in Portugal
required a sufficient supply of quality tobacco for their re-export
trade, principally to ports in the Mediterranean and northern
Europe. Slave merchants in Portugal and in Brazil found a lucrative
outlet for inferior tobacco in West Africa and attempted, in years
when African commerce was brisk, to siphon even good quality
tobacco into that trade, thereby reducing the volume available for
European sale. The coordination of these three interests to mutual
satisfaction was seldom, if ever, achieved within the colonial system.
The requests of merchants and a consideration of its own fiscal
needs prompted the crown to assume increasing control over the
1. See the estimates comparing the values of colonial exports in Roberto
Simonsen, Histdria econdmica do Brasil, 5th ed. (Sao Paulo, 1967), pp. 115-16,
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
quantity and quality of the tobacco destined for European and
African markets. In the eighteenth century, tobacco growers were
affected by supervisory agencies created to implement mercantilist
principles and ad hoc provisions to minimize contraband and to
maximize quality controls in the tobacco trade.
The principal focus here is on tobacco growers in the district of
the Bahian Rec6ncavo, the agricultural hinterland of the port of
Salvador, in the period between 1775 and 1835. The conditions of
growing tobacco for export, tied as they were to the nature of the
demand for Brazilian tobacco in the world market, are best ex-
amined where most of the Brazilian tobacco grown for export
originated. Contrary to interpretations frequently made of the de-
scriptive accounts of tobacco growing in the eighteenth century in
Brazil, cultivators of tobacco for export employed slave labor on
plantations.2 The large-scale extension of this practice, however,
occurred only as one stage in the evolution of tobacco agriculture
in the colony. Consequently, it is useful first to sketch the history of
Luso-Brazilian tobacco agriculture and trade before proceeding to
an analysis of Bahian growers after 1775.
There were four stages in the development of commercial tobacco
cultivation in Bahia: ca. 1620-98: the establishment of the most
characteristic features of tobacco cultivation and trade, including
regional concentration of cultivation for export by growers in
Bahia; the practice of labor-intensive techniques of cultivation with
apparently few slaves; the development of markets in Europe and
West Africa; the specialization in twist, or roll, tobacco; 1698-
1750, growth: the expansion of the African market as a result of the
strong demand for slaves in the Brazilian gold fields in the interior;
increased production restrained only by the higher costs for slaves;
the initiation of restrictions on the amount of tobacco to be em-
ployed in the slave trade; 1751-1815, diversification: efforts to pro-
mote the cultivation of Virginian and Cuban leaf varieties of to-
bacco with the expansion of trade to Europe in quality tobacco; a
steady growth in both European and African exports, indicating in-
creased levels of productivity and an increasing number of growers,
some large, others quite marginal; 1815-35, transition: a temporary
2. E.g., J. H. Galloway, "Northeast Brazil 1700-1750: The Agricultural Crisis
Re-examined," Journal of Historical Geography 1 (January 1975):27.
decline in productivity, owing to the shift of many large-scale
growers from tobacco to cotton in response to the loss of African
markets, lower prices for Brazilian tobacco in Europe, and dis-
ruption of agriculture during the independence struggle in the
Rec6ncavo of Bahia and the succeeding civil disorders; an upturn
around 1835 that would form the basis of the important develop-
ment of Bahian leaf tobacco exportation in the nineteenth and
The origins of the commercial cultivation of the tobacco plant in
Brazil are still obscure. The Portuguese, like other European colo-
nists in the Americas in the seventeenth century, followed the
Spanish example of colonial tobacco exploitation during the period
of Spanish Hapsburg hegemony between 1580 and 1640.3 Tobacco
was exported in small amounts by the Dutch from territories they
occupied on the Brazilian northeast coast in the 1630s.4 It had be-
come a staple export of Maranhao by 1637.5 As early as 1639, com-
plaints were heard in Bahia against those who cultivated tobacco
rather than essential foodstuffs,6 but the same charge could have
been made against sugar planters. As a cash crop which offered little
competition to the dominant sugarcane interests, tobacco growing
continued to increase.
The scattered references to Bahian tobacco growers during the
seventeenth century indicate that they were persons with limited
resources who pioneered the cultivation of tobacco on small farms
in the virgin soil of the Rec6ncavo.7 Compared to the investment
required to establish a sugar mill, or even to maintain the field
hands necessary for the arduous tasks involved in the long sugar
3. Andr6 Joao Antonil pseudd.], Cultura e opulencia do Brasil por suas drogas
e minas, texte de 1'edition de 1711, traduction frangaise et commentaire critique
par Andree Mansuy (Paris, 1968), part two on tobacco agriculture, pp. 290-341.
Mansuy's edition is thoroughly annotated. See her note on the disputed origins
of Brazilian commercial cultivation, pp. 290-91.
4. Hermann Watjen, O dominio colonial hollandez no Brasil (Sao Paulo, 1938),
5. Frederic Mauro, Le Portugal et l'Atlantique au XVII sikcle 1570-1670 (Paris,
1960), p. 372.
6. Ibid.; Thales de Azevedo, Povoamento da cidade do Salvador (Bahia, 1969),
7. Documentos hist6ricos da Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro (DHBNRJ)
(Rio de Janeiro, 1957), 88:147-48, 185-86.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
production cycle, the capital demands for an initial tobacco crop
were minimal. The costs of hoeing implements and seeds and the
construction of a drying shed could be obtained on credit, and a
tobacco farmer could still expect to turn a profit within a year.
The techniques of tobacco production developed early and
changed little over time. Antonil gave a succinct description of the
operations involved at the turn of the eighteenth century: "semear,
plantar, alimpar, capar, desolhar, colher, espinicar, torcer, virar,
ajuntar, enrolar, encourar, & pisar," that is, in the various stages,
cultivation: "to sow, plant, weed, cap or top off, and prune"; har-
vest: "collect, and de-stem"; curing: "twist and turn"; packaging:
"join the twists together, roll up and pack in leather"; or manu-
facture: "grind or grate" into powder for snuff.8
Descriptions of tobacco agriculture in the colonial period imply
that slaves were typically employed by growers of any stature in
Bahia, although only the curing and manufacturing stages of pre-
paring the twists required considerable brute strength and manual
dexterity, the kind of "sordid labor" that, in Brazil, was performed
by slaves.9 Unlike the seasonal activity of the large work force
needed on sugar plantations, especially in the mills at harvest time,
the rhythm of work in the cycle of cultivation and curing tobacco
was less intense.10 Fewer slaves were necessary and their tasks less
8. Mansuy, p. 294.
9. In addition to the Mansuy edition of Antonil, the principal published ac-
counts of Brazilian colonial tobacco cultivation are the following: Jos6 Roberto
do Amaral Lapa, "O tabaco brasileiro no s6culo XVIII," Studia 29 (Abril 1970):
57-144, transcription and introduction to two reports on tobacco prepared by the
municipal judge in Cachoeira, Joaquim de Amorim Castro; another copy of one
of these is "Mem6ria sobre a manufatura do tabaco na capitania da Bahia, no
anno de 1788," Publicac6es do Arquivo Nacional 4 (Rio de Janeiro, 1903): 109-
17; "Discurso preliminary, hist6rico, introductivo con natureza de descrigco eco-
n6mica da comarca e cidade da Bahia," Anais da Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de
Janeiro (ABNRJ) (Rio de Janeiro, 1906), 27:322-26; Luis dos Santos Vilhena, A
Bahia no seculo XVIII: recopilac6es de noticias soteropolitanas e brasilicas con-
tidas em XX cartas (1798) notas e commentdrio de Braz do Amaral, 3 vols. (Ba-
hia, 1969), 1:197-200. Post-independence conditions in the industry are treated in
Miguel Calmon du Pin e Almeida (Marques de Abrantes), Memdria sobre a cul-
tura do tabaco oferecida a sociedade d'agricultura, commercio e indistria da
Bahia (Bahia, 1835), and the mid-twentieth-century situation in Walter Egler,
"Aspectos gerais da cultural do fumo na regiao do rec6ncavo na Bahia," Boletim
geogrdfico 111 (Rio de Janeiro, 1953):679-88.
10. Stuart Schwartz, "Free Labor in a Slave Economy: The Lavradores de
Cana of Colonial Bahia," in Colonial Roots of Modern Brazil, ed. Dauril Alden
(Berkeley, 1973), pp. 147-97. The term lavrador, which possesses a wide range of
Plate 1. An eighteenth-century tobacco factory in Bahia: preparing twists
from dried leaves. New York Public Library, Arents Collection.
Plate 2. An eighteenth-century tobacco factory in Bahia: encasing roll tobacco
in leather hides. New York Public Library, Arents Collection.
The cultivation of tobacco plants from seed to harvest required
approximately six months of a fairly constant level of attention and
exacting but not back-breaking labor. Field preparation usually
began in February on land which optimally had been thoroughly
fertilized by grazing cattle for several months. The seeds were sown
by early May and transplanted three to four weeks later. In July
and August, the tender plants, vulnerable to excessive wind, sun, or
rain, were diligently weeded, inspected for insect pests, and care-
fully pruned to increase the foliage.
The first harvest began in September. The plant was not up-
rooted; the leaves, with stems intact, were broken by hand and the
branches left to wilt in the sun. The next day they were collected
and transferred to the curing sheds to dry; then the stems were re-
moved and the leaves were tied in hand-size bunches. The deter-
mination of the quality of the tobacco depended very much on
whether it came from the first harvest or the soca, the second, or
even the third growth.
Most Bahian tobacco was prepared in "twists," long cords of the
twisted leaves entwined to about three inches in diameter, rather
like rope. The twists were hung in the sheds until much of the re-
maining moisture had drained from them. There they were re-
twisted or "turned," twice daily at first, then at increasingly less
frequent intervals for several months. The liquid released by the
drying twists over this period was collected, mixed in a solution of
molasses and herbs, and brushed liberally over the cords. This solu-
tion was applied subsequently at several stages in transport to
European market. Its preservative function kept the rolls "fresh,"
and it gave a unique flavor to Brazilian tobacco. An even more con-
centrated and syrupy mixture was prepared for the pungent darker
leaves produced for the West African trade.
The best quality twists, intended for export to Europe, were
doubled and re-rolled tightly on sticks or rods of light-weight wood,
about thirty inches in length, sufficient to support the roll but not
heavy enough to violate the tare, or packaging, regulations. Three
together made a package or roll of approximately fifteen arrobas
meanings from farm laborer to farmer, should not obscure the fact that lavradores
frequently employed slaves. A lavrador de roga is best translated as a subsistence
farmer. When used in conjunction with a specific crop, lavrador de cana, or
lavrador de mandioca, or in this instance, lavrador de tabaco, the most appropri-
ate expression seems to be "grower." On this point, see Schwartz, pp. 148n2, 153.
On the tasks of slaves on cane plantations, see ibid., p. 172.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
(480 pounds). These were wrapped in palm leaves, tied with heavy
vine cords, and bound in leather casings which were branded with
the grower's identification mark, the quality of tobacco, and its
place of origin. The rolls were called bolas or pelotes when they
were shipped without leather covers by tobacco dealers and proces-
sors (enroladores) who themselves had not grown or cured tobacco.
Tobacco was cultivated most efficiently on a few acres, but tracts
varied in size from small plots to large farms. Fallowing practices
and the routine application of animal fertilizer to fields entailed
additional expenses beyond the costs of seed, labor, and tools needed
to clear the land and turn the soil, but these methods helped to
produce the superior tobacco for which Bahia became famous. The
largest and wealthiest growers who received premium prices for
their crops owned cattle needed for fertilizer, had sufficient acreage
to permit seasonal fallowing, possessed the rudimentary facilities
(sheds, kettles, weighing devices) and sufficient labor for curing on
their own properties, and were able to afford the leather hides used
as packaging material. But others who had fewer resources could
make do with a small plot, a little fertilizer, and personal attention
to the plants. At harvest time they gathered the leaves and turned
them over to someone who possessed curing facilities. Tobacco cul-
ture became an attractive venture for recently arrived Portuguese
immigrants from rural areas who were not ashamed to make their
living from the soil in a slave-plantation-dominated society."
Although published documents are generally silent concerning
farm sizes and yields, some inferences can be derived from late
eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century sources. They indicate that
an average slave produced in a year seven rolls of tobacco weighing
fourteen arrobas each.12 A farm consisting of 40,000 plants worked
by a dozen slaves would yield between 700 and 1,000 arrobas of roll
tobacco.13 If those 40,000 plants were set at intervals of 22 to 27
inches and the rows were about 45 inches apart, the fields would
cover between 6.3 and 7.8 acres.14 While such a farm was considered
11. A. J. R. Russell Wood, Fidalgos and Philanthropists, The Santa Casa da
Miseric6rdia da Bahia, 1550-1755 (Berkeley, 1968), pp. 60-61.
12. "Discurso preliminary p. 323.
13. Jose da Silva Lisboa to Martinho de Mello e Castro, 11 February 1784,
ABNRJ, doc. 11.475, 32:553.
14. "A distincia de hum rego de outro he de cinco palmos, & a das plants
entire si he de dous palmos & meyo," Mansuy, p. 296. One palmo is approximately
ESTIMATES OF LABOR, ACREAGE, AND PROJECTED YIELDS IN BRAZILIAN TOBACCO AGRICULTURE
Workers/ Plants/ Yield in Output Output Date of
Workers Acres Acres Plants Worker Arrobasa in Rolls per Worker Observation
1 .65 1.54 4,000 4,000 98 7 7 1790
12 6.3- 7.8 1.9 -1.54 40,000 3,333 700-1,000 47-67 3.9-5.6 1785
18 9.5-11.7 1.9 -1.54 60,000 3,333 1,500 100+ 5.55+ 1817
30-40 20-22 1.36-2.0 120,000 3,000-4,000 3,000 200+ 5-6.67 1798
a. I arroba = 32 lbs.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
large in Bahia, there were some in neighboring Minas Gerais with
as many as 60,000 plants.15 An account written during the 1830s
indicated that five workers laboring on a plot of thirty bragos (about
1.07 acres) could produce 100 arrobas of tobacco as well as their
own food requirements.16 Around 1800, some farms in the Inham-
bupe district of Bahia possessed as many as thirty to forty slaves.17
These various estimates are assembled in Table 1. The projected
values calculated from available data confirm the limited returns
to scale in tobacco cultivation, the feature which attracted small
farmers to it in times when slave labor was scarce.
The markets for Brazilian tobacco, twists cut into plugs for
chewing or ground into powder for snuff, stretched around the
world. By the end of the seventeenth century, these markets ex-
tended from Hudson Bay to the Far East, but the most important
ones were in West Africa and Europe.18
Like other European states of the period, the government of
Portugal acted to capture a portion of the profits from tobacco
sales. It established temporary monopolies on domestic sales in
1639 and in 1644 and permanent ones in 1659.19 The privilege of
administering the monopoly was let by contract. One measure which
encouraged expansion of the Brazilian tobacco industry was a
royal edict of 1647 which prohibited tobacco cultivation in Portu-
gal.20 But a later piece of legislation was viewed with less favor by
Brazilian producers. In 1674, the state monopoly was reorganized.
Its income was applied to the support of Portuguese armies and its
authority was extended to the overseas possessions, including Brazil.
To administer the terms of the tobacco contracts the crown estab-
lished the Junta da Administraco de Tabaco, which over time
acquired extensive prerogatives and patronage powers.21
15. Caio Prado Junior, The Colonial Background of Modern Brazil (Berkeley,
1967), p. 177.
16. Calmon, p. 34, referring, however, to leaf production.
17. Joaquim Antonio Gonzaga, 22 February 1798, ABNRJ, 37:103.
18. Jacob Price, France and the Chesapeake, A History of the French Tobacco
Monopoly, 1674-1791, and of its Relationship to the British and American Trade,
2 vols. (Ann Arbor, 1973), p. 183; Mansuy, pp. 325n10, 334, 335n9.
19. Mauro, p. 370; Joao Ldcio d'Azevedo, Apocas de Portugal econdmico (Lis-
bon, 1929), pp. 287-90.
20. Azevedo, p. 287.
21. Reprint of legislation of 5 December 1674 in New York Public Library,
Arents Collection (NYPL/Arents), no. 721, Regimento da Junta da Administracao
do Tobaco, Lisbon, 1741; Joao DamAzio Roussado Gorjao, O Contracto dos
Tabacos (Lisbon, 1833), pp. 7-8.
By the end of the seventeenth century, tobacco had become an
important article of Portuguese trade and a significant source of
state income. The value of the contract rose from 66,000 cruzados
in 1674 to 1.6 million in 1698.22 Of the 7 million pounds of roll to-
bacco shipped annually from Brazil to Lisbon, 90 per cent came
from Bahia, the remainder from Maranhao. But only one-tenth of
these imports were consumed within the kingdom; the rest was re-
exported to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa.23 In
such markets, Brazilian tobacco encountered serious competition
from the products of rival imperial powers. Especially serious was
the growing popularity in Europe of leaf tobacco, more delicate in
flavor to consumers and preferred to Brazilian roll tobacco by manu-
facturers of snuff.
By the 1670s, the tobacco industry of Brazil, like its sugar in-
dustry, was in a depressed condition. Rather than point to the
consequences of international rivalry, mercantilist regulations, and
preferential trade treaties as the sources of their difficulties, Bahian
tobacco growers placed the blame upon the reorganized state to-
bacco monopoly and threatened to abandon their plantations.24
But by the last decade of the century, two new factors assisted Ba-
hian tobacco cultivation to enter the second phase of its develop-
ment: first, Bahian tobacco became increasingly favored by the
monopoly contractors; second, the discovery of gold in the Brazilian
interior enlarged the demand for slave labor and, therefore, stimu-
lated the West African market for tobacco.
In this second phase, the colonial government was authorized by
the crown to assume increasing responsibility for tobacco cultiva-
tion and trade. The immediate impetus was the government's de-
termination to expand military defenses. The added cost would be
covered by increasing the revenue from the tobacco monopoly, hence
the need to protect sales in the domestic and foreign markets by
setting price controls, restricting the private manufacture of snuff,
and tightening smuggling prohibitions. In 1698, the crown created
22. Armando de Castro, "Tabaco," Diciondrio de hist6ria de Portugal (DHP)
(Lisbon, 1968), 3:105-7; Vitorino Magalhaes Godinho, "Finan
23. Price, pp. 182-84.
24. DHBNRJ, 88:147-48, 185-86.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
superintendencies of tobacco to assist the state contractors especially
in the colonial ports. In Bahia the position of superintendent was
exercised by a juiz de fora, a crown-appointed municipal judge who
was also a member of the High Court (Relagdo) in Salvador.25 The
superintendency was responsible for the inspection and classification
of the tobacco harvest and the enforcement of measures to reduce
or eliminate contraband. It leased a warehouse in Salvador (casa de
arrecadacdo), where tobacco was inspected and stored.26 Quality
tobacco was reserved for European markets, and inferior (the re-
jected or refugado) tobacco was earmarked for the West African
trade and internal consumption. Clerks assigned to the agency at-
tempted to keep track of the total amount of tobacco on hand in
the city at any time.27 Snuff manufacturers and vendors were limited
in the amount of tobacco they could sell at retail, a measure in-
tended to curb smuggling by sailors upon their return to Lisbon.28
The new regulations clearly favored the interests of both the Lis-
bon tobacco merchants and the crown. The reduction of smuggling
would eliminate competition and enable merchants to charge
higher prices for their tobaccos. Similarly, the imposition of quality
controls enabled merchants to offer premium tobacco for re-export.
The more lucrative those re-export sales were, the more the crown's
income from customs revenues increased.
The growers soon became less enthusiastic about the new regime.
Under the superintendency's authority, military officers in agricul-
tural districts were charged with supervising tobacco shipments at
the end of the harvest. Accumulated stocks in rural areas such as
Cachoeira could be stored only in authorized warehouses. From
there the tobacco was sent to the casa de arrecadacdo, where it was
graded and its price determined. Growers and enroladores who
failed to meet shipment deadlines in hopes of obtaining higher
prices for their products were reprimanded. In the 1720s, all grow-
ers were required to designate representatives in Salvador to partici-
pate in the annual price negotiations arbitrated by officers of the
superintendency.29 From the perspective of growers, these regula-
tions were vexatious and injurious, but they were only the begin-
25. Regimento . 1741, p. 3.
26. Francisco Borges de Barros, Novos documents para a histdria colonial
(Bahia, 1931), pp. 139-40.
27. DHBNRJ, 87:27.
28. Mansuy, pp. 336-37n1.
29. DHBNRJ, 78:107-8, 142-43, 208-9, 368-69.
ning of a series of restrictions that would beset them for over a cen-
It was the growing market in West African slaves which most
altered the trade in tobacco from Bahia in this period. Direct trade
in slaves between Bahia and West Africa, first authorized in 1644,
became a matter of contention between Lisbon and Salvador mer-
chants only when the demand for slaves in Brazil rose dramatically
as a consequence of the gold strikes.30 The proximity of the port of
Salvador to the region of concentrated tobacco cultivation created
the base of a potentially independent colonial commercial interest
in Brazil. The advantage of having a locally produced good, i.e.,
roll tobacco, to barter for slaves was obvious. Bahian merchants and
shipowners who engaged in direct trade in tobacco with the Mina
Coast were presumed to threaten the needs of the state contract and
re-exports to Europe. Without the tobacco to satisfy European buy-
ers, Lisbon merchants who imported foreign manufactures would
be pressed to remit in gold.81 Pressures were exerted on the crown
in the eighteenth century to restrain the activities of colonial mer-
chants and to limit the quantity and quality of tobacco which could
be sent in direct trade with Africa.
The history of the superintendency was marked by the conflict
that resulted from unsuccessful attempts of the crown to fill two
primary responsibilities. On the one hand, it had to consider the
interests of the contractors of the monopoly and the re-exporters.
On the other, it had to ensure that the colony was supplied with the
necessary slave labor. In 1710, for example, local interests were out-
raged by the superintendent's order to ship tobacco to Lisbon in
arbitrary disregard of the customary allocation for African mar-
Colonial authorities were necessarily concerned about the preva-
lence of contraband in the African trade, since oversupplies in-
creased the cost of slaves. That occurred especially when smuggled
Brazilian tobacco came into the hands of other European traders
along the slave coast. Such traders sought out Bahian vessels and
either pirated their cargoes, forced their captains to accept manu-
30. Pierre Verger, Flux et reflux de la traite des nigres entire le Golfe de
Bdnin et Bahia de Todos os Santos du XVIIe au XIXe sidcle (Paris, 1968), pp. 34,
31. Virginia Rau and Maria Fernanda Gomes da Silva, eds., Documentos
ineditos da casa de Cadaval respeitantes ao Brasil, 2 vols. (Coimbra, 1966), 2:335-43.
32. DHBNRJ, 34:329-30.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
factured goods in exchange for the more highly valued tobacco, or
negotiated arrangements with them to share the proceeds from the
sale of their illicit cargoes. During the eighteenth century, the aver-
age exchange rate for a prime adult captive was ten rolls (2.5
arrobas per roll) of tobacco, but the rate occasionally went up to
fifteen or twenty. Subversive trade in manufactures and the rising
costs of slaves became a matter of concern to royal authorities,
metropolitan merchants, and Bahian residents.33
Between 1698 and 1756, rival Bahian and Lisbon merchants pro-
posed at various times to establish companies with exclusive rights
to the slave trade along the Mina Coast.34 Each group lobbied suc-
cessfully in favor of free trade and unrestricted supplies and against
the projects advanced by its rival to eliminate contraband by cen-
tralizing trade. Only for a brief interval (1723-25) did an informal
division of slave markets prevail. Lisbon merchants organized a
Corisco Company for the trade at Cape Verde and Gabon, leaving
the Mina Coast to the Bahians, but the company did not endure.
The problem of contraband remained.35
In 1731, the viceroy of Brazil defended Bahian participation in
the West African tobacco and slave trade. He explained that it
offered tobacco growers a ready market for the disposal of part of
their harvest which was unsuitable for European export. It also
supplied sugar plantations, tobacco farms, and gold mines with
necessary slave labor, and the crown benefitted from taxes collected
on the slaves. Moreover, refugado tobacco functioned as a source
of commodity speculation for many residents of the captaincy. "All
the inhabitants of Bahia," from government officials downward,
even persons with no regular means of support, invested in refu-
gado tobacco ventures to the Mina Coast.36
The viceroy insisted that Bahia's trade with the Mina Coast was
also vital to local merchants. As the commission agents or factors of
Portuguese houses, their resources consisted largely of credits and
notes or bills drawn on the European houses to whom they regularly
shipped colonial produce in return for manufactured goods. They
had little cash on hand to remit abroad to purchase cargoes later
to be sold for slaves.37
33. Verger, pp. 33, 122n9, 157, 662.
34. Ibid., pp. 72, 99, 100, 111.
35. Ibid., pp. 75, 82, 92-93n50.
36. Ibid., p. 31.
37. Ibid., p. 95n61.
Although gold was employed in the slave trade, it was decidedly
to the merchant's advantage to pay for cargoes of slaves with locally
produced goods, i.e., tobacco and aguardente (sugarcane brandy).
As records of slave trade transactions demonstrate, these cargoes
often represented the pooled resources of a number of interested
parties, each of whom contributed some tobacco rolls, for example,
and who expected to receive a share of profits from the venture in
return for assuming part of the risks.38
Bahians could also offer other arguments in favor of their partici-
pation in the slave trade. Direct trade in refugado tobacco yielded
cheaper slaves than indirect trade via Lisbon, saving costs in freight
charges, brokerage fees, and customs duties. Though Bahians con-
tended that indirect trade was less efficient and even wasteful be-
cause of spoilage among tobacco rolls left for long periods in Lisbon
warehouses, a Lisbon official countered that storage periods were
no longer than usual in transshipments to European markets, all
rolls being reconditioned with molasses before being reshipped.3"
During the 1730s, competition for slaves along the Mina Coast
intensified and the demand for tobacco as a bartering medium in-
creased, resulting in an increasing share of Brazilian tobacco being
sent to Africa.40 It also produced a division among Bahian merchants
seeking access to that market. The tension heightened in 1743, when
a group of merchants agreed to restrict to twenty-four the number
of vessels annually sent to Mina. Merchants excluded from that
agreement understandably protested, and in 1750 the crown ruled
that no merchant house or individual could own more than one of
the twenty-four vessels and that part of the cargo space on each
vessel must be available to other shippers. In 1756, the practice of
restricting the number of ships eligible to sail for the Mina Coast
was abandoned, but five years later the crown limited the size of
tobacco cargoes to 3,000 rolls per ship.41
To summarize the development in the first half of the eighteenth
century, the crown's main concern was the problem of excluding
38. For example, partial copies of claims made by slave traders for Dutch
seizures of their vessels along the African coast, ca. 1767, included in "Conta e
entrada das carregac6es da curveta N. S. da Esperanca e S. Jose, dono Jose de
Souza Reys," in Arquivo Hist6rico Ultramarino (AHU), Bahia, Papeis avulsos,
39. Verger, p. 32.
40. Galloway, p. 29.
41. Verger, pp. 100, 103, 109.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
inferior tobacco from Europe and the better quality from Africa
and keeping prices competitive. Efforts were made to suppress smug-
gling and to penalize growers who attempted to withhold produce
in anticipation of higher prices. In the second half of the century,
the crown became increasingly concerned about improving the
quality and the varieties of tobacco available for the European mar-
ket and pressured growers to achieve both goals.
After 1750, tobacco policy was influenced by the ambitions of a new
generation of royal administrators and merchant advisers. As gold
output waned and slave demand in that sector began to level off,
the government was pressed to expand its role from mere police
action and military protection in regard to foreign trade to the ac-
tive encouragement of economic development in behalf of industry
in Portugal and agriculture in Brazil. Under the direction of the
Marquis of Pombal, colonial interests were realigned to meet the
specifications of a rising mercantile clique in Portugal who shared
the nationalist sentiments and the financial goals of the prime min-
ister. Merchants were assigned to treasury posts and appointed to the
newly established Board of Trade. They were rewarded with profit-
able state contracts and exclusive privileges in manufacture and
trade in return for lending their business expertise to a general
reform of fiscal record-keeping.42
In many respects the neo-mercantilist policies of Pombal did not
represent a sharp break with the past. There was, however, a pro-
nounced reorientation on the part of the government to assist na-
tional merchants in a commercial system which had traditionally
permitted foreign import-export houses to dominate the re-export
trade in colonial commodities. If, as a result of more rigorous in-
spection procedures and price incentives, colonial planters delivered
superior quality sugar and tobacco, Portuguese goods might gain a
new position of respect and competitive advantage in the European
market. Otherwise, Portuguese merchants in the Brazil trade would
remain mere commission agents of foreign brokers, transshipping
European manufactures to the colony with no incentive to secure
42. Kenneth Maxwell, "Pombal and the Nationalization of the Luso-Brazilian
Economy," Hispanic American Historical Review (HAHR) 48 (November 1968):
608-31, and his Conflicts and Conspiracies: Brazil and Portugal 1750-1808 (Cam-
bridge, 1973), pp. 51-60.
better prices for the colonial produce they supplied in exchange.
In conjunction with the encouragement of Portuguese manufac-
tures, and the reduction of dependency on foreign imports which
caused unfavorable trade balances, the long-run aim of the Pombal
regime was to assist Portuguese merchants in attaining competitive
advantages in the re-export trade long dominated by foreigners. It
was not merely coincidental that among the most influential mem-
bers of Pombal's reform councils were merchant-manufacturers
with major interests in Brazilian tobacco as contractors of the
monopoly, directors of the Lisbon snuff factory, and re-exporters.
They included the Bandeiras, the Quintellas, and the Cruz family,
Jos6 Francisco, Joaquim Inaicio, Anselmo Jos6, and his son-in-law,
Geraldo Venceslau Braancamp.48 These merchants and others with
experience and continuing interest in the Brazilian trade were the
principal advocates of the development and supervision of Brazilian
In 1751, boards of inspection (casas or mesas de inspecglo) were
established in major Brazilian ports to inspect the quality of sugar
and tobacco intended for export and to enforce fixed price scales
for each commodity.44 In Salvador, the board assumed all functions
of the old intendancy of tobacco. Over the years it also accumulated
numerous other functions, including the licensing of vessels involved
in the slave trade and the inspection of cotton exports. By the time
of its abolition in 1827, the number of deputies on the board had
doubled and the size of its patronage network had increased pro-
The board was composed of representatives of the merchant cor-
poration and of the sugar and tobacco growers. In attempting to
speak for both planters and merchants and also to enforce royal
policies, the board was frequently involved in conflict and was the
target for charges of corruption. Planters considered the inspection
procedures burdensome, while merchants declared they were inad-
equate. Viceroys, the High Court, and the town council became in-
43. Maxwell, Conflicts, pp. 57-58.
44. "Regimento sobre direitos de tabaco e assucar, 16 January 1751" and
"Regimento das Casas de Inspeqao, 1 April 1751," in Antonio Delgado da Silva,
Collecao da legislagdo portuguesa (CLP), 1 (Lisbon, 1842):32-37, 54-57.
45. President da Provincia to Junta do Comercio, 14 April 1827, Arquivo
Nacional do Rio de Janeiro (ANRJ) Cx. 417, pac. 2; Presidencia da Provincia,
Tezouraria, Mesa de Inspeqao, Arquivo Publico da Bahia (APB), 4.144, pasta 4
(1824); Vilhena, 2:341.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
volved in jurisdictional disputes with the board, and many thought
the board members corrupt.46
The board in Salvador was responsible for the promotion of
tobacco cultivation and to that end worked with local officials in
the growing areas of the Rec6ncavo. Shortly after the board's estab-
lishment, a juiz de fora was assigned to Cachoeira with authority
also over the town of Santo Amaro, areas in which many tobacco
farms were concentrated. The juiz de fora reported directly to the
board and to the governor in Salvador concerning the agricultural
development in his jurisdiction.47
The inspection board sponsored the activities of Andre Moreno,
a Spanish tobacco expert sent by the Lisbon Board of Trade in 1757
to introduce and experiment with Cuban methods of curing leaf
tobacco.48 He worked closely with the merchant Joaquim Inicio da
Cruz, a resident in Bahia from the 1740s to 1765.49 Some references
to leaf export appeared early, but it was only in 1774 that the ship-
ping registers in Cachoeira indicate regular production from the
"new tobacco press."50 The dried and pressed leaves were packed in
leather-covered bales and sold primarily in Portuguese India. The
supply of semi-processed leaf tobacco and snuff, manufactured in
imitation of North American products, was part of efforts to revive
Portuguese trade in the Far East in the last quarter of the eigh-
In the early 1770s, reports that English tobaccos were glutting the
ports of northern Europe prompted the Lisbon board of trade to
consider new means to confront competition in principal markets,
including greater control over Brazilian production.52 In 1775,
46. Jouo Rodrigues de Brito, Cartas econdmicd-politicas sobre a agriculture e
commercio da Bahia (Lisbon, 1821); Martinho de Mello e Castro to Marques de
Valenra, 10 September 1779, AHU, Papeis avulsos, Bahia, 1.a ser. catalogada, doc.
47. Lapa, p. 110.
48. Ibid., pp. 98-99.
49. ABNRJ, doc. 3582, 31:289.
50. Arquivo da Prefeitura Municipal de Cachoeira (APMC), 15* livro de car-
regamentos de tabacos (1774-79). This is one of a set of 22 volumes, 1728-1835,
uncatalogued, series incomplete.
51. Magalhaes Godinho, Prix et monnais au Portugal, 1750-1850 (Paris, 1955),
52. "Consulta da junta do comercio, 29 March 1770," Arquivo Nacional da
Torre de Tombo (ANTT), Junta do comercio, Livro 112, f. 238; Price, 2:847,
shows increases from 72,766,000 pounds in 1770 to 87 million pounds in 1771 in
total British tobacco exports.
the board of inspection required growers of export tobacco to reg-
ister with their local cdmaras (town councils).53 The name of the
grower, his civil status and residence, the location of the fields, and
the method of fertilization he practiced were recorded. In return,
he received an identification number for marking his tobacco rolls.
The aim was ostensibly to counteract continued contraband and
fraud by persons who attempted to trade on the good name of pro-
ducers by imitating or forging personal identification markings,
either name initials or intricately worked designs which could be
easily duplicated. Registration reinforced the accountability for
deteriorated tobacco of growers and roll manufacturers who might
otherwise escape penalties at the time of the inspections in Salvador.
The new requirement clearly discriminated against cultivators
who produced only a few arrobas of tobacco annually, "pobres,
escravos, e pessoas miseraveis" (the poor, slaves, and other unfor-
tunates). They were specifically forbidden to mark their tobacco,
but they could turn over their harvest to a properly registered
grower in their vicinity who would process the tobacco and mark it
with his number. They could continue to sell their crops to trafi-
cantes, rural middlemen who collected the tobacco out on the rosa
(in the fields), or to enroladores who shipped rolls to Bahia on their
Registration did not eliminate the concerns of Lisbon re-exporters
who continued to complain about the receiving of badly cured
tobaccos. With an upsurge in trade that occurred in the early 1780s,
competition for Bahian produce increased among exporters. Less
scrupulous merchants pressed growers to shorten curing times in
order to secure cargoes as early as possible in the season to reach
Lisbon at the peak of demand.54 The fleet system, abolished in
1765, had imposed shipping schedules on all exporters equally. In
1785, in an effort to prevent inadequately cured tobacco from being
marketed, the inspection board began to enforce a rule that no
tobacco could be shipped from regional centers before January 20
of each year.55
This provision caused much of the annual tobacco harvest to
reach Salvador within a short period and raised other problems. If
53. "Alvard sobre as fraudes na agriculture de tabaco e assucar, 15 July 1775,"
54. "Discurso preliminary p. 323.
55. Lapa, pp. 96-97; ABNRJ, 32:11.839-40.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
the demand for Brazilian tobacco was strong in Europe, premium
prices were paid for good tobacco early in the shipping season, espe-
cially when accurate predictions of the expected size and quality of
the Bahian tobacco harvest were very difficult. Therefore, growers
were anxious to have their tobacco inspected as early as possible
and to close sales agreements quickly before rolls began to show
signs of decay. To ship late in the season would risk the chance of
corruption, in the increased delay in handling the tobacco in Sal-
vador. A fixed sailing date for all shippers gave unfair advantage to
centers nearest the coast and taxed limited port facilities for un-
loading cargoes and storage. It temporarily increased the workload
of tobacco inspectors and reduced the rigor of their examinations.
It exasperated export agents attempting to meet their correspon-
dents' shipping dates to Lisbon. It antagonized growers who lost
profits when their produce, already in merchants' hands, was dam-
aged at dockside in Salvador for lack of proper attention.56
In the 1780s, a report on tobacco cultivation by the royal judge in
Cachoeira cited the use of green or inadequately dried leaves in the
manufacture of twists and the failure of producers to turn them
sufficiently in the curing process as the two principal causes of the
decay of tobacco rolls in transit. Inspectors were deceived about the
quality of tobacco and its processing when the twists were soaked in
more aromatic molasses solutions which disguised the odor of badly
fermenting rolls. The judge Joaquim de Amorim Castro recom-
mended the establishment of public curing houses in the tobacco
districts, but his proposal was never implemented, nor is there any
record that it was supported by established growers or that it even
received a favorable hearing.57
Growers of leaf tobacco were also accused of neglecting standards.
They were slow to meet the quotas established by the board of in-
spection for leaf production. They preferred to use most of their
better quality leaves in the more profitable roll manufacture, as
they were paid by weight and the same amount of leaves produced
twice the weight in roll tobacco.58 One ruse adopted was to apply
56. "Parecer da mesa de inspecao da Bahia sobre inclusa representacao de
lavradores e fabricantes de tabaco da vila da Cachoeira . 1810," in the Secao
dos manuscriptos of the Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro (BNRJ), 11-33,
57. Lapa, pp. 128-29.
58. Reported by Viceroy to Sebastiao Jose de Carvalho e Mello, 14 September
1757, ABNRJ, 31:252-53.
less pressure in the process in order to retain some humidity which
increased the weight. As noted in petitions to the crown in 1809,
growers resented the additional labor of leaf selection to which they
had to assign their most skilled slaves, or, worse, the added expense
of employing free wage labor for these tasks.59
Although merchant complaints about the quality of tobacco did
not cease, the activity of the inspection board appears to have met
its goal of increased tobacco production during this period. The
habitual use of tobacco among Europeans during a period of rapid
demographic growth would have assured the product an expanding
market. Portuguese tobacco re-exports increased 81 per cent in vol-
ume and 109 per cent in value between 1756-60 and 1774-78.60
Tobacco undoubtedly made some contribution to the improve-
ment in the Portuguese trading position that occurred late in the
eighteenth century, although in relation to other goods its value
was small. Fifty to 60 per cent of the value of Portuguese trade in
Europe was in the re-exports of Brazilian products, but, of this,
between 1798 and 1802, for example, the value of tobacco was only
4 to 6 per cent compared to the value of sugar, which always far
surpassed it, and the newest money-maker, cotton. In 1800, for ex-
ample, sugar constituted 57 per cent, cotton 28 per cent, and tobacco
4 per cent of the value of Brazilian re-exports.61
The active centers of Portuguese tobacco trade in Europe actually
changed little in the later part of the eighteenth century. The big-
gest importers of Brazilian tobacco continued to be the Italian ports
of the Mediterranean, Hamburg, the entrep6t for the north, and
Spain.62 Of 107,721 arrobas exported from Lisbon in 1798, for ex-
ample, 77,280 arrobas went to Italy, 14,670 to Hamburg, and 8,000
to Spain.68 There was no mass market for Brazilian tobacco in Brit-
ain in this period, although English merchants occasionally en-
gaged in its re-export to the continent. Lisbon records show 490
arrobas sent to Great Britain in 1798, 10,940 arrobas in 1800, and
3,464 arrobas in 1802.64 In August 1792, an English ship, the Mary
59. Petition of lavradores de tabaco, 22 December 1814, BNRJ, 11-34, 8, 18.
60. Godinho, p. 252.
61. Copies of the annual Balanca geral do comercio de Portugal (BGC) are in
three Rio archives: BNRJ, vols. 1-27, 1777, 1787, 1796-1802, 1805, 1812-13,
1815-18; Biblioteca do Instituto Hist6rico e Geogrnfico Brasileiro (IHGB), 1808,
1810-11, 1814; Arquivo Hist6rico de Itamarati (AHIRJ), 1809.
62. "Etat du Portugal en 1778" in Magalhaes Godinho, p. 336.
63. BNRJ/BGC, v. 8 (1798).
64. Ibid., v. 8 (1798), v. 16 (1800), and v. 20 (1802).
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
and Ann, loaded tobacco at Lisbon for Africa, but it is not clear
with what frequency such irregular re-export was allowed.65 French
ships in the slave trade were accustomed to load tobacco at Lisbon
in the 1780s, supposedly for the consumption of the slave popula-
tion in their colony of St. Domingue, but which they diverted to the
EXPORTS TO FOREIGN MARKETS OF BRAZILIAN TOBACCO FROM
PORTUGUESE PENINSULAR PORTS, 1764-1803
(1 arroba = 32 lbs.)
Year Arrobas Year Arrobas
1764 102,267 1784 286,205
1765 86,121 1785 233,165[?]
1766 54,452 1786 196,830
1767 191,121 1787 180,175
1768 100,873 1788 242,037
1769 112,432 1789 224,048
1770 123,850 1790 136,611
1771 83,888 1791 174,799
1772 97,711 1792 215,499
1773 109,971 1793 187,996
1774 97,161 1794 137,557
1775 110,950 1795 171,947
1776 175,641 1796 122,048[?]
1777 232,330 1797 130,381
1778 266,410 1798 130,168
1779 196,827 1799 155,598
1780 122,944 1800 176,178[?]
1781 168,451 1801 177,535
1782 195,406 1802 220,001
1783 197,407 1803 233,539
SOURCE: BNRJ, Colle~io Carvalho, Quadros financeiros,
balangas e minutes sobre a administraago do Ministro
Thomds Antonio de Vilanova Portugal (1808-20), 55 folhas.
trade on the Gold Coast.66 This practice may explain the otherwise
inexplicable rapid growth of French commerce in Brazilian tobacco,
from 36,000 francs in 1787 to 1,180,029 francs in 1790, at a time
when French domestic consumption was still being satisfied by lot
purchases of Virginia tobacco by the Farmers General of the French
65. Listas de entrada e sahida de navios de porto de Lisboa, 1792, no. 39,
ANTT, Junta do comercio, mayo 311.
66. Godinho, Prix, p. 346.
monopoly.67 The volume of tobacco re-exports from Lisbon peaked
in the eighteenth century at an annual average of 215,221 arrobas
in 1785-89, the years in which the French purchases appear to have
In the 1790s, Lisbon merchants continued to compete for control
over refugado tobacco with Bahian merchants who protested against
petitions by Lisbon contractors and others for permission to import
refugado tobacco in spite of its long-standing exclusion from the
peninsular market.68 Such exemptions were sought to supply the
West African market, and it is possible that, in spite of the increase
in tobacco re-exports from Lisbon to other ports of Europe, it was
the West African market that was primarily responsible for the
continued expansion of Brazilian tobacco production.
Unfortunately, available statistics concerning Brazilian tobacco
production during the late eighteenth century are incomplete. Esti-
mates of the number of rolls produced by the captaincy of Bahia
remained at 25,000 to 30,000 rolls annually throughout the eigh-
teenth century. The average weight of rolls, however, increased from
eight to fifteen and sometimes to twenty arrobas, including tare,
despite early legislation to restrict it.69 An unidentified report list-
ing Lisbon's imports from Bahia in the 1780s is summarized in
Table 3. These figures may be compared with others reported in
contemporary sources at the end of the century. They show that in
1797 Bahia sent 17,671 rolls and 442 bales of tobacco to Portugal.70
In 1798, a convoy and some vessels sailing separately carried 371,607
arrobas of tobacco from Salvador to Lisbon.71 The following year
exports reached 483,120 arrobas,72 and in 1800 Bahian records indi-
cate that a total of 405,859 arrobas of tobacco were exported:
209,734 to Portugal, 190,403 to the Mina Coast, and 5,722 to Goa.73
67. Jorge Borges de Macedo, 0 bloqueio continental (Lisbon, 1962), p. 201;
Price, 2:726-27. Some disruption of normal French trade occurred during the
American Revolution, but there is no indication that Portuguese tobacco was
imported for domestic French consumption. The revolution in France and the
ensuing rebellion in St. Domingue, however, ended France's participation in the
68. APB, Ordens regias 80, ff. 154-58, 83, ff. 134-36v.
69. See, for example, Jose da Silva Lisbon to Domingos Vandelli, 18 October
1781, ABNRJ, 32:503; Vilhena, 1:199; Mansuy, p. 329.
70. Indcio Accioli de Cerqueira e Silva, Memdrias historicas e political da
provincia da Bahia, 2d ed., ed. e ann. Bras do Amaral, 6 vols. (Bahia, 1919-
71. "Rezumo dos effeitos exportados .. 1798," ibid., pp. 50-51.
72. BNRJ/BGC, v. 13 (1799).
73. APB, Cartas do governor 141, f. 130.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
Contemporary reports suggest that Bahian tobacco production in
the 1790s was at a peak for the eighteenth century and that prices
were high. The European market was strong, although disturbed by
war, and the demand for slaves in Brazil was led by a flourishing
agriculture.74 Under these conditions the policies of the inspection
board ceased to function to anyone's advantage. The fixed prices
set decades earlier at 1,000 r6is per arroba for first-grade tobacco
TOBACCO EXPORTS FROM BAHIA TO LISBON, 1782-86
Year Rolls Bales Arrobas
1782 18,673 2,156 272,296
1783 20,132 2,222 332,416
1784 24,540 804 374,676
1785 26,015 504 362,783
1786 18,217 216 265,328
SOURCE: Mappa dos rolos e fardos de tabaco que
vier~o da Bahia, 1782-86, AHU, Bahia, Papeis avul-
sos, Mayo 98.
PRICES FOR BAHIAN TOBACCOS, 1798-1802
(in reis per roll)
Year At Bahia At Lisbon
1798 1,600 4,830
1799 2,600 3,400
1800 2,200 3,400
1801 1,400 2,200
1802 1,400 2,600
SOURCE: BNRJ/BGC, 1798-1802.
and 900 reis for second could be increased at the board's discretion
as much as 150 to 300 reis when it was deemed necessary, but the
maximum prices of the 1750s had become the base prices by the end
of the century. The governor's inquiry into the scandalous condi-
tions of the 1791 market, for example, revealed prices as high as
1,800 r6is per arroba for choice tobacco.75 By 1800, this was, in fact,
74. Fernando Jose de Portugal to Rodrigo de Sousa Coutinho, 26 September
1798, BNRJ, 1-31, 21, 34.
75. AHU, doc. 14.1490.
nearer the median price, as seen in Table 4, prices for roll tobacco
in Salvador and Lisbon at the turn of the nineteenth century.
The changes in market conditions after 1785 in Bahia were also
indicated by the complaints about the activities of monopolists and
swindlers. The expansion of the trade sent merchant factors into
the countryside to scour the tobacco districts with cash to make
deals before the harvest.76 Some Lisbon contractors had been accus-
tomed for some time to make their purchases in Bahia, rather than
wait for shipments to reach Lisbon, as they had before 1750.77
Toward the end of the century, market prices in Europe became
increasingly erratic because of frequent maritime wars. Tobacco
agents had to be quick and prophetic in driving their bargains.
Growers looked back nostalgically to some distant past when con-
fidence in the reception of a just price had prevailed in the relations
between merchant and planter. They resented their dependence on
mercantile credit, given the fixed prices paid at Bahia and the pos-
sibility of great profit-taking in Lisbon on their tobaccos. Merchants
sometimes waited to negotiate for the market price until they re-
ceived confidential information from their European correspondents
on the activity in continental markets.78 From the merchant's point
of view, ideally he would be supplying extended credit for pur-
chases of necessities through the year to a number of growers who
would then be in no position to hold out for better offers for their
crops.79 Growers argued that those who were in a dependent posi-
tion in relation to merchant credit should not be permitted to rep-
resent others in the negotiations on prices conducted by the inspec-
tion board.80 Although a commentary on the problems of Bahian
agriculture in 1807 implied that the inspection board was wisely
disregarding the obsolete maximum price regulations, growers con-
tinued to petition to have legislation which obstructed "free trade"
Trade restrictions limiting exportation to Portugal ended with
76. "Discurso preliminary p. 23.
77. In 1769, for example, the governor was authorized to provide a loan for
contract purchases. ABNRJ, 32, doc. 8,200; Regimento da Junta, 18.
78. Representacao dos plantadores de tabaco da Cachoeira, , BNRJ, II-33,
20, 24, ff. 433-437v.
79. Francisco Xavier de Andrade to Arnoldo Henrique Dohrmann, 28 October
1776, AHU, Bahia, papeis avulsos, maco 78. Merchants obviously wanted the fixed
prices retained. See ABNRJ, 34:14.494.
80. "Parecer da mesa de inspeqao ... 1810."
81. Ibid.; Brito, p. 77.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
the opening of the Brazilian ports in 1808. This accelerated the
tendency toward the breakdown of the old system, presumed to
be harmonious, which merchants and planters apparently found
lamentable but necessary. Merchants, both Portuguese and foreign,
became accustomed to purchasing stocks of tobacco in auction
houses in Salvador for shipment to ports where tobacco was most
in demand, especially the Gibraltar entrep6t which had been cre-
ated by the temporary closing of continental ports in 1806.82 British
merchants dealt in Brazilian tobacco not to supply an English mar-
ket but to develop trade in locally produced commodities that paid
for the imports of their own manufactures.83 A British commercial
reporter in 1819 described tobacco purchasing as "not only the most
troublesome, but the most precarious branch of their dealings."
The reasons he gave were the same ones that had troubled Bahian
growers and merchants for some time: the confusion caused by the
limited shipping period, the inadequate facilities of the one tobacco
warehouse, and the frequent corruption of the tobacco rolls ("in
some instances an examination of five or six hundred rolls will only
afford twenty good ones").84 It was no wonder that when the func-
tions of the Bahian board of inspection came up for scrutiny once
again after Brazilian independence, few would deny the judgment
of one harsh critic that it had never achieved the purposes for which
it had been created, and, as it was devoid of "respect, public con-
sideration, character and determination," deserved to be abolished.85
With direct trade to Europe in 1808 and after, the annual "bal-
ances" of the Portuguese trade with Brazil no longer indicated the
total exports from the colony. Bahian statistics confirm that at least
until 1815 tobacco exports continued to surpass the peak levels of
production reached around 1800. In 1809, for example, 453,627
arrobas were exported, including 114,201 to Portugal, 174,683 to
English ports (presumably including Gibraltar), 160,424 to the Mina
Coast, 147 to Angola, and 4,172 to Goa.86 Since considerably less
82. "Requerimento de Manoel Jose de Faria e D. Anna Maria de S. Jose e
Aragao," 6 July 1811, ANRJ, Junte do comdrcio, cod. 45, v. 1, ff. 45-49; O correio
brasiliense 9 (1812):76-77. This liberal journal was published in London from
1808 to 1822, and its Brazilian-born editor, Hip61ito Jos6 da Costa, carried on an
active campaign against the continuance of the tobacco monopoly in 1814.
83. D. C. M. Platt, Latin America and British Trade 1806-1814 (London, 1972),
84. James Henderson, A History of the Brazil (London, 1821), p. 342.
85. Presidencia da provincia (1824), APB, 4.144.
86. APB, Cartas do governor 146, f. 567.
was exported to Portugal (36,000 arrobas) in 1808, prices in Lisbon
for roll tobacco rose to 5,400 r6is in 1809.87 Yet Bahian production
was still climbing. Records of the Bahian inspection board show
over 54,000 rolls of tobacco were inspected in 1811, approximately
821,000 arrobas, the peak year of the next decade.
The critical date in Bahian production was 1815, the year of the
ratification of the English-sponsored treaty prepared at the Congress
TOBACCO ROLLS TAXED BY INSPECTION BOARD AT BAHIA, 1810-20
(100 reis per roll)a
Year Number of Rolls
SOURCE: ANRJ Cx 414, pac. 1 "Mesa de inspeCo," Contribu6oes para
a junta do comercio.
a. For legislation see CLP, "Alvari sobre impostos para despezas da
junto do comercio do Brasil, 15 julho 1809," 5:766.
of Vienna for the abolition of the trade in slaves north of the
equator. This act did not have the effect intended, as the Bahian
slave trade with the Mina Coast persisted for an additional thirty-
five years.88 It did, however, destroy the open speculation in refu-
gado tobacco in the Salvador market and the stimulus to cultivation
which notably affected the volume of exports. In the years 1811-15,
an average of 44,400 rolls annually were taxed by the Bahian inspec-
tion board. In the next five-year period (1816-20), the average fell
to 24,200, a decrease of 47 per cent. Large-scale producers in the
Inhambupe region were said to have withdrawn from tobacco agri-
culture at this time.89 The governor of Bahia was optimistically
87. BNRJ/BGC, 1808; AHIRJ/BGC, 1809.
88. Verger, pp. 298-99.
89. Calmon, p. 36.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
advised in 1815 that the capital heretofore invested in the Mina
trade could be usefully employed elsewhere, that the region south
of the equator would continue to supply slaves, and that tobacco
plantations with a minimum of cost could be converted to the culti-
vation of cotton and indigo.90
This period in Bahian tobacco agriculture and trade was one of
transition, characterized by an increase in the production of leaf
tobacco and the simultaneous reduction in emphasis on the tradi-
tional Bahian specialization in roll tobacco for export. The two
trends are interrelated in that those conditions which promoted leaf
production also discouraged roll manufacture. What occurred, how-
ever, was not the simple substitution of one variety for another by
the same growers. The alteration of production methods suggests
that what was involved was the replacement of slaves by free labor
and the consequent predominance in tobacco cultivation of the
small-scale farmer whose image since then has been characteristic-
ally associated with Bahian tobacco.
It appears that the growers who remained in tobacco cultivation
after 1815 turned increasingly to the production of leaf tobacco. In
part this was an adjustment to the loss of the guaranteed outlet for
roll tobacco resulting from the ban on the legal slave trade to West
Africa. It may also have been encouraged by the presence in Salva-
dor of foreign merchants seeking varieties preferred in European
markets.91 In 1816, the inspection board responded belatedly to the
longstanding petition to raise the prices paid by the tobacco monop-
oly for leaf tobacco. The new price scale allowed 300-400 reis above
the market price for roll tobacco for first-grade leaf, and 200 reis
above for second grade.92 According to the Lisbon balance of trade
documents, the average prices of exported leaf tobacco in general
and the volume of leaf exportation to Portugal were both rising in
90. Marques de Aguiar to Conde dos Arcos, 20 September 1815, APB Ordens
rdgias 117, f. 487.
91. Amorim Castro experimented with Virginia tobacco seeds in the 1780s and
Virginia varieties were promoted again under the administration of the Conde
dos Arcos, 1810-18. Lapa, p. 130; F. M. Goes Calmon, preface to an edition of
Rodrigues de Brito's Cartas econdmicas e political, titled A economic brasileira
no alvorecer do sdculo XIX (Salvador, n.d.).
92. Marques de Aguiar to Conde dos Arcos, 17 February 1816, APB Ordens
rdgias, 118, f. 75.
At the same time, however, there was an overall decline in to-
bacco exports up to 1820, reflected in the statistics of the board of
inspection already noted. Other records confirm this decline, fol-
lowed by a sharp upturn in 1821. Before 1820, the drop may have
been partially the consequence of poor growing conditions, such as
the dry weather which caused crop failures in 1817.93 The with-
drawal of large-scale producers surely was also responsible.
LEAF TOBACCO EXPORTS, 1812-18
From Bahia From Lisbon
Amount Price Amount Price
Year (in arrobas) (in reis) (in arrobas) (in reis)
1812 21,420 650
1813 14,320 900
1814 24,662 1,200 3,488 4,700
1815 17,046 1,100 11,800+ a 2,400
1816 61,7411/2 1,300 24,140 + 2,400
1817 36,332 1,400 44,210+ 2,000
1818 14,217/2 1,700 18,680+a 2,315
SOURCE: BNRJ/BGC, 1812-13, 1815-18; AHIRJ/BGC, 1814.
a. Amount in excess of this, as some exports given as combined roll and leaf
tobacco in arrobas.
The spurt in exports in 1821 is unexplained. After that date,
however, the apparent trend to recovery was periodically disrupted
by the unstable conditions during the independence struggle of
1822-23 and the general insecurity which prevailed in its after-
math.94 The headquarters of the constitutionalist forces were lo-
cated in Cachoeira during the independence campaign. Commercial
agriculture must have been disturbed by the raising of troops in the
Rec6ncavo, by the unusual concentration of population who had
fled the city during the Portuguese occupation, and by the need for
food production rather than export crops during these months. The
short-term suspension of foreign trade damaged part of the tradi-
tional market in Europe. During the temporary severance of com-
merce with Portugal, the Iberian tobacco markets turned to other
sources for their supplies, with the consequent permanent loss of
93. Henderson, p. 342.
94. Cerqueira Silva, 4:188 f. on the period of disorder to 1831.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
some customers who acquired preferences for other varieties of to-
bacco.95 The evacuation of Portuguese merchants meant also the
withdrawal of capital which had financed tobacco agriculture in the
form of credit extended to growers. This placed more growers in
the position of being dependent on foreign merchants for capital as
well as marketing operations.
Rec6ncavo agriculture recovered only with difficulty after inde-
BAHIAN TOBACCO EXPORTS, 1814-34
Year Arrobas Year Arrobas
1814 693,007 1825 403,114
1815 767,050 1826 561,294
1816 574,555 1827 371,342
1817 483,455 1828 414,922
1818 362,934 1829 n.a.
1819 339,153 1830 n.a.
1820 253,797 1831 165,854
1821 806,830 1832 177,189
1822 424,267 1833 148,156
1823 338,212 1834 64,816
SOURCE: Calmon, p. 39.
pendence. The herds of cattle needed for fertilization of tobacco
fields had been reduced. The countryside was plagued by labor
shortages, the consequence of war as well as the cumulative effect of
the ban on the Mina trade.96 If tobacco agriculture had presented
no serious competition to sugarcane earlier, it may have been put at
a disadvantage during this period because of the difficulty of secur-
ing necessary slave labor. Roll manufacture, requiring as it did
more slave hands than leaf production, must have been correspond-
ingly less attractive.
According to one observer of the situation of tobacco cultivation
in the 1830s, recovery was based on the expansion of leaf exports.
The seed of the Havana leaf tobacco was imported in 1833. Two
years later the exports of leaf had tripled, from 2,048,000 pounds in
95. Calmon, p. 29.
96. Verger, citing British consular reports in 1830 and 1834, pp. 310, 319.
t S. Joao
Map 2. Sketch map of Rec6ncavo of Bahia: approximate locations of vilas and
tobacco parishes. SOURCE: Enciclopddia dos municipios brasileiros, 20-21 (Rio de
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
1833, to 6,051,040 pounds in 1835.97 Leaf cultivation, feasible for
small farmers who could employ their families even more efficiently
than they could slaves and still return good profits, would be the
predominant mode of production in Bahia after this date.98
The inspection board's regulation of 1775 requiring tobacco growers
to register with local authorities resulted in the creation of a series
of registration lists. Copies of portions of those surviving in the
municipal records of Cachoeira for the period 1775-1835 permit
determination of a few of the characteristics of such growers in the
region of origin of most of the tobacco that was purchased under
the state contract and exported to Europe.99 The declarations (ter-
mos) include the name of the grower, his marital status and race, his
place of residence, the rural parish where his fields were located, the
quality of the soil, and the type of fertilization he employed. The
terms did not record information concerning the size of the planta-
tion, its labor force, or its average crop yield, since the lists consti-
tuted a registry of growers, not a land survey. These records were
supposed to be updated periodically to reflect changes in the status
of the grower's property; consequently, information on sales, trans-
fers, inheritances, and the relocation or the abandonment of fields
does occasionally appear.
The cases analyzed for this study are a random sample of 300 out
of over 2,000 registrants in Cachoeira. Over 1,200 of the declarations
are dated between 1774 and 1778. Annual registration in the region
dropped after these years and declined to a few each year after 1815.
Only eighteen growers registered between 1818 and 1835. The strat-
ified sample was drawn from three groups, those who appeared for
registration in the years 1774-78, 1798-1802, and 1810-14.
What percentage these lists represent of all persons growing to-
bacco in the vicinity of Cachoeira is uncertain. The crown-ap-
pointed municipal judge serving in Cachoeira in the late 1780s
97. J. J. Sturz, A Review, Financial, Statistical d Commercial of the Empire of
Brazil and its Resources (London, 1837), p. 103.
98. Calmon, p. 36.
99. APMC, Registro dos terms das marcas de lavradores de tabaco, 1774-1835,
unbound, uncatalogued. The manuscripts consist of a nearly complete original
set with the signatures of the registrants, nos. 7-1,204, 1,321-2,289, and parts of
(possibly) two copies, nos. 1-1,223, 1,320-1,962. Some numbers in the series are
missing and there are errors in enumeration.
Plate 3. Cachoeira, Bahia, in 1792. New York Public Library, Arents Collection.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
put the number of registered growers at 6,000 and estimated there
were some 2,000 others who were not registered.100 The registers of
tobacco shipments from Cachoeira recorded the identification num-
bers as well as the number of rolls shipped to the inspection house
in Salvador. In 1798 and 1799, for example, these records very rarely
included identification marks above the number 1,800, the highest
number which had been assigned to local growers prior to those
dates.101 Presumably another set of numbers, 4,000-7,000, for ex-
ample, was allotted to growers registering in another region, like
Santo Amaro, or Inhambupe, although it was possible for their
tobacco to pass through Cachoeira in transit. How many numbers
were assigned in the upper ranges is not known. In 1798, Luis dos
Santos Vilhena put the number of tobacco farms in the captaincy
at 1,500, obviously a conservative estimate.102
The largest town in the Bahian Rec6ncavo, Cachoeira was an
administrative center, governed by a town council since 1698 and a
juiz de fora first appointed in 1754.103 The urban center had a pop-
ulation in 1775 of 986 households, 1,180 in 1804, and was said to
have doubled by 1825.104 It was an important regional market and a
pivotal point in the route linking the extensive cattle lands of the
north and west and the southwestern mining region with the port
of Salvador. The district with its hilly terrain and sandy soil pro-
duced the fine tobacco sought for export to Europe. Tobacco com-
merce dominated the town. Warehouses and processing sheds lined
the riverfront that was most active at the height of the tobacco ship-
ping season, from January to March. Local records indicate that in
1797, for example, some 15,000 rolls (approximately 225,000 arrobas)
were shipped via Cachoeira to the capital.105 Even if only 50 per
cent passed inspection, it is evident that Cachoeiran tobacco con-
stituted a significant proportion of the 273,457 arrobas exported
from Bahia to Lisbon that year.106
100. Lapa, p. 133.
101. APMC, 190 livro dos carregamentos de tabaco 1797-99.
102. Vilhena, p. 197.
103. Lapa, p. 110.
104. "'Mappa de todas as freguezias . arcebispado da Bahia, 9 January
1775," ABNRJ, 32:289; Jose Joaquim de Almeida e Arnizau, "Memoria topo-
grafico, hist6rico, commercial e polftica da villa da Cachoeira da provincia da
Bahia, 12 July 1825," Revista do institute histdrico e geogrdfico brasileiro 35
105. APMC, 19 livro dos carregamentos de tabaco.
106. BNRJ/BGC, 1797.
The surviving descriptions of the surrounding rural parishes sug-
gest a bleak and isolated world of small farms often separated by
several miles from nearest neighbors.107 Ninety per cent of those
growers who registered at Bahia reported their fields in the parishes
of S. Jos6 das Itapororocas, S. Gongalo dos Campos, Nossa Senhora
do Rosario da Cachoeira, S. Pedro da Muritiba, Nossa Senhora do
Oiteiro Redondo, and S. Estevao de Jacuipe. The extent of territory
DISTRIBUTION BY PARISH OF SAMPLED TOBACCO GROWERS IN CACHOEIRA
Parish 1774-78 % 1798-1802 % 1810-14 % Total %
S. Jos6 das
Itapororocas 83 39 14 26 2 6 99 33
dos Campos 64 30 17 31 16 49 97 32
N. S. Rosario
da Cachoeira 32 15 8 15 4 12 44 15
da Muritiba 12 6 8 15 2 6 22 7
N. S. do Oiteiro
Redondo 13 6 1 2 2 6 16 5
de Jacuipe 4 2 3 6 4 12 11 4
Other 5 2 3 6 3 9 11 4
Total 213 100 54 101b 33 100 300 100
a. Includes totals for Coracao de Jesus do PedrAo, 4; Santiago do Iguape, 3; S.
Felipe, 1; S. Joao de Agua Fria, 1; Santana do CamisAo, 1; N. S. das Humildes, 1.
These parishes were on the fringes of the Cachoeira district and the majority of
their growers probably registered in other camaras, Santo Amaro, for example, or
Marogogipe or Inhambupe.
b. Exceeds 100 because of rounding.
within these parishes was considerable, as the nearest vilas to Ca-
choeira were Marogogipe about ten miles southwest, Santo Amaro
about twenty miles to the northeast, Agua Fria eighty miles north,
and Pedra Branca eighty miles east.108
The "typical" grower of Cachoeira revealed by the terms was
white, married, and lived on his farm situated in one of the three
parishes closest to the town. Although he could sign his name, he
107. See various reports submitted by parish vicars relating depressed condi-
tions of Rec6ncavo agriculture in S. Estevao, Nossa Senhora do Desterro, S. Pedro,
and Espirito Santo ca. 1757 in ABNRJ, 31:208-10, 218-20, 225-27.
108. Lapa, p. 110.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
probably had few pretensions to literacy and never reached a no-
table level of affluence or political power. This picture, however,
ignores the exceptions which proved the rule and the variations
from the norm of thousands. Although case studies could be pre-
pared in a careful search of parish records and notarial documents
in Salvador, they have not been incorporated into this study. Never-
theless, it should be reported that among the population of all reg-
istered growers there were a number with some distinction, includ-
ing men with university degrees (five doutores, four licenciados),
military titles (ninety-nine), clerics (eighty-eight), merchant-planters
resident in Salvador (two). There were also over a hundred women
registered as growers of export tobacco.
An important sign of recognition of status as a grower was elec-
tion to deputy inspector for tobacco on the Bahian inspection
board, but relatively few achieved that position. Tobacco was a
significant and frequently valuable cash crop, but its cultivation in
and of itself in the colonial period was no avenue to social distinc-
tion. As Adam Smith noted of the English settlements in 1775, there
were no returning tobacco "nabobs" to rival the ostentatious sugar
barons of the colonies.109 The gulf which separated the majority of
rural planters from an urban elite appears to have been a broad
one. In some way it may account for the indifference to the planters'
situation as an economic group reflected in their treatment by crown
authorities at the end of the colonial period.
The following analysis is concerned with the statistical descrip-
tion of the three hundred growers who fall within the random
sample. Percentages among the subgroups are set apart only when
any one category varied by as much as 10 per cent. While the tab-
ulation of the data of all registrants might refine some percentage
variations over time, presumably it would not annul the validity of
most of the generalizations catalogued.
CACHOEIRA TOBACCO GROWERS
Sex and marital status.-The overwhelming predominance of men
in the sample of registered growers in Cachoeira is not unexpected.
Table 9 shows the percentages of males and females by marital sta-
tus. The two categories of women and clergymen deserve comment.
Women represent only 7 per cent of the sample. Of the twenty
women, nine were single, eleven married. Of the women who had
109. The Wealth of Nations (New York, 1937), p. 158.
been married, all but one were widowed. The occasional appear-
ances of women planters in tobacco cultivation or as sugar mill
owners, or cane growers as Schwartz has found, do not necessarily
refute contentions concerning the secluded position of women in
colonial society.110 Under Portuguese inheritance laws, the patri-
archal family did not absolutely exclude women from holding posi-
tions of authority or influence. The occupation of a planter, how-
ever, was not one to which girls aspired, but rather it was a position
which fell to women who became heads of households upon the
SEX AND MARITAL STATUS OF CACHOEIRA TOBACCO GROWERS
Sex and 1774-78 1798-1802 1810-14 Total
Marital Status (N = 213) (N = 54) (N = 33) (N = 300)
Male (N = 280)
Single 24 20 22 23
Married 60 2 61 62
Clergy 5 4 3 4
Unknown 4 2 9 4
Female (N = 20)
Single 3 2 3 3
Married 5 0 3 4
a. Includes widows.
death of father, husband, or other male kin. The extent to which
they can be considered truly economically active in that role surely
depended as much on a particular family's economic and social
position as it did on the interests and abilities of the woman in
question. As the legal heirs or titled property owners, they had cer-
tain rights and obligations to exercise decision making. How free
they were to act without the assistance or advice of their male kin is
another matter. In any case, it is unlikely that many of these women
actually operated tobacco farms singlehandedly, although they may
have supervised the labor of slaves, and conducted the transactions
for the annual sale of the crop.
110. Schwartz, "Free Labor," pp. 178-79. See also Susan Soeiro, "The Social
and Economic Role of the Convent: Women and Nuns in Colonial Bahia, 1677-
1800," HAHR 54 (May 1974):211-13.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
The presence of clergymen in the sample is less surprising than
that of women growers. Forbidden to engage in trade and less likely
than laymen to have the resources sufficient to invest in the more
capitalized sugar industry, clergymen were attracted to tobacco
farming as a fruitful way of supplementing ecclesiastical stipends.
The vigdrios (vicars) of the parishes of Cachoeira, Muritiba, S.
Goncalo, and S. Jose and the prior of the Carmelite convent in Ca-
choeira were all registered growers. Many others classified here as
"clergy" identified themselves as members of the "sacred militia"
RACIAL CLASSIFICATION OF TOBACCO GROWERS
Race 1774-78 1798-1802 1810-14 Totala
White 71 61 70 71
Mulatto 23 30 24 25
Black 4 7 0 4
Unknown 2 2 6
Total 100 100 100 100
N = 213 54 33 290
a. All years combined, adjusted to eliminate unknowns.
order of St. Peter (habito da ordem de S. Pedro). The tonsured
members of this order were attached to rural chapels and thereby
were excluded from conscription rolls for service in local military
units. Not in the sample, but worthy of note, were licensed mendi-
cants (esmoladores) who received identification numbers because
they dealt in tobacco which they received as alms.
Race and literacy.-Table 10 shows that 71 per cent of Bahian
commercial growers in this period were white, 23 per cent mulatto,
and 4 per cent black. Given the specific aim of the legislation
to require registration in order to exclude marginal producers from
export agriculture, the proportion of whites among the growers is
not unexpected. The increasing percentages of blacks and mulattoes
in 1798-1802 suggest that in prosperous years at the end of the
century, there were expanded opportunities for them.
The number of women in this sample is unfortunately small. The
absence of mulattas, in Table 11, and the greater proportion of
black women permit no more than speculation that a tendency
existed for independent black women to assume more frequently
than mulattas the role of household heads on commercial farms. As
the widow or heiress of a grower, for example, they may have
already achieved a certain degree of social advancement and have
been less desirable than mulattas as marriage partners or simply
less interested in remarriage.
RACIAL CLASSIFICATION OF MALE AND FEMALE GROWERS
Sex White Mulatto Black
(N = 255) 70 27 3
(N = 15) 93 0 7
a. Adjusted to eliminate clergy, who are presumed white.
COUNTS OF SIGNATURES IN TOBACCO REGISTRATIONS
1774-78 1798-1802 1810-14 Total All Years
Indicator (N = 213) (N = 54) (N = 33) (N = 300)
Signature 84 52 33 73
Signed "x"' 9 7 12 9
Unknown 7 41 55 18
a. Includes those who requested second-party signature specifically because of
inability to read and write.
b. Includes those with proxy registration.
The "index of literacy" shown in Table 12 is merely an estimate
of minimal literacy ability derived from the presence or absence of
a signature in the registration declaration. At least in the early
years, the initial period of grower registration, the number of per-
sons who signed with an "x" and/or signed where it was specifically
indicated that they could neither read nor write is remarkably low.
The frequency of proxy registration later on reduces confidence in
any estimates for other years. Tables 13 and 14 demonstrate the
anticipated finding that such a minimal skill as the ability to sign
one's name was lower among females and mulattoes and blacks as
subgroups than for the population of male and female and all races
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
Birthplace, residency patterns, multiple holdings, and land ten-
ure.-Place of birth was not reported in the registration process and
does not figure at all in the sample cases. There was a brief period
in 1814-15 when the attending scribe did include information on
birthplace. Among twenty-seven growers, he recorded twenty-four
Brazilians, two Portuguese and one Azorean. There were fifteen
whites among the Brazilian-born, eight mulattoes, and one black,
a distribution consistent with the sample percentages of that time.
PERCENTAGE OF SIGNATURES AS MEASURE OF LITERACY AMONG
MALE AND FEMALE REGISTERED TOBACCO GROWERS
Indicator Male Female
Signature 85 75
No signature 15 25
N = 222 16
x2 = 60.62, df = 1, p = .001
PERCENTAGE OF SIGNATURES AS A MEASURE OF LITERACY ACCORDING
TO RACIAL CATEGORIES OF REGISTERED TOBACCO GROWERS
Indicator White Mulatto Black
Signature 93 78 70
No signature 7 22 30
N = 171 61 10
x2 = 20.87, df = 2, p = .001
Twenty of the twenty-four were natives of the same parish in which
they owned plantations, suggesting the relative absence of geograph-
ical mobility among this rural population. Although the number is
too small to make any firm claims, it is possible that in this late
colonial period, agricultural activities no longer drew recent Por-
tuguese immigrants into the countryside if they could find remu-
nerative occupations in the active commerce of the towns. A conse-
quence of this was the exaggeration of the traditional stereotyped
divisions between rural Brazilian and urban Portuguese in colonial
One measure of the attachment of tobacco growers to rural farm
life is their place of residence (moradia). Only four cases in the
sample of three hundred are identified as town residents with fazen-
das or farms elsewhere. In one instance the farm is referred to as a
mere roga, a plot. For the most part these growers were not absentee
landlords who could afford the upkeep of urban establishments in
addition to country estates. They were not city merchants investing
in commercial agriculture. They were not retired colonial officials
ending their days in bucolic idleness. Whether rural residency was
a necessity or simply an attractive alternative to an urban occupa-
tion, the lack of city contacts meant also less access to market infor-
mation and greater dependence on merchant intermediaries for all
manner of economic and administrative responsibilities.
OWNERSHIP OF LAND BY TOBACCO GROWERS IN SELECTED YEARS
1798-1802 1810-14 Total
Ownership No. % No. % No. %
Yes 21 39 16 50 37 43
No 33 61 16 50 49 57
Total 54 100 32a 100 86 100
a. One case in this subgroup is unknown.
The ownership of tobacco farms in several locations was not a
common practice among these growers. Cases of multiple holdings
occurred only three times in the sample. In only one case did the
owner have property in more than one parish.
Land tenure among tobacco growers is no less easy to analyze than
it is for other agricultural producers in this society which recog-
nized a variety of formal and informal tenure arrangements. The
terms do not indicate which growers held clear title to their land.
The use of the possessive "sua fazenda" or "fazenda sua" (his farm)
is equivocal. In some cases, however, the grower is described as an
agregado, a character probably more than just a squatter, but whose
formal arrangements for renting or sharecropping are not specified.
The use of the term is rare. In some periods, notably after 1790, an
effort apparently was made to incorporate the nature of tenure into
the registration procedure. Terms such as terras pr6prias (his own
lands), terras f6reiras (lands owing foro or fixed annual rent), and
fdzenda arrendada and fazenda que paga renda (rented farms) are
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
included routinely. As demonstrated in Table 15, the distribution
of owned and rented land in the subgroup of the sample was 43 and
57 per cent, respectively.
There were 86 recorded changes of a grower's number in the
sample. Fifty-two represented instances of sale, inheritance, or ces-
sion. Thirty-four were cases of the abandonment of fields. Thirty of
these involved the grower's shift to new lands. The low rate of
abandonment must reflect to some degree the success of fallowing
and fertilization practices in tobacco agriculture in preventing soil
REPORTED SOIL QUALITY IN FIELDS IN CACHOEIRA TOBACCO PARISHES
Parish Sandy Mixed Rough Loam
S. Jose das Itapororocas (N = 92) 76 15 7 2
S. Goncalo dos Campos (N = 90) 84 10 4 1
N. S. RosArio (N = 39) 85 10 5 0
S. Pedro da Muritiba (N = 19) 84 16 0 0
N. S. Oiteiro Redondo (N = 15) 47 27 13 13
S. Estevoo (N = 7) 100 0 0 0
Soil quality and fertilization methods.-The growing of tobacco
differed from other agricultural endeavors in colonial Brazil not
just in the intensity of labor associated with its production, but
specifically in the careful preparation of the soil and the systematic
application of animal fertilizer in the tobacco fields. Information on
the quality of the soil of the grower's fields and the fertilization
practice he employed was routinely inscribed in the registration
termo. The wording cannot be assumed to be very precise, and a
certain carelessness of scribes in soliciting these facts must be taken
into account. Frequencies were tabulated for soil quality, expressed,
for example, as terras de areia, or saloens arientos, or mata de areia
grossa, respectively, sandy, yellowish clay and sand, and recently
cleared land of coarse sand. Table 16 shows the reported soil qual-
ities for growers' fields in the parishes surrounding Cachoeira in
which the majority of registered growers were concentrated. Fertil-
ization techniques were recorded as part of the soil description, that
is, the termo actually reads, areia que esterca, in many cases, or
areia que esterca de gados, or areia corn algum gado, read as sandy
soil that is fertilized (estercar) with cattle, or has some cattle, but
these have been analyzed separately.111 Table 17 shows the fre-
quency of fertilization methods reported by growers.
FERTILIZER USAGE IN SELECTED YEARS ON CACHOEIRA TOBACCO FARMS
Reported 1774-78 1798-1802 1810-14 Total
Yes 72 17 46 59
No 29 84 55 41
PERCENTAGE OF TOBACCO GROWERS IN BAHIAa
REPORTING FERTILIZATION PRACTICES
Indicator White Mulatto Black
Signature 69 68 50
No signature 70 63 0
x2 = 4.845, df = 2, p = .10
a. N = 222 in sample for whom race and literacy measure
Most of the growers in the sample, between 75 and 85 per cent in
the tobacco districts, indicated that they were growing their crops
in appropriately sandy soil. Most, over 70 per cent at least in the
initial period of registration, customarily used animal fertilizer.
Over 25 per cent specifically mentioned the use of cattle to manure
their fields. Table 18 indicates little difference according to race
and literacy measures among those who reported fertilization prac-
tices. Tests for significance favored the acceptance of the null hy-
111. See Lapa, pp. 78-81. Cattle-grazing in conjunction with tobacco cultiva-
tion led to contention between tobacco and sugar interests, for example, in the
dispute between the town councils of Salvador and Cachoeira in 1729-30. The
former supported a regulation which prohibited the grazing of cattle within ten
miles of tidal riverbanks, a measure meant to ensure that these lands would be
devoted to the production of food crops like manioc, a staple in the Bahian diet.
The sugar mill owners who dominated the Salvador council took issue with the
tobacco farmers of Cachoeira who wanted to influence the annulment of the
provision. See Cerqueira e Silva, 2:360-62.
PORTUGUESE TOBACCO TRADE AND GROWERS OF BAHIA
pothesis, that is, no appreciable difference in race and literacy cat-
egories that determined tobacco cultivation practices among the
population of registered growers.
The typical grower in colonial and early national Bahia who culti-
vated tobacco for export did so initially in response to a demand
for his product in European markets. As consumer preferences
altered in the eighteenth century, growers submitted, although not
always without protest, to a series of regulations imposed by the
crown on behalf of mercantile interests, as ultimately in their own
interests, secure, however, in the existence of a guaranteed outlet for
surplus tobacco in the West African slave trade. There was an ex-
pansion of Luso-Brazilian trade after 1780 based on the somewhat
artificial, that is, temporary, demand for Brazilian agricultural
products in world markets whose customary sources of supply and
routes of trade were disrupted by revolutions and wars. Among the
consequences of this expansion was the suspension of confidence in
the system of price controls, commodity inspection, grower registra-
tion, shipping regulations, and marketing restrictions which tobacco
growers had endured. Tobacco growers were not members of an
urban elite with access to colonial authorities. Their petitions were
carried through the board of inspection which was meant to repre-
sent their interests, but which, in fact, was the object of some of
their ire. Responses to their grievances and their agitation on behalf
of freeing the trade in tobacco came only after the de jure abolition
of the two conditions for which the regulatory system had been
created, that is, restrictions on colonial trade, ended in 1808, and
the Bahian slave trade to the Mina coast, eliminated in 1815.
At this point, however, the advantages which growers might have
obtained by removing maximum prices and by allowing free export
of refugado tobacco, either to Lisbon or in unlimited quantities to
the Mina coast, were negligible, as there was little market for roll
tobacco in Europe and trade to Africa was illegal and risky. To-
bacco growers were one group in colonial society who were ex-
tremely conscious of their exploitation by a clique of Lisbon monop-
olists and likely to feel betrayed by the Portuguese government.
These attitudes were ready tinder for successful kindling by con-
stitutionalists in the Bahian Rec6ncavo in 1822-23 and continued
to smolder in manifestations of anti-Portuguese sentiment for years
70 CATHERINE LUGAR
NOTE: This study relies principally on published documents and manuscript
sources collected for a dissertation on the merchants of Salvador, Bahia, in the
late colonial period. Part of the research was supported by the Calouste Gulben-
kian Foundation. I also acknowledge with gratitude my debt to Lois Reivich
(Fogg), whose M.A. thesis, "Brazilian and Cuban Tobacco in the Colonial Era,
1650-1817" (Queens College of the City University of New York, 1971), provided
many helpful references; Professor Jos6 Roberto do Amaral Lapa, "Esquema para
um estudo do tobacco baiano no period colonial," Afro-Asia 6-7 (1968):83-96;
and readers of earlier drafts whose critical comments were particularly helpful
in improving some of the tabular format.
The Brazilian Recruit during the First
Empire: Slave or Soldier?
Michael C. McBeth
THE recruitment for military service of the poor, the unem-
ployed, and the socially undesirable has been a common practice
throughout history. Such a policy enabled authorities to fill the
ranks of the armed forces with the least possible disruption of civil-
ian society. This recruitment philosophy was widely held in early-
nineteenth-century Brazil, and the enlistment and treatment of
Brazilian soldiers during the First Empire (1822-31) offer an in-
structive example of the potential problems created by such a
practice. Officials consciously conscripted social undesirables and
allowed "socially useful" elements to find refuge from regular mil-
itary service in local militia units. Many "respectable" Brazilians
viewed the army as an assemblage of the poor, the ignorant, and
the lazy-the scum of society-and the social position of the soldier
was scarcely above that of the slave. In addition, this recruitment
practice resulted in serious disciplinary problems, and, because the
army could no longer be counted on to defend law and order and
private property, the Regency government began in 1831 to weaken
the Imperial Army and replace it with the newly created and more
reliable National Guard.
Most common soldiers came from a growing marginal class sand-
wiched between the masters and the slaves.' Export oriented and
1. Although there were nearly 2,000 German and Irish mercenaries in the
MICHAEL C. MCBETH
dominated by slavery, the early-nineteenth-century Brazilian econ-
omy provided bare subsistence for most of those not directly asso-
ciated with the plantation system. Indeed, the majority of the free
population seldom participated directly in the money economy.
Free Negroes, mulattoes, runaway slaves, Indians, poor whites, and
mixed-bloods of all shades and categories composed this large,
amorphous element. Some, like the Tapuia Indians and caboclos,
resided far in the interior, where they shunned contact with all out-
siders; others, tenant farmers and sharecroppers, lived like medieval
serfs under the dominance of a powerful landowner. A third group,
"the most disreputable, troublesome and obnoxious," consisted of
beggars, vagabonds, and precariously occupied squatters who en-
dured a brutal hand-to-mouth existence.2 Of an estimated popula-
tion of 5,340,000 in 1830,3 nearly 2.5 million made up this growing
caste,4 and the majority of Brazil's free population fell into this
marginal category.5 This human mass was the primary source of
soldiers for the Brazilian army.
The first recruitment law of the empire, dated July 10, 1822,
called for the enlistment of unmarried white men and free black
men from eighteen to thirty-five years of age. Only-children, sons of
widows, orphans, and a few others were exempted from military
service. In practice, however, authorities generally recruited those
lacking permanent employment or a powerful protector and those
who would be least missed by the landowners. A decree of October
15, 1764, calling for the enlistment of "lazy and unemployed young
men who are a burden on the rest of society,"6 also expressed the
dominant recruitment philosophy of the First Empire. Jos6 F lix
Pereira de Borges, provincial president of Bahia, reiterated this
principle when he wrote to the war minister in 1826 that ideal sol-
Imperial Army by 1827, this paper will focus on the soldier of Brazilian origin.
In 1827, the Brazilian Army had a total of about 27,000 officers and men.
2. This discussion of Brazil's marginal population is based primarily on Caio
Prado Jr., The Colonial Background of Modern Brazil, trans. Suzette Macedo
(Berkeley, 1969), pp. 328-32.
3. Malte Brun in Tableau statistique du Brdsil (n.d.,n.p.), as cited in Francisco
de Paula Cidade, "O Soldado de 1827," Revista military brasileira (March 1927),
p. 46. This article is the best secondary source available on the life of the soldier
during the First Empire.
4. Samuel Guimaraes da Costa, Formagdo democrdtica do exdrcito brasileiro
(Rio de Janeiro, 1957), p. 154.
5. Louis Couty in L'Esclavage au Bresil (Paris, 1881), as cited in Caio Prado
Jr., Colonial Background, p. 328.
6. Paula Cidade, "0 Soldado," p. 16.
THE BRAZILIAN RECRUIT DURING THE FIRST EMPIRE
diers would be created from "vagabonds and lazy men, and conse-
quently useless and harmful to society."7 This belief that military
recruitment could perform a valuable service by ridding society of
undesirables and potentially dangerous social elements was widely
held. In 1825, the president of Ceara, Jos6 F lix de Azevedo e SM,
wrote to the war minister that "Because this province has found
itself infested for some time with a large number of vagabonds who,
having lost their love of work, are disturbing the peaceful inhab-
itants, robbing and killing their cattle and destroying their crops
... I am sending a list of criminals guilty of such crimes who could
be employed in military service on land or sea. This province could
easily supply the army with at least three thousand such men with-
out missing them at all and [they are] well suited by their physical
constitution and robustness to endure the hardships of war. And
besides, I would be very grateful to His Imperial Majesty for rid-
ding us of this veritable plague which, when sent to other provinces
and subjected to military discipline, will certainly be alleviated. In
this way, the province will be freed of part of this demoralized
canaille and the Imperial Army augmented without the least in-
convenience to the citizenry."8 This practice of utilizing military
recruitments as a method of social control was not uncommon, nor
was that of officials freeing condemned criminals on the condition
they enter the army, or of masters liberating incorrigible slaves
under similar circumstances.9
The provincial militia provided a convenient escape for those
sufficiently rich or powerful to avoid regular military service. Militia
officers met periodically to draw up lists of those people of impor-
tance in the community to be enrolled in the local unit. Sons of
wealthy landowners, cattle ranchers, urban landlords, master arti-
sans, merchants, retailers, textile workers, clerks, and other socially
desirable citizens filled the rolls of the local force. The militia
offered not only the advantage of remaining near home where one
could administer his estate or business; it also allowed local men the
opportunity to become military leaders and thus enhance their
prestige. General Cunha Mattos, speaking in the Chamber of Dep-
7. Jos6 Felix Pereira de Borges to War Minister Baron of Lajes, October 5,
1826, Arquivo Nacional de Rio de Janeiro, IG18 (hereafter AN).
8. Jose Fl6ix de Azevedo e SA to War Minister Baron of Lajes, July 1, 1825, AN,
Caixa 742, Pacote 4.
9. J. M. Pereira da Silva, Historia da fundagao do imperio brasileiro (Rio de
Janeiro, 1877), 3:147.
MICHAEL C. MCBETH
uties, complained that the sons of rich men never served in the
army because "only the defenseless sons of laborers came [into the
army] and these are the ones whom they call loafers: Because if they
are loafers they go into the army; if they are thieves they go into the
army; if they are criminals they go into the army. The soldier,
who is to defend our homeland, is to be drawn from this class of
men, and those who should be enlisted are not because they have
Not even in peacetime were volunteers numerous enough to fill
the ranks of the army, and the vast majority of common soldiers was
forcibly recruited. According to the law of July 10, 1822, forced re-
cruitment was to begin only thirty days after a call for volunteers
had been made. When volunteers failed to fill the established quota,
the provincial president turned his agents (capitdes mores) loose in
the streets in a "veritable manhunt." The capitao mor hunted the
unemployed in the streets, forcibly enlisted free Negroes, accepted
incorrigible slaves donated by their masters, and recruited vaga-
bonds and beggars who disturbed the peace with their fighting and
The methods used by military recruiters were notorious. Author-
ities sometimes shot recruits who attempted to escape and Cunha
Mattos reported seeing "one unfortunate fellow bound with heavy
chains and mounted on a horse with his feet tied beneath the
animal's stomach; others wore heavy chains and were mutilated and
covered with wounds."1' Agents frequently chained conscripts to-
gether to avoid escape attempts while they were escorted from place
to place. Deputy Lino Coutinho said that of 200 men sent from
Piauf to Maranhao in 1828, 120 died on the way and the rest had
to be hospitalized.12
To evade military service, some young men mutilated themselves
or hid in their homes. Others sought to obtain exemption through
marriage; still others fled into the interior.13 Officials reported entire
regions deserted of potential enlistees and the liberal Rio news-
paper Astrea complained that wherever recruitment took place,
agricultural production declined.14 Deputy Hollanda Cavalcanti
10. Anais da Camara dos Deputados, May 26, 1826.
11. Ibid., August 25, 1828.
12. Ibid., June 4, 1828.
13. GuimarAes da Costa, Formagdo democrdtica, pp. 96-97, deals with the
various methods used to avoid recruitment.
14. A Astrea, May 9, 1829.
THE BRAZILIAN RECRUIT DURING THE FIRST EMPIRE
alleged that the recruitment of 3,000 to 4,000 men in Brazil had the
same effect as the plague: "Brazilians are horrified of military ser-
vice and, when one mentions conscription, everything is abandoned,
everyone flees, agriculture and industry both suffer."15
There were real difficulties recruiting troops during the unpop-
ular Cisplatine War (1825-28). The Englishman John Armitage
wrote that "the free peasantry of the interior, a mixed race, derived
jointly from Indian, European and African origin, were altogether
indifferent as to the success of the war, and were alike, by their
habits, prejudices and disposition, unfitted for the career of arms.
... Yet not withstanding abhorrence of a military life, they were
seized like malefactors, and after being bound and crammed into
the holds of filthy ships, were sent off to the bleak and dreary plains
of an inhospitable clime, and the tactics of a pitiless enemy." One
member of the Chamber of Deputies estimated that nearly a thou-
sand men had perished either in the vessels or in the hospitals on
Enlistment had particularly disastrous results in Ceari. In re-
sponse to the request of Provincial President Azevedo e Sa, the
commander of arms of Ceara, Conrado Jacob de Niemeyer, was
ordered to recruit 3,000 men in that sparsely settled province with
an estimated 30,000 free, draft-age males.17 By March 1826, when
2,200 men had already been rounded up, the new president of
Ceara, Antonio de Sales Nunes Beresford, reported the Fortaleza
area "exhausted of people worthy of recruitment."18 Five months
later, Ceara was described "in the most disastrous state possible;
two-thirds of its inhabitants are fugitives and the misery in which
they find themselves has made them thieves and highwaymen; much
of the province is deserted and cannot support itself." By 1828,
vigorous recruitment, combined with an epidemic and a four-year
drought, reduced Ceara "to almost one-half of its former popula-
15. Anais da Camara, August 25, 1828.
16. Armitage, The History of Brazil, 1808-1831 (London, 1836), 1:259-60.
17. Ibid., 1:366. Armitage estimated the free population of Ceara at 150,000.
Of this figure, approximately 75,000 would be male, and about 30,000 would be
in the draft-eligible 18-40 age group.
18. Antonio de Sales Nunes Beresford to War Minister Baron of Lajes, March
22, 1826, AN, IG134.
19. Anais da Camara, August 10, 1826, speech by Deputy Moura; ibid., June 4,
1828, speech by Castro e Silva.
MICHAEL C. MCBETH
Niemeyer's brutal practices produced a particularly high death
rate among recruits. Often captured deep in the interior, the men
were chained together, then marched overland to Fortaleza. Upon
arrival in the provincial capital, they descended into the steaming,
rat-infested holds of ships. There they waited for days and even
weeks before continuing to Rio de Janeiro. Shortages of food and
water, together with heat, filth, and contagious diseases, killed many
of those locked in the hold.20 Duputy Lino Coutinho reported that
"ordinarily one-third and sometimes one-half of the recruits die on
the trip." This, he said, was a higher mortality rate than that suf-
fered on slave ships arriving from Africa. "To capture men, as if
they were wild animals, and put them in prisons without air, food
or cleanliness ... can only be an attempt to exterminate these
peoples." Even General Cunha Mattos had to admit that "the re-
cruitment in Ceara and in all of Brazil [was] a scourge on man-
The entire recruitment system had many other critics. The news-
paper O Moderador charged that "instead of removing vagabonds
and persons of ill repute from the honorable military profession,
the recruiting system confided in them the maintenance of public
security" and that military service was often "imposed as a punish-
ment."22 Some blamed Brazilian defeats in the Cisplatine War on
the incompetence of the soldier. One such critic believed the Argen-
tine rebels would always win against those units "which in the
majority consist of Guaranf Indians or Negroes, because some by
their character, lack of motivation and education are easily cor-
rupted and thus caution must be taken to avoid treachery."23 Ger-
man mercenaries who served in the Imperial Army during the First
Empire had little flattering to say about the Brazilian soldier. Carl
Schlichthorst wrote that "many of these unfortunate people are
physically forced into the military profession for which they do not
have the slightest aptitude. The semi-savage makes a good shepherd,
a poor farmer and the worst soldier in the world. The true savage
will never submit to European discipline. He is a hero in his own
type of war, but no human force can transform him into a regular
20. A Astrea, March 11, 1830.
21. Anais da Camara, August 10, 1826, June 4, 1828.
22. 0 Moderador, September 11, 1830, March 5, 1831.
23. Jos6 da Silva Brandio to Jos6 Feliciano Fernandes Pinheiro, October 18,
1825, AN, IG1167.
THE BRAZILIAN RECRUIT DURING THE FIRST EMPIRE
soldier."24 The mercenary Carl Seidler wrote, "Brazilian [soldiers]
were too ignorant to be used for any task that demanded intelligence
or knowledge, at most their hard heads could be used to knock down
Upon arrival at their post, the recruits were sworn in. With their
hand on the Bible, they vowed loyalty to the Emperor and obe-
dience to their military superiors, and promised never to leave their
unit without permission. Authorities emphasized to these neophytes
that the crime of desertion "offended God, the Emperor and the
Homeland, and he who deserts is a perjuror and a disloyal, vile
coward, who sooner or later will receive his deserved punish-
ment."26 Officers then issued the new soldier the necessary supplies:
two shirts, a jacket, trousers, a barracks cap, shoes, and a blanket.
The trooper had to buy at his own expense a clay bowl and plate,
a spoon, and a blunt knife.
The forced recruit then began his sixteen-year term of military
semi-imprisonment. For the first two months he could leave the bar-
racks only in an emergency and then only when accompanied by a
corporal or an older, experienced soldier. Officials stated that this
period of detention was necessary to mold the body and spirit of the
new soldier. The real intent, however, was probably to prevent the
recent enlistees from fleeing at the first opportunity.27 The construc-
tion of the barracks added to the jail-like environment. Generally
low, somber buildings of massive brick, the barracks had heavy iron
bars on all the windows. Each company occupied a single room
facing a large interior patio paved with stone. This room served as
dormitory, lounge, and recreation area. It contained almost no fur-
niture, straw mats on the floor serving as beds.
In peacetime, the soldier divided his time between the barracks
and the guard post. Awakened at dawn by the playing of the
24. Schlichthorst, O Rio de Janeiro como d: Huma vez e nunca mais, trans.
Emmy Dodt and Gustavo Barroso (Rio de Janeiro, 1943), p. 144.
25. Seidler, Dez annos no Brasil, trans. General Bertholdo Klinger (Sao Paulo,
1941), p. 284.
26. Paula Cidade, "O Soldado," pp. 15-16.
27. Ibid., p. 17. The new three-volume Histdria do exdrcito brasileiro: perfil
military de um povo (Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, 1972), 2:434, says, "The pre-
occupation with the moral formation of the soldier was praiseworthy. ... So that
the mental formation of the recruits was not endangered, they were confined for
the first two months to their barracks, being permitted to leave only in cases of
emergency and even then only when accompanied by an older, responsible
MICHAEL C. MCBETH
"Diana," the Brazilian reveille, the men began sweeping and clean-
ing the barracks, loading and unloading supplies, digging and filling
in latrines, or carrying water. Others were occupied with patrols,
detachments, and guard duty. In addition, the army frequently as-
sisted local peacekeeping bodies in the maintenance of public order.
Soldiers guarded public buildings, patrolled towns and villages,
collected customs duties and other taxes, cordoned off certain areas
hit by epidemics, manned detachments to fight hostile Indians, and
captured runaway slaves. Also, the army provided authorities with
cheap labor and troops were frequently employed in public works,
such as road and bridge construction.
Rations consisted of a basic manioc meal and salt, with either
meat and rice or black beans. Despite laws regulating the size of
individual rations, problems of finance and supply produced food
shortages. Troops were more regularly supplied in the richer prov-
inces and in larger cities like Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, and Recife.
Those in poorer areas, however, often suffered severe deprivation.28
Military kitchens, huge cauldrons hung from tripods over an out-
door fire, were usually tended by the wives of the married soldiers.
During peacetime, food was usually provided for the men and their
families, but on campaign, commanders sometimes gave soldiers
money when funds were available and told the troops to forage for
Wages were a particular source of discontent. Common soldiers
received a daily salary of 60 to 70 reis, depending on the branch of
the army, and those who had volunteered for service received an
extra 40 reis per day. Despite a declaration in the 1763 Articles of
War that "every soldier should be content with his salary," few were
happy. In Rio de Janeiro in 1829, rum cost 160 to 240 reis a pint,
cigarettes 160 to 240 reis per pack of 200, bread 20 to 80 reis a loaf,
and salt 160 to 240 reis a pound.29 To make matters worse, contin-
ual financial difficulties often forced the paymaster to delay weeks,
months, and even years in the payment of military salaries. Food,
clothing, and equipment enjoyed priority when funds were avail-
able and officers considered the salary as mere spending money. The
28. Contribuig6es para a histdria da guerra entire o Brasil e Buenos Ayres nos
annos de 1825, 1826, 1827 e 1828 por uma testamunha ocular, trans. General
Bertholdo Klinger (Rio de Janeiro, 1938), p. 62. The Baron of Rio Branco attrib-
uted this book to the German Baron Carl von Leenhof, a mercenary in Brazilian
29. A Astrea, February 12, 1829.
THE BRAZILIAN RECRUIT DURING THE FIRST EMPIRE
chronic shortage of cash, however, frequently meant that even those
items of first priority were lacking. In 1829, the editor of the Aurora
Fluminense wrote that "I am touched when I see a soldier come up
to my door, humbly take off his hat and say-'Could you give me
alms? Anything you can give will be fine, because I have not re-
ceived a salary in fourteen months.'-This is painful, this inspires
compassion in those who know that these miserable men, instead of
enjoying the benefits of liberty, are subjected to severe physical
punishment at the first hint of insubordination."30
Nearly all soldiers had families, legitimate or otherwise. No man
could marry without the permission of his commanding officer,
which was granted annually only to fifteen men per company. Reg-
ulations established a minimum age of twenty-four and army law
required that the bride be an "honest woman." No soldier could
marry a slave. Wives and children often accompanied the head of
the family on campaigns and detachments, enormously enlarging
the size of the army without augmenting its fighting force.
Officers made few attempts to improve the human resources of the
army. They considered the soldier an unthinking animal, incapable
of much education; therefore he was usually allowed to remain in a
state of ignorance. They expected infantry to be able to march in
formation at slow and quick cadence and to be proficient in the use
of all their weapons. Cavalrymen should know how to care for their
horses, ride at a walk, trot, or gallop, skirmish, and use their wea-
pons while halted or at the run. Artillerymen should be able to care
for their weapons, build fortifications, and do basic maneuvers.
However, even these minimal expectations were seldom met, and
few units ever attained the precision hoped for by those in com-
mand. Soldiers despised military training and drill and considered
it a form of punishment; only fear of disciplinary action convinced
most to take part in drill and whatever instruction was available.
Seldom did officers ever attempt to teach their men to read and
write. When one such effort was made in Pernambuco, it inspired
a leading liberal newspaper in the area to declare dramatically that
"when soldiers can read, they will better understand their obliga-
tions, their interests and their rights; it is in this way that soldiers
should learn that they are not automatons, nor slaves who blindly
obey any despotic King, Emperor or General; . when they can
read, soldiers will realize that they are soldiers of the homeland ...
30. Aurora Fluminense, April 1, 1829.
MICHAEL C. MCBETH
and they are not beasts who belong to any Emperor or King . .
because military people, when ignorant, easily fall under the control
of anyone who flatters them with gifts, promises, banquets and
awards."31 This same philosophy that doubted the soldier's intel-
ligence and rejected educational programs carried over to the realm
of discipline. The Brazilian Army adopted the Prussian philosophy
of Frederick the Great that "the soldier must fear his officers more
than his enemies." As the Marquis of Paranagua told the Senate in
1827, "it is the severity of punishment that makes the soldier stand
firm in combat despite natural human weakness at the sight of dan-
ger and death"; Senator Borges believed that "the glory of our arms
is due to the discipline of the army," and he stated that "only mil-
itary discipline makes man face danger without retreating . .
because [discipline] demands that he who turns his back shall
die."32 In theory, then, each Brazilian soldier would drill until he
became a cog in an efficient machine.
Between 1708 and 1828, Portuguese and later Brazilian author-
ities instituted four penal-disciplinary codes, all characterized by
corporal punishment. The Articles of 1708, for example, condemned
to death any soldier who violated a woman or stole church prop-
erty. The 1710 code ordered the death sentence for any military
man caught looting before the enemy was totally defeated, for any
sentinel found asleep on duty, for any who mistreated civilians, and
for any soldier who attempted to escape from jail. The Articles of
1763 carried on this tradition of corporal punishment and served as
the basis of military discipline throughout much of the nineteenth
Punishments inflicted for breaches of military discipline ranged
from double duty and brief imprisonment to whippings, life im-
prisonment in chains, or death. Military tribunals judged serious
infractions of the law while officers themselves ordered punishment
for lesser offenses. Because military law seldom defined precisely the
punishment to be given for a particular infraction, discipline was
often extremely arbitrary. The officers' power over their men was
almost unlimited, and General Cunha Mattos complained that of-
ficers sometimes ordered 100, 200, or up to 800 lashes for desertion
31. Sentinella da Liberdade na Guarita de Pernambuco, no. 45, reprinted in
Sentinella da Liberdade da Praia Grande (Niter6i), October 9, 1823.
32. Anais do Senado do Brasil, June 25, 1827, July 10, 1830.
33. Paula Cidade, "O Soldado," p. 32.
THE BRAZILIAN RECRUIT DURING THE FIRST EMPIRE
or other breaches of discipline.34 Beatings were often so bloody that
a decree of February 27, 1823, required that a surgeon always be
present. On the other hand, executions were not as common as one
might expect from a reading of the articles of war. The death sen-
tence was distasteful to many officers, and they frequently avoided it
in cases where it might have been applied. More important, the
Emperor insisted on seeing the justification for each death sentence
and, considering the constant shortage of soldiers, he usually com-
muted the sentence. In general, punishments were seldom as severe
as those outlined in the Articles of War because trained soldiers
were such a valuable and increasingly scarce commodity. One ob-
server commented that if these army regulations were carried out to
the letter, "the army would be decimated and it would spare the
enemy the task of making war."35
Congressional speeches, especially those of General Cunha Mattos,
illustrated the popular identification of the soldier and the slave, of
military life and slavery. In a speech before the Chamber of Dep-
uties, the general said, "the worse disgrace in all the universe is to
be a recruit in Brazil. It is a real punishment; a common soldier is
considered a miserable slave." He added that "the life of the soldier
is hated because of the infamous whippings and carrying of weap-
ons... to this and other violence and barbarities one can attribute
the aversion of the Brazilian people to military life; everyone wants
to defend his homeland, but no one wants to be treated worse than
the most vile slave." He concluded, "I did not say that military men
live in absolute slavery; what I said was that military law is as
severe as that of slavery; our slaves are perhaps more free than sol-
diers on certain occasions. Our slaves always have food to eat, we
do not send them to do obviously dangerous things, at night they
have a mat to lie down on; soldiers, however, have the ground for
a mattress and the stars for blankets, hunger weakens them and dis-
ease devours them without pity."36 For many, then, the designation
"soldier" was offensive, implying all the negative qualities associ-
ated with military life.
Deprivation and severe military discipline combined with the
34. Anais da Camara, June 17, 1828.
35. Contribuigoes para a histdria, p. 56.
36. Anais da Camara, June 4, August 25, 1828, July 9, 1829. In the carrying of
weapons punishment, soldiers were made to walk or run a certain distance carry-
ing several heavy rifles.
MICHAEL C. MCBETH
strategy and methods of recruitment to create several problems for
the army, desertion and rebellion being the most serious. Desertion
offered an often-used means of escape. Once out of the sight of his
watchful superiors and into civilian clothes, the deserter quickly and
easily blended with the local populace and frequently succeeded in
his escape. Nearby residents often protected the runaway and gave
him food and shelter. Authorities reported hundreds of cases of men
abandoning the ranks and fleeing into the interior, and desertion
often reduced units to a fraction of their full strength.37
During the Cisplatine War especially, desertion decimated many
army units. The Uruguayan rebels launched a major propaganda
campaign designed to play upon discontent in the Brazilian Army.
To encourage desertion they offered a bounty to any who would
defect and join them in their struggle against the Empire. As time
dragged on and conditions worsened, there were more and more
deserters until they became so numerous they could not be tried.
After the Brazilian defeat at Passo do Rosario in February 1827, the
Marquis of Barbacena, commander of the demoralized Imperial
Army, reported that "we originally had 7,200 men; now we are
ragged, barefoot, poorly armed, and reduced through desertion to
only 5,120 menl!!"38 A. A. F. Seweloh, a German serving in the Bra-
zilian Army during the campaign, reported that the system of sen-
tinels, stationed eighty to a hundred meters from camp, "seemed
designed more to impede desertion of our own men than to detect
an enemy attack, because the sentries looked inward toward the
Considering the rigid discipline then prevalent in the army and
the repeated stern warnings to any who might consider desertion,
the punishment for captured deserters was remarkably mild. A
decree of September 3, 1825, ordered sixty lashes for the first offense,
a hundred for the second. On rare occasions officers arbitrarily gave
many more to captured deserters. Constant troop shortage, however,
made the execution of deserters self-defeating, and offenders were
often welcomed back into their units with little or no punishment.
Not only did desertion cease to be a dangerous undertaking, the
37. See, for example, Francisco de Paula Cidade, Lutas, ao sul do Brasil, cor
os espanhois e seus descendentes, 1680-1828 (Rio de Janeiro, 1948), pp. 238, 304.
38. Marquis of Barbacena to Emperor Pedro I, May 9, 1827, Arquivo do Museu
Imperial-Petr6polis, II-POB, 16.1.827, Hor. c. 1-9.
39. A. A. F. Seweloh, "Reminiscencias da campanha de 1827 contra Buenos
Ayres," Revista do Instituto Hist6rico e Geogrdfico Brasileiro 37 (1874):421.
THE BRAZILIAN RECRUIT DURING THE FIRST EMPIRE
sale of the soldier's equipment and his horse, if he had one, even
made it profitable.
Mutiny was undeniably the most serious potential danger to the
army command. The common soldier rarely instigated revolts.
When he did, it was normally for economic reasons-late pay, short-
ages of uniforms and equipment, and inadequate housing. In most
cases, officers exploited the discontent among their men and led the
Because many members of the officer corps came from prominent
Brazilian families, the distance between the officer and the common
soldier was not only one of rank but of social class as well. This
factor undoubtedly reinforced the chain of command and led many
soldiers to give unquestioning obedience to their superiors. A letter
to the editor of the Diario Fluminense said, "concerning the poor
soldiers, bearers of bayonets, they do not have the slightest direct
role in these revolutions and counter revolutions, playing only the
role of machines, entirely dependent, as they are, on the officers ...
whom they regard as sacred."40 The military commander of Para
described the soldiers who had taken part in a recent revolt in that
province as "veritable automatons, nearly all are stupid Indians,
capable of being easily seduced by some evil person," and the Baron
of Bage said that "the soldier of Para is a half-savage Indian and a
machine . incapable of putting two ideas together or knowing
right from wrong."41
Always the first to be paid or equipped, officers seldom shared the
economic grievances of their men. But many believed "it was their
right as citizens to pass judgment in all cases of conflict between the
government and the legislature, and they placed this general duty
above their special duties as soldiers."42 This keen interest in pol-
itics made the officer corps a favorite target of republicans and abso-
lutists who hoped to gain military support for their future plans.
Because many officers had nearly total control over their men, the
officer corps was an invaluable ally for those attempting to woo the
The enormous cost of the long Cisplatine War drained the re-
40. Diario Fluminense, April 21, 1824. The letter was signed "T."
41. Joao Paulo dos Santos Barreto to War Minister Count of Lajes, May 12,
1827, AN, Caixa 824; Baron of Bag6 to War Minister Joaquim de Oliveira Alvares,
July 24, 1829, AN, IG19.
42. Contribui96es para a histdria, p. 61.
MICHAEL C. MCBETH
sources of the already financially weak Empire. In its aftermath the
Imperial treasury frequently lacked funds to provide army neces-
sities. The humiliating loss of the Cisplatine province and the dis-
appointing performance of the army in the war thoroughly discred-
ited it among many members of the increasingly powerful liberal
movement. As discontent within the officer corps increased, latent
rivalries intensified and many officers became more politicized. An-
tagonism between Brazilian and Portuguese-born officers was rekin-
dled, and some longed for a republic or an absolute monarchy as a
solution to the nation's problems. A docile, blindly obedient sol-
diery was a source of strength to a strong, unified leadership, but as
factionalism and disunity appeared in the officer corps, the nature
of the Brazilian fighting man posed a potential danger to social and
political stability. According to a pamphlet issued to military com-
manders early in 1831, "the army is the mainstay of the law, the
supporter of authority and the maintainer of public peace, but
[without discipline] it is the most destructive member of society-a
Hydra of one hundred heads that devours the state."43 Such admo-
nitions, however, did not stem revolt in the provinces.
Outbreaks occurred in nearly every province. Rio de Janeiro ex-
perienced a foreign mercenary rebellion in June 1828, but the
peripheral areas, those furthest from the Imperial capital and cen-
tral authority, seemed most prone to regionalist rebellions and
breakdowns of army discipline. Rio Grande do Sul in the south, as
well as Bahia, Pernambuco, Ceara, Maranhao, and Para in the north,
suffered frequent conflict during the First Empire. Occasionally
these revolts were ideologically motivated, but more commonly eco-
nomic issues were at stake or the rebellions involved merely a per-
sonal jurisdictional rivalry between the civilian and military leaders
of the province. Despite their repeated efforts, however, agitators
had remarkably little success in gaining widespread military sup-
port, and although several revolts did occur, a relatively small
number of soldiers were involved, and the vast majority of those in
the army remained loyal to constituted authority.
Nevertheless, the growing problem of military insubordination
was one more major reason why the Liberals, who were influential
in the Chamber of Deputies and dominated much of the national
43. Apparigio extraordinaria e inesperada do Velho Venerando ao Rosseiro
(Rio de Janeiro, 1831), p. 25. This was an anonymous pamphlet distributed on
the eve of the coup of April 7, 1831.
THE BRAZILIAN RECRUIT DURING THE FIRST EMPIRE
press, worked to reduce the size and power of the Imperial Army.
The combined efforts of their legislative and journalistic campaign
resulted in the law of November 24, 1830, which reduced the ranks
from well over 20,000 men to 12,000. Yet, this was just the first of
several laws that would greatly weaken the army.
The role of the army in the events of early April 1831 that forced
the abdication of the Emperor clearly illustrated the state of de-
moralization and division that existed in the military and hastened
its decline. Immediately after April 7, all pretense of military dis-
cipline disappeared, and officers and soldiers alike allied themselves
with the various political factions-liberals and absolutists, mod-
erates and militants, monarchists and republicans, federalists and
centralists, Brazilians and Portuguese. From all parts of Brazil-
Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Pernambuco, Para-came reports of army
revolts and insubordination. In the capital, soldiers ignored the
commands of their superiors and many participated in the violent
street riots of July 1831. Octavio Tarqiiinio de Sousa has written
that "the year 1831 was perhaps, in all our political history, the
culmination of undiscipline in the barracks."44
Against this background of military insubordination and rebel-
lion, the new Regency government worked quickly to weaken the
army. A decree of May 4, 1831, fixed the size of the army at 14,432
officers and men, or approximately the same number set by the law
of November 24, 1830; all salary increases and promotions were
suspended indefinitely to pressure officers to resign. A law of August
30, 1831, limited the army to 10,000 officers and men, suspended all
recruitment, and eased restrictions on retirement and extended
leaves. Those soldiers involved in army uprisings were dismissed
from service, and most regular units were transferred to the frontier
provinces. By May 1832, regular troops had practically disappeared
from Rio de Janeiro and the other major cities of the Empire.45
To replace the withering army as the defender of the new govern-
ment, the Regency created the National Guard by a decree of
August 18, 1831. As early as April 18 of that year, the prominent
Rio liberal newspaper Aurora Fluminense had editorialized that
one of the legislature's first duties should be the creation of a na-
tional guard like that of France, because these were a "well-formed
44. Tarqiiinio de Sousa, Tres golpes de estado (Rio de Janeiro, 1960), p. 99.
45. Octavio Tarqiiinio de Sousa, Fatos e personagens em torno de um regime
(Rio de Janeiro, 1960), p. 250.
MICHAEL C. MCBETH
civic force and the best bulwark for opposing the abuses of power
of tyranny on the one hand, and popular excesses of anarchy on
the other." It concluded that care should be taken "not to put arms
in the hands of a mass of men who either hate our system or have
no interest in public order." In response to this advice, the National
Guard, like the militia it replaced, was composed of men of prop-
erty and social standing who, in theory, had a stake in society and
the maintenance of public order. But unlike the old militia, the
National Guard was subordinate to the minister of justice. In other
words, control of this security force was removed from military
hands and given to "more reliable" civilians. In many ways, the
National Guard was "a militia designed to watch over the army."46
Authorities had now come full circle. In contrast to their earlier
policy of recruiting social undesirables for the army and allowing
"respectable" Brazilians to find refuge from regular military service
in the militia, government officials in the early 1830s reduced the
army to a skeleton force, dispersed the remaining regular units to
frontier areas, and entrusted the maintenance of public security and
the protection of private property in the major cities to a body of
men who had a stake in such preservation. The policy of recruiting
those who would be least missed by society spared more prominent
Brazilians the inconveniences of regular military service but led to
severe problems of discipline and insubordination within the
army. Scattered throughout the country, Brazil's marginal popula-
tion, which had formed the primary source of soldiers for the army,
posed little threat to society, but once in the army, these same men,
armed and organized under officers to whom they gave unquestion-
ing obedience, offered a very real challenge to the society and polit-
ical system they were supposed to protect.
46. Carl Seidler in Tarqiiinio de Sousa, Fatos e personagens, p. 254.