Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Free Babies and Seniors

28 September 1871
A Brazilian Family with Slaves, painting by  Jean-Baptiste Debret c 1830
Wikimedia Commons

While parental emotions and well-being of the elderly slaves seemed of no interest to plantation holders, costs of maintenance were. In 1870s Brazil, it cost more to rear a locally-born slave child than to import a new slave of working age. Therefore, the Lei do Ventre Libre (Law concerning the Free Womb) was promulgated on 28 September 1871 together with the Lei dos Sexagenarios. The laws 'freed' unborn children and those over sixty years of age. In other words, it deprived babies and the elderly from the right to sustenance en reallocated the costs of caring from the slaveholders to the working class. Slavery in Brazil was offically abolished in 1888.

Read more? Dirk Hoerder, 'Slave regimes and Creole societies in the Atlantic World' in: Connecting Seas and Connected Ocean Rims. Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans and CHina Seas Migrations from the 1830s to the 1930s (Leiden 2011)