IN THE CENTURIES TO COME:
PROJECTIONS OF SLAVERY AND FREEDOM
Today, these memories (of abolition)
leave a sadness and an inexpressible melancholy. . . .
So many dreams! [ . . . ] So many illusions! . . .
We thought that when the slaves were free,
Our Brazil would enter a period of peace, happiness,
and boundless pro gress;—The “Golden Age” that the
humanitarians always suggested would arrive but that,
is still a long way, a very long way, oﬀ, in the centuries to come.
— andré rebouças, Diário e notas autobiográﬁcas
Abolition occurred in the context of intense social agitation: unrest on the
plantations, individual and collective flight, popu lar hostility to slavery, and
the radicalization of the abolitionist movement. The Bahian authorities feared
that the end of slavery would unleash a broader pro cess of social change with
unforeseen consequences. These fears were not groundless. In other slave
socie ties, abolition had awoken new and old aspirations and demands, and
the results did not always favor the ex- masters. Ex– slave owners in Bahia
feared that the end of slavery would mean more than substituting one labor
regime for another. They feared losing control of the abolition pro cess, in the
face of the initiatives of the ex- slaves.