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The People of the RiverNature and Identity in Black Amazonia, 1835-1945$
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Oscar de la Torre

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643243

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643243.001.0001

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After the Reign of Terror

After the Reign of Terror

Slavery and the Economy of Post-Cabanagem Pará, 1835–c. 1870

(p.15) Chapter One After the Reign of Terror
The People of the River

Oscar de la Torre

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the agricultural strategies used in Amazonian cacao and sugar plantations. Cacao is a tree native to the region whose fruit was exported since the colonial period. Producers relied on the river tides for soil fertilization and combined its cultivation with the exploitation of wild groves. Sugar producers adopted a similar approach, using tidal energy as a natural fertilizer and as a source of energy to propel their mills. Amazonia was able to successfully develop a slave economy that produced tropical crops for markets overseas. It also discusses the impact of Cabanagem on the region’s slaveholding properties is more complex than previously thought, as this chapter shows. While the loss of slaves in prime working age naturally affected the output of local plantations, the Cabanagem revolt also reinforced the trend toward a sexually and ethnically balanced slave population inherited from the pre-Cabanagem era, which was key to the natural reproduction of the enslaved population in later decades. Despite the damage caused by the rebellion, then, the post-Cabanagem slave demography of Paraense plantations turned out to be favorable to the reconstruction of the state’s plantation sector and to the natural reproduction of its enslaved laborers as well.

Keywords:   Cabanagem, slave demography, Amazonia, cacao, sugar, plantation, agriculture

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