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"The Shelter of the Uniform": The Brazilian Army and Runaway Slaves, 1800-1888

Hendrik Kraay
Journal of Social History
Vol. 29, No. 3 (Spring, 1996), pp. 637-657
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3788949
Page Count: 21
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"The Shelter of the Uniform": The Brazilian Army and Runaway Slaves, 1800-1888
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Abstract

Based on 277 claims for the return of runaway slaves from the nineteenth-century Brazilian army, this article analyzes the military's policy toward slavery. While the army required that fugitive slaves be returned to their owners, the legal definition of soldiers as free men required owners to undertake cumbersome legal procedures to regain their human property. Impressment among the free lower classes (visibly indistinguishable from slaves) brought some slaves into the army while other slaves deliberately ran away to join up, thus manipulating the contradictions in the army and state apparatus to gain advantage in their struggles with their masters. In its policy toward runaway slaves, the army nevertheless demonstrated its strong support for slavery and showed no early signs of the army-officer abolitionism that only appeared late in the 1880s.

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