Essay on African Slavery During The Nineteenth Century

1823 Words Nov 23rd, 2015 8 Pages
As the undeniably brutal history of African slavery in Brazil is analyzed, many factors and influences must be considered in order to understand the full scope of the tragedy and its contributing causes. One factor that undoubtedly played a pivotal role in the development and perpetuation of slavery was the presence of Jesuit missions. Beginning with their arrival in Brazil in 1549, the Sons of the Society of Jesus sought to fulfill what they saw as a divine mission aimed at conquering “the power of hell which had ruled the vast Empire of Brazilian Paganism for more than six thousand years.” Although based on its name and stated mission, the Society of Jesus may seem to be a benevolent organization, this analysis will demonstrate that the actions of some Jesuits contributed to the perpetuation of African slavery in Brazil. Most disturbingly so, in examining the primary sources of Jesuit missionaries, it is apparent that rather than attempting genuinely to bring the word of God to the colonies, some missions used their power to maintain a hierarchical system. Certainly not every Jesuit missionary in the eighteenth century was guilty of such acts, but it is evident that others were. Interestingly, however, rather than succumbing to the unjust actions imposed on them, many slaves rallied together to overcome their circumstances. Transforming an often oppressive gospel message into an uplifting one, black slaves developed confraternities and other lay organizations in spite of…

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