May 1st, 1823 – Slave Market at Rio de Janeiro (Valongo)

May 1st. — I have this day seen the Val Longo ; it is the slave market of Rio. Almost every house in this very long street is a depôt for slaves. On passing by the doors this evening, I saw in most of them long benches placed near the walls, on which rows of young creatures were sitting, their heads shaved, their bodies emaciated, and the marks of recent itch upon their skins. In some places the poor creatures were lying on mats, evidently too sick to sit up. At one house the half-doors were shut, and a group of boys and girls, apparently not above fifteen years old, and some much under, were leaning over the hatches, and gazing into the street with wondering faces. They were evidently quite new negroes. As I approached them, it appears that something about me attracted their attention ; they touched one another, to be sure that all saw me, and then chattered in their own African dialect with great eagerness. I went and stood near them, and though certainly more disposed to weep, I forced myself to smile to them, and look cheerfully, and kissed my hand to them, with all which they seemed delighted, and jumped about and danced, as if returning my civilities. Poor things ! I would not, if I could, shorten their moments of glee, by awakening them to a sense of the sad things of slavery ; but, if I could, I would appeal to their masters, to those who buy, and to those who sell, and implore them to think of the evils slavery brings, not only to the negroes but to themselves, not only to themselves but to their families and their posterity.

After all, slaves are the worst and most expensive servants; and one proof of it is this, I think. The small patch that each is allowed to cultivate for his own use on many estates generally yields at least twice as much in proportion as the land of the master, though fewer hours of labour are bestowed upon it. * I have hitherto endeavoured, without success, to procure a correct statement of the number of slaves imported into all Brazil. I fear, indeed, it will be hardly possible for me to do so, on account of the distance of some of the ports ; but I will not rest till I procure at least a statement of the number entered at the custom-house here during the last two years. The number of ships from Africa that I see constantly entering the harbour, and the multitudes that throng the slave-houses in this street, convince me that the importation must be very great. The ordinary proportion of deaths on the passage is, I am told, about one in five.

  • Since I returned to England, I have seen the account of the proceedings of Joshua Steele in Barbadoes. I need not add one word on this part of the subject ; but I present the reader with the two following statements of custom-house entries at Rio for the years 1821 and 1822.

1821

January February March
Muzambique 483 Cabinda 193 Quilumana 311
Muzambique 337 Cabinda 342 Quilumana 385
Ambuehe 352 Cabinda 514 Quilumana 342
Cabinda 409 Muzambique 277 Quilumana 257
Cabinda 348 Muzambique 600 Quilumana 260
Luanda 549 1.926 Quilumana 291
Benguela 396 Quilumana 287
2.874 Angola 345
Angola 433
Angola 259
3.170
April May June
Angola 430 Angola 342 Angola 680
Quilumana 280 Angola 361
Cabinda 287 Angola 231 August
Cabinda 451 Quilumana 225
1.448 Muzambique 122 Luanda 514
1.281 Luanda 460
Luanda 734
Luanda 304
Luanda 227
Benguela 339
2.578
September November December
Angola 685 Ambuehe 220 Angola 516
Benguela 390 Angola 523
October Angola 579 Angola 309
Angola 452 Angola 544 Muzambique 394
Angola 375 Angola 388 Muzambique 330
Benguela 510 Quilumana 446 Cabinda 562
1.337 2.567 2.634

Abstract of 1821

January 2.914
February 1.926
March 3.170
April 1.448
May 1.281
June 680
August 2.578
September 685
October 1.337
November 2.567
December 2.634
21.199

1822

January February March
Cabinda 744 Muzambique 421 Cabinda 667
Cabinda 417 Muzambique 419 Cabinda 400
Cabinda 459 Muzambique 399 Quilumana 504
Cabinda 144 Muzambique 520 Quilumana 487
Muzambique 305 Angola 406 Quilumana 406
Muzambique 278 Angola 400 Muzambique 452
2.347 Angola 406 Muzambique 455
Quilumana 436 Angola 305
Quilumana 446 Angola 354
Benguela 420 Angola 371
4.273 4.401
April May June
Quilumana 323 Angola 398 Cabinda 432
Quilumana 203 Benguela 388 Cabinda 533
Angola 519 786 Angola 302
Angola 418 Angola 761
Cabinda 291 Benguela 390
Cabinda 377 2.418
2.131
July September October
Cabinda 427 Angola 572 Luanda 467
Angola 691 Angola 534 Benguela 428
1.118 Cabinda 466 Cabinda 434
Benguela 524 Cabinda 337
Benguela 298 1.666
2.394
November December
Cabinda 417 Luanda 514
Cabinda 499 Cabinda 534
Luanda 561 Quilumana 450
Benguela 425 1.498
1.902

Abstract of 1822

January 2.347
February 4.373
March 4.401
April 2.131
May 786
June 2.418
July 1.118
September 2.394
October 1.666
November 1.902
December 1.498
29.934

Featured image

  • Slave Market at Rio de Janeiro (Valongo) – Longmam & Cia. e J. Murray, 5 de abril de 1824 – Drawing by Augustus Earle, Engraved by Edward Finden.

Map

Maria Graham’s Journal of a Voyage to Brazil