Slavery Emancipation in Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil

Table of Contents


Slavery was viewed as both an infringement of human rights in addition to the existence of forced labor. Numerous differences existed in the manner in which slaves were treated across the globe. These differences were based on gender and age differences, location and other demographic features, such as skin color.

These differences were the basis for revolt and dissent among the slaves, with the most violent existing in locations where oppressive slavery was carried out. In this essay, a comparative summary of the aspects of emancipation of slaves in Cuba, Haiti and Brazil is done.

The Revolts

Revolts were experienced in both Cuba and Haiti; primarily due to the fact the political and legal environment was unfavorable to the slaves. The most prominent propagators of the violence were the Coloreds, who played a major role in introducing the taste and information about the taste of freedom to the slaves.

The emergence of the Haiti revolt was primarily hinged on the actions of the French colonizers and the slave-owners (Phillips, 420). First, the liberalized co-existence of the black slaves and the slaves resulted to emergence of Colored, who had ties and allegiance to both sides. In addition, the growing number of slaves in the push for enhanced productivity of the colony resulted to the influx of strong and energetic black males, who were easily swayed through reason and the promise for freedom ( p 428).

Most of the slaves were able to converge at the market place and deliver messages of hope in addition to building the foundation for future cooperation. However, delays in the revolt are clearly represented in the ease with which dissented individuals were able to maroon into the dense forests. The minute size of the colony provided sufficient rounds for escape, with most of the escaped slaves engaging in banditry for survival (Phillips, 406).

Frequent interactions with American trades were a primary reason for the fight for freedom. In both Cuba and Haiti, revolts were organized by individuals seeking political power. The ambitious liberators were however primary reasons why the freed slaves misused the sense of freedom and engaged in unproductive tendencies even after being freed.

The French Revolution

The ideological and political impact of the French Revolution is closely linked to the revolts in the Caribbean colonies. First, it was an indication of the lack of unity in command among the slave-owners and the colonizer. Similarly, the enlightened slaves were well-aware of strategic military advantage originating from the revolution. According to Phillips (408), weak defenses were bound to be present for a while during and immediately after the revolt, and this presented the best timing for seeking freedom.

The civil war contributed to the success of the revolt by Coloreds in other ways. As the revolts peaked in the Haiti, France was deep in civil war, making it impossible to the King to send additional soldiers to back up the struggling and dwindling numbers in the colony (Phillips, 409).

The influence of European Counterparts

The British and the Spanish were influential on the outcome of the revolt. On one hand, their influence fueled the emergence of the revolt. In indirect terms, their democratic colonization models provided the slaves with the opportunity to trade and engage productive economic activities, contrary to what the French did.

The British and Spanish were also wary of the power accruing to the French in terms of economic prowess from the plantation (p, 429).However, the revolt left them exposed, especially considering that British colonies were present in the surrounding (p, 430). The freed slaves quickly spread word and hope for freedom through revolt, propelling some to choose violence.

The Coloreds

The Coloreds played a major role in the success of the revolt. In addition to accusations traded among the different groupings (Phillips, 410), the Coloreds had access to both the colonists and the slaves. In Brazil, Coloreds were mainly enslaved due to decision by their masters to forego the compensation for their freedom.

Phillips (281) posits that young Coloreds were under the mercy of the masters, with the state providing to purchase them from their masters after attainment of 8 years. Phillips (411) indicates that most slaves in Cuba and Haiti were led to believe that the slave takers were holding out on offering freedom granted by the colonizers.

Freedom: From Slavery and Discrimination

Slavery entailed hard work in the plantations with the slave-owners in owning the slaves. Slaves were more of assets in Haiti (Phillips, 406) as opposed to being inventory in Brazil (Phillips, 285). Coloreds and the Creoles were comfortable with life as it was, except for the minor restrictions (p 432).

However, the majority of the slaves were keen the freedom from racial discrimination as well (409). Phillips (278) outlines the challenges facing freed slaves and those who faced discrimination in spite of living freely. In Brazil, skin color was a prominent marker of the status of an individual. As a result, the Coloreds were still viewed as slaves, regardless of the fact that some were free men under the laws of the country.

Phillips (282) indicates that slaves had the opportunity to emancipate themselves in Brazil, as long as their market worth was met with hard work and obedience. The opportunity cost of holding old slaves in Brazil was higher compared to disposal of such slaves for the price of freedom, and subsequent purchase of young and virile individuals (Phillips, 278). Older slaves were also able to purchase freedom using their life-savings, with these being converted to capital for acquisition of another lot of more able slaves.


The desire to gain freedom was closely related to the extent to which such freedom was viewed as a reality. In both Cuba and Haiti, the existing opportunities for such freedom were a major propagating factor. In most cases, freed slaves still experienced challenges, especially issues such as discrimination and achievement of socio-economic status. Since slaves in Brazil had the opportunity to purchase their freedom, their sights were not set on marooning. Extensive plantations in Haiti required manning by slaves, making slave-owners more prone to purchasing laborers as opposed to domestic caretakers.

Work Cited

Phillips, Glenn, O. The African Diaspora Experience. Pennsylvania: Tapestry Press, 2003, pp 262-433

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