"Alma Negra" (black soul): the campaign for free labor in Angola and Sao Tome, 1909-1916.
In the first two decades of the twentieth century, as European nations consolidated their empires across much of the world, humanitarians began to debate what separated free labor from coercion. There was little agreement beyond the idea that slavery, narrowly defined to mean the legal right to own another person, was unacceptable. Practices of forced labor by two colonizing powers in Africa--King Leopold Il's Congo Free State and Portuguese Angola and Sao Tome in the Gulf of Guinea--prompted international campaigns from free labor advocates for international regulation. Despite widespread concern over labor issues, however, there existed little agreement about what constituted unjustified force, especially in the colonial context where a non-European individual's rights were rarely, if ever, recognized. Even the International Labor Organization (ILO), which was founded under the Paris Peace Treaties of 1919 and regarded the struggle against forced labor as one of its topmost priorities, conceded to the insistence of the European powers to not apply universal labor standards to colonies. (2)
The campaign against forced labor in the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Sao Tome and Principe (henceforth, "the islands") gained momentum by 1909 after nearly a decade of published exposes on the issue, including a 1906 book by Henry Nevinson titled A Modern Slavery. (3) Critics, primarily from Britain, described as slaves the contract labor being brought from the Angolan interior to work the cacao plantations of the islands and dubbed the cacao they produced "slave cocoa." (4) The slogan "slave cocoa" clearly aimed to unsettle Britons who drank hot cocoa as part of their regular diet. This campaign followed in the footsteps of earlier British movements to abolish the slave trade, slavery, and to remove King Leopold II from the Congo. In 1906 in response to the publication of Nevinson's book, a group of leading Portuguese citizens formed the Sociedade de Propaganda to counter the negative publicity and to promote an improved Portuguese image abroad. (5) The Government of Portugal, even while enacting reforms such as the suspension of exports of workers, who they euphemistically called servicais (sing. servical, meaning "servants") to the islands in 1909, undertook a public campaign to refute British charges of "slave cocoa."
Portuguese reforms reacted to outside criticisms, though a small but influential group of free labor advocates established the Anti-Slavery Society of Portugal in 1911 to campaign for an end to slave labor in the islands. These free labor advocates shared a liberal humanist and philanthropic worldview and their ranks included the influential future Governor of Angola, Jose Norton de Matos (1912-15), who as governor fought for an investment in infrastructure, the settlement of white colonists, and an end to slave labor. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, advocates for the economic exploitation of the colonies' natural resources and peoples dominated public policy, as is evidenced by the 1899 legislation legalizing forced labor. (6)
For a brief period after the overthrow of Portugal's Constitutional Monarchy in 1910 and the subsequent creation of the First Republic, it appeared as if the new government would move quickly to end not only the slave trade to the islands but also forced labor throughout the African colonies. The First Republic extolled democratic principles, the separation of church and state, and criticized the Monarchy's lack of long-term development of the colonies. However, free labor advocates faced powerful economic interests tied to cacao production and trade as well as a nationalist sentiment resentful of foreign meddling and a deep-seated skepticism about what many Portuguese considered the "suspect philanthropy" of individuals from more powerful nations. (7) So when a former curador dos indigenas (colonial official who supervised the contracting of servicais; literally "Guardian of the Natives") (8) named Jeronimo Paiva de Carvalho published a pamphlet in 1912 alleging the use of slave labor in the islands, the Lisbon press and several leading politicians denied the charges and attacked Paiva de Carvalho as a traitor and opportunist. (9) The vehemence of this attack raises questions about what threat a relatively little read pamphlet posed to Portuguese colonialism? The war of words lasted several months in the press and provides a window into early twentieth-century Portuguese debates about free labor, colonial labor policy, and national identity. The condemnation of Paiva de Carvalho by government officials and colonial interests associated with the cacao industry helps to explain why Portuguese policy makers resisted attempts to abolish forced labor and provides a historical context for their decision not to sign the 1930 Forced Labor Convention until 1959.
A Questao dos Servicais
The 1912 publication of Jeronimo Paiva de Carvalho's pamphlet coincided with the nearly decade-long scandal over "slave cocoa," a derogatory term manufactured by British critics whereas in Portugal the scandal was referred to as 'A Questao dos Servicais" (10) (The Servicais Question). (11) However, the issue reached a head after the decision in March 1909 of William Cadbury--owner of one of the era's leading chocolate firms, Cadbury Brothers Ltd--and several other British and German chocolate manufacturers to boycott cacao grown in the islands. (12) Cadbury launched his own investigation into labor conditions in the islands after the publication of Nevinson's book in 1906. After visiting the islands himself Cadbury published Labour in Portuguese West Africa in order to explain his determination that slave labor still existed and therefore justified a boycott. Cadbury documented the buying and selling of servicais at ports along the Angolan littoral and their subsequent shipment to the islands. The boycott stemmed from Cadbury's own beliefs in benevolent capitalism, as evidenced in his company's model village and services for employees, and a concern for the image of his company's brand in the context of the "slave cocoa" campaign. (13)
The Government of Portugal, under the Constitutional Monarchy and in conjunction with leading cacao planters, responded to these foreign critics by accusing them of being either motivated by economic interests with the intent to destroy Portugal's colonial cacao industry, or moved by political motives to justify seizure of the country's valuable African colonies. The economic motive explanation argued that Cadbury and Britain would benefit from shifting cacao purchases to British colonies such as the Gold Coast. The second argument, based in large part on Portugal's insecure position amongst more powerful colonial powers, called on national honor to protect Portugal's centuries old colonial claims in central and southern Africa.
After the founding of the First Republic in October 1910, Republican officials quietly acted to end the worst abuses of labor recruitment in the Angolan interior and maintained the suspension of sending servicais to the islands, whilst publicly accusing critics of labor in the islands of wanting to discredit the Republican political agenda. Underlying the official Portuguese response--under the Monarchy and the Republic--was a sense of patriotic outrage with roots as deep as the 1890 British Ultimatum, which had forced Portugal to give up dreams of a "mapa da cor rosa," or a line of contiguous territory linking Portuguese Angola and Mozambique, during the scramble for Africa. (14) This history helps to explain why the British-led campaign against "slave cocoa" felt so bitter to many Portuguese, who experienced the campaign as an attack on their national sovereignty.
A response to Cadbury's boycott published in 1909, probably with the sponsorship of the cacao planters, argued that Cadbury wore his humanitarian concern as a cloak to cover the real motivation behind the boycott--the economic interests of the British chocolate syndicate. (15) In 1910 a leading Portuguese roceiro (cacao plantations in the islands were known as rocas, and their owners as roceiros) named Francisco Mantero published an exhaustive study of labor on Sao Tome. In it, he critiques the English-led campaign against "slave cocoa" by accusing English critics of attempting to impede the progress of Sao Tome because of an inferiority complex:
They have always been vanquished by the tenacity of the Portuguese colonists, but nevertheless, determined as they are, they do not desist or lose hope--they powerful and rich--of destroying our efforts, which poor and weak though they may be, are based on right and justice. (16)
This characterization of Portugal as a victim of voracious British industrialists and empire makers aroused Portuguese public opinion against what Mantero and others called the "campaign against Portugal," which they dismissed as calculated propaganda. Mantero later describes the success of Portuguese colonialism as an obstacle to the British goal to achieve exclusive dominion over southern Africa. (17) Thus by praising the Portuguese colonial efforts and questioning the motives of free labor advocates, Mantero encouraged nationalist outrage against foreign intervention, a rhetorical strategy that would remain constant through the dramatic political change from the Constitutional Monarchy to the First Republic. This strategy echoed nineteenth-century Portuguese opposition to the abolition of the slave trade (18) and capitalized on Portuguese unease over perceived British and German ambitions to take control of some or all of Portugal's African colonies.
A third line of attack against the Cadbury boycott argued that the servicais enjoyed better lives in the islands than in the Angolan interior. Two intellectual currents in the early twentieth century influenced Portuguese colonial policy makers. The first, social Darwinism, argued for an African racial inferiority that would be impervious to educational and religious evolution. The second current emphasized a more humanist, though paternalistic, view that with education and a firm hand, Africans could evolve and learn better (European) work and cultural habits. (19) Mantero argued that in the Angolan interior servicais faced daily challenges of illness, alcoholism and wars, whereas in the islands, "They acquire habits of civilization and thrift, can form family ties and look forward to a happier future than if they had remained in the savage regions of their native countries." (20) Mantero's argument reflects what historian Joao Pedro Marques explains as a history of "tolerationism" in Portuguese society towards slavery. Marques's analysis of abolition in Portuguese colonies focuses on the absence of a strong abolition movement in Portuguese society, which he argues rested on an idea of the inherent barbarity of Africans and a belief in the appropriateness of the Portuguese civilizing mission. (21)
Mantero's arguments were certainly part of a wider European colonial discourse bent on justifying the expropriation of African lands in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Leading Portuguese colonial advocates at the turn of the century, such as Antonio Enes, Mouzinho de Albuquerque, Eduardo da Costa, and Oliveira Martins, all cited African inferiority as reason enough for the use of forced labor to make the colonies profitable for Portugal. (22) Under the First Republic, Freire d'Andrade, a former governor of Mozambique, penned the official response to critics of Portugal's colonial labor practices, publishing in January 1913 an open letter to William Cadbury in which he argues that the contract labor practiced in the Portuguese colonies is necessary in order to civilize Africa. (23) His arguments reiterated "tolerationist" arguments that Africans refused to work for colonial interests and in fact would benefit from European "tutelage." (24) He also compares favorably the contract labor in Sao Tome to other colonial labor regimes, including the British-owned closed compound system in the diamond mines of Kimberley, South Africa: "I have seen natives in the Compounds at Kimberley guarded by police, rifle in hand, for months at a time, during which they are kept strictly confined ... And for no crime whatever." (25) He ends with another common defense of asking whether Portugal is being singled out because it is "weak and poor"? All of these arguments sidestepped the accusations of forced labor and made the campaign for free labor into a referendum on national honor, Portugal's civilizing mission, and the economic benefit of colonial production. Newspapers aligned with the First Republic, including A Capital, which described the "campaign against Portugal" as the result of a cabal of monarchists and "their co-religious" attempting to provoke foreign intervention, cited the "servicais question" as a provocative weapon intended to cast doubt on Portugal's honor as a civilized country. (26)
Of course, the wealth produced by cacao production and the influence provided roceiros such as Francisco Mantero motivated Portuguese officials to publicly defend the labor system in the islands. In a second front-page article on the subject appearing in 1913, A Capital describes Sao Tome as "the most prosperous of all our colonies," due to its "cacao-gold." (27) According to Mantero during the twelve-month period July 1908 through June 1909, the value of Portuguese cacao exports totaled over 1.5 million [pounds sterling] and helped to cover Portugal's chronic budget deficits. Mantero explicitly noted this economic importance for the First Republic, which in its early years had difficulty accessing international capital: "the Province of Sao Tome is now an indispensable factor in the economic existence of the nation, and we must preserve and develop it at all costs." (28) The wealth generated by cacao exports supported a widely held belief among the Portuguese elite that the African colonies were essential to the nation's honor and economic revival. (29) Indeed, holding on to the colonies would be a major factor in the First Republic's decision to join forces with the Allies during the First World War. (30)
The official Portuguese response to the British-led "slave cocoa" campaign explicates the multiple issues operating under the surface: resentment over British dominance in southern Africa, the importance of cacao exports for the Portuguese national budget, and the significance of the colonies in how elite Portuguese envisioned their country's future role in the world. (31) The relatively small free labor movement within Portuguese society, as represented by the Anti-Slavery Society of Portugal, contributed to reforming the most egregious practices of slavery, but did not change fundamentally the legality of forced labor. In order to better understand labor conditions, the next section draws on Angolan sources to offer a fuller analysis of conditions.
Views from Angola
To the historian, it is frustrating that the debate over free labor in the islands, as reported in the Lisbon press in 1913, says so little about the actual labor conditions in the African colonies. The newspapers focused instead on the probity of the pamphlet's author, the economic and political interests of critics such as Cadbury, and the national honor at stake. Paiva de Carvalho and Cadbury became scapegoats used to draw attention away from the actual conditions on the ground. In spite of the fact that the issue over "slave cocoa" was primarily debated in Europe, some Angolans within the colonial nucleus of Luanda protested against slavery at home and in the islands. These protests did not trigger a defensive campaign in Portugal because they came from relatively unthreatening sources such as a Luanda-based newspaper with a small circulation. These voices of protest increased after the overthrow of the Monarchy, when, for a short time, there existed a civil space to demand equality and reform. In an interview with the newspaper O Seculo on March 22, 1911, a prominent Portuguese resident of the Angolan central plateau, who wished to remain anonymous, explained the process of enslavement:
There are various processes. The natural mechanism is the following: On the plateau there are certain individuals who, for 10 to 20 milreis, acquire the negroes, who then pass through intermediaries, and eventually arrive on the coast, where they are sold at a higher price. (32)
The source blamed the Monarchy for having closed its eyes in order to reap the financial benefits of slave-grown crops." (33) He further explained that slave traders acted with impunity and really ran the interior of the colony. (34) His hope, one shared by reformers in both Portugal and Angola, was that the First Republic would end the slave trade and initiate major reforms to improve colonial administration.
The most vociferous published Angolan source to denounce slavery and the export of slaves from Angola was the newspaper A Voz de Angola, which existed from its founding in 1907 until it was shut down by the First Republic in 1911. (35) The paper was run by Angolans, many of mixed racial background who felt proud of their shared Portuguese and African heritage and championed a burgeoning sense of angolanidade [Angolanness]. (36) A Voz de Angola criticized the exportation of servicais, whom the paper described as veritable slaves, to the islands because "they never return, and this drains the colony of its most valuable resource--labor." (37) In 1908 the editorial board argued for what contemporary free labor advocates considered modern, progressive colonialism focused on development, not exploitation "Angola needs: a decentralized government with powers and responsibilities; a re-working of the system of contracting servicais, in order that internal and external slavery will cease; improved hygiene of the towns; civilization of the natives." (38) These westernized Angolans did not oppose colonialism, but they did want colonial leaders to fulfill promises to modernize administration and promote development.
In 1908, while Europe's attention momentarily focused on the servicais question, A Voz de Angola lambasted the Monarchy's reforms as ineffectual and only "for the English to see." (39) The newspaper's editors mocked the roceiros who argued that they saved their workers from the ravages of slavery in the interior of Angola and gave them civilization, countering that "we should remember that what the humanitarian and philanthropic roceiros call redemption is in fact the acquisition of a black ... who becomes a slave." (40) Other editorials demonstrate how acutely the editorial board understood the realities of colonial Angolan society. For example, an article dated 21 February 1909, explains how language indicates the truth about slavery in Angola:
The current language among Europeans who have servicais in Angola is this: "I bought so many blacks. F. sold me so many servicais. X. has so many blacks to sell ..." Just as among servicais ... the current language is the following: "My boss bought me. My boss sold me. My boss wants to sell me." Whoever contests this reality was never in Angola. (41)
The analysis of language unmasked the hypocrisy of roceiros who claimed to be improving the lives of their workers and the willing collusion of leaders in Portugal who decided to ignore the reality in Angola until the "slave cocoa" campaign made obfuscation economically and politically dangerous.
During the same period that Cadbury initiated the boycott against "slave cocoa," and the Government of Portugal and the Lisbon press explained the boycott as a "campaign against Portugal," A Voz de Angola confirmed slavery throughout Angola "from the littoral to the furthest reaches of the plateau." (42) Editorials and letters to most settler-run newspapers in Angola did not share the sharp critique of African labor raised in A Voz de Angola. In fact, most settler-run newspapers focused on settlers' difficulties in finding adequate numbers of African workers willing to work at the wages on offer.
Confirmation of slavery was not limited to journalistic exposes; it also found expression in cultural materials produced in Angola. The Portuguese poet Antonio Cardiellos, who lived and worked as a customs official in Benguela, 1907-1910, published in 1909 a poem in A Voz de Angola titled "Escravaria" (Zone of Slaves), and dedicated it to: "Mister Cadbury because it is true, from the bottom of my heart." (43) In this long poem (162 lines, 27 stanzas) Cardiellos describes the anguish of the slaves and predicts that some day justice will prevail and the slave traders of Benguela will be massacred by the spirits of those whom they shipped off to lives of servitude. The following stanza describes debarkation for Sao Tome:
Os mil embarques para a Ilha Infame, Marfim, borracha e todo o mais gravame Do banditar ... Cada paquete, quando deixa a terra, Leva em seu bojo quanta dor se pensa Accumular: Humanidades que na noite densa Foram roubadas do capim, da serra E accorrentadas, sem poder gritar! The thousand departures for the Infamous Island, Ivory, rubber and the most grave of all Of the bandit Each ship, when it leaves land, Brings in its hull suffering beyond the imagination To accumulate: People that in the dense night Were stolen from the bush, from the mountain And chained, without the ability to scream! (44)
These testimonies made by Angolans, or individuals such as Cardiellos with many years experience with and knowledge of the servicais trade, confirm that servicais were bought and sold as slaves, and then shipped off to work on the plantations of Sao Tome and Principe without the possibility of repatriation. (45) The next section examines Paiva de Carvalho's pamphlet and asks why it elicited such a vitriolic response from Portuguese government officials and the press? What threat did it pose?
Alma Negra! and the First Republic
Paiva de Carvalho's pamphlet Alma Negra! Depoimento sobre a Questao dos Servicais de S. Tome (Black Soul! Deposition about the Servicais Question of S. Tome) reiterated conclusions made elsewhere about labor in the islands. He writes that, for example, "the existence of slavery on the islands is a fact, though it is seen by public opinion to be free labor." (46) He explains that because the contract of each servical lacks an automatic repatriation to Angola, the contracts become perpetual and the Angolans "merchandise" sold to Europeans on the coast. Paiva de Carvalho describes the contracting of servicais on the Angolan coast as a farce because the workers did not understand the contracts. Further, he describes as "diabolical" the argument made by the roceiros and the Government of Portugal that workers, once they arrived in the islands, did not want to return to Angola. (47) He defends the curadores, whom he says are powerless in the face of the roceiros who control the government and the militia. (48) Paiva de Carvalho had served as curador on the island of Principe, c. 1903-1908, and then for about a year as a municipal judge on the island in 1910. This past experience, plus his fervent support for the political platform of the First Republic, explains his free labor advocacy.
The bulk of Alma Negra! focuses on the working conditions (in 1907) on the rocas, which the author describes as "veritable forts from the Middle Ages" cut off from lines of communication, making it nearly impossible for servicais to lodge complaints with the curador. (49) Roceiros offered financial rewards to individuals who apprehended servicais who fled their contracts. Only a short section of the report addresses the contracting of workers in Angola and the re-contracting them in the islands. Paiva de Carvalho uses personal vignettes to evince his commentary. One such account is the story of Chinde, from Bihe in Angola, who tells of being sold by the soba (chief) of his area to a European and traveling to the coast along with other slaves. Chinde describes the cultural confusion he encountered, in particular when he was questioned by a white man in Benguela but could not understand the questions being asked. The next day he was herded onto a boat and later disembarked in Principe. At ports such as Benguela, government officials supplied a contract for each servical, stipulating length of service and salary. The catch was that between 1890 and 1908, very few (none were officially recorded until 1908) of the tens of thousands of servicais shipped to the islands on five-year contracts returned home.
Paiva de Carvalho concluded with an acknowledgement that things have improved since 1907, however, he argued that providing for the repatriation of future servicais failed to benefit the tens of thousands of Africans contracted before the moratorium on contracts in 1909. He avers that the remedy to such abuse must be radical, proposing that the "negroes [should] become men and citizens of the Republic." (50) Paiva de Carvalho suggests that the authorities should "normalize their lives so that they might live in freedom, and so that the roceiros do not see them simply as units of production! ... The Portuguese family can not exist under the law divided into castes. Equality for all of us--whether white or black." (51) He argues further that: "All legislation concerning the servicais be abolished, and that all contracts be made under the civil law that applies to Portuguese citizens; and that Repatriation for all servicais, without exception, be mandatory." He ends with praise for the morality of the First Republic and the Anti-Slavery Society. (52) In essence, he argues for overturning the legal inferiority of African subjects in Portugal's African colonies, who were governed by a separate native law and not entitled to any of the rights of Portuguese citizens. His patriotic pronouncements of support for the First Republic indicate an understanding for the political context and the potential danger of publicly criticizing the new government. The dangers of the political context would become apparent in the swift and vicious response to the pamphlet. Politicians such as Dr. Almeida Ribeiro, Minister for the Colonies, cited Cadbury's role in their denunciation of Paiva de Carvalho as a traitor and called for an investigation.
Paiva de Carvalho was not unlike other colonial civil servants who had joined an international colonial issue network to advocate an end to slavery and other forms of forced labor, though he was the first Portuguese civil servant to make such a public stand for free labor. (53) In the context of the overthrow of the Constitutional Monarchy and the formation of the First Republic, ideas about individual rights, democracy, good governance, the separation of church and state, and freedom were all being discussed and debated in Portuguese society. (54) As an ardent Republican, Paiva de Carvalho believed in these ideas and felt strongly that the labor system in the islands contradicted, even mocked, the idealism and promise of the First Republic.
To many politicians, the pamphlet's publication came at an inconvenient time. A few months earlier the British Government had published a report noting reforms undertaken by Portugal to create a repatriation fund to pay for the return voyage of servicais opting to leave the islands at the end of their contracts. (55) Leaders of the First Republic felt proud of the reforms already undertaken, including a two-year suspension of the contracting of servicais in Angola begun under the Monarchy in July 1909 and ending in May 1911, and the appointment of free labor advocate and founding member of the Portuguese Anti-Slavery Society Norton de Matos as Governor of Angola in 1912. (56) Portuguese officials feared that the pamphlet would undermine their efforts to end the Cadbury boycott and thus restore the Sao Tome "cacao gold."
Indeed at the time of the pamphlet's publication politicians in the First Republic were working to modernize Portuguese society through political and educational reform, a decentralization of political power, secularization of the state, and the development of the African colonies. (57) Reformers and humanitarians in Portugal and the African colonies generally supported the Republic because of these promised reforms. The Luanda-based newspaper A Voz de Angola, for example, welcomed the Republic and wished good riddance to the Monarchy, which its editorial board blamed for the disorganized administration of Angola. (58) Norton de Matos described what he found in Angola in 1912: "When I arrived as Governor-General in Angola in the middle of 1912, I found in the province a system of native labor that, with rare exceptions, could not be called free." (59) Norton de Matos moved decisively to instigate a series of reforms "to exercise a rigorous control in all the operation of recruitment in such a manner that the control shall only serve to facilitate and promote voluntary labor." (60) Though his reforms met stiff resistance from white settlers and colonial business interests and did not challenge the laws requiring African men to perform contract labor, they succeeded in ending the outright buying and selling of people in Angola. (61) Because of these attempts at reforming the worst abuses of labor contracting in Angola, leaders of the First Republic felt broadsided by Paiva de Carvalho's pamphlet, especially as they faced pressure to moderate their drastic reforms in Portuguese society.
During the first half of 1913 the British Government and press criticized what they saw as excesses of the First Republic's reforms such as the confiscation of church property and restrictions on the press. On 5 April 1913, for example, the Duke of Bedford published an article highly critical of the Portuguese Republican Government's treatment of those imprisoned for supporting the Monarchy and/or voicing criticisms of the First Republic. (62) In response, O Seculo, one of Lisbon's leading newspapers, published a front-page letter, printed in both Portuguese and English, addressed "To the British Nation: The true situation in Portugal and the way that the political prisoners are treated by the Republic." (63) O Seculo blamed friends of the Monarchy for spreading "a campaign of discredit" against the Republic, and urged the British not to be fooled by such accounts. (64) British press correspondents responded by criticizing the lack of press freedom in Portugal. (65) In an article dated 30 June 1913, The Times (UK) reported that "the question is being asked with increasing insistence both in England and elsewhere whether those who show so little capacity for civilized government at home are capable of administering the great tracts of African territory committed to their care." (66) The question hinted at the potential for British intervention in Portugal's African colonies, or even a move to force Portugal to give up its colonies. Portuguese officials also feared German designs on southern Angola from neighboring German-controlled Southwest Africa. According to Norton de Matos, German sources helped to finance the "slave cocoa" boycott in order to weaken the Portuguese grip on Angola. (67) Politicians and the pro-colonial lobby used these warnings to foment further nationalist, pro-colonial sentiment and to shame so-called traitors such as Paiva de Carvalho.
Paiva de Carvalho's past career as a Portuguese colonial civil servant marked him as an insider. The government's allies and spin-doctors cast doubt publicly on his character and record of service, which did raise questions about his integrity. In 1907, for example, he wrote another pamphlet in defense of the same labor system he would later describe as slavery. In the pamphlet (68) he defends the roceiros and claims that they offer their workers a far better life than they would otherwise have in Angola. He explains the protections guaranteed under Portuguese law to the servicais and says that system is not slavery. (69) To many in government, Paiva de Carvalho's change of tune indicated a weak character that was for sale to the highest bidder. He faired even worse in the court of public opinion. The editorial page of O Seculo argued that Alma Negra! was being used as ammunition by British critics in their "campaign against Portugal." (70) O Seculo covered the campaign against "slave cocoa" and the Paiva de Carvalho pamphlet under headlines such as: "Alma Negra!," and "A Questao dos Servicais e a Campanha Ingleza" (The Servicais Question and the British Campaign) and "A Campanha contra Portugal" (The Campaign against Portugal). (71) The more vehemently pro-government A Capital covered the scandal with headlines such as "A Campanha Chocolateira" (The Chocolate Manufacturers' Campaign) and "Contra Portugal" (Against Portugal). O Seculo published a series of articles during April 1913 accusing Paiva de Carvalho of selling Alma Negra! to William Cadbury for 200 [pounds sterling]. (72) Though the actual financial links were more complex than the press intimated, O Seculo characterized Paiva de Carvalho, Cadbury, and Cadbury's representative in Portugal, Alfredo da Silva, as an "unholy alliance." (73)
The day following its coverage of the purported payment from Cadbury, O Seculo reported that Paiva de Carvalho had been removed from office as curador because he attempted to extort money from the planters of Principe. (74) Paiva de Carvalho's interactions with Cadbury and Alfredo da Silva, whom O Seculo described as, "the Presbyterian, friend and agent of William Cadbury," (75) further impugned the probity and raised doubts about the patriotism of the author of Alma Negra!. (76)
Alfredo da Silva had become acquainted with Cadbury and the servicais question in 1907 when he served as the translator at a meeting between Cadbury and the leading roceiros. The meeting resulted in a demarche stating that the Government of Portugal and the roceiros would take action to "address any abuses confirmed to exist in the recruitment of servicais." (77) In response to insinuations in O Seculo that Cadbury and Silva orchestrated the printing and distributing of Alma Negra! in order to destroy Portugal's lucrative cacao exports, Silva wrote a lengthy defense, which O Seculo printed, and Silva later published as a pamphlet." (78) Silva explains that it was because of his past work that Cadbury wrote to him in July 1911 to ask for help with a letter from Jeronimo Paiva de Carvalho. In the letter Paiva de Carvalho explains his work as curador on Principe and his support for the movement to end slavery in the colonies; he offers to sell the report for 200 [pounds sterling]. (79) He also recognized how his pamphlet would be viewed in Portugal: "I am Portuguese and this act of mine does not mean that I am selling the secrets of my country. No. What I want is a correct state of things as regards the servicais and this will only come about by your campaign." (80) Cadbury, in his letter to Silva, says that he will not buy the report, but that he is willing to cover the costs of its publication, if Silva judges Paiva de Carvalho to be a reliable source.
Silva did not think that Paiva de Carvalho's conclusions in Alma Negra! added any new information to the servicais question and he made it clear that neither Cadbury nor the Anti-Slavery Society of Portugal would buy the pamphlet. However, Cadbury agreed to publish it, if half of the 2,000 editions were reserved for the Anti-Slavery Society to distribute to the authorities and members of the Society; the other half would be left to the author to do with as he pleased. (81) Silva made this offer contingent on two additions to the text: Paiva de Carvalho would make clear that all of the events described occurred under the Monarchy five years in the past; and that he would end by recognizing the hard work undertaken by the Republic and the Anti-Slavery Society to end the abuses in the islands and Angola. (82) These additions reflected an effort by Silva to publicize the efforts of the Anti-Slavery Society of Portugal and to expand support for free labor advocacy within Portugal.
Silva ends his own defense with a warning that "o bicho jesuita" ("the Jesuit vermin") is working with the deposed Monarchy to slander the Republic. (83) He lumps together the Jesuits, Monarchists, and roceiros as allies in a nefarious cause to undermine democratic, Republican principles. (84) This charged rhetoric must be understood in the context of highly politicized context following the revolution and the severe anticlerical legislation enacted by the First Republic, including the expulsion of the Jesuits, the dissolution of religious orders, and the nationalization of church property. (85) Thus both the leaders of the First Republic and the free labor advocates led by Cadbury claimed the mantle of democratic principles allied against some form of cabal intent on undermining the Republic. Government officials, the press, and individual roceiros accused free labor advocates, friends of the deposed Monarchy, and foreign chocolate moguls of scheming to destroy the source of Portugal's "cacao gold" in order to bankrupt the Republic. Likewise, Silva lumps together Monarchists, roceiros, and Jesuits as responsible for efforts to undermine the reform agenda of the Republic. A heightened sense of nationalism dominated these debates over free labor, with each side maligning the other as unpatriotic.
The government did not stop with public denunciations and in 1914 made a formal accusation against Paiva de Carvalho in the courts of Principe, saying that he had attempted to blackmail roceiros and that he kept slaves while serving as curador. (86) The evidence consisted of sworn affidavits from residents of Principe testifying that he committed these abuses in 1906 and 1907. The case went before a judge in Luanda, Angola, and a verdict of not guilty was delivered on 2 June 1915. (87) The outcome of the court case would seem to support Paiva de Carvalho's defense that he was being unjustly maligned in retribution for supporting the campaign to end slavery in the islands. In 1916 Paiva de Carvalho published another pamphlet, (88) in which he says that the campaign in O Seculo was motivated by men in the Colonial Ministry that wanted to be in the good graces of the Marques de Val-Flor (an important roceiro). He concludes with criticism of the government for responding to his criticisms by making false accusations against him and impugning his dignity. In his closing statement Paiva de Carvalho wraps himself in patriotic language and pledges his loyalty to the First Republic: "Above all this is my fatherland. My destiny is in the hands of the Republic. I was always a devoted republican." (89)
In October 1916, the British Consul based in Luanda, Angola recommended to his government that reforms in the recruitment of labor for the islands justified the lifting of the cacao boycott. (90) The Consul described the "reforms carried out to their conclusion by the Portuguese since 1908, the year Mr. Cadbury visited the islands and in which the first ten servicais were repatriated to Angola, are of such magnitude that it is not an exaggeration to say that they constitute a revolution." (91) According to James Duffy, a leading historian of the servicais trade, "A modest victory had been won ... the system of capture, sale, and permanent captivity of workers under farcically legal terms had been altered and it would never be quite the same again." (92) The Portuguese decision earlier that year (March 16, 1916) to declare war on Germany probably helped British officials decide to end the boycott.
The vociferous reaction to Alma Negra! and the denunciation of its author demonstrates how threatened the Portuguese government and roceiros felt at the prospect of losing the cacao trade and/or the African colonies. Income generated from "cacao gold" overrode humanistic concerns about free labor, though the Republic did stamp out slavery. The reaction to the pamphlet and the "slave cocoa" campaign in the press and among the wider Portuguese public indicates a complex mix of nationalistic pride, "tolerationist" ideas about African barbarity and the Portuguese civilizing mission, and cynicism about the motives behind Cadbury's boycott and the Britishled "slave cocoa" campaign.
Like the victory of the Congo Reform Movement a decade earlier, the "slave cocoa" campaign achieved its immediate goal, but did not end the system of forced labor or result in the recognition of free labor in Portuguese colonial law. (93) By documenting the abuses and inhumanity inherent in various degrees of forced labor, the movement did help to lay the groundwork for the creation of the ILO in 1919, which led to a series of conventions, including: the Slavery Convention (1926) and the Forced Labor Conventions of 1930. Portuguese officials considered African labor, and more importantly their unimpeded access to it, the real wealth of the African colonies, and so they refused to end forced labor and make Africans equal citizens until 1961.
(1) I would like to thank the Luso-American Foundation and the Biblioteca Nacional (BN) for a 2004 summer grant to support research in the extensive newspaper collection of the BN.
(2) Daniel Roger Maul, "The International Labour Organization and the Struggle against Forced Labour from 1919 to the Present," Labor History, Vol. 48, No. 4 (November 2007): 480-481.
(3) Henry W. Nevinson, A Modern Slavery, first published (New York: Harper, 1906), reprinted (New York: Schocken, 1968). Nevinson first wrote about conditions in Angola for Harper's Magazine.
(4) Since 2000, the United States Government and the International Labour Organisation have investigated forced child labor in the cocoa farms of West Africa. For more information, see the cocoa campaign led by the NGO Global Exchange, http://www.globalexchange.org/ campaigns/fairtrade/cocoa/background.html.
(5) For an overview of the Sociedade de Propaganda see, Douglas L. Wheeler, "Remembering Portugal," Portuguese Studies Review 5 (2) (1996-97): 13-15.
(6) Claudia Castelo, Passagens para Africa: O Povoamento de Angola e Mocambique com Naturais da Metropole (1920-1974) (Lisboa: Edicoes Afrontamento, 2007), 43-44.
(7) Joao Pedro Marques, The Sounds of Silence: Nineteenth-Century Portugal and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, trans. Richard Wall (New York: Berghahn Books, 2006), 51.
(8) The position of curador entitled the holder of the office to the privileges of a magistrate, but with the duty of serving as the intermediary and protector of "natives," who had no legal status under Portuguese law. For a description of the work of a curador see, Francis Mantero, Manual Labour in S. Thome and Principe (Lisbon: Annuario Commercial, 1910), 33.
(9) Jeronimo Paiva de Carvalho, Alma Negra: Depoimento sobre a questao dos servicais de S. Tome (Porto: Tipografia Progresso, 1912).
(10) For consistency I use Paiva de Carvalho's early twentieth-century orthography of the word servicais.
(11) No author, O cacau de S. Thome: Resposta ao relatorio da missao Cadbury, Burtt e Swan nas providencias de S. Thome e Principe e de Angola em 1908 (Lisboa: Typographia d'A Editora, 1910), 11.
(12) William A. Cadbury, Labour in Portuguese West Africa (London: George Routledge and Sons, Ltd., 1910).
(13) Lowell J. Satre, Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics & the Ethics of Business (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2005).
(14) Douglas Wheeler, "Aqui e Portugal!: The Politics of the Colonial Ideal during the Estado Novo, 1926-1974," in Portugal na transicao do milenio (Lisboa: Fim de Seculo, 1998), 383-4. For a thorough overview and analysis of the Ultimatum and the public reaction against Britain and the Monarchy, see Nuno Severiano Teixeira, O Ultimatum Ingles: Politica externa e politica interna no Portugal de 1890 (Lisboa: Alfa, 1990).
(15) No author, O cacau de S. Thome: Resposta ao relatorio da missao Cadbury, Burtt e Swan nas providencias de S. Thome e Principe e de Angola em 1908 (Lisboa: Typographia d'A Editora, 1910).
(16) Francis Mantero, Manual Labour in S. Thome and Principe (Lisbon: Annuario Commercial, 1910), 19. [Note: the spelling of the author's first name is presumably Anglicized for English-speaking readers.] For biographical information about Mantero and his economic interests, see Gervase Clarence-Smith, The Third Portuguese Empire 1825-1875: A Study in Economic Imperialism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), 104.
(17) Mantero, Manual Labour, 61.
(18) Joao Pedro Marques, The Sounds of Silence: Nineteenth-century Portugal and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, trans. Richard Wall (New York: Berghahn Books, 2006).
(19) Claudia Castelo, Passagens para Africa: O Povoamento de Angola e Mocambique com Naturais da Metropole (1920-1974) (Lisboa: Edicoes Afrontamento, 2007), 267-8.
(20) Mantero, Manual Labour, 29.
(21) Joao Pedro Marques, The Sounds of Silence: Nineteenth-century Portugal and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, trans. Richard Wall (New York: Berghahn Books, 2006), 50.
(22) Castelo, Passagens para Africa, 44.
(23) A. Freire D"Andrade, A Questao dos Servicaes de S. Thome (Lisboa: Typ. Do Annuario Commercial, 1913).
(24) Freire D"Andrade, A Questao, 2.
(25) Freire D"Andrade, A Questao, 6.
(26) "Alma Negra," A Capital, 15 April 1913, 1.
(27) "A Campanha Chocolateira Alta Traicao," 15 April 1913, 1.
(28) Mantero, Manual Labour in S. Thome, 76.
(29) Wheeler, "Remembering Portugal," 7-8.
(30) Todd Cleveland, "The Life of a Portuguese Colonialist: General Jose Norton de Matos (1867-1955)" (MA thesis, University of New Hampshire, 2000), 57.
(31) Portuguese officials also feared German ambitions in Angola. On this point see Ranato Francisco Antunes Mascarenhas, Norton de Matos: Alto Comissario e Covernador-Ceral de Angola (Lisbon: Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa: Instituto Superior de Ciencias Sociais e Politica Ultramarina, 1970), 60. Cited in Todd Cleveland, "The Life of a Portuguese Colonialist: General Jose Norton de Matos (1867-1955)" (MA thesis, University of New Hampshire, 2000), 50. For more on the First World War in Africa, see Hew Strachan, The First World War in Africa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
(32) "A Provincia de Angola tem soffrido durante os ultimos annos a dominacao dos esclavagistas e a falta de protecca dos governos," O Seculo, 22 March 1911, 1.
(33) "A Provincia de Angola."
(34) "A Provincia de Angola."
(35) During its first year of publication the paper was called A Defesa de Angola.
(36) For an illuminating discussion about angolanidade in the late colonial period, see Marissa Moorman, Intonations: A Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola, from 1945 to Recent Times (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2008).
(37) See, for example, "A drenajem do elemento indijena," 23 May 1910, A Voz d'Angola, N. 21, 1.
(38) Editorial, A Voz de Angola, 5 Jan. 1908, No. 1, 1.
(39) "A Questao dos servicaes," A Voz de Angola, 4 October 1908, No. 42, p. 1.
(40) "A Questao."
(41) "A Questao dos Servicaes," A Voz de Angola, 21 February 1909, No. 8, 1.
(42) "A Proposito duns aritgos," A Voz de Angola, 13 June 1909, No. 24.
(43) Antonio de Cardiellos, "Escravaria," A Voz de Angola, April 18, 1909, 1.
(44) Cardiellos, "Escravaria" A Voz de Angola, 18 April 1909. See also Antonio de Cardiellos, Vida Negra (Versos d'Africa) (Vianna: Typ. D'Andre J. Pereira & Filho, 1910).
(45) Historian William Gervase Clarence-Smith, who worked extensively with missionary correspondence, reaches the same conclusion. See W. G. Clarence-Smith "Slavery in Coastal Southern Angola, 1875-1913," Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2 (April 1976): 214-223.
(46) Jeronimo Paiva de Carvalho, Alma Negra! Depoimento sobre a questao dos servicais de S. Tome (Porto: Tipografia Progresso, 1912), 5.
(47) Carvalho, Alma Negra!, 7.
(48) Carvalho, Alma Negra!, 8-10.
(49) Carvalho, Alma Negra!, 11.
(50) Carvalho, Alma Negra!, 27.
(51) Carvalho, Alma Negra!, 27.
(52) Carvalho, Alma Negra!, 28.
(53) Maul, "The International Labour Organization and the Struggle against Forced Labour from 1919 to the Present," 480.
(54) Douglas Wheeler, "The Portuguese Revolution of 1910," Journal of Modern History 44 (June 1972): 172-94.
(55) "O Relatorio do ex-Director Geral e Secretario Geral do Ministerio das Colonias, Sr. General Freire d'Andrade, apresentado a Sua Ex.a o Ministro das Colonias," cited in the Boletim Oficial de S. Tome e Principe, No. 24, 13 de Junho de 1925, 226.
(56) Freire D'Andrade, Traduccao do Relatorio Sobre o Trabalho em S. Thome e Principe, p. 10. The Repatriation Fund was legally established on 29 January 1903, and provided for the first return voyages in 1908. For more on the Repatriation Fund see, Francis Mantero, Manual Labour, 24.
(57) Douglas Wheeler, "The Revolution in Perspective: Revolution and Counterrevolution in Modern Portuguese History," in Lawrence S. Graham and Douglas L. Wheeler, In Search of Modern Portugal: The Revolution & Its Consequences (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983), 347.
(58) "A desorganisacao administrativa da Provincia," A Voz de Angola, 30 May 1910, 1.
(59) J. M. R. Norton de Matos, A Provincia de Angola (Porto: Edicao de Maranus, 1926), 126.
(60) Norton de Matos, Decreto No. 492, Boletim Oficial de Angola, No. 20.
(61) For an analysis of Norton de Matos's first term as government of Angola, see Maria Alexandre Daskalos, "Politica economica de Norton de Matos para Angola: 1912-1915," Ler Historia 47 (2004): 29-53. For more on the gradual end of slavery in African societies, see Suzanne Miers and Richard Roberts, eds., The End of Slavery in Africa (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1988).
(62) Fernando de Castro Brandao, A I Republica Portuguesa: uma cronologia (Lisboa: Livros Horizonte, 1991), 57.
(63) 22 Abril 1913, O Seculo, 1.
(64) 22 Abril 1913, O Seculo, 1.
(65) "More Troubles in Portugal," The Times, 30 June 1913, 1. For a useful compilation of articles from the British press about the political situation in Portugal see the "Arquivo das missoes diplomaticas e consulados de Portugal, Gra-Bretana, Legacao em Londres," Caixes 65 a 110, Arquivo Historico-Diplomatico, Lisbon.
(66) "More Troubles in Portugal," The Times, 30 June 1913, 1.
(67) Todd Cleveland, "The Life of a Portuguese Colonialist: General Jose Norton de Matos (1867-1955)" (MA thesis, University of New Hampshire, 2000), 15.
(68) Trabalho Indigena na Provincia de S. Thome e Principe. Monographia de defeza contra as accusacoes feitas no estrangeiro ["Native Labor in the Province of S. Thome and Principe: A Defense Against Foreign Accusations"].
(69) Jeronimo Paiva de Carvalho, Trabalho Indigena na Provincia de S. Thome e Principe. Monographia de defeza contra as accusacoes feitas no estrangeiro (Lisboa: Typographia do Commercia, 1907).
(70) O Seculo, 7 April 1913, 1.
(71) See, for example, O Seculo, September 30, 1908, p. 1
(72) "Cadbury & C. Campanhas Contra Portugal: a proposito dos servicaes de S. Tome e do folheto Alma Negra'" O Seculo, 6 April 1913, 1.
(73) "Cadbury & C. Campanhas Contra Portugal."
(74) "Campanhas Contra Portugal: Cadbury, Paiva Carvalho & Silva," O Seculo, April 7, 1913, 1.
(75) "A Campanha dos Chocolaterios e o seu Aspecto Politico," O Seculo, April 25, 1913, 1.
(76) Alfredo da Silva wrote the Portuguese translation of the report Cadbury made of his investigatory trip to investigate labor conditions in Sao Thome and Angola in 1910. On 21 October 1910, shortly after the declaration of the Portuguese Republic on 5 October, Silva helped to found, along with such Republican notables as J. M. R. Norton de Matos, the Anti-Slavery Society of Portugal, and served as that organization's secretary.
(77) Alfredo da Silva, O Monstro da Escravatura: A minha defeza na campanha levantada a proposito da publicacao do folheto Alma Negra (Porto: Tipografia Mendonca, 1913), 7.
(78) Alfredo da Silva, O Monstro da Escravatura: A minha defeza na campanha levantada a proposito da publicacao do folheto Alma Negra (Porto: Tipografia Mendonca, 1913).
(79) A translated copy of this letter exists in folder "Cadbury 309," Cadbury Papers, Special Collections, University of Birmingham. I wish to thank Professor Catherine Higgs for sharing a digitalized copy of this letter.
(80) "Carvalho to Cadbury," July 13, 1911, "Cadbury 309," Cadbury Papers, Special Collections, University of Birmingham.
(81) Silva, O Monstro da Escravatura, 27.
(82) Silva, O Monstro da Escravatura, 27.
(83) For more on the anticlericalism of the First Republic see Douglas L. Wheeler, Republican Portugal: A Political History 1910-1926 (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1978): 67-72.
(84) Silva, O Monstro da Escravatura, 34.
(85) Wheeler, Republican Portugal: A Political History 1910-1926, 67-72.
(86) Silva, O Monstro da Escravatura, 9, 14.
(87) Silva, O Monstro da Escravatura, 30.
(88) A Desafronta: Defesa de um homem injustamente perseguido e caluniado ["The Revenge: Defense of a Man Unjustly Persecuted and Slandered"].
(89) Silva, O Monstro da Escravatura, 21.
(90) Relatorio Oficial do Consul Qeral Britanico em Loanda Tratando das condicoes da mao d'obra em S. Tome e Principe e do Engajamento e repatriacao dos trabalhadores indigenas (Lisboa: Typ. Do Annuario Commercial, 1917), 1.
(91) Silva, O Monstro da Escravatura, 11.
(92) James Duffy, A Question of Slavery. Labour Policies in Portuguese Africa and the British Protest, 1850-1920 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967), 211-12.
(93) For more on the abuses in the Congo Free State, see Adam Hochschild, King Leopold's Qhost: A Story of Qreed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998).
JEREMY BALL is Associate Professor of History at Dickinson College. He works on labor, business, and mission history in colonial Angola. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Religion in Africa, Cadernos de Estudos Africanos, and The Oral History Review.
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|Date:||Jul 1, 2010|
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