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While everyone knows of the history of slavery in the USA, few people realize that Brazil was actually the largest participant in the slave trade. Forty percent of all slaves that survived the Atlantic crossing were destined for Brazil, while only four percent were sent to the U.S. At one time half of the population of Brazil were slaves. It was the last country to officially abolish slavery (1888), and one of the ex-slaves is still alive today.
This well-researched BBC production charts Brazil's history using original texts, letters, accounts and decrees. From these original sources, we learn firsthand about the brutality of the slave traders and slave owners, and the hardship of plantation life. With the Portugese colony of Angola acting as a "factory" supplying Africans to Brazil, it was cheaper to replace any slave starved and worked to death than to extend his life by treating him humanely. Few plantation owners sent for their wives to live in this hot climate, so the softening effect of family life was absent among the rough white settlers.
Historians Joao Jose Reis, Cya Teixeira, Marilene Rosa Da Silva, anthropologist Peter Fry, and others recount the effect of centuries of slavery on Brazil today.
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