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The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Vulnerability of Free Blacks in Benguela, Angola, 1780–1830

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Chapter Summary

Through the analysis of Portuguese colonial records, this chapter examines mechanisms of capture around Benguela and the ability of Africans to claim freedom. It focuses on the port of Benguela, a Portuguese colony since 1617, from where at least 679,000 people were exported to the Americas, mainly to Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, in Brazil. The chapter is a contribution to the debate on how people were enslaved, focusing on Benguela and its interior. Using Portuguese colonial documents, such as trial cases and official correspondence, the chapter explores cases of people who were kidnapped and enslaved in areas near Benguela. The chapter describes the cases of Africans who fell in the hands of Portuguese enslavers and found mechanisms to challenge their fate. The causes that led someone to be sold as a slave interested contemporary witnesses, including travelers who visited West Central Africa, Brazilian traders, and colonial officials.

Keywords: Africans; Angola; Benguela; blacks; Portuguese colonial records; slave trade



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