A “Safe Haven”: Runaway Slaves, Mocambos, and Borders in Colonial Amazonia, Brazil

Gomes, Flavio dos Santos. Gledhill, H. Sabrina.
Hispanic American Historical Review, 82:3, August 2002, pp. 469-498 (Article)
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A “Safe Haven”: Runaway Slaves, Mocambos, and Borders in Colonial Amazonia, Brazil
Flávio dos Santos Gomes

A chapter in the saga of Portugal’s Atlantic discoveries can be reconstructed
by following the trails blazed by the settlement of the colonial Amazon between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly in the eastern border regions of Brazilian Guyana. This immense sector of the Amazon was known as Terras do Cabo Norte (Lands of North Cape) throughout most of the colonial period. Like other parts of the Amazon, it was not necessarily impervious to the process of colonization. While the metropole was paying close attention to the crates of sugar leaving the northeastern ports, missionaries and travelers ventured out and borders were demarcated in the far-flung corners of the vast Amazon region. In the beginning, the eastern Amazon was not occupied in economic terms, but it soon attracted the attention of the authorities in Portugal. Although scattered, some small forts were built, beginning in the seventeenth century. And they were not just Portuguese. Not far off, British and French forts also appeared. Interests and objectives were still being defined as settlers gradually arrived. The attention of merchants and colonial landowners was directed elsewhere. Meanwhile, indigenous groups of the region were moving in their own directions. In the far north of colonial Brazil, in what is now the state of Amapá, fugiTranslated by H. Sabrina Gledhill. I am indebted to José Celso de Castro Alves for his splendid editorial guidance. I am especially grateful to Jonas Marçal Queiroz, Olívia Maria Gomes da Cunha, Rosa Elisabeth Acevedo Marin, and HAHR’s anonymous readers for their comments on earlier versions of this essay. I would like to thank my research assistants, Ana Maria Ambrósio, Ana Renata Lima, Eliane Soares, Rosevaner Pereira, Shirley Nogueira, Silvandro Nascimento, and Siméia Lopes, for their assistance with archival documents. The Federal University of Pará and the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico provided research funds for this article. Finally, I wish to acknowledge the generous support of my intellectual collaborators Gerard Proust and Robert Marigard in Cayenne, French Guyana.
Hispanic American Historical Review 82:3 Copyright 2002 by Duke University Press


HAHR / August / Gomes

tives — blacks, Amerindians, and military deserters — played a leading role in the pursuit of freedom. Through their own acts, they reinvented meanings and constructed views of slavery and liberty. Moreover, they colonized and occupied vast swathes of the Amazon, particularly those on international colonial borders. Settlers arrived. Ships cast anchor. Economic calculations were made. Forts were built. Boundary markers were put in place. Laws and regulations were sent. Several kinds of adventures were beginning for the men and women in those parts. Fugitives created escape routes. Flight and the establishment of maroon societies (mocambos) in those borderlands took on new meanings. This article illuminates one aspect of the black experience in the Brazilian Guyana region during colonial times. Being a border area, “lessons of colonization” also resulted from the historical experiences of the mocambos and the transnational movement of fugitives. The experiences of the mocambos in the immense Amazon were unique. Their economy was predominantly extractive and until the middle of the century, indigenous labor — slave and free —was more prevalent than that of Africans and their descendents. Furthermore, environmental and geographic conditions, and the “agency” or role of indigenous groups, those in the missions and later in directory system controlled by representatives of the Portuguese crown, and the actions of military deserters altered the scope of possibilities and historical options for establishing mocambos in the Amazon than in other parts of colonial Brazil.1
The Amazon and Slavery

In 1621 the Portuguese crown created the state of Maranhão and Grão-Pará as an administrative unit under the direct control of Lisbon and separate from the state of Brazil. Until the mid-eighteenth century, this region encompassed the entire Portuguese Amazon, Ceará, and Piauí. The colonial government would only divide the areas of Maranhão and Grão-Pará into captaincies in the early second half of the 1700s.2
1. See Luiz Felipe de Alencastro, “O aprendizado da colonização,” in O Trato dos viventes: Formação do Brasil no Atlântico Sul (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2000). For a historical survey of Brazilian quilombos, see João José Reis and Flávio dos Santos Gomes, eds., Liberdade por um fio: História dos quilombos no Brasil (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1996). 2. On the colonial occupation of the Amazon, see Nádia Farage, As muralhas dos sertões: Os povos indígenas no Rio Branco e a colonização (Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, ANPOCS, 1991), esp. 23 – 53. For the purposes of this historical analysis, the expression

Compêndio das eras da província do Pará (Belém: Univ. Rondônia and Tocantins. “Descripção chorográfica do estado do . See João Lúcio d’Azevedo. Guadeloupe: Ibis Rouge. The region’s sugar and tobacco production was eventually destined for internal consumption. musk. its socioeconomic landscape had only room for Amerindians. they would cover the Brazilian states of Pará.A “Safe Haven” 471 In the initial days of settlement in Grão-Pará. Tavares Cardoso & Irmãos. The presence of African slaves was believed to have had little economic significance in the Amazon. the plantation system was attempted. Annaes históricos. More concerned with “economic cycles”— particularly the sugar. 4. bearers. and coffee booms — it has merely sought to analyze the role of slaves in major exporting areas. That experiment failed. Economia e sociedade em áreas coloniais periféricas: Guiana Francesa e Pará. 3d ed. The basic model consisted of the plantation. andiroba (Guyana crabwood). Bernardo Pereira de Berredo. the manor house. as well as epidemics and geographic difficulties. sarsaparilla. Amazonas. Amapá. urucum. Coins only began to circulate in Grão-Pará in the mid-eighteenth century. Os jesuítas no Grão-Pará. La Guyane Française (1715 –1817): Aspects économiques et sociaux: Contribution a l’étude des sociétes esclavagistes d´Amérique (Petit-Bourg. Antônio Ladislau Monteiro Baena. The so-called Legal Amazon also includes the state of Mato-Grosso and most of Maranhão. who worked as guides. 3. the pillars of the region’s economy rested on the gathering of forest products and indigenous labor. 1999). 1969). and Roraima. In fact. and an extractive economy was developed through the drogas do sertão (drugs of the wilderness): cocoa. which was higher than in Bahia and Pernambuco. Everything depended on the Amerindians. amber. The regional bibliography includes contemporary chroniclers and authors. Producing aguardente was given priority. gold. and piassava. In the previous century. primarily to grow sugar and tobacco. cloves. Federal do Pará.3 Brazilian historiography has generally neglected the African presence in the Amazon. mainly due to a lack of vital investments. suas missões e colonização: Borguejo histórico com vários documentos inéditos (Lisbon: Livraria Ed. 1905). ginger. 1750 –1817 (Rio de Janeiro: Graal. Today’s definition of the north also includes the states of Acre.4 However. See Ciro Flamarion S. (Florença: Typ. and idem. 1984). There was also turtle fishing. and farinha makers. the price of African labor. 1901). hunters. The region was sparsely settled and the tiny white population basically consisted of colonial civil servants. Cardoso. the Amerindians who were forgotten and excluded from colonial Brazil by historiography after the first years of colonization seem only to have existed in Grão-Pará. João Vasco Manoel de Braum. Today. vanilla. fishermen. and productive units with large numbers of black slaves. Barbèra. there was more to that region than jungle and “colonial Amazon” refers to the areas occupied by the captaincies of Grão-Pará and Rio Negro during the eighteenth century.

Livro das canoas: Documentos para a história indígena da Amazônia (São Paulo: Núcleo de História Indígena e do Indigenismo.” in Slavery and Race Relations in Latin America. 1755 –1823” (Ph.” Anais da Biblioteca Nacional 95. it was hard to compete with faster-growing markets that required a continual supply of slave labor and focused on exports. who set up trading posts on the coast of Macapá and along the straits. Univ. 1990). of Wisconsin. 1973). See Vicente Salles. ed. cotton from Maranhão and gold from Minas Gerais. Colin M. diss. 1974). The classic work by Vicente Salles is worth noting.” Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro (RIHGB ) 36 (1873). As regiões amazonicas: Estudos chorográficos dos estado do Gram-Pará e Amazonas (Lisbon: Imp. Conn. Secretaria de Estado de Cultura. “African Slavery and Economic Development in Amazônia (1700 –1800). ed. Univ. Dauril Alden (Berkeley: Univ. Robert Brent Toplin ( Westport.5 Compared with other colonial areas. 4 (1972). Federal Fluminense.D. Univ. and Márcio Meira. 1– 2 (1975). Patrícia Maria Melo Sampaio. Because the predominantly indigenous population was not an adequate source of labor. Falangola Ed. It demonstrated that Africans and their descendants were present in the Amazon from the end of the seventeenth century. sertões do Grão-Pará. the African slave trade was rather insignificant in the Amazon. “The Indian Directorate: Forced Acculturation in Portuguese America (1757 –1799).” América Indígena 55. John Hemming. 1640 –1750” (Ph. “Espelhos partidos: Etnia. A presença africana na Amazônia colonial: Uma notícia histórica (Belém: Governo do Estado do Pará..” in Colonial Roots of Modern Brazil: Papers of the Newberry Library Conference. O negro no Pará sob o regime da escravidão (Rio de Janeiro: Fundação Getúlio Vargas. Sweet. 1758 –1798” (Ph. see Dauril Alden. diss. Red Gold: The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians (London: Macmillan. diss. Padre João Daniel. “Negotiated Settlements: Native Amazonians and Portuguese Policy in Pará. see Anaíza Vergolino-Henry and Arthur Napoleão Figueiredo. 2 (1985). 1973)... 1700 –1800. idem. idem. and David G. Amazon Frontier: The Defeat of the Brazilian Indians (London: Macmillan. of New Mexico. and José Coelho da Gama e Abreu. “El indio desechable en el estado de Maranhão durante los siglos XVII y XVIII. 2001). 2000). . Barbara Ann Sommer. Among the more recent studies on colonial Amazon. Grão-Pará would be crushed by the competition of sugar from Pernambuco and Bahia. 1971).D.. idem. 1987). For primary sources on Africans and Amerindians in the Amazon. Brazil. ed. no. nos. legislação e desigualdades na Colônia. Arquivo Público do Pará. “A Rich Realm of Nature Destroyed: The Middle Amazon Valley. de Libano da Silva.: Greenwood Press. 1993). Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo.” The Americas 28. “Tesouro descoberto no Rio Amazonas. MacLachlan. 228. 5. Barão de Marajó. of California Press. 1978). “The Indian Labor Structure in the Portuguese Amazon. The first Africans to arrive in Grão-Pará came from the Amapá region between circa 1580 and 1620.472 HAHR / August / Gomes Amerindians. no. Due to a lack of investment capital. settlers complained to the crown that African slaves Gram-Pará [1789]. They were taken there by the British.. 1895).D.

However. Prices remained high and settlers — increasingly eager for African workers —went into debt. “Trabalho compulsório na Amazônia: Séculos XVII–XVIII.000 Africans taken to the Northeast in the second half of the seventeenth century. a standard unit of measurement used in the slave trade. Farage. Thanks to cotton. no. 2 (1988): 104. in 1682. Shipments were sporadic and many were diverted to Maranhão. it is difficult to determine the exact number of Africans because the peça de Índia. there were several conflicts in the eighteenth century involving colonial and Portuguese authorities and residents of Belém and São Luís.208 Africans were taken to Grão-Pará.” .” Revista Arrabaldes 1. In terms of agriculture. The African slave trade to the Amazon was still nearly paralyzed. a very small number compared to the 300. 26. 1. 8. 28. the Maranhão region in the second half of the eighteenth century was more prosperous. denotes one to three African slaves. which considerably increased the demand for slaves. In his study of the slave trade in the Amazon. “African Slavery and Economic Development in Amazônia.7 Settlers also complained that shipments of Africans bound for Grão-Pará were diverted to Maranhão and Mato-Grosso. Of these. the areas of Grão-Pará that benefited the most during that period were restricted to the outskirts of Belém and the Macapá delta. See MacLachlan. Belém residents and merchants complained that they were always passed over and kept at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the sale of Africans to Maranhão. There are no statistics for the period prior to 1755. there were differ6.000 to 350.556 Africans arrived in Maranhão and Grão-Pará between 1756 and 1788. that enterprise failed. Even so. They are most useful to point out trends in the importation of Africans. In 1690 the Companhia de Cachéu e Cabo Verde was formed to take at least 145 Africans per year to that region for a preset price. 38. The permit was cancelled because not a single slave had arrived there by 1685. Between 1692 and 1721.A “Safe Haven” 473 were needed in that region. 7. 16. an attempt was made to take 500 slaves to Maranhão and Grão-Pará annually under a 20year contract. through a royal permit granted to a monopolist company backed by Portuguese capital.8 In the course of attempts to take Africans to Grão-Pará.077 went to several parts of Grão-Pará. Even so. Colin MacLachlan warns that statistical data should be used with care. As muralhas dos sertões. See Maria Regina Celestino de Almeida. Subsequently. because the slave market in São Luís was more attractive.6 The influx of African slaves was modest between the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. However.

Salles. however. On the basis of calculations of per capita productivity. The slave trade in that area began to grow in the second half of the eighteenth century. ed. 50 – 51. compared with 547 in Grão-Pará. indicates the existence of fazendas and small landholdings owned by 27 whites and 60 Amerindians.10 Although the traffic in black slaves was small compared with Maranhão and other slave areas. We know that 116 black slaves and 76 Amerindian sharecroppers worked on white-owned land.217 slaves entered the Amazon region between 1755 and 1820). 127. Manuela Carneiro da Cunha (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras. 10. “Despite this sporadic traffic and special conditions on which the Amazonian economy was based.605.474 HAHR / August / Gomes ences in price. O negro no Pará. and worked by black and indigenous slaves. in the later decades of the eigh9. see Beatriz Perrone-Moisés.” although their “numeric scale would be progressively reduced. Even in the region of Rio Negro (now the state of Amazonas). 1969). . During the administration of Governor Francisco Xavier de Mendonça Furtado (1751– 59) — Pombal’s half-brother — the sale of Africans in Grão-Pará grew rapidly.” In the city of Belém. Data for 1786 regarding the rural area of Barcelos. Rio Negro. African slave trade was carried on privately and illegally. As companhias pombalinas de navegação. as we moved away from the nucleus of Belém. According to Salles. O negro no Pará. particularly through the creation of the Companhia Geral do Comércio do Maranhão e Grão-Pará (1755 –78). This process resulted from the marquis de Pombal’s policies in that region. the black population established a presence. where indigenous labor was predominant. the last quarter of the eighteenth century saw the beginning of a trend towards replacing the Amerindian workforce with Africans and their descendents. Salles. Between 1779 and 1790. the average number of Africans imported to Maranhão annually was 1. blacks would reach these far-flung corners anyway. comércio e tráfico de escravos entre a costa africana e o nordeste brasileiro (Bissau: Centro de Estudos da Guiné Portuguesa. 49. The classic work on the African slave trade in the Amazon is Antônio Carreira. 115 –121. groups of slaves would be transported to work in several parts of the colonial Amazon.”9 Even in the remotest regions of Grão-Pará. Ciro Cardoso determined that farms owned by Amerindians were more productive and suggests that they and their families might have worked “alongside their slaves and employees. 1994). There were also 130 blacks and 84 indigenous sharecroppers working on small fazendas owned by Amerindians. through smugglers and creole slaves who moved into the area from other captaincies (53. “Índios livres e índios escravos: Os princípios da legislação do período colonial (séculos XVI a XVIII). On the legal status of forced indigenous labor in colonial Brazil.” in História dos índios no Brasil.

“Maus vizinhos e boas terras: Idéias e experiências no povoamento do Cabo Norte (século XVIII). Farmers and peasants attempted to develop small farms and an extractivist economy using indigenous workers and black slaves. Also. the construction of forts throughout the eighteenth century due to the militarization of the borderlands. 1980).15 In terms of exports. although black slavery grew in the Amazon in the second half of the eighteenth century and the first two decades of the nineteenth century. 313.” in Formação históricas do Pará: Obras reunidas (Belém: Univ. As muralhas dos sertões. see Roberto A.000 coffee bushes had been planted there. 86. Two decades later. 12. Ciro Flamarion S. Queiroz. Cardoso. 20. Cacao was an important crop in the Tocantins region. 301–7. séculos XVIII/XIX. 2 (1985): 11–12. colonização e escravidão na Guiana brasileira. História econômica da Amazônia (1800 –1920) (São Paulo: T.” História em Cadernos 3. 36 – 38. Os jesuítas no Grão-Pará. particularly near French and Spanish possessions. Solimões and Tocantins Rivers. The first sugar plantations were established in the Belém region. cited in Ernesto Cruz. 15. 1973). ed. Even in more remote regions.14 As for coffee. These required a smaller investment of capital and “chronic poverty made it impossible to solve the labor shortage” in that region. Nírvia Ravena. the black slave population was also on the rise. 1973). (Belém: Governo do Estado. it was still far removed from the typical characteristics of plantation colonies. 15. 13.12 In 1751 there were only 24 royal engenhos in the entire captaincy of Grão-Pará. 309 –11. de O. no. História do Pará. In 1783 there were 153 cattle and horse fazendas on Joanes Island and in the surrounding region. the 11. Fundecap. established a presence in the final decades of the eighteenth century. 2d ed. See Farage.” in Nas terras do Cabo Norte: Fronteiras.13 In Grão-Pará. A. Azevedo. such as Santarém and the towns and former missions in the areas of Tapajós. 14. Manoel Cardoso Barata. . although minute. cotton. 1999). That number rose to 226 in 1803. 55. and especially coffee and cacao predominated between 1773 and 1818. Flávio dos Santos Gomes (Belém: NAEA/UFPA. the number of royal engenhos — sugar producers — fell and were replaced by small aguardente distilleries. created a demand for Amerindian and African labor. it was first planted in Pará in 1727. Livestock husbandry predominated in the Marajó area. taken there from Cayenne — French Guyana — by Sergeant Major Francisco de Melo Palheta after he went there on a “commission” from the governor of the captaincy. “O trabalho indígena na amazônia portuguesa.11 As Ciro Cardoso stresses. On cacao and the colonial economy of the Amazonian region. the black slave population.A “Safe Haven” 475 teenth century. Santos. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Federal do Pará. the production of rice. 16 –18. however. about 17. “A antiga produção e exportação do Pará. 325 – 27.

18. The village of Barcelos. 249 – 50. deported convicts. (2) free small farmers. guaraná. 18. as Cardoso argues. mestiços and free Amerindians. 1980). there were three kinds of peasant societies: (1) missions and aldeamentos (missionary-run Amerindian villages) that became towns after 1757.”19 We could also include the countless mocambos — particularly in the eastern borderlands — in the eighteenth century. honey. soap. 265 – 66. Cardoso. tapioca. whether “landowners or not. Barata. O Brasil no comércio colonial (São Paulo: Ed. turtle butter. Africans gradually replaced indigenous workers. According to Cardoso. the predominant agricultural activities in the Amazon were subsistence farming and the production of food for local markets. Even considering the scarcity of quantitative data for the colonial period. See José Jobson de Andrade Arruda. andiroba oil. 17. These units could produce export items. leather. in the Rio Negro region. Between 1796 and 1811 the top ten products included cacao. Ática. sarsaparilla. The 87 rural landholdings there had an average of 2. and did not exclusively use slave labor.476 HAHR / August / Gomes colonial economy of Grão-Pará stagnated in the late eighteenth century. is a noteworthy example of many colonial rural settlements in several parts of the Amazon. “O trabalho indígena na amazônia portuguesa. tar. but were characterized by crops destined for local markets. In Barcelos.18 In terms of the agrarian structure of the colonial Amazon. per capita food production was as much as seven times greater than production for export. 19. copaiba oil. coffee. These were more associated with subsistence farming than exports. both small. rice.” 307. who consisted of former soldiers. however the socioeconomic and political relations between these 16.. selling any surplus they produced.17 Between 1750 and 1820. “A antiga produção e exportação do Pará. a countless number of humble sítios with few or no slaves or indigenous workers developed in this vast colonial area alongside plantations and large cattle and horse fazendas. logs and planks of a variety of woods. and when their masters gave them the time to work [their own fields]. During the eighteenth century. particularly after 1750. starch.83 slaves and 1. indigo. aguardente. and untanned hides.84 indigenous workers each. Brazil nuts. and (3) Amerindian slaves (until 1757) and black slaves who profited from “the shares they received from the fazendas.” 16. fine cloves. this vast colonial area became a peasant society (campesinato).16 According to Manoel Barata. Grão-Pará’s “secondary” products included sugar.and medium-sized units of production predominated. with highly varying degrees of connection to the market”. In these agrarian structures. . cotton. cinnamon. Ibid.

and then free in the aldeamentos —was still used. R. Baena observed that disputes between the Portuguese and French had worsened since the last quarter of the seventeenth century. At that time. On rice farming experiences in this region. . The borders were mobile. The Oiapoque River area had belonged to Portugal since 1636. In 1685 Gomes Freire de Andrade complained to the governor of Cayenne that the French were going to Cabo Norte to buy Amerindians. particularly manioc. “Centros e periferías no mundo luso-brasileiro. Nas terras do Cabo Norte. and watermelons. See A. Furthermore.20 More detailed information about the structure of the slave economy based on African slave labor in colonial Grão-Pará is scarce. 36 (1998). were planted for internal consumption. In his chronicles of GrãoPará. French. no. and was first explored in 1678. “Prosperidade e estagnação de Macapá colonial: As experiências dos colonos. for example. Conflicts and borders explain the historical processes of this region from the late 1600s and throughout the eighteenth century. the French were known to have explored as far as the source of the Amazon River and penetrated into surrounding areas. Cod.” operated canoes. 10. In 1759. bananas. Dutch and Spanish interests surrounded the border region. Three years later. Food crops.A “Safe Haven” 477 areas and Portugal and other parts of the Portuguese empire constitute another parameter. 4 (1752 –1762). Russell-Wood. cited in Ernesto Horácio da Cruz. 21. Black slaves not only worked the fields side by side with Amerindians but also gathered “drugs of the wilderness.” Revista Brasileira de História 18. the fields of Macapá yielded 3. What we do know is that the extractive economy persisted and indigenous labor — first slave.850 alqueires of rice and large quantities of maize. because British. Colonização do Pará (Belém: Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia. the king of Portugal expressed his displeasure to the governor of Grão-Pará because he had received a complaint from the French ambassador stating that four Frenchmen accused of trading near the mouth of the Amazon River had been 20. cotton. being the objects of constant disputes.21 The slave population of African origin was actually scattered throughout the Amazon in the eighteenth century. see Rosa Elizabeth Acevedo Marin. particularly in the second half of the eighteenth century. J. and built the military fortifications that dotted Grão-Pará. 1500 –1808. 1958). there was always the fear that slaves might escape from Portuguese territory.” in Gomes. Borders in Motion The colonial areas of the Amazon were rife with mocambos and fugitives.

and once again in 1723 and 1724. 8 Jan. Ofícios (official communications) of 14 Aug. See Antônio Ladislau Monteiro Baena. 14 Feb. . The two crowns had signed a treaty 22. da Temperança. Illicit trade between the French and Amerindians in the borderlands was always a cause for concern for the Portuguese authorities.478 HAHR / August / Gomes imprisoned and mistreated. Discurso ou memória sobre a instrução dos franceses de Caiena nas terras de Cabo Norte em 1836 (Maranhão: Typ. 1724.22 The eastern region of Grão-Pará captaincy — on the border with French Guyana — gave the most cause for concern. military expeditions were sent to suppress that commercial intercourse. 13 Oct. 1723. 5 Feb. 1691. he asked for the punishment of those responsible for such arbitrary acts. 1721. 1688. On that occasion. With the help of merchants and indigenous groups. In 1721. escaped slaves migrated from the Portuguese and French sides of the border in search of freedom. It was prohibited by the ordinances of the Overseas Council. 1846).

Le petit atlas maritime (Paris. Source: S. the French and Portuguese authorities returned runaway slaves to each other on several occasions.A “Safe Haven” 479 Figure 1. The Portuguese authorities reminded the . On that occasion. However. However. There was mutual distrust between France and Portugal regarding their colonies in that region. which was usually complicated. Bellin. in 1732 regarding the return of fugitives. which in this context initially had more to do with Amerindians. In 1732. Furthermore. Doing their best to honor the treaty. the governor of Pará complained that he had received “harsh” letters from French slaveholders and even from the governor of Cayenne about delays in returning fugitives. 1764). Dit Limozin. 12 blacks owned by a Frenchman. he observed that the French did not always observe the Treaty of Utrecht. There was a steady stream of protests. That year saw complaints from the French and Portuguese alike about constant escapes by slaves and the process of returning captives. Jesuit and Capuchin missionaries also complained that their slaves had fled into Cayenne. Eighteenth-Century Map Showing the Eastern Border Regions of Brazilian Guyana. escaped from the presidio in Cayenne. territorial disputes made it more and more difficult to control and police that area.

vol. 193v– 94. 17 Aug. For a documented debate on the Cayenne region during late seventeenth. and IHGB. A política de Portugal no vale amazônico (Belém: SPVA. 209. vol. cod. A Amazônia e a cobiça internacional (São Paulo: Companhia Ed. and idem. Cod. and Salles. the authorities of Grão-Pará demanded reciprocity from their counterparts in French Guyana. It was charged that French envoys infiltrated the border regions to spy on and capture fugitives. 5. In 1728 the 23. A expansão portuguesa na Amazônia nos séculos XVII e XVIII (Belém: SPVEA. Conselho Ultramarino (hereafter cited as CU). In 1727 Portuguese and French officers and soldiers set out on a joint mission on the Oiapoque River to inspect the landmarks stipulated by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Regarding colonial disputes between Portugal and France and the Treaty of Utrecht. 3:271. O Negro no Pará. doc. 2 (1895).24 There were complaints about French incursions purportedly intended to capture fugitives. see Arthur Cézar Ferreira Reis. Anais 7. cod. cod. fol. vol. 1755. 193v.23 Escapes were frequent and slaves began to flee en masse.480 HAHR / August / Gomes French that the return of runaway slaves had to be reciprocal. 667. and idem.” in O Brasil monárquico. Governor of Grão-Pará. . Ofício. The king of Portugal even demanded that the French authorities promise not to execute recaptured slaves returned to them. pt. 1940). APEP. vol.” RIHGB 320 (1978). “A ocupação de Caiena. See Ofício. p. 1960). when handing back 25 slaves to French settlers. Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro (hereafter cited as IHGB). The French not only complained — and loudly — but did everything they could to retrieve their runaway slaves. 1– 2 – 24. 695.” which led to further escapes. 24. doc. cod. ed. 180v. 149v. in Anais da Biblioteca e Arquivo Público do Pará (hereafter cited as ABAPP). The problem was more complex in a disputed border region. see Arthur Cézar Ferreira Reis. 7. 1734. to the king of Portugal. 1979). 16 Mar. fol. Manoel Bernardo de Mello e Castro. The return of escaped slaves — and the escapes themselves —would become a problem for French and Portuguese authorities alike. 1– 2 – 26. The Portuguese accused the French of punishing returned fugitives “severely. The following year. see José Antônio Soares de Souza. For further commentary. idem. Arquivo Público do Pará (hereafter cited as APEP). 194. Sérgio Buarque de Holanda. 8. 22 Aug. The Portuguese crown would punish anyone who sheltered fugitives on their side of the border. and cod. (São Paulo: Difel. When the Portuguese returned slaves to the French with guarantees that they would not be punished. 1959). 1759.” RIHGB 58. 1– 2 –13. 221– 22. 428. fols. King John I instructed the captain general of the state of Maranhão to return slaves from Cayenne who sought refuge in Portuguese territory. this did not necessarily solve the problem. 7. fols. CU. 10 vols. “Oyapock divisa do Brasil com a Guiana Francesa á Luz dos documentos históricos. 7. Nacional. 315. “Uma questão diplomática em seu início (Oiapoque). and Ofício. vol 3 of História geral da civilização brasileira. even by the same slaves. In 1733.and early eighteenth-centuries. 1– 2 – 26. vol. 26 May 1756.

2. Portuguese.” in Nas terras do Cabo Norte. in ABAPP. trade with Amerindians. boats often sank.25 Amid these disputes and fears. In 1724 Portuguese authorities based in Grão-Pará seized a ship from French Guyana. for example. In 1765 word came from Amapá that fugitives had crossed the Matapi River on rafts. 13.26 Over the years. Dutch. which could be found in the grasslands beside the Uanará-Pecú River and the lakes of the Arapecú River. 1734. while hunting at the headwaters of a stream. therefore. for the signs do not indicate clearly what happened as the vegetation and marshes were flooded. and found the remnants of their shipwrecked boats. 1733. the bodies of three fugitives were found “who died perhaps from hunger or wild beasts. vol.A “Safe Haven” 481 inspection was repeated. While sailing off of Cabo Norte. 242. Although the forest was dense and. learned that some runaway black slaves from Cayenne had been there. fugitives usually preferred to go by sea or along the region’s many rivers. 16 Mar. Manoel Antônio de Oliveira Pantoja. They discovered that its crew had intended to engage in trade in the border region. When fleeing from Cayenne to Pará or vice versa. 2 Nov. following orders from the Overseas Council. the escape routes they followed were risk y and dangerous. and landmarks and drawings were identified that confirmed the division of Portuguese and French territory. wild animals. 1755. Spanish. 428. cited in Baena. a guaranteed refuge. In fact. It was even said that some. doc. doc. If they entered the steep forests they could fall prey to hunger. in ABAPP. D’Albon. colonial disputes remained unresolved and slaves kept on 25. turned back and gave themselves up voluntarily. where sure signs that the fugitives had been there were also discovered. 9 and 144. and Governor of Pará to the king of Portugal. stalked by hunger and despair. 4. and expand their dominions. . and the tracking dogs of their French pursuers. 26. King John to the Captain-General of the State of Maranhão. 209. However. and principally French settlers crossed the borders to hunt for runaway slaves. vols. Their owners were residents of GrãoPará. and only the mountains and hills were free. “Fronteiras e mocambos: O protesto negro na Guiana brasileira. 7. slaves never stopped escaping in the eastern borderlands. See Governor of Grão-Pará José da Sena to Mr. p. respectively. 14 Nov. docs. an Amerindian came across four slaves who were weak from eating only hearts of palm for several days. Discurso ou memória. Every move sparked suspicions and redoubled vigilance. In the Pesqueiro area of Macapá. no. Flávio dos Santos Gomes. fevers. 1752 and 17 Aug.” Runaways made canoes and rafts to sail the waterways.

6 Feb. pt. “A little over two years ago seven blacks arrived here in Cayenne after several battles and deaths. when working with Amerindians and in contact with fishermen near Cayenne.” in this case. Ofício. de Alencar Araripe. APEP. In 1752 a French escort ship that had stopped in Belém made the local authorities very nervous. T. 4 Feb.28 The entire region was involved in conflicts caused by colonial disputes. cod.482 HAHR / August / Gomes fleeing. and Ofício. There were fears of slave revolts and foreign invasions. See Ofício. Slave escapes and the establishment of mocambos were an integral component of this hostile environment. They did not want any contraband whatsoever. In 1777. “These blacks may have fled without any motive that should cause concern. . Although they were eager for news of Cayenne. trans. he would pretend to be hunting for runaway slaves in the surrounding forests. It should be observed that escape routes ran in both directions. although many soldiers were bartering goods to obtain “some heavy kerchiefs and pieces of striped cloth they could hide in their fort. 1765. 28 Aug. the highest colonial authorities in Grão-Pará were afraid to send him on this espionage adventure at the time. all events were closely monitored by authorities. in RIHGB 56. APEP. 1765. Anais 2. It was not unusual for canoes to sail to Grão-Pará from Cayenne to capture runaway slaves. which took place years later while he was traveling in that region. punished and imprisoned. 28. Ofício. Some news was alarming. The case of Squad Leader Leonardo José Ferreira. cod. after the same Squad Leader Leonardo José Ferreira had arrested runaway slaves from Cayenne in Macapá. cod. 255. but they were poorly received. Although the French continually complained.”27 In September 1773. sheds light on this issue. Ofício. he warned. 61. 9. doc. 1789. but I remember that it may well be [that] this said escape is a pretext for an intelligent person to come to Macapá and 27. APEP. APEP. 1 (1893). 52. escaped slaves from Grão-Pará were later identified in Cayenne. Their frequent escapes were accompanied by a steady stream of complaints from the French. he proposed to spy on the French settlers in that region for some sort of “prize. The authorities also learned that there were blacks from Cayenne in the Maguari-Caviana Point region. 14 Nov.” The most interesting detail is that he believed that espionage activities would not arouse the least suspicion among the French. Three years later. APEP. 1752. cod. 11 Oct. the stream of escaped slaves fleeing from Grão-Pará to Cayenne was just as steady. According to the Jesuit Laillet. While contacting local fishermen. 65. Looking for mocambos was to be his cover. Letter from Cláudio Laillet. 1793. consequently.

27. José de Santa Rita came upon five “Portuguese blacks” who had escaped from Cayenne and were in a “small boat” sailing along “the coast for 30 to 40 days” until they reached Mexiana Point. The borderlands were not only a geographic refuge but also a perfect social and economic hideaway in the Amazon. A petition to the Macapá city council stated that the quilombolas had a protective network involving fazenda slaves and other residents. Ofício. However. cod.” Quilombolas who escaped from Cayenne and Pará established their mocambos close to the borders and migrated throughout the region. publicans. João Pedro da Câmara. APEP. As they did elsewhere. seeking in them the sustenance of maize and bananas. 8 May 1797. Certainly aware of the solidarity they might find. Ofício. 18. the commander of the fort of São José in Macapá ordered in 1766 that anyone who helped blacks escape would be duly punished. 347. develop an economy and seek alliances with other social sectors. Discurso ou memória. APEP. 31.”31 29. Ofício. cod. It was said that there was a “French inhabitant with 150 blacks” on Unari Mountain. . 296. cod. I– 28. “because they maintained friendships for part of the year. APEP. Biblioteca Nacional (hereafter cited as BN). 27 Feb. 58.” Runaways and quilombolas certainly help. cod. APEP. 8 Oct. The fugitives in those regions used several strategies. 1766. 54. and it was “well to presume that they keep to the farms. doc. in an attempt to prevent runaway slaves from leaving and French settlers from entering. APEP. APEP. cited in Baena. 214. 1797. 1793. 172. Ofícios. 19 Feb. Amerindian groups. cod. cod. 614. cod. 25 Sept. 30.A “Safe Haven” 483 observe us. 21 Feb. 71. and deserters.30 Some of those borderlands were already settled by mocambos. 1789 and 12 Oct. 16 Jan. 1–10. 1794. Oficio. In 1765 it was suspected that fugitives had run away from the forts being built in Amapá. While sailing past Cabo Norte. coming from the mocambo. Seção de Manuscritos (hereafter cited as SM). APEP. the sea was like the forest — too vast to be effectively patrolled. from where they not only take the produce but also clothing and tools. to a certain extent they could count on the support of Amerindians. APEP. cod. Portuguese men-of-war kept a close watch on the entrance to Guyana and the Oiapoque River. canoe owners.29 More than the forest itself. Ofícios. 702. 5 nos. no. right on the border. 77.” 10 May 1776. Baena. Discurso ou memória. 1765. fugitives sought to form groups. to the fields of this settlement. where they hide. the borderlands were a safe haven for quilombolas. cod. and other slaves. and Ofício. 20 July 1780. 24 and 27 Apr. 1796. and Oficio. Although it did not always happen. cod. 1777. “Memória de alguns sucessos do Pará. where they were found and escorted back. See Ofício.

24. and east to west in the vast expanse of that region. O negro no Pará. Investigations shed light on the details of these colonial experiences. . the slave of the late João Pereira de Limos. 7 Jan. cod.” meaning the town of Macapá. the slave of Manoel do Nascimento. who asked Miguel if he “wanted to see and talk to blacks who had run away. Ofício. Ofício. Ofício. where they found Joaquim.” Also according to Miguel. there was also a Jesuit priest sent by the French. Miguel also asked “how they were doing over there” in the mocambos in the Araguari region as well as in the borderlands and the French territory. 1774. particularly those in the borderlands. cod. In 1762 residents of Arauari complained that their fields were being destroyed by slaves who lived in “large mocambos. 1774. provided this information. 27 Feb. a slave owned by Antônio de Miranda. According to the quilombolas. and it was he who “governed them and they had very good fortune. 16 Mar. Miguel.”32 Contacts between quilombolas and the French and other social sectors were not a threat or a promise.” José took Miguel to a corral.” as if they were whistling. 139.” The first contacts began. They were a fact that terrified the colonial authorities of Grão-Pará. From north to south. Ofício. because they “had gone to salt meat for the priest and others had shortly before finished making bricks for the French to build a fortress. APEP.” At that time. whose black residents had fled north when they were surprised by expeditions hunting Amerindians. Investigations revealed that there was an important mocambo on the Anauerapucú River in 1749. 1762. the quilombolas “always went 32. cod. “they were doing very well. The mocambos quickly began to appear and multiply. mocambos and/or quilombos were established. cod. APEP.” and had “large fields and they sold their produce to the French because they traded with them. 150. 21 Jan. some of the mocambo’s inhabitants were away. Limites municipais.484 Inventing Freedom HAHR / August / Gomes The colonial authorities were extremely concerned about the mocambos of the Amazon. APEP. An interrogation conducted in Macapá in 1791 revealed how blacks on both sides of the border communicated with each other.” he came across José. In 1734 they decided to organize expeditions to wipe out the mocambos and sent convoys to the headwaters of rivers to capture fugitives. Palma Muniz. 101. 221. On his way back from “his master’s field. and the quilombolas wanted to know “how they [black slaves] were doing around here. 389. cited in Salles. Miguel was then told that “their [the quilombolas’] signal is to suck in their lips.” In the mocambo where they lived. 1777. They met several quilombolas who were suspicious because they did not know Miguel and threatened to “attack him with bows and arrows.

” because when they “came and went” they crossed the river “in [the canoe] from one side to the other. “their way to get there was the Araguari. Instead. APEP. “Auto de perguntas ao preto Miguel. but “they did not come to force the blacks” to escape.” In other words. but “down where Manoel Antônio de Miranda has the corral for love of the whites who went after them.” This mocambo was inhabited by “all the blacks who have fled from this town [Macapá]. the Grão-Pará authorities were stunned by this detailed information.” Furthermore. escravo de Antônio de Miranda. they should be sent directly from jail to “their owners [so that they can] sell them. Mocambos established close to the border maintained trade relations with French settlers. They lived near the Portuguese border. worked. 259. but all the escaped slaves were from here. which could not have been easy.A “Safe Haven” 485 about armed with their short swords” and their clothes were “dyed with Caapiranga.” Already fearful and suspicious. dying clothes.”33 The details are revealing. keeping a close watch on French spies and putting up with insults and slaveholders’ complaints.” 5 Sept. They point to escape strategies and routes.” They came and established contacts with several slaves. but traded. among other things. they were well aware that their settlements on the banks of the Araguari were in Portuguese territory but “to work in French lands they crossed the salt-water river to go there and they went in the morning and returned at night” and “when they came back they left half their supplies on the way for when they returned. 1791. These quilombolas also visited the town of Macapá during the “Christmas feast. the Macapá city council judge himself proposed that if these quilombolas were captured. and even to the prospect that these quilombolas might seek autonomy and protection. The authorities were alarmed. Two years later. planting crops. and making bricks to build French forts. carrying enough provisions for long journeys. and engaged in a variety of relationships with the French on the other side. .” As for contacts with French settlers. cod. The problem seemed larger than preventing constant escapes. The success of this strategy was assured by crossing the border on a daily basis. They also had their own economic base: salting meat.” They revealed “that the path they use to take to the town was no longer along the canebrake. herding cattle. these “would only go [to the mocambo] of their own free will. they should not be released and returned to their masters immediately. they had a “small canoe on the Araguari River. They traveled across rivers and through forests. which they must do in different 33. These quilombolas were at the threshold of freedom. and they knew it.

Press.” in Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas. These mocambos were quite old. 36. Yvan Debbash.”36 More detailed descriptions of the mocambos on the Araguari River were obtained by investigations undertaken in 1792.35 Of the many mocambos established near the border with French Guyana.”34 The experiences of other escaped-slave communities situated on the colonial borders in the Caribbean are also noteworthy. 34. 21 Feb. Documentação Rio Branco (hereafter cited as DRB). 1979). As a result. the hunt for these maroon groups involved countless interests between the settlers and the Spanish and French authorities in that border region. “Le Maniel: Further Notes. Ofício. APEP. both from the nearby settlements and outlying areas. and that they were “well supplied with arms. On numerous occasions. most of whom were slaves from the French side of the island.” and that with great “affrontery. In 1788 there was another warning about the mocambos in that region. Richard Price (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. 1793. Later. 259. those in the Araguari area were without a doubt the most populous and stable. cod. The seventeenth-century maroon communities of Le Maniel on Hispaniola. 25. ed. because. three blacks were captured in the area called Baixa Grande. 8 July 1782. At the beginning of that year. 340 –1– 3.” groups of fugitives actually approached the town of Macapá with a view to “inciting the slaves of residents to follow them. which struggled for nearly a century against the Spanish and French colonists. Farm workers and fazendeiros on the Spanish side traded with escaped slaves and kept them informed of the movements of French troops sent to track them down.486 HAHR / August / Gomes countries whence they will never again appear hereabouts because on the contrary they will threaten another great disaster. Arquivo Histórico do Itamarati (hereafter cited as AHI). it was already said that there was a “large sum” of fugitives there. APEP. and Ofício. . 1762. mocambos enjoyed a “safe haven. it was reported that at the headwaters of that river. cod. by 1762. It all began with the usual complaints about escapes. cod. benefited from their geographic location for several reasons. 13 Mar. 35.” They feared the slaves might flee en masse. for each of these slaves is a guide to these continents. Ofício from the Macapá Council. Spanish authorities paid little heed to the comings and goings of fugitives.” In 1785 the governor of Grão-Pará declared that military expeditions were needed to capture or disperse escaped slaves and mocambos in several areas along the Araguari River. The residents of the town of Macapá were so frightened by the frequency of escapes that they did not punish slaves “for their customary rebellions.

an area surrounded by rivers and waterfalls that hindered punitive expeditions and facilitated sudden retreats. 457. the slave of a resident named Pedro Corrêa. about all the circumstances of the mocambo and its distances [from the town]. a black man named Manoel.A “Safe Haven” 487 not far from the Macapá. The mocambeiros were unaware of “any path by sea” as “they never exposed themselves to this because it is very far and the land routes facilitated the brevity of the journey” from the Araguari to Macapá. the commander reminded Manoel that he should tell João he was planning his own escape and wanted to get “information to ensure success. 1792. was contacted so that he “could question João. They were brought in by residents accompanied by their slaves. it would be another two-day journey to the mocambo. These captured fugitives confessed that they had planned to join several other slaves who escaped from that town and go “to the mocambo of their relatives. The mocambo was well protected. cod.” Arrests and interrogations like these helped expand investigations of the mocambos on the Araguari. First. That is where the artificial and natural defense systems came together. First. but always [being] in contact with the fugitives” when they returned to the town to trade. .” This strategy was partially successful. although they were unable to destroy it. there was a topographic barrier.” After crossing the river.37 To avoid suspicion. To carry it out. Ofício.” João was an important link. APEP.” The authorities were well aware of the communications network among the slaves and quilombolas in that region. “being the only one who escaped from said mocambo over two years ago. 27 Feb. attack residents and stage kidnappings. João gave a thorough socioeconomic description of an Araguari mocambo. and one of them had escaped before. This idea belonged to the military commander. he disclosed that the distance between the town of Macapá and River Araguari could be traveled in four days “of good walking. It was located at the ford of the Araguari River “above the fourth waterfall” at the confluence of two brooks. the slave of Antônio Trez Orta. Whereas Manoel was considered in Macapá to be one of the few “worthy of trust and friendly to whites and good Portuguese. Manoel Joaquim de Abreu.” They were getting ready to set out and hiding out in nearby farms where they intended to “make all the farinha they judged would be sufficient for their journey. Although they did not build “stockades” or “trenches”— commonly found in many colonial Brazilian quilombos — they did dig pits and place “thorns about their dwellings” to pre37. The strategies adopted included trying to simulate a slave’s escape to gather more detailed information about the mocambos’ whereabouts. In addition to providing an escape route for Manoel.

” Protective. Ibid. By working several farms situated nearby and far from the mocambo.488 HAHR / August / Gomes vent military expeditions of reenslavers from approaching. they had enough provisions to hide in the forest for a long time in case of attack. “being that some of these were over a league away and others beside their dwelling.” They used “this method so that they could move far away as soon as they were attacked by whites. knives and “some long jardineiras [sic] shaped like short swords. But they were not isolated. we can analyze the political strategies adopted to prevent temporary residents of mocambos from giving away their location to the authorities when captured.” Mocambeiros wanted to make sure that these escapees (more recent residents) were not being used as “couriers” to discover the location of the mocambos or camps. The community was constantly on the alert for anti-mocambo troops. If I do well. Temporary residents — those who lived in the mocambos for a time and then 38. Some quilombolas traveled to settlements and even the town of Macabá to make contacts and barter. defensive. maize and rice. “I advise thee not to flee. João told Manoel that there were about 100 people living there at the time. João warned.” The houses were made from straw. despite Manoel’s talk about his supposed escape plans. arrows. 39. They also had weapons: bows. there would have been nearly 40 persons. including men.”39 In light of this information.” And Manoel answered with the “fictitious statement” that “I always run away. I stay. the farms “only” produced farinha. Ibid. All indications are that. using this precaution to have what they [can] turn to. I return and tell my [Master] I was lost since the day I went hunting. The mocambo’s “overseer” only allowed people who had lived there for over a year to frequent the town of Macapá. Also according to João. when I do not.”38 Regarding the demographic structure of that mocambo. They could only do so after spending a year at the mocambo and only then with the permission of the “overseer” (capataz) and in “the company of his trustees. They knew the authorities were cruel and intolerant about their economic activities. . the older mocambeiros did not allow fugitives who had recently joined the Araguari mocambo to return to the town of Macapá. In economic terms. and socioeconomic strategies were combined. There was an entire social structure surrounding this matter. women and children. because they will soon kill thee for they know thou art friendly with the whites and thou art of their nation. because when “he came away or escaped here from those companions.

he agreed that if he led an expedition against the mocambo all its inhabitants would be captured. and as soon as they return from the hunt or the effects of the fields they take it to the same. as they could serve as guides for anti-mocambo troops. They could become allies and establish contacts for the more permanent quilombolas. many complaints reached the Portuguese authorities: between the headwaters of the Araguari River and on many other rivers in that border region.” Therefore. even if they had moved them. but they often turned into traitors and enemies. the mocambeiros invited him to return to the mocambo. some where only Africans lived and even these in specific ethnic groups. One of them — possibly where João had lived —was considerably large. many of whom were in constant touch with the quilombolas.” Furthermore. who shares the [results] with everyone. 41. forewarned by the French. Ibid. some being older and others more recent. But size was not the only difference between these mocambos.A “Safe Haven” 489 chose to leave those communities and even return to their masters —were viewed with mistrust. which was referred to as being of the “Benguela nation. There could also be ethnic differences. because he knew the locations of their dwellings well.” João also stated that he felt “a very great rage” towards the mocambeiros of Araguari. . In the last decades of the seventeenth century.40 There was probably more than one quilombo on the Araguari. At least. was well aware of that leader’s power. It was said that there were “settlements” of escaped Amerindians. who was supplying all this information to the authorities. but he realized this was a trap and the “overseer’s recommendation to catch him here. because “they also wanted to kill him. A number of escaped-slave groups must have spread out and established countless small communities.” They were eventually attacked by soldiers but managed to escape. such as the one on the Anani and Casipure rivers. There were also large numbers of escaped Amerindians and military deserters.” who banished and persecuted all suspects. we can see the leadership powers of the “overseer.” In his “revelations. Ibid. During the time he lived in the mocambo. that 40. which was the case with the above-mentioned mocambo.” while there was another “small mocambo de mandigar” formed by those who had “absented themselves from the said Benguelas for many years. “there were settlements of our blacks who escaped over 20 years ago. when they went to Macapá.”41 The Araguari mocambos continued to worry the authorities in Amapá. in this Araguari settlement. João. he saw that “the work of hunting and [farming] fields is ordered by the overseer. with dozens of residents.

44.” in Amazônia: Etnologia e história indígena. On the use of Amerindians against quilombos in Brazil. it is important to retrieve and follow the ethnohistory of specific indigenous groups. SM.” Estudos Econômicos 17 (1987). Howard. The Amazon mocambos. BN.” Revista do Museu Paulista 20–21 (1983–1984). see Stuart B. Antônio Porro. Catherine V.” Revista do Museu Paulista 28 (1981–1982). no. 29 Mar. 2 (1791). particularly those in the borderlands. Belém. quilombos e Palmares: A resistência escrava no Brasil colonial. 1993).“Os Solimões ou Jurimaguas: Território.” In terms of strategies and resources. In order better to analyze the strategies employed by Amerindian and black fugitives in several areas of the immense colonial Amazon. cod. “Uma contribuição para a etno-história da área Tapajós-Madeira. ed. see Simone Dreyfus. Primeira Comissão Demarcadora de Limites (hereafter cited as PCDL). Miguel Menéndez. Schwartz. 43. however.44 It 42. Melo Sampaio. cod.” considered the “most warlike” from the Grão-Pará captaincy and with whom — after many wars — the Portuguese colonial authorities had recently managed to “conquer peace. migrações e comércio intertribal. The idea was to “attract a body of six hundred to seven hundred Indians of the Munduruku nation. the issue of mocambos and the movements of escaped slaves had become so serious that it was suggested that groups of Amerindians could be sent against the quilombolas.”43 These were not the only issues.” . and Sommer. Pará. In the vastness of the Amazon region.490 HAHR / August / Gomes had been there for 20 or 30 years or even longer. fugitives were not completely isolated in their mocambos. the sparse settlements and scattered towns and villages were important factors. (São Paulo: Núcleo de História Indígena e do Indigenismo: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo. “Pawana: A farsa dos ‘visitantes’ entre Waiwai da Amazônia setentrional. “Espelhos partidos”. A– 44. The forest would reveal more secrets. “Negotiated Settlements. The intertribal trade networks that connected several indigenous microsocieties and European settlers in various parts of the Amazon borderlands included the mocambos. And on the Uanary River there were “scattered Indians and blacks [who were] former slaves in several thatched huts and ranches. “Os empreendimentos coloniais e os espaços políticos indígenas no interior da Guiana Ocidental (entre o Arenoco e o Corentino) de 1613 a 1796”. 1798. it was understood that “they would be the most appropriate people to make war with the blacks in the forests and marshes. “Mocambos. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro et al. The number of Amerindian fugitives and their mocambos increased in Grão-Pará at a time when more Africans were arriving there. many of which were formed exclusively by Amerindians. sought to establish an autonomous space and act as agents for transnational protection. 5 –1– 2. Correspondence between governors and metropole. For ethnohistorical studies on indigenous aldeamentos and legislation.”42 Near the turn of the nineteenth century.

They insisted that the natives themselves engaged in that trade and that if groups were crossing the borders. 1 Oct. 1713 –1842). In that same region. 19 Feb. 1775. 143. On the contrary. transcribed by PCDL.45 Certain indigenous groups formed circumstantial alliances with the French. 198. In 1758 it was said that indigenous groups in the borderlands crossed “in their own way and [of their own free] will from one territory to the other. doc. 1721. Africans and their descendants created their escape routes and mocambos and sought independence in the forests. One was the political perceptions of several indigenous groups regarding policies of colonization and occupation. cod. 4 May 1727. APEP. p. See Ofício. Ofício. 10 Sept.. an expedition was sent to the Aneurapucú River area to determine whether there were any “vestiges” of “savages or mocambos” there. support. there were complaints in 1774 that blacks who had fled from Macapá had sought refuge with Amerindians.”46 Many of these runaways and even group migrations became mocambos. Ofício. Similar accusations were made in 1775 and 1779 in the town of Mazagão. Ofício. Memória ou discurso. ibid.A “Safe Haven” 491 can also be argued that the indigenous tradition of escaping was also informed by the African tradition begun in some areas. Complaints came from everywhere. and defenses.47 The problems in the borderlands involving indigenous groups continued: mass escapes.: Fronteira Francesa (Reigns of John V and John VI. 1691. cod. particularly in the early decades of the eighteenth century. doc. Several things could have been happening in that context. captivity. Ofício. Helped and accompanied by Amerindians. See Ofícios. . 1779. APEP. The ban on trade with the French. and capturing and enslaving Amerindians. 148. 1782. cod. They became allies. This made it even harder to police. control. 1 Jan. 14 Oct. missionaries. APEP. 2. providing protection. cod. The indigenous groups knew those borderlands better than anyone. 10 Aug. 1729. 47. In 1691 four Frenchmen were imprisoned. the Dutch and among themselves against the Portuguese. was motivated by fears that they would trade with the natives. they had few Amerindian slaves. APEP. and aldeamentos established by priests. the aldeamentos. they were doing it on their own. and colonial settlements. 13 Oct. charged with entering Capuchin missions to trade with indigenous groups. Baena. Ofício. 359. 1774. 45.. 46. Amerindians fled slave-hunting expeditions. APEP. The French authorities claimed that they had no part in the capture of Amerindians in the borderlands. cod. 25. 1758. ibid. 3. and even rebellions. the establishment of mocambos. On one occasion. 8 Jan. and later by secular colonial authorities.

” in In Resistance: Studies in African. Marshes and swamps were no obstacle. Helms discusses the rise and historical transformations of ethnic identities such as the Zamboes. 1974). Frightened. Britons.” in Old Roots in New Lands: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives on Black Experiences in the Americas. 1972). “The Other Quilombos. when there is more rain. Maroon Societies. “From Caribs to Black Caribs: The Amerindian Roots of Servile Resistance in the Caribbean.” in Price. nos. Richard Price. ed. brancos e pretos no Brasil colonial. 1 Jan. 1986).” América Indígena 13. the Portuguese colonial authorities in 1788 charged Captain Hilário de Moraes Bittencourt with the important mission of capturing a large number of slaves and others fugitives living in mocambos in several parts of 48. Souza Coutinho would give the following assessment of the capture of fugitives in mocambos: “It is certain that tradition states that in the wintertime. natives. Mary C.” Indian Historical Review 15. Roger Bastide. that is.” Journal of Southern History 57. and Afro-American History.”48 Mocambos and fugitives in the borderlands had become a chronic problem. and Slavery. Gary Y. Black Caribs were considered more African and the Miskitos more indigenous. Ann M.” HAHR 72 (1992). For example. idem. 1600 –1835. 1785. Focusing on this border region where Spaniards. 1– 2 (1988 – 89). “The Creeks Indians. “Os quilombos do ouro na capitania de Goiás.492 HAHR / August / Gomes and establish international policies on the demarcation of borders.: Greenwood Press. it was argued to the Guyanese authorities that the same Amerindians who claimed to belong to the French colony had been found in Portuguese territory. Caribbean. Helms. “Resistance to Slavery in the Americas: Maroons and their Communities. Migrations of fugitives —whether or not they established mocambos — and entire indigenous communities in the borderlands were a constant occurrence. Ofícios from 2 Apr. of Massachusetts Press. In 1794. ed. See also Kathry E. see Mary W. ethnic classifications of these mixed-race populations have changed. Coleção Manoel Barata. There are still few ethnohistorical studies in Brazil on miscegenation. See IHGB. 1797. 1794. Blacks. “Negro or Indian? The Changing Identity of a Frontier Population. suited both for traveling on water and through forests with the same ease. but also that it is only for mounts [canoes] and for Indians who are like amphibians. 4 (1991). no. and Susan Migden Socolow. “Spanish Captive in Indian Societies: Cultural Contact Along the Argentine Frontier.” in Reis and Gomes. African slaves and freedmen met. there is communication between the meadowlands of Macapá and Cayenne. “Índios. and 8 Apr. Conn. when the boundaries established in the Treaty of Utrecht were still being debated. Karasch. Liberdade por um fio. 2 (1953). no. On one occasion. . Helms analyzes travelers’ perception of Miskitos from Nicaragua and Honduras both as “Indians” and “blacks” since colonial times. See Thales de Azevedo. Michael Craton. mixture and interaction among indigenous and black ethnic groups. As américas negras: As civilizações africanas no novo mundo (São Paulo: DIFEL/EDUSP. Pescatello ( Westport. Okihiro (Amherst: Univ. For an interesting perspective on colonial ethnic classification. Holand Braund. More recently.

610. Some supported the argument 49. cod. 1791.49 In 1793 the authorities tried to arrest slaves belonging to Thomé Bixiga and Captain Antônio José Vaz. 85. because they sent news of Macapá to the mocambos’ residents when they were out in the pastures. APEP. Instructions to Captain Hilário de Moraes Bittencourt. and Ofício. kidnapping and trade. they would hide out in one of Antônio José Vaz’s corrals. cod. however. 1796. The former used every means they could to hunt and destroy the latter. 3 July 1820. 276. 31 Nov. APEP. 1802. 1788. In the early years of the nineteenth century. see Ordinance. 1798. 277. It was common knowledge that quilombolas stole livestock and sold meat and hides. APEP. 18 Jan. 259.50 Alliances and solidarity between slave herdsmen and quilombolas brought another worry: rustling. 619. 50. together with his slaves. See Ofício. There were reports of black slaves of Macapá residents captured in the border mocambos between the captaincies of Grão-Pará and Goiás. cod. Not far away. APEP. there numerous complains about runaway slaves and cattle theft. Other borders would be chosen. 17 July 1804. 1803. 334. 1769. was far from being solved. 18 Dec. See Ofício. 7 Sept. Ofício. Ofício. cod. 30 Sept. Ofício. cod. APEP. Macapá. and Ofício. 21 Oct. emphasizing the “thousand dire” consequences of that problem. cod. 1816. 23 Apr. and 15 Mar. In the region of Marajó. 1 Dec. 27 Feb. 278. 1 Feb. cod. Some officials claimed that escapes were increasing there because there were no efficient patrols. and therefore a friend to fugitives.” These quilombolas also had relations with publicans. A petition sent from the town to the government’s seat in Belém asked that urgent measures be taken to capture slaves who were hiding in the forests. cod. the Amapá region was one of the main hotbeds of mocambos. 97. Furthermore. 23 Dec. Regarding thefts in Arari. APEP. APEP. APEP. APEP. might approach the town of Macapá and cause mayhem on Christmas night. cod.51 Although it was not the only one. cod. The Portuguese authorities admitted that the main problems in the region were “first the large number of deserters” and “second the large number of criminal slaves. APEP. 1793. cod. 1790. Instructions from the ordinary judge from Cametá. 1793. and Ofícios.A “Safe Haven” 493 that captaincy. 13 May 1793. 611. 657. in the Amapá region. Ofício. 272. 337 (1802 –1820). . The vastness of the forest was the greatest enemy of authorities and slaveholders. 15 Dec. APEP. cod. See Petition. APEP. it was feared that blacks from mocambos in Araguari. and when they were being hunted. 51.” Quilombolas visited nearby towns and villages to loot and engage in razzias. The problem. it was found that these slaves were herdsmen and there were certain “signals” that quilombolas used in the grazing areas to communicate with them in an “agreed place. cod. APEP. 1793. there were constant complaints in the area of Marajó.

1996. João José Reis.” Estudos Afro-Asiáticos 25 (1993). Federal de Sergipe. Most slaves who fled in that region had. 1 (1977). There were several complaints between 1795 and 1798. “Fronteiras e mocambos. 1992). “ ‘A Bit of Land. Vozes. Schwartz.52 Attempts to prevent escapes. Barickman. 54. military deserters and constantly migrating indigenous groups. Peasants. This petition was accompanied by a list showing the names of 48 slaveholders listing over 100 runaways. no. Sometimes there were mass escapes. having come from there repeatedly to lead off others. Ciro Flamarion S. Gomes. 4 (1994).494 HAHR / August / Gomes that these frequent escapes — chiefly Portuguese slaves fleeing to Cayenne — occurred due to the harsh conditions of slavery. Brasiliense. 1987). Cardoso. camponeses e quilombolas no Rio de Janeiro do século XIX. “Descripção chorográfica do estado do Gram-Pará. The following year. Stuart B. “ ‘O campo negro’ de Iguaçu: Escravos. see Barry J. Agricultura. “Resistance and Accommodation in Eighteenth-Century Brazil: The Slaves’ View of Slavery. 56 – 63. “Quilombos e brecha camponesa: Minas Gerais (século XVIII).53 Along those borders — particularly near the Araguari River — established mocambos acted as agents not only for alliances (as well as conflicts) with French settlers. camponeses e mocambos no Rio de Janeiro (1812 –1883). “Nos mundos da escravidão: Escravos. destroy mocambos and capture fugitives invariably met with little success. 1979). idem.” 276. been building military fortifications in Macapá. no. particularly for blacks who were building forts. Slaves.” HAHR 57.54 When ten slaves 52.” HAHR 74. in fact.” Cadernos UFS: História. 1780 –1860. em 1806. “A função ideológica da . Carlos Magno Guimarães. idem. of Illinois Press. idem. residents of Macapá sent a petition to the local city council to demand measures to prevent the countless escapes and principally “the large portion of slaves who have fled and have for a long time been living in mocambos in the parts of the River Araguari. and expeditions recaptured over 40 slaves at a time. Programa de Documentação de Pesquisa Histórica. See Braum. Eduardo Silva. Which They Call a Roça’: Slave Provision Grounds in the Bahia Recôncavo.” The number of fugitives was significant. A presença africana na Amazônia colonial. It was said that 51 blacks escaped from the town of Macapá in 1765. and Rebels: Reconsidering Brazilian Slavery (Urbana: Univ.” Revista do Departamento de História 8 (1989). but recreated microcommunities of peasants who could articulate themselves economically with several of the surrounding social sectors. Univ. 53.” in Reis and Gomes. On peasant societies (campesinato) based on slave provision grounds and articulated with quilombolas’ economic practices. and Vergolino-Henry and Figueiredo. Escravo ou camponês? O protocampesinato negro nas Américas (São Paulo: Ed. Flávio dos Santos Gomes. EDUFS. escravidão e capitalismo (Petropólis: Ed. “Escravos e coiteiros no quilombo do Oitizeiro. eight of those fugitives were found on the Araguari coast.” 278 –79. Liberdade por um fio. Slave escapes and the establishment of mocambos were considered chronic problems at the time. Before then.

even asked the crown to keep a close watch on trade in the town of Mazagão because quilombolas and slaves — even his own —were known to sell produce stolen from his fields there. In the face of continued suspicions. for over four years. 1989).” and even a purported edict stating that he was to be helped to obtain supplies in all settlements. Adão Soares. Euzébio was a “captain of those forests and was actually going straight to Mazagão. uma flor’: Esperanças e recordações na formação da família escrava: Brasil sudeste. The Macapá authorities’ suspicions were due not only to the fact that Euzébio was “black” but that he had come from the Cametá region. landed in a local port while traveling from Cametá to the Town of Macapá in the company of his brother and an Amerindian. a black man from Piauí. [and] had harvested quantities of rice and maize . On Suriname maroon societies. and Robert W. 1 (1991).” 300. 1999). Mintz. To allay the local Macapá authorities’ doubts. . a white peasant farmer.” Slavery & Abolition 12. it was discovered that some were “on the island of Gurupá where they had wattle-and-daub huts. they kept a close eye on Euzébio. “Subsistence on The Plantation Periphery: Crops. and cattle rustling. Cooking and Labour Among Eighteenth-Century Suriname Maroons. século XIX (Rio de Janeiro: Ed. . he reportedly said he was charged with an important mission. Euzébio presented a “royal passport. no.55 Another eastern area of the colonial Amazon with a tradition of establishbrecha camponesa. along a route that passed by the towns of Melgaço and Portel — considered the “empire of the state’s farinha”— but chose to buy provisions for his mission in that “remote land.” In addition to looting. Slenes ‘Na senzala. by João José Reis and Eduardo Silva (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras. Nova Fronteira. In 1791 a suspicious character. 1 (1979). razzias. 55.A “Safe Haven” 495 escaped from the town of Mazagão in Amapá. Later on.” Therefore. Gomes. as there had been in other situations.” His objective was not to buy “farinha” but to “make his observations there to see if there were any enclosures in those parts. and had gone there in disguise to buy flour as provisions. .” Historical Reflections 6. and Sidney W. he was seen getting drunk in the taverns at night in the company of black freemen and soldiers. see Richard Price.” in Negociação e conflito: A resistência negra no Brasil escravista. no. it was found that he had made contact with blacks from the fazenda of Julião Alvarez. “Fronteiras e mocambos.” This case clearly shows that fugitives were not only able to mingle with the mixed-race residents of the towns but that this possibility was surrounded by conflict. In fact. “Slavery and Rise of Peasantries. Euzébio. Claiming that he had not found enough farinha. the quilombolas attempted to establish a sufficiently solid economic base through small farms that ensured their subsistence and enough produce to barter.

fol. Anais da Biblioteca Nacional 66. with mocambos established on the Curuá and Cuminá rivers. 1702. 6. 6. near the border with the Captaincy of Maranhão. Ofício. CU. Livro Grosso do Maranhão. Cotijuba. Acará 56. One hundred and twenty slaves were captured on that occasion. cod. Ofício. reaching all parts of Grão-Pará and Rio Negro captaincies and the eastern borders with the Captaincy of Maranhão. In 1774 the governor of Maranhão thanked his counterpart from Pará. cod. 1– 2 – 26. observing that “the work of such as mission is of interest to the masters. IHGB. vol. 122. 1– 2 – 25. and Ofício. 58. fols. The main areas included Amapá (and the towns of Macapá). 1702.58 In 1753 militia commander Francisco Pereira reported disturbances on the border involving blacks who had escaped from a factory and ship captains.” including blacks and Amerindians. 1731 and 16 Mar. 18 Dec. Mocajuba). 4 Dec. Óbidos. pt.59 The number of escapes in that area steadily increased. 60. APEP. CU. 26 May 1774. 193v.” In 1739 there were more complaints in this regard. 1– 2 – 25. João Pereira Caldas. APEP. APEP. 212 –13. and areas near Belém (Guamá. 39v. for arresting black slaves who had run away from his captaincy in the Turiaçu region.496 HAHR / August / Gomes ing mocambos was that of the Gurupi and Turiaçu rivers. the area of Tocantins (Baião. In 1793 it was argued that “roads for cargo” should be opened between Grão-Pará and Maranhão and the region should be patrolled by canoes on the rivers to hunt “amocambados.”60 Other news of quilombos in the Turiaçu region would appear near the end of the eighteenth century. 103. 1793. the area of Santarém (Trombetas. 1095. cod. 26 Sept. 1739.61 The fact is that blacks established quilombos and/or mocambos throughout the colonial Amazon. and IHGB. Monte Alegre). Livro Grosso do Maranhão. On runaway slaves in Maranhão during 1706. cod. Alenquer. 59.57 In 1731 peasant farmers from Belém complained to the governor of Maranhão about frequent escapes. Araguari and Mazagão. Cametá. asking him to take steps regarding slaves “who have absented themselves and are constantly leaving farms deserted and making hiding places in the forests from where they attack the farms with deaths and great destruction. . cod. Mosqueiro. see IHGB. 1– 2 – 25. In 1702 there are signs that expeditions were sent out to destroy “villages of slaves that had rebelled many years ago and fled from their masters. fol. 27v. Ofício. vol. 21 Mar. BN. 589. from whom they are constantly escaping. IHGB. Ofício. cod. 1753. CU. with great prejudice to their farms. 1702. 6. 6 June 1706. 1 (1948). 61. cod. 212 –13. vol. 270.”56 It was said that these “villages” of fugitives had been established “many years” earlier. 57. Ofício. Abaeté. fol.

came into contact with. There are several studies of existing quilombo communities in the Amazon that focus on mocambos in Baixo Amazonas.. diss. the history of these communities — like many others — can be reconstructed 62. areas in the direction of the Captaincy of Maranhão (Bragança and Ourém) as well as other areas and towns that lay more to the center and west of the Amazon along the Tapajós. Negros do trombetas: Guardiões de matas e rios (Belém: Ed. José Luis Ruiz-Peinado Alonso. Mexiana. Chaves). Universitária UFPA. Caviana. even from those in other countries. See Rosa Elizabeth Acevedo Marin and Edna M. 1994). Univ. Ega. Soure. ed. we can piece together the traditions of freedom. M. There are few studies of black communities in Amapá and along the French Guyana border. . Solimões. Rosa Elizabeth Acevedo Marin. by walking these pathways. idem. We can gain a deeper understanding that the worlds of the quilombos may not have been so distant from the senzalas (slave quarters). In fact. Negros do trombetas: Etnicidade e história (Belém: NAEA/UFPA. and yellowing manuscripts found in official files. Capim River and Beja). Eliane Cantorino O’Dwyer (Rio de Janeiro: Associação Brasileira de Antropologia. 467 – 97. Faro.A “Safe Haven” 497 River. Arari. and Javier Laviña (Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya. Miquel Izard. “ ‘Nasci nas matas. of São Paulo. Xingu and Madeira rivers (Barcelos. these pieces are not buried in the dust. who were already considered hidras (a multifarious evil). “ ‘Remanescentes de quilombos’ na fronteira Amazônica”. Liberdade por um fio.” in Terra de quilombos. creación e historia: luchar contra el olvido/Memòria. “Publicadores de la Amazônia cimarrones del trombetas. Andrade. Negro. 1993). 1991). south of the Surinam border. creació i història: lluitar contra l’oblit. Ajuntamento de Barcelona. silverfish. 1995). and idem. Cintra. “Terras e afirmação política de grupos rurais negros na Amazônia”. idem. Thinking about these fugitives and their interactions with the remainder of slave society — Amerindians and blacks — can lead us in different directions. Cooperació Internacional. Eurípedes Funes. Boim). nunca tive senhor’: História e memória dos mocambos do Baixo Amazonas” (Ph. original historic experiences. Comissionat per a Actuacions Exteriors. 1995). “Hijos del rio: Negros del trombetas. and produced not only ideas but basically different. Ramos Castro.” Africa Latina Cuadernos 21 (1994). de Barcelona. Pilar Gracía Jordán.D. Lúcia M. Fortunately. parts of Marajó ( Joanes Island. “ ‘Nasci nas matas. ed. “Os quilombolas da bacia do Rio Trombetas? Breve Histórico. modified.” in Memoria. Univ. Eliane Cantorino O’Dwyer.62 Conclusion With the help of other figures from the worlds of slavery. nunca tive senhor’: História e memória dos mocambos do Baixo Amazonas.” in Reis and Gomes. Furthermore. Part of that tradition may be found to this day in the memories of indigenous and black ethnic groups in the Amazon. fugitives in the colonial Amazon borderlands.

1983). escapes will be more frequent. . USP: FAPESP. Dominique Tilkin Gallois. In confidential communications. The borders would stay open. the authorities of Grão-Pará and imperial officials in Portugal exchanged information and drew up plans and strategies to undermine that situation.” Quilombos became peasant communities. prospectors and other figures would invent different routes and paths to a life of liberty. the experience of freedom was spread out and shared. “Versions and Images of Historical Landscape in Aripao: A Maroon Descendant Community in Southern Venezuela. 63. and resistance. Mairi revisitada: A reintegração da fortaleza de Macapá na tradição oral do Waiãpi (São Paulo: Núcleo de História Indígena e do Indigenismo. and making their way through dense forests and waterfalls. they traversed borders. and particularly Suriname. symbolic and ritual reconstructions for Maroon groups in Venezuela. As a Pará official stated.64 Desertions and complaints about escapes into Cayenne continued in the nineteenth century. In all corners of that world. sailing on rivers as deep and rough as the oceans. see Berta E. The memories of the Waiãpi include references to contacts with groups of black people called Tapajós ( possibly descendants of black fugitives). On prospects for historical. being that before that circumstance [arose] there were already repeated [escapes] to that place. Amerindians. 1990). 1994). the Amapá region would become even more attractive to deserters and even foreign invaders. Alabi’s World (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press. Indeed. A proposal was presented. and Richard Price. They also traveled across the Atlantic world. Thanks to the rubber boom. Press. mythic. and idem. Pérez.” América Negra 10 (1995). 700 – 4.63 When studying the ethnohistory and reconstruction of the native Waiãpi people of the Amapá region. First-Time: The Historical Vision of Afro-American People (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. In the words of the president of the province. 64. Dominique Gallois observes that their narratives describe disputes between the French and Portuguese and the resulting alliances and conflicts with other ethnic groups in the region. struggles.498 HAHR / August / Gomes through their versions and images of the “earliest days” of escapes.” What could be done? The constant scouting missions and punitive expeditions did little good. blacks. “as soon as the slaves of the Province of Pará realize that French Guyana is a safe haven for their liberty. “The occupation of Amapá has become absolutely indispensable.

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