Lei Aurea—or the Golden Law—was an 1888 Brazilian law that abolished slavery in the country. Brazil is known as the country where most African captives arrived during the Atlantic slave trade.
ABOUT LEI AUREA
Prior to Lei Aurea, there were several resolutions and laws passed that inched Brazil towards abolishing slavery while not full-on committing to it. This approach is a familiar one taken in the U.S and slavery there faced the same political issues.
There was a significant amount of Black freemen in Brazil at the time and a strong abolitionist movement was around for many years. On the other side, you had forces that wanted to keep slavery around for social and economic reasons.
Since European world powers had done away with slavery years earlier, crop producing colonies were falling behind Brazil. This is a result of Brazil still using slave labor which allowed it to produce much more. There was an international and economic stake in getting Brazil to finally end slavery.
The law was very short at just a few paragraphs with two articles sticking out. First was Article 1 which states “From this date, slavery is declared abolished in Brazil.” Article 2 read “All dispositions to the contrary are revoked.” As result over 700,000 Black slaves were released in Brazil at the time and they gained access to the ability to own property and start businesses.
The order was written by Minister of Agriculture, Rodrigo A. da Silva. Lei Aurea made its way through the National Assembly. Once it reached the royals, Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil signed the law and it went into action days later. As a result, Brazil—the country with the largest number of Black people brought in during the Atlantic slave trade—became the last western country to end slavery.