In the provincial capital of Recife, Manoel de Alves Vianna, the buyer ofthe slave Silvestre, went to court to rescind the sale because he alleged that thebondsman had long suffered from mental illness and practiced the ”vício desodomia” (vice of sodomy). The trial opened before a Municipal Judge in 1870,but the case was only concluded in 1879 in Recife’s regional Appeals Court(Tribunal de Relação).1 The slave Silvestre’s original owner was a widow, DonaAnna de Santa Ursula. The title “Dona” suggests a respectable woman of means,but the reasons she desired to sell Silvestre go unnoted. It is quite possible thatshe sought to rid herself of an irksome slave whose shaky mental health hadbecome evident. Rather than sell the slave herself in the coarse, manly worldof the slave market (where it was common to inspect a slave’s private parts),Dona Anna sold Silvestre to a slave dealer by the name of Flavio Ferreira Catãoon December 15, 1869. The legal suit began only after the slave dealer resoldSilvestre to Manoel Alves Vianna, however the legal proceedings would ultimatelylead back to Dona Anna.
Copyright © 2012-2013 Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe.
Editores: Ori Preuss; Nahuel Ribke
Instituto Sverdlin de Historia y Cultura de América Latina, Escuela de Historia
Universidad de Tel Aviv, Ramat Aviv,
P.O.B. 39040 (69978), Israel.
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