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Chapter Five Slaves and Their Owners
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Chapter Five
Slaves and Their Owners

Property and Freedom

Inevitably the relations between slaves and owners took many forms. One salient feature was the interdependence that grew from the lives of owners and slaves—lives both shared and parallel reflecting their respective goals. Owners defended their property interests or simply their survival. Slaves worked toward manumission (those who had the ingenuity to bring their hopes to fruition) by gradual degrees from within an oppressive system whose flexibility or weakness they were often able to exploit, using accumulated experiences passed down from their grandparents or established through other social connections. So the members of both groups lived, in the countryside and in the city. To highlight the specific interactions we need to focus on the elements and opportunities that owners perceived as the weakness of the slave system and the unruliness of the slave population, and that slaves experienced as both misery and openings for negotiation.

Property and Negotiations

Slaves maneuvered in three spheres: as laborers in the countryside, as artisans in the city, and as servants in their owners' households. In each sphere the highly differentiated conditions of their work determined the negotiable degrees of freedom. Final success almost always depended on a fair share of luck and on the slaves' individual ability to present cases and arguments before the civil and ecclesiastical courts. Because the use of abuse and physical punishment was illegal, slaves from all walks of life frequently demonstrated that they had been vietims of cruelty or mistreatment in order to force an owner to grant his or her consent for their relocation or purchase by another owner, or perhaps to compel the owner to accept their payment and issue a carta de libertad . A slave had to prove that he or she had been the object of abuse, and this was not always an easy or inexpensive task. Witnesses had to be summoned and convinced that they should testify against


someone who generally occupied a superior social position. Moreover, a lawyer willing to file a suit had to be retained. Despite the obstacles, there was no lack of witnesses among the slaves themselves: another servant, a neighbor, an occasional visitor, or a godfather—each willing to testify in favor of a slave—as well as certain lawyers and bureaucrats who believed that slaves had to be defended and often subsisted on what slaves paid them for their services. In addition, the courts contracted with forensic experts who were in charge of verifying the visible marks of mistreatment. When a slave succeeded in assembling witnesses and obtaining a medical report, an abuse trial began.[1] The Caroline Code and the Cádiz courts prohibited mistreatment and cruelty. However, even individuals who did not directly witness abuse increasingly rejected corporal punishment as a form of correction. Since neither the laws nor the community at large sanctioned abuse, the doors to the courts were wide open to slaves. Charges of abuse became a strategy that slaves employed to change their owners or free themselves. However, since this recourse was common among slaves and their defenders, an individual could increase the chance of a favorable outcome even by an accusation of some religious or moral lapse that offended limeño society. The content of "abuse" extended to encompass more subtle infringements, which made slaves part of a wider "moral community."

When the slave Gregoria Santos appeared before the courts in 1811 requesting to be transferred to another owner, she claimed that aside from the abuse inflicted by the present owner, he was "a British individual perhaps foreign to our religion." Given the popular link between hostility to the British and dislike of non-Catholics, nothing was more effective in attracting the courts' attention than adducing the impiety of one's owner. This placed the slave on the side of the majority, and the owner on the side of a minority viewed with suspicion. In Gregoria's case, impiety was one of the arguments most revered by the judicial authorities, and it prejudiced them in her favor. A second argument that Gregoria used was that the owner's wife agreed with her. Both arguments—although with different objectives—were buttressed by public opinion. The slave would claim:

During this space of time I have been excessively oppressed, I have suffered infinité wrongs under the imprudent and inexperienced management of Don José Ignacio, who punishes his slaves excessively and for no reason. It is not necessary that I state or explain his general unseemliness nor that I divulge


his atrocious conduct and unprecedented acts because Doña María Pontejo, Don Ignacio's legitimate wife, said of him that he was ungovernable, deceitful, audacious, and indolent and anyone else would say so.... And if his own and very good wife, who could with these words state that Don Ignacio was as evil as I made known in the proceedings ... no one can doubt how much I must have suffered in these years because everyone is fully aware of Don José Ignacio's rashness and vehemence.[2]

An additional argument was added to those of impiety, public opinion, and his own wife's judgment: his youth, implying that owing to his scant experience the owner was not capable of adequately managing relations with his slaves. These arguments displayed a whole array of experiences and prejudices that were well known to the populace and authorities. The individual case vindicated Gregoria; her allegation was not formulated as a protest against the system but rather as personal experience and bad luck, reinforced by an abstract public sentiment that the authorities recognized as legitimate. As a system, slavery did not come into question, because it was "not deplorable in itself but rather became so when one was subjected to a capricious and mean owner."[3]

Witchcraft, sorcery, the evil eye, or in this situation British citizenship were arguments that complemented assertions of cruelty or emphasized the uniqueness of such cases and augured swift success before the judicial courts. Lacking arguments other than abuse, steps toward freedom because of inflicted mistreatment passed through legal channels that slaves and owners alike followed easily. All such steps by the slaves had to respect the bond of property and the rights of owners. Before slaves could search for a new owner, they had to deposit with the current owner a sum of money equivalent to the daily wages that would be lost during the quest for another owner. It was not easy for individual slaves to find a new owner; this process required time, and taking time off work placed the contribution of daily wages in jeopardy. When a slave did not possess money for a deposit, he or she had to turn to a guarantor: and, for a slave without a network of established social connections, it was difficult to obtain a guarantor. As Gregoria would say, "being black is enough so that no one wishes to stand surety for me."

In this context the cofradías —as we have seen—could serve as an alternative channel. Cofradías represented a possible source of credit, yet seeking their support could be risky. They lent money. If a slave's


attempt at manumission failed, the cofradía would recuperate its investment by selling the slave at a higher price in order to cover the slave's initial value, the surety, and potentially contracted diseases. But other less compromising alternatives existed.

Within a slave's social network, relatives and friends might stand surety or at least offer help in the search for a new owner.[4] If it was difficult for owners to hush up a slave's flaws and recover the money invested in his or her purchase, for slaves to do the same was a genuine feat. Slaves had to face additional expenses such as obtaining a sum equivalent to the deposit of outstanding daily wages, had no immunity against possible diseases, and in general had to earn their own livelihood during the period between the old and new owner. All these circumstances called for a rapid solution, especially when the slave was not in a position to pay his or her purchase price. Thus, another way to obtain a guarantee was to secure the interest of a new owner who might be willing to give the slave his or her entire purchase price in exchange for a commitment of labor until the incurred debt had been paid. Such covert tactics prolonged slave status or in any case made slavery into a kind of debt-peonage in which the slave temporarily gave the new owner his or her carta de libertad as insurance and recovered it as soon as his or her debts had been settled.[5] In this way the surety guaranteed by legislation perpetuated slavery in a more sophisticated manner—under the liberal mandate of property. It was a way of reaching a truce with a still weakly defined liberal ideology without prejudicing the "interests dear to the nation" (i.e., to slaveholders).

To be on the safe side, so that the slave would not flee once he or she had expressed his or her desire to leave the owner's control, some owners placed their slaves in panaderías until the transfer had finally been arranged. Consequently, slaves would be faced with more problems and have less time to track down guarantors or new owners and more complications, a situation that in the words of the slave Pablo Calero was "very unjust, as [in this case, his wife] does not have a person who will carry out the stated proceedings for her, since I am a slave and unable to separate myself from my obligations for one instant, only running the risk of finding myself in the same state [deposited in a panadería ]."[6]

The lower the slave's price, the greater the possibilities of obtaining a new owner and also ultimately of freedom. An efficacious way to lower one's price—aside from testamentary negotiations, emotional blackmail in the context of domestic relations, or claims of good ser-


ce—was to possess "defects": to be a habitual runaway, a drunk or loafer or thief; to be sick or to claim that one was either too young or too old for a certain job or duty.[7] In other words, inversion of the moral code to claim ineptitude could be a path toward freedom. But owners also used the device to rid themselves of a slave in failing health whose treatment meant expenses. In some cases, self-accusations and feigned illnesses were strategically utilized by slaves and supported before the courts by persons interested in purchasing the slave. Both parties—slave and new purchaser—would secure benefits. For the former a lower price meant a smaller payment for the purchase of freedom in a foreseeable future. Moreover, the transaction (the change of owner and the price) would figure in notarial record books that offered documentary proof of the slave's value, critical in a legalist society such as Lima's to restrict the new owner's arbitrariness. And the new buyer would gain, simply because he or she had to pay less for a slave. This silent complicity had concrete expressions.

For example, after his slave Juan de la Cruz Zapata had asked to be sold, Doña Rufina Trevino stated that "sickness is a pretext to lower his own cost and thus more easily purchase his freedom."[8] These arguments could be a double-edged sword. Owners countered with the same reasoning, which bordered on social and religious hypocrisy in more than a few cases. Judges often heard counterarguments such as the one by Luciana Josefa's owner, Doña Paula Almogera:

Especially when she brings this suit against me just because I ordered her to come to my house as a servant, and because other persons are enjoying her services. These persons incite her to file this suit that they uphold in her name, trying to make me believe that she is sick; and this is another reason why her request to be transferred to a new owner or gain freedom should be denied, because her health should be discussed first, not her freedom. What advantage will the new buyer derive from a supposedly sick slave? Would it not be inhumanity, after the distinguished merits and benefits that she says she has provided for me, to demand public compassion because her owner grants her freedom when she is sick and cannot be of service? Never, Sir, will such a thing be stated of me, I do not agree nor will ever agree to such nonsense. I wish to treat and assist her, if she is sick; and if she is well it is necessary that I seek protection of the property that I have of her service, of which I cannot be stripped because I own her.[9]

We can assess the sincerity of Doña Paula's declaimed humanitarian sentiment from what took place. She allowed the slave to die in a hospital rather than yield to the petitions formulated by the interested


parties and the slave. And none of the other interested parties were willing to pay for the slave's treatment. Luciana assumed the costs for a sickness so grave that it ended her life in the midst of the legal proceedings. Sickness, then, was not always a lie to lower a slave's price. Nonetheless, slaves turned to similar arguments with such frequency that owners used this assertion before the courts as a convincing allegation against slaves. An authentic sickness might impel a poor owner who lacked money to pay for his or her own burial to sell an old and faithful slave.[10] Furthermore, in some cases genuine illness can explain why a slave clung to an owner; it was the only guarantee that the costs of illness would be financed. Before the courts slaves could invoke the Catholic mercy of owners, insisting upon the moral and religious accountability of masters. In extreme cases their eloquence persuaded the Church and state to intervene in order to condemn—on the basis of a broader social critique—an owner's evil intentions.[11]

Owners were required by law to pay for their slaves' treatment and for injuries and thefts their slaves caused to third parties. Only rarely could they add the costs incurred to a slave's price. On the contrary, the more widespread the rumor that an owner had ordered a search for a maroon slave or the more often a slave was seen in neighborhood bars and cantinas, the worse his reputation and the lower the price to be obtained for him. For owners, ridding themselves of slaves—male or female—known to be drunkards or runaways was the most desirable option. Rumors of a slave's misdeeds could cause disaster to an owner's pocketbook. As soon as flight and stealing became the topics of gossip buzzing throughout the city, the likelihood of selling a slave waned considerably.

Given the spread of fears and accusations, we might well imagine that these were a subjugated population's passive mechanisms of resistance or its careful invention and utilization of strategies to obtain freedom. What could an owner do with a slave who gave himself over to continuous intoxication, who simply did not wish to work, who stole, who escaped for days and nights ... or perhaps even combined all these attributes?

An order for the slave's retrieval from the pulperías (small shops that were both taverns and grocery stores) or a search for him or her by the rural or urban police also involved expenses, and the costs would be in vain if the slave were not found. Neither was sale necessarily the best solution because if owners decided to be frank with the


new purchaser, they risked losing money; if they were not honest, the swindled buyer might sue to cancel the sale. In this last case the deceived purchaser would receive not only the entire value of the "defective" slave but payment for the damage, theft, delinquent amount of daily wage, and legal costs as well. Similar conflicts between owners and slaves were the order of the day; insults and even street scuffles resulting from the actions of slaves were part of daily urban life.

In 1817 Doña Jacoba Centurión ventured to sell a "faulty" female slave to Don Martín Gonzales, without informing him of her defects. The wronged party complained:

That the mentioned slave, aside from the vice of drunkenness, also suffers from that of maroonage, and she has suffered from these for many years, even though she has on several occasions been placed in various panaderías by the stated Doña Jacoba, thus, that for this reason, as well as her continual drunkenness, she is incapable of service, principally when she goes so far that for twenty-four hours or more she remains completely unfit and incapacitated to work in the kitchen or prepare food, or [do] anything else useful.[12]

The owner's laments were confirmed by witnesses who had observed the slave in "continual disputes in the pulperías , intoxicating herself, and almost all the time she stayed outside her house in the cofradías , so that Doña Jacoba Centurión, her owner at that time, frequently ordered that she be sought in those places." Doña Jacoba had to return the total amount of 300 pesos to Don Martín. In the meantime both owners had lost daily wages, and Doña Jacoba would be doomed to continue losing them. Apparently no type of control that owners were capable of exercising was sufficient to prevent the slave from getting drunk or obtaining money to purchase liquor.

But Doña Jacoba had more luck than José Ignacio Palacio, the owner of Pedro Piélago. Whereas owners of drunken slaves lost daily wages, in the case of thieves and maroons, apart from the loss of daily wages, they had to assume responsibility toward third parties and conceivably loss of the slave as well. Don José had purchased Pedro Piélago for 250 pesos. After a few months, between the persecutions the slave had managed to avoid, and the costs of his retrievals, as well as his pilfering along the way, his value had increased to 425 pesos. As we can see, the expenses were higher than his initial price. The owner used this argument before the courts to request that Pedro's conque


be rescinded, so that he could sell Pedro to a hacienda or ask the court's assistance in selling him for 425 pesos. To the owner's surprise, the slave paid his purchase price with his own resources.[13] Within this logic, misdeeds were an obviously rentable commodity, even if owners occasionally took reprisals against the slave's relatives still under his authority.[14]

The more defective a slave, the more determined a fugitive, and the less willing a worker, the greater was the powerlessness of owners and the higher were their losses. The events that surrounded the slave José Gregorio summarize almost all the possibilities and malefactions of a slave in Lima. Reading his adventures, we can only conclude that in his comings and goings and in the manner in which he managed to get himself out of scrapes, he tricked all those with whom he had dealings. Furthermore, his case shows us the weaknesses in the mechanisms of control, the powerlessness of owners, and not least significant, the visible ruin of the slaveholding system. Therefore, his adventures merit description in great detail.

Doña Manuela Gonzales purchased José Gregorio from the widowed countess de la Vega. Using some excuse, the countess avoided showing the new purchaser the bill of sale, which stated that the slave could not be sold for more than 400 pesos, nor "outside the gates [of Lima]," and that his purchase price should always be accepted as long as he could provide it—whether to purchase his freedom or to change owners. As soon as Doña Manuela received the slave, her problems began.

Soon after José Gregorio entered into my power, I put him to work for his clothes and board, since he arrived almost naked and with nothing to cover himself up at night. The slave having offered to earn daily wages, I set him up as a water carrier at an expense of over 100 pesos in mules, materials, pipes, and other necessities. In the first week he wore down and mistreated the mule and returned without the pipes, stating that the mule had been stolen and that he had left the pipes at the pot maker's shop to be mended. I ordered he be given a second mule so that he might continue the work with other pipes; which had no effect because he fled and remained a fugitive for close to two months, at the end of which he was seized one night by Don Ignacio Negreiros and soldiers of his command in a store on Juan de la Coba street where José Gregorio along with other criminals of his class congregate to dance and spend what they rob from their owners. Quickly placed by aver-


dict in the supply house in the plazuela de San Francisco belonging to Don Juan Sisneros, without any work or punishment, as a form of reprimand, I made him go to the Chuquitanta hacienda managed by Captain Don Pablo Josef de Albarado, two leagues away from this capital, where he was treated with the greatest leniency and without the infliction of any harm through the favor that hacendado granted me.
I released the aforementioned after some time, believing him to be corrected; however the correction was stealing the water carrier's equipment, several books, a pan, and other items without sparing even the trimming scissors, paper, and penknife from the table. He again fled and after much time as a fugitive he was seen in the house of Señor Conde de Villar de Puente where, feigning my consent, he rented himself out for the service. He sent a mulato to ask me if I would be willing to sell José Gregorio, and my husband answered that he was willing to sell him but warned the buyer that José Gregorio was a thief and maroon in order to protect us from a suit to annul the sale by the stated count, whom the black had deceived. A dependent of the count then forged and produced in the name of José Gregorio the petition included in this file.

This petition stated our willingness to sell José Gregorio, with the condition and pact of being discharged from any claims to annul the sale. However the slave gave no respite to conclude these negotiations, because stealing new saddle gear and other articles, according to what the count stated as he withdrew from the sale. Instead of—as I insisted—putting José Gregorio in a panadería or directly assuring he would be delivered to me, the count just threw him out of his house.

The black continued as a fugitive, robbing whomever he could, for which I received several complaints principally about two dozen boxes, two ponchos, a pair of stockings, and a mule. At this time he wanted to marry and sent to me his fiancée's owner whom I warned about his vile deeds and bad conduct. Then he tried to hurt a black from whom he had stolen some bottles, on the occasion of helping him carry several large boxes of bottles from the warehouse to the purchaser's home.

One of the last nights of September, he broke into the house after midnight with the idea no doubt of cleaning out what was mislaid; his bad intentions manifested something worse, as evidenced in the fact that he came accompanied by another zambo or black of his class. On 27 September the stated went to the Chuquitanta hacienda claiming to have already been sold by me and convinced his new owner to transfer him to the nearby hacienda of Naranjal so he could recover from a sickness he did not have. On the morning of the 29th, about the time of mass, José Gregorio forced down a door, and breaking the lock he entered the yard and took the two best horses from


the stables. While he was stealing them he was surprised and placed in the pillory. In order to avoid work and punishment for his infamy, he feigned stomach pain and claimed to have two or four fistulas on his body. He was examined and nothing was found. Being returned to the pillory, he broke and splintered the roof from where he escaped, taking along with him a new pair of shackles.

The days before this last escape he was on the hacienda, and when he was put to work with two warders he pretended to be near death, turned his eyes white, and finally made them take him to the house exclusively to sleep and eat. At this time he had the boldness to fiercely cudgel with a solid stick one of the warders who opposed his escape.

After escaping in the described manner he associated himself with a certain zambo , slave of Don Josef Basurco, to whom he gave some reales so that he would act as a sponsor and return him to me. No doubt, he was preparing another swindle in an imperceptible manner. That night I attempted to secure him. Nevertheless, he jumped down the roof of the compost dump and could not be found either because he hid himself in the irrigation ditch or escaped by climbing on the neighboring roofs. However, the spectacular thing was that after this he returned to the kitchen when everyone was sleeping, he lighted the fire, heated something to eat, and after satisfying himself he dirtied pots, taking as he left half a hen, a hat, and a shirt from a boy who had just contracted smallpox.

He remained a fugitive until a few days ago when with the accustomed expense, some soldiers imprisoned him and placed him in the Santa Ana panadería , from where he was then moved to the panadería at the San Francisco plazuela, where he is now.

The black José Gregorio is the uttermost thief and maroon that can be imagined; but he is even more sneaky than a thief or maroon. I will not hide his defects from anyone, and there is no one who upon knowing them will give me one peso for him. Neither should he forever be in the panadería nor is it reasonable that he remain there ready to kill or be killed. Neither he nor his brothers are able to procure or arrange to find someone willing to purchase him. To his price of 400 pesos, 200 pesos or more from his thefts and other detailed vile acts should be added. It is necessary to make a firm decision in order not to lose everything.[15]

Unless we assume that the owner had an exceedingly active imagination, we must marvel at the slave's remarkable skills. They brought slaveholders and authorities to a standstill. The only alternative was to sell José Gregorio outside Lima. But we have come to know José Gregorio and other slaves like him: surely such a ruling came to nothing and he became another of the city's free black inhabitants.


Owners could buy and sell slaves; slaves could purchase, rent, and also sell themselves. For this final option, a possibility was to go out into the streets to search for a new owner, sometimes with the aid of a friend, sponsor, or other loved one. Another option was to do what owners did: appeal to slave brokers, key intermediaries who were at work when the colonial period began (Bowser 1977, 125). A slave broker could set up a dialogue between different purchasers and perhaps also a way for slaves to escape difficult circumstances. As agents of intermediation, slave brokers at times found themselves suspected of complicity with slaves, and intermediation most often became a thankless duty for persons belonging to casta groups. In negotiations between a not so meek slave population and owners dependent on slave labor and willing to perpetuate the slaveholding system, sometimes intermediation backfired on brokers.[16]

Owners and slaves could appeal to the services of brokers in exchange for payment of a commission that they would set. Owners did so in order to avoid suits to annul the sale and to obtain a good price for the slave. And the slaves did so in order to locate a new owner, especially if their former owner did not permit them to do so independently. The brokers, for their part, sought to assure the quality of their commodity and investigated the reasons why a slave wished to change owners. Once the slave had stated his or her reasons, the broker consulted the owner regarding the slave's possible defects (typically, being too old or young, ill or drunk, or a fugitive) and the more general stipulations of the conque . When the broker contacted potential buyers, he might then claim to have good references for the slave. Sometimes, the broker took the trouble to make additional inquiries among the slave's previous owners and acquaintances. A slave's social image was important.

In the quest for buyers, brokers helped one another or shared out the brokerage. It was not unusual that even as brokers worked, slaves made their way through streets and into residences, searching for owners on their own. When an interested party was found, the slave remained "on trial" while the purchaser verified the flaws and attributes of his recent acquisition, including a medical exam. This trial period usually lasted no more than a few days, depending on the seller's impatience or the slave's eagerness to change owners. In the case of illness—including mange, which was widespread—or other defects, it was possible to renege on the sale and thus the cycle began again.


While the transaction was in process, the intervention of the broker demonstrated the will—whether of the owner wishing to sell or the slave to be sold—to reach an agreement and could ease strife between owner and slave. This intermediation engendered expectations on both sides for a speedy agreement. An intermediary could absorb tensions and possibly impede the slave's escape. However, the final objective was not always attained. When the proceedings with a broker stemmed from a slave's discontent with his or her owner, and the new purchaser made a negative decision after the trial period, the slave was likely to resist a return to the former owner's house. Some slaves took the opportunity to flee, especially if the potential buyer had directly communicated to the slave the decision not to purchase. The slave would not wait for the broker's return to fetch the slave in order to deposit him or her in the former owner's hands. Either possibility clearly depended on the treatment the slave received and also on the slave's initiative. And it hinged on the expertise of the broker, who at all costs would have to guard against the slave's discovery of the owner's decision.

If the slave managed to flee (or refused to return to the first owner), beyond an accusation of the broker's complicity with the purchaser to the detriment of the former owner's interests, an owner had little recourse against a less than honest broker who entered into direct negotiations with the new owner: in exchange for declaring that the slave had fled, the broker received money and hid the slave or transferred him or her to a hacienda. Or a broker might connive with the slave (for example, offering to lower the slave's price). Finally, a broker could claim that the former owner had lied by stating that his or her slave was not a maroon (however, as soon as a slave fled, he or she became a maroon, or bandit) or that a slave was an inherently risky commodity, a "commodity with feet." Some brokers were jailed for such occurrences, and when the broker had relatives among the black population, he could even end up in a panadería until someone paid his surety. In this way, brokers played the role of articulator and lived off an increasingly obstructed discourse between property and freedom—synthesizing the conflicts at the core of slaveholding that justified their services and allied them with slaves.

More broadly, the speed with which slaves changed owners was an indication of their mobility, added to that of their daily wages. Lima's urban slaveholders found ways to assure that slaves remained with a


proprietary family—for example, through arrangements such as womb inheritance or promises of future freedom—and in return slaves engaged in a more visible strategy of negotiation, the continual switching of owners. There would always be an owner interested in acquiring a slave under the best possible circumstances, which above all meant a low price. There were very few cartas de libertad signed by the master into whose hands the slave had been born, rather, specifications about the identity of former owners confirm that the same slave often passed through frequent transactions. In Santa Ana's residential census of 1808, cited earlier, only in one case did members of a slave family spanning three generations live together with their owners. The parallelism between the lives of owners and the lives of slaves had limits dictated by the conquest of greater spaces of freedom and of freedom itself. Switching owners could be a way to improve living conditions and in the long run could also serve as a supplementary instrument of negotiation.

To a greater or lesser extent—and using additional arguments—slaves on haciendas, others with daily-wage jobs, and ones in domestic service fought their own battles along lines similar to those of José Gregorio. Each interstice of the society left room for an original response, which over the course of the years freed individuals from slavery and made the contradictions of the whole society resoundingly obvious. There were more than a few cases in which the dominant sector experienced internal fissures as a consequence of the actions and the ingenuity of their slaves. Nevertheless, up until the final years of slavery owners wielded mechanisms and entities of control. Some were overt, such as the variously mentioned panaderías ; others such as unfilled promises made to slaves were more sophisticated.

The Other Side: Mechanisms of Control

The ease with which slaves—and certainly other groups as well—moved about the city suggests questions about society's mechanisms of control. Generalized disorder and the absence of a reliable and well-organized police corps can explain much of slaves' easy mobility. However, society's forms of control were multiple and sometimes extremely complex. It is difficult to know where they began and ended. They ranged from very individual mechanisms such as the owner's whip to more sophisticated mechanisms of broader yet more diffuse


social control, which were manifested through expectations of social ascent, racial prejudices, and dissension within black society.

As in all cities, Lima's inhabitants knew that some places were more dangerous than others, where rowdy and disorderly characters met for various purposes. These places were usually associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages; for the period we are examining these places were taverns and pulperías . Such locales abounded, in spite of the complaints voiced by neighbors, and offered amusement and diversion for some sectors of the popular classes. It was not unusual for Indians and individuals of black ancestry, including women, to be the proprietors of these establishments, many of which sprung up without the consent of the municipal authorities. In 1816—in response to yet another neighborhood complaint and upon the initiative of the taverners' guild—the municipal council ordered the "closing of the taverns of this capital not possessing a license." Although this decree existed, many managed to remain in business by pretending to sell other goods or by barring street access.[17] More than one villain found asylum and refuge in these places. Taverns and pulperías were one facet of the image of urban disorder bewailed by contemporaries.

From at least the close of the eighteenth century, commentaries about urban social malaise were heard, ranging from robberies to the physical disintegration of urban space. Lima was "a Babylon." Confronted with this situation, Jorge Escobedo, the inspector general and superintendent of the Peruvian viceroyalty, decreed Lima's division into districts and barrios. An edict dated 17 April 1785 established alcaldes de barrio , to be elected from "persons of distinction." Each neighborhood mayor would be in charge of a body of serenos , who would protect the peace of the city. The serenos were authorized to use arms after ten at night, the slaves' curfew hour.[18] Notwithstanding the authorities' vigilance, problems about the inefficiency of the urban police subsisted until at least the end of the nineteenth century. In 1827 the indictment about the ineffectiveness of the neighborhood watchmen recurred, but apparently the underlying problem was the lack of jails: "The lowest common citizen holds that inspectors in the practice of their post are nearly worthless bodies because they cannot order the apprehension of anyone, even if caught red-handed, because there is no place to deposit them and it is for this reason that every class of crime is repeatedly executed" (see also Távara 1855).


Widespread violation of another ordinance—which decreed that each resident had to have a light at the entrance of his or her house—made darkness the refuge of robbers and thieves. The meager salary of the serenos came from the city's residents, who seldom paid their assigned quotas. Consequently, serenos did not take their job very seriously.[19] Another reorganization of the police force was ordered in 1835. Yet the panorama was the same: every day wrongdoers were up to their tricks in the streets of Lima. This time it was ordered that the district governors, neighborhood inspectors, guards, serenos , and other employees of the police come under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal de la Acordada. The Tribunal, for its part, would rely on a squadron of armed police to be distributed "as suited public security."[20] A new reordering of the urban police was recorded in 1854, under a ruling by the ministry of government.[21] This time the authorities wished to form a battalion of serenos , independent of the police, with its own chiefs and officials. It was to be composed of five companies, corresponding to the number of city districts, and under the control of the district inspectors and Lima's prefect. The guards became the executors of the inspectors' commands, and the serenos now fulfilled another daily function of ensuring public cleanliness and clearing the streets. A new figure emerged, that of district commissioner, to whom the inspectors were to lend their support if requested.

The image that remains with us is one of the weakness and lack of mechanisms of control to regulate urban life systematically and efficiently. Those mechanisms aimed at the subordination of specific groups were better organized, such as beaterios for nonslave women and panaderías for slaves. The panaderías , as we have seen throughout many of the personal histories, were a place to deposit slave men and women as punishment for some crime (such as robbery, homicide, maroonage), or for nonfulfillment of obligations (such as nonpayment of daily wages). And slaves themselves would use internment in a panadería in order to resolve familial conflicts. The beaterios were places of confinement for women in the process of divorce, within which whites, blacks, and Indians attempted to settle quite similar marital problems.

The most obvious places of punishment were the prisons, reputed to be unsafe; for this reason they were less and less used in the years following independence. In eighteenth-century Lima three jails ex-


isted: they belonged to the court, the city, and the Inquisition (which ceased functioning in the 1830s with the recess of the activities of the Holy Office). In 1790 the two remaining jails sheltered 194 delinquents, of which 103 were in the court facility (Flores Galindo 1984, 163). Even in 1796 the city's royal jail (or that of the court) housed 59 prisoners, of which 15 were white and 12 mestizo ;[22] in 1854 the number of prisoners had fallen to 35 (Távara 1855). At both times, the number of slaves among the prisoners was insignificant. A slave's imprisonment deprived his or her owner of the slave's labor power but placement in a panadería allowed the panadería 's proprietor or mayordomo to pay the corresponding daily wages to the owner and benefit from the slave's labor.

Beyond institutionalized penal sites, many complaints, cries, and laments from slaves who had the misfortune to anger their owners never reached the ears of the authorities. It was not uncommon for an owner's whip to exceed the number of lashes permitted. Corporal punishment did not cease to be part of the daily experiences of slaves. A slave's cost made replacement difficult, and because the number of slaves rapidly decreased the slave's last weapon was blackmail, the threat to take his or her own life. Arguments based on blackmail might even obtain a favorable judgment in legal suit, for example, when a slave pressured the authorities to allow him or her to search for a new owner. In the words of Ana María Murga: "If the master wins the case, and Your Excellency orders that I return to his service, I am determined to commit suicide, and he will lose his money just as I lose my life."[23]

Slaves were cognizant of what was taking place. Ana María Murga was returned to her owner and she did not commit suicide. Yet the possibility always existed and might take quite dramatic form. The punishments imposed on slaves, as well as actions carried out against their will, always had two faces. And reprisals were not just a means of retaliation. There was a possible margin of negotiation, even if in the ultimate extreme, negotiation or open confrontation accompanied suicide or self-exclusion, as was often the case with maroons.

Between both extremes of panaderías and prisons on the one hand and of suicide and banditry on the other, a possibility of additional punishment was relocation from the city to a hacienda, in other words, the conversion of a city slave into a hacienda slave. Transfer to a hacienda hung threateningly over the heads of slaves, even if it rarely


took place after oral or written promises of permanent residence "inside the gates" or of marriage. The gamut of these options in some way represented the universe that tightened the most immediate confines of the daily life of slaves.

The Continual Threat: Transfer to a Hacienda

As we explore the mechanisms owners devised to move slaves from city to countryside and those slaves used to avoid the transfer, we notice additional weak points of the slaveholding system. One point derived from the most central aspects of the system's control: the treatment of slaves as objects and their distribution, which varied according to the profitability of the slave labor force. Lima's slaves often evaded their owners' attempts to transfer them to the countryside, offering in practice a corollary to the argument that the survival of slaveholding relationships and an increase in slave profitability came from placing the slave labor force in those realms or sectors where there was no other labor force, and where the exploitation of the labor force could be maximized.[24] Because the unrestrained geographic shifting of the slave labor force was not possible, one of the most pivotal elements of the slaveholding authority crumbled.

In 1809 Apolinaria Ontañón presented an appeal in her daughter's name that she be moved from her place of work. The reason for this petition was the mother's fear that her daughter might be relocated to a Chancay hacienda, owned by Doña Ventura Espinoza, "because they portray her as vicious and full of defects." Until that time the owner, the mother, and the daughter had lived in Lima. Accusing the slave of real or supposed defects before Lima's civil authorities was an argument used to alter one of the stipulations of the slave's conque , which stated that she could not be sold outside Lima's gates. In the cited case, the owner agreed to the slave's searching for a new owner, as long as she provided surety of her person, "because my intention is not to oppress her." The owner, after having deposited the slave in a panadería as punishment for committed misdeeds, placed her in the hands of a broker so that he could find her another owner. However, when a new owner was located, the slave fled. The reason for the slave's attitude was that she lived apart from her husband. She had switched owners three times in one year alone. The owner concluded, "Your Excellency will discover the perverse nature of these people of


servitude and will wisely agree to a judgment that ensures my rights." A few days later it was decreed that the mother should grant surety in two days. If this were not done, the mother would be placed in prison until she surrendered the daughter she had supposedly hidden.[25]

Many owners attempted to transfer their slaves by contending that they were disobedient and rebellious. They had to prove such accusations. And a way to accumulate evidence against a slave was to deposit that slave again and again in a panadería . Owners knew that they were staking all that they had: if the judgment went against transfer to a hacienda, as we have seen it, later sale to another urban owner would be impossible. And even if an owner took on this risk, he or she would still have to face protests from the slave's relatives. Families had access to the panaderías and could verify what was taking place; some family members learned from personal experience what deposit in a panadería meant. In 1810 the mother of Julián, the slave of Don Francisco Riobo, the owner of the Nazarenas panadería , complained about the lashings inflicted upon her son "almost to the point of murdering him, tearing his buttocks to ribbons, with no attributable reason." The mother went to the judge ("as a loving mother turns to the source of Your Excellency's mercy") after Julián recovered from the beatings and managed to flee. The judge verified Julián's condition and ordered his placement in the hospital. If frequent deposits in the panadería could be used as evidence of the slave's disobedience and thus become an argument to transfer the slave to a hacienda, whippings (and thus, treatment within the panaderías that the owner entrusted to the administrator of this institution) were an argument to request a change of owner, as well as a way to find a new owner who had no intentions of relocating the slave to a hacienda. In this case the slave's mother immediately suspected that the owner wished to relocate her son to a hacienda and she intervened in order to prevent this. She requested that she be allowed to search for an owner for him in Lima. The judge ruled that no relocation of the slave should take place until the circumstances surrounding the abuse were clarified.[26] In this case the dual argument, brutality and transgression of the stipulations of the slave's conque , gave the slave's relatives means to paralyze the owner's pretensions. The abuse received was in this context an action that worked for the slave, as it allowed the family to keep him in the city. The law supported and recommended lenient, paternal, and Christian treatment; and society punished transgressing owners, sometimes with the forfeiture of a slave.


If the slave was married, ecclesiastical authorities intervened when they witnessed the breakup of a marriage: they wished to see slaves married and united in order to avoid sinful cohabitation and misbehavior. Apparently owners internalized this moral exigency to such a degree that when they managed to demonstrate that the best alternative was to relocate the slave to a hacienda owing to his or her unruliness, vices, or idleness, they went to the trouble of notifying ecclesiastical authorities about the impending transfer. And even then the Church would make sure that a slave spouse would be given the chance to follow his or her mate.[27]

But slave women were not obligated to follow their husbands; only if they so desired—whatever the owner might think about the other spouse—would they work together on the hacienda. As we noted earlier from the vantage point of the haciendas, women were the first to leave, which meant a tacit separation. For the same reason they were not likely to follow their husbands to a hacienda. I found no case in which slaves chose this course, men or women. Therefore, there were open channels for relocation to haciendas but few ways to prove that this course was necessary. Only in two cases were owners' measures successful. In all the other attempts, there was resistance by the slave or, even more frequently, the assistance of a loved one or spouse and the Church's support.

Complaints by parents who wished to avoid the relocation of their children were less effective. Generally, the conques of slaves born into the hands of a master did not specify the conditions of sale, which were established when the slave was sold for the first time. Moreover, the slave matured, and using the argument of investment in his or her maintenance and clothing, the owner usually raised the purchase price when the slave reached working age. José Llanos was the slave parent of María del Carmen Marín, who at the age of two or three was sold to another owner, Doña Juana Daga, for 130 pesos. When the girl reached thirteen years of age, Doña Juana wanted to sell her outside the capital. Confronted with the parent's insistence, the new owner gave her mother permission to find another owner for her daughter in the city. However, the owner now asked 450 pesos for the slave girl. In the appeal for a court decision, the argument to keep the girl in the city revolved around the price. The mother asked for an appraisal of the girl, alleging that 450 pesos was a price that would not allow her to find a new owner and that owners were not free to randomly assign prices to their slaves. Precisely, she stated, because the slaves "acquire


an important right in order to attain the sad consolation of moving from the yoke of slavery, which would be imaginary if owners were to retain the power to impose capriciously the price they wish." In other words, only respect of the conque and moreover, of the slave's stipulated price, assured the slave's free mobility and consequently the possibility of loosening the ties to one's owner. The owner in this case very clearly felt the obstacles that such an interpretation placed on her pretensions of property. Her response was emphatic: "An owner is free to assign a price to his slave, without any previous appraisal being required of the former, unless the slave is found defective or if the stated price is exorbitant. The price of 400 pesos is common in this city."[28]

Reappraisal of the price, therefore, was a way to make residence in the city difficult even if the owner formally agreed to the slave's request to search for another owner. This appeal was tested particularly with children who had not been born with their conques in their hands and whose first sale took place before their adulthood. Given these situations, the legal appeal was usually to request that the slave's appraisal be performed by experts and in a context in which former and prospective owners could reach an agreement. Thus, appraisal in order to avoid relocation outside Lima's gates could also turn into a mechanism through which slaves—with the mediation of the judicial courts—renegotiated their purchase prices. As we have seen, the likelihood of lowering one's price was even better if defects or illness existed.

Even if only rarely urban slaves went to the countryside, the possibility hung permanently over their heads. The mechanisms of resistance not only reaffirmed slaves' determination to stay in the city or return but also fit into the privileges granted by legislation and the Church: marriage in the case of married slaves; the conque and price in the case of children. Transfer to the hacienda was not an effective threat. Neither the fear of urban rebellions nor the varied profitable rural jobs for slaves were forces great enough to resolve the pressing problems of the labor force with urban-rural slave migration.

Despite the determination of slaves to defend the occupational and social spaces earned in the city, it appears significant that there were slaves who voluntarily went to the countryside and, moreover, were content. Given the previously described patterns of behavior, this happiness had only one basis: the enormous fluidity between countryside and city. The mobility of slaves between rural sites adjoining the city and the city proper must have been quite great, en-


abling a slave from the Aucallama hacienda (200 kilometers from the city of Lima) to walk through the streets of Lima often enough to win the heart and favors of Bernardina, the slave of Doña Fermina Garcia, and bring her back to the hacienda.[29] For this couple, the hacienda served as a refuge until the abolition of slavery succeeded in finally rescuing Bernardina from the persecutions of her owner in Lima. In other words, only love and not a criterion of profitability can explain the inverse road from the city to the countryside. But far more often marriage—or rather, love—was the weapon of choice. The simple suspicion that an owner was contemplating the relocation of a slave to a hacienda was enough to bring the slave's immediate protest. Almost without exception, the argument of marriage secured a judgment in favor of the slave.

Panaderías: Prisons and Meeting Places

Placement in a panaderí a, the use of shackles, and the length of stay depended on the crime a slave had committed. As we have seen, owners put slaves there for several reasons, typically when they did not know what to do with their slaves or wished to prevent slaves from having their way. Then with the aid of a sereno they brought slaves to a panadería . Some owners put slaves under the control of a panadero and collected the daily wages directly. Given conduct such as that of José Gregorio, the combination of daily wages and imprisonment was a preferred way to control the slave population. This "practice grew so extensive that the many panaderías could hold no more slaves or keep them under irons."[30] On occasion the parents of a black, pardo , or zambo attempted to educate the child through internment in a panadería because they found the child too frivolous or wayward.

In 1803 various complaints of excessive abuse caused a thorough inspection of all Lima's panaderías . A fragment of this inspection, written by Dr. Baquíjano, remains with us. It referred to the nine panaderías of the fourth district and noted if the persons who worked there were from "outside" (deposited by outside owners) or "local" (owned by the panadero or panadería administrators).[31]

Panaderías had almost as many people from outside as from local sources. Outsiders represented a highly unstable component. They came and left according to the inclinations of their owners (or family


members). Since this inspection also recorded the length of stay of those convicted, we can see that at the time of the inspection the average length did not exceed two or three months. There were two obvious reasons for this: owners did not want to be without their slaves' services for a long time, and the arduous panadería labor wore slaves out and might destroy their value. Local residents had longer internments and were typically maroons; some, such as the slave Esteban, had a long criminal history. In 1853 the owner of the Siete Hormigas panadería , Don Francisco Ramírez, recounted the slave's misdemeanors:

A year and a half ago Esteban almost stabbed a woman, a servant of the pulpero on the corner, and because of the complaint she made to me I placed him in prison: after three days in prison he hurt two of his cell mates, and he tried to do the same to me, for which reason I restrained him and called the police. He hurt the warder.... Reported as corrected, he was returned and I had him again at my service and on the day cited he purposefully caused me to lose a batch of bread, and with the permission of the commissioner I flogged him three times.[32]

Esteban's deeds were crimes—as opposed to José Gregorio's petty thefts—and there was no way to control him other than send him to a panadería . Thus, slaves from outside with extended stays in a panadería tended to be individuals with a long criminal record, even representing a menace to the owners. Other reasons for imprisonment existed (Table 14). Clearly the most serious offenders in panaderías were maroons, followed by robbers. Imprisonment for not delivering day wages was trivial, even though, as we saw, it was a perennial complaint of owners. The number of women deposited was much below that of men: a ratio of approximately 1:10 because alternative sites to deposit women were hospitals and, in exceptional cases, beaterios or convents.

Not everyone in a panadería was a slave. There were also free mulatos, pardos , and zambos who had been accused of being maroons but might not actually be slaves. Sometimes the term maroon was synonymous with vagrant. The inspection explicitly documented the person's status as a slave (Table 15); in others only ethnicity and perhaps the type of crime was noted.

We can see that most of the panadería population was free, a ratio of approximately 2:1. Local slaves were few; slaves who came from outside numbered twenty-five and there were ten free outsiders, who


TABLE 14. Reason for Placement in the Panaderías of Lima's Fourth District: 1803


Owner Outside

Owner Local




family dispute








non-payment of daily wages


no information






Source . BN, D 10130, Contiene la visita de las panaderías de la comprehensión del cuartel cuarto, hecha por el Sr. Dr. Don Baquíjano de la Real y Distinguida Orden de Carlos III.... Los Reyes, 10 de mayo de 1803. 12 ff.

a The numbers that follow the plus sign refer to slave women; all other slaves deposited in the panaderías were men.


TABLE 15. Origin of Slaves and Free Persons in the Panaderías of Lima's Fourth District: 1803



Free Persons


Owner Outside

Owner Local

Owner Outside

Owner Local




































Source . BN, D 10130, Contiene la visita de las panaderías de la comprehensión del cuartel cuarto, hecha por el Sr. Dr. Don Baquíjano de la Real y Distinguida Orden de Carlos III.... Los Reyes, 10 de mayo de 1803. 12 ff.

a The numbers that follow the plus sign refer to women; all other individuals deposited in the panaderías were men.

b One Bellavista panadería was owned by A. Aldón, the other by L. Carrillo.


were usually the ones assigned to bake bread. The explanation for this distribution is twofold: owners attempted to avoid depositing their slaves in panaderías regardless of the disturbance they caused and panaderos were reluctant to accept slaves because they knew that those who ended up in their hands were the worst of the lot, the most difficult to control and the most contumacious.

Owing as much to the composition of the panaderías ' labor force (free persons and slaves, and many ethnic hierarchies within black society) as to the fact that in the panaderías the least submissive members of society existed in the worst imaginable work conditions, rather violent episodes took place. Excesses ranged from mistreatment that merited a hospital bed in San Bartolomé, to the rape of slave women by some mayordomo or bread distributor.[33] Revolts were not uncommon since panaderos often had trouble keeping their slaves in order. They could not achieve greater control through harsher corporal punishment. Civil suits initiated by the state against unscrupulous panaderos revealed the shrewd eye of owners determined to defend their interests and of free family members concerned about deposited slaves. In cases that depicted mistreatment and execrable working conditions, judicial action tended to defend slaves, penalizing panaderos with fines.

In 1818 the criminal prosecutor and count of Vallehermoso filed a suit against Don Francisco Gómez, the proprietor of the Sauce panadería (in the fourth district), for excessive punishment inflicted on two slaves for the crime of leaving the panadería to go shopping. The criminal defender stated his opinion regarding the happenings:

The punishment given to two blacks who were moved to the San Bartolomé hospital has been excessive and since the governmental edicts ... impose a fine of 200 pesos on panaderos the first time that more than twelve lashes are given to a slave in their homes, and the court has barely fined him the fourth part, the panadero should not be allowed any appeal.[34]

The law was categorical. The only danger of a very high fine was that the panadero could choose to let the slave die, a less expensive solution than payment of the penalty resulting from a complaint. State authorities intervened on behalf of slaves even when the charge was neglect or sabotage of their assigned duties (for example, putting too much or too little flour in the bread dough, ruining the containers, or perhaps attacking the work foreman).[35] In these cases the


judge's ruling was limited to stating that the slave should quickly be transferred to another owner or if the slave was local that the panadero should give the slave his or her carta de libertad . Slaves from outside often belonged to hacendados known for their readiness to transfer unruly workers to other owners. Slaves with urban experience could be a headache for owners, particularly since the correction of a stay in a panadería usually strengthened stubborn and rebellious natures.

Authorities took complaints against abusive owners and administrators seriously, not only because the property of owners was in jeopardy, but also because urban residents knew well what happened within the walls of the panaderías and depended on the daily production of bread. Those with loved ones deposited there were doubly alert. In an episode that took place in one of Santa Ana's panaderías , a slave from outside, Antonio Lara, was whipped. A free black, Juan Daga, a cobbler who lived on the corner of Cocharcas street and worked in a shop alongside his cousin, Antonio's brother, heard screams and ran to the mayor (the marqués of Torre Tagle) to warn him. When the mayor's emissary reached the establishment, the slave had already been transferred to the Serrano panadería , probably to hide the evidence of the lashes. The panadería 's administrator described the slave's offenses, which the bookkeeper confirmed and accused the slave of possessing a knife that he used to escape. In fact only the intervention of the other slaves in the panadería forestalled a "fatal outcome" because—so they said—Antonio had tried to hang the administrator.[36] Those outside were completely clear about what took place inside; those inside kept Antonio's frenzy from ending the administrator's life. And this was the same mistreated slave who initiated a suit against the administrator for cruelty.

As the inspection showed, persons from varying social backgrounds met in panaderías . For some, the place became a "hidden dungeon," "the whole of all misery," or "the representative symbol of all pain."[37] Yet for others life seemed quite tolerable. They enjoyed privileges, such as the right to tips or permission to leave the panadería in order to purchase articles (in this case, tobacco) for personal consumption. Conditions and complaints varied even within a single panadería .

In the inquiry after a riot that took place in the Santa Clara panadería in 1809, several inmates complained that "the administrator gave workers small tips when he wished and not when he should,"


that they slept underneath mats, and that the ration of food they received every twenty-four hours was very meager. Others said that they had nothing to complain about because the treatment and maintenance received were reasonable, that they even ate from the administrator's table and could come and go as they pleased. Those with privileges were aware of the different treatment and stated that "those who should complain are those who are imprisoned in the kneading room and are fed from the frying pan." The conditions in which this disturbance took place were significant: it was Sunday and the mayordomo was celebrating his birthday. Everyone participated, and the mayordomo "gave aguardiente [an alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane] to those free and shackled in the kneading room as well as those in the cold-storage room, so that everyone got drunk."[38]

In light of the severe measures that authorities took against any signs of indigenous rebellion, their attitude toward the black population might seem surprising. In this situation, as in earlier disorders, the public prosecutor believed that the rioting grew from abuse and noncompliance with ordinances; therefore, the suit did not "call for further support." Officials preferred to forget the incident and the admission by one of the instigators, the slave Domingo Larreguerro, that the whole affair had been planned and that its timing "seemed fitting to them, given the inebriated state of the mayordomo who was alone because the administrator of the Paceo [panadería ] was in the town of Chorrillos."

Contemporaries understood that panaderías were places where conflicts were likely to ignite over differences in treatment and background—but authorities did not consider that such outbursts threatened the social order. Fights broke out not only between proprietors (represented by the panaderos or their administrators) and slaves, but also between members of black society. Their rough conditions and the frequent interference of alcohol often led inmates to turn their aggression against other workers in the panadería .[39]

The years immediately after the inspection saw no change in the conditions or opportunities within the panaderías . Two decades later, in the 2 November 1822 session of congress, a report of the commission in charge of inspecting the panaderías was read, which showed concern about "the abuses that have been observed in the stated houses, with regard to the treatment that is given to some


slaves who are placed in these houses as a means of punishment." In 1821 the congress had decreed an amnesty—intended to include the slaves imprisoned in the panaderías —and had made proposals to correct abuses. The commission noted that the decree had not been posted in any of the city's panaderías . In other words, there was official concern but no translation of concern into slaves' and owners' behavior.

We have witnessed the presence of panaderías in the histories of several slave families, including the Lasmanuelos. Everyone in Lima knew about conditions there but beyond nonenforceable good intentions said or did nothing. In spite of their potentially explosive character panaderías continued to exist and fulfill their functions during the abolition of slavery. Many of them hid an owner's arbitrariness or fit the distinct objective of securing a surety, bending the will of a slave woman who felt the right to be treated as a wife, or preventing a slave's marriage. However, we have also seen that slaves increasingly objected to the reasons for their deposit. Still the mechanisms of control within the panaderías were very loose.

Given this panorama, we easily understand how and why slaves defined the fields of negotiation in terms of interpersonal relations. The state, along with other sources of control, interfered little in matters between owners and slaves. Legal channels gave both groups means to appeal those situations that personal relationships could not resolve. Trials allowed intermediation that eased social confrontation and perhaps muffled voices of dissent against oppression. Yet some figures and rumors provide accounts of uprising attempts. Labarthe (1955, 18) believes that Lima's slaves were well treated, even spoiled, and mentions that in the epoch of Gamarra's government (around 1835) some conspiracies and intentions to seize power were uncovered. Contemporaries talked of conspiracies to overthrow the government and assassinate whites in Lima. The leader of this plot was Juan de Dios Algorta. In 1827 the black candidate to replace the president was Bernardo Ordóñez, the bankrupt owner of a small shop in Guayaquil. When the plot was unveiled "meeting records, orders, appointments, and so forth were found," which according to Labarthe "demonstrated either enormous stupidity or an absolute security on the part of the conspirators."[40] Such adjectives could easily fit many nonblack and nonslave conspirators. It was an era in which many caudillos dreamed of becoming president. Given the entirety of day-to-day experiences,


who would wonder at slaves who also held such dreams? Weren't the dreams attached to the price of freedom?

It is difficult to know what was behind such plots and conspiracies or what their magnitude and objectives were. Yet given the patterns of behavior we have recorded, and the interpretation proposed by Blanchard (1990) of an uprising by blacks in Chicama in 1851 organized by outsiders, we must posit only limited effects and propagation for these "presidential conspiracies." The panic of urban whites over the anticipated arrival of a tribal chief on a slave ship to spark a potential revolt of urban slaves never had any real foundation, but it signaled their collective urgency and despairm—or certainly showed their imagination. And slaves had a decisive part in it.

Final Episodes

Slavery did not end in 1854. It ended both before and much later. Before, because it was a system undermined from within. Later, because the slaveholding system created racial prejudices whose wounds remain open, and more directly because the formal dismantling of slavery in limeño society after official abolition lasted at least two more decades. Cluttering the years after 1854 were suits by owners who sought to recover slaves mortgaged to other persons and to collect sums set by the official manumission council.[41] Civil suits dragged on for many years to limit the mobility of ex-slaves. Other owners, having sold their slaves or holding partial payment of their purchase prices, now pretended to be proprietors in order to collect the 300 pesos offered as compensation by the state.[42] Contemporaries decried the slow pace of this process of change or clung to their cherished ideas that correlated slave with black and black with manual labor and robbery.

Perhaps a final story will help us clarify the long transition from slavery to freedom. According to his baptismal certificate, Manuel del Espíritu Santo Real, a moreno of sixteen years of age in 1855, had been born free. He was raised in the house of Don Eusebio Carrillo. Through a public deed, Manuel was placed with a shoemaker to learn the trade. Soon after, several pairs of shoes vanished from the shoe shop. The owner of the shop immediately accused Manuel and two


underlings of having stolen the shoes. Claiming that it was of no concern to him whether Manuel was a slave or not, he deposited Manuel in the Pescadería panadería , ordering that he be whipped and shackled. This not sufficing, Manuel remained in the panadería for a few months and the daily wages he earned (six reales a day) were contributed to the shoe shop owner in payment for the supposed theft. In this situation the shoemaker offered to sell the slave to the panadero . The latter requested the conque and the only record that the shoemaker could show him was the deed that placed him as an apprentice. The panadero knew that this document did not furnish proof of slave status and withdrew from the proposed sale. The shoemaker told to the panadero that it did not matter if he did not wish to purchase the slave, since he already had another buyer, a hacendado from outside. While the shoemaker insisted on Manuel's sale, the latter's defender alleged that the shoemaker should indemnify Manuel 100 pesos for each lashing inflicted and that for shackling him for the period of three months, he should pay a fine of 500 pesos. He added that even if the robbery had taken place the police intendant had no jurisdiction, and the real crime was treating him as a slave instead of sending him to prison and filing a civil suit.[43]

Thirty years after the republic was founded the combined tensions and confusions of slavery and bureaucracy generated an atmosphere that included such possibilities as using an apprentice contract to sell a slave or a convenient panadería to punish an artisan and demanding indemnification for whippings and accusations of participation in robbery. Contemporaries generally regarded blacks as more delinquent, even as others sifted through criminal statistics in order to dismantle common prejudices. In 1855 Santiago Távara took the daily criminal column published by the police in the newspaper El Comercio as a point of reference; he compared crime rates for the first six months of 1854, when slavery existed, with those for the first six months of 1855, after its abolition. The crime rate had decreased (from 36 prisoners in 1854 to 30 in 1855), although murder had risen among the reasons for imprisonment. This increase of homicide in 1855, explained Távara (1855, 35–36), came from the increase of military troops: many of the murders were committed by soldiers who were not black. "It should be warned that in both columns the blacks receive very little space: because when a member of this class com-


mits an offense, the police usually uses the words, 'the so-and-so moreno ,' a phrase used only once in the column of 1854." However, the majority of Távara's contemporaries did not know how to read and the minority continued to cling to the construction (and necessity) of hierarchies that allowed for the essentially primitive construction and reproduction of interests.

This social image of the black had its economic counterpart. The guilds that had weathered political separation from Spain were gradually dying out as new urban jobs opened up for castas and slaves (Haitin 1986, 108, 118 if.). Later on, with greater sophistication in consumption and higher revenues from guano exports, the unskilled black population found fewer places within the traditional artisanal trades.

The guilds, which survived a few years of republican life, did not last long.... Their rules were seen as strangling, based on exigencies too impossible to fulfill such as the obligation that their members know how to read and write, even though national illiteracy reached 90 percent. Apprentices disappeared. The new small industries were in the hands of foreigners. Articles as easy to make within the nation such as doors and windows came from abroad. There was no place for the artisan and manual laborer in the workshops. (Romero 1980, 41)

This loss of jobs resulted from slavery, not only in the racial perceptions it included but also in the ways slaves emerged from it. To pay for manumission, they spent savings that otherwise might help them perfect an apprenticed trade or procure work tools to compete with imports. In the struggle to survive many ended up without savings or skills. And they and their more fortunate contemporaries existed in the economic context of a state that did not, could not, and would not see the disastrous consequences of its policies. After abolition became official in 1854, those who protested the state's blindness were not members of the black population but artisans, castas .

The guild of cart makers, comprised wholly of people of color, tries to sabotage the construction of the railway between Lima and Callao, which deprives them of their occupation. Shortly after, the carpenters (people of all ethnic combinations) burn the doors and windows that this train transports and for forty-eight hours they fight against the troops sent to subdue them, producing casualties and fatalities in the struggle. (Romero 1980, 41)[44]

Artisans' protests, as well as banditry and rural laborers' uproars, continued in a fragmented struggle for power and self-assertion. How-


ever, British pressures, racism, and inefficiency were more powerful than the protests of artisans. We recognize here the long-term effects of the reality and experiences of the slave system that we have explored—and within it the hiring-out system, the ethnic occupational structure, and the dissension among social groups—as a continuing inheritance and, most important, a pattern very particular to the form in which slave life developed in Lima.


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