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Chapter Five Slaves and Their Owners
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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.

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Chapter Five Slaves and Their Owners
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