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The Abolition of Slavery in the South American Republics

Sobrevilla Perea, Natalia (2023) The Abolition of Slavery in the South American Republics. Slavery and Abolition, 44 (1). pp. 90-108. ISSN 0144-039X. (doi:10.1080/0144039X.2022.2122814) (KAR id:101766)


This article studies how slavery was finally abolished in the Spanish-speaking republics of South America and how these processes were connected. Although slavery was not as important in these countries as it was in Brazil or Cuba, it remained relevant in certain regions, even after the slave trade was abolished and free-womb laws and state manumission policies were implemented. In Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, slavery did not legally end until mid-century when civil wars pitted progressive liberals against conservatives who wanted to retain slavery. Parliamentary means secured abolition north of the continent, while further south abolition was achieved as ideologically charged civil wars necessitated slave recruitment. Just as at independence, this need for soldiers brought free-womb laws and the end of the slave trade. For thirty years the enslaved sought to change their situation through manumission, legally challenging slavery and by fleeing and rebelling. But it was not until the tension between freedom and slavers’ right to property became an issue for liberals at mid-century that slavery ended in these republics in the space of four years.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/0144039X.2022.2122814
Uncontrolled keywords: Abolition, South America, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, nineteenth century, liberalism
Subjects: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1201 Latin America (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Natalia Sobrevilla Perea
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2023 13:05 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2023 11:35 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Sobrevilla Perea, Natalia.

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