Need a 3 page double spaced ANALYTICAL ESSAY. The essay needs to respond to the following statements using the readings attached:
Explain the process of petitioning and how it was a form of resistance. Describe various petitions by slaves and free(d) people.
Please use the attached readings and other sources you find on slave petitions in Afro Latin America history.
Hispanic American Historical Review 87:4 doi 10.1215/00182168-2007-038 Copyright 2007 by Duke University Press “A Lack of Legitimate Obedience and Respect”: Slaves and Their Masters in the Courts of Late Colonial Buenos Aires Lyman L. Johnson Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion. — Oscar Wilde In Buenos Aires, on October 26, 1759, Don Alonso Isidro Rodriguez de la Peña replied in writing to the charge that he held the parda Francisca Marigorta in illegal bondage. After fleeing from his household, Francisca had found tempo- rary refuge with a sympathetic neighbor, Don Bernardo Quiroga. The neighbor had then written to the defensor general de pobres, indios y esclavos (the defender of the poor, Indians, and slaves), Don Pedro Gonzalez Cortina, to lay out Fran- cisca’s claim that she was a free woman held illegally as a slave. According to this unofficial advocate, Francisca had been born to a free mother in the interior city of San Juan and was therefore free from birth. Francisca claimed that she had come to Buenos Aires from her native San Juan as a free servant in Rodriguez de la Peña’s household. Once relocated in Buenos Aires, however, her employer began to “treat [her] as a slave, subjecting [her] to harsh punishments and confining [her] to the house.” When she pro- tested, Rodriguez de la Peña had put her in chains. Because Francisca was “poor and miserable,” the defensor took up her case. He immediately requested that Rodriguez de la Peña produce proof of her condition or stop harassing her. In I wish to thank Charles Cutter, Jerry Dávila, Zephyr Frank, Jane Landers, Bianca Premo, Matt Restall, Susan Socolow, and Ben Vinson, as well as the anonymous readers for the Hispanic American Historical Review, for their helpful comments. This work was supported, in part, by a Senior Faculty Research Grant from The University of North Carolina Charlotte. HAHR874_02_Johnson.indd 631 10/1/07 2:58:27 PM 632 HAHR / November / Johnson response, Rodriguez de la Peña admitted that he could not provide a bill of sale for Francisca because, he claimed, she had been part of a contested inheritance still unresolved by the courts. His claims therefore rested on his self-interested assertion that “Francisca has been in my power for years” and “has served me and my family as a slave” without protest. That is, she was a slave because she had acted like one. Almost one year to the day after her initial appeal to colonial authorities, the court recognized Francisca’s freedom and ordered Rodriguez de la Peña to leave her in peace.1 This article analyzes three types of late colonial court cases found in the Archivo General de la Nación in Buenos Aires, Argentina: individuals held as slaves who disputed their legal status, slaves who demanded the right to purchase their freedom or the freedom of family members, and slaves who demanded the right to seek new masters because of abuses suffered at the hands of their present owners.2 This last process, papel de venta, gave a slave a set term, usu- ally a month, to find a more congenial owner willing to pay the assessed price. Most commonly the defensor — an advocacy position usually filled by one of the cabildo’s regidores, or occasionally an alcalde — represented the plaintiff.3 A 1. Archivo General de la Nación, Buenos Aires, DC-SG, Tribunales (hereafter, AGN- DC-SG, Tribunales), leg. M8, exp. 21. 2. I found 78 cases where individuals held as slaves complained to judicial authorities that they were held illegally. Typically they initiated this process by contacting the defensor general de pobres, indios y esclavos. The defensor was a regidor (member of the town council) selected by his peers to serve as advocate for a one-year term. In an additional 36 cases, slaves demanded the right to purchase their own freedom or that of a family member. Another 19 cases involved slaves who asked the defensor to facilitate relocation to a new master via a papel de venta. This process established the slave’s market price and permitted the slave to arrange for a transfer to a new master. These 133 cases were distributed by decade in the following manner: 1761 – 70 (7.5%), 1771 – 80 (13.5%), 1781 – 90 (25%), 1791 – 1800 (38%), 1801 – 10 (16%). 3. Historians of colonial Spanish America have moved away from studies of administrative and judicial institutions to engage a range of social, cultural, and economic topics. Most of the work on these institutions is vintage in character. See John Preston Moore, The Cabildo in Peru under the Hapsburgs (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1954); Constantino Bayle, S.J., Los cabildos secularles en la América española (Madrid: Sapientia, 1952); and W. W. Pierson, “Some Reflections on the Cabildo as an Institution,” HAHR 4, no. 3 (1922): 573 – 96. For an economic treatment, see Clarence Haring, The Spanish Empire in America (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1953), 158 – 78. A useful recent discussion of the Iberian antecedents and early institutionalization in New Spain is found in Agustín Bermudez, “La abogacia de los pobres,” Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español 50 (1980): 1039 – 54. Charles R. Cutter discusses the role of the defensor in the indigenous regions of northern New Spain in The Legal Culture of Northern New Spain, 1700 – 1810 (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1995), see 126 – 27 and 136. HAHR874_02_Johnson.indd 632 10/1/07 2:58:27 PM ‘A Lack of Legitimate Obedience and Respect’ 633 small number of cases were brought directly to higher authorities: the audien- cia, the captain general, or the viceroy (after 1776). All these files contain a full statement of the complaint, often amplified in response to the counterclaims of masters or others, as well as the record of all actions initiated by the defensor. Most cases also note the court’s final resolution.4 Cases such as Francisca’s reveal three central characteristics of slavery in late colonial Buenos Aires. First, even though a majority of slave plaintiffs failed to win their cases, the courts did provide slaves with significant leverage in dis- putes with owners. The legal process could drag on for years, during which time the courts often permitted slaves to live and work away from an owner’s direct supervision and control. Therefore, even when an owner prevailed in court, the victor had often been deprived of all or a part of a slave’s labor or income while simultaneously being forced to bear significant court costs (often exceeding 25 percent of a bozal’s market value or 40 percent of the annual income earned by a slave journeyman).5 In some cases owners or purported owners simply gave up the legal battle rather than accept these costs. Slave plaintiffs, on the other hand, generally did not incur legal costs, since their costs were routinely subsi- dized or paid in full by the defensor. Even when slaves were forced to remain in the hands of an oppressive master, the experience of close supervision by court officers and related court costs could force an owner to improve conditions. For many slaves, compelling even a small adjustment in the behavior of an abusive owner must have been viewed as a victory. Second, slaves often found allies outside the slave community in their con- tests with masters, as Francisca’s case demonstrates. These allies might include local officials and other members of propertied and influential groups. In nearly every case examined here, slaves’ claims were supported by the testimony of propertied Spaniards and creoles, many of whom condemned the behavior of particularly cruel masters like Rodriguez de la Peña. Francisca’s case was brought to the attention of the defensor by a sympathetic neighbor who also 4. Within the limited research on the use of courts by slaves, most discussion to this point has not relied on actual court cases. Nevertheless, the topic continues to attract attention. See Alejandro de la Fuente, “Slave Law and Claims-Making in Cuba: The Tannenbaum Debate Revisited,” Law and History Review 22, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 339 – 68. An older but still-useful examination is Norman A. Meiklejohn, “The Implementation of Slave Legislation in Eighteenth-Century New Granada,” in Slavery and Race Relations in Latin America, ed. Robert Brent Toplin (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1974), 176 – 203. 5. See my “Salarios, precios y costo de vida en el Buenos Aires colonial tardío,” Boletín del Instituto de Historia Argentina y América 2, 3rd series (first half of 1990), esp. 137 – 46, for discussion of wages at this time. HAHR874_02_Johnson.indd 633 10/1/07 2:58:27 PM 634 HAHR / November / Johnson resisted Rodriguez de la Peña’s efforts to seize her. Moreover, the ultimate suc- cess of Francisca’s case depended on the testimony of two Spanish witnesses in her native San Juan, who rejected the claims of Rodriguez de la Peña as cruel and untrue, specifically excoriating him for his misrepresentations. Finally, Pedro Gonzalez Cortina, the Buenos Aires defensor, demonstrated again and again a healthy skepticism about the self-serving testimony of Francisca’s self- professed master, emphasizing in his statements to the court the grave injustice of imposing slavery on a free person. Third, the documents make clear the deeply personal nature of these con- flicts over legal status and treatment. The testimonies illuminate the complex fabric of deference, dependence, affection, loyalty, guilt, animus, and disgust that held masters and slaves together or propelled them apart, sometimes vio- lently. When pursued systematically, the language of the claims and counter- claims reveals the emotional, as well as legal, landscape within which masters and slaves sought to impose their wills.6 The slave plaintiffs generally knew their masters well. In some instances they had dressed them, bathed them, and prepared their meals. Some had had sex with their masters. Many worked with them shoulder to shoulder every day. When these slaves came to see their bond- age as an intolerable injustice, they knew exactly who was at fault. They did not view injustice as the abstracted characteristics of a cruel institution; they instead viewed it as the result of specific actions by the masters with whom they lived in close proximity. As a result, these documents are filled with the white heat of emotion — allegations of betrayal, lies, and physical abuse march across our line of sight. Although slaves often received harsh punishments, many remained unbowed in the face of abuse. A minority found, in the frustration and bitter- ness generated by a master’s violence and lies, the strength to pursue redress in court. The testimony offered to the court in these cases suggests that relations between slaves and masters in late colonial Buenos Aires had a sharp edge. The slaves’ testimonies present few expressions of deference, and even those few were constrained, limited in reach, and formulaic in nature, suggest- ing they were offered narrowly to satisfy the expectations of lawyers and judges. It was more common for slaves, once under the thin protections of the courts, to express contempt, not deference, toward their masters, describing them, for example, as “belligerent,” “cruel,” “filled with pride,” or “filled with hate” for 6. See AGN-DC-SG, Tribunales, leg. S5, exp. 10, for a good example of the heated emotional context within which these contests developed. In this case from the 1770s, a slave was forced to continue working in bondage, “with near fatal consequences and risks,” even though his mother had paid 150 pesos toward his freedom 16 years later. HAHR874_02_Johnson.indd 634 10/1/07 2:58:28 PM ‘A Lack of Legitimate Obedience and Respect’ 635 the slave.7 Free blacks attempting to gain the manumission of a relative were even less constrained, although they worried that their actions or words might provoke an assault on a loved one. One aunt, frustrated by a master’s effort to extract the maximum economic benefit from her niece’s manumission, reported to the defensor that the child was “mistreated brutally because of the hatred this man has for me.”8 Francisca, our initial case, demonstrated little fear of the man who claimed to be her master, despite his use of corporal punishment and chains to control her. She fled from his authority, found a safe refuge, and then filled her letters to authorities with angry denunciations of Rodriguez de la Peña’s character and behavior. After reminding the court of the “many cruel- ties” she had suffered, she demanded that “perpetual silence” be imposed on “this