Revolta dos Búzios – 1798

This review is organized as a history of the diverse elements of scholarship by which the field of African Diaspora studies has been developed. It presents research findings of selected studies emerging from distinct interests and traditions of African Diasporic communities. The history examined here emphasizes the scholarship of diasporic researchers that, until recently, had little opportunity to appear within the scope of the longer and broader development of diasporan studies. It is well known that diasporic studies developed from the history of African-American and other diasporic scholarship, however, much of it within the historical context of the English language; rarely incorporating the social science, humanistic or activist understandings of scholarship in the Portuguese language. This review attempts to establish a new compatibility with diasporan intellectual traditions by presenting a foray into the knowledge of the diasporan experience from the Lusophone perspective.

Chapter One – The Conspiracy

In 1798, after nearly three centuries of Portuguese rule, the colonial regime experienced a critical period characterized by separatist movements desirous of independence and freedom. This process was called the Inconfidências in Minas (1789) and Rio de Janeiro (1794). Although it did not raise the flag that would end slavery, these were important epoch-making events in the defense of libertarian principles, reflected intensely by an oppressed population. Allied to this development, in both the big cities and the interior of the captaincies was the intense struggle of a captive brown population in search of the right to build their own destinies leveraged by the wear and tear of a servile black population model.

On the international scene, the end of the Enlightenment witnessed the advent of the French Revolution (1789), which spread the seeds of revolution throughout the western world, threatening to destroy thrones and waving the flag of the Republic and Liberty. These events echoed in Salvador, the most important intellectual center of Portuguese America. Even stifled by the oppressive shackles of Metropolis, revolutionary ideas gestated and developed in Europe, entered the busy seaport and won the streets.

In the City of Bahia, the illustrious elite began to replace their books in Latin, the cultured language, with books written by the French, the language of the times. Newspapers, books and pamphlets from Europe, bringing new enlightenment and liberalism, circulated discreetly in town and enlivened meetings and discussions.

These ideas gained cohesion between the illustrious Bahiense elite interested in political autonomy and expanded to popular segments such as tailors, carpenters, masons, hairdressers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, and etc; almost all blacks and browns who suffered more intensely from the lack of horizons and the precarious conditions of colonial life. Also in the barracks the situation was precarious. Forced recruitment, violent long service time, low wages, poor working conditions and frequent physical punishment, formed a breeding ground for discontent and rebellion among the regular troops. Moreover, black and brown soldiers considered themselves discriminated against because they could not ascend to positions of command in the militia or Line Regiments that were accessible only to white men.

Rumors circulated in the city stating that learned men held clandestine meetings for reading banned books and brochures. These enlightenment-inspired and promoted meetings and debates were held on the distant and isolated environs of Itapajipe and Barra. An anonymous author of a circulated manuscript stated that:

There arrived in this city a French ship that after unloading everything, secretly and cleverly unloaded some small books whose content was to teach how to make more room for uprisings with unerring effect, a single cargo which it undoubtedly brought retired to Rio de Janeiro.

The desire to change grew and there was much discontent and revolt. The policy spread throughout the city and often protests were bold like the burning of traditional strength of the city, located in the Field of Powder, one of the greatest symbols of state repression. Reactions against the church committed to power was increasingly common with the stoning of religious niches at dawn, interruption during religious masses, and even performing a full dinner of meat on Good Friday. For the historian Braz do Amaral, “the quality of conspiracy formed among the people, indicates how the propaganda of liberal ideas was gaining ground in all social strata.” (Amaral, 1926, p. 91)

And behold, on the morning of November 30, 1796, a vessel slowly approached the harbor. It was the ship Good Travel, that sailed under the Spanish flag and claiming failure asked permission to anchor. It brought on board a group of French officers, led by Captain of the Navy of France, Antoine René Larcher (1740 – 1808), and experienced navigator and revolutionary of 1789. Even giving him welcome, the governor, suspicious, sent the lieutenant of the 2nd Artillery Regiment, Hermogenes Aguilar Pantoja to accompany the charismatic French officer in his wanderings.

Larcher remained only a month in the city but long enough for many communications. Shortly after, in a letter to the French government, he wrote that Bahia was a fertile seed of revolutionary purpose because its people “were tired of the real and theocratic government,” suggesting sending a French squadron to support the revolution.

France did not send ships but germinated and enlightenment of ideals that were called Franciscan. There arrived in Bahia an interpretation in the light of a new reality. Even a Masonic lodge called Knights of Light was founded on July 14, 1797, the anniversary of the French Revolution. The institution functioned as a center for discussions of enlightened ideas for local intellectuals, involving lawyers, doctors, teachers and clergy.

At the beginning of the year 1798, an announcement was in the air and environment of a major political movement that surreptitiously walked the streets and alleys of the City of Bahia. It was something that had not occurred in the movements of colonial defense, they confabulated browns, black and white men. They were planning to raise after erecting the mainland of Brazil a Republican Government, free and independent, trying to do so with a survey of the people, calling them captive with the voice of freedom. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 371)

Chapter Two – The Revolutionary Papers

The dawn of Sunday, August 12, 1798, there rose a display at points of great movement in the city of Salvador paper manuscripts on behalf of the “Mighty and Magnificent Republic of the Bahiense People”, announcing a revolution and the immediate implementation of a democratic republic, independent with equality among black men, brown and white, with dignified wages for soldiers and free trade between nations.

These manuscripts broke the silence of conversations and confabulations that existed for some time and caused great repercussions in the city. Even those who did not read them, became aware of them, calling them “revolutionary papers”, “papers on freedom” “racy papers”, “papers of francezias” and “free papers,” among other names. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, vol. 1 and 2)

Immediately, the governor reacted and on the same day August 12, installed an inquiry with the aim of discovering the authorship of the audacious “revolutionary papers”, 11 of which were recorded and 10 documents investigated and preserved, since one of them was burned by the flame of a candle, once found by a military officer.

Seeking to demonstrate strength in the first public demonstration of the “papers” there were 676 followers indicated as the alleged “Party of Freedom” with the details of its functions, and more than 70% of the listed belonged to the troop (soldiers and officers). The others were merchants, learned men, religious men and “commoners.” The predominant presence of men in uniform justified the emphasis in the manuscripts explicit claim of increased pay for the troops, who lived with widespread dissatisfaction within the barracks, with conscription and often violent, with long service, poor work conditions and frequent physical punishment. And, with all this was the aggravating factor that the command posts were allowed only to white men, since the hierarchical structure based on racial criteria of military administration prevented the rise of blacks and browns.

These “daring papers” cried against abusive tax, exposing, boldly and courageously, a former dissatisfaction of broad sectors of the local society concerning the collection of “taxes and fees that were awarded by order of the Queen of Lisbon,” and that fell on production and trade which was reflected in the living conditions of the poor people. And it also proclaimed that “any commissioner, merchant, hawkers, farmers of cassava, sugar and tobacco manufacturers would have all rights to their farms with the help of the people.” It also advocated the opening of the ports, praised France – “Here comes all the foreigners with open port, especially the French nation” – and believed in external support – “we will soon have foreign aid. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, vol. 1, p. 35-38)

These “papers francezias” were nothing new in Salvador. A witness questioned during the search said in mid-July of this same year, 1798, there was in the door of the butcher of the beach, a paper saying: “We Bahienses, Republicans for the future we want, and send to that useless Camera of the city to drop meat to six pennies “(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, vol. 1, p. 334). New this time was the strength and breadth of writings, which openly preached the end of Portuguese rule and slavery, and the implementation of a “Bahiense Republic” where there was “equality for all”. These “free papers” recovered dreams and desires of a dignified life latent in a large portion of the men and women, blacks and browns, free and enslaved, who shared poor living conditions that were imposed on them by the colonial state.

We quote the following excerpts from some of the “papers”:

Cheer up you Bahiense people who are happy to get the time of our freedom, the time when we all will be brothers and the time when we all will be equal. Know that already the party of freedom is as follows: 34 Line Officers; 54 Militia Officers; 11 men graduates in jobs and positions; 46 Bottom Line; 39 Lower Militia; 107 Line Soldiers; 233 Militia Soldiers; 13 men graduates of Letters; 20 ordinary men; 8 commercial men; 8 Benedictine priests; 14 Franciscans; 3 Barbadinhos; 14 Therezos; 48 clerics; 81 Auxiliaries of the Inquisition. Sum total – 676. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, vol. 1 and 2)

O you people who are born free beings to be happy of the good effects of Liberty; O you people who live plagued with an unworthy crowned power that same tyrant king who is firm on the throne to vex you and to steal and mistreat you. Men, time is arriving for our resurrection; yes resurrection from the abyss of slavery and to hold up the Holy Flag of Freedom. Freedom is the happy state, the free state of dejection: Freedom is the sweetness of life, the rest of men equal and parallel to each other. Finally freedom is response, and the good adventure of the world. It is time people, people the time has come for you to defend your freedom: the day of our revolution, our freedom and our happiness is coming, be excited that you will be happy forever. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, vol. 1 and 2)

The mighty and magnificent Bahiense people, Bahiense of this Republican City, Republican Bahia, consider the many and repeated robberies made with titles of impostures, taxes and duties which are awarded by order of the Queen of Lisbon. And the question regarding the futility of slavery with the same people as sacred and worthy of being free; to be cut off forever from the yoke of badly ruined Europe; provided that all Foreigners come here with open port, especially the French Nation. The people want that all military members Line, Militias and Ordinances, white, brown and black men to compete for the People’s Freedom; and that the people have realized that each soldier’s pay of two cents every day, in addition to their advantages will be relevant. The officers will increase their rank and pay. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, vol. 1 and 2)

Each soldier and citizen, especially the browns and black men living hidden and abandoned, all are equal, there is no difference, there is only liberty, equality, and fraternity. Whoever opposes the People’s Freedom will be hanged without further appeal: in this will be understanding … soon we will have foreign assistance. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, vol. 1 and 2)

The Bahiense Republican People sends commands and wants for the future of this City and its end a memorable revolution; therefore made to be punished with natural death forever, anyone whosoever, priest in the pulpit, confessional, exhortation, conversation; in any way, shape, or manner, and so daring to persuade the ignorant and fanatical against freedom, equality and brotherhood of the People: likewise tells the People that he is a reputed fellow citizen that works to the end of People’s Freedom. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, vol. 1 and 2)

Chapter Three – The Inquiry

The emergence of “revolutionary papers” on the morning of August 12, triggering the seditious movement in 1798, provoked an immediate reaction from the Governor of the Province of Bahia, Dom Fernando José de Portugal. He issued a decree determining the opening of an inquiry to identify the authorship of the manuscripts. Under the command of General Hearer of Crime and Police Superintendent, Judge Manuel Magalhães Pinto Avelar Barbedo, the inquiry was initiated on the same day.

Immediately, the inquiry compared letters of older petitions in the government files and pointed to the applicant Domingos da Silva Lisboa as the author of the bold initiative. Domingos was arrested but to everyone’s surprise, on August 20, there appeared two more “seditious papers” in letter form to the Superior of the Carmelite Order and the Governor of the Captaincy. The new manuscripts ignored the arrest of Domingos and announced the day and time for the beginning of the revolution, urging adherence to the movement by the authorities.

The emergence of these new manuscripts further tensed the political environment, bewildering the ongoing investigation which believed that it was at the end of the case with the arrest of Dominic Lisbon. In addition, this call to the Governor caused not only oddity but a big nuisance in the city’s political wheels, generating comments and suspicions that republican ideals had hidden sympathy with Don Fernando José. He was concerned about the uncertainties and dimensions that events were taking and without obtaining evidence to incriminate, the government sought another target of accusation and on August 23 arrested the soldier Luiz Gonzaga of Virgins.

The news of the arrest of Gonzaga soon spread throughout the city and came to soldier Lucas Dantas, who lived in the bottom of a townhouse on the street crossing San Francisco. Upon receiving the information, Lucas immediately went to the Portas do Carmo in Tabuão, where lived the goldsmith Luiz Pires, considered one of the most active conspirators and that was the point home for the revolutionaries. Upon arriving, he found the meeting of João de Deus and John Manuel Faustino tailors, and practicing surgeons Freitas Sacouto and Nicholas de Andrade. According to the records in the “Acts of Inquiry”, Lucas entered the room and said aloud: “terrible news! They’ve arrested Luiz Gonzaga this afternoon, the army of his own regiment. “(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 677)

The announcement shook everyone leaving a tense atmosphere. Fearful of a repressive wave, the men decided to expand contacts and convene a grand gathering in Dike Field, behind the Convent of the Exile, for the night of Saturday, August 25. In preparation for the meeting, Luiz Pires said: “It’s time to see what we have, because if it is enough, we will rise, moreover, we shall shut up, we do not want all to be lost”(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 679)

On Sunday, August 26, following the failed meeting at Dike Field, Governor Don Fernando José, knowledgeable about the conspiracy by three vigilantes the previous day was impressed by the turn of events and by knowing the conversations that were circulating in the city on the brink of a political revolt. With looting and murders, the authorities issued an instruction for installing another inquiry under the responsibility of judge Sabino Francisco Alvares da Costa Pinto with the aim of investigating the uprising that was planned in the city.

Threateningly, the inquirer Costa Pinto announced: “whosoever entered a similar conspiracy as agent of or as an accomplice to has committed majestic injury head first and ‘high treason”(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 283) It was also the announcement of a large crackdown that began. At the end of that Sunday morning, Colonel Alexander Teotônio commanded an invasion of the home of João de Deus and arrested him along with his wife Frances Louisa and their five minor children.

In the pages of the “Acts of Inquiry ” there was no reference to the children of João and Louisa but the interrogation of two other children . The first was John Benguela, 10 years, and a slave of a society lady who worked as an apprentice in the tent of João de Deus. Benguela was questioned on September 26 and proved to have no information on the political activities of João. A second child was Ana Piedade, 12 who lived in the vicinity of the practicing surgeon José Freitas Sacouto. When questioned on October 3, the girl declared that one day the son named Luiz Sacouto, 6 years old told her to “go away,” because it happened in his house a very big deal. One aunt told her mother that she had consumed papers; that his mother had thrown them out ” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948). This information was reinforced by another witness, an adult, and also close to Sacouto, stating that “the surgeon burned many papers he had and afterward concealed some “(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 355)

However, Sacouto was located and arrested. The wave of arrests continued during the following days and months. The city lived through difficult times with intense, dramatic and tumultuous processes of investigation involving complaints, interrogatories, objections, defenses and pretenses. The Portuguese government wanted a punitive and exemplary outcome for this bold attempt to riseup, clearly demonstrating that punishment would be waiting for those who dared to challenge the colonial power.

In March 1799, an ordinance of the Governor determined that he fulfilled the order of the Queen of Portugal, so that all the defendants would be summarily sentenced:

Given, Her Majesty was served by that which was advised me by Royal Charter…the defendants of seditious papers that were published in this city and the conjuring that it hatched, as contained in the Inquiry whom I commanded to proceed, be sentenced in relation with the greatest readiness (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 141)

The Inquirer, Avelar of Barbedo Costa Pinto then formalized the disclaimer of conclusion with guilty summaries of 37 defendants: 34 arrested; two fugitives and one dead in county jail.

The Inquiry reached its final stage and held dozens of meetings questioning 70 witnesses between 17 August 1798 and 1st March 1799. Altogether 52 people were arrested. Of these, 37 were sentenced, pronounced in majestic injury “to be authors and accomplices of the desired uprising in the city to establish a democratic government (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 952)

Chapter Four – The Reunion at the Dike

The meeting in Dike Field, behind the Convent of Exile, on Saturday, August 25, was set up two days earlier during a meeting in the evening at the home of Luiz Pires. Goldsmiths, tailors, and with the presence of Jõao de Deus and John Manuel Faustino, the surgeon Freitas Sacouto, the goldsmith Nicholas de Andrade and Lucas Dantas, it was settled. The meeting was an attempt to aggregate forces against the repressive wave that was already apparent with the arrest of the soldier Luiz Gonzaga, accused of being the author of the “revolutionary papers,” that had been posted throughout the city on August 12th. Creator of the meeting and considered one of the heads of the movement, Luiz Pires said: “they were not well prepared for that projected action, to stop putting hands too soon, and to that end he wanted to pass a magazine to the people they had, and consider whether it was enough to start the uprising “(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 593)

After this meeting, which deliberated into a large gathering in Dike Field, two white men, influential officials in the army and ardent supporters of Enlightenment ideals were consulted and gave the green signal for the outbreak of the uprising – Lieutenant Hermogenes Pantoja and Lieutenant José Gomes. The first advised that “he was ready to quit and ready his friends to riseup”(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 610). The second also decided to aim high on the uprising and stimulate actions, stating that “it (the uprising ) should be implemented with all haste”(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 609)

Over the next two days, encouraged by the illustrious officials, and with hopes of profound transformations, the brown men ahead of the conspiracy moved swiftly seeking new members for the time when the meeting would be summoned in Dike Field. Lucas Dantas met with the soldier, Pinheiro Romao and told him that this was the “opportunity to raise the Republic, because it was feared that Gonzaga declare to the men of the Society, that all would be lost.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 535) Lucas also searched for the soldier Joaquim Smith, who said: “We are determined, I and many, armed to leave the prison with our friend Luiz Gonzaga.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948) They also invited the soldier Caetano Vellozo: “Comrade Gonzaga, our friend, is expected to be released at the end of the month and it is just that we open some effort for him, if not, all will be lost.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 498)

In turn, João de Deus sought the official farrier, Joaquim da Veiga and said he had already more than 200 people for an uprising that would plunder the city and urge the governor to accede, and in case of resistance, kill him along with other authorities. Shortly thereafter, João went to meet Joaquim de Santana, a captain of the regiment of Black Men who was dissatisfied with the imminent appointment of a white sergeant-major to command his regiment. João argued that the Colonel of the Second Regiment of the Line could be named because times were changing and soon troops of the line would have commanders white, brown and black without distinction of color. He added that the slaves of some mills were already in the Reconcavo rebellion with many officers and soldiers, beyond them there were important people, and even the governor followed the party of rebellion, though covertly, in particular because they said, What have these damn people done, which do not want to rise? For what are they waiting? (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 289)

Mediated errands, meetings and conversations, other conspirators also attempted to increase their contacts and the base of the movement. However, these initiatives revealed their weaknesses and produced traumatic results. To Siqueira Joaquim, Joaquim da Veiga and Joaquim de Santana, fear overcame their desire to participate in the unknown society project, which could bring rewards or punishments. They considered it an adventure and sought the authorities opting to snitch.

Already on Saturday, August 25, informed by whistleblowers about the details of the insurrection and the eminence of its triggering evening, Governor Don Fernando José de Portugal commissioned Colonel Alexander Teotônio, considered a fearless officer, to fight against the attempt to riseup. The colonel was ordered to arrest all the participants of the gathering and prepared a tight repression of Dike Field, involving 40 armed soldiers and 100 slaves disguised with baskets, but armed with tape, which would be in ambush, waiting for his command.

A beautiful, quiet, full moon night, the Dike Field appeared to be ideal for a large demonstration of men who dreamed of freedom. Situated on the outskirts of the city, it was a very pleasant place and used for discrete sexual encounters. The promises of great adherence to the movement fueled the expectations of the meeting. The enslaved coachman, Antonio José assured that he would bring 50 men; Lucas Dantas promised more than 100; Manuel Faustino, 50; and Luiz Pires, 60 men; among other announcements.

But as the leaders in question were arriving, they realized that night something different was going on, and there was not the usual confluence of conspirators. The Dike Field was empty and a strange and disturbing silence was present. One of the first to arrive, Lucas, did not spot anyone – gasping, walking around, and signaling. Luiz Pires soon appeared, saying he had spoken to João de Deus and he showed fear, because he had just learned that the Government Palace experienced a busy day with lots of meetings between the Governor and Colonel Alexander Teotônio.

Surprised, they talked about the small turnout to the rally. In the middle distance there was a man hidden, who, betrayed by the light of the moon, was recognized by all. It was Colonel Alexander wanting to see more closely the movement of the conspirators. His appearance angered Luiz Pires, who cried: “What do not kill this man.?” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 294) The goldsmith was soon restrained by his companions. Then appeared the soldier Caetano Vellozo which confirmed the presence of the Colonel on the spot, because he was following from Gravesend.

While they decided what to do, some of the men were at a pub behind the Convent of Exile wall, where they drank liquor and ate biscuits. In the distance, they saw a figure in military dress and with a sword in hand. João acknowledged: “that’s Gomes, who is in our party.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 291) It was Lieutenant José Gomes, who warily declined to approach the group, calling João for a private conversation. He found the failure of the attempt of the gathering and urged them to disperse. João returned to the group and said,” we’re leaving because it’s late and I had news that Alexander Teotônio walks these parts with other people, and I have equal news to withdraw.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 291) Departing, João still found Luiz Pires, who also agreed it was better to remove because it was all fenced off for arresting them.

Only 18 people attended the Dike Field. The large gathering failed that was intended to bring together more than 200 men, promoting the release of Luiz Gonzaga and unleashing the uprising.

Chapter Five - The Prisons
Chapter Five – The Prisons


Chapter Five – The Prisons

The records of the “Acts of Inquiry” linked 52 people arrested of which 37 were sentenced. It proved, however, that the number of those brought to the public jail was higher. The first victim of the inquiry, applicant of causes, was Domingos da Silva Lisboa, brown man, born in Portugal and imprisoned on August 16, 1798. He was accused of being the author of the “revolutionary papers” launched in the city four days earlier and suspected of involvement in casting “by his free style and daring to speak” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 89), since “he spoke recklessly and boldly on matters of government and religion.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 94)

On August 23, the soldier Luiz Gonzaga was arrested. His arrest precipitated actions of the movement and generated notice of the meeting at the Field of the Dike on Saturday 25th. That same night, the farrier Joaquim Siqueira decided to be the whistleblower and went to the Palace to communicate to the governor, who, already aware of the conspiracy, ordered him to accompany an expedition to imprison the soldier Caetano Vellozo. The governor, in turn, suspicious of the belated denunciation also arrested the whistleblower.

Beginning Sunday, August 26, a series of arrests swept the city. By late morning, Colonel Alexander Teotônio commanded the invasion of the home of João de Deus. A witness described the act: “On the morning of Sunday, a witness saw him pass by his door, arrested the brown man João de Deus, tailor, and living in his neighborhood also his wife and children” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 316) . Along with João, his wife Frances Louisa and five children, the oldest was 8 years old, was also arrested the taylor, Manuel Nascimento.

The wave of arrests continued throughout the day, reaching the brown man, Ignacio Pimentel France, the black man, Jeje Vincent, Lucrecia Gercente, the brown woman, and two white men: Lieutenant José Gomes and Sgt. Joaquim Antonio. By nightfall, some members of the illustrious elite, fear hovering over them of suspected involvement in the Republican conspiracy, sought the governor and delivered their slaves who had close ties with the arrested men. With a choked rebellion, any gesture of collaboration would be assessed. Thus, on this day were arrested Felipe Neri, Luiz Leal and José Félix.

On Tuesday August 28th, late in the morning, came to the county jail conducted by an escort, Antonio Joseph, a whipped slave, owned by Lieutenant Colonel Mauricio Machado who ordered his arrest. Antonio was an active man in the conspiracy. He walked very closely to Lucas Dantas, and who ensured that he would bring 50 men to the meeting of the Dike but they did not appear. The next day following his arrest, Antonio was found dead in his cell with a handful of food in his mouth and body showing obvious signs of poisoning. The event was witnessed by Louisa Frances, wife of João de Deus, whose report was well recorded by the Inquiry:

At ten minutes to eleven in the morning there was taken to one of the cells in chains, as close to what she witnessed, an arrested man who [ … ] reached down upon his cloak, and lay [ … ] and then gave a great sigh. Around noon he began to vomit, and spit a lot, and it continued until after two o’clock in the afternoon. [ when ] he felt the door of the cell open up he realized that the delivered food was goat [ … ] and because the man who opened the cell saw the dirty vomit asked him what he had vomited and he replied about the nauseous stench that the cell had. The man withdrew the goat but continued to vomit and spit quite restlessly . And so it went throughout the afternoon and evening until eight o’clock at which time the man came to clean the cell. And asked the prisoner, how he had passed the vomiting, to which he replied anyway, and the man replied saying wash his mouth and eat. And the prisoner answered that he had just eaten and the man withdrew and the prisoner remained with the same anxiety [ … ] and hiccups until near nine o’clock when silenced . So she knew he had died because the rest of the night she did not notice any movement. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 408)

Concerned about political repercussions, the Inquiry, although contradicted, opened an investigation and took several slight superficial statements that resulted in nothing. They were careful with the involvement of important men of Bahian society so much that they didn’t even call to testify Lt. Col. Mauricio Machado, master of the poisoned slave. News of the death quickly spread through the city and many mouths were saying that Antonio was killed to ensure the silence. The fact is that the mysterious poisoning death of Antonio José was never clarified becoming one of the many puzzles of the long process of the Inquiry. Antonio José was the first of five martyrs of the movement of 1798.

Meanwhile, within the Province, there was a real ongoing hunt for those suspected of involvement in the conspiracy that had disappeared from Salvador. The most targeted were Luiz Pires, Pedro Leon, Lucas Dantas and Manuel Faustino. The first two disappeared without a trace never to be heard from. Lucas accompanied a convoy of Joaquim Inácio Siqueira Bulcão that entered the interior, the way of Itabaiana where he had a brother. He was arrested on September 9 by a group of soldiers who went in pursuit from Salvador. Already Faustino, despite taking refuge in the forests of the mills of the Reconcavo was arrested on September 14.

In another initiative collaborated on 4 October, the Secretary of State José Pires de Carvalho e Albuquerque ordered the arrest and delivery to the governor the slaves: João Pires, Ignacio Manuel Pires and Jose. And still at the home of his sister Maria Francisca Conceição, they arrested the slave Tubias and the tailor Fortunato da Veiga.

In late December, the governor received a nobleman, revealing that the Crown was startled by the news which arrived about Bahia, telling of a Republican conspiracy and the involvement of illustrious white men. At the time, it complained of “looseness” of the government against “the main people in the city” who were “infected by abominable French principles.” Immediately, Don Fernando José took measures that sought to undo the negative image of his government and unable to delay action in the face of much evidence, ordered the arrest of Professor Francisco Muniz Barreto of Aragon and Lieutenant Hermogenes Aguilar Pantoja.

Muniz Barreto was arrested at his home in the town of Rio de Contas. In his possession were found two notebooks with speeches about religion and politics translated from French. A few days later, during the night, the police raided the house and arrested Hermogenes Pantaja, along with 26 books, two notebooks with text translated from the French, a notebook with excerpts from a book by Rousseau, some used furniture, personal belongings , “a brat from the Mina Nation and an Angolan still ignorant of the name Angelica black.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1246)

The illustrious two white men were the last prisoners of the 1798 process.

Chapter Six – Luiz Gonzaga

Luis Gonzaga of the Virgin was a brown man born free in Salvador, son of the tailor Joaquim da Cunha Robim and the brown woman Rita Gomes da Veiga. He was 36 years old on August 23, 1798, the day he was arrested. During the interrogations he underwent, he was revealed to be single and with no fixed abode but staying at the home of his godmother in the still emerging neighborhood of Saúde or in the barracks where he served as a soldier in the 1st Grenadier Regiment Line. The same having enlisted as a volunteer soldier for 16 years, Gonzaga had a conflicted relationship with his regiment. They had in their files annotated three defections. In the last one, in 1791, he landed in Rio Grande do Norte. The following year, back in Bahia, he was arrested in the village of Waterfall. He was led to Salvador and spent over a year in jail and faced the War Council. He was sentenced to six years in forced labor but served only six months having been pardoned by the governor Don Fernando José de Portugal.

After the emergence of the “revolutionary papers”, the installation of the Inquiry and an unproductive prison applicant caused by Domingos Lisboa, the government directed the focus of the complaint about the authorship of the “papers” to Luiz Gonzago, whose imprisonment caused great repercussions in the city. Not only by the surprise of the crackdown but also because he was well liked among his countrymen. Brought before the governor, Gonzago denied any involvement in the episode. Still, he was driven to the county jail.

The Inquiry questioned him on five occasions: Aug. 31, 1, 4 and 28th of September, 1798 and March 6, 1799. In all these sessions, Gonzaga denied being the author of the “revolutionary papers.” To counter accusations of manuscripts like the letter posted on the streets on August 12 with those found in his possession at the time of arrest, the soldier claimed that all the papers were written by João Manuel, a Portuguese who he had met a few years ago who learned the practice of surgery, a little Latin, and worked by cattle trading in the northeastern backlands. According to Gonzaga,

João Manuel was a very smart guy, learned, who spent time reading the gazettes and more public papers. He often spoke to him in French and English of the present situation discussing the equality of men and humanity and how they should be treated, mainly about the injustice of browns not being admitted to higher access. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 105)

The Inquiry pressured him to confess to the authorship of the manuscripts, highlighting the contradiction that he was in fact an educated man with all his writings by someone else. Moreover, “he was a poor miserable brown, and it was not believable that a white man from the kingdom would be subjected to be his scribe” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 107). Gonzago retorted he was a close friend of João Manuel who wrote everything he asked and reaffirmed the denial that the letter was his. With this new information, an unknown figure, the Inquiry opened an investigation brief recording testimonies of some witnesses but never located João Manuel, another enigmatic character in the 1798 process.

For over 14 months, Luiz Gonzaga endured all the hardships of imprisonment in the county jail who’s dark, dirty, hot and humid cells with the unpleasant company of bedbugs, lice, rats and scorpions weakened both him and his companions. They also suffered with their feet stuffed into thick chains of irons that marked their bodies and legs when they fell asleep idle. Undergoing painful interrogation sessions, the men resembled human burdens, slaughtered by the corners, almost naked, as the days dragged on monotone and distressing, a constant struggle between hope and despair.

However, despite never having confessed to the authorship of “seditious bulletins,” nor ever having appeared against him evidence of wrongdoing, Gonzaga was considered the “head leader” of the conspiratorial movement. Two witnesses were critical to his conviction and had their statements recorded well by the Inquiry: Pedro Nolasco and Francisca Emerenciana.

Pedro Nolasco, a white male, 65 years old, plantation owner in the village of Santo Amaro da Purification, when questioned, said he saw on Sunday, August 12, a ‘sedicios role “in the hands of a priest in the Church of Lapa that:

Acknowledged a letter written by Luiz Gonzaga of the Virgin, which he had given charity and for being the godson of his deceased wife, and sometimes that was not the guard sleeping on slabs in his home. [Nolasco said Gonzaga had] repeatedly written to his godmother, his wife. Gonzaga said that he more commonly walked alone, had his foibles, and melancholy, spoke against the Friars with some expressions of irreligion and having deserted from his regiment for many years, had been a bum in the hinterlands. He applied that time to surgery, was lucky that he received much revenue, uttered repeatedly Latin words without knowing how he had known them, and having been shown all the papers and letters embedded in the Inquiry, recognized all written from the wording of Luiz Gonzaga, and was well known. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 44 emphasis in original)

Pedro Nolasco was not asked by the Inquiry if he lost the letters that Gonzaga had written to his godmother. The other witness, Emerenciana Francisca, brown, 35, slave of Peter Nolasco, declared that she suspected:

Gonzaga had been the author of the papers because several times she heard him uttering daring expressions against religion, saying he wanted to end it all now, this form of government, because all were unequal. Further verifying her suspicion because there had been a month she saw him twice (Gonzaga) writing late at night and completing a long paper, and facing each other, like someone was copying. And her being shown the papers together at the Inquiry, said they were similar and resembled those she saw being written, but she did not know the letter said. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 46 emphasis in original).

The Inquiry, in turn, pointed out the recorded information that Emerenciana could not read.

When presented with this evidence, Gonzaga, in an elusive form, said it was all false. Suspicious and willing to surface tensions and resentments, the Inquiry asked if he “had some licentious and irreligious practices” with Emerenciana. Gonzaga said that “he knew she was married” and he had told her several times that the transgression of the sixth commandment (“You shall not commit adultery”) was not a sin. “Also he argued that he “had fun with her.” However, Emerenciana was his enemy “because of a pair of shoes she had asked for, black leather, that he had promised (and did not give her)” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 113)

Both Luiz Gonzaga, João de Deus, Lucas Dantas and Manuel Faustino, were condemned and “trading with tether and the public streets of this city would be brought to the Praça da Piedade, placed on the gallows erected for this, and would die a natural death for forever. “(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1144)

Chapter Seven – João de Deus

João de Deus was 27 years old, worked as an official tailor and owned a bustling tent on Straight Street Palace (now Chile Street), where he also lived with his wife Louisa Francisca de Araujo, 30 years and five smaller children, the oldest age 8.

Endowed with a strong personality, João de Deus is probably the most controversial and polemical character of the conspiracy of 1798. A Brown man, born in the village of Waterfall, the son of Brown, Francisca Maria Conceição and white José de Araújo. João bought his freedom for a measly 600 thousand reis. The conquest of freedom was certainly possible for this brown tailor who had an awareness of the profound inequalities in Bahian society, steeped in nearly 200 years of a system of slavery that directly reached the majority of the black population forced to live in deplorable conditions.

With a reputation for bravery, João de Deus bothered many and because of his defiant behavior collected enemies, several of which were heard by the Inquiry, intending to form a negative image of his person, aiming clearly to disqualify him, and which greatly influenced the judgment of his sentence.

However, information contained in the interrogations of the bulky “Actions of Inquiry” and carefully read in between the lines reveal traces of John’s personality, as a fearless and daring man, who said “publicly and loudly, realizing that it was insolence, to pay fifty one Reis to a soldier per day and a Canonneer of the Cathedral six hundred forty Reis “(Actions of Inquiry, 1998, p. 349)

The official tailor Antonio Ignacio Ramos, 24, who worked “close to two months,” in João de Deus’s store, a rare case of a white man working for a brown man said, when questioned:

He knew João de Deus to be of poor conduct, raunchy, and belittling white men, so much so that sometimes to the same shop door people of circumstance, as well as Lt. Col. Mauricio Machado Caetano, by cause of works, had retarded but João de Deus did not rise from the seat he was in, and often was not working, and spoke to the same people thus seated. And often said he witnessed João de Deus, with an uplifted spirit, as showed: – that in this land he had to be a very great man – which he asserted publicly (Actions of Inquiry, 1998, p 328.)

Ricardo Guedes, white man aged 17, said he had witnessed him in the São Bento dinner between Guard Lt. José Gomes and João de Deus. On occasion, the sight of a man sitting in a chair, John would have said: “It is a great thing to have money, and to travel in a chair, and I have no money but must walk on foot; and in that case would there be time to walk on foot without being carried by creatures? “(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 345)

Still about their impressions regarding the chair, there is the record of the testimony of Antonio Joaquim de Oliveira, brown man, upholsterer, 38, applicant causes:

On one occasion, it would be one of the days in the month of July this year, joining him in a chair, because of the rain, he stopping blacks in the door of the shop, and arranging a chair at the same time, João de Deus, slumped in the chair, retreated into the store, and told his grace, your grace is not afraid of time because you are rich, and does not want to get his feet wet. And he said: – We are worthy of heaven. And he replied: It’s done, but time will come when it can be, that I walk in the chair and your grace on foot. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 333)

João was a proud man and of very high esteem. He said “he was not born to tailor and aspired for bigger things.” His clothing caused strangeness to those accustomed to the cultural pattern of a Metropolis. The story of Francisco Xavier de Almeida, white male, 57 years old, applicant, who resided in the Street Bangala, reproduced this sentiment:

He wore shoes with chinelins and a very long beak, received very low, and shorts so tight, there was much disconcerted, it surprised him when he witnessed it, he said; Shut up, this costume is French, very soon you will see all the mercy of the French, and will have to rely on their mercy, and further close the doors of your houses, inside there will be none to open. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 318)

This speaks of João and also demonstrates how Enlightenment ideals and the French Revolution were present in the imagery of the city of Salvador in the late eighteenth century.

Lieutenant Alexander Teotônio, having commanded directly the repression of the conspiratorial movement, said he knew him for having a “spirited character, insolent and daring which was provided, without regard to religion or laws, dared to be insulting and affronting to people of graduation.”

Congressman Francisco Gomes de Souza said that:

Although not know, by common and constant voice, he was known as very petulant, haughty and insolent, able to undertake any evil, and ruinous to both the particular project, and the public, accustomed to disorders, insults and practice, and among people with higher degrees. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 298)

Colonel Carlos Balthazar, a confidant of the governor, said at the Inquiry

He knew him a long time, and always thought him a character insolent and of low character, ready for any wrongdoing, having done quite a few disorders, as it was that he made an injury on the face of a brown, in the day, publicly, in the street of Our Lady of Help with a knife. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 297)

About this episode, it occurred in 1794. There is a deposition of the Inquiry cited by Francisco Xavier de Almeida;

We have knowledge of João de Deus which was taken from an insurance card, the guilt of an injury done publicly during the day, in the street that goes to Our Lady of Help behind the chain, to the face of Valerio da Silva with a knife, of which he made frequent use, with displays during the night and day so much so that it was clear that lieutenant José Gabriel Daltro did arrest one night with the same knife, in the door of a brown mistress the same João de Deus who is an evil genius. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 318)

The “mulatto mistress” mentioned above is the dressmaker’s, birth papers Ana Roman, 17, who lives on Rua Direita of Our Lady of Help, John tried to use her as an alibi for the night of August 25, the day of the meeting at Dyke field.

The complex process of the conspiratorial movement of 1798, João de Deus is a character worthy of further study. This young tailor, “haughty” and “raunchy”, father of five, married to a woman three years older, had a lover 17 years and rode constantly armed with a knife, had projects, dreams and desires and saying open and publicly that “he was to be in this land a very great man” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 328)

Both João de Deus, Luiz Gonzaga, Lucas Dantas and Manuel Faustino, who were sentenced to “tethering and trading with the public streets of the city were brought to Praça da Piedade, placed on the gallows erected, and died a natural death forever.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1144)

Chapter Eight – Lucas Dantas

“Terrible news! They’ve arrested Luiz Gonzaga and it was this afternoon, in the year he made his Regiment “(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 677). So abruptly, Lucas Dantas erupted in the home of Luiz Pires on the night of August 23, 1798, announcing the arrest of soldier Luiz Gonzaga, accused of copyrighting the “revolutionary papers” that had risen in the city on the 12th. On occasion were present, the owner of the home, João de Deus and Manuel Faustino tailors, practical surgeon Freitas Sacouto and goldsmith Nicholas de Andrade. From this meeting came the call for the meeting at the Field of Dike of Exile.

A brown man of 23 years old, who liked to wear an earring in one ear, Lucas Dantas Amorim Torres was born free in the city of Salvador and was the son of a white, Domingos da Costa and a brown, Maria Vicência. A soldier in the line of the Artillery Regiment Pago, Lucas also held the office of carpenter working in the room where he lived, located on the land of a townhouse in Largo do Cruzeiro de São Francisco. In his home, friends often met for confabulations and even promoted “some balls” at the end of the year.

Well connected with illustrated figures, Lucas was compadre and “messenger of amorous correspondence” a former artillery cadet for Pedro Leon, a white man of few possessions and too wordy, brother of Lieutenant Hermogenes Pantoja, an influential officer in the army and for whom Lucas had friendship also was Lieutenant José Gomes, often frequenting his house, alone or in the company of other soldiers and officers. Luke also received distinguished guests in his home, such as with a lively party naming his daughter, held in December 1797, where the guests ate a stew of meat and drank brandy. Besides godfather Pedro Leon’s lieutenants, José Gomes and Hermogenes Pantoja, attended the soldier Luiz Gonzaga and the master tailor João de Deus.

In a city where the Catholic religion was dominant, Lucas clearly expressed anticlerical attitudes and unceremoniously stated that the brothers “were useless men in society.” Still young but already showing great leadership and political persuasion, preaching revolutionary ideas in the streets, barracks and the Recôncava mills, where, in in the last months, he circulated with ease. Constantly mentioned during interrogations of the Inquiry, Lucas was present in the main events of the conspiratorial movement in the last years of the eighteenth century.

In a statement to the Inquiry, the enslaved Jose Felix revealed that in early August, Lucas called home in the house, where he made the following statement:

We have been looking for you for days to communicate a particular benefit for all. We have chosen to go into it wanting because we have many key people, and until His Excellency the Governor, that knows this, and should, but does not want it to be known, we have the two Regiments of Mulattoes and Blacks in our favor, declaring to him at the same time, that consists of a particular uprising, through which it proposes to reduce the continent of Brazil to a Republic, that which was happening on the day they were guarding the pay of the Regiment of Artillery, and because his officers were at the same stunted and were ready to hand over the guards and key people interesting in the same uprising, expected in two embankments to relief him because there were written off and that we have more than three hundred people to our party beyond the slaves of the mills and iron [workers] at the river, that were ready. And asking him what benefit comes from an uprising of Brazil to a Republic, Lucas Dantas answered: – It is to breathe free, because we live subjected for being brown, and are not allowed access to something. And being there a Republic, there will be equality for all. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 309)

Lucas also had a strong role in the call for the meeting at the Field of the Dique, on the night of Saturday, August 25. However, one of the whistleblowers of the movement was the soldier Joaquim Siqueira, who was called by him to the meeting. Another informer, the captain of the regiment of Black Men Joaquim de Santana, was recommended by João de Deus, because he was a “a small black that speaks French, and is well-educated, and who understands the military” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 453)

After the failed meeting at the Dike Field, Lucas and Manuel Faustino decided to leave home and seek refuge in the remote small farm of Unhão where they stayed until the next morning, where they came out in a small boat and went to the town pier to embark on a boat for the Reconcavo. With fake names, they crossed the Bay of All Saints, bound for Guiíba Mill in the Village of San Francisco, owned by Joaquim Ignacio de Siqueira Bulcão, a master of ordinance and a defender of liberal ideas. After a few days, Joaquim Ignacio allowed Lucas to incorporate their convoy of supplies bound for the backcountry.

On 9 September, exhausted after several days of travel on foot, Lucas already had penetrated the hinterland, near Agua Fria, on his way to Itabaiana, where he intended to retire at the home of a brother. He was surprised by a group of soldiers, who had left Salvador on his heels. Lucas resisted arrest but was severely beaten, suffering a fractured forearm, a deep and extensive cut on his head and many injuries to the body.

When he arrived in Salvador, Luke was summoned for questioning. His condition was pitiable due to beatings during arrest and mistreatment on the trip back, groaning under the irons. With a very weak and deformed face, Lucas had no strength to resistance. Confusing and contradictory ways, sometimes assuming, sometimes denying, sometimes transferring responsibilities spoken. In the beginning, he was more restrained, his testimonies were gradually becoming more resourceful. However, as of February 15, 1799, he had totally dumb behavior and surprised the Inquiry by saying:

It wasn’t true all of his responses, which he formalized because of his weakened condition and his reduction due to his illness and the injury to his head received at the time of arrest. His reason why was it was very easy to cheat in his statements, and everything indicated on practices, discussions and sessions about the revolution was not true, for he declared again, that he never practiced in this regard, nor did he see practicing Manoel Faustino or João de Deus. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 858-860 emphasis in original)

Both Lucas Dantas, Luiz Gonzaga, João de Deus and Manuel Faustino, were sentenced to “tether and trading within the public streets of this city and brought to Praça da Piedade, and placed on the gallows erected for this ordeal, and there to die a natural death forever. “(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1144)

Chapter Nine – Manuel Faustino

Manuel Faustino dos Santos Lira, known by his friends and countrymen, Manny, Manuelito, or Lira, were terms by which “he was better known than his own name.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 440). He was born in Santo Amaro a captive (BA) and gained early manumission. As a teenager, he came to Salvador and learned the trade of a tailor. A brown man, short, thin, small head, narrow forehead and long face marked with signs of bladder, which had reached him when he was still very young. He was single, could read and write and, like Lucas Dantas, also wore an earring in one ear. He lived near the Church of St. Dominic, in the Shrine of Deus at the house of his godmother Maria Francisca da Conceição owned by José Pires de Carvalho e Albuquerque, the perpetual secretary of the state of Brazil. In this same house lived the brothers Ignacio and Fortunato Pires da Veiga, the first a slave and the other another tailor.

Faustino was a great articulator and had stacks of paper contacts of the conspirators, he was cited by several of them to be present at important meetings of the movement. It was he who found Jose Felix, near the matrix in St Peter’s Street, on Saturday, August 25, and urged him to go that night, to the Shrine of Deus, to meet the companions of the uprising. Jose Felix, 22, was a slave of Francisco Vianna, a former hearer of the county. He recently arrived from a trail and walked disgusted because for many years he worked in the off hours, saving a hundred thousand reis to buy his freedom, but his owner would only free him for three hundred thousand.

Still on Saturday, August 25, Faustino went to the small farm called Unhão and convened with Françe Pires, Manuel Pires and José Ignacio, slaves of Jose Pires de Carvalho, to meet at night at the Dock. Also present was Lucas who participated for the first time attended with João of Deus who knew about the uprising.

In several testimonies collected by the Inquiry, the name of Manuel Faustino was displayed as an active character. On October 1, 1798, when questioned, Françe Pires stated that in June, Manuel Faustino sent for him:

Did he cherish freedom and [wanted] to be supportive? And telling him yes, again Manuel Faustino – said that he was designing an uprising in the city, which would be carried out in a month or two in order to free all black and mulatto slaves, to live in such an equality, that there would be no distinction of beings, and so everyone would live happy. And he should have a sword, to this day to defend the party of the uprising. And the cause of slavery, lived by blacks and browns in the city, born of the church, whom he should complain; that the great Bonaparte would soon be there in four months to defend the party armed with great freedom. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 386)

France also said he accepted the invitation of Faustino, who also called him to the assembly in the field at Dike, noting that “they had many rich people and had a lot of good people that came to the uprising.” Interestingly, Faustino was not at the Dyke field, staying with Lucas to warn those who reached the spot late. The expectation of a big meeting that night was created by several promises that there would a lot of people. Manuel Faustino, who was assured to take 50 men to the place, also contributed to creating a climate of expectation.

On the Sunday following the failed attempt of the meeting at the Dike, during the afternoon, they knew that the police were looking for them, Faustino and Lucas decided to leave home and seek refuge at the small farm Unhão where they left the next morning in a small canoe to the city pier, embarked on a boat bound for Guaiba Mill, owned by Joaquim Ignacio de Siqueira Bulcão, in the Village of San Francisco.

Soon after, the Guaiba Mill received three other men involved in the conspiracy: mason Antonio Simões, the embroiderer Pedro Domingos and taylor Gonçalo de Oliveira. According to Faustino they had taken refuge there until things settled down in town. Days later, Faustino left the Guaiba Mill and went to Calogi where his mother lived, escarava of the Priest, the owner of mill. Upon learning that the priest was searching for him, he took refuge in the nearby forests. However, he was located and arrested in the Stone Mill, in the Town of San Francisco, on September 14, 1798.

In his first interview, September 22, 1798, Faustino caught the attention of the Inquiry have to declare to be only “17 years.” Already knowing his involvement with the conspiracy, the judge Costa Pinto was little suspicious of the unreported age and sent to ascertain the “Books of Baptisms in the Parish of Our Lady of Purification in Santo Amaro,” finding that the record on February 30, 1776, he was baptized “Manuel Liner, by the mercy of Dona Sebastiana Ferreira de São Gonçalo, son of Raymond and Felizarda, both mulatto slaves. His godparents were Salvador Pires de Carvalho and Dona Maria Pires.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1118) Faustino was actually 22 years. The act of Faustino declaring to be underage was a search for mitigating a future punishment, thus escaping the rules of the penal majority of the Filipinas ordinances, which determined that no one should be punished with capital punishment if he was less than 17 years old.

In this first interrogation, Faustino denied involvement in the conspiracy, stating:

After João de Deus was arrested on the morning of Sunday 26th of last month, it was heard that this, and more, that the French were thought to do a survey in the city, but he never knew what constituted it or what were their purposes. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 671)

However, the following day, pressured by the Inquiry and unable to maintain any resistence, he was gradually assuming responsibilities and interests, revealing an intelligence that put him as one of the principal animators of the conspiracy.

On September 27, in his second interrogation, they were surprised to hear that he would tell the truth:

He said in the end that which was running the uprising was to reduce the continent of Brazil to a government of equality, entering in it white, brown and black, without distinction of color, only the ability to rule and govern, that they would plunder the public coffers and reducing all to one, for him to pay the troops and watch the necessary expenses of the State. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 672)

Also, he revealed that those who “deliberated on the formality of the uprising” was a group formed by Antonio Simões, Luiz Gonzaga, João de Deus and Lucas Dantas, in whose house the meetings were held and where he heard that the “governor would be the president of the same Government of Equality and that they were to keep the people of letters and all owned by religious policy in order to prevent a civil war.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 672-673)

Both Manuel Fastino, Luiz Gonzaga, Lucas Dantas and João de Deus were sentenced to “tether and trading in the public streets of the city and be brought to Praça da Piedade, placed on the gallows erected for the ordeal and to die a natural death forever.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1144)

Chapter Ten - The Sentence
Chapter Ten – The Sentence


Chapter Ten – The Sentence

On March 6, 1799, with the Captaincy of Bahia living for seven months as a troubled political scene, because of the investigations into the Republican conspiratorial movement, the governor Don Fernando José de Portugal signed an ordinance aimed at two Inquiries still ongoing by saying:

Since His Majesty advised me to serve by royal face the defendants of seditious papers that were published in this City and the conjuration that it had hatched, contained in Inquiries whom I commanded to proceed, be sentenced in relation to increased readiness (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1070)

Pressured by a rapid, punitive and exemplary outcome, Avelar Barbedo and Costa Pinto, Inquiry commanders and judges formalized the disclaimer of conclusion, with Summary Acts of guilt 37 defendants: 34 arrested, two fugitives, and one dead in county jail . At the desire of the Portuguese Crown, the defendants were pronounced in a crime of “treason” for being authors and accomplices of the desired posting in the City to establish a democratic government.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 952)

A board was appointed to sentence the offenders comprised of ten judges of the Court of Appeal, whose members did not enjoy the reputation of impartiality and independence in society, having already appeared in previous eras serious allegations of misconduct and bribery against them. (Rui, 1978, p. 13)

For the defense of the accused was named alumnus Joseph Barboza de Oliveira, renowned Santa Casa da Misericordia lawyer. On June 14, 1799, three months after receiving the voluminous documentation of the Inquiry, Barbosa de Oliveira concluded defense of the defendants. In a vigorous legal piece, written in more than 200 sheets of paper, Barboza adopted as the main axis of his argument defending the accused disqualifying them, emphasizing their inability to perform such intent. He presented his defense to the Court of Appeal asking for the acquittal of all defendants either by their inability to perform such an uprising or as the lack of weapons and the lack of evidence “as clear as day.”

On November 5, 1799, after more than four months of analysis of the prosecutions of the defendants, and delays resulting from the complexity of the trial of treason, which should require a Special Court and process it was, however, judged by the Court of Appeal (Rui, 1978 ear). And also due to concern over the presence of whites and illustrious defendants of Bahian society, whose evidence in the conspiracy was large, the Court of Appeal presented the arguments of the case.

In a blunt and cruelly accusatory text written by men that formed the structure of the colonial power, committed a priori to the conviction of the conspirators. The movement was classified as the “perpetration of a horrendous crime of high treason head first.” The conspirators, in turn, were portrayed as “malevolent individuals,” dominated by “a fanatic and splenetic spirit” who “could not bear alone the difference in conditions and inequalities of wealth that comprise the admirable work of civil society”. They so dared to spread “the chimeric doctrine of a general equality, without distinction of color and studies”, with the aim of promoting the destruction of public order, and to propagate ideas that influenced people to “transgress the most holy and sacred bonds of vassalage “, aiming at the implementation of a “shallow and independent democracy,” able to attract some bastards permitted by their license of manners; others by raising future dignities; and finally by rich spoils from the sack of the city designed by adapting indistinctly the most barbarous and pernicious expedients to ignite the City, assassinate government officials and more, to rebel troops and get their permanence and stability through such an abominable plot. (Rui, 1978, p. 161)

The Court ruled:
Acquitted: Cipriano Barata, Dominic Lisboa, Antonio Joaquim, Joaquim Siueira, Antonio Simoes, Nicholas de Andrade, Luis Leal, Felipe Neri, Vincent Jeje, Pedro Domingos, Gonçalo Gonçalves, João Fernandes, Tubias João Fortunato Pires da Veigo.

Considered “no fault”: José Antonio, who died in jail, with the suspected murdered by poisoning.

Sentenced to “one year imprisonment in the county jail, in addition to time already served”: Hemógenes Pantoja, Jose Gomes Caetano and Vellozo.

Condemned to exile: Raymond Roach (three years on the island of Fernando de Noronha), Cosmas Damian (five in Angola) and the absent defendant Pedro León (ten years in prison in Angola).

Condemned “to be flogged in the public streets of the city and then be degraded throughout life to parts of Africa not subject to the Royal Crown”: Ignacio Pimentel, José Sacramento, France Saucer, Felix da Costa, Manoel de Santana, Sacouto Freitas and Francisco Muniz Barreto de Aragon.

Condemned to be conducted with tether and trade through the city streets to the Pelourinho, where they would receive 500 lashes merged and returned to jail, being forced to be sold out of the Captaincy of our Lord: Manoel José Ignacio Vera Cruz and Ignácio Pires.

After disclosure of the sentences, José Barbosa de Oliveira made several embargoes to the Court, reaffirming the arguments that:

For the imposition of penalties referred with evidence clearer than the light of noon, still being atrocious offenses, the principle that the greater and the more serious the offense clearer the evidence is needed because it is the life of man who once lost, can never again be regained. (Rui, 1978, 167)

The Court of Appeal amended only a few cases:

The slave Ignacio Pires, sentenced to 500 lashes, was now free. Lieutenants Hermógenes Pantoja and José Gomes and the soldier Caetano Vellozo, sentenced to one year in jail, had his sentence reduced to six months. Professor Francisco Muniz Barreto de Aragon, condemned to flogging and subsequent perpetual banishment had his sentence commuted to one year in prison. In his request for embargo, he claimed kinship with traditional Portuguese families and therefore was not well with the public humiliation punishment for a white man of noble ancestry. Finally, the soldier Romão Pinheiro sentenced to death by hanging had his sentence commuted to flogging and exile in Africa, outside the Portuguese dominions.

All other sentences were reaffirmed.

Chapter Eleven – The Execution

On November 8, 1799, a hot and covert Friday, the City of Salvador dawned excited. In a climate of tension and anxiety, thousands of people went to the Praça de Piedade, ornate in style, to watch the hanging of four men accused of participating in an uprising that sought to overthrow the colonial government, proclaim independence and deploy a democratic republic free from slavery. It was the outcome of a long and painful process that lasted 15 months and convulsed the political scene of Bahia, reaching hundreds of people with threats, interrogations, arrests, convictions, public flogging, imprisonment, perpetual banishment, and even the maximum death penalty sentence that befell four brown men.

Under a low sky, the bells of the churches rang announcing the great act. A new gallows had been built especially for this moment, six feet higher than the old, that was located in the Powder Field built during an early morning, just before the outbreak of the “revolutionary papers” of August 12, 1798.

All Regiments were on hand with a watchful eye over a crowd waiting attentively, sometimes noisy, the moment of the application of penalties to men punished in the investigative process. It is noteworthy that it was Francisco Muniz Barreto de Aragon, a professor of grammar in Rio de Contas, the only white man who came closest to the imputation of severe punishment. Condemned to be whipped through the streets and later perpetual exile, appealed the sentence, claiming noble ancestry with traditional Portuguese families. With that, he had his sentence commuted to one year of imprisonment, avoiding public humiliation and punishment if applied to him would have been unusual considering his status as a white man.

The twelve convicted prisoners came out of jail to the public and subsequent those exiled to Africa and outside the Portuguese dominion: Ignatius Pimentel, José Sacramento, France Saucer, Felix da Costa, Manoel de Santana, Freitas Sacouto, Manoel de Vera Cruz and Romao Pimheiro. The latter was sentenced to death and hanging on the eve of the Court of Appeal which upheld an embargo by lawyer José Barbosa de Oliveira, reducing his sentence to flogging and banishment to Africa. The other four, Manuel Faustino Lucas Dantas, Luiz Gonzaga and João de Deus, who were condemned to “tether and trading within the public streets of this city and be brought to Praça da Piedade, placed on the gallows erected for this, and to die a natural death forever, followed differently. Faustino and Lucas walked with their hands and feet shackled: Gonzaga and João were chained to chairs and carried through the streets.

The last moments of the hanging were dramatic for those convicted. Luiz Gonzaga was the first to be hanged but asked to confess to a Carmelite friar who accompanied the procession. It was as if he wanted to postpone the punishment even for a few minutes keeping a breath of life. With that Manuel Faustino, the youngest of the four was the first, the second Lucas Dantas, and Luis Gonzaga third. The fourth and last was João de Deus, who, chained, was screaming and struggling with the executioners.

In dense and voluminous records “the Acts of Inquiry,” registered the following macabre detail as the fate of the remains of the four defendants:

Lucas Dantas:
After death, he would have his head cut off and his body quartered, and his head conducted and discovered at the site and square of the Field of Exile and nailed to a raised pole until it was consumed by time. And likewise the four quarters, to be put in proportional distances from the house, which was his home and being himself destined for the infamous and seditious gathering the night of August 25. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1145)

João de Deus:
The head of the accused João de Deus, would also be placed in front of the house which was his abode, and the rooms on the pier and trade for those who frequented the City, and to be consumed by time, to be clear to all the enormity of his crime and the appropriate punishment. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1145)

Manuel Faustino:
The head of defendant Manuel Faustino, having no certain dwelling was put in front of the house of the first defendant Lucas Dantas, where he made his greatest assistance and waited on the guests that night of August 25, directing them to the Dike Field.(Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1145)

For Gonzaga, convicted on charges of having written the “revolutionary papers,” his symbolic rendering had another purpose: “with him after death to have severed hands and cut off his head, which were posted in the place of execution until they were consumed by time. (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1165)

The actual court ruled that all the pieces of bodies were to be exposed until ” they were consumed by time.” However, a few days later, the Provost of City Health, a physician and the surgeon of the Senate asked for their withdrawal, arguing that the stench emanating caused “very serious injury to the residents” of the city. In mid-November, what was left of the remains of the four martyrs was removed from public posts.

But with the final resolution of the Court of Appeal, the violence that hung over the four brown conspirators still had another cruel completion:

Moreover, they declared that the houses of the first two defendants, being themselves destroyed, and cured and so there would never be uprisings, raising a standard in which was preserved the memory of their infamy: they equally condemned the confiscation of all their assets to the IRS and Real Camera, judged incurred by high treason, that they would be infamous forever in the memory of their children and grandchildren (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 1145 our emphasis)

The ritual, ruthless punishments with whips, humiliating public, and the ultimate expression of death on the gallows was rendered clearly showing that any gesture of objection to the Portuguese Crown would not be admitted in the colonies. In sentencing the homes of the convicted defendants that were “devastated and cured so there would never be uprisings” and “would always be infamous in the memory, of their children and grandchildren,” the kingdom of Portugal sought to make the memory of the revolt of 1798 erased forever, giving a show of force in response to the challenging and liberating boldness that had emerged in Bahia.

On August 30, 1798, in the public jail, in the morning, the brown tailor France Pires, perhaps thinking of his father, his mother, sister or child, and all slaves asked the neighbor in the next cell, also the tailor Ignácio Pimentel : – “What would we get at Dike Field in those early hours?” and Ignácio replied: “we were trying to see if we could be happy.” (Acts of Inquiry, 1948, p. 380)


Translated from Brazilian Portuguese to English by Neil Turner.

AMARAL, Braz Hermenegildo. Fatos da vida do Brasil: A Conspiração Republicana da Bahia de 1798. Tipografia Naval: 1926; ARAÚJO, Nelson de. 1798: A Conjuração dos Alfaiates. Salvador: Fundação Cultural do Estado da Bahia, 1977; AUTOS Devassas e Seqüestros da Conjuração Baiana. Salvador, 1948; AUTOS Devassa do levantamento e sedição intentados na Bahia em 1798. Salvador, 1959; BARROS, Francisco Borges de. Os Confederados do Partido da Liberdade. Imprensa Oficial da Bahia: Salvador, 1922; BORGES, Jafé. Cavalheiros da Luz. Salvador, 1991; JANCSO, István. Na Bahia, contra o Império. História do ensaio da Sedição de 1798. São Paulo/ Hucitc/Salvador: EDUFBA, 1996; MATTOS, Florisvaldo. A Comunicação Social na Revolução dos Alfaiates. Universidade Federal da Bahia, col. Estudos Baianos, Salvador, 1974; MATTOS, Florisvaldo. A Comunicação Social na Revolução dos Alfaiates. Assembléia Legislativa do Estado da Bahia-Academia de Letras da Bahia, 1998; MATOS, Gramiro de. A Conspiração dos Búzios. Salvador: Romance, 1978;

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