Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 6, 1875, Volume II
to Mr. Fish.
Lisbon, July 3, 1875. (Received July 19, 1875.)
Sir: With reference to my No. 10 of the 21st day of April last, I have now the honor to forward, herewith, an official copy taken from the “Diario do Governo” and an English translation thereof, of the act passed by the Cortes at its late session, granting unconditional freedom to the Portuguese slaves known as freed men. This law was not officially promulgated until the 11th of May, and the necessity for care in the translation has prevented me from sending the document to you by an earlier mail; but as I had already communicated its substance to the Department, I trust that this unavoidable delay will not be regarded by you with disfavor.
I have, &c.,
Proclamation of the abolition of servitude in the Portugal Colonies.
Dom Luiz, by the grace of God King of Portugal and the Algarves, &c, &c. We make known to all our subjects that the general Cortes have decreed, and we have approved, the following law:
Chapter I.—Of the condition of liberty conferred on the apprentices and the tutelage to which they are subject.
One year after the publication of this law in the ultramarine provinces, is considered extinct the condition of servitude established by the decree with the force of law of the 25th of February, 1869, and are declared free all those persons to whom it refers.
Persons who thus obtain their full-liberty are subject to the conditions of this enactment.
- § 1°.
- Provided, however, that persons who are employed in public or private schools, or who profess and are actually employed in any art, skilled labor, or public office, and who can read and write, are excepted from such tutelage.
- § 2°.
- The public tutelage ceases by law on the 29th of April, 1878, by virtue of the decree with the force of law of the 29th of April, 1858.
In each of the provinces of Angola, Mozambique, and St. Thomas é Principe there shall be appointed by the government a magistrate, curator-general, whose duty it shall be to perform in the said provinces the duties in regard to public tutelage provided for in the second article of this chapter, and all the duties imposed on them by this act, or which may be enjoined by the directions of the government.
- § 1°.
- The governor of the province, with the advice of his council, will supervise the acts of the curator-general.
- § 2°.
- The salary of the curator shall be twelve hundred milreis, and shall be to all legal effects and purposes equal to that of the attorneys for the crown and treasury in the ultramarine provinces.
The labor of the persons to whom the second article refers is declared free, to the end that they shall be able to treat for their wages and receive the pay contracted for.
Chapter II.—Of the contracts for the wages of labor of individuals subject to public tutelage.
The individuals who, under this law, remain subject to public tutelage, must contract for two years’ service, the curator being judge of such agreements for said services.
- § 1°.
- The former masters shall have the preference in these contracts if they desire it, subject in all respects to the conditions of this act.
- § 2°.
- The curator-general shall carefully inspect these contracts, and shall have power to prohibit them when he shall have reason to, believe that he ought not to consent to them.
- § 3°.
- When contracts shall not be made with the old masters, they may be made with other persons.
- § 4°.
- Rules shall be framed for particular conditions which, besides those prescribed, by this act, shall be observed in regard to sex and the different estates of minors and adult persons.
These contracts shall be:
- § 1°.
- For payment of labor only.
- § 2°.
- For payment of labor and colonization by means of concessions of land.
- § 3°.
- For payment of labor by concessions of land only.
- § 4°.
- For service in the district to which the freedman belongs.
- § 5°.
- For service in a district other than that to which the freedman belongs.
The contracts to which the preceding articles refer shall be made before the public authorities designated by the curator-general, subject to his supervision, and shall be duly registered.
The contracts may be made with a stipulation for wages only or for wages, board, and clothing.
In the published list of regulations for each district shall be prescribed the minimum of wages, rations, and clothing to be paid to the workmen or colonists by the masters or landlords who contract for their services, the days of labor and the hours of work in each day, regard being had to the employment and the conditions of age and sex.
No contracts shall be approved which shall contain conditions for guarantees and remunerations less than those prescribed in the regulations.
The contracts for concessions of land shall be made according to the provisions of the civil code.
If in contracts for concessions of land there should be a stipulation for rendering service by manual labor, in no case shall such personal service be for more than half of the time covered by the contract, in conformity with the regulations, nor for more than two years; nor shall any fixed price for products of the labor of the freedman be stipulated for or that they shall be sold only to the master or landlord.
§. The regulations for each district shall prescribe the minimum of lands, which may be stipulated for by each colonist, unmarried or having a family.
Colonists shall not be allowed to make contracts that separate them from their wives, or their children under fifteen years of age.
Contracts containing a stipulation for personal labor shall not be assigned over by the master or lessee, without the consent of the freedman or lessee, except in cases specially authorized by this act; when, however, such assignment is made, it shall be done with all the formalities required for the first contract, and subject to the same conditions.
Contracts will only be allowed to be made by the parties in person or by agents duly authorized by the governor of the province in council, under the conditions prescribed by the regulations.
Contracts for personal service shall only be permitted when the master shall prove to the authority competent to authorize the contract, that he is a farmer or mechanic provided with all the requisites for carrying on his trade or business. Contracts for domestic service are excepted from the operation of this article.[Page 1009]
Advancements of wages to be deducted from the annual payment shall not exceed the pay for two months in anyone year. These advancements shall be considered paid at the end of twelve months from date if they shall not have been previously paid, and no deduction shall be made in any month for more than a twelfth of a mouth’s wages.
No contract for extending a contract for personal service shall be permitted before the term of such contract shall have expired.
- § 1°.
- At the close of the term stipulated in obligatory contracts prescribed by article 5, in the renewal of voluntary contracts by colonists and servants as well as in contracts newly made, the requirements of this act shall be observed as far as applicable in the manner determined by the regulations of the government.
- § 2°.
- The provisions of § 1°, of article 5, shall not apply to these contracts.
The organization of companies of workmen to labor for agriculturists, or industries that cannot or do not desire to contract for labor by the year, is allowed by this act.
- § 1°.
- Laborers so contracting shall not be allowed to contract for a longer term than is prescribed by article 5 of this act.
- § 2°.
- There shall be prescribed, in the table of regulations, the minimum price of labor which may be so contracted for, and such other conditions as may be requisite in such contracts.
- § 3°.
- This table shall be revised every year.
- § 4°.
- The conditions of the labor thus afforded will be the same as are prescribed for other contracts.
- § 5°.
- The regulations prescribed in each province for the execution of this article; shall be submitted for the approval of the home government.
Chapter III.—Contracts for service and colonization beyond the district to which the freedman belongs.
Contracts for personal service and colonization beyond the district to which the freedman belongs may be made, subject, however, to the provisions of this act and the regulations prescribed in conformity with its provisions.
Contracts authorized by the provisions of this chapter may be made either by the masters or landlords in person, subject to the conditions of article 16, or by agents specially authorized under the provisions of article 15, having first entered into bonds with adequate security.
§. The contracts to which this article applies shall be made, with all the formalities which are or may be prescribed under this act, and the agents shall be required to make returns of all such contracts to the curator-general.
The transportation of colonists, or persons contracting to render personal service, shall only be made in vessels expressly registered for this service, giving such bail or making such deposit as shall be fixed by the regulations, with joint and several responsibility upon the ship-owner and commander.
In all such contracts there shall be inserted an obligation for the payment of the transport of such colonists and their families who, at the end of the term for which, they shall have contracted, may desire to return to their native district.
The government, if it shall be found convenient, may authorize the governor of St. Thomas and Principe to contract, on account of the province, for colonists in any other district, and these contracts may be, under the same conditions, assigned to private persons.[Page 1010]
These contracts shall not be permitted, if it can he shown that, in any manner, they serve to promote the traffic in slaves.
The embarkation of negro laborers contracted for shall not be permitted until all the regulations prescribed under this law shall have been complied with.
Chapter IV.—Vagrancy, and penalties for violation of the provisions of this act.
Persons referred to in the first article of this act, who, under the provisions of article 256 of the penal code, were adjudged to be vagrants, shall be subjected to obligatory labor for two years in work-houses to be specially provided by the state for this purpose, or in the fortresses and public works of the province, and shall receive the wages fixed upon by the respective governors in council.
- § 1°.
- Such persons may, at any time, contract for their services with private persons, and in such case the obligation to perform public labor shall cease.
- § 2°.
- The public authorities shall not have power to hire to private individuals the services of such persons except upon the terms prescribed by this act in articles 19 and 24, or upon contracts voluntarily made by these persons according to established regulations.
Any person who shall interfere or attempt to interfere with the labor of the colonists or persons who shall have contracted to labor, or shall entice them to abandon their work, shall be subjected to the penalties prescribed in the penal code.
Individuals who shall have made contracts for their services shall not be prevented by their masters or landlords from appealing to the local authorities established for their protection.
Any person who shall hinder or attempt to hinder such appeal shall be punished according to the provisions of the penal code, and in addition thereto shall forfeit his right under the contract, if the colonist or person who has contracted to render personal service shall desire it. In such case the master or landlord shall forfeit all claim to indemnity for the time unexpired under the contract.
The curator-general shall superintend the execution of the contracts, and shall procure, by the proper measures, the annulment of all those of which the conditions shall not have been performed.
Chapter V.—Indemnifications to persons who were entitled to the labor of the freedmen.
The government shall direct a careful inquiry to be instituted, in order that it may be informed:
- § 1°.
- As to the manner in which the register of freedmen has been kept in the different provinces in virtue of the decree of the 14th of December, 1854, and of subsequent legislation.
- § 2°.
- What persons, among those registered, are embraced in the provisions of the second section of article 1 of the decree of the 24th of July, 1856.
- § 3°.
- What is the average value in each province of servile labor.
In order that a right to indemnification shall be recognized, it shall be required that every person interested shall prove before the council of the government the number [Page 1011] of freedmen he had in his service, the profit derived from them, the time when he caused them to he registered, their present ages, and the labor in which they were employed at the date of this law, and that he has paid the tax established for each slave or freedman, the usufruct of which service he enjoyed.
The process for valuing the indemnification of which the 33d article treats, shall be administrative, and the decision of the council of the government of the province shall be final.
§°. The conditions and formalities of this process shall be prescribed by a regulation of the government.
The indemnification and the manner of its payment can only be prescribed by law after the conditions imposed by the preceding articles shall have been complied with.
From and after the date of the publication of this law in each of the ultramarine provinces, by operation of this act, independently of any proclamation, all slaves or freedmen who have been brought into the province shall be considered free. The curator-general shall ex-officio take care that this requirement be strictly complied with.
The curators-general will render an account of their proceedings, once in every six months, to the governors of the provinces respectively, and there shall report to the home government as to the manner in which the provisions of this act are executed.
The government shall make a general regulation for the execution of this law.
All previous legislation in conflict with this act is hereby repealed.