The American Newspaper & Abolition

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 11.14.16 PM

(the first and last page were always full of ads)

The Paper

Not many people know this but, as far back as 1879, there was an American newspaper in Rio, headed by a man named Andrew Jackson (AJ) Lamoureux. It was published on Tuesday, three times per month and circulated until 1901. Aside from regular news, the paper soon evolved to reflect on issues surrounding abolition in accordance with the editor’s beliefs on the matter. Being in English, it served as a bridge for Brazilian abolitionists’ international contacts, such as is the case between Joaquim Nabuco and the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (the most well-known anti-slavery association at the time).

Not much is known about the editor of The Rio News, Mr Lamoureux (1850-1928), except that he was born in Michigan, studied at the University of Cornell, but abandoned his studies due to health problems and, in the 1870s, started working for the press. In 1877, he moved to Rio and started The Rio News. In 1887, he published a book he wrote called Handbook of Rio de Janeiro.

The Rio News was composed of news from other newspapers, commented on by the editor, it analysed the happenings in Brazilian business and published a summary of subject matter dealt with by the Senate and House in a column titled “Legislative Notes”. The paper also listed the arrival and departure of foreign ships, freight and shipments, prices, official quotes, and daily records on coffee, etc.

Source (for the above)


Local Notes

Also, of quite some interest to me, there was a Local Notes section which can be seen above (click to enlarge), followed by The Rio News announcement on the end of slavery. A few of the Local Notes for the May 15th 1888 edition I’ve typed out below…

– A child died here recently of “aromic intoxication.” Can this mean that the poor little fellow got hold of the Eau de Cologne flask?

– An enthusiastic admirer of Gen. Boulanger in Rio was so delighted at the general’s election to the French Chambers that he freed his only slave.

– It is to be hoped that some one has saved the recent publications of Sr. Barata Ribeiro about that murder in Campinas. Life is short and Sr. Barata’s articles are unfeeling long.

– A man killed his wife in November last because she liked another fellow better, but the jury acquitted him on the 9th because he was temporarily insane. Divorce is of no use in Brazil.

– The schools in the city are preparing a festival in honor of the abolition of slavery.

– The receipts from import duties for next year are estimated at 82,000,000$, out of a total estimated revenue of 140,000,000$.

– It is said that the escravocrata has become so nearly extinct in Brazil that efforts will be made to catch a pair for preservation in the zoological gardens.

– The rejoicings over the abolition of slavery are general and enthusiastic throughout the whole empire. Congratulations are pouring in from every side, until it would appear that slavery has hardly a single friend left and that the whole Brazilian people have been waiting and longing for abolition since the very beginning. It puzzles one to know where all the opposition to abolition came from, and why unconditional emancipation was not decreed in 1871.

– A gentleman, resident apparently at Cape Frio, was so anxious that his sympathies with abolition should recognized in time, he that went to the expense of an advertisement in the Jornal on the 10th. Better late, than never.

– The events of the past week in connection with the passage of the abolition act have been unusually exciting in character. There was almost no opposition and very little oratory; and every vote was attended by the abolition societies and large numbers of spectators. The Senate decided upon a Sunday session to pass the bill, which was attended by hundreds of excited, enthusiastic people. The Princess Regent also arranged to come down from Petropolis on the same day to sign the bill. The streets of the city were gay with bunting and the newspaper offices of Rua do Ouvidor were elegantly decorated with flags and flowers. Processions carrying banners and preceded by bands of music paraded the streets, cheering our colleagues of the press and giving vivas for liberty, the imperial family and the abolition leaders. At 3 o’clock p.m. the Princess Regent arrived at the City Palace, where an immense crowd had congregated to await the final act in the abolition of Brazilian slavery. The engrossed copy of the law was signed at 3:15 p.m., the Princess using a pen richly set with diamonds which was provided for the occasion by a popular subscription. Renewed vivas were given on the announcement that the act had become law and the crowd slowly dispersed. The streets, however, remained full of people until a late hour of the night, torchlight processions were organized, and many offices and private residences were illuminated. The whole affair passed off with perfect order and good temper.

Golden Law Signing

To further illustrate the scene on that day, I put together the following.


 (Princess Isabel in the Throne room)

After signing the Golden Law, everyone in the room applauds. Then, a noble, refined man runs to the window and shouts to the people below:

“People! From this day forth, there will be no more slaves in Brazil!”
“Long live the Imperial Highness Princess Isabel! Viva!”

The crowd screams euphorically.


(people amassed outside the Paço Imperial after the signing of the Golden Law in 1888)