Slaves imported under the Asiento treaties went to all parts of the Americas. Spanish America had by the close of the eighteenth century ten thousand in Santo Domingo, eighty-four thousand in Cuba, fifty thousand in Porto Rico, sixty thousand in Louisiana and Florida, and sixty thousand in Central and South America.
The history of the Negro in Spanish America centered in Cuba, Venezuela, and Central America. In the sixteenth century slaves began to arrive in Cuba and Negroes joined many of the exploring expeditions from there to various parts of America. The slave trade greatly increased in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and after the revolution in Hayti large numbers of French emigrants from that island settled in Cuba. This and Spanish greed increased the harshness of slavery and eventually led to revolt among the Negroes. In 1844 Governor O’Donnell began a cruel persecution of the blacks on account of a plot discovered among them. Finally in 1866 the Ten Years’ War broke out in which Negro and white rebels joined. They demanded the abolition of slavery and equal political rights for natives and foreigners, whites and blacks. The war was cruel and bloody but ended in 1878 with the abolition of slavery, while a further uprising the following year secured civil rights for Negroes. Spanish economic oppression continued, however, and the leading chiefs of the Ten Years’ War including such leaders as the mulatto, Antonio Maceo, with large numbers of Negro soldiers, took the field again in 1895. The result was the freeing of Cuba by the intervention of the United States. Negro regiments from the United States played here a leading role. A number of leaders in Cuba in political, industrial, and literary lines have been men of Negro descent.
Slavery was abolished by Guatemala in 1824 and by Mexico in 1829. Argentine, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Paraguay ceased to recognize it about 1825. Between 1840 and 1845 it came to an end in Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecquador. Bolivar, Paez, Sucre, and other South American leaders used Negro soldiers in fighting for freedom (1814-16), and Hayti twice at critical times rendered assistance and received Bolivar twice as a refugee.
Brazil was the center of Portuguese slavery, but slaves were not introduced in large numbers until about 1720, when diamonds were discovered in the territory above Rio Janeiro. Gradually the seaboard from Pernambuco to Rio Janeiro and beyond became filled with Negroes, and although the slave trade north of the equator was theoretically abolished by Portugal in 1815 and south of the equator in 1830, and by Brazil in these regions in 1826 and 1830, nevertheless between 1825 and 1850 over a million and a quarter of Negroes were introduced. Not until Brazil abolished slavery in 1888 did the importation wholly cease. Brazilian slavery allowed the slave to purchase his freedom, and the color line was not strict. Even in the eighteenth century there were black clergy and bishops; indeed the Negro clergy seem to have been on a higher moral level than the whites.