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Between Benevolence and Inevitability: The ‘Civilising Mission’ of Portuguese Colonialism

  • Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo
Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)

Abstract

During the anti-slavery conference that took place in Brussels between 18 November 1889 and 2 July 1890, the Portuguese representatives (Henrique Macedo, Portuguese ambassador in Brussels and former minister of the navy and overseas; Augusto Castilho, a naval officer who had been governor of Mozambique; Brito Capelo, an explorer and officer in the Portuguese Navy; and Batalha Reis, consul in Newcastle) were ‘armed with memoirs, documents and geographical charts’ with which they would demonstrate Portugal’s secular ‘administrative, scientific and humanitarian activity’ in Africa.1 The conference took place under the sign of the scramble for Africa and of the legacy of the Berlin Conference of 1884, and in particular under the 6th article of the General Act of February 1885.2 This article established and internationally consecrated the obligations upon all the powers exercising sovereign rights or influence over colonial territories to bring home ‘the blessings of civilization’ and to ensure the ‘protection of the native populations’ and ‘the improvement of the conditions of their moral and material well-being’, reaffirming, in general, the aims to ‘abolish slavery, and especially the slave trade’ in these territories. The generic goal, as Marcelo Caetano wrote many years later, was to make the natives ‘understand and appreciate the advantages of civilisation’; how-ever, as we shall see, it meant much more than this.3

Keywords

African Continent Native Labour Slave Trade Colonial Power Colonial Administration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Marcelo Caetano, Portugal e a Internacionalização dos Problemas Africanos (Lisboa: Edições Ática, 1965), 145. For the protocols and the conference’s closing declaration, see Conférence Internationale de Bruxelles ( Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1891 ).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The best collective study of the Berlin Conference and its importance for European colonial and imperial history is still Stig Förster, Wolfgang J. Mommsen and Ronald Robinson (eds), Bismarck, Europe, and Africa ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988 )Google Scholar
  3. The best study of the diplomatic manoeuvres immediately before, during and after the Berlin meeting is Sybil Eyre Crowe, The Berlin West African Conference, 1884–1885 ( London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1942 )Google Scholar
  4. For more on the Portuguese involvement and the Congo question, see Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, A Diplomacia do Império (Lisbon: Edições 70, 2012), 238–302 (revised and augmented version of ‘Religion, Empire, and the Diplomacy of Colonialism: Portugal, Europe, and the Congo Question, c. 1820–1890’ (London: PhD thesis, King’s College London, 2008))Google Scholar
  5. F. Latour da Veiga Pinto, Le Portugal et le Congo au XIXe siècle ( Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1972 ), 246–293.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    For example, it was only in 1887 that the Portuguese colonial administra-tion proceeded to the topographical delimitation of its effective sovereignty over Angola. For more on this, see Guilherme Brito Capelo, ‘Relatorio do governador-geral da província de Angola de 1887’, in Relatórios dos Governadores das Províncias Ultramarinas ( Lisboa: Ministério da Marinha e Ultramar, 1889 ), pp. 9–10.Google Scholar
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    The abundant correspondence between Hutton and Mackinnon with Henry Morton Stanley, located at the archive of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, demonstrates the proximity with Leopold II’s agenda. For Mackinnon see J. Forbes Munro, Maritime Enterprise and Empire (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 2003), esp. 346–381Google Scholar
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  9. 6.
    For more on the activities of the British missionary societies (in addition to the BMS and the Livingstone Inland Mission) and their links with British commercial interests aligned with Leopold II against the agreement between Portugal and the United Kingdom, see Roger Anstey, Britain and the Congo in the Nineteenth-Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), esp. 113–138Google Scholar
  10. Ruth Slade, L’Attitude des Missions Protestantes vis-à-vis des Puissances Européennes au Congo avant 1885 (Bruxelles: Institut Royal Colonial Belge, 1954) and English-Speaking Missions in the Congo Independent State (1878–1908) ( Brussels: Académie Royale des Sciences Coloniales, 1959 )Google Scholar
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    For the presence of religious and humanitarian factors before and after the conference see Suzanne Miers, Britain and the Ending of the Slave Trade (London: Longman, 1975), 169–189; Lewis H. Gann, ‘The Berlin Conference and the Humanitarian Conscience’, in Förster et al., Bismarck, Europe, and Africa, pp. 321–331Google Scholar
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    For more on ‘benevolent’, ‘obligatory’ and ‘inevitable’ imperialism, see Andrew Porter, European Imperialism, 1860–1914 (London: MacMillan Press, 1994), 20–29Google Scholar
  20. For the role fulfilled by the expansion of the Protestant missions, see Brian Stanley, The Bible and the Flag (Leicester: Apollos, 1990), esp. 85–110Google Scholar
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  22. 12.
    For the significance of Livingstone’s challenge, see B. Stanley, ‘Commerce and Christianity: providence theory, the missionary movement, and the imperialism of free trade, 1842–1860’, The Historical Journal, vol. 26, no. 1 (1983), 71–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  24. 15.
    See, for instance, William Clarence-Smith, ‘The British “Official Mind” and Nineteenth-Century Islamic Debates over the Abolition of Slavery’, in Keith Hamilton and Patrick Salmon (eds), Slavery, diplomacy and empire ( Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2009 ), pp. 125–142Google Scholar
  25. For an analysis of the question of slavery and Islam see William Clarence-Smith, Islam and the Abolition of Slavery ( London: Hurst&Company, 2006 ).Google Scholar
  26. 17.
    Jean Stengers, ‘Introduction’, in La Conférence de Géographie de 1876 (Brussels: Académie Royale des Sciences, d’Outre-Mer, 1976), xiii; Miers, Britain and the Ending of the Slave Trade, 204–206, 219–221 and 229. For the donation see Laqua, ‘The Tensions of Internationalism’, 709Google Scholar
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  28. For the overall European anti-slavery moment see William Mulligan, ‘The Anti-slave Trade Campaign in Europe, 1888–1890’, in William Mulligan and Maurice Bric (eds), A Global History of Anti-Slavery Politics in the Nineteenth Century ( Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013 ), pp. 149–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    For the Ultimatum see Nuno Severiano Teixeira, O Ultimatum Inglês (Lisboa: Beta-Projectos Editoriais, Lda, 1990 ).Google Scholar
  30. 28.
    For an analysis of the main aspects of the abolitionist mythology see João Pedro Marques, ‘O mito do abolicionismo português’, in Actas do Colóquio ‘Construção e Ensino da História de África’ ( Lisbon: Ministério da Educação, 1995 ), 245–257.Google Scholar
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    A. T. da Silva Leitão e Castro, A Escravatura na Europa e na Africa a Propósito da Conferencia de Bruxelas ( Lamego: Minerva da Loja Vermelha, 1892 ), 7Google Scholar
  32. For an overview of the relation between the Church and the abolition of slavery see William Clarence-Smith, ‘Église, nation et esclavage: Angola et Mozambique portugais, 1878–1913’, in Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau (ed.), Abolir l’esclavage ( Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2008 ), pp. 149–167.Google Scholar
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    José de Almada, Apontamentos Históricos sobre a Escravatura e o Trabalho Indígena nas Colónias Portuguesas ( Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1932 ), 43–44Google Scholar
  34. For a more global appreciation of the historical transformation of slavery, with particular emphasis on the development of legitimate trade in Africa, see, among other works, P. Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000 [1983]), especially 165–190 and 276–289Google Scholar
  35. the collection of texts contained in Robin Law (ed.), From Slave Trade to ‘Legitimate’ Commerce ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995 ).Google Scholar
  36. 38.
    Andrade Corvo cited in A. Correia de Aguiar, O Trabalho Indígena nas Ilhas de São Tomé e Principe (S. Thomé: Imprensa Nacional, 1919 ), 165–166Google Scholar
  37. In addition to the works by Jerónimo and Anstey cited above, see J. de Andrade Corvo, Estudos sobre as Províncias Ultramarinas (Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1883), IV, 155–157; Pinto, Le Portugal et le Congo, 124–134Google Scholar
  38. Eric Axelson, Portugal and the Scramble for Africa ( Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1967 ), 41–50Google Scholar
  39. For the abolitionist arguments see João Pedro Marques, ‘Uma cosmética demorada: as cortes perante o problema da escravidão (1836–1875)’, Análise Social, Vol. 36, no. 158–159 (2001), 209–247.Google Scholar
  40. 39.
    Agatha Ramm, Sir Robert Morier (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), 73–112. For Hopkins’ dispatch and testimony see Duffy, A Question of Slavery, 78–82.Google Scholar
  41. Augusto Nascimento, ‘São Tomé e Príncipe’, in Valentim Alexandre and Jill Dias (eds), O Império Africano 1825–1890 (Lisbon: Estampa, 1988), especially 271–298; ‘A “crise braçal” de 1875 em São Tomé’, Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais, vol. 34 (1992), 317–329; and Poderes e Quotidiano nas Roças de São Tomé e Príncipe (Lousã: Tipografia Lousanense, 2002), 82–90.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Dermot Robert Wyndham Bourke (Earl of Mayo), De Rebus Africanis (London: W. H. Allen&Co., 1883), especially 24–27, for an assessment of the Angola-São Thomé connection.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    José Alberto Corte-Real, Resposta à Sociedade Anti-Esclavista de London (Lisbon: Sociedade de Geografia de Lisbon, 1884), especially 3–15Google Scholar
  44. Vicente de Melo e Almada, As Ilhas de São Thomé e Príncipe ( Lisbon: Academia Real das Sciencias, 1884 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Social SciencesUniversity of LisbonPortugal

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