The issues of slave emancipation were extremely important for the maintenance of slavery during the 19th century in the Empire of Brazil. Freedom was the subject of several disputes over the century. To the population of freed men and women, freedom was often a precarious and unstable reality. Despite the determination and struggles of captives in their quest for freedom, many emancipationist strategies were elaborated during the century aiming at the preservation and the stability of a social organization deeply rooted in slavery. These strategies were responsible for creating a conservative and fractional process which indemnified the manorial layer. Throughout the 19th century, as social relations marked by slavery became more and more tense, justice emerged as a privileged field of disputes concerning the paths of servile labor confronting them with the imminence of abolition. In these circumstances, emancipation laws emerged and consolidated a field of legal battles around both the defense of slavery and the defense of freedom, powered by the interposition of several Freedom Suits in court. These Suits, although not extensively known in the province of São Paulo, involved captives, lawyers, judges and proprietary layer in politicized disputes which conveyed the image of deeper problems faced by a slave society in disintegration. Being an important part of the scene of emancipation in the province and in the Empire as a whole, these Suits provided the entry of freed people in a world of fragile freedom and custodial labor, which shaped the citizenship of African descents in the post-abolition period.
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