Antônio Vieira: “Children of God’s Fire”

(ca. 1660)

Document Text

One of the remarkable things witnessed in the world today, and which we, because of our daily habits, do not see as strange, is the immense transmigration of Ethiopian peoples and nations who are constantly crossing over from Africa to this America. The fleet of Aeneas, said the Prince of Poets, brought Troy to Italy . . . ; and with greater reason can we say that the ships which one after the other are entering our ports are carrying Africa to Brazil. . . . A ship enters from Angola and on a single day unloads 500, 600, or perhaps 1,000 slaves. The Israelites crossed the Red Sea and passed from Africa to Asia, fleeing captivity; these slaves have crossed the Ocean at its widest point, passing from that same Africa to America to live and die as slaves. . . .

Now if we look at these miserable people after their arrival and at those who call themselves their masters, what was observed in Job’s two conditions is what fate presents here, happiness and misery meeting on...

Source: Robert Edgar Conrad. Children of God's Fire: A Documentary History of Black Slavery in Brazil. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.

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"Moses and the Burning Bush" by Herbert J. Gute (Yale University Art Gallery)

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