Throughout the 1800s, the world gradually did away with the African slave trade. Britain abolished slavery in 1833, and The United States ended the practice in 1863. The South American country of Brazil, however, did not abolish slavery until 1888 -- making it the last Atlantic-based country to do so.

Slavery in Brazil

After the Portuguese arrived in Brazil in the 1500s, they learned that sugar grew well in the Northeast region of the country, and began developing sugar plantations. The colonists of Brazil first looked to the Indians for slave labor, but many of the Indians fled or grew ill from European diseases.The Portuguese then began importing slaves from African countries.

The Decline of Slavery

Slavery began to decline in 1850 when the Brazilian Parliament passed the Queiroz Law that banned the importation of slaves. During the 1880s, coffee and sugar production continued to expand while the number of available slaves declined. The movement to abolish slavery began to gain a great deal of support. This was partly because of pressure from the outside world, but also because slaves were becoming harder to control. Between 1885 and 1888 there were massive slave desertions from sugar and coffee plantations.

The Golden Law

The Sexegenarian Law of 1885 freed slaves over age 65, and Brazil was under more pressure than ever to abolish slavery. On May 13, 1888, Brazil officially abolished slavery with the Golden Law, enacted by the Brazilian Imperial family.